10 Tips For A Happy Marriage

10 Tips For A Happy MarriageMarriages are made in heaven, no doubt. But, it requires a lot of effort to nurture a relationship. And marriage is no exception to this. You have to give an extra bit to make sure your marriage lasts for years to come. Mentioned below are 10 tips to have a successful happy marriage.

1. Keep the flame ignited

The initial days after your wedding will indeed be honey dipped. But as days pass, both you and your husband will get into the rut of life and slowly your romance might take a backseat. In order to nurture a happy relationship, you need to keep the flame ignited, keep the spark alive. Get steamy in the bedroom, do something new to seduce him or experiment with your sex positions.

2. Never take your partner for granted

As mentioned earlier, marriages start get boring as time passes. That is because, both husband and wife get used to each other and they start taking each other for granted. It’s natural and human. But, you need to steer clear of this tendency and take everyday as a special day and treat your partner in a special way.

3. Avoid nagging

The main practice that helps you sail through the trials and tribulations of marriage is ignoring petty things. Stop being a complaint box and avoid nagging your husband for little things. It is these trivial issues that have the power to create a mountain out of a molehill.

4. Respect your partner

Once you are married to a person, it implies that you love him and that means you have to respect him, come what may. It’s quite natural for you guys to quarrel at times. But, even when you are arguing, make sure you don’t call names or use abuse words.

5. Communicate well

Communication plays an important role in fostering a healthy relationship. Often, it happens that you have something in mind and you are unable to convey it. This either leads to total ignorance on your partner’s part or misunderstanding, which can have bad effects. Hence, it’s best to communicate well with your partner and talk about everything that comes into your mind.

8 tips for a happy marriage after babies

8 tips for a happy marriage after babiesPinky McKay, Melbourne-based parenting doyenne, mum of five and author of Parenting By Heart (Penguin), says having a baby is one of the biggest tests your marriage will face. “Having a baby is probably the greatest adjustment a couple could experience. It amazes me how much effort people put into planning for a baby on a practical level, but often don’t even consider how much their relationship will change with a baby – all the frozen casseroles in the world can’t prepare you for the lack of time, sleep and the hormonal chemistry of new parenthood.” Here’s her advice for a happy marriage after babies:

Make sure you’re supported

If you’re pregnant, start preparing now for a supported birth to really protect your relationship post-birth.  Pinky says making sure you feel supported during the birth can help shield your relationship by preventing feelings of being let down if your partner hasn’t fulfilled all your expectaions during labour and birth. “I feel it’s important, especially for first births, to have a support person, such as your own midwife (you can hire an independent midwife even if you have a hospital birth) or a doula, as well as your partner. The support person can do so many little things to make your birth easier without intruding on your partner experience,” she says.

Change your sex life

Women and men are wired very differently – a new mother can be totally consumed with baby care all day (and night) – and might want to cuddle and feel nurtured without it ending in sex, or she may simply feel ‘ all touched out’ after giving so much of her body to the baby. Conversely, reveals Pinky, the guy’s way of feeling close is to have sex. As this is where things can break down, communication and understanding are key to intimacy. “Guys are more likely to get lucky if they help with baby care – settling, rocking, bathing are great ways to share – or cooking and cleaning up so she will have time to share ‘the love’ without feeling stressed about all the things that need doing,” she advises. “Guys – think of ‘doing dishes’ as foreplay!”

Allow yourself to have those post-birth feelings

Childbirth can sometimes colour your relationship with your partner and how you feel about intimacy. “From flashbacks, to people doing vaginal exams during labour, to fear of pain or, on the other hand, feelings of power and strength if the woman felt supported – how she perceives her partner’s strength and support will colour how she feels about him too,” says Pinky, adding that she’s spoken to couples where the partner feels responsible for things that have gone ‘wrong’.” Talk to your partner if this is the case, and seek professional help if your feelings have changed.

Come to terms with your ‘new’ body

Your body is going through a new life stage on producing a baby, so give yourself time to get used to your post-baby figure without expecting to spring back like a supermodel. “Body image can greatly affect how ‘sexy’ a woman feels after having a baby – wobbly bits and leaking can be a shock to many women, and media images of celebs who have amazing after-baby bodies aren’t helpful,” says Pinky.

