Tag Archives: relationship

Strategies for Manly Married Men

Lots of men seem to be looking for a magic button of sorts to satisfy their partners in bed. I’m guessing that is why there are so many magazines and books focused on various sexual techniques, finding the elusive “g-spot” and other tips for men.

Notwithstanding the fact that women can be a bit complicated, when I read the following paragraph from Tom Basson’s blog, I thought it might just be the best sexual advice I’ve read for husbands to always remember. The article is called This one goes out to all the manly men, and he offers very good advice on how to create the love story in your life you’ve always wanted.

“Husbands, make love to your wife’s heart, not just her body. As ferociously as possible, find that woman’s heart and connect with it. Learn everything about her and connect with her in as many ways as possible. Understand her story and care about her past. Then her body will respond in ways she never thought humanly possible, and, for that matter, so will yours.”

The advice isn’t only intended to satisfy a mate sexually, but to build a better connection between both partners and satisfy a deep longing in both of them. Husbands and wives have a deep desire for connection, and the pace and technological influences of our day don’t help us meet that desire. Instead, they create obstacles that impede us in our drive for true connection, because they take our eye off the ball with many distractions.

What can you do to move your love story forward, and to bring you and your spouse closer together? How can you truly connect this week, understand your mate’s cares, desires and longings? How can you help stay connected despite your many obligations? How can you remove distractions that get in the way of your focus on your spouse? If it seems like too much of a challenge, read on.

How much time are you spending a day together?

Here’s one possible way to get a jump start. Dustin Reichmann at Engaged Marriage blog has a 10-minute test drive, with eight short things you can do with only 10-15 minutes of time to spend each day with your spouse. He nicely did the math for us, and explained that if we spend just 15 minutes a day connecting with our spouse, we will spend more than 91 hours together in a year. And this type of daily connection is more important than an annual vacation, especially if you are neglecting the rest of the year.

So check out the 100-minute challenge (10 days, 10 minutes) and you’ll see the steps are not at all daunting. For instance, day 5 is relaxing with your favorite dessert or drink together while sharing three things about your day, and day 6 is sharing a foot or back massage. Days 1 and 10 involve rating your marriage to see if you have made a difference in just 10 days. I think these bite-size challenges are a great way to infuse a little extra connection into your day.

What other ideas do you have to help you build a daily connection? Discuss your ideas with your spouse, and feel free to share your ideas here!

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. The book tells the true stories that demonstrate that marriage can thrive even in the most difficult circumstances. Learn from 12 inspiring couples who experienced child loss, infidelity, drug addiction, cancer, financial crises, brain injury, stranger rape, military service, infertility, opposing religions, unsupportive families, interracial relationships, raising special-needs children, and much more. These couples found the pressures of life didn’t destroy them; instead, they crystallized their commitment to each other. Available from Amazon.com or at your favorite e-book retailer.

Photo by Ambro courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net.

Don’t bother rekindling your marriage … create something new

One of the most common requests from readers is for content on how to keep the spark burning in the marriage or to rekindle romance. Dr. Corey Allan has an excellent response to this age-old issue. Enjoy this guest post by Corey Allan, PhD, from SimpleMarriage.net.
 
There is a popular belief in the marriage and relationship world that when the doldrums hit and you find yourself more numb than really alive, you should look for ways to get back what you once had.

Call it a spark. A zest. A passion. Whatever.

The point is, something’s missing and since you once had it – you can go back and find it again.

Wrong.

Life is not lived backwards.

Our past is important.

Who we once were is what our spouse found attractive (since that person caught the eye of your spouse and reeled them in the rest of the way). But the previous version of you is long gone and trying to go back and find him/her is a path to more frustration.

While you may be able to produce a brief spark by reminiscing about when you were dating, it won’t be a lasting spark.

The main reason – you’re up against the “love drug” in your brain.

