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Couple Minutes

Carve out couple time

Does your relationship with your spouse fall to the bottom of your to-do list? Here are some suggestions to keep romance alive.

Schedule special rituals.Devote a certain time of the day to just the two of you. Mark it on your calendar just as you would an important appointment.

Write love letters.A romantic e-mail or fax will brighten anyone's busy day. Or tuck a card in your spouse's purse or pocket.

Shake up your lunchtime routine.Set up a card table for two in your office and order take out. Or share a blanket picnic on the floor.

Turn downtime into dates. If the two of you are heading off to an appointment, leave a few minutes early and detour for a quick cup of coffee.

Pour passion into the mundane.Cooking can be soothing and sensual. Even something as mindless as folding laundry together can give you a chance to catch up. Once you start devoting ordinary moments to each other, every day can be Sweetest Day.

Source: MSN.com (10/18/05)

COUPLES DEVOTIONAL

A new song

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:3).

There's a cascading effect to God's grace: As we grow in understanding its power in our lives, we can turn around and give it to others.

My wife, Denalyn, is a true gift of grace—one I never expected and certainly didn't deserve.

I met Denalyn while we were in college. She was a sincere, godly woman, and I never dreamed she'd be interested in a guy like me.

I didn't become a committed Christian until I was out of high school. In the years preceding that commitment, I had relationships with women that were out of control physically. When God got hold of me, I repented of my sin. But I had so much remorse that I grew accustomed to the idea that I would live out my life as a single man.

God brought Denalyn and me together anyway. And in spite of my past, she saw me as a new creation and extended grace to me.

I was overwhelmed by God's goodness, which was shown through the love and acceptance of this woman. In fact, the thought that he'd entrust me with such a treasure as Denalyn still astounds me. I feel like a pauper who got to marry a princess.

By Max Lucado, from The Couples' Devotional Bible (Zondervan).

7 Rules for real estate

Keep these tips in mind when you and your spouse start looking for a new home:

  1. Location, location, location.It's better to buy a smaller home in a desirable area than a large home in an area no one wants (or will want).
  2. Ask about utility bills.Factor energy efficiency into your purchase.
  3. Check out school systems,shopping, pollution, and safety in the area.
  4. Visit the house you're considering at different times of the day.Traffic, construction, and nearby activities may create more noise than you anticipated.
  5. Consider resale. To maximize your investment, keep in mind features such as a two-car garage, paved driveway, ratio of bedrooms and bathrooms, and age of appliances.
  6. Figure out the property tax amounts.Then divide by 12. That's what you'll have to pay each month—many times in addition to the mortgage.
  7. Have a qualified engineer inspect your home and property before you purchase. You'll avoid any unpleasant surprises!

Adapted from Five-Star Living on a Two-Star Budget by Margaret Feinberg and Natalie Nichols Gillespie (Harvest House)

What's love got to do with it?

Plenty, according to a study conducted by University of Virginia sociologists W. Bradford Wilcox and Steven L. Nock. Drawing on a sampling of more than 5,000 couples, Wilcox and Nock found the most important factor determining a woman's marital happiness is the emotional engagement of their husbands. In other words, wives are most happy when their husbands show abundant love and concern, and are generous with expressions of gratitude and undivided attention. Says Wilcox, "Marriage, now more than ever, is about meaningful conversation, empathy, affection, and spending leisure time together."

Decisions, decisions

Choosing a restaurant can be a source of frustration for many couples. How often has this conversation played out at your house: "Where do you want to go?" "I don't know, where do you want to go?"

Next time you find yourselves at a stalemate, try this method.

If your spouse asks where you'd like to eat, you must give three options.

He may either select one of the three or ask if you're willing to reverse roles.

If you agree to switch roles, you must list three options from which he can choose. Or if you don't agree, he must chose from the original three.

—Tom Kennedy

How do you and your spouse decide on a restaurant?

I dive into the coupon book while my husband thinks of favorite places we enjoy. Then we discuss restaurants we're interested in and rate them on a scale from 0 (don't want that tonight) to 5 (love it). The restaurant with the highest score wins (coupons help!).

—Rich and Nancy Meyer, Pennsylvania

Before choosing a restaurant we decide how hungry we are, what we'd like to eat, and whether we're in a hurry or want to linger over our meal. Those details drive what restaurant we visit.

—Bob Dowd and Pat Ciupek, California

Instead of "Where do you want to go?" round robins, we now draw from a bowl filled with slips of paper listing our favorite restaurants. It's an easy solution, and often we pick a restaurant we like but had forgotten.

—Sonny and Lila Johnson, Alabama

Safeguarding against pornography

With the internet on home computers, pornography has become just a mouse click away. Though traditionally viewed as a men's issue, a growing number of women have admitted to struggling with this addiction. Pornography Awareness Week (October 29-November 5) was created to spread knowledge and awareness of the problem. Following are a few tips from experts on how to safeguard against pornography.