Have a date night

While caring for your baby might be all-consuming, it’s important to nurture your relationship, too, by giving it quality time. “If you want ‘together time’ you may have to plan ahead – mark a ‘date night’ on the calendar even if this means a video and takeaway at home,” advises Pinky. “Or you can enjoy being spontaneous – you don’t only have to make love in bed at night time.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Consider help with practical things such as hiring a cleaner, a gardener or dog walker, and don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help to relieve the strain on your life and your relationship. “You are not imposing – everyone feels privileged to share the joy of a baby,” says Pinky.

Have your own savings fund

Statistically, money is the greatest source of arguments for all couples – however much you have, so Pinky advises planning ahead and saving some money for yourself before you have your baby. “It can be difficult to ask your partner for money when you have always been financially independent,” she explains. “Partners don’t always see the value of a latte with mums’ group or a mummy yoga class; many don’t appreciate the cost of nappies and basic household groceries when you are reduced to a single income, but will rummage in your purse for parking money as they leave for work! Again, communication is key.”

Find some me-time

If you feel all worn out from giving all day, you can’t expect to feel excited about your relationship: you need to keep loving yourself in little ways so that you have good energy and loving feelings for your partner. “It’s important to find ‘me’ time as well as couple time,” says Pinky. “It can be good to stick a reminder on your fridge of things you can do in a few minutes – from painting your toenails to making a pot of tea. If you are at home with a small baby, watch a DVD while you feed, call a friend or check emails while baby has a kick on the floor, walk in the sunshine while baby sleeps in the pram or a sling, or join a mum and bub exercise or yoga group.” Your relationship and you will both benefit from it.

10 Marriage Tips Every Wife Should Follow

As women and moms, we tend to get busy! Our energy is squeezed from us all day long by our job and our kids, and then, somehow, we have to find leftover energy for our husband. Somehow we figure it out and manage, because that’s what we do. If we can make it through childbirth, we can do anything! But do we really want to go through life simply managing our marriage? Wouldn’t it be much better to enjoy our marriage? I have been learning what that looks like for me and my husband, and I made a nice, neat list of 10 marriage tips, so you can rock your marriage too!

Marriage Tips

I will say, real quickly, this post is geared towards wives because, well, I’m a woman and that’s the only perspective I can share!

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10 Marriage Tips to Start Today:

1. Stop talking and listen. 

Golly! Why are we so horrible at listening? I used to think I was the best communicator on the planet until one day, someone told me that communicating doesn’t just mean talking. It mainly means listening, like really listening and I fail at that. Yes, sometimes listening to your husband talk about work, again, can be so boring, but it seriously means the world to him. And we might all notice our husbands becoming better communicators if we actually stop talking long enough to let them say something.

2. Take interest in his interests.

The other day, I spent a whole 2 hour car ride talking about nothing but cars. It started off really boring. I hate talking about cars, so I was tuning out half of what he was saying. But then I caught myself! I started really focusing and really listening to what he was saying and asking specific questions. He LOVED it! Let’s be honest – I will probably never use the information I learned, but that’s not the point. The point is that my husband feels cared about.

3. Your marriage is a “competition” (but not against each other!)

Marriage is not just a walk in the park – it’s hard work! Don’t take your husband for granted or give him the slightest reason to look somewhere else. Instead, learn to be what he needs. Think back to when you were dating and you rocked at looking for every opportunity to make him fall more in love with you. Or maybe you didn’t quite rock it, but now is your chance to outshine even yourself! What women doesn’t want to win? I don’t want to become complacent or lazy in my marriage. Even though I know my husband has eyes for only me, I still love to compete for him daily!

4. Take a few seconds each day to text him something over the top.

I don’t care how busy you are, we all have time to send a text. Send him something totally sweet, over the top and totally flirty, that lets him know you are thinking about him. Think back to the kind of things you used to say when you were dating. Just double check to make sure you are sending it the right person before you click send.

 5. Don’t talk bad about him.

Not to his face or to your friends. Remember that even if you “just joke” negatively, it eventually builds up to be a real thing subconsciously.

6. Marriage is a two way street, but you can only change yourself. 

There are times in life that you just have to be the bigger person and make the changes that you know are needed to improve your relationship. And who knows, initiating the kindness might just set the spark in him too.

7. Be wrong.

Admitting fault shows courage. Remember – your marriage is not a competition with each other and there’s no need to keep score.

8. No more mom underwear.

Enough said.

9. Splurge on the expensive hair cut or the new outfit.

Splurge a little on something that makes you feel special and wow your husband. Plus as a bonus, it’ll make us feel so much better about ourselves too. We won’t have to avoid mirrors anymore. Instead we can glance and smile at ourselves because we know we look good. And that confidence will be the most attractive thing to your spouse.

10. Dream together. 

Dreams are what bring depth into your marriage and help you through the rough times. Don’t just make one year goals, make a crazy bucket list together or dream about traveling the world. Remember, you only live once. Next time you go out on a date {see our $10 date idea here} dream together! And don’t forget to have fun together!

Thanks for stopping by!

Plan A Wedding

Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding!

plan_a_wedding

We are pleased that you have chosen Faith Lutheran or Journey in Faith as the place to start your marriage. We want each couple to have a beautiful wedding, but also a rich and healthy marriage relationship that will last for a lifetime.

We want to help you plan a wedding and ceremony with Christ at the center. A wedding is a worship service that celebrates the love of God and our love for each other.

May God bless you and your relationship with God and each other, The Pastors and Staff of Faith Lutheran and Journey in Faith

Planning a Wedding

Now that you have made the decision to be married, it is important that every possible step be taken to ensure that you not only have a beautiful and meaningful wedding ceremony, but also a rich and healthy marriage relationship. We pray that you will allow Jesus Christ to dwell with you so that you will experience all that God has for you as you build your marriage with God as the foundation.

Your wedding day is one of the most important occasions in your life, and we are pleased that God has led you to include the church in your plans. The wedding service is an event that will go by all too quickly; it will be a time to praise God, who is the source of all love. Your marriage, we pray, will last a lifetime. It is important, therefore, for you to have an intentional time to plan both for the wedding service and for the life-long commitment that you are making to each other. It is expected that every couple who wishes to be married at Faith Lutheran or Journey in Faith attend a pre-marriage retreat.

If you are interested in having a wedding at Faith Lutheran or Journey in Faith or would like someone from Faith or Journey officiate at your wedding, please contact Peggy Bernard to discuss your specific request. Peggy can be reached 9:00AM – 4:00PM, Monday – Thursday and 9:00AM – 1:00PM, Friday in the church office, 701.282.3309.

Our Goal

The goal of Faith Lutheran and Journey in Faith is to make your wedding a joyful and beautiful event. We hope and pray that your wedding day will be one of the happiest days of your life and that you will include God as you begin this new journey together.
ELCA Marriage Belief

As you go on your way, may God go with you…
May He go before you to show you the way,
May He go behind you to encourage you,
Beside you to befriend you,
Above you to watch over you,
Within you to give you peace!

✝ Pastors and Staff of Faith Lutheran
and Journey In Faith

10 Steps to Host a Bridal Show at Your Hotel (Playlist Included)

Let me share a quick story with you about my experience with annual bridal shows. A few years ago, I caught wind of a struggling show on an island that was a popular destination spot. Although vendors loved it, attendance was dwindling, and the local tourism organization didn’t want to continue to run it. However, one of the resorts on the island, dependent on bridal business, was determined to save the show and host it themselves.

They enlisted my planning expertise, and, even though I had never planned a trade show, I went all in. I invited plenty of vendors and brides, and actually grew the show from 11 attendees to 40. For a resort on an island, 40 is an impressive number!

That was in 2012, and the resort continues to successfully host the show today. Not surprisingly, weddings are a huge business and a staple for many hotels. BRIDES Magazine New American Wedding Survey reveals that 76% of brides plan on having large traditional weddings, which means they’ll be interested in attending wedding expos. And for your hotel, wedding expos are incredible exposure. They book up rooms, put you in front of brides who are in the midst of their venue search, and also help raise your profile among attendees and planners who are likely to keep you in mind for other future events and trips.

There is no magic recipe for hosting a phenomenal bridal show, but there are some general guidelines. Here is my top 10 list of simples steps on how to be successful, increase your bridal business, and snag additional SMERF business on the side. If I can do it, you can too. As a bonus, enjoy this list of popular wedding songs that you can play at your bridal show!

“A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” Cinderella

1. Design Your Dream Bridal Show

I suggest that you bring together a focus group that includes upper management, the bridal sales team, the conference services manager, and banquets department. It’s also especially valuable to hold a focus group at some point with a few vendors and brides. Hotel staff provides valuable input about what they can do and how they plan to impress. Vendors and brides provide information on what their expectations and dreams are for a successful bridal show. A SWOT analysis is imperative at this stage. What are your weaknesses and threats? One of our threats was the additional effort of leaving your car to attend the show and taking the ferry. We managed that by arranging a special deal with the ferry vendor. Our weakness was that we had never planned a bridal show, but we used our collective experience in other areas to overcome it. As far as opportunities went, our sales team found additional SMERF leads by going through the contacts of the attending parents and other family members.