When you first met and fell in love with your spouse you both experienced a chemically induced high. Your brain flooded with a chemical called Phenylethylamine (PEA), which remains in your brain from 6 months to 2 years. PEA produces a feeling of euphoria, a sense of belonging, and a feeling of obsession (which is why you want to talk and be with your new found love every moment).

As PEA fades over time (and it will) many people believe that you can recreate the same levels of emotion within the relationship. Problem is, you can’t.

You cannot go back a manufacture PEA in your brain within the same relationship (although I’m sure the pharmaceutical companies are trying to figure out a way).

What you can do, increase the levels of Oxytocin in your system.

Oxytocin is known as the “bonding” chemical. It produces the deep connection to others, the lasting bond that long term relationships create. Oxytocin is released when you bond with another person – the most intense experiences are mother and infant while nursing and during orgasm. But other contacts create this bond as well: massages, eye contact, hugs, holding hands.

On the other end of the spectrum, going through crisis and tragedy together dramatically increases the levels of Oxytocin as well.

This is why it is worth it to work through the rough patches in marriage.

What it produces is a deeper, more lasting bond.

Now that you know what you’re up against when you face the monotonous times in marriage, here’s a couple of ideas to help up the Oxytocin in your life:

1. Catch romance where you can
You can learn to build romance at unexpected times — during your daily commute, while doing laundry — you can even do this through a long, lingering kiss or just holding hands. In other words, the next time you hear find you’ve got a couple of minutes to yourselves, make use of it — give that  Oxytocin a boost.

2. Nurture your separate selves
Having your own hobbies isn’t a sign you are drifting apart. On the contrary, developing individual interests allows for a richer life as a couple. Taking personal responsibility for your own well-being relieves the your spouse of the pressure to “provide” happiness — so go ahead and nurture some solo adventures. That’ll also keep each of you stocked with plenty of adventures to chat about, which also tightens your bond.

3. Take on a project together
Separate interests aside, exploring new ground together is also important since it strengthens your history of shared experiences (Oxytocin boost). Commit to run a 5K together. Create a project for your home or kids. Big projects together offer increases in Oxytocin because they are often filled with highs and lows, but the lows will create a bond as well. Couples who take on adventures together get a sense of daring and accomplishment that can really kick up their chemistry!

4. Touch each other (sexually and non-sexually)
The boost of connection you receive from human touch is huge. And every touch doesn’t have to be sexual in nature. Sure, sexual touch is important and will increase the connection, but so will non-sexual touch. Hold hands, hug, sit close beside one another, cuddle. Each little (or big) gesture can cause a boost of Oxytocin for both of you.

Got any more to add? Share them in the comments.

Thanks so much for the great advice!

Photo by manostphoto courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Does Your Marriage Have Areas for Improvement?

If you are hoping to improve or even maintain your relationship in 2012, it may help to know what the major sources of conflict are. What do couples fight most about, and can you assess your personal behavior in these areas to ensure you are not contributing to that conflict?

The Science of Relationships provides the Top 15 Sources of Conflict in Relationships with a brief explanation of each that I think is very helpful. It includes everything from being inconsiderate to poor grooming. First, ask yourself what the most common conflict topics are in your relationship, then check the list. Be honest about an area in which you might be able to improve. This isn’t the time to blame your partner, but rather to look a way you might take some responsibility for a bit of self-improvement. Personally, I hope to improve my daily efforts toward generosity this year.

For some additional helpful reading, The Generous Husband’s Paul Byerly has done a good job dissecting The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America 2011—research completed by the National Marriage Project. This is the research I wrote about recently in which generosity in marriage is said to be the best indicator of a very happy marriage. There’s much more to the study. Paul explains the findings on Money and Housework, which show happier husbands and wives are part of couples for which household chores are shared equally. In addition, the study showed that financial pressure and debt decrease our marital happiness. No matter what our income, increased consumer debt is a hindrance to a happy marriage, particularly for women. He also reports on the impact of family and friends in marriage, which reminds us we should be connecting with those who support our marriage, and preferably spend time with others who have strong marriages. Finally, this is an interesting bit about the importance of shared faith within a marriage. If these reports are interesting to you, check out the full study results. (See link at beginning of paragraph.)