"[The mate without the problem] should be in charge of the finances, even if the one addicted to porn hasn't had a track record of irresponsibility. Generally speaking, you need money to be involved with pornography."

—Kathy Gallagher, author of When His Secret Sin Breaks Your Heart (Gallagher Ministries) www.purelifeministries.org

"Be careful about the music you listen to. Music seems to touch us in deep ways like few other things. One song may send you reeling. Instead, fill your thoughts with positive messages from Christian music."

—Marnie C. Ferree, author of No Stones (Xulon) and co-leader of Bethesda Workshop Ministry (www.bethesdaworkshops.org)

"We've created accountability in software called X3watch. You can download this for free from XXXchurch.com. Place a friend's e-mail address in the program and then every 14 or 30 days, an e-mail lets the friend know every website you've visited in the last month. When you know someone will see you've gone to a porn site, most people think twice about doing so."

—Craig Goss, author of The Dirty Little Secret(Zondervan) and founder of XXXchurch.com

THAT THING WE DO

Piece by piece

For our first wedding anniversary, my husband, Mark, took me to a Thomas Kinkade gallery. While I enjoyed all Kinkade's works, one particular painting caught my attention. "Did you see Spring Gate?" I asked him on the way home. "I'd love to have that hanging in our den." Of course, I knew purchasing that painting would be impossible as we were still struggling to put Mark through seminary.

The following Christmas my husband handed me a small gift-wrapped box and said, "Maybe this will do for now." When I tore off the wrapping I was delighted to find Spring Gate—in the form of a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle!

Every night for the next week, my husband and I met at the dining room table to work on the puzzle.

At first I found assembling a 1,000-piece puzzle overwhelming, but Mark showed me how to tackle one piece at a time. I began to look forward to seeing how much progress we could make on our creation.During those moments fitting the puzzle pieces together, we'd unwind, decompress, and talk about our day.

I was amazed by how such a simple act gave us an opportunity to open up and communicate about anything and everything.

After we finished I couldn't bear to tear the puzzle apart, so we framed it to hang in our den for all to see.

Since then, we've assembled many more puzzles, and although each picture is different, the result is the same: deeper communication and a closer relationship. We've learned our life together is much like the puzzles we love: challenging yet rewarding. As I look at the framed puzzles hanging on our walls, I'm reminded of the things that shape our lives—faith, family, friends, and a future that we put together one piece at a time.

Mark and Rosemary Adams have been married 7 years and live in Alabama.

What fun things do you and your spouse do together to enhance your marriage? Send your stories to mp@marriagepartnership.com.
We'll pay $50 for each item we publish.

Between the covers

Creating an Intimate Marriageby Jim Burns (Bethany House).
Remember the courtship stage of your relationship? When everything was moonlight strolls and romance? Jim Burns wants you to rediscover that sense of AWE, by helping you create more Affection, Warmth, and Encouragement in your relationship. Drawing from his 30-plus years of marriage and his work with HomeWord, a marriage and family resource organization, Burns has seen the tremendous impact little improvements can make in these three areas. Dealing with topics such as repairing the past, developing a conflict resolution plan, and recharging your spiritual intimacy, Burns guides you to take your marriage from acceptable to out-of this-world. Questions at the end of each chapter make this a great couple devotional choice.

Every Woman's Marriageby Shannon and Greg Ethridge (WaterBrook).
Many women enter marriage with the romantic notion that saying "I Do" will bring happiness from this day forward till death do us part. In the latest book in the Every Woman series, Shannon and Greg Ethridge bust this unrealistic expectation, expose many of the games wives play, such as treating her husband like one of her children, and discuss the lies women believe that sabotage their intimacy and build a wedge in their marriage. The couple, with more than 15 years of less-than-perfect marriage under their belt, offer many great insights, tips, and hope that you too can have the kind of marriage every woman wants.

Breaking the Cycle of Divorceby John Trent (Tyndale House).
MP advisory board member and a child of divorce, Dr. John Trent knows first hand the obstacles ACOD (Adult Children of Divorce) have when contemplating marriage. Many ACODs believe they've inherited a curse, that they're destined to become divorcees as well. The circumstances of their childhood have left them predisposed to what the author calls "manifestations of the curse," such as anger and commitment issues, which can be a danger to a successful marriage. Trent does an expert job of helping ACODs identify these potential hurdles, and provides tools to overcome them, from facing fears and finding marital role models, to knowing when professional counseling may be necessary.

—Raelynn Eickhoff

Put a lid on it

Tired of those same old arguments with your mate over leaving the toilet seat up? Or worse yet, stumbling, half-asleep into the bathroom for a middle-of-the-night pit stop—and falling in? Now you can put an end to the debate with the Harmony seat. Activated by a float in the tank, the Harmony seat automatically lowers each time you flush. In addition to the relationship-saving benefits, it can give added safety and peace of mind to couples with young children. For more information go to www.Harmonyseat.com.


Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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Commitment; Marriage; Relationships
Today's Christian Woman, Fall, 2006
Posted September 12, 2008

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