Happy Hour – Five Friday Favorites

Five Friday Favorites to Grow Your Marriage

We  haven’t shared a Happy Hour post in a long time. We thought since we’re all home now, we could use some encouragement for our marriages. Here is what many of our dear friends from the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association are writing.

Grab your favorite beverage and enjoy….Cheers to Us!

  1. The Forgiven Wife

2. One Flesh Marriage

3. Hot, Holy and Humorous

  • How Sex Can Help Us Cope – This post is from February, but it applies very much in our current pandemic. Thank you J.

4. The Generous Wife

5. The Generous Husband

  • Get Naked – This post is exactly what you might think. In this current crisis what can sooth the soul more than sexual intimacy with the lover of that soul? Be inspired!
Posted in Blog Love, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Five Friday Favorites, Growing Strong Marriages, Happy Hour, Sexual Intimacy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Living History – What Will Be Remembered?

I know we are all in the midst of biggest crisis we’ve ever faced in my lifetime–and I’m 60. It is unprecedented, which adds to the temptation to be anxious. In times like this it is good to pause and look up. Instead of focusing on what’s for dinner or if your symptoms are serious or just allergies, why not look up at the big picture?

As long as the earth has existed there have been challenges, diseases, wars and uncertainty. One thing that has always happened is that life goes on. We will recover from this pandemic. There will be Summer and Fall and Winter, unless the Lord returns. So how will we remember this crisis?

Have you thought that your children and grandchildren are living in days they will talk about for the rest of their lives? This pandemic will be studied in history classes 50 years from now. It is a history making event. This makes how we display our response to our children critical.

Will they see you both making the most of the time together, or worried and anxious? Will they remember quality time spent? Or will they wish they could escape for some much needed peace? Take some time and consider your honest answers to these questions.

I have learned that most often our response to difficulty is more important than surviving the difficulty itself. What has been your response so far?

Our daughter’s neighborhood is doing a fun thing to make this experience a memorable event for their children. Residents were invited to place teddy bears in the windows of their homes (see photo above) looking out at the street. As people were out taking a much needed walk, they were encouraged to “spot the bears” from the street, take a photo and send the total number of bears spotted to one email address. What a great way to add some fun the kids will remember.

Another neighborhood had neighbors write positive encouraging messages on the road and sidewalks using chalk, so neighbors could read them as they walk around the block.

How about setting up lawn chairs in your driveways and visiting with neighbors from your own property? Social distancing, but still interacting neighbor to neighbor.

If you don’t have children at home, this is a great opportunity to get some much needed projects done around the house: painting, organizing, spring cleaning and gardening. We don’t have to let the stress of COVID-19 penetrate our every waking thought. God is in control and we can trust Him.

Let’s be smart and make the most of the time. Remember the big picture and how this event will be remembered by our children and grandchildren–long after we’re gone. It matters more than we know.

“What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life – to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?” – George Eliot

Posted in Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Finding Joy, Keeping It Real | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Patiently Waiting And Watching

Spring is a time for pruning allowing new growth to come.

Photo by Marina Mazur on Unsplash

Spring. It’s the time when I brave my rose hedge (thorns) to prune it to half it’s size. It is always difficult to start because they look healthy, but they’re not. They need to be cut back to grow healthier shoots. I’m always amazed at how well they do after the cuts.

Pruning is necessary for new growth

We bought another plant a couple of years ago–a crepe myrtle. It also requires pruning. But I am not as familiar with this bush as I am my roses. So my cuts were a bit more trepid. I’ve seen others do it, but this didn’t help me make confident cuts.

I waited weeks for those first signs of new growth. Nothing. Did I kill it? Were my cuts harmful rather than helpful? I was sad to think I had killed it. Still I waited. Tom checked almost daily.

Finally, we were rewarded with that for which we’d hoped…new growth. Our little bush had survived it’s first hard pruning and I am relieved and thrilled!

Like my crepe myrtle we are all facing a hard pruning of sorts. And this is a first for many of us. We are wondering if we’ll make it. Will new growth appear? Will our favorite restaurants survive? Will the economy recover? Will my job still be there when the dust has settled?

My parents endured the Great Depression and WWII. They came to be known as The Greatest Generation, and I would agree. Everyone I know whose parents were of similar age as mine, said their parents didn’t talk about it. It was something they lived through and endured, but once it was over, it was over. Their willingness to submit to the pruning, and the new growth that came as a result of their sacrifice was worth it. We have lived on that new growth our entire lives. Now it is our turn to be pruned.

What will be said of us? Did we rise to the occasion and do the right thing? The brave thing? I pray it will be so. God in His wisdom is doing what only He can do. And because He is God, we can trust Him in the process.

I have found a refuge each evening at sunset. I go to our backyard and look to the sky. I watch as the stars come out one-by-one–the very ones that God created and knows by name. I give my burdens of the day to God and ask Him for help and wisdom. I pray for all my family who seem farther away than ever. I acknowledge my lack and His sufficiency. I worship Him for who He is and for the promises He’s given us. And I give Him thanks!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

And you know what I’ve discovered? God’s peace has wrapped itself around me. I feel this hedge of protection allowing me to rest when all the world is in turmoil. It is a peace that is without understanding. But God.

We have been pruned. Now we must patiently wait and watch for the new growth. It will surely come.

 

 

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Difficulty, Growing Strong Marriages, Prayer | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Will You Pray With Us?

Will you pray with us?

Today is Sunday. The day most of us are used to a very different routine–getting up and ready to go to our local church to fellowship with friends, worship God and hear the preached Word. But today most of us will gather our family in our living rooms to watch our local church service on Facebook Live. What a strange shift in our routine, but one I am freshly thanking God we have. If this had happened only ten years ago, this option would have been impossible. It’s healthy to look for the good in difficult situations, and this is very good!

Before the day gets underway, will you take a moment and pray with us? 

Dear Father,

You know all things from the beginning to the end, and we know that Your plans for us are good. But in the waiting, in the struggle, life can seem hard and circumstances difficult to understand, much less endure. We remember the words in Lamentations that say,

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

This is something we must do–call to mind the truth that Your steadfast love never ceases. It continues through famine, sickness and plagues. Your mercy never comes to an end–in fact it renews every morning. Regardless of the news of the day, or how far the spread of COVID-19 goes…

You are our faithful God, and we choose to praise You.

We don’t know what to do through this unprecedented pandemic, so our eyes look to You. As we wait, would you envelop our marriage, family and home with peace?

We ask that You set a guard at the door of our homes that prevents worry, fear and torment from entering in and causing turmoil.

Help us find resolve to long-standing conflict. Give us patience with our children who are home and unable to play with friends.

Provide for our needs financially and give us our daily bread.

May we be salt and light to our neighbors around us, and be generous with all who are in need that You bring our way.

We pray for those who are on the frontline of this battle. Give them endurance, wisdom and most of all health.

Help us, O Lord, to honor You not only with our lips, but with our whole heart. You are worthy of all praise. You are Lord over all including this virus, and we choose to trust You.

In Jesus’ Holy Name,

Amen

Let this song wash over your troubled soul today. It is our prayer for you. 

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, In Sickness, Keeping It Real, Music, Prayer, Seasons of Life, Worship | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

These are challenging times for all of us. How do we spend this time together?

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

You may be more aware of time now that our lives have slowed to a crawl. With schools closing, theme parks gone dark, workers being sent home, and sickness threatening our loved ones, time is loudly and slowly ticking by. Time used to fly. Now it seems to have landed and is screaming for our attention.

Can you relate?

What are we to do with all this time? There are only so many movies you can watch and too much screen time isn’t healthy for our kids or for us.

It may seem obvious to some, but in our normal fast-paced culture have we forgotten a basic of life? How to communicate face to face with those we love?

Our kids are used to being entertained, escorted from one activity to another, or steeped in team-related sports from the moment they awake until their heads hit the pillow at night. When they aren’t doing this, they are playing video games, texting or playing with friends or watching TV.

And us? We stay just as busy; packing lunches, doing laundry, cleaning house, yard work, helping with school homework. Not to mention our own work load outside of the home with our careers and church ministry. But what do we do now that we have all this time together?

If you are an empty-nester, your home may already seem eerily quiet. This social distancing has made the quiet even louder. You want to connect, but aren’t sure how to begin.

If your marriage is not in a great place, you may realize it now even more since there are no diversions to keep you distracted. You want to get the conversation started, but it seems awkward and is it really worth stirring it all up again?

If your kids avoid spending time with you, this has made the tension even more uncomfortable. You long for your family to enjoy being together during this time, but it all seems too far gone to redeem.

I have good news! God is in the relationship business. He knows how to restore what has been broken. Don’t lose heart. This may be the very time God has chosen to help you and your family grow and change. As long as you are breathing, there is hope!

For the Empty Nester:

  • Do something unexpected to surprise your spouse.
  • Be the one to initiate sex.
  • Go for a walk at sunset holding hands.
  • Spend time talking using our Date Night Questions (see top menu bar).
  • Have another couple over to play cards or a board game.
  • Put together a puzzle.

For the Struggling Couple:

  • Purpose to be an encourager. Look for the good in your spouse and celebrate it.
  • Reflect back on what attracted you to your spouse in the first place. Tell them!
  • Do what you did at first, if you’ve lost your first love.
  • Pray for your spouse and ask God to help you make the most of this time together.
  • Read Cherish, by Gary Thomas. If your spouse will read it with you, that’s even better.
  • Plan an in-home date night using our DRAB Dates as a springboard of ideas. (NOTE: DRAB stands for “Does Not Require Babysitter), because they’re all at home dates.

For the Family:

  • Get outside together as much as possible
  • Play hide and go seek or play Hide the Timer. (Take a kitchen timer, the kind the ticks loudly, and set it for 5 minutes. They have to find the timer before it goes off. The fun part of this game is they have to be quiet to listen for the timer.)
  • Play a group video game like Just Dance
  • Play 20 Questions. You start by thinking of something. They ask yes or no questions and try to figure out what you’re thinking.
  • Have a No Screen Time policy during meals together. Ask your kids questions about topics that interest them.

The clock is tick-tocking away. May we seize this opportunity to connect with those who mean the most to us. 

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Boredom, Christian Marriage, Difficulty | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

10 Ways To Avoid Cabin Fever

10 Ways To Avoid Cabin Fever

Photo by Per Lööv on Unsplash

Cabin fever is the term used for those who can’t leave their house. In our current crisis brought on by COVID-19, we must be smart and prepare. However, that doesn’t mean we have to forego pursuing our spouse. In fact, it is in times like these when we need to lean in and connect heart to heart. Who needs to go out to enjoy time together when you have all you need at home to provide a great memory.

Here are 10 Ways to make the most of cabin fever:

  1. Plan a dinner and a movie night. Pick a favorite movie or TV show you both enjoy. Plan a meal using the location of the movie as your inspiration. Examples: Blue Bloods (New York-style pizza), Forest Gump (Shrimp Recipes), Julie and Julia (Anything French)
  2. Backyard Picnic under the stars. After you have put the kids to bed, move outdoors by candlelight, soft music and your favorite beverage with dessert.
  3. Indoor Putt-Putt course – This takes a bit of planning, but could be so much fun. Make it even more so by incorporating some of our Romantic Putt-Putt rules to your course.
  4. Hide and Go Seek – This one is the Mall Version, but you can alter it to fit your home/yard/neighborhood.
  5. Make Your Own Pizza – have fun in the kitchen making pizza. Try kneading the dough together – very sensual.
  6. Step back in time and watch old TV shows like Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, or Hawaii Five O. If possible buy store bought Frozen dinners and eat on trays while watching your favorite. Or if you like to cook, make your own version of a TV dinner. It includes an entree, starch, veggie and dessert.
  7. Using You Tube learn how to ballroom, salsa or square dance. Whatever you want, it’s available on You Tube.
  8. Set up a tent in your bedroom. If you’re able set it on your bed. Add lots of pillows and a flashlight. Tell each other scary stories you remember as kids. Don’t forget the s’mores.
  9. Walk Down Memory Lane – This is a great time to watch the old home videos you never seem to do. Or pull out old photo albums. Any diversion from the current state-of-affairs is good therapy.
  10. Pray and Worship together. How often we neglect the basics in the busyness of life. Now is the time to seize these moments to redirect our focus from fear to faith and hope.

It is our prayer that you will all stay at peace as we ride out this storm together. God will not leave us on our own to figure this out. He has promised to walk with us through the difficulty. Coronovirus is no exception.

Posted in Boredom, Christian Marriage, Creative Dates, D.R.A.B., Date Night Ideas, Romance in Marriage | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Do You Believe The Truth Or Lies In Your Marriage?

What lies have you believed about yourself that your spouse say aren't true?

I was praying about this post not sure exactly what needed to be said. That’s when the above rhyme came to me. I had to read it, write it, think about it and then I realized the truth in its simple meter.

I came into our marriage with many life experiences both good and bad. The thing is I didn’t know the difference. I had formed opinions of myself that were not true. The way I discovered this was hearing how Tom saw me. My first reaction was to discount his thoughts as I clung to the lies I had always believed.

The same was true for him. He immediately felt comfortable with me on our first date. Things that made him self-conscious on other dates didn’t happen with us. Why? I have no logical answer other than we were meant to be together.

I don’t believe in soul mates, per se. At least not in the way many define them. I know God has called me to be with Tom, but he isn’t the one who fulfills me or completes me. Only God can do that for me. And it’s the same with him.

However, God uses marriage in a marvelous way to take two sinners and make them more like Christ as they learn to lay their lives down for each other. I used to think only about me and my own interests. Now Tom and his interests have just as much priority in my heart and mind. It has taken years to get him to that place in my heart. Not because I didn’t love him, but because I had to unpack all the lies about myself that was taking up so much space.

Do you realize the compliments your spouse says about you are true to them? Whether or not you believe what they say, it is still true. 

How do you respond when you spouse compliments your appearance, your accomplishments or your character?

Do you disbelieve them? If you do, can I encourage you to reconsider why? Who told you the opposite of what your spouse is saying? Was it you or someone who was supposed to love you? Remember you have an enemy that wants nothing more than to keep you caught in this trap.

Once you are married the only opinion that matters is what your spouse thinks of you.

If you struggle to believe the compliments they give you, please take this matter to heart. Pushing it away only keeps the lies active. It’s time to push the lies away and trust that your spouse loves you and wouldn’t lie to you about such things. Ask God to help you see yourself as your spouse sees you.

Beautiful!

Smart!

Kind!

Important!

One of my favorite scenes from the movie, The Help, shows a little girl that she must believe the truth of who she is, not what she hears or believes inside her…

Of course, if your spouse belittles you or puts you down on a regular basis, you need help. Do not delay. A spouse should never be the source of the lies we embrace. This is not normal and it is not healthy. Seek help, even if you are the only one willing to go. Your mind and heart need the truth.

Take a few minutes and think of the times your spouse has said something kind or complimentary to you. Do you believe them or brush those positive thoughts aside? May I nudge you to ask God what He thinks of you? You may be surprised to hear that He sees you perfect in light of Christ in you.

Maybe it’s time to surrender the lies and begin walking in the truth of who your spouse and God says you are. 

This is how the Good News of the Gospel invades our reality and makes all the difference. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and our marriages are created to model how Christ sees us and loves us.

Emotional Intimacy Prompt: Ask your spouse, in what ways do I disregard the things you say about me? What can I do to reverse this pattern? 

 

 

 

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Emotional, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Today’s Moments Make Tomorrow’s Memories

Today's moments make tomorrow's memories

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

It happens every Spring. Sitting outside for dinner on our back porch I hear the crickets chirping their greeting to us. It immediately reminds me of going to my grandmother’s home when I was a child.

They lived on 12 acres in Clermont, FL, with a grove of orange and grapefruit trees surrounding their home. The crickets loved living there, at least it seemed so based on how loud they sang.

Now whenever I hear them I’m reminded of those days and how much I loved my grandmother. This made me wonder what things remind my spouse of times we have shared together?

We just returned from our anniversary trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We had lots of time to talk and enjoy being together. When we travel we will often ask each other what are the things we are doing today that we will remember fondly in the years to come? It helps us be mindful of our choices and make the most of the time.

In regard to practical everyday ways to bless my husband, I know Tom loves the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. Actually he loves the smell of anything baking, cooking, sautéing or grilling. He is a real foodie and since I love to cook, it’s a win-win.

His Mom was full-blooded Sicilian and had the best Italian sauce recipe. For years I tried to get her to share it with me. She would always smile and say, “I don’t measure. I just make it.”

Ways to bless my husband through cooking family traditions

Fortunately, I don’t give up easily. I watched her one day and wrote down all the ingredients she used as well as guessed at the amounts. After lots of practice I finally got it. She passed away three years ago, and we still miss her.

I’m happy to report that her sauce is continuing to make my husband’s sense of smell smile, if that’s possible. I also secured his German grandmother’s Mustard Pickle and Chili Sauce recipes. It’s important to discover the things that will make your spouse’s day, and then do all you can to make them smile. For my husband it’s food. For your spouse it could be any number of things. If you don’t know, ask. Pay attention to their desires, often mentioned under their breath while thinking aloud. This is a small way to celebrate who your spouse is and what helps them enjoy life.

Here is a poem I wrote years ago titled, The Cricket’s Will. It came to me not surprisingly, in the Spring.

The sky is filled with singing

Every moment of the day.

Birds of every kind partake,

For God has planned it this way.

He calls the birds to praise Him.

They are compelled to obey.

They never hold back a note,

But faithfully give away.

Oh!  That we were like the birds

To sing whate’er the weather;

Responding to our Lord’s call,

Our praise daily unfettered.

As the sun begins to fade

A sadness draws nearer still;

Who will fill the air with praise?

Ah! The crickets will!

Posted in Celebrations, Cherishing, Christian Marriage, In-Laws, Romantic Ideas, Travel, Vacations | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Do You Practice This In Your Marriage?

Do You Practice This In Your Marriage?

My word for this year is Contentment. Imagine my excitement when I discovered, The Contentment Journal, by Rachel Cruze. It’s a 90 day devotional where she gives prompts everyday to help you discover how you’re doing in three areas:

  1. Gratefulness
  2. Humility
  3. Contentment.

She says,

“Before we can be content, we must be humble. And before we can master humility, we have to be grateful. After all, there’s no room for comparison and discontentment in a heart filled with gratitude.”

I’m realizing how much this is helping our marriage. Spending 30 days focusing on gratitude opened up a new appreciation for Tom and the things he does for me without thought. He’s not thoughtless, he’s formed a habit of being intentional to care for me in practical ways. If I’m not paying attention this could easily be taken for granted.

In what ways does your spouse care for you on a regular basis? Has it become unnoticed because they have done it for so long? Have you developed an expectation in this regard?

If so, can I encourage you to take a 30 day gratitude challenge? Make it a point at the end of each day to thank them for something they have done, said or planned to bless you. It can be as small as doing a mundane task daily, or as big as finishing a huge project you’ve asked them to do for months. Whatever it is, the point is to notice.

We all want to be noticed and appreciated. But no one more than by our spouse.

Today is our 41st wedding anniversary, and we have not arrived. We are still learning and growing in this area of gratefulness. It’s especially crucial now when so many in this season settle into their comfortable lives and hit auto-pilot. Please don’t do this! Make this a priority everyday as long as you both shall live. After all, gratefulness glorifies God and lifts our eyes above what troubles us. It makes us value what is invaluable.

May your days be filled with gratefulness to God for the spouse with whom you share life and love.

Happy Anniversary Tom! I thank God for the miracle of YOU. I love our story and I love us.

41 years ago today.

Posted in Christian Marriage, Growing Strong Marriages | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

And Our Winner Is…

The Winner – Romantic Breakfast for His Valentine

Congratulations go to Adam. You did an outstanding job romancing your valentine!

We love making this holiday special and never want to take for granted the blessing it is to have someone with whom to share it. This is why we enjoy celebrating all the holidays. You’ll find ideas for them all under our Only Husbands and Only Wives tab at the top of our page.

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching. Why not make plans to surprise your spouse? What’s at the end of that rainbow anyway?

Have a romantic weekend!

Posted in Date Night Ideas, Romancing Your Valentine 2020 | Tagged | 1 Comment

Vintage Post – Stirring The Embersi

Avoid the drift in marriage by flirting with your spouse. Here are some ways to get started.

Photo by Yuriy Bogdanov on Unsplash

(Originally posted on June 22, 2009)

Flirting can be a sinful way for singles to draw attention to themselves with the opposite sex.  We are warned repeatedly in scripture not to practice such things!

However, if you’re married – have at it!

It’s perfectly permissible to flirt regularly with the one who loves you “til death do us part”.  If you have never practiced this before you may feel awkward or even shy about it, but don’t let this stop you.  In fact, if this is the case, then you have waited too long to make the most of this God-ordained relationship.  The Song of Solomon is full of examples that we’re to model in wooing our spouse in love.

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.”    Song of Solomon 2:14

Here are some quick ideas to help you practice:

  • Come up with a secret code to communicate across the room your intentions for later
  • Have a private pet name for each other and keep it that way
  • Send your spouse a steamy e-mail
  • French kiss your spouse when they least expect it
  • Whisper sweet somethings in their ear during a meeting
  • Kiss them all over while they’re on the phone
  • Mouth the words “I love you” without speaking.
  • Use your senses – click here for lots of ways to flirt his senses (these ideas can be used for either wife to husband or vice versa)

May we encourage you to start flirting with your husband/wife today?  It is the best and most effective way to keep those embers of romance burning in your hearts for one another, not to mention its great fun!

Posted in Boredom, Growing Strong Marriages, Romance in Marriage | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Now Is The Time

Our Valentine Dinner

Valentine’s Day has passed, so the time has come to share what you did to enter our Romance Your Valentine Contest.

First I must confess that this year was difficult. You see our anniversary is 10 days after Valentine’s Day, so I plan that day and Tom plans our anniversary. Normally this is a lot of fun for me. But this year has been oh so difficult. As you know our granddaughter has been fighting PANDAS and it takes much of our time, prayers and emotional energy. When it was time to think of romancing Tom, my mind was blank. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what to do much less how to pull it off.

Finally, I asked God to help me and He gave me the idea to have a night of remembering. I made the meal we had on our first date (Veal Oscar); We played Romantic Scrabble; I shared a scrapbook I made for Tom over 20 years ago, and more that I choose not to share. 😉

Not all plans are easy to come by, but all are worth the effort. We may not feel like doing it because of outside stressors, but this is when we choose to do it over what we feel or don’t feel. Our Valentine’s evening was one of my favorite ever.

Now it’s your turn to tell us about yours.

Send us an email to theromanticvineyard@gmail.com explaining how you romanced your Valentine. We will choose the best story, solely at our discretion, announcing the winner on Friday, February 21st. That gives you 4 days to submit your entry.

Bonus points if…

  • You share our contest on any social media outlet (let us know in your entry letter)
  • You send a romantic photo of you both on Valentine’s Day
  • You visit our Wives or Husbands Only page and mention one idea you really love

Entries will be judged on creativity, romantic element, and style of writing.

Now for the Prize:

$25 gift card to your favorite restaurant and/or coffee shop

A signed copy of our book,  Cherishing Us–365 Tips for a Healthy Marriage

Send your entries now! ❤️

Posted in Christian Marriage, Contests, Romancing Your Valentine 2020 | Tagged | 3 Comments

The Valentine’s Day Attitude Of A Healthy Marriage

On Valentine's Day try changing your expectations and see how much more you enjoy the day.

Today is Valentine’s Day. Rather than talk about the romance of it all, Gary Thomas shares how to adjust our attitude so we’re not disappointed when our spouse doesn’t do or say something we were hoping they would. He calls it having a Monk’s Marriage attitude…

Isn’t it true that many marital arguments result from disappointment with our spouses? We want them to be something or do something or catch something and they aren’t or they don’t, and we feel sorry for ourselves. We really do want them to love us like God loves us. We expect them to just know when we’ve had a hard day; to know that we’re lying when we say, “Don’t worry. It’s no big deal. I don’t need anything special”; to know that we need them to be strong or soft, to yield or to hold firm, just because that’s what we need them to do. If they truly loved us, they would know, right?

Be honest: Don’t you think or feel that way sometimes?

And you do recognize that’s an impossible burden for a human spouse right?

But what if I sought a “monk’s marriage”? What if I decided that I would depend on God alone, expecting nothing from my spouse but depending entirely on God for all my needs, including emotional and relational needs?

Then instead of resenting what my spouse doesn’t do, I’ll be overwhelmed (in a good way) by every little thing she does do. I’ll be filled with gratitude instead of resentment.

Isn’t the opposite exactly what happens in marriage? When you’re dating someone and he does something nice for you, you think: How wonderful! If you marry him and he doesn’t reach a certain threshold of gift giving, you think: This is all he got me? Seriously?

That’s why I want a “monk’s marriage,” the benefits of being married to a godly woman, but with a monk’s attitude, expecting nothing, depending on God, and so being genuinely grateful for whatever my spouse chooses to bless me with.

* Do you see your attitude as filled with gratitude, or filled with resentment? How would having a “monk’s marriage” improve your relationship with your spouse?

As this day unfolds let’s set aside our expectations and enjoy our spouse for who they are, not what they do.

_________________

Don’t forget about our Romance Your Valentine Contest! For all the info click here!

Posted in Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Holidays, Valentine's Day | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Physical Intimacy: One Word That Can Change Your Sex Life

Is it possible that one word can hold the power to change your sex life? We believe so. This word not only can change your sex life for the better, but how you see your marriage as a whole. What is this magic word?

Actually it’s not magic at all. It comes from God’s Word.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Hebrews 13:4 ESV

Honor. It is a word used to show the highest respect and regard. In relation to marriage specifically it means to give our marriage the highest respect and regard it above all other relationships. The question to ask is do we?

Do we honor our spouse by doing what we said we would do? Or have we grown comfortable and apathetic towards each other?

For some couples the topic of sexual intimacy is a hot button that once pushed ignites all kinds of conflict. Over time they just don’t go there anymore. Intimacy occurs only when one finally gives in to the request.

It grieves us to hear it. The one part of marriage that is supposed to provide the deepest level of connection cause the biggest chasm.

We understand. It takes a willingness to be known and a desire to understand each other. It also requires an intentional commitment to get to there. And if one spouse is carrying secret hurts, shame or guilt it complicates matters further. Add to it the inability to communicate why there is a struggle in the first place and you’ve set the stage for failure.

We encourage you to examine your own heart, instead of judging your spouse. See if you are honoring your spouse in the way you think of them, pray for them and encourage them.

Posted in Christian Marriage | 1 Comment

Decluttering Discovery

Memories made as husband and wife are worth remembering.

As we’ve mentioned we are decluttering our house. Every closet, every drawer, every cabinet is being organized and it feels amazing. If clutter were measured in pounds I think we’ve lost at least 100 pounds. Yes!

I must tell you, we made a discovery in our pantry that brought a smile to our faces.

Years ago, actually when we first got married, I collected match books from any restaurant or hotel we visited. I would put the date inside the book and what we were celebrating as a way to document the event. Imagine my delight when I found my collection buried in the back of our pantry behind some hardly used appliances?

There is the matchbook from the Don Cesar Hotel. We stayed there in June of 1979 to celebrate the one year anniversary of our first date. There’s one from Maison et Jardin, the French restaurant that Tom took me to on that first date. So many memories appropriately remembered with matches–used to ignite a fire.

“Keep the fire lit in your marriage, and your life will be filled with warmth.” – Fawn Weaver

This was a inexpensive way to commemorate our celebrations.

Have you ever considered doing something similar? Unfortunately, matchbooks are a thing of the past. But you could collect business cards or take photos. Just be sure to bring them and keep them in a scrapbook with the date and occasion.

Everyday you are writing your story. How much of it is forgotten unless we take the time to record it in some way.

Emotional Intimacy Prompt: Ask your spouse, “What is one thing we have done in the past that still brings you joy when you think of it?” “What is another way we can create joy-filled memories for the future?”

Date Night Idea: What did you do on your first date? Why not recreate it in some way? If your first date wasn’t that memorable, pick one that was.

Father,

Thank you for the years of memories You’ve given us. We pray that our marriage has brought you much joy. Would you help us make wise decisions each day that reveal the priority marriage is above all else? It is for You and Your glory that we ask these things.

In Jesus’ precious name,

Amen

——-

Don’t forget about our Romance Your Valentine Contest! For all the info click here!

Posted in Christian Marriage, Emotional, Growing Strong Marriages, Intimacy, Romance in Marriage, Romantic Ideas | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Physical Intimacy – Let No One Put Asunder

We are one flesh. It takes intentionality on both spouses to make a marriage succeed.

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

We recently shared a video on our Facebook page that stirred an interesting conversation. We wanted to continue it here.

First, click over to our Facebook page and scroll down to the video titled, If Your Relationship Has Changed. 

While the main message of the video is to continue learning to love the person your spouse has become through the various seasons of marriage, there is an underlying message we don’t necessarily agree with. One of our readers posted an excellent comment and she has given us permission to share it with you.

“…this video left me feeling sad, not hopeful. It, somehow, felt incomplete. I know that it is a video and can only cover so much in a short amount of time, but it seemed to me to stop short of truly giving both partners in a relationship the opportunity to express their frustrations honestly and then work TOGETHER to make the relationship work for the both of them in a more satisfactory manner. I know that wasn’t the point of this particular video. To me, a more honest, encouraging, hopeful scenario would go a bit further and have the husband share with his wife how he is feeling, as well, and then have them each ask the other how they might help one another alleviate some of their stress in order to make the relationship more meaningful and fulfilling for the both of them. I guess I felt as if this video gave the impression that how a man is feeling or what he is needing isn’t as valid or important as how the wife is feeling or what she is doing. And, after being married for 27 years, I have learned the importance of both partners listening to one another and then seeking ways in which to make things work better…for both of them.” – Sheri Bybee Mitchell

Sheri shares on her Facebook page that it takes “Couple Intentionality” to make a marriage work. One sided marriages will work for a while, but sooner or later the strong partner will grow weary. If the other spouse isn’t willing to move with intentionality toward their spouse the marriage will either die, or grow more distant.

Take a moment and think about your spouse’s current struggles. Since this is our series on Physical Intimacy, how have these stressors effected your sex life? What are you doing to help your spouse through the trouble?

When it comes to marital discord I can only change myself. If I place all the blame on my husband, then there is no hope because I can’t change him.

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” – 1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV (emphasis added)

God’s Word says our husbands can be won over without us nagging or complaining, if we see to it that we are honoring the Lord with our words and deeds. It’s for Him that we seek to make our marriage the best it can be.

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” – 1 Peter 3:7 ESV (emphasis added)

Husbands, it is your responsibility to have an understanding heart toward your wife. If she is stressed with all the responsibilities of work, home and family, to the point where your sexual intimacy is suffering, ask yourself,”What can I do to help alleviate some of the stress?”

If you are spending more time looking back to what used to be than looking forward to what can be, may I encourage you to take this seriously? Ignoring the tension won’t make it go away. Tell your spouse you want to talk and be honest in a loving way. Express your desire to see the marriage be all God intended it to be. You may need to ask help from a pastor or counselor. Your marriage is worth it!

Coasting is always going downhill. Maybe it’s time to put on the brakes and get out of the car to talk. Once you’ve listened and heard each other’s perspective, only then can you have the ability to turn the car around. I can tell you, the view at the top of the hill is worth the effort.

Indicators you may be coasting in your physical intimacy:

  • You make excuses as to why you don’t want to make love.
  • You no longer ask because you don’t want to be rejected again.
  • Your spouse rolls their eyes at you often.
  • You can’t remember the last time you made love.
  • There is an unexplainable distance between us.
  • My wife is too tired for me.
  • My husband is too busy for me.
  • My wife loves the children more than me. They are her world!
  • My husband loves his job/hobbies more than me. It’s all he talks about.

If you can relate to any of these indicators, please know you need help. Our sexual connection is the only thing that differentiates the marriage relationship from all others. We can have great conversation with friends, but no one but our spouse can meet this God-given desire in us.

We are one flesh. Let no one put us asunder. 

 

 

Posted in Biblical Encouragement, Christian Marriage, Intimacy, Physical | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

To Do Or Not Do, That’s The Question

Romance Your Valentine Contest

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

This Saturday is February 1st. It’s hard to believe we are already one month in to the New Year. And we are fast approaching one of my favorite holidays–Valentine’s Day. I love this day because our tradition is for me to plan our day. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am the creative one in our marriage. I love to think of fresh, new ways to show my love to Tom. I also enjoy helping others do the same for their spouse.

The question to answer first is, are you willing to make this Valentine’s Day special, or would you rather not bother? I get it if this isn’t your thing. But what if it’s your spouse’s thing and they have continually deferred to your wishes in this regard. Why not really surprise them and do something unexpected?

We have revamped our Husbands Only and Wives Only romantic ideas for Valentine’s Day. I encourage you to click over and see if there isn’t something you could pull off this year.

As an incentive we are holding a contest–Romance Your Valentine contest

After Valentine’s Day send us an email (theromanticvineyard@gmail.com) explaining how you Romanced your Valentine. We will choose the best story, solely at our discretion,  announcing the winner on Friday, February 21st. That gives you a week to submit your entry.

Bonus points if…

  • You share our contest on any social media outlet (let us know in your entry letter)
  • You send a romantic photo of you both on Valentine’s Day
  • You visit our Wives or Husbands Only page and mention one idea you really love

Entries will be judged on creativity, romantic element, and style of writing.

Now for the Prize:

$25 gift card to your favorite restaurant and/or coffee shop

A signed copy of our book,  Cherishing Us–365 Tips for a Healthy Marriage

We can’t wait to see what you come up with this Valentine’s Day. Now you’ve got me thinking…

Posted in Cherishing, Contests, Holidays, romancing your spouse, Romancing Your Valentine 2020, Romantic Ideas, Valentine's Day | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Five Friday Favorites – Savory Soup Recipes From Our Kitchen To Yours

Five Soup Recipes to warm your soul

Tom and I enjoy cooking. We are often in the kitchen making something for us both to enjoy. We also love having friends over with whom to share our culinary creations. It’s a fun hobby.

As we’ve shared before, we have been busy decluttering our home. This week our focus has been on the kitchen. It’s amazing how many gadgets and appliances we have. It’s obvious this is something we enjoy. But I’m proud that we’ve been able to purge the things we don’t use and reorganize in more convenient places the things we do. It makes me want to reward our efforts by cooking something delicious!

It’s soup season and nothing warms the soul more than a delicious soup on a cold, winter day.

My daughter and I started a food blog a while ago, and it is where we have posted many of our family’s favorite recipes, that is until Pinterest came along. But we still use our old blog as a reference.

Today I’m sharing with you five of our favorite soup recipes from our Food Brag Blog. Make plans to cook them soon. They will fill your home with savory aromas and draw your family to the table. Make the most of these precious days.

It’s true — The days are long, but the years are short.

First

Ribollita - Italian Vegetable Soup recipe

Ribollita – Italian Vegetable Soup

Second

Lemon Chicken Orzo soup recipe

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Third

Hearty Bean and Barley soup recipe

Hearty Bean and Barley Soup

Fourth

Miso Healing Bowl soup recipe

Miso Healing Bowl Soup

Fifth

Best Ever Chicken Noodle Soup recipe

Best Ever Chicken Noodle Soup

“Soup is a lot like family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.” – Marge Kennedy

Date Night Prompt: While enjoying your soup, work on a jigsaw puzzle together while listening to your favorite music.

 

Posted in Date Night Ideas, Dinner Dates, Five Friday Favorites, Winter Date Ideas | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Twisted Words

Twisted Words often cause unnecessary arguments in marriage.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Have you ever said something to your spouse and the reaction they gave was unexpected? You realize that they didn’t hear what you said in the way you meant them too. A miscommunication is hanging in the air and you have a choice to make. EITHER snap back and let the conflict escalate, OR take a deep breath and ask them what they heard you say. We call this “Twisted Words”.

Some conflicts can’t be avoided and must be discussed at length in order to discover what caused the rift in your relationship. What I’ve described above, however, can be avoided. But how?

First of all, it takes a resolve to not follow your instincts. 

Instinct means an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior. If this happens regularly in your home, are you willing to commit to change your pattern of behavior? Maybe you’re thinking your spouse does this all the time and won’t change. But doesn’t someone have to go first? Why not be the mature one and take the steps needed for change? Purpose to pay attention the next time this happens and not follow your instincts. Instead, pray for God to help you with step two.

Secondly, it takes patience.

I heard someone recently say, “God doesn’t give you patience, He teaches it.” People often joke that they’ll never ask God to give them patience because of what usually follows — an opportunity to practice it. But don’t we want to grow in our interactions with our spouse? What if we were to stay the same year after year? Sadly, we don’t stay the same. We are either moving forward or drifting backward. The choice lies at our disposal. We need patience in order to help each other stop doing an old, sinful practice and begin doing it with kindness and love.

Finally, it takes humility.

Humility is the opposite of pride, and pride is what keeps us from admitting wrongs. If your spouse reacts to something you’ve said, humble yourself and apologize when needed.  Or patiently ask what they heard you say. It helps to talk about doing this before your next “Twisted Word” opportunity arises. This way you can help each other grow and change.

A good way to see how you’re doing in the area of humility is to consider when was the last time you sincerely apologized to your spouse for something you said or did that hurt them? Asking forgiveness is an often neglected key in letting go of an offense. Don’t skip the opportunity to humble yourself in this way. Why? Because God promises to give grace to the humble…

“Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for…

“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”  – 1 Peter 5:5

We must remember that marriages are being attacked from all sides. We have an enemy that wants nothing more than to see our marriage fail. He devises schemes in order to cause conflicts between us, and can even twist the words we say as they come out of our mouth. Your spouse isn’t your enemy. You are on the same team. Make an effort to get past the instinct of miscommunication for the good of your marriage and the glory of God. He will help you. All we must do is humbly ask.

Date Night Prompt: To help you use words to draw closer together, play a game of Romantic Scrabble. These words will help you focus on the good you’ve built together in your years as husband and wife. Instead of focusing on the words that would twist and pull you apart.

Dear Father,

Thank you for the way you lead us into deeper understanding in our marriage. Would You help us change our behavior?  We need your help to patiently practice understanding and believing the best of our spouse. We don’t want to let twisted words have an influence in our relationship.

We know You hear us when we pray and that You desire us to grow closer together and to You. We trust that You will do this for Your great glory.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

 

Posted in Christian Marriage, communication, Conflict | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Do You Connect In This Way?

How well do you understand your spouse's job? Their job matters and here's why.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

How well do you understand what your spouse does at their job day in and day out?

Today is Monday, the start of another work week. Your spouse most likely spends the majority of the work week doing their job well. And you do the same. The question is do you talk about this significant part of your day together to the point where you reach understanding?

If you are a stay-at-home parent, you most likely share your the ups and downs of your day without thought. Because you both have a vested interest in the results of your time and energy.

If you or your spouse or both of you work outside of the home, letting each other see in to your world is valuable. Here’s why…

  1. It helps you connect on an intellectual level.
  2. It helps you appreciate what your spouse is good at doing.
  3. It helps your spouse be able to download the struggles of a demanding job with someone who cares.
  4. It helps you both draw closer to each other in an understanding way.
  5. You know when your spouse is struggling and how to pray for them specifically.
  6. It helps to have someone else  to carry the burden.
  7. This is intimacy on an intellectual level and acts as a buffer from seeking this support from someone else who cares. like a co-worker of the opposite sex.
  8. It expresses care for your spouse in a way they may not expect.

We all need to know that what we do matters. Intellectual intimacy is a great way to show our spouse that we really do care.

Intellectual Intimacy Prompt: We encourage you to make it habit to ask your spouse about their day? And once you do, make sure you listen well. If you don’t understand something ask them to explain it in a way you can.

Date Night Idea: This one isn’t really a date idea, but rather a surprise you can do for your spouse. Go to their place of employment right before they get off for the day. Put their favorite cold drink, snack and a note in their car telling them to enjoy their drive home. Set the radio to their favorite music as well.

Father,

Thank you of the way our spouse is willing to work everyday for the good of our family. I pray for them this week that you will help them increase in their productivity. Give them favor at work and let their hard work be recognized. Help me to recognize their hard work as well. I may not understand everything they do, but give me the desire to learn and grow in this way so that I can be the encourager they need this week.

I ask these things for the good of our marriage, in Jesus’ name,

Amen!

Posted in Christian Marriage, Encouraging Your Spouse, Growing Strong Marriages, Intellectual, Intimacy | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment