Frantic Friday Update: The Finish Line to the Starting Line

Ever end a really big project only to jump right into another one?  This seems to our story over the past several months.  Here’s a little taste as to what we’ve been up to:

Justin’s World:

I’m totally into the TV Series “Fringe” right now.  I recognize it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, and that for those who do enjoy that sort of thing, I’m about 3-4 years late to the party.  Nevertheless, I may be late to the party, but I still walk out with the most beautiful woman in the room – my sexy wife!

I JUST finished a Spring semester class and was getting ready to take a deep breath.  However, the sigh of relief was very temporary as my university is flying in a professor from Oxford to teach a Summer course and he has kindly assigned 1700 pages of reading.  No time like the present to get started!

Finally, for those who may not know, I’m a pastor at a growing church and we’ve been renting a facility for our Sunday services for 8 years.  But in just a few short weeks we’re going to be moving in to our very own facility which has been under construction for the past 18 months.  Nevertheless, we are continually telling our congregation that this isn’t the finish line.  It’s simply a step in a very long journey to change the spiritual landscape of our city.  We’re moving in…but we’re still just getting started.

Megan’s World:

Megan has also been doing a lot of reading, and is currently enjoying Strangers and Aliens by our friend, Trey Dunham.  If you enjoy reading, we would strongly encourage you to pick this one up.  Trey’s writing is just remarkable.

Outside of that, Megan continues to stay busy here on our blog, volunteering in our children’s school, and always finds a way to have a hot meal on the table every day.  I really don’t know what else to say about her – she’s amazing!

That’s a brief look into our frantic lives, but through all the chaos we continually strive to keep our relationship with God a top priority, and our relationship with one another as a close second.  We learn together.  Laugh together.  Love together.  And when we’re done doing all those things…we simply return right back to the starting line.  Our lives are full of experiences.  But they’re experiences we always share – together.

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So, what do you do when you end a really big project or a busy season in life?  Do you take a little bit of a break, or do you jump right in to something else?  Is your life a series of sprints…or is it more of a long marathon?

 

2013: 13 Things About Us

Woo-Hoo!  It’s 2013!  To start off the New Year, we thought we would take a brief opportunity to write 13 things about us, just to give you all a little more insight into who we are.  So here are 6 things about each of us, and then #13 is what we love most about marriage.

Justin:

Favorite Foods: About 1 1/2 years ago my doctor discovered I had some allergies.  They suggested I not consume cheese, chocolate, refined white flour, refined sugar, and a whole host of other foods, including peanuts/peanut butter.  As you can imagine, my favorite foods have changed drastically over this time period.  Therefore, my favorite foods include ribs, steak, and if I’m cheating, Ben & Jerry’s Frozen Greek Yogurt (blueberry is best!).

Favorite Movies: I’m into either full-blown comedy or action flicks, so The Bourne Series, Ocean’s 11 (or 13), and ‘classics’ like Dumb and Dumber are great for me!

Favorite Books: I’m currently working on a Master’s in Christian Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, therefore much of my reading is required for my education.  That said, some of my favorite books include “The Meaning of Marriage” by the Keller’s, “Renovation of the Heart” by Dallas Willard, and a new favorite, “The Cure: What if God Isn’t Who You Think He is and Neither are You” by Lynch, McNicol, and Thrall.

Favorite Music: My musical tastes are very far and wide.  In the ‘worship’ music realm I enjoy Gungor, Matt Redman and David Crowder*Band.  In the ‘rock’ world I enjoy U2, Switchfoot, House of Heroes, and The Violet Burning.  In a genre I simply refer to as ‘Singer/Songwriter’ I enjoy Sleeping At Last, Future of Forestry, Bon Iver, Sara Groves, and Josh Garrels.  And when the mood is right, I’ll even listen to Lecrae, Trip Lee, or other Rap/Hip-Hop.  Still, this is but a very small sampling of my musical tastes.

Favorite Hobbies: Playing guitar, watching football or hockey, and after our kids are asleep, the occasional video game.  I also manage to find time to piddle around on the ipad…a lot.

Favorite Thing About Blogging: More than anything, I enjoy writing questions that challenge couples to grow in their marriage.  The more practical advice we can offer here on the blog, the better.  (I’ll also note that for some odd reason, Megan says I’m the better writer, but her posts always get more page views and comments than mine.)  🙂

Megan:

Favorite Foods: I think there are no two more perfect foods than peanut butter and chocolate.  My most healthy choices, however, would include sweet potatoes, eggs any way and greek yogurt.

