Posts

,

10 Creative Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Make their heart happy with these out-of-the-box ideas!

Valentine’s Day is a great time to get outside the heart-shaped chocolate box and celebrate love and romance in a BIG way! If you want a hand in making this day unique for your Valentine, you’ve come to the right place.

These 10 creative ideas will help you connect and play as you set this Valentine’s Day apart from any other date night. 

  1. Alternate notes every hour. Be creative. Chat via text, video, over the phone, face to face, on a mirror, with chalk on the driveway. Use different categories for the notes: sexy, flirty, romantic, funny, silly, memorable, thankful, adoring, etc.
  2. Homemade Couple’s Selfie Photo Shoot. Jazz it up with the wardrobe. Have multiple wardrobe changes: nightwear, 70s wear, athletic wear, beachwear, warrior outfits, superheroes, etc.
  3. As a couple, shower someone with love who may not be feelin’ it right now. Write a letter, send flowers, spend time with them, tell stories, and listen to their stories. Your love for each other will grow as you share it with others. 
  4. Re-enact some of your favorite romantic movie scenes. Think Titanic, The Notebook, Dirty Dancing, Jerry Maguire:You complete me!” Check out YouTube’s Top 20 Most Rewatched Scenes in Romance Movies for ideas. You can even find the screenplay for some of your favorite movies. (Pics or it didn’t happen!)
  5. Stick romantic Post-it notes on candy that your special someone likes and hide them all over the place. Put them in drawers, cars, kitchen cabinets, bathrooms—anywhere your Valentine might go. They’ll be finding them for days. (Hershey Nuggets work great for chocolate-lovers.)
  6. Dinner and a Trip Around the World…Virtually. Create a themed meal. Decide “where” you want to go to celebrate, then enjoy the sights and sounds from all over the world without leaving your living room.
  7. Re-create a meaningful meal you’ve had, or create a new experience. For instance, remember what you ate on your first date? What would you want if you were in Italy? With the internet, you can look up any recipe and make it happen. Share the meal by candlelight or lay out a blanket and make it a picnic.
  8. Create anticipation. The day before, choose not to see each other. Use that time to create suspense for the next day. Leave notes in unexpected places. Send cryptic messages or deliver a message through a friend. Put a note on their windshield or surprise them with a video/audio message teaser. See how much excitement you can build for each other.
  9. Write a romantic love story about your relationship (fact or fiction). It may be full of fantasy against the backdrop of common interests like Game of Thrones or Star Wars. Write it, tell it, or record it—but have FUN with it!
  10. Pick from First Things First’s Do It Yourself (DIY) date nights for a fun, unexpected adventure that’s already planned out for you. It’s. So. Easy!

Though you love your significant other every day (DUH!), go the extra mile this Valentine’s Day and show your special someone how much you love, respect, and value them with these creative ways to celebrate. With just a tiny bit of prep, you can take your relationship up a notch and grow the love you feel for each other.

The Key Trait Found in All Happy Marriages

It's probably not what you think it is.

We search for the secret of a happy marriage like Jack Sparrow searching for the fountain of youth. If he could find the ever-elusive fountain, eternal youth would be his. It can be easy to view a happy marriage through the same lens. It seems elusive and out of reach. But it’s not! 

In fact, there just may be a key, a secret recipe, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. After examining 174 studies (whew, that’s a lot), researchers at the University of Rochester found a key trait of happy marriages. 

That trait is, drumroll, please… psychological flexibility! Wait, what?!?! (That’s me echoing how my 5-year-old would react!)

What is psychological flexibility?

According to the Journal of Behavioral Science, psychological flexibility is “a set of skills that individuals engage when presented with difficult or challenging thoughts, feelings, emotions, or experiences.”

Not to get too brainy, but it’s made up of six things. (Hang with me for a minute.)

