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Steps to a Productive Marriage Check-In

Connect, grow, and course-correct. Your marriage will thank you!

In your marriage, have you ever:

  • Let an issue fester to the point it felt impossible to talk about?
  • Left the kids somewhere because you thought your spouse would get them?
  • Worked late and forgot an important family event?
  • Been disappointed about something but never stopped to work through it?

Staying on the same page with your spouse doesn’t happen by accident. 

Businesses have staff meetings. 

Sports have team meetings. 

And marriages need marriage meetings. We’ll call these Marriage Check-Ins.

A Marriage Check-In is when you and your spouse meet to talk about marriage and family stuff.

A Productive Marriage Check-In helps you to:

Be on one page about money, direction, schedules, concerns, expectations, etc.

This can help you avoid assuming, overscheduling, overspending, or leaving your 5-year-old daughter at home to babysit her 3-year-old brother. (I will neither confirm nor deny this occurrence.)

Address issues before they fester and become major.

Things often bother you before they make you mad. Check-ins offer regular opportunities to deal with those things when they’re (hopefully) at the “bother you” stage.

Specify a time to deal with marriage business.

Ever caught yourself discussing plans or concerns during a date? Don’t use precious date nights for marriage business. (At least not that kind of business. ; ) )

Strengthen your couple connection.

Let’s face it. You feel more like a team when you effectively communicate about the important stuff. (Read How to Communicate Better With Your Spouse for some tips.)

Hear and understand each other.

Undivided attention is GOLD in marriage. When you focus on listening and understanding each other, that’s 24-karat magic right there. (Read 3 Ways to Be a Better Listener.)

Remember the important things.

Who hasn’t forgotten a simple social engagement before? 

Steps to a Productive Marriage Check-In

Set a Time

Saturday mornings before kids need you and Sunday evenings after kids’ bedtimes are two great times. Put it on your calendar. Set the notifications. If you have to miss it, you can reschedule it right then. Weekly or every other week is a good idea, and 30 minutes is a reasonable length of time. As you get consistent with the check-ins, you may decide to do them monthly.

Parameters/Boundaries

No kids allowed. No technology except when it’s obviously adding to the value of the meeting, e.g., using your calendar or planning a date and looking up attractions. 

Environment

You’ll probably have a routine. You may discuss on Saturday mornings over coffee or sit on the couch after the kids are in bed. Occasionally, change it up. Check-in while strolling through the neighborhood or a park, driving around town, or while you’re out for breakfast. Enjoy the environment with the one you love.

Always start by Appreciating Your Spouse

Your spouse will look forward to the check-ins because they know they’ll hear something positive about themselves. Start with something like…

  • You know what I like about you? I’m gonna tell you. ___________
  • I liked when you ___________ earlier this week.
  • I noticed your ___________ yesterday.
  • When you ____________, I appreciated it. That was helpful.
  • Thank you for _______________.

Discuss upcoming schedules

Work schedule/changes, community meetings or activities, kids’ events, and social calendar all fall into this category.

Answer the questions:

  • Who’s going?
  • What’s the cost?
  • What’s the time commitment?
  • What needs to be done to prepare?
  • Are there any conflicts?

If you need to make reservations, sign forms, or contact people, clarify who will do it. 

Listen to Your Spouse’s Emotional, Mental, and Physical Needs

Generally, save this for last because it’s the most open-ended. These 3 questions are good starters. And if you use them every time, you may both start thinking about the answers beforehand.

  • How are you doing and feeling?
  • How do you feel like we are doing as a couple?
  • Are there any issues or concerns you’d like us to talk about?

What To Call It

Some of you will call it a Marriage Check-In and be good with that. More adventurous people may want a name with more personality. (Let us know what you come up with!)

Keep in mind: a productive Marriage Check-In isn’t like those never-ending staff meetings, which are a necessary evil. This is with the one you love. It’s a chance to connect, grow, and course-correct so you’ll enjoy your marriage to the fullest. 

Other helpful blogs:

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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.

Nothing like the hint of fall in the air to lift your spirits. I mean what could be better for your soul than sipping a pumpkin spice latte in front of a fire pit on a crisp evening? 

What? You don’t like pumpkin spice anything? No problem. There are plenty of other activities you can do with your family to create fun during this fall season. 

Here are 25 suggestions to get the pumpkin (I mean ball) rolling on your fall activities:

  1. Gather pine cones, slather creamy peanut butter on them, roll them in birdseed and hang them outside your window so you can watch the birds. OR give them to older folks in your neighborhood who can’t get out, but would enjoy seeing the birds.
  2. Once the leaves have fallen off the trees, gather the entire family to rake leaves into a huge pile. See how high and wide you can make the pile and then jump in it. An alternative could be that a couple of you make the pile and then hide in it until other family members walk past it. Then you jump out of it. That should make for a great game of chase. 😁
  3. If you’ve got littles, take them outside to gather different color leaves and then press them between two sheets of wax paper or put them underneath paper and let them rub crayon over the leaf to make an etching.
  4. Learn about vegetables that grow well in the fall and plant a fall garden. Let your kids educate you about how to do the planting, how many plants you need, how to care for the garden, and when things are ready to be picked.
  5. Take advantage of the clear nights to throw a blanket on the ground and do some stargazing. You can go old school and use a book or high-tech and use an app to find all the constellations. If you prefer to do something during the day, look at the cloud formations and play I Spy for formations that look like a horse, Barney, a tree, or leaves… you get the picture.
  6. Pack a picnic and head out for a hike to look at the fall colors and picnic at an overlook.
  7. Make a list of all your family’s favorite fall foods like pumpkin spice cookies, caramel apples, popcorn balls, pumpkin bread, apple pie, and apple spice cake. Let the baking be a family affair. Keep some and give some away.
  8. Find an older person who needs help with their yard. Take a day and work together as a family to spruce things up.
  9. Make leaf shapes from paper and have everybody write down things they are thankful for. Put them in a bowl, then open them up and read them at Thanksgiving dinner.
  10. Go old school and teach your kids games you used to play when you were their age—Kick the Can, Freeze Tag, Four Square, Jax, Marbles, Hop Scotch, Duck Duck Goose, Monkey in the Middle, Jump Rope or Double Dutch, Spud, Horse, Red Light Green Light, Freeze Dance, and Wiffle Ball ought to give you enough to keep them engaged for a while.
  11. Go for a walk and gather all kinds of things that are signs of fall like acorns, leaves, sticks, pine cones, seedpods, and nuts. Then make a fall wreath out of what you found.
  12. Create a fall yard display complete with a scarecrow.
  13. Have a contest to see who can come the closest to replicating their favorite fall drink.
  14. Build a fire in the fire pit and roast marshmallows and/or make S’mores.
  15. Since it gets dark earlier, go on a flashlight hike and see what kinds of things you can spot. You never know when you might encounter a raccoon, opossum, or skunk. (Pepé Le Pew!)
  16. For your little ones, trace their hand on a colorful sheet of construction paper and help them make a turkey out of their hand.
  17. Have a watercolor painting night for the family with a fall theme.
  18. Learn how to make bread. There is something about the smell of bread baking when you walk through the door that wakes up those taste buds. The best part though is eating it warm out of the oven. Pure happiness.  
  19. Have an ongoing board game competition with your family during the fall months. Maybe the overall winner gets their favorite meal made and served by everybody else.
  20. Decorate your bikes and go for a bike ride through the neighborhood.
  21. Choose some of the old-fashioned relays like the wheelbarrow race, three-legged race, egg/water balloon toss, egg and spoon relay, and crab race. Gather some of your extended family or framily (friends who are like family) and head to a large field where you have room to spread out and let the games begin.
  22. Visit an apple orchard and sample all the goodies. Take the apples you purchased and bob for apples with your feet.
  23. Create an outdoor obstacle course for the entire family to complete. Think Slip ‘n Slide meets mudder run and you’ve got some serious fun in the making.
  24. Make homemade hot chocolate complete with marshmallows and whipped cream and see who can make the best mustache while drinking it.
  25. Pitch a tent in the backyard. Hang a sheet from a tree and watch a movie OR learn how to make shadow figures.

All of these are pretty simple and fun things you can do with your family.

The best part though is that in the midst of creating all of this fun you are also teaching your children, listening to them, letting them lead, laughing together, modeling how to be a good loser and a humble winner, how to share, what to do when you disagree and how to be a good team player—just to name a few.

It’s been a year, to say the least. We all could use some fun right about now. So, work can wait. Put your phone down—except to take pictures of course and go all-in for some fall family fun and activities. You won’t regret it.

