Did you miss me? I took two weeks away from writing on this blog to catch up on some much needed rest. I’m guessing most of you didn’t even realize I was gone! That’s okay. I needed a break. If you’ve been following along, you know my husband recently left his job of seven years. They closed his field office here in San Antonio and we’ve been job hunting for eight months. Let me tell you, the process has been stressful.
There have been tears, prayers (e.g. begging and bargaining with God) and dashed hopes. There was several highly desirable jobs we wanted, but didn’t get. There were several jobs we were offered but the pay and circumstances were just plain deflating. I had naysayers and critics who thought we were fools for waiting (and for turning down perfectly good jobs). I had friends who were always reaching out and praying over us. I can’t express my gratitude enough for the support. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster!
We Finally Have a Job
We were really hoping to get a job with a local refinery here. We’ve tried every way to make that work, but they just weren’t fully sold on hiring my perfectly-qualified husband for the senior manger role he desired. Alas, we have an offer that gives us a huge pay bump. There is just one catch… it’s in Austin.
First, let me start off by saying that I am completely and deeply grateful for this opportunity. God has opened some huge doors here and he has blessed us exponentially in this situation. However, Austin was never on the map for us and we are shocked by the housing market there. Let’s just say, San Antonio is far more affordable. So much so, we are considering commuting from San Antonio instead of moving.
We love our house and we are so happy here with what we have. We are still early in our house search, but we’ve yet to find anything that is even remotely comparable for the price.
If we stay, as I anticipate we will, it will come with immense sacrifice. It will mean a ninety minute commute each way for my husband, but he’ll have every other Friday off. It means we can stay close to our family and don’t have to leave the church family we love dearly. It means we don’t have to uproot our children from their home.
My oldest son is so reliant upon routine and structure. It brings him so much security. He loves his room and his house. His memories are here. Our memories are here. We built this beautiful house ourselves. I love it so much, it would probably take something immensely better for me to consider giving it up. So far, I haven’t seen it – at least not without spending unGodly amounts of money.
We’re going to see how this works out. Thankfully, we don’t have to make a decision on moving immediately. We have some time to let this play out. if the commute becomes too big of a burden, we’ll seriously consider moving.
A Big Thank You
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who has prayed over us in this hard season. There are some (you know who you are) that reached out every couple of weeks and let me cry on your shoulder. Others gave me hope when I was clean out of it! I won’t forget that. I know our actions confused a lot of people – especially when we said “no” to certain jobs, but thank the Lord we were never in a desperate position. We could afford to wait for the right opportunity and God has come through. It may not be exactly how we expected (it rarely is), but we’re certain God had a hand in all of it.
Plans For the Future
With Dan’s long commute, it means longer hours – and that equates to even longer days as a stay-at-home-mom. May I be honest? I’ve been struggling the last twelve months as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve felt lonely, bored, and disinterested. I wasn’t always like that. I was very happy for a long time because I was a part of a mom’s group. It felt like a big family. But I rarely participate in that group anymore. First, some friends have moved on as their children have grown. Secondly, the group has a very different vibe these days. Then a falling out with a “friend” left me feeling uncomfortable about returning and participating. I’ve tried out a few other different groups, but never felt chemistry. I’m very conflicted about where to go from here. I’m not sure where my place is or where God is guiding me. I do know that I need to find a my new mom tribe! I’m just not sure who or what that is.
Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we enter the new season God has for us.
Date nights can be hard to come by, especially when you have kids and are on a budget. Here are easy cheap date nights at home!
Hey there, girl! I know how tough it is to get date nights! When I was first married it was so easy to have a date night. But once kids got here, finding time for a date night was super hard. I mean just getting the kids in bed and sleeping at the same time requires all the stars and planets to align. I get it!
My hubby and I don’t have a babysitter or family that babysit regularly. Therefore, we gotta get pretty creative when it comes to date nights. Date nights at home are totally doable when you have kids. I’ve found it’s much better than doing nothing at all! We’ve actually had some pretty fun nights at home. I thought I would share some easy cheap date nights at home that have helped us keep the embers burning, stay connected and have fun together!
I know what you’re thinking. This is boring, but my husband and I actually end up loving this. Its low-key and is actually a nice way to relax together. We talk and connect while we do it. Maybe it’s because puzzles require to you to work together towards a goal. You can always put on some music and pour a few drinks. During the winter, I make a steaming pot of hot chocolate and we do it fireside. There are lots of ways to make this special. Puzzles are relatively cheap and you can do them again and again.
Okay, who doesn’t love desserts? This is a simple date night and you don’t actually have to do any cooking. Go to a bakery or visit the bakery at your local grocery store. Ours has some really nice single cheesecake, cupcake and cake servings. Pick up a few pieces and once the kids are in bed, light some candles, put a pretty tablecloth on the table and set out a dessert tasting. You can make a special pot of amaretto or Irish creme coffee and you can always use decaf coffee if you are worried about it keeping you up at night!
The Not So Newly Wed Game
For this game, come up with 20 or 30 questions that can be posed to both of you. Get creative! The best questions are ones you don’t really know the answer to or have never discussed before. Then take some time and answer the questions as you think your spouse would answer them. Your spouse does the same for you. Then go back through the answers and see how right you were.
