Top 10 March Posts and Products

Christian marriage blog: Top 10 Posts It’s Top 10 Tuesday, and today I thought I’d post the top trending things on this site from March–both the top posts and the top products!

Today I’m going to start with the top 5 posts that were published in March, and then the top 5 older posts (the big ones from this blog). If you read one of these posts and like it, I’d so appreciate you sharing them on Facebook or Pinterest! They’re good ones, and I’d love for even more people to see them.

Top 5 Posts from March

February was the biggest month I had ever had here on To Love, Honor and Vacuum–until March came along. I had almost three quarters of a million people on this blog last month! And here’s what they were reading:

Top 10 Effects of Porn on Your Marriage and Sex Life1. Top 10 Effects of Porn on Your Marriage and Sex Life. I’m so glad this got a lot of traction, because I’m totally PASSIONATE about this post. I want more people to realize that Porn is Not Harmless! I’ve got a great new graphic up to share at the bottom of the post, so head on over and pin it!

2. Screwtape Writes About an Exhausted Mom. Thanks to Kelsey from Organizing Life with Littles for this awesome guest post, warning us to keep our eyes open for attacks.

3. Top 10 Ways to Initiate Sex. Yeah, this one was kinda fun!

4. Sexual Options Beyond Intercourse. Great guest post from Julie from Intimacy in Marriage. Thank you!

5. Marriage in Africa vs. Marriage in North America. Thanks to Ngina for this great look at her native Kenya vs. her new home in America. Some awesome insights we can all learn from!

Top 5 Posts from Earlier in the Blog

Often the same posts tend to be my biggest traffic generators, though this month we have a Valentine’s Day addition. If you haven’t read them, do click through. These are the posts I’m most well-known for!

7 Thoughts That Will Change Your Marriage1. Why I Didn’t Rebel. My 19-year-old shares why she thinks she didn’t rebel. She’s not claiming that if you do these things your kids are guaranteed NOT to rebel; she’s trying to dispel the myth that all teens WILL rebel. What she wrote brought tears to my eyes.

2. The 50 Best Bible Verses to Memorize. Make it a habit to learn one verse a week for a year.

3. 7 Thoughts That Will Change Your Marriage. I just signed a contract with Waterbrook for a new book based on this blog post! It should be out September 2015.

4. 16 Ways to Flirt with Your Husband. Choose 1-2 to start doing today!

5. Why Doesn’t My Husband Want to Make Love? It’s one of the most common searches that lands people here at this blog.

So there you go–my top 10 posts. My Bible verses post has ALWAYS been my top post–until February when Why I Didn’t Rebel beat it. And it beat it again!

And I do so appreciate it when you all share stuff. The only way I get known better is when people choose to share my posts, so I do want to say thank you, especially after this great month. It’s very humbling, and it’s so neat to see what God is doing–especially with my daughters’ words.

Now I want to share with you another Top 10:

The Top 10 Products Purchased at My Store

31 Days to Great Sex1. 31 Days to Great Sex (ebook edition) It’s such a fun one to work through with your husband! I’ve sold over 10,000 copies now.

2. 50 Best Bible Verses to Memorize Printables (available in both ESV and NKJV). Here’s the list of the best Bible Verses to memorize that the cards are based on.

3. 50 Best Bible Verses to Memorize Printed Out and Mailed

4. Deck of Dares–want to spice up your marriage? Here’s a really fun way!

5. How Big is Your Umbrella. When you’re going through rough times, it’s my short book of the things you yell at God when life is tough, and what He whispers back. Based on a weekend retreat that I often give. You can also get it in ebook format!

6. 31 Days to Great Sex (paperback)

7. The Sex Savvy Wife ebook. Written by J from Hot, Holy and Humorous, it’s everything you ever wanted to know about sex to make it work great!

8. The Talk(s). Want to keep a great relationship with your kids so that they make good decisions about the opposite sex? Here’s an awesome book that helps you do just that!

9. Crafting an Effective Signature Talk. Did you know that I have a whole line of products to help Christian speakers grow their ministry? Here’s my most popular download on how to create a great talk.

10. The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. I don’t sell a lot of these because quite frankly it’s cheaper to buy them on Amazon when the postage isn’t as much (I have to mail from Canada). But some people do like autographed copies! :)

So there you go! If you haven’t stopped by my store in a while, go check it out! I’ve got lots there to help you build your marriage–and your speaking ministry.

My Washington Speaking Tour!

It is generally a good idea that, if you are about to speak for three nights straight, you DON’T fall UP stairs on a ferry and get a huge gash on the bridge of your nose which threatens to swell and bruise badly.

I’ll have to keep that in mind for next time, since obviously I did not heed this warning last week!

I’ve been visiting family in British Columbia for a few days before beginning my 3-night speaking tour in Washington state. And on the ferry over from Vancouver Island I bashed my nose open.

Here’s me in the hotel holding ice on it to make sure it didn’t swell up!

photo(1)

But my nose behaved and did not swell, and with some creative makeup you could barely see it last night! Here’s my daughter and me at my book table at the Life Center in Tacoma:

SheilaKatie Tacoma

I’ve had quite the week getting here. Aside from the nose gashing experience, I also had a big mishap with the shipping of my books. I had to get some across the border, and filling out government customs forms gives me hives. I just clam up at the thought that I’m going to do something wrong–and last time I filled out the forms I did. Where it said “Net Cost”, I calculated the average net cost of all the books and entered it there. Then I got a phone call from FedEx’s customs broker. Apparently under Net Cost, you’re supposed to write either “Yes” or “No”. Who knew?

Anyway, I shipped my books with a bit of a cushion so that if I messed up the paperwork again they’d have time to get a hold of me and still deliver the boxes to Tacoma. But then on Wednesday night, two days before they were supposed to be in Seattle, we got a call that they’d been at the border for a week stuck in customs because I put the wrong currency in one box. They hadn’t called me until now.

I was really upset, but I had it out with God and was truly at peace at losing out on the $600 in shipping, and knew the books wouldn’t make it now. But I prayed that God would work a miracle.

And sure enough, after getting passed back and forth to multiple people at FedEx, all of whom said it wasn’t their problem, I talked to a supervisor who went to bat for me, and they overnighted the boxes and they were waiting for us! So I’m trying to figure out a good gift to send the FedEx woman in the Toronto office who really helped me. A gift certificate for a restaurant? I don’t know. But it’s not often you find someone who will go out on a limb for you like that.

Anyway, I just needed the encouragement this week, and maybe God just wanted to show me He could still work miracles. My nose didn’t swell (despite profuse bleeding and a lot of pain), and the books got there, and the talk was so much fun! 500 women in Tacoma, lots of laughs, and a great Q&A period, too. My daughter even figured out how to set up my new backdrop:

GirlTalk Banner

Which is great, because she has to set it up two more times! I’m in Yakima tonight and Lake Forest Park tomorrow. And it’s going to be fun!

Right now I’m sitting in a McDonald’s (yay for free wifi!) before we head over to the church. Awesome drive through the mountains today. We stopped at a lookout and took some pictures; this doesn’t do it justice, but it was lovely:

DSC_0139

So we’re all ready to go for two more nights!

As always, if you’d like me to come deliver my Girl Talk–straight talk on intimacy and marriage–at your church, just email my booking agent and he’ll get a package out to you.