When your relationship has a high level of emotional intimacy, you share your feelings, needs, fears, successes, and failures knowing you will continue to be loved and cared for by your partner.

Building strong intimacy in your marriage can give your marriage the satisfying fulfillment you desire. 

Here are 6 exercises to strengthen emotional intimacy in your marriage:

1. Do something new and engaging together. 

  • Prepare new, exotic meals together from beginning to end. Search recipes for some cuisine the two of you would like to try. Together, buy the groceries, prepare the meal, and of course, eat together. 
  • Learn a new language together. Focus on learning relationship-specific words that will help you express appreciation, be affectionate, and flirt.
  • Create a marriage bucket list and then get started on completing your list.

Research shows that doing new activities can reignite the passion in your relationship. They help the two of you experience challenges, successes, and failures together. You’re able to see each other’s authentic self without the pressure of being perfect. 

2. Show affection. 

  • Each day, give each other a deep, passionate kiss for at least 20 seconds. Your body will release chemicals in your brain helping you to increase the connection between you. (We aren’t responsible for whatever happens next.😉 )
  • Each day, give each other a great big hug for a minimum of 20 seconds. This has a similar effect of increasing the bond and connectedness. Just good, old-fashioned affection.
  • Cuddle. Yes, that simple. Cuddle and rest in each other’s presence.

3. Do marriage enrichment together. 

All are good ways you can invest in your marriage to help you share, grow closer to each other and strengthen emotional intimacy.

4. Make time to talk.

  • Practice focused, uninterrupted talking and listening. Take 15-30 minutes each day to share whatever is on your heart. Your one goal is to make sure that each of you feels heard and understood. Some days the conversation may be a rundown of the day. Other days you may each reveal deeper levels of transparency and vulnerability. 
  • Be curious. Ask each other questions. Be vulnerable and transparent as you share your thoughts. Increase your intimacy with these 200 conversation starters for couples
  • Set aside regular time to connect. Dr. Linda Duncan, a marriage researcher and Professor Emeritus at Tarleton State University, shares that couples can build intimacy by intentionally connecting at four distinct points throughout their day: 1. When you wake up. 2. Before you depart for the day. 3. When you reconnect after work/school. 4. As you go to bed. 

How you connect at each of these four moments can have a tremendous impact on the intimacy within your relationship. “Connecting” can be as simple as getting your spouse a cup of coffee and saying “Good morning,” giving them a kiss goodbye, and saying “I love you,” giving them a hug when they get home, and some pillow talk before saying “goodnight.”

5. Celebrate your togetherness

  • Stroll down memory lane, revisit memorable date nights, or look at pictures and videos while reminiscing on the experiences you’ve shared. 
  • Take 15 minutes to exchange genuine compliments or express appreciation for each other.

6. Make the most of pillow talk

  • Eliminate the tech devices and potential distractions. Invest that time into one another. 
  • Give kids a bedtime or at least a quiet time when they are in their rooms for the night leading up to bedtime.
  • Share with each other how they can make you feel safe, cherished, and valued.
  • Talk about what arouses each of you.

Each of these 6 exercises on their own may not strengthen your emotional intimacy. However, if you do these with a heart of gratitude and appreciation toward your partner and you make them a habit, you’ll begin to feel closer and more connected. You’ll find yourself sharing more of yourself and getting to know your partner more fully. 

***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.***

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.

Have you ever gotten into bed, rolled over, and said “I miss you,” after sitting next to your spouse on the couch all evening? Or thought it silently to yourself as you question, “What did we even do? I mean we were next to each other—how can I miss them?Just being in the same room with your spouse doesn’t make you present with each other in ways that make your marriage stronger.

I know I’ve felt this when the busyness of life comes crashing in—uninvited and without warning. The circumstances right now in 2020 alone can cause all sorts of unrest, even in the places we’ve felt the most at home. There’s COVID and the adjustments constantly being made because of it, social justice at the forefront of conversations, political division, online schooling, and then there are your personal struggles outside of what’s going on in the world. 

All of these things can cause your relationship to feel robotic, like you are just going through the motions. It is monotonous, it’s boring, it lacks depth and it lacks the intimate connection you both need to enjoy life together—not just go through it together. 

The fix for this? Finding ways to be more present with your spouse. Think of it as the way you spend your time together. Quality over quantity… though if you can make time to have your cake and eat it, too, a high quantity of quality time sounds amazing.