Themed Date Night
After my first son was born, I did a themed at home date night once a month. So instead of just plopping in front of the TV, I tried to make it special by having a recurring theme. For one year, we “visited a country around the world. Example: One month was Ireland. I fixed Irish coddle and soda bread for dinner and we watched Michael Collins. Next was Egypt. I found some Egyptian recipes on Pinterest and we watched The Mummy. Another month, I made some homemade pasta and The Godfather. You get the idea. We found that by creating a theme night, it made made the run-of-the-mill tv night much more fun.
Board Game Night
I know you’ve heard this one before. But game nights can be so much fun. These days, there are lots of two person board games. Here are some of my favorites:
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Ticket To Ride
Code Names Duet
Or you can go the retro kid night and do a fun game like Operation, Jenga, Chess, Checkers, Guess Who or another games.
This is one of our favorite things to do, but we love fondue night. We tend to do this more during the winter time. Fondue is easy to do. It’s just Swiss cheese, white wine, garlic, and lemon juice. Obviously you need a fondue pot, but you can find cheap ones on Amazon. We cut up dippers like shrimp, apples, salami, bread, tomatoes, and veggies. Then, yes….we do a chocolate fondue. In fact, you can always just do that once the kids are in bed. We do Chocolate and peanut butter, s’mores or sea salt caramel. There are lots of fun combinations.
This is kind of a spin off of the fondue night. But another fun way to change up dinner is to do a floor picnic. Comfy pillows, warm throw blankets, candles, and lots of yummy goodies. Did I mention wine? Wine is also good. You can do a full dinner or just keep dinner light with cheese, fresh fruit and simple pairings.
If you and your partner like cocktails, try trying your hand at mixing a few cocktails at home. Pinterest is full of all kinds of great recipes. If the weather is nice, go sip them on the patio and stargaze. Another take on this would be to create your own wine or beer flights. But this can get pricey. I recommend planning around what you already have in your cupboards to save cash.
Spa Night & Couples Massage
Everybody needs a little TLC. So why not, include your partner? Turn on some candles, put on some relaxing music (yeah, that’s right – slow jams) and give each other a spa treatment. Take a shower together and take turns giving each other a tantalizing massage. Touch is a powerful way to promote intimacy. Use essential oils to add some aromatherapy into the mix.
Well, I hope I’ve given you some ideas for some easy cheap date nights at home. Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to wait for a babysitter. Sometime the best date nights are the ones that are at home and low key. Spending quality time together is all that really matters.
If you need support, advice, and help on how to navigate motherhood and marriage, then this post, 21 Bloggers to Help You Slay Motherhood, is a must-read.
This post, 21 Bloggers To Help You Slay Motherhood, contains some affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may make a small percentage at no cost to you. I only link to things I love.
I know for me there are times when I feel alone in this game. Maybe I was naive, but I never expected to feel lonely and unsupported in motherhood and marriage. But the truth is, our journey is personal and it can sometimes feel isolating if you don’t have support.
That is one reason, I started this blog. I know I seek reassurance, knowledge and tips on how to be a better wife and mother. I want to feel like there is someone out there that can relate to my failures and problems. Frankly, I want someone in the trenches with me who’s got my back. Today I’m sharing 21 bloggers to help you slay motherhood. Some I’ve recently started reading, but most I have been reading for years! You’ll love them!
Before you leave, please subscribe to my blog (yup, shameless plug) and while you’re at it, subscribe to these lovely ladies.
Farmhouse on Boone
If you’re a fan of Joanna Gains, you’re going to fall in love with Lisa Bass at Farmhouse on Boone. Seriously, I think her and Joanna Gaines are spirit animals. Her site is stunning! She focuses on natural living, minimalism, farmhouse decor and a simple lifestyle. If you’re a crunchy mama you will love her wholesome, scratch recipes, natural remedies, and lifestyle tips. I also love that she provides homemade tutorials like basic sewing techniques (like how to thread a sewing machine and sew a seam), how to make a macrame wall hanging and your own body butter. Seriously, she’s what I aspire to be.
The Time Warp Wife
I’ve been following Darlene Schacht on The Time Warp Wife for some time now. It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten just how I found her. She is a New York Times best selling author. I love that her site is heavily Christian based (no problem if that isn’t your cup of tea). She is a mama of four and one thing I really love is her online bible studies. I love reading them over my morning coffee (and if I get to drink it while it’s still hot, that’s a plus). She also has tons of cute printables on her site. I would say Darlene focuses more on marriage and biblical living than anything else, but I find her posts bring me lots of peace.
The Dating Divas
I love the Dating Divas! I’ve followed them for a few years. Their cheery, happy site is dedicated to loving your spouse in the cutest way imaginable. If you are a mom or wife struggling with date night ideas, this site is for you! At home dates, group dates, sexy date nights, out of the house dates, you name it – they have it all planned out. They have the cutest ideas. We rarely get a date night so the at-home date nights have been amazing for us!