  • Acceptance: Being open to all experiences, good or bad, no matter how challenging or difficult. (Maybe trying out that new hobby is a good thing!)
  • Contact with the present moment: Being mindful of day-to-day moments in life. Being present with your spouse in everyday conversations and experiences. Not fixated on the past or focused on the future.
  • Cognitive defusion: Being able to gently experience thoughts and emotions. This means thoughts and feelings don’t overwhelm you. You don’t immediately think the worst or overly stress out.
  • Self as context: The ability to see the bigger picture even in the face of difficult thoughts and feelings. You’re not the center of discussions or decisions. The focus is on the relationship as a whole.
  • Contact with values: Being rooted and grounded in a deeper set of values.
  • Committed action: Resiliency to continue moving forward.

So, what does all that mean? 

To break it down, psychologically flexible people are open to new experiences. Negative thoughts or feelings don’t hold them back. They maintain perspective. They keep moving toward their goals and don’t give up. And they understand their spouse does things differently, but they don’t let it frustrate them.

What does psychological flexibility look like in marriage?

According to the study, marriages with psychologically flexible spouses showed greater sexual satisfaction. Those marriages also showed more emotional support and less negative conflict. Focusing on the components of psychological flexibility improves marriage quality.

Psychological flexibility is within your reach. You have the power to develop it. Here’s how…

Think of it like yoga, except in a mental and emotional kinda way. Practicing yoga helps your body become more flexible, but it takes time. If you plan to start yoga, you’ll look for resources like online videos, a class, or a more experienced yoga practitioner—a yogi (that’s a fun word). You’ll seek someone who has experience and knowledge. You can cultivate psychological flexibility the same way. Find resources and books to help you fine-tune the skills. Do your due diligence and find a reputable source to guide you to where you want to be. (How to Actually Use Relationship Resources Without Getting Overwhelmed can help you out!)

Your marriage is the most important relationship.

Giving it your time, energy, and attention can help you create the happiness you’re looking for.

And if you have kids, you’ll be glad to know that many of these psychological flexibility skills are learned early (at least that’s what the researchers say). Practicing these skills in your marriage can help your kiddos reap the benefits, too.

So now you know, the key trait found in happy marriages is psychological flexibility. You also know what components make up psychological flexibility. Where will you start today to show flexibility in your marriage? You don’t have to tackle it all at once… baby steps are all it takes to move forward.

YOU CAN BE DEEPLY KNOWN AND DEEPLY KNOW YOUR SPOUSE!

Do you feel like your marriage is in the shallows? Listening well, vulnerability, and mutual respect are some of the hardest parts of marriage. But without them, your relationship may never thrive in the deep end. This online course will guide you and your spouse through the 5 simple steps to taking your marriage to the deep end – and help you stay there!

GET THE TOOLS YOU NEED TO TAKE YOUR MARRIAGE DEEPER.

INSIDE EACH MODULE YOU’LL FIND…

  • An Instructional Video hosted by marriage experts – Gena Ellis and Reggie Madison
  • 3-5 Couple Activities you can do on your own time, at your own pace
  • 3-5 Questions to Answer about your marriage together
  • A Downloadable Couple’s Guide filled with tips, insights, and ideas you can use to get to the deep end and stay there
  • PLUS, purchasing this course will give you exclusive access to Gena Ellis and Reggie Madison, so you can ask them your questions and reach out for any help you may need along the way!

So, You Need to Talk to Your In-Laws About Boundaries

Setting some limits can be a good thing for everyone.

Do you remember the first time you met your future in-laws? 

Was it important to you that they liked you, or did you even care?  

Did you dress to impress? 

Taking a walk down memory lane gives you a picture of how that relationship began. Once you got married, you may have thought your in-laws would have little to no impact on your marriage. (That’s funny!) 

Until they did. 

It could be that you recognized some of their behaviors in your spouse. Maybe your interactions with them directly or indirectly are driving you nuts. They may mean well, yet you feel overwhelmed and a little emotional about it. 

Perhaps it’s time to have that talk with your in-laws (you know the one), and you’re wondering how to begin the conversation about boundaries. Well, it probably won’t be easy, but it can be oh-so good if you handle it well!

Brené Brown defines boundaries as “simply what’s ok and what’s not ok.” It’s that simple and that complex. Boundaries often define the depth of a relationship, and they change and grow as the relationship changes. Your relationship with your in-laws will change and grow in many ways as you go through different life stages. Hopefully for the better.