“Nothing Left to Lose” Mat Kearney

2. Set the Budget

What will it cost to host your dream bridal show? What is budgeted in the marketing plan and how will a show fit into your marketing strategy? What net amount do you need to raise to make it the best show ever? Build a spreadsheet that includes items, estimated cost, final cost, and who is paying for what. Create a second spread sheet of the “in kind” sponsorships and cash sponsorships you need to be successful. An adequate budget is imperative. What you present at the bridal show to brides and their families and friends is the impression you give of your resort over all. Make your presentation opulent–this is a bridal show! The show should look and feel indulgent, even if you don’t spend a great deal!

“More Than a Love Song” Augustana

3. Due Diligence

My theory is that all events have the same basic planning requirements. Documenting details is necessary, so that any time you need to know where you stand on something or what comes next, you have it in a simple report. You may choose to design your own and include other worksheets like marketing and sponsorships. I used Microsoft Outlook and set deadline reminders. Use the calendar reminder system that is most effective and convenient for you.

“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” Aerosmith

4. Select Space

Where in your hotel are you hosting the show? Your largest banquet room that’s centrally located is optimal. Maybe you want to use more than one area of your hotel. Draw the plan and scale the booth sizes (typically 10 x 10) and fit them in your room. Perhaps your show promises each vendor an 8-foot table. Remember to include space on each side of the table between vendors. Build a diagram showing all doors, bathrooms, etc. You probably already have software that allows you to build space set up. I used Microsoft PowerPoint and it worked very well for me. Estimate a goal number of booths to sell to ensure you have enough room and select an area for oversell. We used the hallway outside of the main room to put the overflow. Number the booths. You may even decide to sell prime booths at a higher rate.

“Come Away With Me” Norah Jones

5. Vendors

Create a vendor registration package that includes a sponsorship form. Your show needs to be all things bridal, but be open to what that may be for your particular area. Our show’s vendor list included the usual bakeries, photographers, and musicians but also included the ferry companies (the hotel is on an island). Include any special forms or information a vendor may need. In our case, the vendors needed to know about drayage services, from the local ferry company, and where to store equipment until time for show set-up. Because the island is small and a tight knit community, vendors we had relationships with were provided first opportunity to register. We sent the invitation out to the general population a week later. Our list of vendor invitations included our competition, as the show was for the entire island. Encourage your vendors to be creative and experiential at your bridal show. Christine Dyer, creator of the site BridalTweet™, offers great tips for participating in a bridal show in “Ten Tips for Attending Bridal Shows.” Dyer suggests to ‘go above and beyond’ with vendor event space.  She advises that everything about your vendor’s space should communicate the vendor’s brand message and product.

“Make You Feel My Love” Adele

6. Brides

Create a bridal invitation worthy of a second look that entices the bridal party to say, “Let’s go!” Start with your contact list of interested brides and reach out to vendors for their lists. The success of the bridal show is dependent upon the numbers. The more invitations that go out, the more people will register and attend, and the happier the vendors will be.

“Because of You” Ne-Yo

7. Sponsorships

Even though you are hosting, invite vendors to sponsor and be part of the action. Draw up a complete list of cash and “in kind” sponsor opportunities that include the costs and benefits. Both types of sponsors can expect advertising in the program, on signage, on social media and on your website. We invited every vendor to donate a prize to be used for drawings at the bridal show and to contribute something to the bride goodie bag received at the registration table. Provide ample opportunity for vendors to market their participation!

“Your Song” Ellie Goulding

8. Marketing

Get the word out about the season’s most exciting bridal show! Use verbiage that appeals to brides, mothers of brides, mothers of grooms, the bridal party and even the fathers! Use vendor names to spice up advertising. Marketing a venue hosting a bridal show includes a Bridal Show Weekend package option that adds to your group room revenue. Use your website, social media, vendor websites, newspapers, bridal magazines, and eblasts to get the word out. Make it easy to register online and inform all guest services agents of the special event and event packages. Booking the packages is the opportunity for brides to experience your services. Tell everyone you are having a bridal show that is not to be missed. Inviting brides with a formal, snail mail invitation is exciting and will produce exciting results.