Two women run Rookie Moms. I personally love their product reviews. But they have lots of really helpful articles. From postpartum issues to sleep regression and toddler development, they have lots of informative posts to help you survive motherhood.
I’m choking up just writing this. Affair Recovery is more than just a blog / website. They’re also a retreat center for crumbling marriages, in particular ones that are going though an affair or other sexual addictions. They have lots of free resources, but my favorite is the Vlog series on YouTube. Early in my marriage, my husband had inappropriate feelings towards a co-worker as well as a pornography addiction. For years, I just couldn’t move past the hurt, especially since he continued to work closely with the woman. I watched one video per day, in particular with Samuel because I felt a connection with his words. It was painful to process those feelings at first. But I’m proud to say our marriage has completely healed from this and we have Affair Recovery to thank.
Tabitha runs this great blog, Meet Penny. Her blog is heavily focused on frugal living. I love all her helpful tips to save money. If you’re homeschooling, she has a huge library of free curriculum and resources to help you. Her parenting advice is also invaluable!
To Love, Honor & Vacuum
With over 42,000 subscribers, Sheila Wray Gregoire at To Love, Honor and Vacuum focuses heavily on marriage, marital sex, family, and faith. I found her when I was going through some heavy jealousy with a woman with which my husband works. A few of her posts, gave me some great insight on handling those feelings. I love that she focuses heavily on keeping the spark going in marriage. An author of eight books, she is also a public speaker.
On The Sunny Side of Something
I recently discovered Elease Colcord and her blog The Sunny Side of Something online and I can’t stop reading her! Her writing makes you feel like you’re her best friend and I have to remind myself, I don’t actually know her. Haha! She’s beautiful, entertaining, funny, but most of all – authentic. On her blog she shares recipes, parenting stories (both funny and tearjerking), personal growth, but my favorite section is MILP. Moms I’d Like to Punch. Oh em gee. It’s hilarious and totally relatable! Check her out. She’ll have you in stitches. Follow her on Instagram for more online fun.
Confessions of a Homeschooler
I’ve been following Erica for about 3 years on her site Confessions of a Homeschooler. On her site, she provides curriculum for preschoolers to grade school as well as homeschooling schedules for every grade, menu planning, lesson plans and tons of printables. Even if you aren’t homeschooling, I strongly recommend reading her site. She has a huge amount of learning resources for every age, including how to reduce test taking anxiety, how to take notes, and how to study for tests. You won’t regret it.
The Chic Site
How could I not include this, in 21 Bloggers to Slay Motherhood? If you haven’t heard of Rachel Hollis, you’ve been living under a rock. Okay, that’s harsh. But seriously, this lady is truly inspiring to me. On days when I totally feel like giving up on this blog, she reminds me not to take “no” for an answer. Her amazing book, “Girl, Wash Your Face,” is a best seller and her blog, The Chic Site is equally motivating. When I first found her (before her book), I think she tended to focus more on style, but she has really dug her heels into personal growth topics. I think her writing style is so sincere and authentic. If you haven’t read her book, you can find it on Amazon (link below). Also her new book, “Girl, Stop Apologizing” is now out in book stores. I can’t wait to read it!
Live Wise Love Well
I recently discovered Erika at Live Wise Love Well. Can I just say that she is such a beautiful lady, inside and out. She just did an outstanding series on the fruits of the spirit. If you’re struggling in areas like peace, patience, and gentleness, you need her in your life! Her message is beautiful and inspiring. She’s cute too! Like, really cute. If you need a chuckle, read her post, “How the Instapot Saved My Marriage.” She also does regular podcasts so go have a listen and subscribe to her!
The Purposeful Nest
I just recently discovered Ashley at The Purposeful Nest. A former police officer, she is now a stay-at-hom mom and homeschooler. Her lovely blog focuses on homeschooling, DIY and crafts, and family-oriented travel. Give her a read, you won’t be disappointed.
Club 31 Women
I’ve been reading Lisa Jacobson at Club 31 Women for years. One thing I love about Lisa is that she’s an older mother of 8 children. Yes, you read that right, 8. She brings wisdom and experience to her posts. Also, her recipes are delicious. Just sayin’. I love her focus on marriage and child rearing from a woman who’s been through it many times over. But what’s really special is that her husband, Matthew Jacobson has a “sister site” for men. His site, Faithful Man, is equally inspiring and full of encouragement. My husband and I like to read them both.
How To Be a Fun Mum
Just as the title suggests, New Zealander Kelly, wanted to be a fun mom, but wasn’t. That is until she totally turned her version of motherhood around and became a fun mom. She learned to embrace motherhood and enjoy it! Something I firmly believe moms should do. Her site, How To Be a Fun Mum, is dedicated to fun activities with your kids and they are indeed fun. My boys love to do the activities and I know yours will too!
Chronicles of a Momtessorian
Anitra runs a cute educational Mom’s blog called Chronicles of a Momtessorian. On her blog, she provides tons of Montessori based activities for your little ones that you can do at home. What’s really nice is that most activities are very easy to do…and we all want things to make life easier. Head to her blog for great educational resources.
