Happy Hour

We haven’t shared some of our favorites in a while. So this week we’re focusing on Fall Date Ideas we’ve come across. Enjoy…

Les and Leslie Parrot


The Romantic Vineyard Vintage Posts

Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Happy Hour, Romance in Marriage | Leave a comment

Until Death Parts Us

I am emotional and have often been led astray by them. I’m grateful for the influence my husband has had on me in this area of my life. He has helped me see that my emotions aren’t bad; they are a gift when informed by the truth of God’s Word.

The Bible is full of emotions–joy, sorrow, jubilation and tumult to name a few. God walks with us through all them and points the way to peace. It is with this confidence in God that I can embrace this day even with tears that are sure to come.

Many of you have prayed with us for our dear friend, Craig Stafford, who collapsed one morning in August. He passed away on Saturday, 33 days later, and leaves behind his faithful wife of 20+ years and four children ages 23 – 14.

Today our church will honor him and comfort his family by hosting his celebration of life service. We are expecting over 500 to attend. Craig loved large so his reach of influence is not surprising. He was skilled at rejoicing with those who rejoice and helping those struggling to be encouraged to take the next step. My Facebook feed has exploded with stories of how this man influenced folks everyday. Here are a few quotes…

“Craig could light up a room like nobody else. His smile infectious, his passion contagious, his heart larger than life.”

“Craig bled hospitality everywhere he was! He’d welcome you with a warm smile that makes you feel at home, give you a compliment to boost your self esteem, all while cooking a batch of bacon for you in the kitchen if he could!”

Craig loved to cook. He served and fed us well for many church-wide events. His gift will be sorely missed, but it is his presence we will miss most. Whenever Craig was in the room you knew it. He put a smile on faces seemingly without effort.

Craig and Rowena had a strong marriage, but not without trials and setbacks. It’s the struggles we go through that wields strength. Although this part of their lives has ended, Craig’s legacy continues beyond death. He has left an indelible mark on future generations through the lives of his four children. He loved well.

A dear friend and blogger said the following to comfort his wife, Rowena…

So today I had a moment…

Initially it was sadness, feeling that I can’t imagine Metro Life Church, can’t imagine life on this earth, without Craig in it. To not see his smile, feel his hugs, hear his laughter…How, Lord?

But then, I felt the Lord showed me something…we’ll see Craig’s smile every week in the faces of your precious children, we’ll hear his laugh in them, feel his hugs through them…though Craig has left us…together you and he gave us a gift, four of them, and through each of them, their father lives on. He is woven into the fabric of who they are and now I am so grateful that you had so many of them! 😘

We love you, Rowena Marie Stafford! We love you and admire you and have so much respect for you…because behind these precious children there is You. Your example, your guidance, your teaching, all of the life that you have poured into them this is what makes them the amazing individuals that each one of them is. They have an unbelievable, godly woman for a Mama. I know their Daddy thought so, too!

I pray his example as a husband and father will help us realize the gift it is to be present in the lives of those we love. May our days be marked with a resolve to love each other well until death parts us.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Death and Grieving, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter ‘S”

Some letters are easier to plan dates around than others. This one was super easy and always a favorite of ours.


Living near the beach this one is a date we enjoy often, but it doesn’t make it any less special.

We drove to the beach and couldn’t wait to sit and allow the waves to wash away our busyness. It has the ability to clear my mind like nothing else!

We were so relaxed I didn’t take many pictures. Maybe these few photos will give you a moment of needed relaxation from your busyness too.

Happy Dating!

Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Outdoor Dates | Tagged , | Leave a comment

We Have A Winner!

The winner of our Cherish Your Spouse, Giveaway is…Helen!

Congratulations! Please email us your address so we can get these books sent to you right away.

Thank you to all who took the time to intentionally answer this all-important question, “What does Cherish look like to you and to your spouse?”

We pray it will be the beginning of Cherishing your spouse more in the years to come.

Have a blessed weekend, and let’s pray for those facing Hurricane Florence!

