5 Ways to Help Ensure a Happy Marriage

Couples/Engagement

This is a guest post from Ken Myers.

In today’s world, people get married for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes a couple really doesn’t put into perspective just how much work could go into developing a happy marriage.

Getting married for the wrong reasons could make the experience much more difficult to obtain happiness. However, this isn’t saying that it’s impossible.

Being a couple is about unity.You’re no longer separated by complete individuality but are together as something special and unique.

What can you do to help ensure the marriage is a happy one that lasts?[Continue Reading...]

Planning the Perfect Getaway

vacation

This is a guest post from Brandon BellYou of Weekend Getaways for Couples HQ.

Helpful Tip: Getting your perfect vacation isn’t as hard as you think.

We all know that traveling is great stress reliever and it allows you to get refreshed (like recharging your life batteries).

The ideal vacation will allow you to become more productive and will keep you sane as you go back to the real world of work and responsibilities. So it is very important for you to plan everything perfectly, or at least close to that.

Let’s face it. Planning can be a pain and the cause of many headaches. But don’t worry because this guide will help you systematize a process that you can use on this trip and future ones too. Think of it as a checklist of sorts. Below are just some tips and tricks to assist you in planning the perfect getaway.

1. Set a Budget

Money is probably the most important part of planning a vacation. Your budget can determine how great your vacation will be. Figure out what you can afford and try to plan your whole trip around it. But just because you have a small budget, it doesn’t mean that you’ll have to settle for low-quality accommodations, activities, and food. If you look hard enough you will be able to find affordable options that might just surprise you. When all else fails, postpone your big trip and try to relax at home instead until you’ve got enough saved up. No need to settle for whatever you can afford at a given time if you can just save up for something much better.

2. Book Ahead of Time

Planning ahead of time not only makes it more convenient for you, it is also cheaper. Hotels and plane tickets tend to become more expensive as the booking date approaches. So you should sit down with your partner (sooner rather than later) to find a free weekend so that you can get your airfare and accommodations for a lower price. The only downside here is that your plans can get cancelled because of emergencies or last minute commitments so make sure that you read the terms and conditions of the airline or hotel when it comes to cancellation.

3. Make an Itinerary

This might seem nerdy and uptight but having an itinerary is pretty important if you really want to make the most out of your weekend. Once you’ve decided where you’re going to go, do some research about your destination and choose which sites and attractions you want to see. The hard part is selecting time slots for each activity. You don’t have to do everything on the itinerary, you can deviate from it. The itinerary is just a guide so that you won’t waste time trying to think of what to do or where to go next.

4. Make Sure That Everyone Stays Happy (Generally Speaking)

Not all couples are the same. Some couples are like minded and will quickly agree with each other when thinking of potential activities and destinations. However, there are other couples who might be interested in different things. When planning your vacation, make sure that you and your partner will both enjoy the trip. Always check with your partner before making any big decisions like booking flights or accommodations. You should also plan your itinerary together to include activities that you will both like. If you really can’t arrive at an agreement, try to figure out a compromise that you will both be happy with. Vacations are supposed to be fun not fighting over what to do or where to go.

These are just some small tips to help you achieve that perfect vacation. You don’t have to strictly adhere to these insights. Each trip will have its own unique twist and purpose, but the fundamentals of planning remain the same.

Post written by Brandon Bell. You can find more information on vacation ideas for couples by visiting weekendgetawaysforcoupleshq.com.

Add Novelty To Your Date Night

datenightThis is a guest post from Cory Williams of Datelivery.

If you are like most couples, you seek to have regular date nights.

You may go to your favorite restaurant, double date with friends, or stay home for a movie and popcorn.

Does this sound about right?

Well, if it is, then according to researchers you are going about date night all wrong!

Studies have found that couples who simply spend quality time together are probably not doing enough to keep their relationship from becoming stale.

Although it is great that you are having regular date nights, this routine type of date night is unfortunately lacking a key ingredient … ‘novelty’.

Steering away from routine and instead making date nights novel, can build anticipation and trigger more excitement about upcoming alone time together. Likewise, having fresh date nights are a good way to reencounter that butterfly feeling you felt when you first started dating.