The Measured Mom
A mother of six, Anna is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom. Her site, The Measured Mom, is dedicated to teaching children at home. She has both free printables and a shop. Furthermore, she has tools and resources for just about every subject. Handwriting, spelling, math, book lists, and themed teaching. She has 180,000 followers because of her great learning curriculum. Again, even if you aren’t homeschooling there are lots of resources that can be used to supplement your child’s public school education.
It’s My Sustainable Life
Calling crunchy moms! Suzan at It’s My Sustainable Life provides beautiful online content. Similar to Farmhouse on Boone, she focuses on holistic living. Her subjects include, up-cycling DIY projects, scratch recipes, gardening, food preservation, and natural remedies.
Jessica Plemons Kindergarten
This girl is amazing and I have so much for which to thank her! Her site, Mrs. Plemons Kindergarten offers the best tot school curriculum, baby activities and preschool curriculum I’ve ever come across. We used the tot school curriculum when my son was in the 2-3 age range. He learned so much from these lessons! Best of all they felt like play time to him and the lesson plans have a lot of flexibility. One of the best things is that Jessica runs a Facebook Group to go alongside of the curriculum. Here you can talk with other mothers and get advice strait from Jessica herself. Even if you aren’t homeschooling, you’ll love the themed activities that keep your little toddler’s hands busy!
Real Mom Nutrition
Sally at Real Mom Nutrition is a registered dietitian and mom. Her “no judgement” site is dedicated to getting your kids to eat healthy with her kid-friendly recipes and ideas. I love that she also posts often about picky eaters and provides real ways to get your picky child to try new things.
Mommy Knows Best
Jenny runs her blog, Mommy Knows Best. This blog is heavily focused on postpartum issues primarily lactation. Best of all she provides natural herbal remedies to treat low milk supply. If you are struggling to nurse, I highly recommend reading her blog.
Okay so Shay isn’t a blogger per se. She’s a vlogger on You Tube. But I think she is really valuable when it comes to budgeting, reducing debt and being financially responsible. She also uses the Happy Planner, Erin Condren and other cute methods to make boring household management fun! Hey 26,000 subscribers agree with me. Additionally, she has an Etsy shop with budgeting stickers and tools to make budgeting organized and more enjoyable.
I really hope this post, 21 Bloggers to Help You Slay Motherhood, was helpful to you. Please subscribe to these ladies if you feel like they speak to you. If you have found a blogger you love, I’d like to hear who and why you follow them in the comments below.
Every now and then, we lose a deep connection with our spouse. Busy schedules, kids, and work are often to blame. Get conversation going with 25 Questions to Reconnect With Your Spouse
It’s very easy to lose that close connection with your spouse. If you have kids, it’s almost bound to happen. Trying to juggle their schedules, work, and trying to squeeze in time for yourself and your spouse, is really a tireless effort.
Sometimes we disconnect without even meaning to. I mean, come on! Somedays, I don’t even know if I’ve showered! Gross, I know, but it’s the truth. Parents have little time for date nights and romantic evenings. In fact, we don’t even have a regular babysitter so our date nights are solely on Valentine’s day or our anniversary. Therefore, we try to do a lot of our date nights at home once the kids are in bed.
How to Reconnect
I’ve learned that time to reconnect has to be scheduled. I know how sterile that sounds! But hey, if I were to wait for it to happen organically, it would never happen! Am I right?
I find, I have to make it a priority and pencil it in like any other thing that is important. Reconnecting isn’t expensive. Sometimes it’s as simple as just having a conversation together and redefining where you want your marriage and family to go. It’s about learning your spouse. After all, people grow and change. Our goals and dreams change. If you aren’t growing together, you’ll grow apart.
It’s not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
I remember our pastor talked about this to my husband during our pre-marital counseling. He said dating is like a high school diploma and you should always be learning about your spouse to earn other “degrees.” As the years pass, and as you invest more time to learning your spouse, you graduate higher and higher in your marriage. I like that analogy.
Reconnecting With Your Spouse
Sometimes I think we have exhausted all topics of conversation. Thats why today, I’m sharing 25 questions to reconnect with your spouse. Think of them are conversations starters. Learn if your spouse has changed their views. Pose follow up questions to understand them better. Interview their heart.
25 Questions to Reconnect With Your Spouse
What scares you about our future?
When are you happiest?
What do you like to do, that you wish you had more time to do?
What makes you proud as a parent?
Is this what you thought parenting would look like?
What traits do you love in our children?
What is your best memory of our kids so far?
Are you satisfied with our lovemaking?
How can I help you with stress in your life?
Do you feel like your needs are being met? If not, what can I do?
What kind of vacations would you like to take with our family?
Where do you see us in 5 years?
Are there boundaries you think we need to put in place to protect our marriage?
What would make you feel closer to me?
What kind of activities do you want to start doing together?
Is there anything about our kids that worries you?
How do you feel about our finances?
How can I help you become closer to God?
Is there anything you want to tell me?
What’s your happiest moment of our life together?
How do you envision our retirement?
What worries you right now?
Is there something you think we should be teaching our kids?
What is something you’ve always wanted to do?
Do you have any regrets?