Do a Self Check-Up

Before you have the “boundary” talk with the in-laws, it’ll be helpful to do a self-inventory to pinpoint what exactly is going on and what needs to happen. 

Here are some questions to think about.

  • Why is their behavior bothering me?
  • Is their behavior dangerous?
  • Can I deal with it because we see each other often (or not so often)?
  • Am I relating to my in-laws based on how my family operated?
  • Have I ever shared with my spouse that this bothers me?

Now, Do a Check-In With Your Spouse

Once you’ve thought about these questions, it’s time to share with your spouse. Remember that you are talking about their family, and they may be less than excited to have this conversation. Speaking about behavior, not Mom or Dad, can keep your spouse from feeling the need to defend their parents, and vice versa. Also, using I-statements such as “I feel (emotion) when your parent does (behavior).” Instead of, “YOUR mother always (Behavior).” 

Once you’ve discovered the boundary you need to address and share with your spouse what you feel would benefit your marriage…

It’s time to talk to the in-laws. Where do you even start?

Determine Who Is Going To Talk For You.

In-laws typically receive information better from their “child.” When my husband and I had to have a serious boundary conversation with our parents, he spoke to his parents while I addressed mine. They may not have liked what we said, but they wouldn’t stop loving their own kids. 

Give Grace.

If you’re newly-married, this may be the first time your in-laws have ever been in-laws. There are no rule books on how to be in-laws, so try to see the good in them rather than focusing on the negative. If you are new parents, that means they are excited to be new GRANDPARENTS. Everyone has a learning curve around roles, responsibilities, and boundaries. And sometimes those curves are pretty sharp.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get It Out In The Open.

When you don’t address issues openly, it only makes the problem bigger. Pretending something is ok when it isn’t is not helpful. In fact, it creates conflict inside you, in your marriage, and in your relationship with the in-laws.

Being open and honest with them gives them the chance to meet your expectations. They can’t mind-read. If you don’t let them know, they don’t know there’s a problem! Once it’s in the open, you may be able to resolve the issues quickly (and without any hurt feelings)! 

Talking with your in-laws about boundaries is not a one-and-done conversation. We’re talking about an ongoing, progressive conversation. As situations change in your life (moves, kids, job changes) or in theirs (getting older, retirement, health issues), you’ll probably need to revisit and revise boundaries.

But I’ve got some good news for you. When you set a positive tone for open communication, your family will see that limits allow you to love and respect each other more deeply. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

How to Talk to Your Spouse When You Feel Disrespected

These steps can help you express yourself so you can feel heard.

Feeling disrespected by your spouse can be one of the most conflicting feelings ever. Part of you wants to believe the person you love truly loves and values you. On the other hand, it can be demoralizing and hurtful to live with someone you feel dismisses you or doesn’t appreciate you. 

Not dealing with disrespect can make you feel less confident, less important, and downright angry. Trying to deal with the pain alone can make you respond to your spouse in destructive ways. That’s why talking with your spouse is the best medicine. 

Talking about it can be oh-so hard—especially if you’ve experienced major or continual disrespect. But you can do it, and you can do it well. Here’s how to talk to your spouse when you feel disrespected in your marriage.

Before You Talk…

  • Clearly and precisely identify what they said or did that you felt was disrespectful. John Gottman, marriage researcher and therapist, says you can often tell how a conversation will end by how it starts. 
  • Identify how the disrespect impacted you. Did it make you feel unimportant, inferior, betrayed, etc.?
  • Ask your spouse for a good time to talk. You may say, “There’s something important I’d like to talk with you about. When’s a good time for us to have some uninterrupted alone time to talk?” Pay attention to your tone because if you convey anger toward your spouse, it’ll probably put them on the defensive. BUT, if you can show a genuine desire to solve issues together as a team, it’s way more inviting.