Here are a few tips to keep your date nights exciting and fresh.

  1. Try something new – Do something new together that neither of you have ever done before. Engaging in new activities with your partner is a great way to add some excitement into dates and into your marriage. Doing new things together also opens up room to bond and connect since you are both experiencing something new together for the first time.
  2. Rotate planning out the date nights – With the pressure of planning date night falling on one person, they may find it easiest to just implement the routine dinner and a movie. Rotating date night planning allows for each partner to not only share the responsibility, but it will surely create the element of surprise and build your mate’s anticipation.
  3. Be random – Date night doesn’t always have to be on the calendar, and it doesn’t always have to involve a plan. Take the opportunity to turn any free moment into a date. Recently, my mother randomly called me at work and asked if she could come pick up her grandson. I of course said yes. By the time I got home he was gone, and I told my wife to get dressed because we were going out. Yes it was in the middle of the week, and I had just worked 10 hours and date night was not on the calendar, but we were alone and date night seemed suitable.
  4. Think outside the box – When it comes to date night, don’t think the norm. You can turn any night alone into a date night, with a little creativity. Date night can be as simple as coming up with a themed evening and creating activities around the theme or going out for a game of bowling and creating your own rules.

As we all know, anything that becomes monotonous and routine can eventually become boring and stale. And boring and stale are two terms I doubt any couple would want to use to describe their relationship or date nights.

For me and my wife, we recognized early on in our relationship that we had to keep our date nights regular, yet fresh and fun. This actually led us to start our own business, Datelivery; in which we fully plan out date nights for couples that are unique, creative and fun; packaged and shipped out monthly.

In addition to doing these date nights we plan out for other couples, we heavily rely on the above tips in order to keep our marriage and date nights novel, fun and exciting.

Cory Williams is the co-founder of Datelivery, unique date nights, delivered right to your front door.

Ladies: At Least Know This About Your Family’s Finances

dollar bill

This is a guest post from Farnoosh Torabi of Financially Fit on Yahoo!Finance.

How involved are you in your family’s finances?

In a Pew Research survey conducted a few years ago, nearly one in four women said their partner was the one primarily managing the household finances. And a separate informal survey by The New York Times last year, found that many women deferred managing their household’s finances to their spouses and, of those women, very few knew basic details such as the interest rate on joint mortgages, passwords to shared savings accounts and how much each spouse earns after taxes.

While it’s convenient – and in many cases fine – to have one person assume a more hands-on role in the financial workings of a household, if that person isn’t you, (or even if it is, be sure you both) at least know this…

All Sources of Income

If for nothing else, know each and every penny your spouse earns to detect whether your joint tax returns are, indeed, being filed accurately. If your sole duty during tax season is to quickly sign off on a joint return – after your spouse’s filled it out – at least verify the line on the first page that states the household’s after-tax income.

Beware that you may both be on the hook for filing errors on joint tax returns. Speak to your spouse or family accountant if you have questions.  

What Constitutes “Marital Money”

In many relationships, marital money includes shared assets, any and all accounts with both your names on it, such as your home, a joint savings account and an investment portfolio. But it’s still important to keep tabs on what’s rightfully yours, in the event of a divorce. For example, if you want to be the sole owner of an inheritance – or any asset – place it in an account that strictly bears your name. You can also use a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Is Your House Really Yours?   

This may sound like a silly question, but there’s sometimes confusion. People may falsely assume that because they’re name is on the mortgage, they can claim ownership of the home. It’s true that having your name on the mortgage makes you liable for the debt, but is your name on the deed, as well? If not, then your home isn’t technically yours.

Same could be true for your car and other big-ticket possessions if you’re name is not on the deed.

Account Passwords

If your spouse ends up in the hospital for a few days or can’t manage the accounts for a period of time for whatever reason, you’ll want to know how to access each and every financial account. Keep a running list of all online account usernames and passwords including – but not limited to – your family cell phone plan, utilities, mortgage, joint credit cards, brokerage accounts and insurers.

Keep a hard copy in a fireproof lock box in your home or safe deposit box, as well as on websites like One Password, PassPack.com and Clipperz.com where you can securely store all your household passwords in one place for free.

Even if your husband is the one who regularly handles the bills and accounts, make a habit of checking these accounts once a week to make sure they’re in good standing. A site like Manilla.com allows households who wish to check up on all their accounts and paperless statements in one place.

Our Debt Versus His Debt

Your husband’s personal debt brought into a marriage – as long as it doesn’t bear your name – is not your liability. However, if your spouse folds that debt into a shared home equity line of credit or transfers it to a joint credit card it will be yours. While he may promise to be solely responsible, realize that you’ve technically still inherited his debt and are equally responsible.

If your husband has a lot of personal debt, it may be best to maintain separate credit accounts. Check your credit report annually to make sure you recognize all the credit and loan accounts stated under your name. Visit annualcreditreport.com to download a free report from each of the 3 major credit-reporting agencies.

Know Your Family’s Financial Professionals

Do you know who your accountant is? How about your home insurance agent? Financial advisor? Attorneys?

Similar to how you keep a running list of your account passwords, maintain a roster of the who’s who in your financial life so that you can contact these people in case of an emergency.  Also know who you need to contact if you need to access your will.

Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance author and host of the #1 personal finance show on the web, Financially Fit on Yahoo!Finance

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Got 10 minutes? Want to earn chance to win cash? Financial expert and author Farnoosh Torabi is conducting a survey for an upcoming book on money and relationships. At the end of the survey, learn how to qualify for a $100 American Express gift card giveaway. There’s one each week for the next several weeks. http://tinyurl.com/lw5uprk

(photo source)

How to be honest without hurting your spouse’s feelings

boredcouple

This is a guest post from Kira Newman of the Honesty Experiment.

If honesty is the foundation of trust and intimacy, why does it sometimes lead to hurt feelings?

Perhaps we need to practice honesty the way we practice other skills.

It’s not simply a matter of saying, “Your laugh is annoying” or “You drink too much.”

To avoid hurting each other’s feelings, we have to pick the right time and place, choose our words wisely, and – paradoxically – be ready to hear the truth about ourselves.

Here are six ways to be honest without hurting your spouse’s feelings.

1. Pick the right time

To start, pick a time and a place where your spouse will be open to hearing the uncomfortable truth – whether it’s about their unflattering wardrobe or the lack of romance in your relationship. Timing matters, because it takes patience, energy, and emotional hardiness to be on the receiving end. We should avoid difficult conversations after a long day of tedious work or a missed lunch, because we experience what psychologists call  “ego depletion”: our mental reserves of self-control are running low.

Instead, pick a time when you both are refreshed, and you don’t have to rush. For most people, it’s best if these conversations happen in private. Entrepreneur and investor Brad Feld and his wife Amy Batchelor actually schedule monthly “Life Dinners” to discuss issues, so they’re both mentally prepared for an honest conversation.

2. Explain your motivation

Hurt feelings happen when your spouse feels like they’re being criticized or judged. To avoid that, explain that your motivation isn’t to hurt them but to help them and make your relationship better.

Betsy Talbot, the cofounder of Married with Luggage, had a difficult time listening to her husband express his concerns about her eating habits and weight gain. But then she reminded herself that he wasn’t insulting her, but helping her stay healthy.

“I (at the time) thought: ‘How dare you say that to me? We are never having sex again,’” recalls Talbot, laughing. “I had to realize that he was having this really difficult conversation with me – being honest – and his intention was good, and there’s no good way to say all those things.”

But before you proclaim your good intentions, take a moment for some self-honesty. Are your intentions really good? Or are you just getting something off your chest, taking revenge, or trying to wound?

3. Choose your language

Many of the cardinal rules of communication apply here. For example, start with “I” and not “you”: “I feel upset when you’re away so much,” not “You abandon me every weekend.” Avoid superlatives like “never” or “always”; it’s unlikely your spouse is “always lazy” or “never loving.” And criticize actions without pronouncing judgment on the person; “I’d love to see you get a job” instead of “You’re good for nothing.”