And if you have any great ideas of what to send the FedEx woman who rescued me, let me know!

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

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Top 10 February Posts

Christian marriage blog: Top 10 Posts It’s Top 10 Tuesday, and today I thought I’d list the top 10 posts from February, to make sure you didn’t miss any good ones!

I like to think of To Love, Honor and Vacuum as a Christian marriage blog–where I share marriage and parenting advice from a Christian perspective. And I’m always thrilled when a post takes off and gets tons of attention, because I do want some Christian advice to make it into the mainstream.

Today I’m going to start with the top 5 posts that were published in February, and then the top 5 posts that were published before February. If you read one of these posts and like it, I’d so appreciate you sharing them on Facebook or Pinterest! They’re good ones, and I’d love for even more people to see them.

Top 5 Posts from February

February was the biggest month I’ve ever had here on To Love, Honor and Vacuum–and it was largely due to my daughters! (Thanks, Becca and Katie). My top two posts of the month were ones that they wrote. It was so neat to see their faces on my sidebar this weekend! And here they are:

Trending Posts with Girls1. Why I Didn’t Rebel. My 19-year-old shares why she thinks she didn’t rebel. She’s not claiming that if you do these things your kids are guaranteed NOT to rebel; she’s trying to dispel the myth that all teens WILL rebel. What she wrote brought tears to my eyes.

2. Why I’m Not Dating in High School. My 16-year-old shared a video on why she’s chosen not to date right now. Keep sharing it–especially with any youth pastors you know!

3. Top 10 Ways to Discipline without Spanking. I really liked this one–and I’m glad you all liked it, too!

4. 5 Ways to Let Him Know you Enjoy Sex. Thanks to J from Hot, Holy and Humorous for this guest post!

5. Top 10 Cheap Date Nights for Parents of Young Kids. 5 Date Night Ideas out, and 5 Date Night Ideas in. Thanks to Leigh Ann from Intentional by Grace for this guest post, too!

Top 5 Posts from Earlier in the Blog

Often the same posts tend to be my biggest traffic generators, though this month we have a Valentine’s Day addition. If you haven’t read them, do click through. These are the posts I’m most well-known for!

Valentine's Day Gifts for Your Husband1. Valentine’s Day Gifts for Your Husband. Pin it for next year!

2. The 50 Best Bible Verses to Memorize. Make it a habit to learn one verse a week for a year.

3. 16 Ways to Flirt with Your Husband. Choose 1-2 to start doing today!

4. Why Doesn’t My Husband Want to Make Love? It’s one of the most common searches that lands people here at this blog.

5. 50 Best Marriage Quotations of 2011. With great quotes from all kinds of marriage bloggers!

So there you go–my top 10 posts. This was the first month ever where I had not one but TWO posts which beat out my Bible verses post. My Bible verses post is ALWAYS my top post, but this month Why I Didn’t Rebel and Valentine’s Day Gifts beat it. Neat to see stuff getting shared!

And I do so appreciate it when you all share stuff. The only way I get known better is when people choose to share my posts, so I do want to say thank you, especially after this great month. It’s very humbling, and it’s so neat to see what God is doing–especially with my daughters’ words.

Why Do Teenagers Rebel? Thoughts from a 19-Year-Old Who Didn’t

Why Do Teenagers Rebel? A 19-year-old explains how it doesn't HAVE to happen!Why do teenagers rebel? Is it automatic? And can you do things that prevent teens from rebelling? I asked my 19-year-old to help us answer that today!

“All kids will rebel, and my job as a parent is to be there to help catch them when they fall.”

I’ve heard Christian parents say that to me time and time again–strong Christian parents, too. But the Holy Spirit does not have an age limit. The Holy Spirit is with ALL Christians, young or old. And so if we can expect ourselves to act appropriately, we can certainly expect our teenagers to as well.

I’m a big believer in this philosophy, and I’ve written about these two different approaches to parenting before. This week, I thought I’d let other people speak about how to raise kids to make good decisions. We started on Monday about how to raise kids who won’t date too young, and then on Tuesday my 16-year-old chimed in telling us why she’s not dating in high school.

Today I’ve invited my 19-year-old to share her thoughts on why teenagers rebel. I said to her, “can you just write something explaining why you DIDN’T rebel?” She sent me this. It makes me tear up to read it.

Hello. My name is Rebecca Gregoire, and I was the perfect teenager.

Obviously I’m saying that as a joke, but by most standards, I truly was pretty perfect. I never drank, never smoked, never partied, never dated, never even swore. (Honestly. I didn’t swear until I was 18.)  I may have been moody, but I always had a good job, and was extremely involved in church and volunteered in childcare and youth ministries. I didn’t rebel at all–I walked the straight and narrow all through high school, and am continuing to do so now that I’m living on my own.

I’m not saying all this to try and make myself look great–I’m saying it to make a point. I’m saying it to destroy a myth that has been hovering over Christian circles for way too long.

Teenagers do not have to rebel.

I am living, breathing proof of that statement. And so are the three girls I live with, and my best friends at our university IVCF group. We didn’t rebel.

Before I continue, let me tell you something else about myself.

I am not demure in any sense of the word. I don’t like listening to authority, and I often get frustrated when I’m told what to do, or how to do it. I like to question everything. I’m naturally extremely proud, a challenger of authority, and extremely stubborn.

Why am I telling you this? To prove that I’m not “naturally predispositioned to submit”. I’m actually the complete opposite.

Whether or not teenagers rebel isn’t contingent on their natural personality, and kids aren’t “guaranteed” to rebel. Obviously teenagers aren’t guaranteed to NOT rebel, either, but there are things you can do that make it less likely.

My family had two children who were complete opposites, and neither of us had a rebellion stage. So it has to be something about the family, not our natural dispositions.

So why do teenagers rebel? And why do some teenagers never rebel? I’ve tried to pinpoint what kinds of things my parents did that helped my sister and me not rebel (though, of course, there are never guarantees that a teen won’t rebel), and here’s what I’ve come up with:

5 Reasons I Didn’t Rebel as a Teenager

My parents instilled in me a sense of family honour

Often teenagers feel distant from their families, like they’re part of it by blood, but that’s it. In my family it was never like that. My mom and dad would make decisions on their own, of course, but they always talked everything over with my sister and me. Even things that we weren’t directly impacted by–we’d discuss everything over the dinner table.

My family is the kind of family where everyone is involved–it’s a team experience. A result of this is that I received a huge sense of family pride, dignity, and honour.

Family honour has been lost in our culture. We are so focused on ourselves, and have become extremely selfish. And I think a lot of that is that parents put their children’s wants over the family’s needs. In our family, Katie and I never went without. But we didn’t get everything we wanted–I wanted an X-Box when all my friends were getting one, but because that would cut out of major family time my parents said no. A small example, I know, but it shows the worldview my family had. No matter what, family comes first.

When your mindset shifts from “me” to “we”, your behaviours and your actions aren’t just going to affect you–you begin to see how what you do affects other people. What I do when I’m in my free time reflects on my family, whether good or bad. And for me, that was a huge incentive to be responsible and make my parents proud.

Dayspring House Full of People I Love

My parents were extremely encouraging, but also demanding

There needs to be a middle ground. I cannot stress this enough.

