What does “If you give a mouse a cookie” have to do with stress in marriage?

In today’s podcast, I tell you just that! I hope you all will listen, but if you don’t have time, I’ll have some links and rabbit trails below so you can read all you want as well!

And consider this podcast “extras”. If you want to go deeper into what I talked about in the podcast, here are some more things to help you.

But first, here’s the podcast–and thanks to Get Your Marriage On app for sponsoring it this week!


Main Segment: Little things can add up to big stress!

Rebecca joins me today as we talk about how little things can add up to big stress. Sometimes when we’re upset at our spouse, the underlying issue isn’t actually the marriage. It’s other things in our lives that are difficult, and we take it out on our spouse. When you deal with those other things, suddenly marriage feels lighter.

Just a few examples:

  • Clutter: Does your house feel stressful because you can’t find anything? Do you have so much stuff it’s hard to clean?
  • Cooking: Do you run around at the last minute not knowing what to cook for dinner, leading to constant chaos and stress?
  • Kids: Do they whine about the food you make? Bicker? Refuse to sleep? That’s going to have an impact on your marriage, too!
  • Money: Did you buy a house before you could really afford it? Are you constantly going into credit card debt? Do you never seem to have enough money to make it through the month?

I talked about this in yesterday’s post about uncovering the real source of stress in your marriage, and I’d encourage you to check that out. Also, I mentioned on the podcast this post about how downsizing can be worth it. Sometimes the only way out of stress is to downsize your life!


Reader Question: How do we not let routines take over our marriage?

Our reader question today was a super short one, and that’s basically it–how do you make sure that routines from everyday life don’t squeeze out your marriage? I talked about 3 big things:

Reduce the number of commitments so that you have at least 3 nights to eat together as a family.

That’s a good rule of thumb–3 nights that you’re home without having to rush anywhere, where you can all be together. When kids are teens that can be more difficult because of their part-time work schedules, but when your family’s schedules are entirely up to you, keep at least 3 nights free. In the long run, it’s better for kids to have a good family life than it is to be in a ton of activities. And kids need down-time with siblings, too!

Get organized with your routines

The more organized you are with cleaning/cooking/kids, the more emotional energy and time you’ll both have for each other at the end of the day.

Prioritize time together.

Date nights don’t have to involve going out. You can set aside one night a week to play board games as a couple or do a puzzle, or anything not involving a screen. 


Don’t Forget our Weekly Challenge!


Every week I like to issue my readers a marriage challenge–something that is super quick, cheap (if not free), and actionable. I love that you all read and listen, but for marriages to grow, we have to actually do something. So this week’s challenge is all about helping you identify your sources of stress.

Your Weekly TLHV Challenge

Identify sources of annoyance, frustration, anger, or stress over the last week–and brainstorm ways to reduce it!

On your own, jot down different things that have stressed you out in the past week, rating them from 1-5, with 1 being only a little bit stressful to 5 being really bad.

Now compare lists, and together, give each of these items a second score based on how easy they are to do something about, with 1 being hardest and 5 being easiest. Add up your scores, and choose the 1-2 items with the highest score. Brainstorm ways to address this together.

And remember to check out the Get Your Marriage On! app, that can help you set up the routine of a marriage meeting, and work through these questions. 

Daniel, who created the app, even added my 50 conversation starters to the game–and then added 20 new ones that I wrote over the weekend, that aren’t available on this site, as a bonus just to my readers. When you sign up, use the code TLHV to unlock these 70 conversation starters!

It’s an awesome app with super short but helpful video teachings, and then exercises for you to learn love languages, improve communication, improve sex, resolve conflict, and more. And the tools and games section is actually my favourite, with marriage meetings, games like Strip Battleship, conversation starters, and more!

Get it now here:

What do you think? What is the biggest external cause of stress in most marriages? Is it possible to have dinner together 3 nights a week? Let’s talk in the comments!

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