Next, try to be as factual as possible. Say “I felt hurt when…,” for example, instead of “You tried to hurt me when…” You may think you understand the situation completely, but perhaps your interpretation is wrong. If you know your spouse is sensitive about certain issues, it might even help to rehearse what you want to say.

4. Focus on solutions, not problems

If your goal is really to help your spouse or the relationship, dwelling on the problem won’t get you anywhere. It’ll only make them feel criticized and less open to addressing it. So when you prepare to bring up an issue, take some time to brainstorm solutions.

Some of those solutions may come from things your spouse does well – which is a great opportunity to sneak in a positive along with the negatives. If they don’t spend enough time with you, bring up that wonderful weekend getaway they planned last year, or the Friday dinner dates they used to organize.

But don’t settle on a solution in advance – after all, this is a conversation. Your spouse may have different ideas about the best course of action, and you should be open to them.

5. Ask for honesty in return 

This is one of the most crucial and hardest parts of having honest conversations. It’s easy for them to degenerate into blame-fests: you criticize your spouse, they retaliate by criticizing you, and all the guidelines above go out the window.

So when you walk into an honest conversation, be ready for some honesty in return. You may find out that their annoying laugh is fake, and they don’t find you particularly funny. Or maybe they drink so much because they feel like a failure in your eyes. No matter what the circumstances, it’s quite likely that you play some role in the problem. Admitting that upfront can prevent their angry response. Say, “I know it doesn’t help when I snap at you,” or “Maybe you’d make dinner more if I did the grocery shopping.”

In general, showing that you can be honest about yourself and hear uncomfortable truths sets a good example: if you can face facts, so can they, perhaps. Then the blame-fest can turn into a more peaceful exchange, made up of thoughtful observations, all in the service of a better relationship. And the result should not be hurt feelings, but appreciative feelings, and even loving ones.

6. Participate in the Honesty Experiment 

To help couples improve their relationship, I created a free 30-day challenge called the Honesty Experiment for Couples. You get one tip or question to discuss every day, like these:

  • What has your partner taught you?
  • Surprise your partner with a little gift.
  • Do you spend enough or too much time together?
  • Plan a date or vacation to do together.
  • Do you feel understood by your partner?

Doing this for one month can help you talk more, learn about each other, and feel closer.

Sign up here!

Kira Newman is the founder of the Honesty Experiment

Simple Marriage in Action: John

Editor’s note: This is a post in the series, Simple Marriage in Action.

John

We’ve been married for 36 years, and still feel like we are growing.

Here are the six things we have found most helpful.

  1. Be intentional. Never put things on autopilot. A colleague of mine from Minnesota said, “Being married is a lot like putting a canoe in the Mississippi River in St. Paul. Unless your paddle hard, you’re going to drift south. We’ve tried to be aware of the tendency to drift and address that.
  2. Have fun. It helps if at least one of you is light-hearted. That happens to be my wife. I’ve always said I’d rather have a bad time with her than a good time with anybody else. We have found it doesn’t take a lot of money to have fun. Cherish these times, and realize they aren’t just fun…they are essential.
  3. Get away. We go on at least one retreat a year (we go to WinShape in Mt. Berry, GA). But we take several other mini retreats throughout the year. These times of retreat help us put things in perspective, keep our “eye on the prize” and rise above the fray.
  4. Make your marriage a priority. Kids take their toll on a marriage, as does life in general, but hopefully your marriage will be there after other things are gone. We’ve had our share of rough patches, but we always tried to work on things as a team. I tell younger couples, I hope you never have to go through this, but if you do, keep your marriage strong because you are going to need each other.
  5. Faith has been an important part of our life together. Not sure how we could have survived some of the storms had it not been for our faith in God. All the virtues taught in scripture are important for a healthy marriage, but I think grace and forgiveness (and perhaps patience) are the most important. Gratitude goes a long way, too. Praying for your spouse is important, too, as long as you aren’t praying for them to change. We also realize there is an enemy out there that doesn’t want our marriage to survive, but that enemy is not each other.
  6. We realized we can’t control or change each other. We can only change and control ourselves. But most of the time, when you change, the other person changes in response.