When You Talk…

  • Ask your spouse to hear you out for a moment. Assure them you aren’t trying to make them feel bad or prove that someone is right or wrong, but that you simply want them to understand how you feel.
  • Avoid statements like, “You never,” “You always,” “You should.” Instead, focus on the specific actions and how they made you feel. (You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth repeating.) Use “I” statements as much as possible. “When you said _____, I felt disrespected. I felt unimportant and unheard.”
  • Be open to understanding your own feelings, but don’t let them control you. Emotions are real and powerful. We should express them, but using them to punish our spouse doesn’t help the marriage relationship.
  • When possible, be open to your spouse’s perspective. This doesn’t mean you let them justify what they did, but could it be there was a misunderstanding? Your feelings and experiences are real, and they shouldn’t be denied. Still, try to give your mate the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully, your spouse simply did something disrespectful, and they aren’t generally trying to be a disrespectful person.

Set some helpful ground rules.

  1. Either person can ask for a timeout if the emotions get too heated for a healthy conversation. Schedule a time to resume—ideally, within 24 hours.
  2. No attacking or belittling each other. You’re on Team Marriage. The goal isn’t winning, nor is it to crush your spouse. 
  3. Avoid defensiveness. It’s natural to justify, prove, or defend yourself, but it’s usually not helpful. 
  4. Try to express your thoughts, emotions, and desires calmly so your partner can hear and understand where you’re coming from. This may take time, and you may have to revisit the conversation. Some people process differently.

If you feel your spouse has disrespected you, these steps can help. Still, it doesn’t mean they’ll immediately understand and agree.

If you’re experiencing emotional or physical abuse, get help now. But for smaller forms of disrespect, kindly letting your partner know can help you respect each other more.

It may take several conversations to see how something was disrespectful. And it may be challenging to make healthy changes and get that mutual respect flowing in a way that makes you both feel valued and appreciated. But pushing through those hard conversations is vital to a thriving marriage.

You. Can. Do. This.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

How to Have More Sex in Marriage

Keeping these things in mind can help it to happen.

I know it ain’t easy to keep things rolling in the bedroom. 

Life happens. Marriage goes through seasons of busyness and stress. Not to mention—one of you may be “in the mood” or tired more often than the other. And finding time to have more sex may not be at the top of your list.

But healthy sexual intimacy in marriage is a good thing. It can enhance and stimulate other parts of your marriage, like emotional intimacy, too. And vice versa. (Related: 4 Reasons Why Sex Matters in Marriage

But if there’s conflict, well… chances are, sparks aren’t flying in the B-E-D. 

So then… how do you go about having more sex? Here are some thoughts:

1. Don’t make more sex the goal.

Wait, what?! Isn’t the title of this article How to Have More Sex? Yes, but here’s the deal. 

Quantity and quality are not the same. And sexual intimacy doesn’t equal emotional intimacy, either.

Emotional intimacy involves understanding each other. Learning and growing together. Caring for and knowing each other well. When each spouse feels valued and understood, that closeness translates into a more satisfying sex life for you both. (Try these 6 exercises to strengthen emotional intimacy.)

Quality sex is where emotional and sexual intimacy meet. It means realizing what goes on in the day to day affects how much you enjoy your sexual experiences. Don’t underestimate the impact that considering your spouse’s needs in AND out of the bedroom can have on your sexual fulfillment. 

So what is your goal? It’s being aware and working toward that emotional connectedness, which naturally leads to  (you guessed it!) some pretty awesome sex. Who doesn’t want more of that?

(Up your Emotional Intimacy IQ here: What Is Emotional Intimacy in Marriage and Why Does It Matter?

2. Don’t let your kids get in the way. 

We’ve all been there: the heat is rising in the bedroom when KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK… “Mommy? Daddy? I can’t sleep. I’m thirsty.

And just like that, the mood is shot.

No doubt, kids can unintentionally hinder sexual intimacy. Over the years, my wife and 

I have established a lockdown procedure. 

Lock door. ✅

Minimize the noise level. ✅. (There’s a closet door close that rattles if it’s not cracked. TMI? Well, now you know…) 

If my wife thinks our activity could draw our kids’ attention, the deal’s off the table. Can you relate? 

So, set up some lockdown rules. 

  • Install locks. 
  • Teach your kids that the bedroom is your room, and knocking is required. 
  • Establish “closing time” for both your bedroom and you; if it’s after closing time, don’t drop by. (Double Bonus: Kids learn respect and boundaries.) 