“Here Comes the Bride!” Richard Wagner

9. Show Time!

Beginning with the brides who booked the overnight packages, the experiences at your bridal show should demonstrate a fairy tale experience. The main purpose of the show is to expose brides to the fantastic options available to them. Allow vendors to announce their own prizes during the prize drawing that happens every 15 minutes (keeps the brides around longer too)! Give every bride a bag of information and goodies to take home and to use for collecting treasures as they walk the floor. The booths will be amazing because you sponsored a booth contest! Make it easy for vendors to show off so brides will experience wine tasting, cake tasting, floral arrangements, fun pictures from the photo booth, music from the DJ, live music from the musicians, and treats from your banquet department. You have your banquet rooms set up for bridal tours and your conference services manager and sales managers ready to talk business. Your vendors, including your competition, are experiencing a great time too! You treated them well, marketed their participation and brought them interested brides. Watch the magic as the details come together.

“Unforgettable” Natalie Cole

10. Afterglow

Ah, what a fantastic show. You hear it from everyone–brides, parents, vendors and your own staff. During registration, you collected a number of names and addresses. With those brides “who said yes!” follow your usual protocol. With those who “said maybe” reach out and personally to thank them for attending. Keeping all things bridal, send a formal thank you note followed by a telephone call. Thank the bride for coming, and do not be afraid to ask if they know of others who may be interested in your next bridal show! Many brides brought their families. Take advantage of the opportunity to reach out to them for future family reunion business!

I found the bridal show to be an event I was most proud of! I had many success metrics: attendance numbers, vendor comments, strengthened competitor relationships, increased revenue, and new SMERF business leads. With simple tools, a well-designed plan, perfect space, engaged vendors, interested brides, a marvelous marketing plan, an experiential show and a commitment to following up, you can build a fairy-tale inspired bridal show that books group rooms and becomes the dream bridal “go to” event for years to come.

The 9 smartest marriage tips ever

The 9 smartest marriage tips everNext to my desk there is a fallen pile of relationship-advice books. It looks like a miniature city of ruins, a very pink Parthenon. I can’t even begin to fathom picking up all the rubble — mostly because I’m not sure if there’s anything worth saving in there. It’s a shame. The sheer volume tells you just how much demand there is for advice on sustaining relationships.

Ahead of my approaching nuptials I’ve been wondering about our collective wisdom on marriage and how to find advice that escapes the usual traps of cliche, triviality and overgeneralization. (Not to mention Pepto-Bismol book covers.) Something smarter than, “Never go to bed angry.” Something that doesn’t read like the latest diet fad. Maybe even something that has, I don’t know, any evidence or research behind it? I decided to go to the people I trust most on the topic — from respected sex researchers to … my grandma. The result? A messy collection of marriage tips that you will only find here.

Compliments complement

For nearly three decades, relationship expert Terri Orbuch has conducted a research project following 373 married couples. She’s found that couples who regularly give each other “affective affirmation” — meaning “compliments, help and support, encouragement and subtle nonsexual rewards, such as hand holding” — are the happiest. Orbuch, host of the upcoming public television special, “Secrets From The Love Doctor,” says a key finding is that “men crave affective affirmation more than women, because women typically get it from people other than their husbands.”

Forget about the dirty dishes

Orbuch has found that the happy couples in her study “talked to each other frequently — not about their relationship, but about other things.” Orbuch recommends setting aside ten minutes every day to talk about “anything other than work, family, the household or the relationship.” Pretend the cable bill has already been paid, the inlaws already called — just for ten minutes. “Ask her what her favorite movie is, and why,” she suggests. “Ask him to recall a happy memory from childhood. Ask her what she’d like to be remembered for.” This small change “infuses relationships with new life,” she says.

Stay on your toes

“In my study, when couples said they were in a relationship rut or felt bored, they were less happy over time,” says Orbuch. So escape the rut by mixing things up. “The changes can be small, but they have to upset the routine enough to make him or her sit up and take notice.”

Similarly, anthropologist Helen Fisher suggests that couples “keep doing novel things together,” she says. “Novelty drives up the dopamine system in the brain and can help to sustain feelings of romantic love.”

Marriage is like a credit card

Helen Fisher, author of “Why Him? Why Her?: How to Find and Keep Lasting Love,” recommends sustaining “your ‘positive illusions’” about your significant other. “When you begin to feel irritated at your partner, instead of reviewing everything you don’t like, turn your thoughts to all the good things about him or her.”