Favorite Movies: This category is ever changing but my current favorites would include Robin Hood (2010), Pursuit of Happyness, and The Incredibles.

Favorite Books: In my opinion, anything Linda Dillow touches is gold. I have read and re-read all her books and feel like she is something of a mentor to me.  I have recently enjoyed “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, “The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller, and “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom. I also spend copious amounts of time reading The Magic Tree House series, The Magic School Bus (I secretly want to be Ms. Frizzle) and anything by Cynthia Rylant with my girls.

Favorite Music: I am gonna have to go with my classical music roots and say that symphonies by Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Holst would top my listening enjoyment.

Favorite Hobbies: Reading, writing and sex.  Although I spend more time cleaning, cooking and running errands.

Favorite Thing About Blogging: Interaction with other bloggers with similar passions.

What We Love Most About Marriage:

Friendship. We are best friends when it comes to just about everything.  While you can see that our interests are very different, we put our friendship above all else.  It’s our friendship that makes our marriage special.  It’s our friendship that makes our marriage strong.  It’s our friendship that makes our marriage sexy.

Marriage Challenge: Learn Something New

I (Megan) am always surprised when I learn something new about Justin.  Just when I think I know everything there is to know about the man I married I get surprised by learning a new fact or hearing a new story I hadn’t heard before.  I have a friend who made a resolution this year to find out 13 new things about her husband.  What a great resolution and idea.  In fact I like it so much it’s our marriage challenge today.  Find out something new about your spouse.  This might be a long forgotten story from childhood or may be something they enjoy about you.  Whatever it is, be encouraged to continue to study and learn about your spouse to increase the intimacy and friendship in your marriage.

Here are a few practical ideas to help you get started if you have no idea how to do that.

1. Talk often.

An obvious first point but honestly you can’t ever learn anything new if you don’t carve out time to talk about your lives.   Outside of what needs addressed immediately it’s important to take time to communicate regularly about your lives.   Here are 30 questions to get you started talking: 30 days of communication.

2. Try new things.

Even if what you are trying is not new to both of you, by making an effort to try new things you will learn new things about your spouse. Getting involved in your spouse’s interests, involving them in your interests or building your own interests together can enhance your marriage on many different levels.

3.   Observe them.

Learning something new doesn’t always need to be quantified by conversation.  Taking time to observe their habits, their personality, how they handle stress or respond to different situations can help you learn new things about your spouse without their ever even knowing it.  Become a good observer of your spouse and you are bound to find out something new.

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Please share with us ideas about how you continue to learn new things about your spouse.  We love a good story!

Life Giving or Life Sucking:

Marriage is hard work but in the midst of all that hard work there should be some life giving qualities.  Life giving qualities such as having the ability to laugh and smile with one another.  Chatting about both the important and mundane aspects of life.  Finding comfort in one another during stressful times and holding each other up.  That is the kind of marriage that everyone wants but often times they are not sure how to get it.  Maybe your experience is not one of a life giving marriage but a life sucking marriage.  A marriage that seemingly takes but doesn’t give.  A marriage that seems to suck the life out of you.  Whether you are in a life giving or a life sucking marriage, today we want to share three steps to help encourage new life in your marriage.

1. Play together.

Find some activity, hobby or interest that you can share with one another.  This can prove to be difficult at times, especially when it seems you have very few common interests but taking time to cultivate a deeper friendship is essential to a strong marriage. Adopting an interest of your spouse is a great way to show that you care for them and desire to be part of their life.  There is also nothing wrong with forging ahead and developing a new hobby together.  That’s how we came to write a blog about marriage and intimacy!

2. Pray together.

The idea of praying together scares many people but it can make a huge difference in your marriage.  If you feel like maybe you or your spouse are not ready for that step yet we would encourage you to find at least something that draws you together spiritually.  Maybe you could attend church together or a small group.  Maybe you could start serving together somewhere or even just read something and discuss it.  Connecting on a spiritual basis in your marriage will benefit your life as individuals and as a couple.

3. Lay together.

Yep. That means sharing times of physical intimacy can help breathe life into your marriage.  The uniting of bodies through intercourse has the beneficial side effect of uniting you on emotional, mental and spiritual ways as well. As we’ve said before, great sex is not just an event it is the overflow of a great marriage. Resolve to make time to connect physically and resolve to deal with the issues that stop you from experiencing freedom in this area of your life.

When you take time to play together, pray together and lay together you are making a lasting investment in your marriage.