Here are 4 Ways to Be More Present with Your Spouse:

1. Intentional conversation.

When you have time (make time) to catch up, do it intentionally. Turn the phones on silent or put them aside. Let the world take a backseat and really tune in to each other. “How are you feeling?” “What do you think about…?” “What was the best or worst part of your day and why?” “How can I be there for you?” “How can I show you I love you today?” Here are 20 questions you can ask each other besides, “How was your day?”

While you’re having conversations, hold hands, or place your hand on your spouse’s arm. Little moments of touch without distraction go a long way. Speaking of touch…

2. Touch.

Though being present with your spouse goes beyond being physically present, your body language and how you interact can say a lot about how you feel toward one another. If you’re both exhausted after a long day and just want to sit on the couch and watch a movie, do it! It doesn’t take much to communicate, “Hey I’m here with you and I want to be here.” Get close, cuddle up, and kiss a few times (or lots of times!)

A daily 6-second kiss will increase your emotional and physical intimacy. Hey! Research says that physical contact releases oxytocin (the bonding or trust hormone), and dopamine. This can improve your mood (for days at a time), and can help you stay calm. To top it off, something as simple as holding hands, hugging, getting close, and yes, making out, can lessen your stress hormones (cortisol) and enrich your sense of relationship satisfaction.

3. Pay attention to ways you can connect throughout the day…

Dr. Linda Duncan found four powerful ways for couples to connect throughout the day.  Being intentional about connecting at these times on a regular basis can increase the intimacy in your marriage and make your spouse feel like you’re present, not just there.

  • When you wake up, start with an “I love you,” a kiss or cuddling up beside your spouse (whichever is their cup of tea). Unless of course, they aren’t a morning person. Then maybe you just make the coffee and put a cup on the nightstand without saying a word. 😉
  • When you part for the day, even if you’re just sitting at the dining room table and your spouse is in the other room working from home, how you say see ya later sets the tone for how you think about your relationship throughout the day. The symbolic start of your workdays can be coupled with “Thanks for working so hard. I can’t wait to spend time together when you’re done with work.” Think about what you could say that would encourage and recognize your spouse.
  • How you greet each other once you’re done with work. A hug, kiss, or “I’m so glad you’re home!” are great ways to show you care and acknowledge your spouse coming home is important to you.
  • How you say goodnight is the last point of connectedness. Take a few moments between letting your head hit the pillow and falling asleep to talk about your day or your day tomorrow. Asking “Is there anything I can help you with tomorrow?” and ending with another “I love you.” (Because you can’t say it enough!) 

4. Make time for fun!

I know life is busy, but we make time for the things we care about, and being present with your spouse is one of those things for you or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. If you operate on opposite schedules, it may look like compromising some sleep and getting up earlier or going to sleep later. Maybe it’s a date night once a week or every other week. Having fun to look forward to will build anticipation, just be sure to talk about what you both want to do so there aren’t hidden expectations!

Incorporating a date night is essential! The New York Times writes about the importance of reinventing date night: “The theory is based on brain science. New experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love…” When you have fond feelings for each other, being present will feel more natural and you’ll crave that kind of quality time. 

Being more present with your spouse doesn’t have to take a lot of time or energy. But it does take being intentional with the time and energy you can offer each other. 

Additional Blogs:

***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.***

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I value my friend who reminded me that summer doesn’t end just because we start talking about our children going back to school. In fact, we are just one month into summer! Summer means different things for different people. For some, summer is about being footloose and fancy free. For others, summer is composed of trips to see family and friends. To me, summer is a time when my husband and I can do fun things together while our children spend quality time with their grandparents. And that means summer date nights!

However, this year, summer looks totally different from any other. Covid-19 has impacted many of the normal rites of passage for summer. It’s critical that we don’t allow these unusual circumstances to take ALL the fun out of summer. But I’m not going to let it—especially for me and my husband!

Here are some fun dates that every couple must do before summer ends:

Date Nights On the Town:

  1. Dessert Date. (Go get ice cream or cheesecake… and feed each other!) Start off by off by sharing your favorite desserts during this summer date! It can be anything from ice cream, cakes, pies, cupcakes, candy or delicious juicy fresh fruit (peaches, grapes, cherries, etc.). Or take it up a notch—once you have your dessert, use a sight inhibitor (blindfold) and feed each other. You have to guess what you are eating.
  2. Outdoors Date. (Hike, walk in woods, paddleboard, kayak, fishing or tubing!) Whether you like the beach or mountains, a steady lake or flowing river, getting in the great outdoors will bring you closer to nature and to each other. 
  3. Recreate Your First Date. Remember your first date? Think about the ambiance and the food. Try to recreate it at home
  4. Town Tour Date! Learn more about your community and each other by taking part in a walking tour in your hometown or somewhere nearby. Or create your own tour. Are you sure you have explored your town and each other?