Psychologist Harriet Lerner agrees. “Newlyweds automatically know how to speak to the positive and make each other feel special and valued,” says Lerner, author of “Marriage Rules, A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up.” “But the more enduring the marriage, the more you’ll find yourself noticing and speaking to what you don’t like.” Lerner offers this maxim: “No one can survive in a marriage, at least not happily, if they feel more judged than admired.”

Relatedly, Stephanie Coontz, author of “Marriage, a History,” says that “relationships, like the economy, run on credit.” By that she means both “giving credit, or expressing gratitude, for the things your partner does that make your life easier, things we often take for granted” and “advancing credit by assuming that your partner has good intentions and would like to step up to the plate, rather than assuming that you need to ride herd on him or her in order to get what you need.”

Marriage Advice & Marriage Tips

1. A car is designed by someone else. Marriage was designed by God in the beginning of creation, and was handed down to Adam and Eve according to Moses’ account of creation in Genesis 2. Marriage is not human-made.

2. A car comes with an operational manual. Unfortunately, marriage does not come with a user manual. The escalation of divorce, separation, all forms of abuse, and unhappiness in marriage occur because there is no operator or user’s manual. I would like to suggest that the Bible is well positioned to serve as the operator’s or user’s manual for marriage. The Bible deals and promotes positive and good human relations, such as, love, peace, joy, longsuffering, kindness, forgiving spirit, temperance, and etc. In general, and those are necessary and critical qualities to keep marriage healthy.

3. A U-turn is prohibited in the highway. Marriage was intended to be a one way, and a way of no return. One cannot enter marriage when they have not dealt with the question of permanency. The Bible teaches that God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), and divorce was allowed because of hardness of people’s hearts (Matt. 19:7-8).

4. You cannot stop or park in the highway. Marriage should be growing from better to best. Like a plant, when marriage stops growing, it weathers and dies. If you stop, you disturb and distract those who are moving.

5. Keep the speed limit. Don’t drive too slowly to disturb the flow, or too fast to cause accidents. Grow your marriage in a normal way. Don’t take time to adjust or bond, and at the same time don’t swallow an elephant, but bite a piece at a time.

6.Cars in the highway must be licensed. There are times when people drive unlicensed cars in the highway. Marriage should be legitimate and regarded or treated as holy. Children should be born in a Bible-approved legitimate marriage.

7. Cars must be roadworthy. Marriage that is not “roadworthy” should be properly repaired and regularly serviced. When marriage is not attended to, it becomes a stressor to spouses, children, and others.

8. Different cars in the highway. Some cars a better and nicer than yours. You need to be satisfied with your car, and not envy your neighbour’s car. Some cars look nicer from a distance, but not quite the as you own and drive it. When you chose your spouse, you made the best decision ever (or did you?). You need to be satisfied with your spouse or marriage. Other marriages might appear nicer and desirable from a distance, when they are actually a hell on earth.

9.Follow and observe the freeway/highway rules and signs. Pay attention to areas that might create a disharmony in your marriage journey. Slow down to take curves smoothly. When there is misunderstanding, slow down to address it. Curves are for learning and growth. Don’t be harsh and unkind when taking a marriage curve – you can lose control and roll your marriage.

10. Keep to your lane. Don’t change lanes without indicating. Give indications if you are going to make changes in your marriages, particularly changes that also affect others. Inform your spouse, children, and others if your are planning to bring about changes so that they are cautious and alert to your moves.

11. Passengers must feel comfortable in your car. They need to feel free to take their naps without feeling that their lives are in danger because you are behind the wheel. Create a safe and peaceful environment for those who are in marriage with you. Use your power to support rather than to sabotage.

12. Carry necessary tools and supplies for the road. It is illegal in some countries to drive a car without a spare wheel or to run out of gas. Plan ahead and anticipate challenges on the road. Every marriage should have a toolkit for repairs. There are times when a tyre suffers a puncture. Be ready to stop, turn on your warning lights, and replace the tyre. Challenges and conflicts are normal in marriage. One needs to be armed with necessary tools to address conflicts and challenges so that we can resume our marriage journey.

13. Use all car mirrors in order to be alert at all times. You need to be able to see cars from all angles – rear and sides. Don’t drive with your eyes on the rear or side mirrors because you might drive into a car in front of you if it suddenly stops. Concentrate on your car, but vigilant that other marriages do not affect or disturb yours.

Plan Your Wedding And Your Marriage

Planning for “the day” or for a lifetime?

This question was written with big cursive lettering on a booth display that Erin and I used at bridal fairs to advertise our premarital seminars. It was always so much fun to watch not only the prospective brides but also their mothers walk by as the mothers responded to our banner with a sassy “Mm-hmm!”

