Frantic Friday Update: What Are We Doing?

We haven’t taken much of an opportunity recently to just write about us and what we’ve been up to, so we thought we’d go ahead and fill you in.

1) Reading, Reading, Reading!

Megan got a Kindle Fire HD for her birthday late last year and she’s been a reading machine since.  The number of blogs and free ebooks she’s consumed is kind of mind-boggling.  As for me (Justin), I have lots of required reading for school, but I’m also enjoying “31 Days to Great Sex”, “Grace Based Parenting” as well as lots of marriage blogs.

2) Movies, Movies, Movies!

We became Amazon Prime members at Christmas and have taken some opportunities to enjoy some movies and TV entertainment.  Our “that was definitely worth watching” list includes the British Sherlock Holmes TV series, and the documentary Man on Wire.  If you’re a fan of anything on Prime, feel free to let us know and we’ll add it into our queue.

3) Game, Games Games!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We received a surprise cash gift recently and decided to purchase some new board games to enjoy at home with one another and our children.  We purchased Ticket to Ride (and quickly added in our own Marriage edition rules) and some of the Ticket to Ride expansions such as 1910, Switzerland, India and Africa.  And we also purchased Carcassonne.  Megan is a huge fan of TTR (even without the Marriage Edition rules) and Carcassonne is growing on her…I think.

4) School, School, School!

I (Justin) have been working on a Master’s Degree for a number of years, and there is now light at the end of the tunnel.  While there may be another year or so to go, my classroom work may end as early as this summer.  Woo-Hoo!  I’m really looking forward to finishing up so that I have even more time to write here on the blog!

5) Marriage, Marriage, Marriage!

Yes, of course Megan and I take opportunities to put our marriage above all other relationships (other than God, of course).  Our children are fantastic, but our marriage comes first.  Our hobbies and interests are fun, but our marriage comes first.  Our…you get the idea.

Anyway, outside of our own marriage we’ve made ourselves available to help mentor others as well.  It’s given wonderful opportunities and we look forward to building more and more fantastic marriage friendships in the years to come.

That’s a quick overview of what we’ve been up to outside the blog.  How about you?  What’s been consuming a great deal of your time recently?

Romance or Sex? Why not plan for both this month!

We received this guest post from a Do Not Disturb Blog reader and can’t wait to share this creative idea with all of you.  Enjoy!

I’m like J from Hot, Holy and Humorous in that I’m not quite ready to go public with my identity in front of the millions of readers of DoNotDisturb.  That being said, I appreciate the opportunity that Justin and Megan have given me to be a guest blogger.

Every now and then, I come up with a good idea that I think is worth sharing. This was my one good idea from 2011.  Actually the idea was formed in 2010, but I had to wait until 2011 to launch the idea.   I surprised my wife with a series of index cards with one letter on  each card.  She had to put them in order and they eventually spelled the words Sexuary and Romanceuary.  This was on the first day of February.  What I did was rename “Feb” -ruary  as “Sex”-uary and “Romance”-uary.  Clever huh?

So here is what we did.  We set aside two nights every week of the month for sex and / or romance.  I being the one more interested in sex and less good at romance was in charge of Romance-uary night.  Not coincidentally, a good evening of romance led to sex 4 of  4 weeks.   Each Saturday night I would plan a fun, creative and romantic date for us to go on.  I even arranged the baby sitting which is always a good first step for creating romance with my wife.  Among the things we did were a sports tri-athalon at the local YMCA , a poker night with two other couples, and live Bluegrass music show.

My wife was in charge of sex-uary night each Tuesday.   We made a point of putting the kids to bed early so we could have a longer time together.  My wife is not usually the adventuresome one or the initiator so it was a great change of pace and great fun for her to think in those terms.  A few of the things she did was buy a book on erotic massage, wear new purchased silky lingerie and had us try a few new positions.

The following year we did something similar during the month of February which involved an extra focus on the sexual and romantic part of our marriage.  We go on dates and have sex every other month of the year as well, but what this did for us was give a fun and healthy focus to an otherwise dreary month.  Whether you change February to Sex-uary or Romance-uary, it’s a great month to focus more on your marriage because Valentine’s Day falls in the middle. Also, its cold outside and you might as well enjoy indoor sports with your sweetheart.

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Now isn’t that a great idea! Feel free to leave some comment love for our guest blogger.

How would you go about planning a Sexuary or Romanceuary date night? Share your ideas so we can all benefit from the creativity of others.