What area of your marriage could use some tweaking—or a complete overhaul—this coming year? Perhaps how you communicate, how you manage your finances, how you share your faith, how you share housework or raise your children, how you manage your time or your home, how you show affection, your sexual satisfaction with one another, making time to spend each day with each other? The options are nearly endless, but discuss one area with your partner in which you both will make an effort to improve, will seek out tools for improvement, and will provide honest and productive feedback with each other. If you have particular topics you would like more information about, please message me or leave it in the comments and I will provide expert insights and research-based tips for you.

For all those who celebrate the Christmas holiday this coming week, I wish you all the blessings and joy of the season. I hope for you a holiday with minimal stress and abounding love. And I wish peace and joy to all of you and to your families and friends. Thank you for allowing me into your lives.

NOTE:
My new book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage is now available. Go here for links to Amazon print version or e-books for Kindle, iTunes, Nook or e-book. If you’ve already bought the book, don’t forget to email me for your 7 free marriage improvement gifts, including everything from an e-book to improve your sex-life to date night suggestions, an iPhone app with daily marriage tips, a marriage refresher workbook, a video to hone your communication skills, and tips for how to connect on a daily basis with your spouse in just 15 minutes a day.

Photo by Arvydas Kriuksta courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Take Responsibility for Your Own Relationship Happiness

During this busy holiday season, don’t forget to carve out some time with your spouse. I recommend these three powerful questions spouses ask one another.  Hopefully you are scheduling at least 10 to 20 minutes a day to connect with your spouse, even when you’re busy. These are great discussion questions so that you don’t end up talking about your to-do list, the kids and the unfinished chores.

And now I’d like to share a guest post from relationship coach, speaker and author of Secrets of Happy Couples, Kim Olver. Kim reminds us that even if we are a part of a couple, we need to function independently and be responsible for our own happiness. It’s not our partner’s job to complete us or make us happy.

You Complete Me . . . NOT!

Tom Cruise said it in Jerry McGuire . . . “You complete me.” It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s sad if it’s really true. If you want to create a relationship that works, you want to be a whole, fully functioning person when you enter it. You also want the other person in the relationship to be a whole, fully functioning person, too. When you both bring your fullest, most authentic selves to the relationship, you are stacking the odds in your favor.

So the obvious question is, “How do I figure out who my fullest self is?” You’ll know because you will feel complete all by yourself. When you are alone, you won’t feel lonely. You appreciate being with others and even having a special someone in your life but they aren’t necessary for your happiness. You complete yourself. You are enough. You are special and unique and you don’t need another person to validate your worth. Here are some steps to take when you find yourself in the Alone Stage of Relationships to move you toward your fullest self.

Whenever you are between relationships, it’s important to do some serious introspection. There are many things to consider. First, what part did you play in your past relationship not working out. It’s very easy to blame the other person and certainly they had a part to play. But so did you.

You want to spend some time thinking about why you chose the person. Are you not discriminating enough and settling for partners who do not suit you? Do you use a lot of criticism in your relationships? Do you give and give and give until you have nothing left to give? Do you have so many deal breakers that it is virtually impossible for a person to meet your standards?

Time alone does not mean time to feel sorry for yourself or time to hop from one relationship to another, although these are options many people choose. If you want to have successful relationships, there are lessons for you to learn along way. When you are in between relationships, it’s a great time for self-reflection. Take the time to look at the role you played in your relationship not working out. There are always two people in your relationship and each has a part to play in either the success for failure of the relationship. Look to see what your role was.