If they’re old enough, you might bribe your kids to leave the house sometimes. Here’s a dollar; if you go play in the yard and don’t come in for half an hour, I’ll give you another. 

Or, if you’re like a friend of mine, throw 99 pennies in the backyard and tell the kids they can’t come in the house until they find all 100 of them. ; )

3. Talk about sex (more). 

Studies tell us that couples who talk about sex have more satisfying sex lives. 

  • What turns each of you on or off? I mean, what if you’re doing something you think your spouse LOVES, but they don’t (or the other way around)? 
  • That thing they did that drove you crazy? Tell them.
  • Discuss your favorite positions or things you’d like to do that you’ve never done.
  • Send a sexy text, write a racy Post-it note or leave a steamy voicemail to build anticipation for your next rendezvous. 

These ideas can be beneficial if one of you is more like a crockpot that needs to simmer and get ready for sexy time. If one of you is more like the Instant Pot, building up the pressure beforehand will make the release that much sweeter when it’s time to get down to business.  

4. Schedule it.

Seriously, get a room. Or find a sitter. Have some “alone” time that works for both of you. 

  • Getting the kids to bed is a great incentive if you know prime time comes afterward. 
  • Are your kids late sleepers? Just might be worth it to be the early bird.
  • Kids in school? You won’t have to worry about interruptions or those lockdown procedures if you take a long lunch here and there… just sayin’. 

5. Get busy with dates.

Couples who have regular date nights report greater happiness. It’s true! 

  • Use what you learned from your sex talks to creatively plan something new and exciting for each other. Finding ways to please each other outside of the bedroom can help you score inside the bedroom. 
  • Invest in conversation and activities that help you connect more deeply.  
  • Plan it or be spontaneous! Dating your spouse doesn’t have to be expensive, but NOT dating your spouse can cost you some of the closeness you crave. (These date nights can make it easier!)  

Doing these things will not only improve the quality of sex you have—it also sets you up for more frequent romps. You’ll be well on your way to more (and better) sex.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t you have some lockdown procedures to take care of?

More Resources:

,

Is Stress Killing Your Relationship?

Find ways to manage stress before it does major relationship damage.

Are you overwhelmed with deadlines at work, kids in school, the weekly to-do list, health concerns, drama on social media? Is stress taking a toll on your relationship? Do you find yourself taking out your stress on your significant other? If so, you’re not alone. 

Stress, handled wrongly, hurts relationships. It’s a reality. Often it’s the small stressors that build up and do damage. 

We all face daily stresses. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could use a magic wand and remove all the stress in our lives? The reality is we have to learn to manage stress, not let stress manage us.

Here’s how to tell if stress is impacting your relationship:

Stressed out people are more withdrawn. 

When you’re stressed, you may pull away from those you love or be less affectionate. Maybe you’re working longer hours, spending more time alone, or camping out in front of the TV as a way of escaping all you have to deal with. Isolating yourself can damage your relationship.

Stressed out people see the worst in others. 

When we’re stressed, it’s easy to allow the small things to overwhelm us. A minor thing your spouse does, like not picking up their shoes, suddenly becomes a sign of disrespect and a lack of appreciation. Maybe they just forgot their shoes. But stress is blurring your vision and you see them doing it out of spite.

Stress leads to exhaustion. 

Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. Whether the tension stems from work, kids, or our calendars, it bleeds over into all aspects of our lives. Have you ever noticed that when you’re mentally exhausted, you just want to sleep? Stress takes a toll on our bodies. This can leave our spouse (and others) feeling neglected.

Stress makes us irritable. 

Who wants to be around grumpy people? The longer the stress lasts, the crankier you get. This can lead to arguments and hurtful words. 

[How Not to Blow Up On Your Kids When You’re Stressed Out: The Timeout is a great read if you’ve got kids]

Stress causes us to put other things in front of our relationship. 

Technology is a fabulous tool but can also be a source of stress. Endless work texts or emails can interrupt time with your spouse. When we are stressed due to work or other obligations, it becomes easy to prioritize those above our relationship.

So, if you find yourself resonating with these common signs of stress…

Make a plan…when you aren’t stressed out. 