You see, rarely did we get any brides to stop at our booth. Each bride was so busy planning for her special day — the dress, the cake, the venue, the photographer, the honeymoon — she hardly gave much thought to planning for her future marriage. Sadly, only about 35 percent to 40 percent of engaged couples will receive quality premarital education. And by quality, we mean at least eight to 10 hours of instruction from someone who has been equipped to do so. This is unfortunate because the premarital research is strong.

The moms who were walking around with their daughters at the bridal fair understood this, and that’s why the majority of the tickets we sold were to the mothers — as gifts to their daughters and future sons-in-law.

As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We believe that the first step in your journey toward the marital relationship you’ve always dreamed of is to understand God’s true design for marriage. So …
Marriage in the Bible

God is the creator of marriage — it was His idea from the very beginning. Listen to how Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, paraphrases this truth: “God, not you, made marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage. And what does he want from marriage? Children of God, that’s what. So guard the spirit of marriage within you. Don’t cheat on your spouse. ‘I hate divorce,’ says the God of Israel. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says, ‘I hate the violent dismembering of the “one flesh” of marriage.’ So watch yourselves. Don’t let your guard down” (Malachi 2:15–16).

God is so passionate about marriage that He gave it an important place throughout the Bible. The Scriptures begin with a marriage: “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). Then right in the middle of the Bible is a remarkable and very provocative book: the Song of Songs. It’s a love story — passionate, provocatively physical, something that makes good Christians blush — between two lovers, a husband and wife. Finally God’s Word ends with a different but even more important wedding: the marriage of Christ to His imperfect but redeemed bride, the church, “the wife of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:9).
Intended to make us Christlike

God created marriage with something far more wonderful in mind than simply a place where we can get our needs met and find happiness. God uses marriage to accomplish a very important goal: to help us become like Christ. The apostle Paul clearly understood this: “Those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). If you miss out on this understanding, your marriage is destined for pain and frustration. But if you “get it” — especially now as you prepare to walk down the aisle — then you’ll be far ahead of the rest of the pack.

As you prepare to get married, rather than asking yourself, “How will my needs be met?” ask, “How will my life show evidence of Christ’s character?” Marriage was never designed to meet our needs. In God’s infinite wisdom, He knows that our greatest relational needs will be met as we become more like His Son. As with everything else He created, God wants to use marriage to direct us toward himself. God uses the challenges and the joys of marriage to help shape and mold us into the image of Jesus — and that’s been His goal from the very beginning: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26–27).
Evidence of Christlike-ness

This seems so simple: A great marriage is the outcome of becoming Christlike. So the real question is, “How do we know if we are becoming like Jesus?” The good news is that Christ himself gives us the answer in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love on another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” As you both become Christlike, the evidence is your ability to love each other as Christ loves you.

God’s paramount goal for your upcoming marriage is not your mutual happiness. It really isn’t! That will surely come, if you cooperate with God’s real purpose for your marriage. But He wants so much more than mere happiness for you. He wants joy, significance, spiritual power and a compelling attractiveness that turns people’s heads. In other words, He wants to use your marriage to help you and others become more like His Son.

How to Improve My Marriage by Helping Others

The fire blazed as I belted out silly songs and danced like a fool in front of the young campers. That was more than 14 years ago. My husband, Adam, and I were serving together as counselors for our church’s youth camp, and he still says it was in that moment that he knew he loved me.

Although Adam and I are wired differently, we have continued to find common ground in areas of service. We enjoy working with youth and are passionate about helping couples grow closer to the Lord and one another.

Zephaniah 3:9 says, “For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder” (NASB).

This idea of serving God shoulder to shoulder can be a powerful example of how to maximize impact in your community and in your marriage. The book of Nehemiah tells how the Israelites rebuilt the broken-down wall of Jerusalem in an effort to fortify their city. They worked side by side as families to repair what had been damaged (Nehemiah 3). They faced obstacles and opposition as they served together, but they stayed focused on their goal and committed their hands to the work that was set before them.

Serving together may be work, but it can also be fun. It can create intimacy and improve communication if we invest in our marriage at the same time we invest in the lives of those around us. Adam and I have found that if we make time to serve together, we experience many benefits: Our marriage relationship is strengthened, our personal weaknesses are refined and our team impact is maximized.
Strengthen your marriage

In our busy culture, we can quickly feel disconnected from our spouse. Serving together can be a meaningful way to reconnect and focus on what we have in common. A simple way that Adam and I serve together is by mentoring young couples. Over coffee or dinner, we ask intentional questions about their budding relationship. We talk about their struggles and how we’ve coped in similar situations in our marriage. We encourage them in their relationship as we share openly about our own trials and triumphs. Our marriage is strengthened as we invest in others, and we are drawn closer together through these shared experiences.