At-Home Date Nights with A Meal:

  1. Have A Picnic. (In your backyard or a local park!) It can be a meal out of your kitchen or purchased from a local gourmet shoppe. Grab what you like to eat and drink and put it in a basket. Get a blanket or old comforter, then head out to your backyard, to the beach or a national or state park near you. Find the perfect spot and have your meal together.
  2. Breakfast Date. (Or dinner for breakfast… or breakfast for dinner!) Get together and create the menu for your favorite breakfast meal and have it for dinner. Or your favorite dinner and have it for breakfast. Think about it—breakfast for dinner, after DARK…

At-Home Date Nights without A Meal:

  1. Twinkle Twinkle Date. (You’re not too old for this one..)  Awake that inner child and create a fort in your living room. You know the drill—place a blanket in the middle of the floor. Put chairs around the blanket. Use sheets or blankets to create the top covering. If you have some twinkle lights or a flashlight around, use that to light up your space. (You can play a fun questioning game like Never Have I Ever or 20 Questions to learn more about each other.)
  2. Virtual Summer Date. (Click on some romance! Virtual Date Night or DIY Date!) First Things First is an organization which focuses on helping people to have healthy relationships. They have hosted virtual dates where couples learned to dance Salsa and Merengue and learned to make crêpes together. Additionally, they provide guides for DIY date nights. Check them out at FirstThings.org or on Facebook
  3. Game Night. (You don’t have to ever be board…) It’s time to dust off your favorite board or card game. Agree beforehand what the winner gets…
  4. Home Concert Date! (You don’t have to go to an arena to rock out…) For this date night, create a playlist of your favorite artist or your musical memories on a music streaming platform. It can be in your living room or under the stars in your backyard. Dance the night away in the arms of your honey. (You could even watch a concert on television and pretend that you are in the front row.)

No matter what is going on in the world, couples need to spend quality time having fun with each other. Play and fun builds intimacy and adventure in your relationship. 

Now, go have some FUN!

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We are four months into the Coronavirus Pandemic. When it first began, we were so shocked by the shelter-in-place rules that we decided to embrace this interruption in our “normal” lives. We were intentional about dinners as a family, spending quality time with each other and we even began family projects. Now, our teens have had enough “togetherness.” They either want to enter the world again or they may be withdrawn. For us, we so enjoyed our time with our teens that we don’t want it to stop. 

How can you deepen your connection with your teen?

1. Let them know their friends are welcome.

I mean, who’s not up for a party? Be up for a friend gathering for s’mores, a cookout, or an outdoor movie. Let your house be the place they want to hang out and don’t let money get in the way. If you can’t afford to supply all the food yourself, have everyone bring something. The key is to set the wheels in motion. As an added bonus, you’ll get to know their friends, too. Make sure that you get the “thumbs-up” from parents and are aware of social distancing and mask recommendations in your community. 

2. Disconnect to connect.

Multi-tasking is a major conversation-killer. For example, if your teen hates it when you talk on the phone when they are in the car, they may have a valid point. Who wants to feel excluded from a conversation? So, try to intentionally avoid talking when you are riding together. You know that little button that lets people know you’re driving? Use it, and make the time together in the car count. You have a captive audience and precious time in the car, so use it wisely. This goes for the dinner table and the living room, too.

3. Respect their space. 

It is key that you respect your teen’s space if you want to deepen your connection with your teen. If you have no reason to question their safety, please allow them some room to have their own thoughts, dreams, and goals. Give them the time and space to be a young adult. The more that you crowd them, the less likely they will be to share with you or even spend time with you.

4. Listen to them, even when it’s difficult to just listen.

When our teens hurt, we hurt. It may be easy to go into “Protective Mode” or “Fix-It Mode.” What they need from you is to listen and help them process—not take over, freak out, ask a million questions, or launch into a lecture. 

5. Find out what they like to do and join (apps like Snapchat, TikTok, read the same book and discuss, re-decorate a room together, etc.)