Then, the second step to take is to create your list for your ideal mate. What are the qualities, skills and characteristics you are seeking in a life partner? Get very clear about the things you can’t live without. These are your deal breakers. You want to be sure you are spending time with people who can meet your non-negotiables. Deal breakers vary from person to person.

When you don’t know what your deal breakers are, then you will often waste time in relationships that are not good for you. Deal breakers might include infidelity, violence, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, financial irresponsibility, and level of physical activity. These are usually things that are totally offensive to your value system. Get serious about what they are so you can discriminate when someone has the propensity toward one of your deal breakers and stop wasting your time and theirs.

On the other hand, you don’t want to have so many deal breakers that no one but a fictitious Prince Charming could ever live up to them. In this case, whenever you begin a new relationship, you are looking for the flaws and cracks. And when you look that hard, you are destined to find them! No one will be able to pass the “test.”

You then want to compile a list of the things that are important to you in a relationship. Things like income, intimacy, attractiveness, type of employment, friends, extended family members, hobbies, etc. When you begin a new relationship, you will want to know this person possesses a good percentage of the things you want in a life partner. If you don’t know what those qualities are, then you will settle for anybody, thus setting yourself up for constant dissatisfaction.

You may also create a list of bonus qualities that would be awesome for your partner to possess but it’s not necessary, essential or even important. They are just bonuses.

Once you have your list and you can almost picture your perfect partner, then it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror. You need to ask yourself, “Am I the person my perfect partner would be attracted to? Would my perfect partner want me?”

If your answer is yes, then great! You already are your fullest, most authentic self. However, if you are seeking a person who would never be attracted to the person you are now, then you have some self-development ahead of you. Ask yourself who would you be if you were the perfect complement for your perfect partner? What kinds of things would you do and not do? What would you have in your life? What kind of person would you be?

Once you have identified who you want to be, then you want to begin the process of reinventing yourself into the person you want to be so you can attract the mate you want into your life. When you become your fullest, most authentic self, are clear about whom you want to share your life with, and understand you relationship patterns, then you have vastly increased the chances that your next relationship will be your best relationship thus far. Enjoy the journey!

Only a few more days before my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage, is out! It will be available December 8th on Amazon.com and in various e-book formats at  www.LoriDLowe.com.  The book’s Facebook page is www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss. Please help me spread the word. Thank you!

 Photo by David Castillo Dominici courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Three Steps to Great Sex

“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

 

Thanks to Julie Sibert for today’s fabulous Guest Post:

My husband and I learned early in our relationship two vital pieces of information – he doesn’t like to be hungry and I don’t like to be cold.

Armed with these tidbits of wisdom, we have dodged more discord than I can recount. I would never initiate a lengthy conversation 45 minutes before dinner, when insanity from low blood sugar has settled into my husband’s brain.  Likewise, my beloved knows full well that if we were ever to buy a new car, I would look at no other option beyond the seat warmer.  Literally, this is what the salesperson’s voice would sound like to me: “Blah, blah, blah. Seat warmer. Blah, blah, blah.”

Obviously, it wasn’t too hard for us to weave this information into our marital fabric.  But not all pertinent information comes so easy, does it? Like how to have great sex.

When we were first married, we were pretty clueless as to how to sexually satisfy each other (naked and in love, mind you, but clueless nonetheless). It’s not that we didn’t know what sex was.  We both had had sex before we met each other.  We just had never had sex with each other until our wedding night.

We weren’t naïve about this lack of knowledge.  On our wedding night, we closed the door of our hotel room well aware that we were about to embark on some awkwardness.  Not all couples, though, have such an “eyes wide open” approach.

I am convinced that one of the most perpetuated fallacies ever to befall married couples is that amazing sexual intimacy is natural – that it won’t take effort, time, communication, and lots of trial and error (with a fair amount of humor as well).

So many couples journey years (and even decades) of married life never really experiencing great sex.  Some of you reading this right now are well acquainted with that scenario. It drapes across your marriage bed with heaviness. For you, sexual intimacy has been boring at best, and mere obligation at worse. Maybe it’s even caused overwhelming tension in your marriage.