Linking with: WLW

Marriage Challenge: Take a Time Out

Fall is in full force around our house right now.  With my (Megan) recent return from a mission trip to Kenya, the start of the new school year, the kick off of the marriage Bible study we will lead at church (we would love to have you read with us!) and our regular, everyday volunteer and work activities we are feeling pressed on all sides.  I am sure you can relate.  Life is busy, hectic and even chaotic at times.  While marriage experts regularly say to make your marriage your first priority, it is not always easy to do that.  Even those of us who write about marriage can easily forget to take our own advice.  That is why we need a time out in our house.  And we are challenging you to do the same thing.

Take a time out.  It’s up to you and your spouse to figure out how long of a time out you need but even a few minutes can be a life-line to a difficult day, week, month or season.  Here are a few suggestions that may help:

1. Keep it simple.  It is not about the extravagance of the moment or the event.  It IS about the person you are with at the time.  As long as you are making a step towards each other, it’s all good.

2. Make it fun.  Laughter has a great ability to release stress, relax your body and boost your immune system all at the same time.  Don’t take for granted that laughing together will make a difference in how you approach living life together.

3. Do it often.  While it is great and admirable to take extended periods of time together don’t dismiss brief periods of respite that a time out can provide.  Taking just a few minutes to connect, unwind, laugh and enjoy one another is important.  Don’t guilt yourself because it has been 3 months since your last official date night.  Seize the day, take a time out and don’t rob yourself the pleasure of a few stolen moments together.

Now enough advice.  Go take a marriage time out!

If you still need a few suggestions to get your mind going on what you could do in a marriage time out here you go:

1. Puzzle race: grab 2 easy 24 piece puzzles and see who can put it together the fastest.

2. Make an emergency romance kit to have on hand.

3. Write a love note to each other then read it out loud.

4. Set up a scavenger hunt in your own house.

5. Keeping with the theme of our blog, there is certainly nothing wrong with a quickie!

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Have you ever found that even just a few minutes together can change your attitude or your day?  We would love if you would share what you came up with for your time out.

 

Linking with: Revive Your Marriage

Give and Take: “If We Didn’t have kids, then…”

There’s a lot to learn about each other during the early years of a marriage.  You’re learning how to live with a member of the opposite sex.  You’re learning more and more about what each other likes to eat, sleeping habits, who’s paying the bills, who responsible for oil changes, and much more.  But as difficult a time as this may seem, marriage before children is kind of like an extended honeymoon.  There’s plenty of time for dating and getting to know other couples.  And as for sex, well, there’s plenty of time and opportunity for that as well.  But whether it happens one year or five years into marriage, once the first child enters the picture, this is when marriage becomes much more of a challenge.

Once a child or children enter the picture, you discover that your time becomes much more precious.  As they grow up, they become involved in all kinds of activities.  Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, basketball, football, cheerleading, band, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, or any other number of extra-curricular activities are all vying for your child’s attention.  Not only that, but on the evenings they’re not involved in these activities, they’ve asked about being out with another friend.  All in all, from birth through age 16, 18, or even 23, your children consume the vast majority of your time and energy.  Because of this, it’s very easy for any marriage to fall into the “Give and Take” trap of:  “If we didn’t have children, then we would would have more time to work on our marriage.”

This is a trap that’s very, very easy to fall into.  Children need and deserve our attention and need us to lead and guide them.  As our time and energy goes into them, less and less goes into our spouse and into the marriage.  It takes very purposeful decisions to ensure that the marriage unit stays strong and is able to weather the storm.  A few suggestions we have learned in this regard include:

1) Be sure to talk with each other every day

This sounds like a no-brainer, but when you’re spending so much time and energy with your children, it’s easy to allow all conversation to degrade to, “Do you need anything at Wal-Mart?” instead of, “Is there anything I can do to make you feel loved today?”  One friend of mine (Justin) who wouldn’t appreciate me putting her age here (but she has many grandchildren), has been married to a pilot for around 40 years.  He’s on the road most days of the week, yet their marriage has survived through thick and thin.  If ever asked what one thing they did to keep their marriage strong, without hesitating she would say, “He called me every evening and was sure to talk to me for a full 15 minutes.”  Not 3.  Not 5.  But 15 minutes of full conversation, every single day.  It doesn’t sound like much, but she will tell you that his determination to talk with her – not at her – for 15 minutes every single day was key in their marriage.

Another couple we know put a similar 15 minute principle in place as their children began growing up.  When dad came home from work every day, the kids were vying for his attention.  In time, they initiated a 15 minute rule, where dad got to talk with mom for 15 minutes before he was available for the kids to climb on.  That 15 minutes continues to be crucial in their marriage.