Serving with your spouse can be a fulfilling way to connect, but it can also be challenging to find the time. Instead of adding more commitments to your calendar, consider looking for ways to serve within your present schedule. For example, if your spouse coaches soccer for one of your kids, maybe you could assist with coaching and spend that time together serving your community at the same time you invest in our child. If you and your spouse look at your current activities, you just might see how you could join one another in serving.
Refine your weaknesses

Serving together can also help refine weaknesses. For example, I am a planner and like to have all the details worked out prior to a youth event. I sometimes err on the side of caring more about the details than caring about the people at the event. But Adam is a people person. He is more interested in the people than the details. Serving alongside each other, I have learned how to be more sensitive, and he has learned how to be more detail-oriented as we work toward a mutual goal.

After you serve together, consider discussing how things went. What went well? What needs improvement? Were you on the same page or did you frustrate each other? These conversations are not always easy, but they can provide opportunities to refine areas of weakness and help you grow closer as a couple.
Maximize your impact

Marriage involves two individuals who can offer diverse talents in various serving opportunities. Adam and I have learned that as we join forces we can have a greater impact in an area that is important to both of us.

We know a couple who met on a mission trip to Guatemala. Throughout their marriage, they have traveled to various countries and hosted missionaries in their home. One of them is a generous giver and great conversationalist, while the other is committed to prayer and is a thoughtful host. Both are drawn to missions and enjoy encouraging those who serve the needy. They serve together by combining their time and talents and have found they are more effective working as a couple than they would have been as individuals.

Keep in mind that serving together can also take place outside of a structured ministry. It can be as simple as raking a neighbor’s yard, visiting an elderly friend, or compiling a care package for a soldier serving overseas. There are endless possibilities for serving shoulder to shoulder.

Why Your Friends Matter to Your Marriage

women chatting at a table illustrationAs a newlywed, it was easy for me to engage in conversation with other women when I had questions about men and marriage. Unfortunately, I had not yet learned that girlfriends could either help or hinder my relationship with my husband. When I commented to a co-worker about having to juggle my job and home responsibilities, I ended by asking why my husband didn’t have to help. She began elaborating from her own list of marital frustrations — and the conversation went downhill from there. It was only a matter of time before each small annoyance I felt toward my husband was filtered through the larger lens of my colleague’s grievances, and I learned that frustration and disappointment were contagious.

Fast-forward a few years to when I was a young mother with three daughters under age 5. The chaos of preschool years only compounded the questions I had about married life, so once again I found myself looking for support among women. This time, though, I shared my concerns with ladies who were committed to loving their husbands well. When I’d vent about my husband’s lack of help around the house, my friends would remind me of his commitment to work hard so I could be at home with the girls. When I’d comment about his fervor for football season, they’d remind me of his passion for his family. We shared life together — and that included cheering for our men.

Whatever the stage of life, women find themselves drawn to the company of other women. They celebrate our victories and grieve our losses; they share our joy and feel our pain. It seems that women are wired to engage with other women on a deep and personal level, gleaning from one another along the way. Maybe that’s why Paul wrote about friendships in Titus 2:3-4 when he said, “Older women … are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.”

Train the young women to love their husbands? Apparently, God knew that married life would require some coaching. Do you have a friend who reminds you of what’s good and honorable about your man; a friend who calls you out when you’re being selfish or unkind; a friend who encourages you to show respect toward your husband and reflect God’s love in your marriage?

Think about your girlfriends. Which ones help to make you a better wife? You’ll recognize the healthy influence among women who:

  • speak respectfully about men and marriage
  • are good and trustworthy listeners
  • express empathy and show compassion
  • pray for you, and their words are reflective of God’s truth
  • confront when necessary
  • believe the best about you and your husband

Time spent with critical friends can make me a demanding wife. Time spent with controlling women can make me a nagging wife. Thankfully, the opposite is also true. When I engage with authentic friends who are committed to godliness in married life, I’m inspired to be a better wife.

I’ve chosen wisely and I’ve chosen foolishly, and both experiences have taught me that my marriage is affected by the friends I choose to spend time with.

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