A Different But Memorable Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day was different than any other year for us. Normally I post ideas for how to make your time together romantic and memorable, all while planning a special at-home date for us. But I didn’t this year. I didn’t even buy Tom a card. My mind was distracted with other pressing needs. This has never happened and it made me sad.

But one thing did happen that I want to share.

Tom bought me a card and flowers. Before I opened it he explained that he wanted to buy a card that celebrated how he sees me, yet most every card expressed how the wife made the husband feel. While there is nothing wrong with this focus, Tom wanted the card to highlight my strengths that he loves.

Hearing the story of him doing this small thing for me was actually a very big thing that meant more than the card itself.

Paul Tripp, one of favorite authors and teachers, has said that many couples love how their spouse makes them feel, but fail to love their spouse for who they are.

This is a much needed examination to make in our relationship.

If we only love how our spouse makes us feel this can be a form of selfishness we should confess to God. Only God knows our heart, but many times He won’t reveal what’s needed unless we have eyes to see and ears to hear. Even the disciples struggled to understand what Jesus was saying. We must ask God and be humble to hear the truth. This is how change happens—asking, seeing, confessing, changing, repeating.

Tom demonstrated his unselfish love for me by expressing how he sees me through a not-so-cheap Valentine card. And I will forever cherish him for his thoughtfulness and care.

For Further Study, we highly recommend Paul Tripp’s book, What Did You Expect?

Posted in Cherishing, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Valentine's Day | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

How to build a FIT Marriage in 3 Easy Steps

It’s January and everyone is focused on losing weight, being active, embracing abandoned disciplines. Due to parties and family gatherings we may have neglected our normal routines. It’s time to pull in the reins and begin anew.

Maybe your marriage is feeling neglected as well. Maybe it needs a FITness routine to help jump start a new normal.

We have come up with a simple plan if followed will set your marriage on a good course for 2023.

  1. F – Friendship. Yes. Friendship is the foundation of a great marriage. If this has been neglected or replaced with other friends over the years, it’s time to make adjustments. Maybe you feel the distance created by a lack of common interests. Consider taking up a new hobby together. Tom and I have never been big football fans, but this year we decided to learn more about the game. We have enjoyed time together rooting on our favorite teams–Go Gators! Go Bills! Maybe its movies, or Pickle Ball? Hiking or Biking? Bowling or doing puzzles? There are lots of choices, active or sedate that can help rebuild your friendship. There is a caution though–If this has been neglected for years in your relationship, it may take more than just a change of schedule. It may require counseling to help you both come to a place of complete understanding and trust. Be patient. Remember to grow a friendship you must be a friend first.
  2. I – Intimacy. Intimacy won’t deepen if friendship, understanding and trust aren’t present. This is why it is not first on the list. If you are doing well as friends, then intimacy needs intentionality and time to grow. Talk about regular date nights and whether or not this is something important to your spouse, for every couple is different. Just because “so and so” have regular dates doesn’t mean your marriage is less if you don’t. It’s what intimacy means to you and your spouse. Talk about what growing in spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual intimacy would look like for you. Then make changes to accommodate time and space for it to happen. Study your spouse and discover what would bless them. This is a good habit to continue to build intimacy through all seasons of marriage.
  3. T – Talk. If you aren’t talking about important issues you aren’t growing closer together. To push conflict or struggles aside is to cause drift in your marriage. Misunderstanding and hurt feelings won’t go away by ignoring them. It will certainly fester and become a bigger problem in the years to come. Talking can be hard, especially when there are hurt feelings involved. Any healthy marriage has learned how to do this. But how? By doing it and learning what is helpful and what isn’t. No one has a perfect marriage. Ask any couple who is succeeding and they will tell you of difficult seasons they had to grow through. Like a physical trainer has to break down bad habits in order to build muscle and strength. A strong marriage didn’t start out that way. It took years of choosing to be FIT.

After reading these 3 steps, what areas are in need of attention in your relationship? May 2023 be the year your marriage grows FIT for a lifetime.

Footnote: I delayed this post after watching the Buffalo Bills player, Damar Hamlin, collapse on the field during the first quarter of their playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals. It has been determined he suffered cardiac arrest. It was horrific to see. Our prayers are with this young man (age 24) and his family.

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Vintage Post: Assumptions and Disregard

This is a series originally posted in November 2016. We share it as a Vintage post because it’s worth remembering.

The last two practices you may or may not realize you’re doing. This is why we want to shine the light on these two together. It happens when we listen to our spouse either with our mind made up based on our view (assumption), or when we hear what you’re saying but have no intention to consider it (disregard). The discussion at this point is closed.

Assuming is never good because we cannot read our spouse’s mind.

Even if the evidence points strongly in our direction–we must give them the benefit of the doubt until solidly proven otherwise. What makes assumptions so harmful is you rob your spouse of their voice. We have seen it happen countless times in counseling when one spouse shuts the other down not allowing them to share their perspective. Assumptions press charges with no regard for mercy. It isn’t from a loving heart that assumptions flow, but from a proud, condescending heart.

When we stood at the alter pledging our love and commitment we had no idea that those vows would come at such a cost.

What is your limit? What is the one place where if your spouse took you there, it would be over? It’s supposed to be until death parts us, but sometimes the cost is more than we can bear in our own strength. And maybe that’s the point, we’re doing this marriage thing in our own strength! Maybe God wants to get us to the place where our dependence is on Him alone, not on our spouse’s ability to do things the way we want them done? Maybe it’s not about our happiness, but our holiness.

Ouch! I know that hurts. Doing real life with another sinner will hurt! But we must breathe grace, not make assumptions.

The other detrimental practice is disregard.

To disregard another is to put them on the sidelines, to take their opinions, their thoughts, their wellbeing out of the game. It’s telling them they no longer matter to you.

It breaks our heart to see couples treat each other with disregard because marriage is supposed to model Christ and His love for the church. And He never disregards us, even when we deserve it. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He has promised to hear every cry we whisper to Him in secret. He has even promised to keep all our tears in a bottle and count our tossing. Even when He knows He’s not going to fix things the way we want them to be fixed. He loves us enough to listen, love and work His plan in and through us. And by His grace we can learn to regard our spouse well.

Assumption and disregard are born from miscommunication that takes place for a long time, or worse–no communication at all. 

How do we avoid this practice? By having friends who are willing to point it out to you. Have a long talk with your closest friends about these practices, and ask them to hold you accountable when they hear you say anything that sounds like it. And don’t expect them to bring it up! Being accountable, as Tom often shares, isn’t having people who will ask often to see if you’re being faithful. Being accountable is self-disclosing your struggles, your temptations and your failures. It’s not waiting for them to ask you, but volunteering your struggle to them. After spending an evening together pause and ask your friends if they have observations that would be helpful for you to hear. And then listen to what they share.

In review, we’ve looked at five practices detrimental to marriage. Of course this list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start. Do you see any of these in your marriage? We’d be surprised if you didn’t. Let’s talk about it and cut the temptation off at the start before it does permanent damage.

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Vintage Post: Critical Judgments

Originally posted in November 2016

You begin to share with your spouse about something that is really bothering you. Right as you are pouring your heart out to them, they ask a question about something else, revealing that they haven’t heard a word you’ve said. This affirms your suspicion (see previous post) that your spouse doesn’t care about you.

This is a situation where we can be tempted to form critical judgments of our spouse. A critical judgment is not thinking the best of someone. When they do something we don’t expect, rather than give them grace we judge their motive.

“Critical judgments can do great damage to relationships and to the kingdom of God. If you assume the worst about others, you will often misjudge them and jump to conclusions. This can cause deep hurt, bring you great embarrassment, and eventually destroy relationships. A critical attitude also leads us to exaggerate others’ wrongs and overlook their virtues, which distorts reality. This perspective will increasingly rob you of objectivity and often lead to decisions you later regret.”  Ken Sande, Peacemakers

In the Grace-Filled Marriage, Dr. Tim Kimmel says,

“We need to create an atmosphere within our marriage where our spouse doesn’t feel they have to wear a mask around us to keep from revealing where they are emotionally. They need to know that the deeper hurt or confusion within their heart can come out without fear of being attacked. You know the way God treats us.”

Think about how God in Christ has treated us. He saw the worst in us, and loved us still. And marriage is to be a reflection of God’s love for His bride, the Church.

It helps even further to define our terms.

Critical: 1. inclined to find fault or to judge with severity, often too readily. 2. occupied with or skilled in criticism.

Judgment: the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion.

If you are quickly inclined to conclude that your spouse is at fault, you can be sure you will hurt your marriage. Critical judgments left unchecked will eventually kill a marriage.

Advice for the Critically Judged Spouse:

One who is judged by their spouse most likely has no voice to bring the needed correction. Our encouragement to someone in this place is to PRAY; pour out your heart to the Lord in desperate prayer. Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction, and the best news is He desires to do so.

Advice for the Spouse who Critically Judges:

It is imperative that you police yourself in this regard. If you notice you are quick to make judgments that are negative towards your spouse and their motives, you most likely have work to do, but it isn’t work that is difficult once you see the pattern. Repentance is offered to you, and grace is available for those who seek to change through the power God supplies.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…” Titus 2:11-12

Following is a prayer to help you ask God’s help to change:

Lord, help me to judge others
as I want them to judge me:
Charitably, not critically,
Privately, not publicly,
Gently, not harshly,
In humility, not pride.

Help me to believe the best about others,
until facts prove otherwise—
To assume nothing,
to seek all sides of the story,
And to judge no one until I’ve removed
the log from my own eye.

May I never bring only the Law,
to find fault and condemn.
Help me always to bring the Gospel,
to give hope and deliverance,
As you, my Judge and Friend,
have so graciously done for me.

The goal in all of this is to change detrimental behaviors in marriage in order to insure our marriage will last for the long haul. And not just last, but thrive!

In what areas have you allowed critical judgments about your spouse? Do they know? Or worse have you made your judgments known? Then, we encourage you to set aside some time to talk heart to heart. Humility is key for needed change, and God gives much grace to the humble.

For more help in this area we recommend this outstanding article by Peacemakers Ministry,

Charitable Judgments: An Antidote To Judging Others

Photo Credit: Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Growing Strong Marriages, Vintage Posts | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vintage Post – Suspicion in Marriage

This is part two of our five part series on uncovering the practices or habits that are detrimental to marriage. Today we’ll expose another practice you may or may not be aware of in your own marriage.


Seventy-five years ago on November 14, 1941, Alfred Hitchcock released his well-known movie, Suspicion. It portrays a married couple’s journey through a web of distrust and suspicion. I won’t spoil the movie for you in case you’d like to watch it, but it’s safe to say that many of the suspicions don’t prove true. We are often driven to suspicion because of the fears we battle.

  • A wife who knows her husband has been tempted to be unfaithful in the past, may struggle with suspicions even if he isn’t being tempted at the moment.
  • A husband will often struggle being suspicious of every dollar his wife spends.
  • A wife who has a charming husband may suspect he is being unfaithful, just because other women notice and comment on his kindness.
  • A husband with an attractive wife may be overprotective because he’s suspicious she wants the attention of other men.

Suspicions grow when trust in the marriage has been broken. I get that, and most of us would succumb given the same circumstances. I would even go so far as to say that suspicion can be a deserved consequence of broken trust. However, many of us give in to suspicion because we’re listening to the wrong thoughts about our spouse. In Genesis we’re told of how Eve encountered temptation. It came through the crafty serpent who whispered suspicions to her of God’s goodness. Satan, the enemy of God, wants to do all he can to thwart God’s plans for His people. It was true then, and it is true today. Suspicion is born when we listen to his sinister questions:

“Why didn’t your husband tell you he’d be late? Maybe there’s someone else he’d rather be with?’ “Does your wife really care about your financial goals? She is always looking for ways to spend it faster than you both can make it.” “Do you think other women don’t notice how nice your husband is? You know he enjoys it too.” “Your wife is so beautiful. How can you be sure other men aren’t trying to woo her away from you?”

There is an easy way to thwart his methods though–don’t listen to him! When suspicion knocks on the door of your mind, be quick to recognize the tone of voice. If it’s accusing and cunning, you can be sure it isn’t the Lord. God leads us with a voice that reassures us and brings us together. The enemy’s voice is divisive and suspicious. (For further insight check out these synonyms and antonyms of suspicion) Let’s not give him an ear to hear. Instead let’s be alert and ready to resist this temptation for the sake of our marriage.

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”  2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV (emphasis added)

In what ways has suspicion affected your relationship?

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Vintage Post – The Question Behind The Question

Vintage Posts were previously posted but after time in the barrel, so to speak, they are worth revisiting today. Originally posted in October 2016.

Stop signs are there for our protection and the safety of those around us. They help us know when to stop, think, observe, then proceed with caution.