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Have You Entered Our Giveaway?

We want to give away a Cherish Your Spouse package that includes a copy of Gary Thomas’ book, Cherish, and a copy of our book, Cherishing Us – 365 Healthy Tips from The Romantic Vineyard.

How to enter:

1. Comment what being cherished by your spouse would look like to you. (One entry)

2. Ask your spouse what being cherished by you would look like and share their answer with your comment. (One entry)

3. Share this post on FB, Twitter or Instagram (One entry) Type “shared” on your comment to let us know.

That’s it! We will select the winner from a random drawing this Friday!

God bless you!

Posted in Cherish Your Spouse Giveaway, Cherishing, Christian Marriage | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Personal Marriage Designer (and a Cherish Your Spouse Giveaway)i

When Tom and I began The Romantic Vineyard nearly a decade ago (where has the time gone?), we chose the title because we had no better words to describe our passion–romance in marriage. This has been our calling in life for as long as I can remember. And we have done what we can with every opportunity that comes our way.

However, since Gary Thomas’ excellent book, Cherish, was published we now have a new word that more accurately describes our passion–cherish.

What exactly is cherish?

  • It is discovering what it means to your spouse to be loved and valued.
  • It is taking romance to a more personal and meaningful level.
  • It is doing and saying things that mean something to your spouse, to make them feel cherished.
  • This is why it is so vital to a healthy marriage. Your answers can be completely different from ours, and that’s the beauty of cherish. It is personal; like having your very own personal marriage designer. And like a qualified designer it takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary.
  • Cherish helps us make the most of the time we’ve been given together. It brings to the forefront that which is of most importance and allows the trivial to fade to the back.

    Remember those standardized tests we had to take in school that had us compare and choose the right answer?

    Cherish is to romance what conviction is to action.

    We can be busy doing all kinds of things, but if we don’t have a conviction about it they are just items on our to-do list. Conviction takes our actions and gives them purpose and meaning. We realize that there is an important reason we are doing what we do and it matters.

    In the same way we can busy taking care of our spouse and doing things that speak of our love for them, but if we don’t have the mindset to cherish them it can become a well-worn path. Cherish takes our love and gives it meaning and purpose for our spouse. It speaks their language.

    A marriage that lacks cherish is a relationship missing out on the best part of being together. Cherish is the realization that your husband/wife is the only Adam/Eve for you. They are yours from the moment you said “I do” and will be until you take your last breath. It is a privilege we shouldn’t take lightly.

    In what ways do you want to be cherished by your spouse?

    In what ways do they want to be cherished by you?

    If you don’t know, we encourage you to spend some time talking about it and read Gary’s book together. It may help you both discover a dimension in your marriage you didn’t realize was missing. Which brings us to our first giveaway in awhile…

    Cherish Your Spouse Giveaway:

    We want to give away a Cherish Your Spouse package that includes a copy of Gary Thomas’ book, Cherish, and a copy of our book, Cherishing Us – 365 Healthy Tips from The Romantic Vineyard.

    How to enter:

    1. Comment what being cherished by your spouse would look like to you. (One entry)

    2. Ask your spouse what being cherished by you would look like and share their answer with your comment. (One entry)

    3. Share this post on FB, Twitter or Instagram (One entry) Type “shared” on your comment to let us know.

    That’s it! We will select the winner from a random drawing after all entries are received.

    Posted in Cherish Your Spouse Giveaway, Cherishing, Christian Marriage, Contests | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “R”

    Tom planned for us to enjoy some R & R on this date, and I must say it was all that and more!

    We went to ROCK Springs for a RIVER tour in a transparent kayak. We RELAXED on the RIVER…at least I did. 😊 Tom did all the rowing while I RESTED. He spoils me like that!

    I’m going to REMEMBER this one for a long time. 😊

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Outdoor Dates | Tagged , , , , ,

    A Gift to Avoid Drift

    For my birthday this year Tom has committed to work out with me at home. He went so far and quit his gym membership too, so I knew he was serious. I am excited for this new chapter in our marriage. We are starting to do something together we have done apart or sometimes not at all.

    Gary Thomas shares in his book, Cherish, how important it is for us to lean-in to each other in all seasons of marriage. This may sound simple, but it’s not easy. Especially in our activity driven culture. Our schedules keep us from having time to connect with each other.

    A few minutes to connect with your spouse each day is not adequate for cultivating a lasting marriage.

    It may seem harmless to go different directions and have separate priorities. Especially if what you’re doing is for the good of your family. But one day your children will grow up and live lives of their own. It’s easy to think that day will never arrive, because the days move slow, but the years go fast.

    We often spend more time charging our phones than we do our marriage.

    We  have talked to couples who have different interests. It is difficult to find something they enjoy doing together. Don’t let your preferences keep you apart. If you enjoy reading and your spouse enjoys fishing–do both together. If you like to watch one program on TV and your spouse prefers another, compromise. At least do so a couple of times a week and lean-in to what interests your spouse. Such gestures speak more love to your spouse than words ever could.

    Don’t allow your relationship to drift into being comfortably apart. This is a dangerous drift found in many marriages. We must be intentional if we are to avoid it.

    In what ways are you leaning in to each other to avoid the drift?

    Posted in Boredom, Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages, Keeping It Real, Priorities | Tagged | 2 Comments

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “Q”

    I remember the last time we did the alphabet dates I had the letter “Q” as well. Can I just say I think I should get extra points since this letter is so difficult? But I’m Quite happy to say…

    Tom and I have a library of excellent books we love, but none more so than those by our favorite authors.

    Paul David Tripp – Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

    Gary Thomas – The Beautiful Fight (as well as Sacred Marriage and Cherish, of course)

    C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity

    Randy Alcorn – Money, Possessions and Eternity

    Andrew Murray – Humility

    God has used these men and their books to impact our lives and marriage in a lasting way. What better way to plan a Quality date than reading aloud some of our favorite Quotes from their books? Following are a few we found…

    “I want to introduce you to a model of personal ministry…it gets its shape from the way Christ brings about change in our lives, and it gets its direction from the biblical call to heart change. Four words represent four aspects of a personal ministry relationship, Love, Know, Speak and Do.” – Paul David Tripp

    “It’s not as if I’m called to find out the will of God and then accomplish it in my own strength. On the contrary, not only does God call me; he also equips me, sustains me, and empowers me. Anything less is a Christ-less Christianity.” – Gary Thomas

    “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” – C.S.Lewis

    “May God teach us that our thoughts and words and feelings concerning our fellow-men are His rest of our humility toward Him.” – Andrew Murray

    These are such rich reminders of the life we are called to live for His glory. It was a relaxing, refreshing and inspiring way to spend a stormy afternoon.

    Who are your favorite authors? Why not share a Quote with us?

    To see what we did on our last “Q” Date click here. 😊

    Happy Dating!

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas, Encouraging Your Spouse, resources | Tagged , , , , ,

    Wake Up Call

    This has been a difficult week for our church family. A dear friend and long time member of our church had a massive heart attack last Tuesday morning. They were just enjoying normal life when this crisis hit them unexpectedly. His wife has been by his side ever since hoping and praying that God will wake him up and heal his body.

    In the meantime we wait.

    This has caused us all to realize several things…

    1. We have no guarantees for tomorrow. Each day we must embrace it as if it were our last. Craig had no idea that as he was cooking his delicious lasagna for his family on Monday night that he wouldn’t enjoy the leftovers with them on Tuesday.
    2. How valuable it is to have a church family to come alongside to help, serve and pray.
    3. The priority it is to pursue relationships even if others aren’t pursuing you. Rowena, (Craig’s Wife), made the comment that she realizes the reason so many are flooding the hospital waiting room in an effort to help and lend support is because of the way Craig pursued and offered help to them–over and over, whether or not it was reciprocated.
    4. Say “yes” to your spouse and children as often as you are able. Craig’s lasagna was made according to special diet restrictions because he loves and cares for his wife. However, when he heard his daughter say how much she was hoping for pasta, he didn’t say, “Sorry, not this time.” Instead, he made a second pan with pasta noodles for his girl.
    5. Make every opportunity to invest in your marriage. Craig and Rowena were a part of our marriage community group last year as we read through Gary Thomas’s excellent book, Cherish. We saw God not only strengthen their marriage, but He also strengthened their relationships with the younger married couples in our church.
  • Won’t you join us in praying for the Stafford family? They are in desperate need of a miracle! #wakeupcraig
  • Posted in Christian Marriage, In Sickness, Keeping It Real, Prayer, Priorities, Seasons of Life | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

    This One Practice Produces Change

    In our last post we talked about the detriment it is to have a condemning spirit towards your spouse. Today we want to talk about the antidote.

    In the Christian life the antidote to a condemning spirit is a grateful heart.

    My husband is a grateful man. He often says with tears in his eyes how grateful he is for all God has done in our lives. And he has even done this when our circumstances were not what he envisioned. Gratefulness isn’t dependent on what you’ve been given, it’s focus is on Who is giving. Christ gave us the most precious gift we could ever receive. No matter our lack in this life, we have all we need forever!

    There is a song out right now by Natalie Grant titled, More Than Anything. The chorus says:

    Help me want the Healer more than the healing

    Help me want the Savior more than the saving

    Help me want the Giver more than the giving

    Help me want You, Jesus, more than anything

    What a powerful song. It begs the question, Do I want the Giver more than the giving?

    Our prayers will often reveal our heart in this matter. If our prayers are filled with requests more than gratefulness, there is a good chance we are leaning away from worshiping God for who He is and desiring more of what He gives.

    A grateful spouse is one who shares verbally the things for which they are grateful.

    And the more specific the better. When Tom tells me he loves me, it warms my heart. But when he elaborates on all the ways he loves me, this makes me melt.

    Let’s purpose to practice gratefulness on a daily basis. To help you, we encourage you to read our book, Cherishing Us – 365 Tips for a Healthy Marriage. It takes intentionality to grow closer together and gratefulness is like pouring fresh water on our efforts. We pray what we’ve written will help you grow in being intentionally grateful.

    Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Growing Strong Marriages, Priorities | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

    Here Comes The Judge

    Our pastor preached on Romans 8 this past Sunday. It was a good reminder of the freedom we have in Christ, and an encouragement to no longer live in condemnation. He said something at the end though, that made me pause and pray to God that this would never be said of me. He said, “May it not be said of us that we have a condemning spirit as we relate to others.”

    A condemning spirit as we relate to others? A condemning spirit in how we relate to our spouse?

    Condemn means to judge or determine to be wrong.

    Have you ever believed yourself to be right and your spouse to be wrong in an argument? If we’re honest we all have felt this way at some point. But what we do with those feelings is crucial to a healthy Marriage.

    We have two choices:

    1. Stand as judge and jury against your spouse set on proving your point at all costs.

    2. Pray for your spouse and for God’s wisdom to help you love them genuinely as you talk through the disagreement.

    Of course the second choice is the best and most God-honoring. But when you’re in the midst of a heated argument it’s probably the last one you’d choose.

    Why is this so? We have an enemy who is set on destroying anything or anyone who glorifies God. Our marriage is a prime target since it is a reflection of how Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her. Also, marriage consists of two sinners, making us an easy target.

    We must not be surprised that he is after our relationship, nor should we be unaware of his schemes to divide us.

    I’ll never forget a time when Tom and I were in a really long season of conflict in our marriage. We tried many times to reconcile but to no avail. One night the Lord impressed this question on my heart, “Who made you the standard of what is right in this situation?”

    My conscience was immediately convicted and I knew I had been acting in a condemning spirit. Ouch! The truth hurts, but it also sets us free!

    I was able to repent to Tom and to God of my sin and it was soon after that we found resolve to our long-standing conflict.

    Matthew 7:3-5 says

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

    I’ve heard it said of this scripture that the reason I recognize a sin in someone else’s life is because it is familiar to me. In other words, I have the same sin in my own heart. Realizing this should make all of us hesitant in pointing out our spouse’s sin, or anyone else’s for that matter. I must examine my own heart first, and then from a place of humility and love approach the weaknesses, failures and sins of others.

    Have you ever had a condemning spirit towards your spouse? Or have you ever been the recipient of it? May God help us all grow in our understanding of this and the detriment it is to our growth as believers and as husbands and wives.

    Posted in Christian Marriage, Conflict, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , ,

    Marriage Creed

    We visited a church yesterday while staying with our daughter and her husband in Arkansas. In the lobby they had their creed on display for all to see. It was captivating and encouraged discussion.

    This caused me to consider what Creed we would hang on the wall of our marriage? A good exercise for all of us, I think.

    We love like…

    • Jesus is our model
    • Faith is our foundation
    • Marriage is for life
    • People are watching
    • Children are learning
    • Success depends on me
    • Today is our last
  • What would you include in your marriage creed? We’d love for you to share.
  • Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Growing Strong Marriages, Purpose | Tagged ,

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “P”

    Tom planned something that I love to do on this date–go to a PLAY. This one was The Wiz, one I had not seen before. Being an avid fan of The Wizard of Oz, I was really looking forward to this modern day twist on this classic.

    The actors were good, especially the 9 year old lead, Liamani Segura, who played Dorothy. She was quite literally the star of the show. The director found her by doing a Google search for “a child who can sing”. I am certain we will see more of her as she grows up.

    Liamani has already been on America’s Got Talent, Steve Harvey’s Little Big Shots, and The Ellen Degeneres Show. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and You Tube, if you’d like to learn more about her.

    Before the show Tom took me to one of our favorite restaurants in Banner Elk, Puerto Nuevo. They serve authentic Mexican cuisine that is always fantastic.

    Once again Tom blessed me by his thoughtful planning. He knows me well, and I am grateful.

    Until next time, enjoy this video by Liamani as she sings the finale from The Wiz. You will be amazed that she is only 9 years old.

    Happy Dating!

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Date Night Ideas | Tagged , , , , ,

    A Closer Look at What Bores You

    Living life with the same person becomes familiar as it should over time. But when the familiar becomes boring this can be the sign there is something else at play.

    Jon Bloom wrote an excellent article on the Desiring God website titled, Bored To Life. I highly recommend you click over and read it before continuing with this post. I’ll wait here. 😊

    While Mr, Bloom isn’t talking about marriage in his article, it definitely applies.

    He defines boredom as,

    Disinterest. It’s the condition of finding something or someone [spouse] or some subject or task or some event or perhaps most everything uninteresting.

    He goes on to say that “Boredom is not the opposite of busyness; it’s the opposite of interest.”

    This begs the question, what’s your interest level in marriage?

    Do you find reading marriage books boring? Or marriage blogs? Chances are your answer is no on that one since you’re here. But you may be married to someone who would never read a marriage book or blog for that matter. If that’s so, what can you do?

    Marriage is a team effort. If one partner is disengaged it puts the burden of success on the other spouse which can create even more problems.

    May I say if this is your situation, I am concerned for you. Who can you turn to for support while you’re doing most of the work? If you are a Christian your help is only a prayer away. Lean into the Lord and allow Him to give you fresh inspiration on how to love your spouse well while you wait.

    In order to sustain a lasting interest in our spouse and marriage we must be intentional.

    Being intentional means…

    1. To study your spouse and take interest in what they find interesting

    2. To pursue your spouse on ordinary days

    3. To flirt with your spouse

    4. To make time to communicate about what is difficult and stressful in your life right now

    5. To connect every day if it’s only for 15-30 minutes.

    6. To be your spouse’s biggest fan and best encourager so they aren’t looking for it elsewhere.

    7. To keep a short list of offenses. Confession lifts burdens in a way nothing else can

    8. To help your spouse identify the reason they are bored, as Jon Bloom so clearly describes

    9. To have time away without the kids at least once a year

    10. To make friends with other couples who encourage your marriage to grow by the example they provide

    This is just a small start in how to be intentional in marriage. But the effects will be huge as you put them into practice.

    I love the analogy Mr. Bloom provides,

    Think of boredom as a dashboard warning indicator that starts dinging. Something has caused your interest level to run low and it’s draining your joy. What is it?

    I can’t answer that for you, but spending time discussing it with your spouse might open your eyes to the culprit. I pray you are able to heed the warning signs and make the necessary changes. Your marriage is worth it!

    Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict, Difficulty, Finding Joy, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , , ,

    2018 Date Night Challenge – The Letter “O”

    I struggled with planning this date because I wanted to do something different that Tom would enjoy. Of course there are the obvious “O’s” from which one could choose, but like I said I wanted something fun and unique.

    Then I got it the perfect idea and one I was excited to plan–A “007 James Bond Date”

    I sent Tom the following meme

    Our date began by going to 007’s boss, “M”. We have a local venue, M Bar, with a display of exotic cars (a staple in all 007 films)…

    …and free video games. Can’t beat that price! 😊

    We enjoyed an appetizer of Olives and drinks while we played. (Tom won both rounds!)

    From there we came home to enjoy 007’s favorite fOOd: Scrambled eggs, sausage and toast with jam. (Who knew?)

    I played a selection of James Bond soundtracks while we tried to recall as many of the 25 James Bond films we could. See how many you can remember.

    We ended the night by watching the latest movie released, Spectre.

    I knew Tom was going to enjoy this date when he sent me this GIF in response to my invitation:

    We both agree this date was “O” so gOOd!

    Posted in 2018 Date Night Challenge, Alphabet Dates, Christian Marriage, Dating Your Spouse | Tagged , ,

    My Marriage Is Mediocre—Now What?

    In our last post we shared 11 possible indicators your marriage might be mediocre. Today we want to offer some practical tips to help get you out of this trap.

    As a reminder here is our list:

    1. Your life revolves around your kids.
    2. You no longer flirt with each other or share private jokes.
    3. You would rather spend an evening alone than with your spouse.
    4. You can’t remember the last time you laughed together.
    5. You rarely go on dates or have fun together.
    6. You haven’t read any books on marriage recently and you have no desire to start.
    7. The first word that comes to mind in describing your marriage is “boring”.
    8. Time together is spent watching TV, running errands or doing things with the kids.
    9. Sex is sporadic at best.
    10. You’ve settled into believing this is just how marriage is after years of sharing life with someone.
    11. You believe your best days are behind you.

    Practical Tips To Get Out Of The Mediocre Trap

    If your life is busy with activities for your kids, this is a normal part of raising a family. However, you don’t have to sign them up for every activity they want to pursue. In our family we limited our kids to one activity a year, and they had to choose. This was teaching them the importance of making priorities in their schedule. Of course, they didn’t like it. But in order for Tom and me to keep our relationship primary we had to limit the time we were doing other things.

    If you no longer flirt, but you used to, it will be easier for you to start this again. If you have never flirted with each other this will feel really awkward. Little steps in showing your spouse you are thinking of them as you walk by each other. Where one wife might run her hand across her husband’s butt as she passes him, another might express something you admire in him. You set the next level of flirtation according to what would mean the most to the both of you.

    If you don’t enjoy being alone with your spouse, there are issues beyond mediocrity that must be addressed. We encourage you to seek outside help from a friend or pastor if bringing up this discussion seems too difficult. The important thing is to not ignore it! If you do your marriage will suffer for it.

    If you don’t laugh regularly ask yourself why? Is it because you don’t find things funny? Or maybe you just haven’t tried to make it happen. My daughter-in-love shared with me this story: Her grandmother, who lived well beyond her 90th birthday, said her secret for long life was finding a way to laugh really hard everyday. Some days she would just belt out a good laugh for no reason. Ashley said the amazing thing was she always made everyone else around her laugh too. Even if they had no idea what started it all.

    If you rarely go on dates or have fun together, make an effort to change. Plan something special you know your spouse will enjoy and surprise them with it. We have a made it a habit to study each other to know what each other likes and then take it to the next level and make it happen.

    If you haven’t read a good marriage book in as long as you can remember, can we strongly encourage you to do so? We recommend two: Cherish, by Gary Thomas and our book, Cherishing Us – 365 Healthy Marriage Tips to Help Your Marriage Grow. Both are easy to read and even more easy to apply. Sometimes growth doesn’t happen because we aren’t challenging our habits with the truth. Think of marriage books as a vitamin to promote health and avoid sickness.

    If your marriage is boring, refer to #5.

    If the only time you spend together is in the car going somewhere or on the couch watching TV you must make a concerted effort to change. Not only is this bad for your marriage, it is setting a poor example for your children who are watching more than you realize. Limit electronic device use as well.

    If your sex life is sporadic at best, you most likely have other issues to discuss. Sex is the only activity your spouse alone can supply, and to limit this precious gift is a detriment to the intimacy you share. I understand there can be a boat-load of issues preventing the frequency and quality of sex. But are you doing anything about it? If not, you are settling for less than God intends for you both to experience. Please don’t put physical intimacy on the shelf of “what used to be”. Get help! We recommend another book, Sheet Music, by Kevin Leman, to help you discover what’s missing.

    If you realize you’ve indeed settled, that’s the first step to change. You’re admitting that there can be more. And I say as loudly as I can–YES, there is more, so much more.

    If you believe your best days are behind you, you are listening to the enemy of your soul. He has come to steal, kill and destroy, and that includes our marriages. He hates our union because it reflects Christ and His overwhelming love for His Bride, the church. Your best days are not behind you, unless you read this post and do nothing as a result. God has given us the power we need to resist the lies and schemes of the enemy. We must draw near and submit to God, resist the enemy and he must flee. I believe as you do this you are opening a new door into a new room in your marriage called fulfilled. God wants to fulfill His purposes for you and your marriage. Our responsibility is to cooperate with Him. When He convicts, we repent. As He leads, we follow. When we change, He gets the glory. How can we say no to such a gracious, loving God.

  • Father,
  • I pray for every person who will read this post today. Stir the waters of mediocrity and fill them with fresh faith to believe that change is possible. Do this for their joy. Do this for the example they are setting for their children. And do this for all who know them.
  • Make all of our marriages what You intend them to be, and may we cooperate fully with You every step of the way.
  • In Jesus’ precious name,
  • Amen
  • Posted in Boredom, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , ,

    11 Possible Indicators You Have A Mediocre Marriage

    MEDIOCRE. Just the sound of it is blah, don’t you think? I looked up the definition and found this interesting…

    One of the things that is remarkable about mediocre is the extent to which it has retained its meaning over the course of more than four centuries of continual use. The word, when used as an adjective, has changed very little, if at all, in its meaning since it was used in a 1586 book titled The English Secretorie. (From Merriam-Webster’s on-line dictionary)

    Look at the synonyms. They offer deeper insight into the understanding of this centuries old word.

    The question is, “Does mediocre describe your marriage?

    I find it interesting that those who are experiencing mediocre marriages tend to settle into it as their norm, in the same way the word has settled into its own definition without change for centuries.

    What does a mediocre marriage look like?

    I’m certainly no expert, but we have had almost 40 years of experience in our marriage. And we have known lots of couples with great marriages as well as mediocre ones.

    11 (Possible) Indicators of a Mediocre Marriage

    1. Your life revolves around your kids.
    2. You no longer flirt with each other or share private jokes.
    3. You would rather spend an evening alone than with your spouse.
    4. You can’t remember the last time you laughed together.
    5. You rarely go on dates or have fun together.
    6. You haven’t read any books on marriage recently and you have no desire to start.
    7. The first word that comes to mind in describing your marriage is “boring”.
    8. Time together is spent watching TV, running errands or doing things with the kids.
    9. Sex is sporadic at best.
    10. You’ve settled into believing this is just how marriage is after years of sharing life with someone.
    11. You believe your best days are behind you.

    Do any of these hit home? 

    If you chose more than one it reveals you have work to do in your relationship. Our desire is to convince you that this doesn’t have to be your norm. You can have a marriage that is growing and changing for the better as each year passes.

    The start of making any change in your marriage is seeing the areas in need of change in the first place!

    Begin by talking about these 11 indicators together and pray for God to help you. He loves such prayers and is able to accomplish that which seems impossible to us. I pray this brings you hope.

    We’ll discuss some practical tips in our next post. Until then…

    “Don’t settle for mediocrity. Take a chance. Take a risk. Find that passion. Rekindle it. Fall in love all over again. It’s really worth it.” Brian Cranston

    Posted in Boredom, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Priorities, Troubled Marriage | Tagged , , ,

    Romantic Graphic for July

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    Marriage Markers to See and Follow

    Tom and I visited Sequoia National Park several years ago. We decided to hike a trail through the giant trees. We were encouraged to try a shorter trail requiring little experience. As we headed out we found one that said it would only take 2.5 hours to complete. Since it was already well past lunch, we thought this would be a safe hike for us.

    Assumptions are never good.

    We discovered the markers on this trail aren’t normal signs saying, “halfway mark”, “almost there” or “1 mile to go!” They were natural markers like a Sequoia tree known as “Fallen Giant”.  We saw several fallen trees so we assumed we had missed it. It had already been 3 hours since we started, so we figured we would soon emerge from the dense forest. (Did I mention that we had no cell signal? No one knew which trail we were on. We had no knife or tools, and it was standard daylight time, meaning the sun set close to 6:00pm.)

    Imagine our dilemma when we came to the now infamous, “Fallen Giant”. This meant we were only halfway on this loop that was supposed to take only 2.5 hours to complete! We only had a water bottle half full and one apple to sustain us. This would have been fine, IF the hike had been what we expected. But it wasn’t.

    I tell this story to emphasize the importance of leaving good trail markers. What seems a good marker to one may be completely missed by another.

    In our last post I shared…

    We are marking a similar trail of our own; a marriage trail. It is marked by trials and sacrifice, along with a willingness to keep our vows when the feelings wane.

    Think of our vows we use as markers along the trail of our hike together through this life. We remember and cling to them when needed:

    • For better or worse. Remember this when your spouse sins against you. This helps you remember how much you have been forgiven allowing you to forgive too.
    • For richer or poorer. When you find out your job is downsizing and you live paycheck to paycheck. Knowing your spouse is not going to bail on you brings a comfort that you won’t walk this path alone.
    • In sickness and in health. When you get a difficult diagnosis completely rocking your world. Cling to the fact that your spouse will be there to support, help and pray for you like no one else.
    • To love and to cherish. When you grow old together, you still have one another to love and cherish until the Lord calls one of you home.

    These markers help us as we set out on this hike for the first time. But it helps to have someone else who knows the way, who can tell you by experience that this trail is right for you.

    Each step forward you are proclaiming, “I still do!” And your children and grandchildren can follow your lead without fear. There will be fallen giants of trials and hardship along the way. Take comfort that they will tell the story of God’s faithfulness to you. This brings Him the glory He deserves! Don’t push these markers aside as mistakes. Leave them to proclaim what God has done in spite of the trials. This is your marriage trail marked by one trial after another. Make it one others want to follow.

    Yet, you might want to provide more than a half-filled water bottle and apple along the way.




    Posted in Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, The Gospel & Marriage, Wisdom in Marriage | Tagged , , ,