This may not be second nature to you. You may find that liking a post or trying to keep a Snap Streak alive shows that you care (and if you mess up the streak, they’ll let you know, which shows that they care, too). Allow them to teach you a new popular dance, then dance with them in a crazy TikTok video. 

6. Get into their world, even if you don’t understand it. 

You may not be a big fan of video gaming, sports, or animé. You may even dismiss its usefulness in your teen’s life. However, they have meaning to your teen. Getting involved with things that are important to them demonstrates that you value their interests and so, value them. It may open the door for you to invite them to join you in things you do. They may actually shock you by saying “yes.” 

7. If you bake it, they will come (and maybe even talk).

I have NEVER had my teens turn me down for a little one-on-one time if there is food or dessert involved. You may actually get more than a one-word answer to a question. This may look a little different depending on which child I’m wooing, for sure. It can be as simple as warming a pecan pie for my high schooler or as involved as cooking hamburgers on the grill for my college graduate. Once you find what works, it’s a win. 

These are jus a few ways for parents to increase their quality time with their teens. It’s important to make the most of the time that you have left with them at home. Before you know it, they will be off to college, military, or the work world.  

Here are some other blogs that may help you deepen your connection with your teen:

HOW DO I GET MY TEEN TO TALK TO ME?

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY TEEN IS DEPRESSED?

I THINK COVID-19 HAS MADE MY TEEN HATE ME

HOW DO I STOP FIGHTING WITH MY TEEN?

PARENTING THROUGH FORTNITE

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I just want to feel our love—the love we are spending time, energy, and money on celebrating. I miss the lack of urgency in answering questions and exchanging our ideas to spark conversations instead of polite compromises. When I was in the midst of planning my wedding I didn’t prioritize quality time with my fiancé. When we saw each other it was business. We sat in the tension of wanting romance but not knowing how to be both productive and passionate about each other. Learn from my mistake and get you and yours on a date! 

The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia did a study on how date nights affect couples. According to the study The Date Night Opportunity by W. Bradford Wilcox and Jeffrey Dew (University of Virginia, 2012):

In these data sets, husbands’ and wives’ reports of couple time were associated with higher relationship quality. For example, Figure 1 shows that husbands and wives who engaged in couple time with their mates at least once a week were approximately 3.5 times more likely to report being “very happy” in their marriages, compared to those who enjoyed less quality time with their spouse.

You are preparing for marriage as you prepare for your wedding. You will be someone’s husband or wife. Take what you see from the research and practice this habit so that it becomes muscle memory for your marriage! Don’t let the quantity of time you’re spending together blur with the meaning of quality time with your fiancé. 

How to Spend Quality Time with Your Fiancé While Planning a Wedding:

  1. Go over both of your schedules together. If you are making time to plan, to grocery shop, or to hang out with friends then you can surely make time to be intentional with your future spouse! Re-allocate your time and try to spend time together at least once a week. P.S. Try your best to refrain from talking about the wedding during this time—unless it’s about how excited you are!
  1. Be intentional with your time. Now that you have carved out some precious time together, don’t waste it! Put up the screens and put in the effort. Talk about how you two can love each other well. If you don’t know what your love language is, take the test and find out. Enjoy falling in love with each other over and over again (as well as learning to love each other better and better.)
  1. Cultivate intimacy. To have intimacy you have to spend quality time together. Communicating your desires, thoughts, feelings, and needs effectively and often are a sure-fire way to keep your connection with each other close. In this same vein, pursue each other. There’s nothing like the feeling of being worth someone’s time and effort. When you pursue your spouse-to-be, you are communicating to them they are valuable and deserving of your love. And for goodness’ sake—kiss! “A daily 6-second kiss will increase your emotional and physical intimacy.” According to author Dr. Kory Floyd, physical contact releases oxytocin (the bonding or trust hormone), can improve your mood (for days at a time), and can help you stay calm. To top it off, something as simple as holding hands, hugging, getting close, and yes, making out, can lessen your stress hormones (cortisol) and enrich your sense of relationship satisfaction.

You have your life together ahead of you. Let’s start it out with some healthy habits and making sure your relationship is the priority.

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to get the most quality out of your time set aside for each other, here is a link to date nights that perfectly mix together fun, romance, and facilitate natural connection… Pro-Tip: They’re free! (Which I know is a plus since weddings aren’t always cheap.)

Image from Unsplash.com

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!