Can you imagine a world without STOP signs? Where everyone can proceed full-speed-ahead with no regard for those approaching the same intersection? It would be disastrous, not to mention dangerous. Yet many of us live this way. We don’t know when to stop, so we keep doing the same things over and over even if they’re not safe for our marriage.

We want to begin a series on uncovering the 5 practices or habits that are detrimental to marriage. Today we’ll expose…

#1 – The Question Behind The Question

There is a popular book out by the same name, but what I’m talking about doesn’t relate to his focus at all. Following is a hypothetical marriage modeling this practice.

Malcolm and Jenny have been married for ten years. They have three children who keep them busy and exhausted most of the time. Their communication used to be regular, positive even, but the demands of careers, parenting and church life have left them without time to think, much less talk.

Jenny has noticed her husband isn’t taking the time with the children like he used to at bedtime. He is always on his phone leaving her to tuck the kids in alone. She wonders who/what it is that is getting his attention. She hasn’t mentioned this to him, but she’s been taking mental notes of the times he hasn’t been present. She hopes it’s work, fears it’s someone else, and suspects he has lost interest in her.

It’s 10p.m. The children are finally asleep. Jenny decides it’s time to find out what’s going on. Instead of asking him the question on her mind she begins…

“Honey, how is work going? Has it been busy?”

When he answers that everything is fine at work, she becomes even more fearful. Which leads to the next question:

“You must have lots of e-mails needing your attention then?”

When he responds that he hasn’t been looking at his emails, her fear turns toward anger.

If only Jenny had asked Malcolm the question behind her question.

“Malcolm, can I ask why you’re spending time on your phone rather than helping me put the kids to bed?”

Do you do this? It may not be the same situation, but it may occur more than you realize.

More examples of questions (Q) and the question behind the question (QBQ)

  • Q – Not feeling well?
  • QBQ – Why did you go to bed without telling me?
  • Q – Was traffic bad coming home?
  • QBQ – Why didn’t you call saying you were running late?
  • Q – Are you not hungry?
  • QBQ – Don’t you like this new recipe?
  • Q – Are you mad at me?
  • QBQ – Why did you ignore me when I got home?

You see with these examples we often use a question to discover the answer to our real question. Why do we do this? It could be…

  • Fear of the answer
  • Fear of being so direct in our communication.
  • Playing the game of suspicion, which is always detrimental to marriage.
  • We’ve already determined their guilt and want them to admit it.

Let’s purpose to STOP this practice. We can do so by asking the Lord to help us see the ways this happens in our relationship.

Change requires that we slow down when we see an approaching conflict  to ask the right question. Ask yourself, what is it I’m wanting to know? And then ask that question.

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Ask any woman who has experienced natural childbirth what transition was like and you’ll most likely get a grimace.

Transitions are hard and there is usually no way around them but through.

When our son was born my labor progressed fast, not to mention he came 10 days early. We weren’t ready; I wasn’t ready.

When my labor nurse said, “You have to breathe through the urge to push until the doctor arrives!” I panicked. Transition is when you are fully dilated and ready to push hard in order for new life to be born.

Transitions don’t only happen in childbirth. We experience transitions going from one stage of life to another; e.g. life changes like job loss, new baby, retirement, and change from one normal to a new normal. A hard time is followed by new and better life. Sadly many couples give up in the transition stage thinking this is all there is.

After 42 years of marriage we have experienced every type of transition—from childbirth to the death of parents; from buying a business to selling the same business bringing unexpected changes; from having our family all in one city to having them scattered over 3 states. Every transition required a new level of leaning in and choosing to try to understand each other.

What transitions have you faced in your marriage? Knowing they’re coming will help you prepare for the urge to push and keep going. It is worth the effort.

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Diapers, Toddlers & Romance, Oh My, Parenting, Retirement, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Happy Place

New Smyrna Beach – 27th Avenue ramp at sunrise

Tom and I had a discussion tonight about where our happy place is. It was an interesting conversation.

He initially thought of places where we had made memories together. Happy times we’ve shared are special to me as well. However, since a friend had asked me this question in light of my relationship with God, I thought of places where God had met me in personal ways.

This is a great indication of a healthy marriage and something we work at regularly; having a growing intimate relationship with God and each other.

I bring this up because, as most of you know, our life is pretty consumed with helping our daughter and our son-in-love care for their only child, Elias.

This same friend recommended me taking time for myself to allow God to meet me in my “happy place”. She said it was to be a place where a I can relax in my mind and heart to make room for God to help me in my time of need. Not to physically go there, although I would LOVE that, but to quiet my mind to meditate on being there with the Lord.

I loved this idea, which led to the conversation Tom and I had tonight.

We are always given opportunities in our marriage to go deeper in our understanding of each other. But we may not recognize it when it comes. Don’t ignore questions your spouse asks you. It may be an invitation to go deeper in your understanding of the person you married.

Who knows? It may lead you both to a new happy place worth remembering.

Posted in Cherish, Christian Marriage, communication, Encouraging Your Spouse, Intimacy, Perspective in Marriage | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Today Is A Special Day

One of the best parts of marriage is when we reached the stage of grand parenting. We are blessed with 9 precious kiddos ranging from ages 14 down to age 2. It’s our two year old, Elias Angel, who is celebrating a birthday today. Many of you have followed his story since he was born. We invite you to click over to my personal blog to read today’s post. Have a blessed weekend!

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Two-Thousand and Counting

What began in 2008 as a way to corral all our date-night ideas into one place, has turned into this blog with 2,000 blog posts written, published and filed. If you are new to our site, we have lots of information hiding in the archives. This is why we have provided the category drop-down menu for you to easily browse the many topics. See right side bar if you are on your computer. If not, the categories menu is not easily accessed.

We thought it would be fun to highlight some of the interesting stats as a way to say thank you for following The Romantic Vineyard. And also as a way to encourage us to continue doing this even in difficult seasons. Marriage doesn’t take a vacation when life gets hard. It requires diligence in all seasons or we will drift apart. This is what keeps us doing this year after year.

In 2,000 Posts We Have:

  • Written a total of 801,742 words. Goodness this scares me. That’s an average of 401 words a post. I love words, but this surprises even me!
  • Year with the most posts was 2011
  • Year with the most views 2012
  • Most views on a single day – July 4, 2012, totaled: 9,748. We have no idea what happened on this day because we had no comments. I think someone linked to us accidentally, but it’s still a fun fact. 🙂
  • Total comments since the beginning is 6,665. I bring this up because I need at least two comments on THIS post to keep us from parking on four sixes. Thank you.
  • Most popular day is Tuesday at noon. This is most likely because I’m only posting once a week now if that often, and it’s usually on Tuesday.
  • Greatest achievement was being a part of establishing the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association (CMBA). We began this to help marriage blogs that are based on Biblical principles regarding marriage to connect. The friends we have made across the country are evidence that this has worked. Very grateful.
  • Most popular page is Fireproof Your Marriage, where we offer the 40 day challenge to help your marriage if it’s struggling.
  • Most popular post Clue Date Night with a Sexy Twist. Look it up for yourself. It’s a fun at-home date you’ll not soon forget.
  • Most popular series is Alphabet Date Night Ideas – a great way to start dating your spouse again if it’s been a long time.

Next month will mark 14 years of blogging. Thank you for being a part of our blog family. We read and reply to every comment. And we are grateful to have an input into the success of your marriage whether you’re just beginning or you’ve been doing this for decades.

Marriage matters because it is the only relationship on earth to mirror Christ’s love for the Church.

One day He will return, but until then let our marriage stand as a testimony to a watching world. Even if they don’t recognize it’s significance now, one day they will. Praying for you as you pursue a healthy marriage for God’s glory.

Thank you for reading and for commenting (see point 5 above) 🙂 to let us know you’re still here.

Posted in Blog Love, Celebrations, Christian Marriage | Tagged , , | 3 Comments


“It’s only a surface cavity,” My dentist explained. “You may not need novocaine at all. I’ll start drilling and if you feel any pain raise your hand.”

I’m ashamed to say I about took his head off!

Novocaine is a gift from God to help us through repairing a decaying tooth.

I just realized something—I am numb. There hasn’t been a novocaine shot, but this numbness is also a gift from God.

Tom and I have experienced so many challenges the last 5 years. Circumstances trying our endurance like a marathon to a 1st grader. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Everything we have ever said about marriage and leaning into each other during hard times has been tested.

We are numb.

The definition of numb is unable to think, feel, or react normally because of something that shocks or upsets you

On the surface you might think we are in a bad place. But we’re not. We realize God places his numbing agents on us as a mercy. He knows what we are made of. He knows our limits. Our circumstances have stretched us beyond what Mel Gibson endured at the end of Bravehart, at least it seems that way—that statement just reveals my own aversion to pain.

God is like my dentist, nudging me to try a little more to see what I’m able to endure.

We can see that the things that caused our heart to sink ten years ago now seem trivial in comparison to our current challenges.

If we look back we see the faithfulness of God walking with us, sometimes carrying us through dark valleys. The Bible says He is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. He has grown us and made us stronger.

I am thankful we are walking this road together. It may be painful but at least the burden is shared. This is part of what we promised on our wedding day-“for worse and in sickness”.

What a mercy. I’m raising my hand asking for God’s numbing grace to fix what is broken either in my circumstances or in my heart. He knows what we need before we ask.

What Mercy!

In what ways is your marriage being stretched? Ask God to help—He is rich in mercy.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Keeping It Real, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Six Marriage Quotes to Inspire

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Perspective in Marriage | Tagged | 1 Comment

Labor of Love

Our youngest grandson, Elias ❤️

Monday is Labor Day in the United States. It’s a day off for most Americans from work. And a National Holiday that says goodbye to Summer. Schools are back in session and the familiar routine returns.

Routine. Some love it and some feel held back by it. We tend to fall in the first group. This is what has made our current season challenging to us on a comfort level.

Although Tom is retired, he has worked just as hard these last 5 years helping others on a full-time basis.

His Step Dad, before he died in December, needed him often to help with major and minor things. But always he was there right away.

His Dad moved from CA to FL to be closer to us after his wife passed away in 2020 from a long illness. Tom helped him every step of the way, even flying back and forth across the country as it was needed.

His sister bought a townhome and Tom was there helping her move and get set up in her new place.

We have had a sick granddaughter who nearly lost her life, and a grandson born at 24 weeks requiring our help to move them back to Florida. We are now privileged to help them care for him and their marriage regularly.

I share all this because to Tom he does this well because he loves well. It is literally a labor of love for him. Is it inconvenient at time? Oh yes! But his love for our family exceeds his desire to retire as planned. Retirement isn’t supposed to be retreating from life. No, it’s the freedom to live on a level we didn’t have time for while working.

Have you considered the ways your spouse works hard for those they love? Sometimes in the busyness we become blind to this blessing. We would surely notice if they were no longer here.

Let’s make this Labor Day one where we highlight with gratefulness the ways our spouse works hard for our family. This is how we encourage each other daily as the Bible commands.

Happy Labor Day!

Posted in Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Holidays, Labor Day | Tagged , | 1 Comment

A Dozen Dates to Celebrate the End of Summer

We are in the final days of Summer and depending on where you live–the last long days of warmth and sunshine.

I’ve heard it said that if you fail to plan you can plan to fail.

This is especially true when it comes to being intentional in cherishing and romancing our spouse. We’ve come up with a list of ideas from which to choose to make these last few weeks of Summer memorable. Choose as many as you have time for in your schedule, and maybe even surprise your spouse if possible.

  • Walk or Dance in the Rain – You can use an umbrella or go without for even more fun
  • Watch the sunset in silence holding hands
  • Eat outside
  • Walk barefoot on the beach, lakefront, or grassy park holding hands
  • Follow a winding trail on your bike, on a hike, or leisurely drive
  • Plan a themed dinner party with friends saying Goodbye to Summer
  • Swim under the stars
  • Reflect on the Summer and highlight what you will remember most
  • Cook your favorite meal on the grill using the best of Summer ingredients
  • Play an outdoor game like croquet, corn hole, or bad-mitten
  • Take in an outdoor movie
  • Go canoeing or kayaking

This list is in no way exhaustive. We’d love to hear what other ideas come to mind. Most of all pause and thank God together for the blessing of sharing another Summer together. We have no guarantees for tomorrow–all the more reason to plan something special before the calendar says Summer is over.

Photo Cred: Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

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Quiz Your Spouse

It’s Back-to-School week in most areas. A time when parents can kick back into a more established routine. There are tests to study for and lunches to be packed. It’s all part of the rhythm of the school year.

Our marriage has a rhythm too. And each couple makes their own music. What works for you may not be appealing to us at all, but that’s ok. Our marriages tell the story of us.

We love to reflect on our years together. Questions lead to memories we’ve collected and help us give value to our history.

Maybe it’s time for a marriage history quiz?

Spend some time writing out questions to quiz each other about your marriage history. Span the years you’ve shared—the good, the difficult and the hilarious times—and try to stump each other. Of course, there can be bonus points earned to make up for missed answers. This can make the missed questions worth it. 😉

The idea is to slow down and remember. Maybe the memories will help you embrace the present struggles for the testimony being forged through the fire. Our history is worth it!

Let the quiz begin!

Posted in Cherishing, Christian Marriage, Creative Dates, Dating Your Spouse, Fun Dates, Growing Strong Marriages, Unique Dates | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A Humble Spouse

We just finished going through the book, Cherish, by Gary Thomas, for the umpteenth time. And that is no exaggeration. You would think we wouldn’t need to read a book like this over and over. Especially since we’ve been doing marriage ministry ourselves for the better part of two decades, but…you would be wrong.

We love being in a Cherish group where couples share their perspective on what they’ve read. It makes us consider it afresh ourselves.

One night I shared how there are times when I just want to do things around the house the way I’ve always done them. Tom offers to help me and I resist.

As I shared this frustration, one husband in the group said, “I do the same thing. And you know what? It’s nothing but pride, wanting to do it my own way, right?”

I felt as if I was the only one in the room. The conviction of the Holy Spirit hit me square in the face, and regret followed.

Hadn’t I testified to the change in my heart after reading, Humility by Andrew Murray, years ago? Wasn’t humility the virtue I asked God for often? And yet I had missed this obvious fact in my selfish response to Tom.

Every marriage goes through seasons which require attention. If the attention isn’t given you will find yourself in a serious drift. And here I was. Thankfully, what used to take me months to see in my heart is now easily identified and repented of to Tom and God.

“Humility,” Andrew Murray says, “is the only soil in which the graces root. Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone assumes the right attitude before God and allows Him as God to do all.” pg. 12

I am grateful to be married to a humble spouse. Tom is quick to lay his desires and plans down to serve me. He is ready to do whatever he can to make my life easier. Yet, I resist. I don’t want to be this way. I desire to be more like Christ in His humility and treat Tom the way Christ treats me.

“Such humility is not a thing that will come on its own. It must be made the object of special desire, prayer, faith and practice.” pg. 13.

I am glad we were a part of another Cherish group. I didn’t know what I needed until God revealed it through a brother. It’s the same with all of us. We don’t know what our marriage needs unless we are willing to expose ourselves to this kind of introspection.

When was the last time you and your spouse took part in a marriage group or class to help your relationship grow and change?

If a class isn’t available to you, why not read Cherish together out loud and talk about the parts that draw your attention? Reading out loud really makes all the difference too. It is a tool to help you both talk about things you wouldn’t think to talk about otherwise. We have heard this from countless couples as we watched their marriage go to the next level of intimacy as a result.

Ask yourself, “Am I a humble spouse?

Posted in Cherish, Cherishing, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy, Repentance, Temptation | Tagged , , | 3 Comments


I read recently about the purpose of a yoke in training young oxen.

They are put in a yoke with an older more experienced ox in order to teach them how to work well together.

The picture described was of the young ox fighting, pulling and even sitting down—resisting the weight of the yoke. Yet overtime, through much struggle, the young ox learns to stand and walk with the other. This not only makes the path easier, but lighter as well. When the burden of the yoke is shared it lightens the load on both.

Likewise when two people learn how to walk within the constraints of the marriage covenant (yoke) it is not only harmonious, but they are capable of doing more together than they ever could alone.

Still there are times when life knocks you to your knees. It’s in these moments when we must work together to listen, understand and show patient love to each other.

Life is harsh and brings difficulty in many forms—loss, sickness, chronic pain, depression, job loss, financial strain, relational conflicts, etc.

We should not be surprised when our spouse struggles. Nor should we fear when we are the one in need.

If you are the strong one needing to carry the load for a season realize that, if you are in Christ, you never walk alone. He is the third person who chose to yoke Himself to us forever in the marriage covenant. “A three braided strand is not easily broken,” the Word of God says. He helps us in our weakness to do what we could never do on our own. What a Savior!

And our trials aren’t meant to break us, but to show us what we often fail to see…

We are stronger than we know and more loved than we realize.

My encouragement in all this is to be grateful for every moment you and your spouse have together—the easy roads and the ones where you’d rather not walk. It is producing an eternal weight of glory making the weight we endure in this life worth every strain, every tear and every sacrifice.

When have you experienced the need to stop and help your spouse through a difficult time? Maybe it’s now? May Jesus make His presence known to you both in your time of need.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Encouraging Your Spouse | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments


Flowers love longer days and so do I

Yes, today is the one where daylight is the longest of the year. The sun stays around a bit longer and does what it does best—shines light. without it all would be darkness—complete and utter darkness.

If you’re like me, that sounds horrible. Of course I love nighttime—especially when there’s a full moon rising over the ocean. But with no sun, there would be no moon; no romantic starlit strolls; no moon to swoon under.

Thankfully, God supplied plenty of light in various ways for us to enjoy. Let’s not take it for granted.

How will you spend your evening? I know it’s short notice, but aren’t some of our best moments spontaneous? They are for us.

Plan something unexpected tonight if you’re able—go for a late night walk around your block. Star gaze. Go swimming if you have a pool. Remember summers gone by and special memories you share.

One of ours was a cruise we took years ago. It just so happened to be on a ship called, Solstice. It was the best, most romantic cruise we ever had. Most likely because we were alone and every moment became a memory. I even made a video of it so we would never forget.

What are some of your favorite summer memories? Why not reflect on them tonight. No one shares history with you like your spouse. It’s one of the blessings of lifelong love.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Summer Date Ideas | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments


“What will I wear?” I still couldn’t believe this was happening.

It was only Wednesday when he called long-distance to see how I was. Long-distance was expensive 44 years ago. It cost more to dial across the state than it did to call across the country. The only discount to be found was calling after 10p. But he didn’t wait for the savings, which gave me a hint as to his thoughts.

We talked about nothing really. Both happy and nervous to speak after years since we last saw each other. He suggested we go to lunch after church on Sunday, since he would be in town.

I may have said yes before he finished the question.

Then he remembered Sunday was Father’s Day. “How about we go out Saturday instead. That is if you’re free.”

Free? I hadn’t felt this free in a long time. I had a feeling my future was calling. Could Tom be the one I had prayed for, longed for, desired to get to know more? Only God knew. I controlled my emotions and managed a simple, “Yes, Saturday works for me.”

We hung up and I bolted from my room screaming, “Tom Walter called me. Tom Walter called ME!!!”

My grandmother was sitting at the kitchen bar as I bolted passed her, like a bundle of adrenaline looking to explode.

Saturday came. I decided on a navy blue skirt with a blue and white striped top. My white platform shoes added the final touch.

I was ready long before the clock said He would come. I couldn’t stop looking through our front door window.

And then it happened. His Mercury Monarch pulled into my driveway. He came to the door dressed in a three piece suit. My heart pounded louder than his knock.

He opened my car door and drove me to one of the nicest French restaurants in town. Mind you, I was only 18. Tom was 23. This was new and exciting for both of us.

I talk and laugh when I’m nervous, and there was lots of both that night. We both felt comfortable with each other and wanted to learn more. Tom joked before we got to the restaurant that he made reservations at McDonald’s. I think it wouldn’t have mattered where we ate dinner that night. I was feasting on possibilities.

This was the start of what God had established in His will long before we knew each other. I can’t help but believe He was smiling right along with us.

44 years ago today.

Photo cred: http://www.maisonjardin.com

Posted in Christian Marriage, Love Stories, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

A Weighty Word Indeed

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a word.

It has caused me to stop in my tracks and ponder it’s meaning. When applied to One in particular, it can bring me to my knees. The word is…HOLY

It is defined in Webster’s 1828 dictionary as: Properly, whole, entire or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or dispositions; free from sin and sinful affections.

It carries even more weight when it is repeated three times, as in the following Scripture verse…

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭4:8‬b

When applied to marriage as in Holy Matrimony, it reveals the seriousness of our covenant as husband and wife. We become one flesh and in covenant with God who personifies holiness. Our primary purpose in our relationship is to glorify our God in the way we treat each other.

To act holy towards our spouse is to treat them with the realization that they are the son or daughter of the King of Kings. We should love our spouse in a way that brings glory to God.

I believe a good place to start is by using the Fruit of the Spirit to measure our attitudes and our actions as we live with and love our spouse.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23, 25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

May God help us stay focused on the Truth of what Holy Matrimony requires of us. Marriage matters. It matters to your spouse. It matters to your children. And it matters to your church family. A church is only as strong and holy as the members within. May we be what we say we are every day of our lives. Living authentic lives with integrity. This is only possible if we are in relationship with the One who is the definition of Holy…

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Fruits of the Spirit, The Gospel & Marriage | Tagged , , | 2 Comments