Photos by Uwe Kreijci/Stone (top left)
Photodisc (bottom left & right)
Illustration by Crisoph Hitz
What do you really want?
Over 1,000 Americans were recently asked "What do you consider to be very desirable for your future?" by the Barna Research Group (www.barna.org). Here's what they said:
- 91% good health
- 81% living with a high degree of integrity
- 79% having one marriage partner for life
- 70% having a close relationship with God
- 63% having a satisfying sex life with marriage partner
- 55% having children
- 53% being deeply committed to the Christian faith
Being active in church, having a college degree, influencing others' lives, or having high paying job came in under 50%.
Boost Your Libido the Healthy Way
Although "aphrodisiacs" should boost your libido, the FDA says they won't. But many rumored aphrodisiacs are nutritious. And what's not attractive about good health? After all, when you feel great you look great. SELF magazine gave us the skinny:
FOLKLORE This multiseeded berry symbolized fertility.
FACT Strawberries contain more vitamin C than any other berry.
FOLKLORE Montezuma drank 50 cups of hot chocolate before sex.
FACT Phenylethylamine in chocolate is a natural mood booster.
FOLKLORE Dostoyevsky received caviar and marital pleasures from his wife after each completed chapter of Crime and Punishment.
FACT The vitamin B12 in caviar builds red blood cells.
FOLKLORE African fertility ointments contained this fruit.
FACT Figs are packed with potassium and fiber.
The Need for New
Gregory Bateson, renowned anthropologist was once asked to observe some strangely listless otters at a zoo. The owners were concerned, since otters are by nature extremely playful. After observing them, Bateson had an idea. He took a piece of paper and dangled it where the otters were resting. Spotting the paper, one of the otters started pawing it. Another otter came over and reached for the paper but got intercepted by the first. Before long, the otters were playfully attacking each other. Bateson concluded that as long as nothing new was introduced, nothing different would happen. If something novel was introduced, different results were, at least, more likely.
So, rather than hesitating to try something new for fear of failure, make a change. You might be otterly surprised!
from Divorce Busting (Summit), by Michele Weiner-Davis
Measure Your Time to save it
Ever feel like a few more minutes a day with your spouse would be wonderful but you can't ever find time? Bob Peters, vice president of administration for the International Bible Society (www.gospelcom.net/ibs) has a tip for the time-tossed couple: Keep a time log for a week. Record how you spend your hours, resisting the urge to change your habits while tallying. Once you realize where the time is going, you can learn to better manage it. Instead of counting minutes, you can count on being with your spouse.
Crisis of Faith
"Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." (Job 13:15a)
Sally and I went through a time when my faith was challenged to the very core of my being. When our daughter Becki developed cancer in 1978, I believed God would answer my prayers to heal her. When that didn't happen, I became very angry at God. I was totally devastated.
After the doctor told us he would have to amputate Becki's leg, I turned to Sally and said, "We're going to have to be very strong from now on because God isn't going to care for us." I was ready to leave the ministry.
Sally was busy helping Becki after the surgery, but fortunately I had three close friends who let me pour out my grief. They stood by me and let me ventilate or hours on end. It ultimately came to a point where I had to say, "I'm either going to trust myself, or I am going to trust God blindly." I realized if I trusted myself there would be nothing but despair, because I could not control life. So the only viable option was to trust God.
by Jim Conway, from The Couples' Devotional Bible (Zondervan).
Walk into a Good Mood
If stress has got you spouting at your sweetheart, try walking off your grumpiness. In a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, a group of harried adult women were put on a walking program. Three or four weeks of taking near-daily walks of 45 minutes led to a significant improvement in overall mood when compared with a sedentary control group. Women who continued this routine maintained their elevated mood. So make a date with good health—and then with your spouse.
Marriage on the Move
Over the past 27 years, America has witnessed a 279 percent increase in divorce. In response to these numbers, a marriage movement is growing Christian ministries that are reaching out to couples with supportive seminars, workshops, and other resources. Ministries Today suggests a few to check out.
NAME—National Association of Marriage Enhancement. Directors Leo and Molly Godzich provide curriculum, videos, workshops, and the International Marriage Conference (IMC) each fall. Contact: NAME, P.O. Box 30777, Phoenix, AZ 85046; (888) 262-NAME; or email@example.com.
"Lord, I Wish" Marriage Seminars—Ministries Today editor Larry Keefauver and wife Judi lead one-day marriage seminars for churches and conferences. Call (800) 750-5306 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Covenant Marriage Movement provides covenant marriage cards, resources, and curriculum. Contact Phil Waugh, MSN 151, 127 Ninth Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37234; (800) 268-1343; email@example.com; or www.lifeway.com/discipleplus.
Marriage Savers provides training for marriages in crisis. Contact Mike and Harriet McManus, 9311 Harrington Dr., Potomac, MD 20854; (301) 469-5873; or www.marriagesavers.org.
According to Men's Health, man's best friend could also be your marriage's. Research shows that couples who own dogs have closer relationships, are more satisfied in their marriages, and respond better to stress. So let Rover come over, and keep you both howling!
You've Got Love Notes
Looking for a new way to say, "I love you?" Try sending it by e-mail! Business Week reports that, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 71% of women and 61% of men say that e-mail has improved their ties with family and friends. So next time you're doting on your spouse, pass a note to let him know. He'll be e-lated!
you said it!
"They do not love who do not show their love."
"If couples would put half the effort into marriage that they put into courtship, they would be surprised how things would brighten up."
"He that is not jealous is not in love."
"Marriages are made in heaven. So are thunderstorms and hurricanes."
"The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together."
Robert C. Dodds
Between the Covers
Marriage vs. Media
"Would you be upset to learn that someone was competing for your mate's heart, subtly sending negative messages about you, and seeking to intrude on your marriage by robbing the two of you of time alone for talk and intimacy?" ask Dennis and Barbara Rainey in their book, Starting Your Marriage Right (Thomas Nelson).
In their upbeat, practical marriage manual, the Raineys discuss the dangerous effects of the media on your marriage. The Raineys told MP that it's never too late to start your marriage right.
Is there anything beneficial about the media for couples?
We send e-mail back and forth to each other throughout the day. It actually enhances our communication as a couple and helps us achieve objectives. An e-mail in the middle of the day might help clarify something, let the other know you're praying for them, or express appreciation. It's also fun to write little love notes. The media can offer more ways to communicate.
What's the best way to start mastering the media, instead of being manipulated?
First, as a couple you need to hammer out your own values. Once that is done, you can take the next step and begin to measure how media either contributes to or takes away from your values. Discuss how you see media presently impacting your marriage and family. Lastly, you need to set some boundaries and limits. From time to time, you can review these and see how they are helping or hindering your marriage relationship.
One limit we have is turning off the television during dinner. It started for us as a couple and carried over into our family life. We set that precious amount of time aside and reserve it to enjoy each other, uninterrupted.
How can couples take action together?
Philippians 4:8 says, "Keep your mind on things that are worthy of praise." We need to be accountable to one another about what we are devoting our minds to. Give access to your spouse to ask hard questions and keep talking about them. We haven't yet seen the final impact of media in our culture. As it becomes more and more perverse and intrusive on marriage, we need to take the time to evaluate it.
How does media threaten marriages?
There are so many different kinds of media today that compete for both time and attention. Engaging in media can create the mirage that you've spent an evening together, when in fact you haven't really talked or had meaningful conversation.
Media can also fuel comparisons that are not only physical, but of what your spouse ought to be like, how your spouse ought to behave, or how your spouse should be romantic. This creates unreal expectations that can ultimately lead to dissatisfaction and looking elsewhere to have our needs met, threatening the very core of our marital vows.
For a Better Marriage, Just Add Water
Marriage Keepers' Cruise and Seminar is offering a getaway week designed to help your marriage thrive. MP columnists Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott will accompany the tour as special guest speakers during the week of February 11-18, 2001.
Host Dan Hauser says, "It's a marriage seminar in the adventurous setting of a seven-day cruise that provides a unique opportunity to fellowship with other couples."
For more information, contact Dan Hauser at 1-800-677-4858 or visit www.marriagecruises.com.
How To Get into the Swing of Things
Looking for ways to improvise on your evening? Try jazzin' it up with swing dancing. Originating in Harlem dance clubs in the 1920s, swing dancing is an exhilarating—and aerobic—way to spend time together. These four easy steps will get you off your feet and into your partner's arms. For more swing information, step-by-step lessons, and instructional dance videos, visit www.learn-swing-dance.com.
Taught from the perspective of the lead. Your partner's moves are the natural opposite.
- Begin in the dance position, with your right hand just below your partner's shoulder blade and your left hand clasping your partner's right hand. With your knees slightly bent, stay flat footed and relaxed.
- Take a small step to the left with your left foot, shifting all of your weight and slightly raising your right foot from the ground (partner will step to the right with her right foot).
- Return to your right foot, shifting all of your weight off of, and slightly raising, your left foot (again taking your partner with you).
- Bring your left foot behind your right foot, quickly stepping back onto the ball of your left foot (momentarily raising your right) and rock forward again onto your right foot. You want this to be quick and easy, just a subtle weight shift. Your partner will mirror you in this "rock" motion, stepping back with her right foot.
Repeat these four steps and you're swinging! A Few Tips: To help with the rhythm of this basic swing, you can think of the steps as "slow (left), slow (right), quick-quick (back-forward)." Work together as a team, taking your time to learn the moves smoothly.
That Thing You Do
Couples share how they make their marriage exciting—and unique.
"We look forward to starting the week right—together. We decided to make Mondays a special date night. We choose things that fit our budget—and our mood—like visiting a book store and playing chess, talking over a cup of coffee, or going for a walk and treating ourselves to ice cream. We've even had indoor picnics!
Matt and Bonnie King
Hyde Park, New York
"At least once a week, after we've just crawled into bed, we get into an intense tickle fight. We end up laughing hysterically, and one of us usually ends up on the floor."
Ben and Lena Stumper
Lake Oswego, Oregon
"We take turns trying each other's interests. This summer, we've enjoyed learning to play tennis as partners. In the fall, we'll try dancing lessons. We've doubled our number of activities to choose from!"
Jonathan and Naomi Stephens
Carol Stream, Illinois
"Now that our children are older, we're enjoying the freedom of sharing time for just the two of us. We might have a Saturday morning breakfast together, meet for lunch, or go shopping out of town. It's exciting to relax in each other's company!
Brett and Debbie Acker
NOTE: For your convenience, the following products, which were mentioned above, are available for purchase from the ChristianityToday.com Shopping Channel:
- The Couples' Devotional Bible
- Starting Your Marriage Right, by Dennis and Barbara Rainey
- Divorce Busting, by Michele Weiner-Davis
Copyright © 2000 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.