Every now and then my husband and I ask each other similar questions to try and understand our vision for our marriage, our family, and our lives. I’d love to hear what other kind of questions you think are good to ask!
Dear Husband, I Need to Thank You. This is an open letter to my husband, because…well he deserves it. SPOILER ALERT: Mushy PDA coming up. Not responsible for tears!
I need to thank you.
You Complete Me
I felt empty before I met you. Empty like a piece of me was missing and I was tirelessly searching for it. I knew I found it when I met you. I can’t even put into words the wholeness that I feel everyday knowing you are my husband. When I was pregnant with your boys, I felt special. I felt connected to you. I felt honored and chosen to carry your babies. We are distinctly different. You make up for all that I lack.
You are my home. You are my family. No matter what happens in our future, I am complete with you. I will go where you go. Your enemies are my enemies. Your God will be my God. Your family is my family. Your home will be my home. Forever.
You Understand Me
I feel very misunderstood by many people, but worse I feel most people don’t want to understand me. But you, you always seek to understand me. This past year was hard, for many reasons, but for one in particular – the loss of my circle of friends. You know my heart. You know that I always have the best of intentions. You understand me. You get me. In fact, I think you’re the only person who truly does. But only because you are the only person who has taken the time. You always know what I need to hear. You know what worries me and what scares me. You know my secrets. You know exactly what I need at exactly the right time. Best of all, you never pass judgement. Thank you for taking the time to know and understand me.
You Comfort Me
We’ve been through a lot together. Miscarriages. Addictions. Depression. Death. Birth. Jobs. Sickness. Despair. Moving. Globetrotting. Grief. Anniversaries. Birthdays. Beginnings. Endings. Through it all, you comfort me. You do it in a way that makes me “see” Christ in you, working through you. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for overcoming your strongholds. Even through that rocky, confusing time, you comforted me. Many men would have cut and ran. Some men would have given up. When we lost our babies, when I’ve gone through horrific bouts of depression, you comforted me. You many not have always known how, but I promise you – you did. Even if all you could do was throw your arms around me. If all you could do was cry with me, I promise – you comforted me. Thanks for never walking out on me when life got hard.
You Are Merciful to Me
I’m choking up just typing this. This is huge – and you probably don’t know that I’m aware of this, but I am. You cover my faults. You hide them. It would be easy to expose them. The world tells us it’s okay “to vent.” People are quick to share how someone has let them down or done them wrong.
But you – you don’t even bring up my faults in conflict or arguments. You spare me. You extend mercy when I don’t deserve it. While others might look at my faults with a magnifying glass, you cover me with grace. You give me permission to be human. You are slow to anger and quick to forgive me. You let me “win” even at the cost of your own pride. You are malleable when I am obstinate. You are long-suffering when I am insufferable. You save me from the embarrassment of my own shortcomings. I notice. I’m grateful. I’m humbled.
You Protect Me
Protection, real protection is such an attractive quality in a man. I don’t just mean physical protection. I mean the kind of protection that is hard. The kind of protection that shelters me from verbal attacks, criticism, anger, cruel intentions, and more. When Jack was born, we faced all kinds of criticism and judgement. But you did your best to protect me from it, going so far as to accept the “sentencing” onto yourself. I never saw you more Christ-like. After all, isn’t that what Christ does for us? He took on our sin and paid the price for us, so we wouldn’t have to. I saw you do that for me. I saw you risk everything to support me. That is love.
But also, you set me strait. You rebuke me when I need correction, thereby saving me from going down a dark path. My bipolar isn’t easy to live with and yet, you do it with so much gentleness. You protect me even from that, as much as you can.
You Serve Me
In the flesh-driven world, “service” to your spouse is so misunderstood. It’s thought of in feudalistic terms like serfdom or worse, slavery. But real spouses serve each other in love. As in Christ’s example, “I came not to be served, but to serve.” You go to work everyday to support us. You make huge sacrifices, always putting yourself last, so we can come first.
Even when you come home tired, because of my bipolar, you get up with the baby every night. You have for years. I am ashamed that I can’t do that without huge ramifications with my illness. But you never complain. You do it so willingly and drag yourself to work the next day. When I’ve had a rough day, you offer to bring dinner home even though I know you’d rather not spend the money. You’ve taken our boys to the emergency room and waited for hours there by yourself. You’ve used your vacation days, not for you, but for us. When our babies are sick, you’ll run out at all hours for medication. It’s thankless and exhausting.
Dear Husband, I Need to Thank You
Dear Husband, I need to thank you. I need you to know how much I appreciate your sacrifices and tireless efforts. I want you to know it matters and it doesn’t go unnoticed. I love you. More than I could ever put into words. More than I could ever show you.
Turn up the heat at home with the super sexy, romantic Valentine’s Day Playlist.
I love Valentine’s Day. First, I’m Catholic and it’s the feast day of St. Valentine, a 3rd century saint. If you’re unfamiliar with Catholic beliefs, a feast day is a day in the liturgical calendar when Catholics venerate (honor and remember) a saint. St. Valentine was an early Italian Christian whose devotion and love for Christ led to his martyrdom. Although little of his life is reliably known, he has long been associated with love and devotion.