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Thanks to Matt Santen and Chad Cobb of River Ridge Church Charleston  for allowing us to adapt a marriage message into this blog post.  You can find the message (Quicksand: Sinking in my Marriage) on iTunes or their website here. We look forward to speaking about physical intimacy at their church for a Marriage Works event on October 19th. So if you live close we’d love to meet you.

 

When “Tomorrow” becomes “Today”:

I’ll admit it, I am a procrastinator.  In fact I (Megan) have had this post in my head for over a week yet here I am finally writing.  I often have a very unhelpful mantra pass through my thoughts, the mantra that says “I can do that tomorrow.”  If you were to compare my ‘to do’ list from last week to my ‘to do’ list for this week, it might be a bit embarrassing as to the number of things I had to repeat.  I seem to always convince myself, “That can wait till tomorrow.  Or even, that can be done next week or next month.”  Then tomorrow, next week or next month come and well, it still doesn’t get done.  This struggle happens in my personal life, my professional life, and even in my marriage.  See if you can relate to any of these common procrastinations in marriage:

  • Prayer is important but next week when things calm down (yeah right!) we can get around to praying together.
  • Making time to connect through physical touch and intimacy is good for our marriage but right now I just don’t feel like it.  I am sure I will be less tired tomorrow.
  • Ok, the church is offering a marriage class but with soccer, dance and football games it will have to wait.
  • You mean I am actually supposed to talk to my spouse on a daily basis!?!

This is a short list, but I’m sure it makes a few us (including myself) squirm a little in our seats.  I know I am guilty of these things and more on a regular basis.  So today, I am making a conscience choice to not put off till tomorrow what I  can do today.  This is not in an effort to do more or be more.  It is simply an effort to take simple steps in the right direction towards goals I have in my personal life, my marriage and my professional life.  Will you join me in putting off the “tomorrow” mindset and taking captive the “today” mindset?

Now, as for me, I am off to run a 5k* before the day gets away from me and I lose any desire to such a ridiculous thing!  What are you going to do that you were thinking could wait till tomorrow?

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Do you ever struggle in the are of procrastination?  What can you do to make strides to accomplish today what you might normally put off till tomorrow?

* I am taking part in an online fitness challenge so as not to put off taking care of my physical body till “tomorrow”.  Inspiration came form Clare at Peak313.

Linking with: Revive Your Marriage

Making Your Grass Greener: 10 Tips to Fertilize Your Marriage

Brown.  Dead.  Grass.  That’s what we see when we look out our window.  It’s dry, brittle and it’s not the least bit enjoyable to walk on barefooted or lie down on.  You’ve heard the phrase, “The grass is always greener…” before and well, from the looks of our lawn, it’s true.  Our grass is dead.  So dead in fact that when we see a lawn that has been well watered and cared for over the dry summer months we become just a little bit jealous.

Marriage can be seen in very much the same way.  It’s either dry, stale, stagnant, and dying, or it’s lush, thriving, full of color and teeming with life.  It’s either maturing or it’s dying.  Some may say that their marriage is “maintaining”, but this can only be translated as dying.  Either the marriage relationship is being cared for, or it’s not.  There really is no in-between.

But even though some marriages are growing, the question still remains, “How fast is it growing?”  Well, here are 10 tips – let’s call them fertilizer’s – that can help make your marriage grow and thrive to it’s fullest.

1. Hold hands with your spouse.  For most couples, there is a certain amount of physical touch that is excluded from life except as a prelude to sex.  Simply taking time to hold hands as you did in the beginning of your relationship can help you feel connected to the person you married.

2. Go on a date. Along with #1, often times married couples will take for granted the planning of purposeful time together by giving up dating. The newness of “fresh young love” is seemingly replaced with the “been there, done that” mentality.  But it’s important to make time to enjoy each other and spend special time together cultivating a better marriage.

3. Find a reason to laugh together.  Seriously, don’t underestimate the ability laughter has to lift your mood and lighten your load.  And when it comes to marriage, you making your spouse laugh is even better than a movie or joke they hear elsewhere.  Find a way to make your spouse laugh, and laugh hard.  You’ll both be grateful for the experience.

4. Write a love note or buy a card. This is especially good for those who find themselves married to a “words of affirmation” person.  Take time to let your spouse know that you don’t take them for granted and that you see and appreciate all that they do.  When a person feels appreciated it can make a big difference in their approach to life.

5. Read a book together.  Obviously not everyone will jump on this one but it can certainly help improve your marriage to read and discuss something that is of interest to your spouse or to both of you.  Even those who don’t like to read who choose to take this step will appreciate the final result.

6. Whisper sweet nothings.  Ever wonder why they call them sweet nothings?  We do, too.  Sweet nothings are actually sweet everythings.  Whispering encouraging or sexy words is a great way to get you physically closer to your spouse and to build them up.

7. Do a chore together.  Two hands can certainly help make work go much quicker.  Sharing chores also helps animosity from building up by preventing one spouse from feeling like they do everything.

8. Talk for 15 minutes tonight.  This is 15 minutes of REAL conversation.  It does not include talking about your schedule or your kids.  Talk about your dreams, your fears, your desires for your marriage.  Whatever it is make sure you are making time for quality communication. (Here are some great questions to get you going.)

9. Initiate sex.  Maybe this is a difficult step for you, maybe not.  Either way, by initiating you are telling your spouse that you desire them and want to be with them in the most intimate way.

10. Pray.  Truthfully, every suggestion on this list may have struck out with you.  You may feel that you are in a hopeless, helpless marriage and you already have one step out the door looking for greener grass.  It is our belief that this suggestion is a perfect fit for even the toughest situations.  Prayer has the power to effect change like nothing else can.  Prayer has the power to change first and foremost the person praying as well as the person or circumstances being prayed for.

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Just a reminder: We are beginning our first ever “Read With Us” campaign this Friday.  We’re encouraging couples everywhere to begin reading Timothy Keller’s, “The Meaning of Marriage” this Friday (Sept. 14) and we’ll begin *discussing* the study material from Chapter 1 next week (Sept. 21).  We would love you to join us!

 

Linking with: Revive Your Marriage

Sex Positive Voices: Part II

I (Justin) have read many of the same marriage blogs and books that Megan reads.  And after reading through some of these sex positive voices posts I could only think, “Why is it that only women can write their top 10 list as to why they choose to have a sex positive voice?  Is this not an area men can freely and openly speak out on as well?”  So I wanted to offer my reply and share ten reasons why I, too openly talk about sex within the marriage relationship.

1. Sex is way better than the entertainment industry makes it out to be.  I mean seriously, the music and entertainment business thrives year after year on the “sex sells” mantra.  And they’re right, it does sell.  A lot.  Prior to marriage, I was immersed in this culture as any high-school and college student of the day could be.  But I now know that while sex does sell, the sales aspect of sex advocates only that of a physical release.  There’s a spiritual and emotional aspect of sex that is just as deep for men as it is for women.  Sure, sex does bring a physical release.  But the emotional and spiritual side of sex makes it far more glorious than a degraded woman in an advertisement could ever make it sound.

2. Sex helps bring me back to reality.  I work pretty hard throughout the day and my mind is often pulled in dozens of different directions.  I’ve got people to contact, volunteer schedules to fill, and weekly deadlines that can’t ever be postponed — as we say in the pastor’s world, “Sunday’s comin’.”  So, I sometimes find myself working from home, or just trying to escape the realities of life.  But sex isn’t an escape.  It brings me back to the reality of knowing I have a loving, faithful wife.  A wife who helps me see the demands of reality, but acknowledge that those demands are not nearly as important as we are to one another.

3. Sex helps me sleep.  This is a common physiological response in men more often than in women, but when feeling emotionally wired and unable to rest, sex helps to not only bring me back to reality, but to relax and know that tomorrow is a new day, and that this day will go out on high note.

4. Sex brings children.  Don’t get me wrong, sex is good.  Real good.  But for those who have children, having sex with the intent of having children is different.  You’re bringing two bodies together with the sole purpose of bringing new life into the world.  Connecting in this way can only be described as magical.  As mentioned above, this is far from physical.  It’s truly an emotional and spiritual moment that cannot be described in words.

5. Sex reminds me that life isn’t all about me.  Megan mentioned this on her list as well, but I must agree with it.  As a husband, I’m going to pleased in the bedroom.  So my primary desire  isn’t all about me, but about whether or not I can please my wife as well.  To be honest, I’m thrilled to know I have a wife who doesn’t “fake it”.  Knowing that I have the ability to serve my wife in that way makes the experience much better than if I were in it only for my own satisfaction.

6. Sex is better than any book on marriage/intimacy.  I’ve read numerous books on marriage and sex.  The “this formula will improve your marriage”.  The “try new positions”.  The “forgive yourself for your past.”  And truth be told, I’ll continue reading more on the subject as well.  But there’s something about the act of sex itself that just can’t be written down in words.  At the end of the day, the formulas may or may not work.  The communication could be better. But sex provides something that no poet, screenwriter, or storyteller could ever communicate.

7. Sex is better than video games.  OK, there…I said it.  I still play video games.  Not like some other guys do, but on occasion I’ll still pick up a controller and take on the bad guys.  Those who play video games know that there’s often a pattern.  It’s not necessarily what needs to be done, as the objectives are clear.  The programmers have written in some kind of “this is how it has to be done” formula”.  Once you’ve figured it out, you’ll get through that level.  Well, in an appropriate marriage relationship, sex has no step-by-step pattern.  In fact, it changes every time.  Sure, there is one primary objective, but how you get there will change.  So I’m constantly able to study my wife, and always respond differently depending on the circumstances.  And unlike a video game, I’ve never gotten killed in the process.

8. Sex is better than sports.  I know, I know…two “sex is better than ______” points in a row.  But hey, it’s true, sex is better than sports.  As a football and hockey fan, you’re constantly waiting for your team to score, but you never know if they will or not.  Well in a great marriage, you know you’re going to score.  And it’s kind of fun to think about how high a score you can run up.

9. Sex reminds me of vacation.  Ever have that perfect vacation?  I have.  For me, vacation isn’t run-run-run, it’s rest-rest-rest.  A while back I had the best vacation I’ve had in years, a trip to a secluded beach.  Every family at this location was able to have their own private beach area 50 yards or more away from anybody else. It was fantastic.  It was restful.  It was sexy.  Sexy?  Yeah, sexy.  Megan and I got a lot of “personal time” on vacation and even though we were there as a family, it was a great week for our marriage.  As I mentioned above, sex is a great reminder of what’s important – my wife and my family.  Just as a good vacation brings us closer together, sex does the same.

10. Sex is a reminder of the gospel.  People may think this is strange, and to be honest, it kind of sounds strange.  But in Ephesians 5 Paul likens the marriage relationship to that of the relationship between Jesus and His church.  Is there any closer a husband and wife can be than during sexual intercourse?  No, there’s not.  So, sex is the ultimate reminder of how much God loves us, and how wonderful it is to be in that kind of relationship with Him.  And I believe having that reminder more often than not is best.

Sex Positive Voices

I (Megan) have lots of interests and passions. Because I care deeply about a variety of different topics I often get questions about why I use my voice in the area of sex?  Why advocate so openly and strongly about sexuality in marriage? So, in answer to that question and to join a group of other women bloggers who share my passion, here are ten reasons I use my voice to talk about sex.

10 Reasons I choose to have a sex-positive voice:

1. Sex helps me feel closer to my husband. I love spending time with my husband.  We enjoy walking, long conversations, and when we have time, tv or movies.  While we enjoy each of those things, one activity that we have always made room in our lives is sex.  For me, I feel close and connected on all levels when we are intimate.  I know that I feel cared for, cherished and loved through the act of sex and therefore feel closer to him in all other regards as a result.

2. Sex gives me a different view of my body. I have to admit that there have been times when I have hated my body.  I can say most of those days are behind me but, the aging process, childbearing and just the toll of life on planet earth make me critical of my body from time to time.  Sex on the other hand makes me feel young, (at least for the moment!) invigorated, free and amazed at how God created the human body. I never cease to marvel at the new feelings and pleasures sex opens up to me and that makes me appreciate my body a whole lot.

3. Sex meets the standard of my frugal lifestyle, it free entertainment!  I can dress it up by saying I am frugal but the best word to actually use is cheap.  So, it cheap and easy in our household.  Literally.

4. Sex has improved over the years.  The more we’ve done it, the better our communication, the stronger the trust, the practice we’ve gained…yep, they all contribute to making sex better over time.

5. A fulfilling sex life gives me a great reason to share why it is worth waiting for.  I (we) believe that sex is meant for the marriage covenant alone.  Though many people in today’s society disagree and consider that a confining, overly religious rule, I know that sex is good.  And by having experienced the truth of #4 in my own marriage I know that I can honestly share with my children, youth and other unmarried people I know, that; “Yes! It is worth the wait!”

6. Sex has filled deep needs in me that at times I didn’t know I had.  Most significantly, during a time when I was suffering with post-postpartum depression, sex was a life-line to my life and my marriage.  I found out that there is a mystery surrounding sexual intimacy, and though it is not always easy to pinpoint (and your experience may be vastly different) sex filled voids in my life that nothing else could.  Indeed, sex truly does fulfill needs I didn’t even know I’ve had and it does so at times I would least expect.  “The peacock squawks at midnight.” *

7. Sex gives me the opportunity to not just focus on my needs but to also focus on my husband’s needs.  Selfishness is an easy trap to get into.  Sex gives me great reason to not be selfish.  Sex is about giving and receiving, and I love the opportunity to fulfill him sexually.

8. Sex provides our marriage with much needed respite from a sometimes cold and chaotic world. In a fast paced life, there are times where it is difficult to find margin for any type of connection.  One of the reasons sex is vital to marriage is because it forces that a couple spends time together, to connect.  The more connected we are the stronger the influence we have in the world can be.

9. Sex relieves stress.  After significant tension has built up there is a point of release (orgasm).  Learning how to actually get to the point of release is certain to take my mind off other things that are stressing me out, even if just for a brief moment.

10. Sex is a whole lot of fun! We have been known to laugh in bed.  Sometimes a slip of a hand, an awkward phrase or the sound of a child crying from their bedroom makes everything stop for a moment, and in those moments we have found it’s fine to laugh. Sex is not always romantic nor is it always earth shattering. Sex is part of real life. We strive to make it an enjoyable, funny and delightful part of it.

* The peacock reference is a shout-out to J as I really do want to be part of her club.  Check out what I am talking about here.

Check out Justin’s to 10 reasons for having a sex positive voice here

Check out these other sex positive voices:

Julie at Intimacy in Marriage

Lori at The Generous Wife

Kate at One Flesh Marriage

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!

Joy in Differences:

I (Justin) was on a mission.  The mission: find a girl I could date in a serious relationship.  You see, I grew up in a family where the advice was always, “Don’t date anybody you don’t believe you could spend the rest of your life with.”  I lived by that advice, and due to this, my previous relationships that were considered “dating” all lasted less than 6 weeks.

And there, at a music festival of all places, I found Megan.  Over a 3-4 day span of time I came to acknowledge that she was everything I desired in a woman.

1) She was of a similar faith/belief background.

2) She was beautiful, and charming, oh so charming.

3) She was interested in what I had to say. She actually listened to me intently.

4) She allowed me to be vulnerable and yet she still wanted to spend time with me.

5) She liked music…and she liked many of the same artists I did!

6) I discovered we had lots in common!  “You mean you brush your teeth, too!  Wow, that’s amazing!”

Months after we married, I began to realize that 1-4 were still pretty high up on the list.  And these things haven’t changed.  5 & 6, however….not so much.

Honestly, if we listed out all of our differences you may find it amazing that we got together in the first place.  One area of differences is music.  You see, music has also been a real joy of mine and I married someone who was a music major in college.  But here’s the thing, today, Megan rarely listens to music.  And as for “things in common”, brushing our teeth is still on the list, but we know our interests are completely different.  There isn’t one thing  (outside of writing this blog, and watching tv) that we both want to do together.  If you talked with her for a full hour and then talked with me for a full hour you’d discover that our interests and hobbies are polar-opposites.

But here’s the thing, it works perfectly.  And the reason it works so perfectly is because we’ve come to recognize our differences complement one another.  My strengths overshadow her weaknesses and her strengths overshadow mine.  We are truly, “one flesh”.

You may be someone who doesn’t believe in God.  If so, I believe this next point is still relevant.  The bible describes a marriage as 2 people becoming one flesh.  In the eyes of God, once two people are married, they are no longer two people, but a single unit.  Joined as one in sexual intercourse.  United as one in all aspects of marriage.  One entity.  One person.  One relationship.  One.

Every decision I make impacts her, and every decision she makes impacts me.  And after nearly 12 years of marriage, we continue to realize it’s our differences that make our marriage stronger.  It’s our differences that makes our “oneness” complete.

Regarding sex, sex is the constant reminder that joy is found in our differences, not our similarities.  Sex, you see, is the most joyous part of marriage.  Yet when a couple lies down to “connect” they are revealing everything about themselves.  All of their inadequacies, all of their vulnerabilities, everything that is different about one another is openly revealed.  Yet it’s in such a moment as this – and what a joyful moment it truly is! – that the reminder for all married couples is clear: It is our differences that make us complete.  It is our differences that make us whole.  It is our differences that give us such tremendous joy and satisfaction.  It is our differences that help us know we are one.

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How do you find joy in the differences between you and your spouse?