By “great” sex, I’m not just talking about orgasm, fun and passion.  All very nice elements, I might add.  I’m referring instead to really knowing each other sexually – knowing how to turn each other on and experience mysterious oneness. It’s about more than intercourse. It is instead about the little nuances, touches, techniques, intentions and words that add up to sacred sexual knowledge about each other.

Do you genuinely know what it takes to bring your spouse to the edge of intense pleasure, and then lovingly and powerfully push them right over that edge into unabashed ecstasy?   Do you know how to allow your spouse the privilege of doing this to you? Both are essential sides to the same coin.

While the reasons that thwart great sex are many (and some quite serious), for some couples it is more of a matter of indifference. Sex just fell by the wayside, lost beneath the responsibilities of paying the Visa bill, keeping milk in the fridge and washing soccer uniforms. Life happened, and sex disappeared faster than baby socks in a clothes dryer. Or maybe you never nurtured intimacy in the first place. Hot newlywed sex? Pure myth for many people.

If you can identify with any of this, you’re not alone. It’s not that you don’t love your spouse or value your marriage.  It’s not that you’re opposed to sex.  It’s just that sex falls way down on the list (somewhere between organize your 7,000 digital photos and clean the basement floor drain).  In other words, you never get to it. Or you make love so rarely that the likelihood of really knowing each other is…well… highly unlikely.

Are you ready to change those patterns in your sexual intimacy?

Here are three tips to move sex out of the “ho-hum” category and into the “wow!” category:

1. Call it like it is. If your intimacy has stalled or is non-existent (or is just plain boring), then get courageous and draw this into the light. A conversation starter can be as simple as this: “I know sex hasn’t been the greatest for us, and I am wondering what together we can do about that.”  If it causes you too much anxiety to start a verbal conversation, consider writing your spouse a note. At any rate, take a step to lovingly express that you want sex to be a priority.

2. Start with your hands.  For all the focus put on our genital regions, I think there is a lot to be said for the role our hands play.  Touch is powerful.  If you and your spouse have just been going through the motions – quickly getting to the main attraction of intercourse – you are missing out on a full-body experience.  Learn to caress each other. Vary the firmness of your touch, and take your time.  Some areas of particular arousal can be the neck, ears, head, upper arms, inner thighs, chest, behind the knees and across the lower back. Extreme sexual pleasure is built upon a foundation of being aroused.  Touch isn’t just the opening act; touch is the headliner, too.

3.  Try at least one new thing. I’ve never been a big fan of “variety for variety’s sake.” I am, though, a fervent champion of variety that endears a husband and wife to each other sexually.  A married couple is afforded tremendous freedom to pleasure each other sexually, so break out of routines and learn new ways to please each other.  Try at least one new thing (new position, oral sex, making love in a different room, etc.)  Sure, it will feel awkward at first, but together you can discover depths of pleasure you may have never known.

My last suggestion is this: resist the urge to give up too soon. Within sexual intimacy, we are at our most vulnerable emotionally, physically and spiritually. When we feel vulnerable, we are more likely to retreat if things start to feel difficult.  If you do that, though, you won’t break through to information that could significantly improve your marriage. You do want that kind of breakthrough, right?

Sure, my husband knows I don’t like to be cold. And I know he doesn’t like to be hungry. As beneficial as that information has been, it pales to what we know about each other sexually.

I’d love to write more.  But I need to go push a certain someone over an edge.  If you know what I mean.

Julie Sibert writes and speaks about sexual intimacy in marriage.  You can follow her blog at www.IntimacyInMarriage.com. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, their two boys and one rambunctious German Shorthair Pointer puppy. © 2011 by Julie Sibert. 