If both of you are in a place of little stress, plan how you will deal with stress once it increases. Help to identify each other’s stressors and stress patterns. Look for ways to reduce stressors before they take over.

Reduce your stress. 

You can’t help your spouse if you can’t help yourself, so identify what reduces your stress. When I feel overwhelmed, I like to go for a run. It’s time to decompress, soak in the fresh air, and clear my mind. Maybe it’s exercise, music, or getting in nature. Communicate to your spouse what you need to do to reduce stress. Make sure you both have time to de-stress and refresh. (Read How Couples Can Help Each Other De-Stress and Improve Their Relationship)

Prioritize your relationship. 

You’re a team! Commit to each other and to ensuring that stress will not take over your relationship. Dr. Michael Mantell, an Advanced Behavior Coach, puts it this way: “Help each other remember you cannot control the uncontrollable, to always look for victory not defeat, to agree to set aside time to talk and be each other’s defense attorney, not prosecutor.”

Ask for help. 

Your partner can’t provide for all your needs. Putting that expectation on each other isn’t healthy. Sometimes we need help, whether that’s a trusted friend or a therapist. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Protecting your relationship must be the priority. 

Stress is a reality. You can’t make it go away, but you can manage stress so that it doesn’t kill your relationship. What will you do today to reduce stress in your life?

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

How to Help Your Spouse When They’re Burned Out

Move forward and grow closer through this challenge, one step at a time.

You may have noticed that your once ‘Energizer bunny’ spouse has no energy to do anything. Or they share they don’t feel right but can’t give any specific reasons. It seems like all at once, it ALL became too much. They have no motivation to work or deal with personal issues. They feel exhausted after sleeping all night. And they begin to question their capability to complete tasks from work or at home. Your loved one may be experiencing burnout. 

Yes, burnout is a real thing. According to WHO, burnout is caused by “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It affects people in all areas of their lives physically, emotionally, and mentally. 

If you believe your spouse is dealing with burnout, these strategies can help you as you help them.

Listen To Them

This may be one of the hardest things to do, especially if you think your spouse can accomplish anything they set their mind to do. Now, they’re questioning everything. You have to listen to them ask questions like:

  • Am I a good spouse? 
  • Is my child getting what they need?
  • Are my kids falling behind academically because I’m not a teacher?
  • Am I a good parent? 
  • Is this my fault?
  • Am I a good worker?
  • Can I do my job now that it’s different from what I was hired to do?
  • Am I giving time and effort to my relationship?
  • Why is this so hard for me right now?

It’s not the time to try to fix it for them or ask questions. Instead, this is the time to let them dump it all out and try your best to understand. (4 Communication Exercises for Married Couples may be useful!)

Help Out As Much As You Can

Taking things off your spouse’s plate may help relieve the stress. It could be as simple as dusting around the house or taking on homework time from virtual school. If you don’t know where to start, simply ask, “How can I make what you do easier?”

Rely On Your Friends and Family (Use Your Village) 

Remember—you don’t have to do everything on your own! Encouraging your spouse to spend some time with friends, family, or alone can lighten the load. Not only should your spouse spend time with friends and family—so should you. You don’t have to be the sole person to assist your spouse. In fact, if you aren’t careful about taking on too much, it may lead to your own sense of burnout. 

Take Care of Yourself

While being supportive and non-judgmental of your spouse, it’s vital to take care of yourself. Try to get rest, good food and exercise, too. Find things that help you recharge your own battery. 

Encourage Your Mate to Find or Rediscover Hobbies

Being creative can help their brain get out of the fight/flight cycle (more on that here). Be intentional about searching for new hobbies or finding enjoyment again in something they used to do. It could be anything from crocheting, hiking, or woodworking. You know better than anyone what they enjoy. (Read Why It’s Important to Care About Your Spouse’s Interests)

Reevaluate Your Family’s Schedule

Take some time to sit down and have a conversation about your family’s schedule. List everything for everyone, including work schedules, in-person or virtual school schedules, and other things to consider, like: 

  • When the kids need more hands-on help 
  • Mealtime
  • When the kids work independently
  • When you need to focus on your job (if working from home)
  • Family time

Looking at the schedule with clear eyes can help you see patterns. From these patterns, you can make conscious decisions together about how to spend your time and energy.