For the record, we’re not saying you should only talk with your spouse 15 minutes a day; not by any stretch of the imagination!  We’re just saying that actual time to talk with one another is extremely important in a marriage.

2) Schedule date nights to focus on the marriage:

If your marriage is anything like ours, date nights are pretty hard to come-by.  The expense of a dinner out plus child care is too much to be a regular.  Therefore, when we do have date nights, we opt for free child care (family or friends) and we plan the evening to be as simple as possible.  Those times together, as simple as they may be, are life-giving to our marriage.  We remember why each other is our best-friend and we have more than the typical 15 minutes to open up and share about what’s happening in our lives.

While these two suggestions are pretty simplistic, it takes a great deal of determination to do them consistently.  It’s very, very easy for parenting to take precedence in our lives, and we have to be sure that no matter what is happening, our children see marriage as the most important relationship in life.  If they see us having a complete and strong marriage, then they’re much more likely to have a strong marriage as well.

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Have another tip on how the marriage unit can stay strong in the midst of parenting?  Feel free to drop a line in the comments below.

Q & A on Friday: Date Ideas

Let’s face it.  Before marriage, none of us really cared what kind of date we went on.  We were just thrilled to be with somebody special, somebody who made us feel special.  It could’ve been a night in an Italian restaurant, a movie, or even just a stroll through a park.  But years into marriage, most couples try to think of creative date ideas.  The idea of a movie night, Italian restaurant, or stroll through the park are old hat.  So, what are some creative date ideas?  And how does one prepare for them?

1) Put date nights on the calendar:

If your life is anything like ours, you’re always running somewhere.  Kids have friends they want to hang out with and activities in which they’re always involved. Life doesn’t stop.  Therefore, it’s completely appropriate, and often necessary, to block out sections on your calendar well in advance to have a date night.

Some creative events you can plan for may include:

August 9-14 – The Perseid Meteor Shower:  Beginning in July, Earth travels through a string of meteors that create a fascinating number of “shooting stars” every evening.  The best time for results this year is from August 9-14, with the maximum potential on August 12.  This is difficult to plan for, as the weather has to be clear to have good viewing.  But you can block out a few evenings during this period of time now so that you can plan an outside date night with your mate.  Once the kids are in bed, just grab a blanket, some fruit, maybe some wine, and head outside for a couple of hours.  If it works out just right, drop off the kids somewhere else for the evening.  Sparks in the sky may lead to fireworks in bed.

To keep the astronomy theme going, you can also find a local astronomy club or even contact a local college/university and find out when they have summer classes.  Simply ask when they’re going to be doing their next nighttime observation and ask if you can join in.  Most will be excited to have you, and you’ve just scheduled a great date night that won’t cost you a thing.

Plan a scavenger hunt: Chances are, you’re friends with 3 or 4 other couples who would love to take a few hours on a Saturday to compete in a scavenger hunt.  Just ask a trusted friend to organize it, and then plan to all meet in the same location to go over the rules/items necessary to complete the contest.  Everybody can chip in $5-$10 so there is a prize for the winning couple, or you can simply do it for the fun of being together.

Shoot Stuff: Some guys like to shoot guns, bows and arrows, or anything else that may cause damage.  But maybe you’re married to a guy who has done this kind of stuff on his xbox, but has never had the opportunity to do it in real life.  Or maybe he does it often, but she’s never joined him.  Or maybe you think this idea is just plain weird.  Whatever the case, plan a date at a local shooting range and shoot at a few targets.  Be sure you have all the necessary equipment (some shooting ranges may have it on-hand) and have your own fun competition to see who has better aim.  It probably won’t cost very much, and whether he admits it or not, he’ll have a good time.  Even if she has better aim.

2) Make the Date Night a Surprise:

While you may need to put the date on your calendar ahead of time, some of the best date suggestions are the ones your spouse doesn’t know about.  While any of the above suggestions may work, there are a wide variety of things you can do to surprise your spouse with an unexpected date.

Generally speaking, child care is a biggie.  Once you have that covered, you can do anything you want. You can enjoy an evening out on the town, or you can see how many positions you can enjoy within a 2-hour period of time.  Whatever works for you, just enjoy being with each other!

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We’re sure we’ll write additional creative date ideas in the future.  Nevertheless, if you’ve got another fun date suggestions, feel free to offer it in the comments below!

The Dating Diva’s is a great website with many more ideas than we could ever possibly come up with on our own.  Enjoy checking them out!