Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Relationships’

Expert Forum: Married Couple Date Nights

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Think the pre-engagement courtship you shared with your soon-to-be wife would be the last serious effort you’d ever put into dating? Think again. Taking care of your relationship post-wedding is equally essential. It can mean the difference between a strong, healthy marriage and one that divides a couple. To break down the topic, we’ve brought in some of our favorite bloggers to provide their advice on dating after “I do”.

wedding bloggers share date night ideas for married couples

With life’s many distractions, spending quality time with your spouse can easily go by the wayside. How important is it for couples to maintain a regular date night? What are some fun date night ideas?

Emma Arendoski (Owner, EmmalineBride)
Twitter: @EmmalineBride

Life can have many distractions, but finding quality time with your spouse should be a priority.  I recently read a tweet from Busy Philipps (@Busyphilipps25) that said, “You never feel closer to your spouse than when you’re binge watching a TV show together.”  It’s funny because it’s true: Some overlooked activities (cooking together in the kitchen, running errands, and yes, ‘binge-watching’ TV shows) can keep you bonded during the week.  On the weekend, make time for a coffee date, dress up and go out to dinner, or plan to get away for the weekend.  Spend time in conversation and skip the chatter about work, errands and home projects.  Some of the best date ideas aren’t expensive either – a rented movie and popcorn date at home, a trip to the cider mill or a walk at a local park are just a few ideas. Date nights shouldn’t fly out the window when you’re married. Make time to keep the romance alive.

Kara Horner (Editor-in-Chief, GroomsAdvice)
Twitter: @TMR_Kara

Regularly scheduling quality time together is essential in any marriage. Otherwise, life (work commitments, hectic family schedules, home maintenance, financial stress, etc.) quickly tends to get in the way of what you’d rather be doing together — like relaxing on the beach of a remote island, cocktail in hand. So it’s important to schedule a regular date night on a weekly or monthly basis (whatever works for you) where just the two of you can hang out, like you did when you were dating. A date night can be as simple and inexpensive as dinner and a movie or TV marathon at home or out, or trying something new or fun together, such as touring a local vineyard or brewery, taking a cooking class, hitting a concert, or going to your favorite team’s next game.

Steve Cooper (Co-Founder, Hitched Media)
Twitter: @hitchedmedia

Regular date nights are extremely important because they keep couples connected. Research has shown that couples who participate in new and exciting activities together report significantly greater marital satisfaction. Part of this is because new experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding the body with the same chemicals that are released during the early romantic phase of a relationship. Just hanging out together, however, won’t have the same effect. You have to do new and exciting things, which is why regular dates are so important.

Before embarking on your adventure, remember that dates should be fun! When coming up with a great date night idea, the simplest source of inspiration can be found in the season and your surroundings. The summer months have county fairs, fall brings about Octoberfest, and when winter arrives, the Christmas lights go up. Build the date around these activities. If you’re going to check out holiday lights, for example, pack a thermos of something hot and maybe find a romantic high-point overlooking the entire area after you’ve seen everything at street level. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make things perfect; just do something you’ll both enjoy.

Anne Chertoff (Wedding Media Expert, AnneChertoff.com)
Twitter: @annechertoff

It’s extremely important for couples to keep the spark alive well after the honeymoon, especially once the kids arrive!  While we’ve tried a weekly date night, our schedules don’t always allow for it, so we try to plan weekends away without the kids a few times a year. If you’re not parents, some fun date night ideas might be a  fancy dinner and a show (once or twice a year it’s fun to get dressed up), a movie night, an ice cream sundae night (one of my favorites at an old-fashioned ice cream parlor), comedy shows, taking in a game, or some random trivia night at a bar. Whatever you do for date night, make it something you don’t always do so it’s something exciting to try and look forward to.

Chris Easter (Co-Founder, The Man Registry)
Twitter: @chriseaster

There’s no doubt you’ll spend more time with your spouse after you’re married. However, I personally don’t consider evenings spent cleaning the house, organizing budgets and grocery shopping as much fun as a night out on the town. This is why maintaining regular date nights is one thing that my wife and I have made a priority in our marriage. We’ve made it a goal to try at least one new restaurant every month. The same concept would easily work for museums, parks or movies. It’s also always refreshing to power off for these date nights and commit to not using your phone, tablet or apps for the evening. It sounds tough, but I know you can do it!

Connect with post author Chris Easter on Google+, Pinterest and Facebook.

Whats your favorite way to share a date night with your significant other? Low key or out on the town? Share your response below!

The View From My Second (Marriage) Story

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Today we’re honored to have the cake pimp himself, Earl Anderson (aka Mr. Frostings), contributing a guest post to the blog. His topic: the trials and tribulations of building a “second story.” Take it away, Earl.

Mr. Frostings Earl Anderson

“There are eight million stories in the naked city, this is one of them.” I always loved that line from Naked City, a TV show I used to watch in reruns as a kid.

This story is about marriage. My second one to be exact, as such, its my Second Story.

I am certainly not the only one on their second story. According to Marriage101.org, 41% of first marriages end in divorce (note, I didn’t say “fail”). The bad news is that it gets worse from there; 60% of second marriages and 71% of third marriages also end in divorce. We love repeat customers, but truth is, I would much rather get the call for anniversary cakes.

Oblivious to those figures, at twenty-five and madly in love, I planned a forever with Number One. I am convinced that all superheroes are twenty-five because you are never smarter or more invincible than you are at twenty-five. I was flushed with the genius of my proposal, my amazing taste, and the surety of lifelong wedded bliss. I knew that this relationship was Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Elvis and ‘cilla or, at the very least, John and Yoko.  It was too. For the first sixteen years. But, it ended.

Moving on.

Marriage is an addicting lifestyle. Withdrawal from that life is painful and it hurts everyone differently. For some, waking up alone in the morning is the hardest part. For me, it was turning the light off and going to sleep alone. Embarrassed and defensive, my shields were up at full power. I was clueless to what exactly I was missing or where I really hurt. To say that I was a lost soul in my own life is a vast understatement.

Emotionally crippled and morally ambivalent, I set out to be the star of my own story, which I called; “Confessions of a Serial Dater: Sleeping in the wet spot”. I spent almost ten years dating, acting like the third date was a carcinogen and thinking that if I didn’t hurry, I would somehow run out of women in the greater Los Angeles area.

Mr and Mrs. Frostings

Then, suddenly, out of nowhere appeared a woman that was not going to be trifled with or taken for granted. Maybe I was ready or maybe I was just open. It’s possible that the therapy helped and that my Zen practice allowed me to discover what it was that really mattered to me. I think that she just reminded me that life is built for two and mine was now ready for us. I loved her before I recognized it or could defend myself from it. I proposed, she set a date, and off we went.

When you first marry, you learn that she isn’t always date ready, and can be just as big a mess as you are, at times. You may have visualized a clean house, clean laundry and hot meals. Trouble comes when you realize she was thinking the same thing.  You learn to compromise and share responsibilities. You assign jobs and set boundaries. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. You’re happy to learn how to be a good partner.  Long gone are the ideas of “wife duties” and “husband duties”

You enter the Second Story differently. You have already learned where the land mines are right? Call when you’re running late, do your share of the dishes without being asked, and never, ever, make fun of her Mother or admire how nice her sister looks. If you’re ready for this second relationship, you’re also ready to do more than lawn care and auto maintenance, you can do the laundry too.

We also benefit from being prepared for the reality of living with someone. Awkward moments are gone! Coming into this relationship we have accepted that our Angel is likely to fart in bed, morning breath no longer scares us, and a little pillow drool is acceptable. You are convinced that you know how to be a partner, and damn it, this time you’re going to get it right!!

It was quite shocking when I realized that my prior knowledge was just a starting point. Thinking I could use an old map to get to a new destination was just wrong. This is more than just a new partner, more than a new relationship. This is a new marriage. It needed a new map.

Marriage is inherently the sum of its parts. It’s details, details. Some things mean nothing, but some things mean everything. There’s danger in learning that a kiss goodbye before I leave the house is everything, if that’s all I ever learn about this new relationship. If I want this marriage to work, then I better keep trying and I better keep learning.  It’s a moving target.

I taught my sons that the key to having good friends is to be a good friend. Trust and loyalty is earned by being trusting and loyal. There is no place for selfishness in a marriage. The minute I ask myself “Where’s mine”, she has the right to point down the street and help me along my way.

I’m learning a lot from my second marriage. Most importantly, it’s really not a Second Story after all. It’s my second chance at a First Story together.

Earl Leslie Fantasy Frosting

Earl Anderson, AKA “Mr Frostings” is a life long Californian living a short 40 miles from where he was born. Along with his duties as Cake Pimp and Head cheerleader for Fantasy Frostings, Earl is the Purchasing Manager for a Packaging Supply manufacture in Fontana, CA. His self described “Brady Bunch” family includes his two sons, two daughters, two grandchildren, Henry the dog and two cats that have adopted the entire bunch.

Finding Harmony Between Marriage and Technology

Monday, April 4th, 2011
marriage technology

Relationships and technology have a long, interesting history

By Steve Cooper, Hitched Media

The relationship of technology and marriage has a long history. I’m sure at some point during the Stone Age a woman was frustrated because her mate wouldn’t step away from the fire and come to bed. More recently, televisions became places of congregation for couples and families. Today, our unions are intertwined with smartphones, tablets, social networks and more. The current tech du jour is Facebook. The question we have to ask is, are these tools good for marriages or bad? The answer: potentially both.

I’m sure you’ve heard the statistic that Facebook is responsible for 20 percent of divorces in the United States. That’s false! Husband and wife team, Jason and Kelli Krafsky, co-authors of “Facebook and Your Marriage” have written a great article debunking this statistic. In short, not only is the number wrong, but the number doesn’t even represent Facebook as a causal factor in break-ups. That’s not to say that Facebook can’t become a tool that will inflict damage on your marriage.

Marlo Gottfurcht, author of “Love, Marriage…and Facebook” filled her book with stories told to her of salacious online encounters that did damage to marriages. Many start off innocently enough, but then a chat window pops up from an old flame and a few poor decisions later and the chat history is getting erased in an attempt to cover up the virtual fling.

“If you’re on Facebook and hiding what you’re doing, then that’s definitely a red flag,” says Gottfurcht.

That’s why the Krafskys (www.socialmediacouple.com) established a few personal rules to keep their marriage safe—one of them is not to use the chat feature.

Don’t let your Facebook get you into trouble. Set some ground rules with your wife.

“Everybody is about two-to-three clicks away from making a bad decision on Facebook, especially when you’ve got somebody that you had a past emotional or physical bond with,” says Jason.

The other big rule the Krafskys follow is to not “friend” exes.

“We learned early on that it’s not a positive thing for our relationship,” says Jason. “And not that we were threatened by that personally; the question was, ‘How is this going to improve our marriage?’”

New technologies present a game without rules. Each couple needs to openly discuss what those rules should be, weighting the potential dangers against the benefits. The Krafskys have done this in all aspects of their life. For example, neither will ride in a car (a more established technology) alone with a person of the opposite sex.

Of course, technology persists because it generally does more good than harm. There are many apps and tools that help organize the daily routines of families. In terms of Facebook, the Krafskys use it to keep in touch when one of them is out of town. The couple has also created a private group for their family members to share pictures of their kids.

In her book, Gottfurcht tells a story of a wife who gets revved up in an online chat then takes that sexual energy to the bedroom with her husband. Depending on the couple, this exercise may be dancing a little too close to the danger zone, but for others it might provide the spark to rekindle their boring sex life.

“There’s one story in the book where a husband and wife have Facebook sex when he’s out of town,” says Gottfurcht, “so if you find you’re using it with others, maybe you need to stop and think about spicing up your own marriage and use it with your spouse.”

Without proper communication between a husband and wife, technology can create a minefield out of a playground. Think of the damage that can be done in the following situations: the backseat of a car turns into a snogging nook, a sultry picture turns a text message to a sext, and video chatting on your smartphone makes things much more intimate and personal.

Now imagine doing these things with your spouse! When you have good dialogue and clear boundaries on how your tech tools are to be used, they can be very enriching to your marriage.

Steve Cooper is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Hitched, a service and lifestyle online magazine for married couples. Steve hosts a weekly podcast with experts covering all topics on married life, from sex and money to in-laws and date nights. You can follow Steve on Google+Twitter or become a fan of Hitched on Facebook.

How do you and your wife/significant other handle Facebook? Do you have certain ground rules like not friending exes? Or is it a free-for-all? Tell us your story in the comments section below.

The Case for Married Couples to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Monday, January 31st, 2011
couple drinking red wine on valentine's day

Are you and your fiancee/spouse celebrating Valentine’s Day this year?

By Steve Cooper, Hitched Media

I’ll be the first to admit that not long ago, I would have been quick to declare that Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a “Hallmark” holiday. You know, “It’s just a reason for greeting card companies to push more product.” While they certainly capitalize on the holiday, I had an epiphany that brought me on board with the celebration.

Even before the light bulb went off above my head, I still celebrated Valentine’s Day and even enjoyed the holiday, although a certain piece of me felt it was contrived. Why should the calendar dictate when I show my sweetheart affection? Restaurants certainly don’t make me feel warm and fuzzy, raising their prices every year for this one night of candle-lit romance.

But don’t you see? That’s the problem. Not the prices, but that this happens just once a year. (Okay, so the prices can be excessive sometimes.) I was talking with one of our Hitched experts a few years ago and something in our conversation struck me. I don’t remember the topic of the conversation, but within our discussion it dawned on me that outside of our weddings and anniversaries, most of us don’t seek out to honor our relationships. Heck, a common complaint is that men don’t even remember anniversaries.

I actually think it’s good that we have a system in this country that commercializes love and romance. It’s nice to think of all the dollars that are spent to promote such a good cause. Can commercials and advertisements promoting love really be that damaging? Of course they’re self-serving, but as we zip past our husbands and wives throughout the days, months and years, isn’t it nice to know that there are forces out there working to remind us to slow down and take our spouses out for a night of romance?

A new survey by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation estimates that $15.7 billion will be spent on Valentine’s Day this year. Spouses and significant others are projected to spend an average of $68.98 on gifts and dates. Research has shown that married couples who engage in new experiences with each other are likely to be happier over the long term. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to spend money for a new experience, but the holiday is a terrific opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and reconnect.

If you still aren’t convinced that Valentine’s Day is a good thing, I have a few final questions for you. When was the last time you went on a date with your spouse? When was the last time you dedicated one night just to romance? When was the last time you shared something with your spouse as a token of your appreciation, love and respect? If your answer is more than 30 days for any of these, you’re overdue.

Embrace this day of flowers and cupids. Put in a little extra effort to show your husband or wife that you don’t take them for granted. Let them know that you’re still hot for them and that you’re up to the challenge to woo them—even if they’re expecting it. Be nostalgic. Be creative. Be daring. Be sexy. Be romantic. Be your spouse’s valentine!

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Steve Cooper is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Hitched, a service and lifestyle online magazine for married couples. Steve hosts a weekly podcast with experts covering all topics on married life, from sex and money to in-laws and date nights. You can follow Steve on Google+, Twitter or become a fan of Hitched on Facebook.

What are you and your fiancee/spouse planning for Valentine’s Day? Are you celebrating? If not, why? Let us know in the comments section below.

Why She’d Rather Marry a Roomba

Monday, January 24th, 2011
woman touching roomba

The Roomba… batterized for her pleasure.

As soon as you got engaged, you immediately thought to yourself, “I win!” And win you did, champ. You managed to beat out all those other guys. All of the men who secretly (or not so secretly) doted on your woman had officially missed their chance. Go you.

But in the haze of your engagement high, you completely ignored the possibility that she could still find comfort in the arms of a home appliance. Panini presses, espresso makers, the Magic Bullet — these machines that we interact with on a daily basis don’t share our principles. As far as they’re concerned, ring or no ring, the woman of the house is up for grabs. And that Roomba’s been getting a bit handsy.

Rather than hosting an impulsive yard sale, maybe take this opportunity to take some clues from the competition. What does that damn Roomba have that you don’t?

He works independently.

The Roomba needs no to-do list. She’ll be in the office, and he’ll be working the kitchen. She’ll be running an errand, and he’ll be spot cleaning that trouble area beneath the bathroom sink. You don’t have that kind of initiative. You need to be told which shoes need picking up; which clothes need laundering; and which dishes most urgently need washing. Take a clue from your low-riding adversary and start brushing your teeth before she asks you to do so.

He expresses his feelings.

You’re worse than an infant. This is one of those things women talk about in private with other women. You get in these weird moods and have these illogical reactions and she’s supposed to — what? Read your mind? Feed, rock, burp and change you until you’re satisfied? Instead, take a hint from the Roomba and adopt some troubleshooting indicators. The Roomba beeps and blinks and pulses and even speaks in a soothing, feminine voice. When’s the last time you spoke in a soothing, feminine voice?

He has replaceable parts.

You’re still wearing t-shirts from high school.

She can turn him off.

The Roomba can be powered down. He can be scheduled and docked and charged. And if she ever leaves him on for too long, he dies. It’s empowerment at its finest. You, on the other hand, do not come with an OFF switch. God knows she’s looked for it. You’re constantly going, constantly moving, constantly ON. Even in sleep mode, you’re still going … still breathing heavily, still snoring uncontrollably, still mumbling incoherently about a large dog that stole your change. So aside from testing out those Breathe Right strips that she’s been bugging you about, try to give her a few minutes of uninterrupted peace every once in a while. And find some closure with that big dog, for chrissake.

He comes with a lifetime guarantee.

The Roomba’s guarantee came with purchase in a crisp plastic sleeve. Your guarantee was scribbled on the back of a hotel cocktail napkin hours after the rehearsal dinner, almost legible despite all of the shot glass smudges. He vowed to satisfy for eternity; you vowed to not pass gas in public. His oath came with a gold seal; yours rhymed (occasionally). Just remember that a guarantee is only as good as the man that it came with … and while you may not come with a seal, you plan to listen and communicate and change and age to perfection. Yeah. Take that, stupid robot.

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the groom says

Brian Leahy is founder of The Groom Says — a safe haven for grooms who need a hand with wedding planning and brides who need a hand with their grooms. Check out the blog for some laughs and inspiration, and be sure to follow The Groom Says on Twitter and Google+.

Do you take initiative in your relationship? What are some areas where you could improve yourself? Open up and share with us in the comments section below.

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