People are experiencing burnout at all-time high levels, and it’s a tough thing to deal with. Watching your spouse struggle with burnout can make you feel helpless, but you can get through this together. It’s an opportunity to grow closer and remind yourselves that you can’t pour from an empty glass. Make time for the things that fill you up. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

How to Talk About Sex in Marriage

It may be uncomfortable at first, but it could be a great thing for your sex life.

Awkwardness. Uncertainty. Embarrassment. Shame. These common emotions (and others) can keep married couples from talking about sex. You’re not alone if talking about sex with your spouse is uncomfortable. But let’s get real: you’re more likely to have satisfying sex if you talk about it together. 

Most couples want to enjoy their sex life, but learning how to talk about intimacy in your marriage can take it to the next level if it’s not where you want it to be. The experts agree. So do most couples who’ve found a way to make the uncomfortable a little more comfortable

So, how do you talk about sex in your marriage in a sexual-healing-kinda way?

1. Make the sex talk a priority. 

It may be uncomfortable or awkward. You may have baggage (most of us do). Your feelings are real, but don’t let your emotions keep you from having a better sex life.

2. Pick a good time to talk. 

This isn’t the time to surprise your spouse. Calmly say something like, “I’d like for us to talk about some ways we can improve our sex life. When do you think would be good?” Initiating the topic will give your spouse time to get ready to talk. Then, nail down a time.

*Note: Many experts speak against having this conversation in the bedroom. Take a walk in a park. Sit in a coffee shop. Send the kids outside and find a cozy spot at home.* 

3. Eliminate distractions. 

This may already be a delicate topic, so you’ll want to be fully engaged and tuned in to each other—no cell phones. And set aside plenty of time.

4. Be specific about your goal. 

Maybe you could start with, “I want us to have the best sex life we can have. I’d like for us to talk about understanding each other’s sexual needs.” (You could also say, 🎵🎵 “Let’s talk about sex, Baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be…”  🎵🎵 Thank you, Salt-N-Pepa!)

The Gottman Institute reminds us, “The less direct you are about what you want, the less likely you are to get it.” Tell each other what you want (what you really, really want)!

5. Don’t rush the conversation. 

Your spouse may need time to think and express their thoughts, feelings, and desires. Be patient. This leads us to the next point.

6. This isn’t a one-and-done conversation. 

You don’t know how many times I’ve replayed conversations with my wife because I thought of something later that would help her understand me. I’m sure she’s done the same. You won’t cover everything in one talk. 

7. Listen to understand. 

Feeling valued will always be a part of having good lovemaking experiences in your marriage. One way to ensure your partner feels like they matter is to genuinely try to understand them.

8. Encouraging and positive statements will go further than critical or negative ones. 

For example, “I like it when you do this” is more helpful than “I hate it when you do this.” Or saying, “I need this from you,” is probably more effective than, “You don’t meet my needs in this way.” Think “I” statements instead of “You” statements. 

Talking about sex is not about being right or wrong. It’s about sharing what works, what you like, and what helps you both have fulfilling sexual experiences. Respecting each other’s differences is a must. Different is not deficient—it’s just different. 

The more you talk, the better you connect, the less uncomfortable it becomes, and the clearer you’ll understand one another. As the experts say, talking about sex in your marriage increases the likelihood that you’ll be doing something worth talking about later on. But shhh, we don’t kiss and tell.

More great stuff to read about sex in your relationship:

DISCOVER DEEPER INTIMACY IN YOUR MARRIAGE

READY TO HAVE AMAZING, MIND-BLOWING SEX?

A better sex life is totally possible.

Your marriage goes through ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy passion and mundane routine-filled days. But sometimes you can get stuck in that monotony. Not only does your sex life go out the window, you may find conversations are lacking and that you’re both just generally not connecting with each other.

Discover Deeper Intimacy in Your Marriage offers simple, practical strategies to help you reignite the passion and connection with your spouse in 5 intimacy-building modules.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***