So many parents I see are all about the encouragement. Their kids can’t do any wrong in their eyes, and they just constantly pour love and affection and butterflies and rainbows into their children’s life. And then other parents are the opposite–they don’t pay any attention to their kids unless they do something wrong and then they blow up. Or, even if they don’t explode in anger, they only ever criticize and never praise their children.

My parents had a happy medium. We weren’t coddled, but we weren’t picked on, either. My parents chose their battles, and also encouraged us when encouragement was necessary but didn’t lie and tell us we were great at something when we weren’t. For instance, my parents never would have told me that I should go for a career in gymnastics, because I am not flexible in the least.

We always knew where our parents stood, and through that, we always knew that they were honest and had a better understanding of who we were.

My family talks about everything

Open communication was big in our family. My mom and dad always made sure not only that they had time to talk to us, but that they had a specific time and place to do it, too. When I was younger, we talked before or after reading bedtime stories, or at the dinner table when we were eating together. When we got older, that spot moved to the hot tub we had in our backyard and car trips to and from the grocery store, friends’ houses, etc.

The biggest part, though, was that we didn’t just talk about school, work, and the like. We talked about whatever was going on in our lives–whether I was thinking about a new blog post idea, how Katie was doing with her skating, or what movie we really wanted to see–anything that came to mind. Our parents became our confidants, and that built a level of trust.

Moreover, our parents shared things with us, too. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a line here. But in our family, my parents simply humanized themselves to us. My dad would tell us about his favourite movies growing up, my mom would ask our opinions on knitting patterns. She’d even tell me when she had angst over commenters on this blog!

This built a partnership between us. A partnership where one was the parent and one was the child, of course, but nonetheless, a relationship where the actions of one person directly affected the other. Because of that relationship, I never felt like I needed to rebel to be heard, to be understood, or to get my way. I knew that if my parents said no, it was for a reason.

We were never expected to rebel as teenagers

My parents never encouraged any idea of teenage-hood rebellion. They never joked about us rolling our eyes, acting exasperated, or having attitude at all. Rather, they actually made us think that teenagers and the whole rebellion process was stupid and unnecessary. I always figured that I would grow up straight from child to adult, with no “silly teenage stage” in-between. You may think that this is no fun, or that kids need their time to be silly and make mistakes.

But what kind of message does that send the teenager? If kids expect that when they hit 13 they’ll start wanting to go to parties, or go out with boys, or watch inappropriate movies, then they will grow up to fulfill those expectations. On the contrary, if they are raised to believe that those are all optional, and actually unnecessary and somewhat frivolous, they won’t want to disappoint or seem silly, and so are more likely to make positive choices and act like an adult. This doesn’t mean that we miss out on a childhood, or miss out on teenage years–it just means that we use them for training for adulthood, and have fewer regrets when we’re through it all.

Also in this category is that we had very few rules. My parents never needed them, because they didn’t expect us to break them. When parents have a lot of rules it always seems to me like they’re trying to control their kids, and if you have to control them, you’ve lost the battle already. My parents always assumed we’d pick up on their values and make good decisions. Through our close relationship, heart-to-heart talks, and–when necessary–confrontations, we learned their expectations, they learned our points of view, and our family worked together instead of parents trying to reign in their children. Now, I only think this worked because we grew up in such a structured, close, and trust-filled family, but that was a big thing for me. I never felt stifled, so I never felt a need to rebel.

God was centre in our home

Our home never revolved around work, sports, school, or activities. It didn’t even revolve around other people–it always hinged on God and his plan for our family. Growing up in that kind of an environment shaped my view of my actions, choices, and the effect I had on others. When you’re used to basing everything on God’s will and God’s plan, suddenly the parties don’t seem as important. It isn’t as tempting to lie about who you’re hanging out with. Smoking, drinking, and the like just doesn’t really have any appeal, because they don’t help with your ultimate goal–to become a person God will use for great things.

So many times I see families who drop everything for good grades, or who don’t go to church if it’s a busy week at work, or who choose extracurricular activities over youth group and the like. My family, however, was the opposite. If we were tired, too bad. Get in the car, we’re going to church, because that’s what God’s called us to. If Mom and Dad had a hard time with work, we went to church because that’s a place of rest. If I was struggling with school and needed the day to study I didn’t have that choice, because it was my decision not to study earlier.

God came first in everything. And my choices were shaped because of that worldview.

As for Me and My House Wall Decal

I honestly don’t think there’s any one way to make sure your children don’t rebel. Every child is different, and every family contains unique people. But all I know is that for me, this worked. In my family, the trust, communication, and centrality of God in our home made my teenage years one of partnership with my parents rather than a constant battle.

So don’t give up hope–the teenage years don’t have to be war!

Like this? Think it might encourage other parents? Please share on Facebook or Pin it! Just use the buttons below.

Life as a Dare

You can find Rebecca at her blog, Life as a Dare, where she writes about her quest to simplify faith, relationships, and life in general.

 

 

 

The Talk(s)If you’re wondering how to foster a relationship like this with your kids, what Rebecca writes about sounds a lot like what Barrett Johnson is teaching us in his book the Talk(s) ! He really emphasizes keeping open communication with your kids. It’s the best book I’ve read about how to talk to your kids about sex, dating, and relationships, and it’s my store here! Or you can order it in paperback here.

 

This post contains affiliate links.

The BEST Things About Being an ENTJ Blogger

Strengths of a Myers Briggs ENTJ BloggerAccording to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a personality test that divides you into 16 possible types, I’m an ENTJ, which is quite rare for a female. I explain what those letters mean here, in the first post I wrote about being an ENTJ.

A bunch of you really liked the personality posts, so I’m planning a series of them coming up looking at personality differences in marriage–and I may get my mom, who is a certified MBTI trainer, to help me with that, too!

But in the meantime, I thought I’d let you in a little bit more into my brain as an ENTJ Blogger.

I’m an ENTJ, which means;

E- I’m an Extrovert, not an Introvert. I process things by talking about them, and I rejuvenate by being with people.

N – I’m iNtuitive, not Perceiving, which means I like ideas and the big picture, not details. I figure stuff out not by examining the little parts but by thinking about it.

T- I’m a Thinker, not a Feeler. I value logic, and make decisions based on what I think is right. I don’t tend to focus on others’ feelings quite as much.

J – I’m Judging, not Perceiving. I like being organized. I like plans. I like lists. I like to make decisions quickly with the evidence in front of me. I’m not a go with the flow person.

If you were to sum up an ENTJ in a nice way, you’d say that we were the Executives, the CEOs, the Leaders. If you were mean, you could say that we were obnoxiously bossy. Both are likely true.

I wrote about the downsides of being an ENTJ in a previous post, but I thought here I’d tell you about the upsides, because it’s really in the upsides that I’ve figured out my purpose for blogging, and how to fit my passion, gifts, and bent into the ministry that God’s given me.

1. The ENTJ Blogger isn’t Afraid to Say The Emperor Has No Clothes

We value logic and we value big ideas, so if something doesn’t look right to us, we’re not afraid to say it. We’re not really loyal foot soldiers. We question everything. So just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean that we’ll endorse it. If it makes no sense to us, we’ll say so.

I think that’s especially valuable in the Christian community, because we have a lot of “sacred cows” that you’re not supposed to question. An example would be the idea of submission. We often think that this means that a wife can’t bring up problems. That, however, makes no sense to me, because that’s no way to build unity in marriage, and goes against everything else in the Bible when it talks about resolving conflict.

I just signed a book deal where I’m going to mention a lot of these sacred cows, and I’m so excited about it! It’s based on my 7 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, but it’s going to go a lot further, and include a lot about how to really handle conflict. Sometimes we all need another set of eyes on a problem to ask, “is the way we’re handling this really the best way?”

2. The ENTJ Blogger is Highly Practical

I used to read a lot of blogs with huge readerships where there were pretty graphics quoting Bible verses and all kinds of wonderful words that were so compassionate to those who were hurting.

And I would try to do that and fail miserably.

I’m a T, not an F. I live by logic, not by feeling. In the Bible, I wouldn’t be the Asaph writing lovely Psalms; I’d be Elijah calling down rain from heaven. It’s not that I don’t believe that God can comfort you; it’s just that that’s not who I am. I figure the best way to comfort someone is to help them figure out what to do next.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m very glad those other blogs are there, because we all need encouragement, and that is the voice that God has given them. But I’m about the Practical. And I think sometimes that’s sorely lacking from a lot of women’s blogs.

3. The ENTJ Blogger is All About Fixing Problems

Our main goal in life is to get the world to run more smoothly. We’re never satisfied with the status quo; we figure there’s always a way to do it better! So even if it’s been done this way for generations, we figure there must be some tweak, some little thing, that we can do to make things work better.

That’s really why I started writing. It was 1997 and I was living in downtown Toronto with my two babies. We went to playgroup everyday just to get out of our small apartment. And at this playgroup were a whole bunch of moms, most of whom had difficult marriages.

I was especially close to one mom who was always miserable. Her husband really didn’t treat her well. He would come home from work and not talk to the kids. He’d just sit on the couch and expect his wife to bring him dinner. He didn’t eat with the family. He didn’t do any housework. He’d go out with his buddies but he’d never watch the kids so she could go out. He gave her no access to money but made her ask for a $20 every time she needed a few groceries.

And I’d listen to all these stories she’d tell, and I’d have a million things running through my head–why don’t you just do X? Why don’t you do Y? I could see so many ways she could change her own behaviour and improve the situation. I’d try to mention one or two at a time, but unfortunately she could never follow-through.

But as she was going through this, so was another woman in my extended family. Almost identical stories. And they both ended up having their marriages end. I thought: maybe if women just understood better how to change the dynamic in the marriage, then these marriages could be saved! And so I wrote To Love, Honor and Vacuum (the book). P.S.: The second edition is coming out in the spring!

I know many people will just say, “give it to God and pray.” I’ve always figured that if we’re going to pray, God also wants us to engage in something. So if we want God to work, we need to be prepared to act differently, too. We have to sacrifice as well. And so I try to be the solutions girl.

My wonderful friend Fawn Weaver, who just wrote the already bestselling Happy Wives Club, has a great blog encouraging women to have happy marriages. I love Fawn, and I guest post there occasionally.

But that’s just not who I am. I’m in the solutions business, not the encouragement business.

That’s because to me, real encouragement has solutions. And so I want to encourage your marriage by helping you overcome some obstacles. That’s what I do.

It took me a long time to realize it was okay to be an ENTJ. It was okay to have an opinion. It was okay to go against the tide. It was okay to not be flowery and gushy on my blog. There are a ton of awesome flowery blogs, but this one isn’t one of them. I think God makes us different for a reason. Some people are meant to be that warm cup of coffee you need on a cold day. And some people are meant to give you a bit of a shove in the right direction. We’re all necessary, and if we try to be something we’re not, we won’t do a good job at it.

I’m the solutions gal, and I hope that you’ve found some answers to your marriage problems in these posts and in the pages of my books. And if you haven’t, leave a question in the comments! Maybe I can come up with a biblical solution for you, too.

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Special Staples Canada Valentine’s Day Giveaway!–Win a Kindle Fire

Thursdays are ThrowBackThursday on Facebook, and I’m posting this picture in the Facebook Page:

Getting married in the 90s!

Were we ever young! But I wouldn’t do it any other way.

Anyway, after you’ve been married for 20 plus years, it can get hard to come up with new presents for your honey.

If you and your husband exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day, Staples has a gift-giving guide of some of the best gadgets and fun things to give each other this Valentine’s Day, and they’ve generously agreed to do a giveaway for your choice of item from either list! Woo hoo! (Canadian entries only though!)

I was looking through the guides and here are some of the things they have:

Valentine’s Gift Ideas for Him from Staples:

1. HP Slate Tablet | 2. Laptop Briefcase | 3. Kindle eReader | 4. Memory Foam Pillow | 5. SmartWatch | 6. Telescope | 7. Cooler Rack | 8. Samsung Galaxy Tablet

The ones that stand out to me:

HP Slate Tablet

It comes with 8 GB of memory, wifi, and all the features you’d expect from a tablet. I just love these! They’re like a step up from a phone, but they’re great for reading, pictures, video–basically anything media.

HP Slate Tablet

SmartWatch

This is seriously cool! I’m always missing calls because I don’t hear my phone. This syncs with your iPhone, alerting you to missed calls, Facebook posts, calendar events, or anything you want. And you can use it to remotely play music off your iPhone or take a picture with your iPhone. If your husband is  a gadget lover, he’d love this!

smartwatch

Kindle

Does your husband travel for work? How about getting him a Kindle! One thing I hate about traveling is having to eat at restaurants alone. Now with a Kindle, I can at least read books! And it’s handier than having to turn a page while you’re trying to cut chicken with a knife and fork.

This one has a 6″ Paperwhite display and wifi.

Kindle

Valentine’s Gift Ideas for Her from Staples

1. Kindle Fire HD | 2. Keurig Coffee Maker | 3. Bluetooth Mini Cube Speaker | 4. Fresh Cut Roses | 5. Yoga Mat | 6. Samsung Galaxy Tablet | 7. HP Slate Tablet | 8. SmartWatch | 9. Laptop Tote

Okay, to any men reading this, Staples honestly has some good ideas here! Ones that especially stand out to me:

1. Kindle Fire

I’ve wanted one of these for a really long time! It’s got 8 GB of hard drive memory, full colour display, and you can read your email, Facebook, etc. on it. I’m so looking forward to getting this!

KindleFire

2. Keurig Coffee Maker

Staples doesn’t just have electronics; they have lots of things to make your life fun! And I know that many of you would love a Keurig coffee maker. My husband has one in his office and he loves it!

keurig

3. Seriously Cute Laptop Tote

Have a laptop that’s 15″ or less? This will fit it! And it’s adorable.

Laptop Tote

And Staples has roses, too!

I often find gifts at Staples because my family loves electronics so much. If your hubby does, head to Staples! Or ask him to check out their Gift Guides for YOU!

So now it’s your turn to enter to win! Staples will give one item from EITHER gift list (not both) to one winner–but CANADIAN entries only. They’re paying shipping, so they have to do it that way. But send this to every Canadian you know, eh?

The contest is open until midnight on February 12, so the winner will hear right before Valentine’s Day!

Tell me in the comments: Does gift giving get EASIER after you’ve been married for a few decades, or harder?

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The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

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Top 10 Books to Read in 2014 to Boost Your Marriage

Top Ten TuesdayIt’s Tuesday, so it’s time for a Top 10 list! And today I thought I’d share a list of the best Christian marriage books that will help your marriage this year.

I asked a while ago on my Facebook Page for recommendations for great marriage books, and so many of you left great suggestions. I’m sorry I couldn’t include them all! You can go over and read those suggestions here.

But I’ve included the ones that resonated the most with me. I didn’t include the “typical” marriage books, though–the ones that everyone has already heard of, like The 5 Love Languages, and Love and Respect, and Sacred Marriage. These are great books, but I talk about them enough that they’re everywhere, so I figured they’re already on your radar. I wanted to include books that likely weren’t.

Now, ladies, I’m not doing this to overwhelm you. I’m not saying, “you need to go out and read all ten of these books RIGHT NOW!”

I’m saying that we could all grow a little bit in our marriage this year, and that’s a great goal. So I’ve divided these books up into different categories, and why don’t you pick a category that you need to grow in the most, and then pick one book? Just one.

Decide to read one book this year and then actually put it into practice. That’s better than reading ten, anyway! So choose one book in an area that you know you need, and I know you’ll see some real benefits.

 10 Christian Marriage Books to Help Your Marriage Thrive

Christian Marriage Books To Grow a Healthier Marriage

1. Boundaries in MarriageBoundaries in Marriage

Drs. Cloud and Townsend open their book with a great story of two different couples. Both have been married for over thirty years. One couple is at a buffet restaurant with one of the authors, and when the husband is finished his main course, he gestures to his wife, and says, “Doris, dessert now.” He wants her to go get him dessert. She’s embarrassed but she does it. The other couple takes pains to care for each other. They don’t walk all over each other. They treat each other kindly, and marriage is a joy.

And yet both marriages started out on very similar footing. In both marriages she did most of the work, and he thought he should get the perks. But only one marriage ended up happy, because in only one marriage did the woman learn how to draw boundaries effectively so that they were each treating each other with respect, in a Christlike manner.

Most couples have no idea how to draw boundaries and how to resolve conflict. This is a really practical book, and it will open your eyes to some of the roots of conflict in your marriage. I highly recommend it!

Emotionally Healthy Woman2. The Emotionally Healthy Woman

Sometimes in order to build a great marriage we need to start saying “No”–no to overfunctioning, “no” to caring what other people think, “no” to feeling guilty. In The Emotionally Healthy Woman, Geri Scazzero tells the story of how she was way too busy. She did too much in her husband’s church. She allowed her husband to never be home because she felt that’s what a good Christian wife did. She pushed herself to her emotional and physical limits because she thought her only role was to pour herself out for everybody else.

And in the process she made herself miserable and her family miserable. Their family only started to heal and grow together in a healthy way when she started learning to say “No”. A great book for any woman who feels exhausted and wonders how to stop the frantic pace of life!

 Rocking the Roles3. Rocking the Roles

What does it really mean to submit? To love your wife as Christ loved the church? To be a leader in marriage? Robert Lewis and William Hendricks tackle that huge can of worms in this supremely practical book, filled with lots of examples.

Here’s what I really appreciated about the book: they didn’t just say “here’s what the wife should do” or “here’s what the husband should do”. They also provided a blueprint of what a spouse can do when the other ISN’T fulfilling their role. And I really appreciated the end of the book where they give some concrete examples of how church leaders should help when roles are going really unfulfilled–something I commented on in my post Are You a Spouse or an Enabler? Sometimes I think we look at roles in a vacuum–you have to submit, period. But what do you do if you’re in an impossible situation? They offer some help that is sorely needed.

Mystery of Marriage4. Mystery of Marriage

When I was compiling this list of ten books, I asked my agent, who has read every Christian marriage book under the sun, what book stood out to him. And he said, without hesitation, “Mystery of Marriage”. It’s twenty years old now, but still highly relevant. Mike Mason writes meditations on what marriage really means, and what intimacy really means. It’s highly readable, in a first person account, that will open your eyes to the deeper significance of marriage and propel you to make your marriage the best it can be!

Chip says, “It’s just really, really good.” And when he says that, it’s high praise.

Christian Marriage Books To Grow Your Sex Life

Good Girls Guide My Site5. The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex

If sex has never been that stupendous in your marriage, you need this book! We were created to enjoy sex, and to have it unite us physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it’s not doing that in your relationship, don’t settle for that. Embark on a really fun research project to make it wonderful in your marriage, too!

I deal in this book with why God made sex the way He did, and then I look at how we can have great sex in each of the three areas: physical, emotional, and spiritual. In a survey I did recently of my regular readers, I found that 80% had not actually purchased any of my books yet. So I know many of you reading this have heard of this book but haven’t bought it yet. There’s so much more in it than is in the blog, and I know that it will bless your marriage!

Sex Savvy Wife6. The Sex Savvy Wife

J from Hot, Holy and Humorous has just come out with this gem–The Sex Savvy Wife: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Women. It’s great paired with The Good Girl’s Guide. J gets supremely practical, and deals with the “how-to” of everything you can imagine in the bedroom. It’s more detailed in that sense than my book. It’s even got–gasp!–some diagrams.

I love that she went where many are afraid to go, and I’m happy to carry her book in my store, too. If sex has seemed awkward, and you just don’t know if you’re “doing it right”, J helps you figure it out and make it amazing. And it’s only $4.99!

Books to Grow Your Prayer Life in Marriage

Praying Gods Word for your Husband7. Praying God’s Word for Your Husband

I just love Kathi Lipp! And in this amazing book she helps us be our husband’s best cheerleaders by showing how we can pray God’s word in specific areas of our husband’s lives to support them, encourage them, and help them thrive.

I love this approach because it gets our eyes off of what we want and it gets our eyes back where they belong–to what God wants to do in our husband’s lives. And Kathi writes so simply, and with such passion for marriages. I’ve spoken with her at MOPS conventions before, and she’s such a great, godly woman. All of that shines through in this book. If you’ve wanted to pray more deliberately, and to see great changes in your husband, pick this one up!

Little Book of Powerful Prayers8. Little Book of Powerful Prayers

It seems odd to put this gem in a list of marriage books, but I truly believe this will help your marriage!

Stormie Omartian has written a little book with prayers from each book of the Bible–and several from a few. So as you pray through it you see the story of God unfold throughout its pages.

But here’s the reason I love it for marriage: I think many of us have difficulty getting a prayer life going with our husbands. We’re not necessarily comfortable praying out loud, and we don’t know when to pray or how to pray. This book has awesome prayers that you can pray together. Just keep it by your bedside, and every night hold each other’s hands and one of you pray the prayer. Then the other can add something if they want to (but they don’t have to). I think praying together, even just for a minute or two, can add so much to a marriage. And if you don’t know how to start, this book can be your guide.

 Christian Marriage Novels to Help Your Thought Life

A Time to Dance 9. A Time to Dance

Novels can sometimes teach us truths in a way that a nonfiction book can’t, and so I’ve decided to highlight two novels (although there are many more that are uplifting for marriage!). I have to admit I don’t love ALL of Karen Kingsbury’s books, but I really loved this series. It follows a middle-aged couple who have drifted apart. Everyone thinks they have the perfect marriage, but years of not paying attention to that marriage have led to potential emotional affairs, lots of retributions, and distance.

How do you find your way back when you’re not even sure you like each other anymore? In this book the couple has decided to divorce, but they decide not to announce it until after their child’s wedding. And as the wedding approaches, they realize how much they actually do have to lose if they split up. It was uplifting, and it reminded you of the importance of working on your marriage so that drift didn’t happen. A great read!

Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers10. The Scarlet Thread

I love Francine Rivers’ books, especially the Mark of the Lion series. Or should I say, I love MOST of Rivers’ books (more on that in a minute). Rivers started out as a romance writer, and then was saved. So her books changed. But I think she writes of marriage so realistically and beautifully. And this book shows a woman who is doubting her marriage who finds an old diary, and in it she starts to see the hand of God in her ancestor’s life and marriage, and then begins to see it in her own, too.

And her marriage changes when she gets a new attitude and starts learning to love. It’s really quite beautiful.

One caveat, though: I really didn’t like And the Shofar Blew by Rivers. In that book, a pastor grows increasingly away from God as his church grows, and he eventually falls into an affair. Yes, he’s restored at the end and yes, their marriage is saved, but I felt that the wife was a complete doormat. If she had spoken up when her husband started to fall, and taken her concerns to the elders of the church, much of the heartache could have been avoided. I’m afraid that this particular novel tells women to do absolutely nothing when your husband is in sin, and that is not the message of the Bible that I see. So while I love The Scarlet Thread, and I absolutely adore the Mark of the Lion series, I’m not as fond of all of her marriage books.

So there you go–a list of ten books to help your marriage thrive this year. Why not choose one, in an area where you know you need to grow, and read it and put it into practice!

And leave your suggestions for great Christian marriage books in the comments!

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The Pitfalls of Being an ENTJ Blogger

Dangers of Being a Myers-Briggs ENTJ BloggerBefore we were married, our pastor gave Keith and me personality inventory tests, called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). I’m a Myers-Briggs ENTJ. Keith’s an ESTJ. I’ll explain what those are in a minute.

In Christian circles, we’re used to personality quizzes, but there are often only 4 types. Or 5. Or 9. Myers-Briggs gives 16. Oh, yeah, baby.

And they’re so much fun! Once you figure them out, you spend your life analyzing everybody else. My daughter’s favourite pastime at university is trying to figure out what all her friends are.

You’ve probably seen some of the graphics of the Myers Briggs types by movie/TV show. I’m Mary on Downton Abbey. I’m Theodin in Lord of the Rings. I’m Princess Leia in Star Wars. Basically, I’m bossy.

Here’s how it breaks down.

Myers Briggs marks everyone on four scales:

Extrovert/Introvert: Do you get your energy from being with people, or from being alone? When you need to think something through, do you call a friend, or go for a walk yourself? Contrary to popular belief, extrovert doesn’t mean “life of the party”. Many introverts are great at parties. But it’s where you get your energy from.

Sensing/Intuiting: Do you like detail, or are you a big picture person? Do you like taking things apart and figuring them out, or dreaming up new ways of doing things? Do you like following a pattern or creating your own?

Thinking/Feeling: Do you make decisions based on logic, or based on emotion? Are you most likely to concentrate on what’s “right”, or to focus on relationships?

Judging/Perceiving: Do you like being organized, with lists and plans, or would you rather be spontaneous and go with the flow?

Worst Things About Being a Myers Briggs ENTJ Blogger

Now, that’s a HUGE simplification of the MBTI personality system, and to actually figure out your type it’s best to take a long test. Lots of them are available online (just Google it), and my daughter spends her life getting friends to take them, but as my mother, who is actually certified in Myers-Briggs Type says, you really are supposed to take it from someone who knows what they’re talking about. That’s why I can’t actually link to one, or I’d be violating the family code. But seriously, just Google it. :)

So anyway, I’m an ENTJ, which means I’m an Extrovert-Intuitive-Thinking-Judging type. I’m the executive. I’m the idea person. I’m the CEO. Only 1% of females are ENTJs, but there are three in my immediate family alone: me, my oldest daughter, and my aunt. My uncle is one, too. But he’s not female. (I guess that didn’t need to be said.)

An ENTJ’s biggest pet peeves are inefficiency and stupidity. We thrive on trying to make things better. Our mantra is, “just because it’s always been done this way doesn’t mean it can’t be improved! And I’m just the one to tell you how to do that!” Basically we drive everyone else nuts.

Winston Churchill was an ENTJ. So was Maggie Thatcher. So, unfortunately, was Hitler, which just proves that Myers Briggs says nothing about VALUES and only about PERSONALITY. One type is not inherently better than another.

Here’s our family:

Myers Briggs Family--and ENTJ Females

My husband is an ESTJ, which means that he’s far more loyal to established procedure than I am. I’m always trying to shake up things around us, including church, and he reins me in. He’s good for me. But other than that, we’re pretty much the same.

Then there’s my poor youngest daughter, the cuddly, feely one in this family of TJs. Pray for her. :)

Anyway, I just love this personality stuff, and I know there are some closet MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Inventory) people out there reading this, so leave a comment and tell me what type you are, too! I’d love to know.

But in the meantime, I thought I’d share with you some hard truths about me as a blogger that you may not know. Of course there are wonderful things about being an ENTJ Blogger (and I’ll likely blog about that soon!), but everyone likes hearing about the difficult things more. It somehow seems more fun to hear the bad stuff! So here goes:

1. To an ENTJ Blogger, Nothing is Ever “Done”

The biggest problem with being an ENTJ is that we always need to improve things. And because we have so many ideas in our heads, we can never just rest, thinking, “I’ve finished”. After Christmas, when I should have been writing a book proposal, I decided to redo my sidebar because it was bugging me. That led to me redoing the way I do ads. Which led to me creating a spreadsheet to tell if I was using the right ad companies. And so on, and so on.

Some people love working by lists, but that’s never worked for me, because if I were to list everything that I wanted to do, I’d never finish. I lived like that for two years as a blogger. I could never get away from my computer! There was always one more thing to do.

Now I do work hours. I work from 7-3, everyday. And then I stop. The computer goes off and the knitting comes out (well, after I’ve exercised). (Yeah, right).

It’s exhausting having tons and tons of ideas in your head. I’ve had to tell myself that ideas don’t mean I’ve failed or haven’t worked hard enough. Ideas are just fun things I can entertain later.

2. ENTJs Can Get REALLY Emotional

ENTJs are very logical types. We’re looking to fight inefficiency and stupidity wherever we see it.

But the thing about all personality types is that they have a “shadow” side–the opposite of their personality–which comes out sometimes. And ENTJs, when we do get emotional, get REALLY emotional.

My daughter (The ENTJ one) had a huge problem as a toddler controlling her temper tantrums. It wasn’t that she was naturally angry; it was that when emotions hit they hit so hard that she couldn’t get a handle on them. My ESFP daughter, whom you would expect to be more emotional, actually handles emotions better. She has a good cry and gets it all out.

Rebecca and I, on the other hand, will go through huge mood swings where we hate ourselves and feel completely insecure. To the outside world, though, we don’t always look it. We look like we’re in control of the situation, even when we’re not.

I’ve had to learn not to take comments on the blog too seriously, or let disagreements slide off my back. I do have a tendency to do a downward emotional spiral, and I’ve had to develop strategies for stopping that.

3. ENTJ Bloggers Hit PUBLISH Way Too Fast

It’s that “not being a detail person” thing that does you in. I’ll write a post, hit “Publish”, and then realize that I’ve titled it “8 ways to have great sex for HER this New Year” when I have 9 points. So then I have to change the title. But the RSS Feed still uses the FIRST title.

It’s such a little thing to read over the post first, before you hit publish, but ENTJs don’t like to do that. It means checking detail. It means that we’re spending too long on one thing when we could be moving on to the next idea. And who needs to check things? And after all, we’re ENTJs. So we’re right. Except when we’re not. Sigh.

I really have to learn to read things over before publishing. On most mornings, I publish a post, and in the next 10 minutes I have to revise it at least four times. I’m sure all you ST type bloggers just hit PUBLISH once.

4. ENTJs Have Way Too Many Post Ideas

I have this WordPress plugin called “Editorial Calendar” that I love, because I plan my posts in advance, just putting in a title of a post when I think of it, and going back to write it later.

But the problem is that I have about 60 post ideas right now that I haven’t written yet. I have no shortage of ideas. I just have a shortage of time.

So every now and then I vow that I’ll publish less frequently, because I have other things I need to write, but then I go ahead and publish anyway because I have so much to SAY. And, as an ENTJ, I’m absolutely sure that you all want to hear it (humility isn’t our strong point).

5. ENTJ Bloggers Pay Too Much Attention to Numbers

ENTJs hate inefficiency. We love improving things. And because of that, we’re a little obsessed with measuring things. A while ago, when I went through blogging angst, I confessed that I was way too addicted to checking my stats, and I had to quit cold turkey. And I did! It’s been really liberating.

But it is hard, and I’ve just replaced it with other things–pinning more, tweeting more, checking replies on Facebook, etc. It’s a sickness. The sad part is that in our quest to end inefficiency, we become more inefficient because we spend too much time on numbers.

I really need to remind myself anew that stats don’t tell the main story; only God does. If this blog is making a difference, who cares about the stats? But to an ENTJ, that’s easier said than done.

So there’s a little insight into me, your humble blogger. Except that I’m not humble because I’m an ENTJ. But I strive to be humble. Does that count?

Want to see more about ENTJs? Here’s my daughter writing about being a female ENTJ teenager.

I really do love this personality stuff, and perhaps I should write more about the types in marriage. After all, my mom does this for a living, and my daughter is now pursuing it in university, so it’s all around me. Any interest? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to tell me what type you are (if you know!)

Top 10 Things I Gleaned from Happy Wives Club

Top Ten TuesdayIt’s a Tuesday, and that means it’s time for our Top 10 post! It’s a new feature I’m starting this year, and I’m so excited that one of my FIRST Top 10 posts is for my darling friend Fawn Weaver of The Happy Wives Club.

Fawn is a happy wife. But a few years ago she was just overwhelmed by all the negativity towards marriage in the media. So she told her husband Keith (my husband is Keith, too; Keiths are great!) that she was going to do something about it. She was going to start “talking up” happy wives, because she knew she wasn’t alone.

Happy Wives ClubFrom that dream started her awesome blog (where I guest post sometimes) and her fabulous Facebook Page. And now she has a book out which is hitting bookstores TODAY!

Happy Wives Club isn’t a self-help book. Instead, it’s more of a memoir, with a “Under the Tuscan Sun” flavor. She hops on a plane and circles the globe, interviewing couples who have been blissfully married 25 years or more on all the different continents, to discover the commonalities, the threads, the secrets to these happy marriages.

The book is about her travels, her discoveries, and even her introspection as she’s challenged to risk more, to love more, and to be open to change. And it will make you hungry. Seriously. She ate such great food!

I actually met Fawn two years ago when she was in the middle of all of these travels. She’s honestly a delight, and she’s so humble. And I pray that she meets her goal of changing the way our culture sees marriage!

In her book she gives away, at the end, the 12 “threads” that she found in happy marriages. Instead of trying to narrow those down to 10, to fit my Top 10 meme, I’ll just tell you to buy the book if you want to know all 12 (and you should buy the book!). I thought, though, that I’d share the 10 Best Discoveries About Marriage I found on the pages. Some of them are more minor things, but they stood out to me, and I know you’ll recognize these themes from my writings.

1. Sex is great. Why waste time by avoiding it?

Okay, Fawn would be MORTIFIED that I put that as my #1. Whenever she wants to write about sex she asks me to guest post because she’s kind of shy. But she included this little nugget in the book, and I’m so proud of her for opening up! And I think she said it brilliantly. After being away from her husband for several weeks traveling, they’re reunited in London. And they have FUN.

Making love is not equivalent to love. But not making love is most certainly a waste. We didn’t want to be wasteful.

Seriously, sex is lovely. If you look for a reason not to have sex, you will always find one. Instead, let’s just change our mindset, and not waste the time!

2. Gratitude is the Key to Happiness

Fawn writes,

Every happily married person I interviewed on my trip was grateful for his or her spouse, thanking God daily for one another.

Do you thank God for your spouse? Here’s your challenge from me for you today: before you go to sleep tonight, put your hand on your husband’s shoulder as you lie in bed and thank God for your husband. Bonus points if you do it out loud so he can hear!

3. Happy Marriages are Contagious

When I was reading Fawn’s book, my husband was sitting at the island in our kitchen, working on some corporate forms he had to submit to the government. It was seriously boring and he was aggravated. And as I was reading about these happy couples bubbling over with love for one another, I realized how happy I was to have a husband who would do the boring things so I didn’t have to. And I got up and gave him a big hug.

I did it because I was inspired by a couple from New Zealand that’s featured in Fawn’s book. Hearing about couples who love each other, and seeing how they hold hands, and finish each other’s sentences, and touch each other’s knees, is adorable. And it makes you want to reach for that, too.

Don’t be afraid to let others see your happy marriage. It will inspire them to love their spouses, too!

Happy Marriages are Contagious--10 Truths about Happy Marriages

4. A Happy Marriage Is a Key to the Fountain of Youth

Ever notice how adorable older couples are who are still in love? They look YOUNGER. And on her voyages, Fawn kept running into couples in their fifties, sixties, and seventies who looked a decade or so younger than their years. Staying happy keeps you young!

So treat each other well. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It pays such great dividends!

5. Deal with Problems When They Happen

Treating each other well and being grateful for each other doesn’t mean that you ignore problems. On the contrary: it means that you deal with them all the more, and as soon as they crop up, because you don’t want anything jeopardizing what you’ve got together.

Fawn writes,

I’ve known plenty of couples who choose to ignore budding problems or dissatisfactions because it’s easier in the moment. But too much of that for long enough, and you all of a sudden have a huge problem on your hands, or a midlife crisis, or a broken marriage.

Like I said in my post on being a Peace-Maker not a Peace-Keeper, keeping problems to yourself doesn’t help in the long run. Sometimes the route to peace lies through conflict, and that’s okay.

6. Listen to the Heart, not the Words

I’m a great listener when Keith and I argue. The only problem: I tend to be listening to the loophole, so that I can smash him over the head with it and win, rather than listening to what Keith is really feeling.

Happy marriages value the other person’s feelings. Instead of trying to “win” an argument, they try to make each feel respected and valued.

Kris, one of the women Fawn interviewed, understood this.

In that conversation with Richard, Kris did precisely what she’d done before offering her tennis quitting advice from years before. She paid attention. Instead of getting swept up in a reaction–regardless of how legitimate it would have been–she unseated herself and chose to focus on what Richard was saying. That kind of awareness is rare. It’s rare in a person and even more so with a couple.

But that awareness, when you let go of your own feelings and push them aside for now to truly listen to your husband’s heart–that makes all the difference in the world. You can always come back to your own feelings later. But if you don’t give him the right to air what he is feeling, and don’t give him the respect he needs, you’ll never come to a true feeling of intimacy or peace.

7. When You Get Into the Habit of Serving Each Other, Marriage Doesn’t Seem Like Work

Have you heard it said, “marriage takes a lot of work”?

I think that’s true–but I don’t think that’s the whole story. And so I was excited to see this echoed in Fawn’s book.

Here’s what I think happens: as you love your husband, you do nice things for him. You start to think, how can I make him smile right now? What could I do to make his load lighter, even if it’s only a small thing? Maybe it’s just getting him a cup of coffee, or giving him a kiss of the cheek as you pass by his desk. Yes, remembering to do these things takes work. But eventually it becomes so second nature that it isn’t work anymore.

That’s when things really get fun. I’m almost there in my marriage. I have a ways to go in getting my eyes off of myself and thinking more about how to show my husband love. But I am finding that marriage takes much less “work” than it used to because we’ve built good marriage habits. And now showing him love is actually fun!

8. Marriage Can Be One of the Best Healing Forces in the World

One of the things I so appreciated about Fawn’s book was her own story and struggles. She touches on some of the heartaches and problems and baggage that she brought into marriage. She felt lonely, and she felt useless, and she so needed to succeed to feel validated. And so she tends to overwork, and throw herself into business too much.

At the same time, she’s really nervous about having a child, because what if it wrecks her marriage? And what if she fails at that?

As Fawn talks to other couples, she relays how many of these fears are brought to the surface by God, as He starts to poke her in her tender places to get her to grow. But as you read the book, you realize that so much of that growth is not just between God and Fawn; it’s between Fawn and Keith, whom God is using to be a balm in her life.

I’ve had a week where baggage from my past has reared its ugly head again. I go through periods in my life where I feel paralyzed to open some emails, and the root of it is that I’m afraid people will reject me and not like me. It all stems from my childhood. But as I spoke to Keith about it, I realized that he is such a healing force in my life, and these things are slowly getting better. Marriage is a beautiful tool that God can use to heal some of our deepest wounds.

9. Life is More Fun when Experienced with Someone Else

Have you ever seen the most beautiful sunset, and then become immediately disappointed because your husband isn’t there to share it with?

Much of Fawn’s book is like that. You can feel how she enjoyed her travels and interviews so much more when her husband joined her. Yes, we need to have our own lives, and it’s important to develop hobbies outside of our husbands. But let’s never forget that life is richer when shared.

10. Happy Marriages are Alive and Well

I know many of you who come to this blog come here for help, because you’re not in a happy marriage right now. Perhaps that’s because we’ve lost that inspiration that it is possible. If more of us could sit at the feet of happy couples, we would move mountains to be able to have that for ourselves. I pray that both you AND your husband will feel that kind of urgency to create a truly happy marriage.

And let me end the way Fawn does, saying, it is totally possible! She writes,

Happy marriages are alive and well. The cries of their demise have been highly overrated, and couples happily married do indeed exist.

Happy marriages do exist--10 truths from happy marriages

Happy Wives ClubMay you one day experience that level of happiness, too.

Happy Wives Club hits bookstores today! Order your copy now, and you’ll be encouraged and inspired, too.

And now, just for your pleasure, here’s a happily married couple that will put a smile on your face:

Top Ten Posts of 2013

Best Christian Marriage Posts of 2013

On Tuesdays in 2014 I’m starting a new feature: Top 10 Tuesdays, where I’ll be publishing a list of something. I want it to be more of a “fun” day, so we’ll have Top 10 kisses, top 10 ways to make sex feel great, or even more innocuous things, like top 10 marriage novels.

I thought, then, that today would be a great day to launch it, with the Top 10 Posts of 2013. These are the ones that were read and shared the most, and if you missed any, check them out!

Here’s how you can really help me: If you find any that you particularly like, could you “pin” them or share them on Facebook? That’s how I get most of my new readers, and I’d love to reach more people with my marriage affirming message! Thank you!

Top 10 Posts of 2013 from this Marriage Blog

1. 7 Thoughts That Will Change Your Marriage (psst: I’m signing a contract as we speak to turn this one into a book!)

2. Top 50 Most Romantic Movies You all helped me to choose these!

3. 2 Player Games to Play with Your Husband

4. 25 Quick Ways to Show Your Husband Love These really do work. Choose a few today!

5. Sexy Stocking Stuffers for Your Husband (Pin this one for next year!)

6. My Husband Doesn’t Find Me Attractive–A Round Up I get a lot of traffic from Google for this one, from women who are quite sad. It is a difficult situation.

7. My Husband Plays Video Games Too Much

8. Why is it So Hard to Say Yes to Sex? If you find sex a hassle, here’s some encouragement for you.

9. Is Masturbation in Marriage Wrong? This post is popular almost entirely because of search engine traffic. What a difficult situation so many spouses are in, if their wife/husband prefers masturbation to sex. Here are some thoughts.

10. How Technology Threatens Marriages I liked this column. I think you will, too!

Top 10 Posts Overall for 2013

Only one of these posts was actually written in 2013, but these are the top posts for this blog for this year. Most of them have gone viral on Pinterest, so that’s why they’re so popular! If you don’t follow me on Pinterest yet, please do! I share a lot of great marriage stuff there.

1. 50 Most Important Bible Verses to Memorize Now that the New Year is here, why not start working through these?

2. 16 Ways to Flirt with Your Husband

3. Stocking Stuffers for Your Husband (Pin this one for next year!)

4. 7 Thoughts That Will Change Your Marriage (from 2013!)

5. How to Stop Temper Tantrums Before They Start This one went totally viral on Pinterest recently. It really does sum up my parenting philosophy. Instead of focusing so much on discipline, let’s just engage our kids.

6. 7 Steps to Raising a Teen Who Won’t Date Too Young And I’ve written a more recent follow-up to that post, now that my girls have gone through a lot of the teen years, here.

7. 50 Best Marriage Quotes of 2011

8. 29 Days to Great Sex Day 1: The Act of Marriage (now’s a great time to start the 29 day challenge! Or pick up my ebook for the more in-depth and expanded 31 Day option, written for couples, not just addressed to the wife)

9. Why Doesn’t My Husband Want to Make Love? Another post that people read mostly from arriving from search engines. If your husband has a low libido, and seems to always reject sex, you can feel so alone. Here’s the first in a four-part series I wrote about it.

10. 25 Marriage Tips It’s a fun one!

I hope you enjoy these! Thanks so much for being part of my blogging community in 2013, and I hope to bring you lots more great content in 2014!

Happy New Year!