Secondly, I love Valentine’s because even though it has become another commercial holiday, it does remind me how blessed I am to have a loving spouse. In a busy world, it’s easy to take for granted our loved ones. But on February 14, I’m compelled to honor my husband and others whom I love.
That being said, any mama out there knows it’s so hard to have a date night with little ones. So my husband and I try to make home as romantic as possible. Therefore, we often have at-home date nights once the kids are in bed. So today I’m sharing a playlist to kindle some magic between you and your significant other!
Where to Listen
There are so many options these days to listen to curated playlists. Spotify, Pandora, and Apple iTunes. Frankly, I love Apple iTunes! Create as many playlists as you want, download as many songs as you want and you can have a family plan to share with your spouse and kids.
So I will tell you, this romantic Valentine’s Day playlist is kinda old school! But hey, some of the best songs were done years ago. But don’t worry, I’ve thrown plenty of modern stuff in there too!
Whether you are doing well or struggling in your marriage, everyone could do with a little fine tuning! Here are 10 Books that will strengthen your marriage.
How Books Helped Strengthen Our Marriage
Let’s be honest, marriage is really hard work! One of the things I’ve learned in marriage is that you have to be deliberate about growing together. Additionally, if you have kids or a busy work schedule, you really need to prioritize intimacy. To clarify, intimacy doesn’t just mean sex either. Intimacy starts as an emotional connection. In fact, if you don’t have an emotional connection, it’s harder to be intimate physically – at least for many women.
One of the things my husband and I have always done is to read together. It doesn’t take a lot of time, just a couple of pages at night before we go to sleep. Believe it or not, it actually does work! One of us reads aloud and the other listens. For whatever reason, it is very different from the same ole’ staring at the tv screen.
Today, I’m sharing several books that help us work through hard times and understand each other better. Here are 10 books that will strengthen your marriage. These books, with the exception of one, is Christian themed. In a future post, I’ll provide secular titles we read.
The Love Dare, Alex & Stephen Kendrick
This is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you are struggling to love your spouse, if you are running out of reasons to keep giving them chances, you need this book. This 40 day devotional teaches you how to lead your heart back to loving your spouse. Based on 1 Corinthians, the book guides you through a daily instruction on love, providing principles and scripture to contemplate and pray. Then it provides you with a daily challenge and encourages some journaling for self-discovery. I can’t tell you how many times this book has helped me. I’ve even used it with another family member, other than my spouse. My copy is worn and I’ve probably bought 5 or six copies for other people whose marriages were crumbling.
The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman
This classic book was really pivotal in learning how to love my spouse. If you feel like there are a lot of unmet needs in your marriage, this book is for you. Most of the time, it is simply a disconnect between you and your spouse. This book describes the five ways people show love. It also explains that people generally show love in the way they like to be loved. For example, maybe your spouse need gifts to feel appreciated. Gifts mean nothing to you, so you never think of giving them. Meanwhile, your spouse begins to feel you don’t care because you “never think of them.” This book teaches you and your spouse how to figure out what it is you need to feel loved and how to meet your spouses needs.
Toxic In-laws, Susan Forword, Phd.
If you’re struggling with invasive, overbearing or controlling in-laws, this is a great book to read. And let me be clear – this book isn’t just great for in-laws. To clarify, this book is written from a psychological perspective instead of Christian one, but I never found it’s advice at odds with my Christian beliefs.
Using real life examples, the author illustrates the main types of toxic parents and carefully outlines their qualities tactics, including guilt and emotional blackmail. It then provides sound, practical advice on how to keep peace, set boundaries and protect your marriage.
The Peacemaker, Ken Sande
This is a must-have book on your bookshelf. If there is anything I’ve learned in life it’s that conflict is unavoidable. Most people tend to fight back or run away, but there are healthy ways to deal with conflict. There is a presumption that any sort of conflict is bad. This book provides biblical principles for navigating conflict and controlling emotions. It provides real solutions for how to be a peacemaker and more importantly – how to act as your own mediator even when emotions are high.
Red Hot Monogamy, Bill & Pam Farrel
This was a fun read. My husband and I actually read it together overnight. This book it based in scripture and uses the Song of Solomon to demonstrate that God wants you to have passionate sex with your spouse. That’s right! Christian sex is supposed to be steamy, fun, and intense. This great book by Bill and Pam Ferrel show you how to get in the right mindset to keep those embers burning!
The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, by Shelia Wray Gregoire
Piggybacking on Red Hot Monogamy, this book teaches you hot to ditch shallow, mechanical sex and trade it in for steamy sheets! I might describe this as Cosmopolitan without the raunchiness! This entertaining book describes the differences in how men and women approach sex and how to find your rhythm and connection as a couple – in particular once the newness wears away. Married for 20 years, the author gives real life examples on how to keep your love life flirtatious, fun, and sexy.
From Anger to Intimacy: How Forgiveness Can Transform Your Marriage, Dr. Gary Smalley
If you are married, you will get hurt. It’s a fact. You can’t spend a lifetime with someone and never get hurt. We are human and we will fail each other. If you are stuck in a place of unforgiveness with your spouse, I recommend this book. This book provides biblical techniques for both recognizing and processing anger and resentment. This book cuts strait to the heart and will stretch you to challenge yourself to move forward and start loving your spouse again.
Love & Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerich
As you may already know, men and women view love differently. Men actually need respect. For them, that equates to love. This book was actually recommended by our pastor and we really enjoyed reading it. When we get into the “crazy cycle” as this book calls it, I stop and recalibrate how I’m responding and reacting to my husband. I’m not sure I would have really been aware of my behavior if I hadn’t read this book. The same goes for my husband. Similar to The 5 Love Languages, it defines the different needs of men and women and what we can do to give our spouse what they need. Why would we want to do that? Because we respond to love with more love! It’s human nature. Instead of spinning out of control in our own selfishness, learn how to stay in a healthy love/respect cycle with your spouse.
Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas
This book, different from the others is more on the philosophical side, even existential. It considers a deeper reason for marriage and how it is a tool of the Lord to teach us and challenge us to become holy. Sacred marriage calls us seek out holier lives together as a couple and this book provides practical tools and advice to do that.
Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain, Dr. William M. Struthers
This was a very interesting read. If you are struggling with pornography invading your marriage and you have a partner willing to start healing, I highly recommend reading this together. This was the best combination of both religious / spiritual perspective but also psychological and neurobiological effects of pornography addiction and how to combat it. Written by a professor of Psychology, the read itself is a bit academic, but he combines spiritual principles that will help you and your partner.
The post 10 Books That Will Strengthen Your Marriage, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess
Setting healthy boundaries in your marriage might seem like an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but setting expectations and limitations can help minimize arguments, affairs, and even potential divorce.
(Photos courtesy of Unsplash)
I’m going to tell you a secret: I failed miserably at my first marriage. I married my first husband on my 20th birthday while living in the UK. At that age, I had the life experience of a fruit fly. I went into the union with absolutely no boundaries. I can’t recall a single time we talked openly or seriously about what we would and would not tolerate. Three short years into the marriage, we were falling apart. My ex-husband had a very lengthy affair with a co-worker. She was also married and had a child.
I’m now 15 years post divorce. I’m remarried to an amazing man and we have two beautiful children. At nearly 40 years old, I can tell you I’ve learned a lot about setting healthy marital boundaries and why they are so important. First, let’s take a quick look at what boundaries are and are not.
An imaginary line in the sand that you and your partner agree not to cross
A clear picture of what you will and will not tolerate
A definition of what you consider right and wrong
A way of saying “no” in advance to something deemed inappropriate
A way of protecting yourself
Boundaries are not:
A way to manipulate your spouse
A way to “keep score”
An uneven balance of power between spouses
My mother had a saying. “The devil will do anything to get you into bed before you’re married and he’ll do everything to keep you out of bed once you’re married.” It’s true. As soon as you’re married it feels like there is something working against you, particularly with your sex life. Children, responsibilities, work can all get in the way of having a healthy sex life. You’ll have to prioritize date nights and intimacy.
I don’t believe in setting a bunch of boundaries when it comes to sex except to keep it loving, safe, secure and respectful.
What boundaries might look like:
We will keep our sex respectful and marriage bed pure
We will make intimacy a priority
We will be honest with each other about our sexual needs
We will not weaponize sex or use it to manipulate
We will not engage in sexual acts that degrade or shame our spouse
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents, in-laws, and friends never involved themselves in your marriage? Yes, it would, but sadly whether intentionally or unintentionally, it still happens.
My husband and I, while both Christians, are different denominations. Early in our engagement, we had to decide whether to practice his Baptist faith or my Catholic faith. Of course, both sides of the family felt it was their place to tell us how we should worship and how we should raise our kids. The truth is, you will receive lots of unsolicited advice from family members and friends, but you decide how to deal with it as a couple. Don’t be afraid to shut it down, especially if it creates tension in your marriage.
Early in our marriage, my husband struggled with setting boundaries with his family. Honestly, I think everyone does. That’s because boundaries have the potential of disappointing others. Boundaries say “no.” For him, the breaking point came when we couldn’t make his sister’s wedding. I was 4 weeks post c-section and suffering from post partum psychosis. He just couldn’t leave me still healing from surgery, overwhelmed and suicidal. His family was disappointed, judgmental, and resentful. They were quick to tell us how we should have handled it (to their benefit, of course).
The situation got incredibly hurtful and toxic, but it was one of my husband’s proudest moments. Not only did he defend me, but he also shielded me from further mistreatment. He swore we would not return to see them until his family was willing to forgive and treat me better. I’m glad to say our family has healed from this, but sometimes you have to be courageous when it comes to protecting your marriage from anyone that might hurt it, even family.
What boundaries might look like:
We will defend our choices to others as a unified front
We will share holidays with both sides of the families
We will not allow toxic people to influence or divide us
We will protect and defend the reputation of our spouse to others, choosing to cover faults instead of exposing them
We will adopt traditions from both sides of the family
Our parents can not tell us what to do in our own home
We will make seeing extended family a priority
We will commit to peace with in-laws even when we disagree
We will not accept our family badmouthing our spouse
As I mentioned earlier, in my first marriage, I had no boundaries with my ex-husband. He was free to go to lunch with whomever he wanted, women included. My ex-husband’s friendship with a female co-worker didn’t alarm me, after all, she was happily married too. Over the years, I’ve seen so many marriages destroyed and families torn apart by infidelity. There is one truth I’ve seen in most cases: they were just friends, until they weren’t. Most good people don’t intend to have affairs. They befriended someone and it grew into feelings akin to fondness. Fondness developed into deeper romantic feelings. Once someone else is fulfilling the role of your spouse, it’s easy to justify your actions. Worse, your loyalty and love shifts to the outsider instead of your spouse.
That’s why in my second marriage my husband and I decided to set healthy boundaries when it came to the opposite sex. Transparency is our mantra. This means lots of accountability and absolutely no secrets. (By the way, if you are struggling from broken boundaries, I highly recommend Affair Recovery.)
What boundaries might look like:
We will disclose private messages, text messages and conversations with the opposite sex
We will not engage in one-on-one activities with the opposite sex
We will not travel alone with the opposite sex
We will give access to our phone, email and social media accounts
We will not keep secrets from each other
We will not engage in pornography
Fighting is inevitable in marriage. No matter how much you may seemingly have in common, no two people are truly compatible. You have to agree to agree or agree to disagree. You will always have stark differences. Learning how to navigate fights before feelings are invested, will help you tremendously. It’s also important to note that how we cope with discord is different. The two most common defense mechanisms are fight or flight. We either become combative, defensive, and unreasonable or we avoid it or worse – physically leave the argument. Neither of those produce good results.
Create between you, rules for fighting fair. Consider it a rule book for how fights will be dealt with, particularly when emotions escalate.
What boundaries might look like:
We will never call each other names in the argument
We will never become physical
We will never mention divorce
If it becomes too intense, we will take a time out and revisit the topic later
We can leave the room, but not the house
We will never have heated arguments in front of the children
We will never argue in public
We will seek out a mediator, such as a pastor or counselor if we become stonewalled
There are lots of different topics with which you might place boundaries. Some of these could be financial, religious or job-related. Perhaps they include how to discipline children. They key to setting healthy boundaries in your marriage, is to set them through honest and open discussion. I suggest never asking your partner to do something you would be unwilling to follow yourself. For example, I asked my husband to disclose one-on-one conversations with the opposite sex. But I also hold myself to the same standard. If one of my male friends reaches out privately, I tell my husband and give him the opportunity to read the text messages, etc if he chooses. Healthy boundaries protect both the marriage as a whole and both individuals equally. What are some of the healthy boundaries in your marriage? I love to hear why and how you set them.
She does him good. That is the motto of the Proverbs 31 woman. Enjoy this month long devotional of prayer prompts for your husband.
“She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”Proverbs 31:12
There are certainly many ways to bless your husband, but the best way certainly has to be praying for him. To make sure I do this for my husband daily, I put an alarm in my phone that goes off just minutes after he leaves in the morning. In the stillness of the morning, before my day gets too frantic, I pray for him. This is where us wives must be careful not to complain about him to God, but rather to pray for him. If you’ve never prayed for your husband, I challenge you to commit to it for 31 days and see how it not only changes you but your spouse. Here are a few ideas, based on my own prayers.
31 Days of Praying for Your Husband
1.Pray that he desires to go to church.
2. Pray that he is blessed with wisdom and discernment.
3. Pray that he finds friends who are Christ-centered and will hold him accountable.
4. Pray that he finds favor at work.
5. Pray he will find the Lord’s help when he is sexually tempted.
6. Pray he will love truth and hate lies.
7. Pray he is a wise financial steward.
8. Pray he will find joy in family life.
9. Pray he will forgive easily and quickly, extending grace to those who may not deserve it.
10. Pray he will confess any sins that are hidden.
11. Pray he find freedom from any strongholds.
12. Pray he assumes the role of wise leader in your family.
13. Pray he uses his gifts and abilities to magnify the Lord.
14. Pray that he cultivates deep relationships with his children.
15. Pray he will desire to read scripture.
16. Pray he will use scripture to make decisions.
17. Pray he operates with equal truth and grace.
18. Pray he love Jesus above all things.
19. Pray he will never despair.
20. Pray he will desire to protect your marriage from anything that might destroy it.
21. Pray he have a heart of gratitude.
21. Pray he rejects Satan and all his empty promises.
22. Pray any feelings of envy or jealousy leave his heart.
23. Pray he tempers his words carefully.
24. Pray he will ask for help when he needs it.
25. Pray he will discern when to listen and when to speak.
26. Pray he protects his five senses from things that are not holy.
27. Pray God strips away selfishness from his actions and heart.
28. Pray his ego decreases and humility increases.
29. Pray for the blessing of self-control and self-discipline.
30. Pray he submits to God’s will.
31. Pray he become God’s perfect design.
Before You Go
If you’re looking for other devotionals, see my Scripture Reading posts: