4 resolutions for your marriage in 2016

With the start of a new year, naturally there is an opportunity to think about what changes you want to make and where you want to focus your energy in the coming days and weeks. Whether you are a seasoned couple, having spent many years together or a new couple still awash in the glow of infatuation setting intention for the year ahead will be a boon to your relationship. The work you do now will set the tone for the days ahead.

Here are 4 resolutions for your marriage to tackle in 2016.

resolutions for your marriage
Photo credit: Joao Paulo de Vasconcelos

Put your marriage on the front burner.

Too often intimate relationships, especially your marriage end up on the back burner, if it’s on the stove at all! Jobs, kids, hobbies, spiritual lives, personal free time, tend to come before “working on your marriage.” They shouldn’t! The health of your marriage is a driving factor in how successful you are at all the other ventures you tackle. How satisfying your personal relationships are tends to impact the rest of your life including your physical and mental health. While certainly not the only factor, when your emotional house is in order you free up space and energy to go after your goals and dreams with the support of your partner. Make sure your relationship gets its fair share of your time and energy by making a plan. Beyond the old “regular date night” save all, create a real concrete idea of ways you are going to make your marriage a priority. Try to avoid fuzzy goals like, “spend more time together” or “have more sex.” Instead try, spend 1 hour every evening together or kiss each other every day. Continue reading 4 resolutions for your marriage in 2016

Want to avoid ending up in couples counseling? Say something nice!

avoid couples counseling
Whisper sweet somethings to your spouse.

You know how the saying goes… If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. In a marriage you may not always have nice things to say and while it is important to voice concerns and bring up uncomfortable issues how to talk about difficult topics is the subject of another post. The rest of the time, how positive you are and how much warmth you share between you has a big impact on the quality of your relationship. While it may be an oversimplification to say that you can avoid couples counseling by being nice, you can have a major impact on the day to day climate of your marriage by keeping the ratio or positive to negative interactions to 10:1. When you espouse an attitude of positivity and gratitude you lift those around you into that mindset as well. Positive people are more attractive, tend to be healthier and happier. Continue reading Want to avoid ending up in couples counseling? Say something nice!

10 fall date ideas to give your relationship a boost!

fall date ideas
Photo credit: Jim Bauer

It’s finally fall! The summer heat has come and gone (mostly) and it’s time to pull out the sweaters and rakes and take in all the delights of fall.  Cooler weather and shorter days means more time spent indoors and hopefully more time with your partner.  If summer, in all it’s glory was busy and expansive, fall signals a time to slow down a bit and settle into a different routine.  If you have kids, they are ideally settling into a new school year and the jitters and adjustments have softened. Time to look inward and focus on your relationship.

Here are 10 fall date ideas to put the focus on your relationship this season.

1. Take advantage of your city’s cultural offerings. Museums, Botanic Gardens, Theaters and Restaurants often have special events this time of year. Pumpkin festivals, corn mazes, Dia De Los Muertos celebrations, Boo at the Zoo events and so much more. These events are often kid and family focused, they can also be romantic and help you feel connected to the season.

2. Bake (or buy) your favorite fall treat and meet in a special spot.  If pumpkin spice latte’s are your thing, grab one for your partner and surprise them at work. Or better yet, grab the ingredients spend Saturday morning at home experimenting with a new recipe. Continue reading 10 fall date ideas to give your relationship a boost!

Low sex drive? 4 myths and some new thinking about this very common problem.

low sex drive
Desire discrepancies (low sex drive) is the most common complaint women have about their sex lives.

Do you and your partner experience desire discrepancies?  That is do you often find one partner in the mood for sex and the other not? Do you have a low sex drive?  Desire discrepancies are one of the most common complaints related to intimacy in relationships. A sexless marriage is something many couples face. Is it possible that shifting the way we think about sex and desire would help more couples overcome this often painful problem. In her new book, Come As You Are, Emily Nagoski, PhD writes beautifully and compassionately about this idea and so much more. Here are 4 myths she busts in the wonderfully researched book about sex and desire.

Continue reading Low sex drive? 4 myths and some new thinking about this very common problem.

How to communicate with your spouse: On a date

We are going to be running a short series here on the Power of Two blog over the next few weeks.  Let’s call it a mini-course on how to communicate with your spouse.  Essentially it boils down to this, communication in marriage is essential and so many folks struggle with how to do it! When you stop communicating with a spouse or partner it’s a signal that something may be wrong, but what?  Why did you stop talking?  Or maybe you talk to each other all day, and at the same time never really share anything deeper than the surface anymore.  Remember when you were first dating, falling in love or getting married, did it ever feel like there wasn’t enough time in the day to talk to each other about life, dreams, ideas, art, music, books? Getting back to that level of conversation may take time, just like anything else though you just have to start somewhere.  Here an idea of where to start…

Ask good questions.

Sounds simple right? Learning to talk to each other again is a process and takes some time and practice. Taking the time to learn new skills is invaluable for any relationship. One of the core skills groups we teach Power of Two is talking and listening.  Talking about thoughts, feelings, ideas, wishes without falling into the crossover trap and listening to learn.  While these skills require effort and time to learn, there are simple steps you can take to start to turn things around today.

We are kicking off this series in honor of Valentine’s day. The theme of this post is how to communicate with your spouse, on a date. If you are one of the lucky ones who managed to secure a babysitter and get reservations at a romantic restaurant you may want to spend a little time thinking about how to intentionally reconnect to partner while you have the time carved out. Even if you plan to stay home and do something more low key, you can invite a deeper experience with a little thought ahead of time. Continue reading How to communicate with your spouse: On a date

Want to have more sex during stressful times? Here are 5 things to try.

A lot of good habits can suffer during stressful times.  Some people overeat, workout routines fall off the map, sleep is often affected. Sex is another piece of the relationship puzzle that gets put on the back burner when stress hits the fan.  Here are a few tips for how to avoid the sexless marriage trap and keep that lovin’ feeling alive even when stress, including holiday stress takes a hold on your life and relationship…

1. Sleep Naked.  Forego the holiday themed, fuzzy footy Pj’s and go to bed in your birthday suit.  Couples who sleep naked have more sex.  Sleeping naked removes one small barrier to getting busy.  In addition, physical touch and close contact increase oxytocin, the love hormone. Climbing into the sheets naked will encourage you to get closer to warm up on cold winter nights. Who knows you might get lucky!

have more sex
Slip into the sheets in your birthday suit.

3. Keep your bedroom a sanctuary.  When it comes to your bedroom, don’t dismiss the power of setting the mood. Too often the clutter of stressful times builds up in your bedroom. Laundry piling up, work to do, stacks of bills, papers or books waiting to be read, shopping bags full of gifts to be wrapped all contribute to the mental clutter aka intimacy killer.  Take some time to de-clutter your bedroom, take the tv out (or at least cover it up or put in in a cabinet) Letting the world in via television and devices can squeeze out special moments to connect with your spouse. Take the stacks of paper out, go through them if you can, if you can’t just put them somewhere else!  The last and probably most difficult task in the bedroom is to GET RID OF THE SMARTPHONE!! A recent article cited the statistic that “70 percent of women in a recent survey said smartphones were interfering in their romantic relationship.”  Now certainly you don’t need to get rid of it all together, just leave it out of the bedroom!

have more sex
Don’t let clutter be a barrier to a roll in the hay.

Continue reading Want to have more sex during stressful times? Here are 5 things to try.

Communication in marriage is key for sex after kids.

Communication in marriage is a really important part of keeping your sex life active and fulfilling.  In a recent survey put together by YourTango and Trojan 1,055 parents were asked about their sex life post kids. Respondents answered 35 questions about their sex life. The info graphic below sums up the results quite well. While some of the results were to be expected, parents are tired and have much less time than they did prior to having children. What was surprising is that 40% of respondents said their communication was better post kids. So many couples struggle with what ends up as a sexless marriage. Avoiding this outcome requires learning what role communication in marriage play in your post kids sex life?  Continue reading Communication in marriage is key for sex after kids.

Using social media to help my marriage.

In an effort to help my marriage I recently deleted Facebook off my smart phone. It’s not that I have any problem with social media, it’s just the way I was engaging with it. Using my (limited) free time to scroll through endless pages of updates, photos and mundane details of my friends lives was mostly just a distraction.  Occasionally interesting, more often though just kind of boring and ripe for unhealthy comparison.  The biggest problem was that I was ignoring who was sitting next to me. I noticed this unfortunate trend during one point in particular, the first quiet moment after the kids went to sleep and my husband and I sat down on the sofa for what felt like the first time in 12 hours.  Out of sheer habit we would both grab our smart phones or the tablet and drift off into social media land. While checking in on everyone else’s day I missed an opportunity to check in with the person who mattered to me the most, my husband. We all know the relationship pitfalls of social media, getting back in touch with an EX, making new connections outside your relationship, seemingly harmless flirting. All of these activities can spell disaster for your relationship, but can you use social media for relationship good? Here are some ways I use social media to help my marriage and you can too, because after all we live in a highly social time and there is no reason to ignore the positives that can come from the many ways we have to stay connected. So here are a few ideas:

1) Have a couple or family Facebook page that you share just between your immediate loved ones.  You can use it to share pictures, funny stories or encouraging words.  Plan a vacation and use your page to share ideas.  Keep each other posted on what you are up to.  The trick with this one is to keep it totally private! Continue reading Using social media to help my marriage.

10 ways to rekindle love in your relationship

Time flies, days are busy, filled with work, school, play, family, community and so much more.  How much time is left for your marriage?  The answer to this question will certainly vary as lives change, families grow or other hurdles come along.  Remembering some (seriously) simple ideas to rekindle love in your marriage will shift the trend in the right direction!

1. Declare your love!

2. Agree with something your spouse has said.

3. Pitch in and help with something you don’t usually do in the household. Continue reading 10 ways to rekindle love in your relationship

How to Pick the Most Romantic Flowers for Anniversaries and More

Flowers are the quintessential romantic gift. Do you know how to pick the most romantic flowers for your anniversary? For a surprise gesture? For a birthday? In this guest post florist Lisa Bernshaw explains the traditional meaning behind flowers to help you pick the best bunch.

Giving flowers has been one of the most romantic and heartfelt gestures now for thousands of years. Just as you might give flowers to a loved one today so too did the Ancient Romans or Egyptians before you. Of course flowers have stood the test of time and proven so popular mostly because of their beauty – but there is more to it than that. Continue reading How to Pick the Most Romantic Flowers for Anniversaries and More