Photo Credit: @PhotoXpress.com

Stand On Your Own Two Feet for a Balanced Marriage

So many of us think that marriage means being able to constantly lean on one another, supporting each other in good times and bad. But that picture may be a bit faulty. Imagine two people leaning forward and holding one another up. The problem with this approach, says marital therapist Corey Allen, PhD, is that its success is dependent on the other’s actions to balance the relationship. If one slips up, the other feels it and blames his/her partner for the error.

In an excellent “Marriage Manifesto,” Corey (blogger extraordinaire at Simple Marriage) explains the importance of each partner standing on his or her own two feet. It’s not that you shouldn’t be ready and willing to support your partner or catch them if they’re falling. Instead, we need to be responsible for our own contributions to life and to marriage.  I highly recommend you read the manifesto; there’s a wealth of advice explained simply. Here’s a snippet:

“When a person shows up in their intimate relationship, takes responsibility for setting the tone for himself or herself, and takes the lead for their life with love and integrity, both them and their partner have the greatest opportunity to experience what they both most deeply desire,” explains Corey.

So, how do you stand on your own two feet?

  • Be honest and transparent.
  • Learn how to be 100% present.
  • Set healthy boundaries.
  • Create a great life for yourself.
  • Begin to do what is challenging rather than what is expedient.

An example of how I might support myself better is by attending to my own physical and psychological needs. I would allow time for exercise and for the enjoyment of a good book or a walk outside. I might ask my husband to run an errand for me instead of pretending he is the reason I am stressed and out of time. I would work on fulfilling my own dreams instead of blaming my partner for stifling them. These activities make me a more attractive partner and one who can bring more love and positivity to the relationship. Being self-balanced also allows me to better support my partner when needed.

Corey goes on to explain what it means to be grown up in your marriage. I’ve read some interesting discussion in marriage forums lately (see ProjectM) about what growing up means today and whether it’s required for a great marriage and a successful life.

I appreciate that Corey explains what being grown up in a relationship means and what it doesn’t mean. It involves having a strong sense of self, but it also allows a stronger relationship with your partner. It doesn’t mean you have to do things your way, or that you need your space because you’re seeking independence. There’s no fear in being mature in love. Corey says, “When you have solid core beliefs and values, you can adapt and change without losing your identity.”

It may take courage and effort, but you can lead your relationship to a new plain where each of you is self-fulfilled, and you are able to better fulfill one another in love. The bonus is that when each of you is standing straight and tall, you can become much closer.

How do you picture your current relationship—leaning forward and holding one another up, or standing solidly on your own two feet while holding hands?

Photo credit: ©rgbspace/PhotoXpress.com

Pour Love on Your Spouse

 Love Everyday is on a blog tour! This week, it’s my turn to share with you the section I contributed called Pouring on Love, which offers details on how to truly invest your energy into your spouse. The e-book version offers 26 other great posts for you to enjoy.

 Last Week: In case you missed it, Television and Relationships was posted by Stu at The Marry Blogger.

What you are about to read is only one piece of a 27-page collaborative e-book written to help you learn how to make your marriage extraordinary amidst the chaos of life.  After reading this post, be sure to download a complete copy of LOVE EVERYDAY absolutely free!

How to Pour Love on Your Spouse

While we can’t control the amount of happiness produced in our relationships, we can control the amount of love and effort poured into them. Gaining a little more happiness is like gaining a little more money; you always want more. But giving and receiving love generates fulfillment. There are myriad ways to show love, but we know love when we see it, hear it, read it, and feel it. Love is in the details, the thoughtfulness, the caring.

When you act in a loving—even sacrificial—manner, you experience The Paradox of Giving. This is the secret your grandparents knew about:  It is in giving that we receive. The joy and love you give returns to you. Yes, it is risky to invest yourself fully. If you have chosen your partner well, the return is often much higher than expected. A couple who focuses on the other’s needs experiences joy and deep satisfaction that makes fleeting happiness look like leftover casserole—fine, but nothing to write home about.

How can you pour on love? Voraciously study your spouse. Put as much energy into that research as in your career and hobbies. Try to understand and participate in their interests as they change over time—recreational, musical, romantic, sexual and culinary interests. Ask about your partner’s hopes, preferences, desires, dislikes, and fears. Encourage their dreams. Communicate your needs and desires as well.  Be the one who knows them best, and help them to know your heart. Learn new things together. Express how important he or she is to you. Have fun together. Show at least one act of kindness each day—send a short email, cook a meal, give a backrub.

Give your respect, vulnerability, time, undivided attention, intimacy, patience, fidelity, commitment and devotion. Do it without keeping score. Do it without stopping. Do it with love.

Individual freedom and personal happiness are two of the highest American ideals. The pursuit of happiness takes up most of our time and energy, while learning to be loving is perhaps an afterthought. The success of all our relationships depends on how we love.

How do you pour love into your relationship and make your spouse feel truly cared for?

Help Your Spouse Achieve Lifelong Dreams

I have a few close friends and family members who are all about their “bucket lists,” the lists of things they want to experience or accomplish during their lives. For instance, my brother’s list inspired him to climb Mount Rainier and to go deep-sea diving in remote locations.  This week, I was reading the uplifting blog The Generous Wife. She suggested as couples we talk regularly about our bucket lists and look for ways to help our spouses achieve their wishes. It’s a fantastic suggestion.

I like this idea for multiple reasons. First, discussing your dreams with your spouse increases intimacy and keeps you focused on positive aspects of your life. Second, participating in activities outside of your norm builds excitement and passion for yourself and for your marriage. And third, helping your spouse achieve his or her dreams often causes your spouse to have increased gratitude toward you. And gratitude has been shown to increase connection and bonds.

I must admit I’m not much of a true adventurer. I’d much rather sit on a beach than climb a treacherous mountain. However, I have spectacular memories of traveling to Hawaii, Bermuda, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Monaco, Mexico—and yes, even a memorable trip to Canada during one of their worst snowstorms—with my husband. All that travel came to a screeching halt when our two children were welcomed into our lives. I have more destinations in mind when our kids are a bit older. But travel isn’t required; many adventures can be found without leaving your hometown.

I have a great friend who encouraged her husband to fulfill his dream of running a hot-air balloon business, while maintaining his full-time job as a pilot. I’ve never heard her complain of the time it takes away from their large family. I have other friends who have supported their spouse’s dreams to become an entrepreneur or a full-time parent. Two married friends have decided to visit every national park in the country. Perhaps you have always wanted to take music or dance lessons, fly an airplane, learn a new language or write a book. Share your goals with your spouse, and discuss how your dreams could become a reality.

Believing in one another and in a positive vision for your union is part of the magic of marriage. How many divorces could be prevented if spouses felt their partner cared as much about their dreams and goals as they do?

What fun things are on your bucket list? What obstacles stand in your way—time, money, self-doubt, an aging body? Do you know what’s on your partner’s list?

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please spend one minute to take this survey  answering five quick questions. Your confidential responses will help me immensely. Thanks!

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Don’t Take Your Spouse for Granted

“Hug your child every day,” is the often-repeated command of heartbroken parents who have lost a child—wishing they could have just one more opportunity to share their affection. My heart goes out to them when I see them on TV after their tragic loss. It’s a painful reminder that we should not take for granted each day with our loved ones.

Those who have lost something valuable often have important, yet simple, wisdom to share. A widowed neighbor of mine says she advised all her friends after her husband died, “to be sure to tell your spouse every day that you love them.”

Yes, tell them. Then, show them with your attitude, kindness and support. Don’t take them for granted. Don’t argue about petty, unimportant stuff that won’t matter in a week. If you want to go further in demonstrating your love, check out these ideas to show your love.

What would your life be like without your partner? Tell him or her what you appreciate and love about being married to them.