Why not harness the power of a marriage app to help you feel connected?
We all know we are supposed to spend time with our spouse and check in… but how do you make that happen practically? And when you are alone and talking, how do you keep the conversation productive? I’ve asked Joanna, who works with me, to share how she and her husband are managing that while in the crazy season of raising littles. Here’s Joanna!
And thanks to the Get Your Marriage On app for sponsoring this post:
I am a stay at home mom who works from home with a toddler. We’re still getting settled into a new area where we don’t have family (though we LOVE living near Keith and Sheila). Add to that a terrible, life-threatening miscarriage in June of this year and a rather ridiculous set of health problems for me (including thyroid cancer diagnosed last November), and you’ve got a sense of where we’re at. Plus my husband, Josiah, has a stressful job as a lawyer and my daughter has terrible food allergies. It’s been a lot.
I don’t tell you all this to complain, but just to let you know that I GET IT. We are so in the trenches with you. This season of life has been nuts.
If you were to sit down and type out all of the hard things in your life right now, I’d be willing to bet you could generate a laundry list like the one I made above.
Whether it’s busyness from kids’ activities, health concerns, or schooling issues, life can be a lot. Add to that the demands and expectations of modern parenting and connecting as a couple can easily fall by the wayside.
Josiah and I have been trying out the Get Your Marriage On app this week and we’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve especially liked the prompts for follow up questions that follow each of the short videos – they really help to apply each concept. It’s also been fun to explore the other features in the app, including some conversation starters and marriage games.
The app covers everything from communication, love languages, resolving conflict, sex, and more–with quick teaching videos (they’re super practical and to-the-point), discussion points, practical exercises, and more. It’s kind of like taking in a marriage conference without having to leave home, or getting some inexpensive marriage counseling when things are just blah–but nothing super big is going wrong.
Maybe you’re like us and you’re in a season that is a LOT and you have to communicate your way through it. Maybe things are okay, but you sense they could be better, and you’d like a marriage tune up. Maybe you’re struggling to connect, feel you’re drifting apart, and want to grow closer.
If you want to make your marriage better, Get Your Marriage On is a great place to start.
The app is free but there are premium options available with additional videos and games (including one called Battle Strip… get it?) The premium version is $52/year but you can get a free week long trial so you can see if it works for you and then cancel if it’s not quite what you were looking for.
One feature we especially liked was the idea of having a weekly marriage meeting. I know that sounds like the most corporate thing you could ever do in your marriage, but think of it more as a weekly check in. We were really taken with the idea. Having a dedicated time to talk in private and share what is truly on your heart is incredibly important for building intimacy. It takes vulnerability to share where you are and it’s important to put words to things.
As the app creators say,
“If every married couple did this one thing, it would put 90% of marriage counselors out of business.”
To have a marriage meeting, you’ll need to set aside private time to connect intentionally. You can totally do this in the car alone while watching your child’s baseball practice. Or you could take a long walk. Or connect while chopping vegetables. Or chat after the kids are in bed. Whatever you need to do to get about 30 minutes together to chat!
Of course, all meetings need agendas. Here’s what you’ll be talking through in your meeting (and be sure to check out the videos in the app for more details! I especially liked the agenda planner in the premium version – made my little type A heart happy.)
1. Affirm Each Other
Think about areas where your spouse has come through in the last week and be specific. Try to avoid a “you do so well with the baby” and say instead “I saw the way that you played with the baby during bath time. She lit up and you were so interactive with her. Then you took care of the bedtime routine and dealt with a nasty diaper, too! I was so grateful that I get to parent with you.” Finding specific things that you appreciated about your spouse builds intimacy and puts you both in a great frame of mind.
2. Plan for Fun
Whether you want to connect solo or with your broader family, sit down and think about some fun things you can do together. Think of something that will allow you to connect authentically and enjoy each other as you grow in friendship as a family or couple.
3. Chores and Business
Talk through how you’ll be handling housework, meal prep, and logistics for the family for the next week. Sort out any bills that need to be paid or any calls that have fallen by the wayside and split the tasks fairly between the two of you. You’re running a household together and this is a time to deal with the nitty gritty.
4. Issues to Discuss
Is there anything that’s been bothering you that you haven’t had the right time to bring up? Now is the time to talk it out. (Note: don’t bring out a laundry list here. Come up with one or two actionable suggestions). Then work together to problem solve and figure out how to improve things
5. My Needs List
What do you need right now? What are 5 things that would make you cartwheel happy? Oftentimes, many of the things you want most are things you can’t control (think trying to get pregnant or having a difficult relationship with a coworker) but others are almost certainly to be actionable (keeping the house cleaner, exercising more, etc.) Use the time to talk about the things you don’t have control over and share how the waiting is making you feel. Then come up with an action step or two for the following week. Remember: don’t shoot for the moon and reject all-or-nothing thinking. One incremental step in the right direction is a huge win.
6. How can I show love?
Finally think about ways you can show love to each other this week. Whether that’s more non-sexual touch, puttering around the house, or spending time one walks together, brainstorm ways you can show love to each other this week. Keep the goal attainable, measurable, and timely for where you are in your marriage and you’ll be off to the races!
So here’s what happened in our inaugural marriage meeting
We decided to have our first marriage meeting, Wednesday night after we put the toddler to bed and before Survivor, show and games to follow. I made dinner (pad thai) while Josiah took the baby to the grocery store to get some treats for our special night. We ate, the baby worked on potty training (success was had!) and then we put her to bed, though I was concerned that she was coughing and had a bit of a rash on her back. We figured she was getting a cold and that she’d had the rash for a bit.It was nice to have an agenda to work through – we laughed about meal planning for the week ahead and sorted out the property taxes for our house. We discussed what we’re needing these days and it felt so good to verbalize everything. It was nice to be able to talk about where we’ve been improving lately, what has helped us get there, and how we can keep going.
As we chatted, I kept hearing coughing and fussing from the baby and eventually started wondering about dinner. I looked at the recipe and realized that the rice noodles that I assumed were egg free… weren’t. I raced into the bedroom, woke my baby (who was, by now, covered in hives) and we quickly dosed her with an antihistamine. I called Keith to get a pep talk, encouragement, and make sure we didn’t need to go to the ER (we did not). I realized our epi pens were in the car and quickly retrieved them, just in case. Baby’s hives went down as she snuggled with her dad and played on our bed until she was ready to go back to sleep.
Having our daughter in bed and away from us during a food allergy reaction is really scary for me and I was quite shaken. My husband and I debriefed our decision making processes over the course of the evening and were honest with each other about where each of us went wrong. I didn’t listen to my intuition, he didn’t pay enough attention to dinner and didn’t think to tell me that rice noodles sometimes contain egg. We communicated our way through our feelings about our daughter’s allergies and the other health problems we’ve had in our family recently. It was good to talk through it all and be able to share where we are, even if we can’t answer all the questions today.
In the end, I was in no way up for a game and so, instead, we sat and enjoyed watching a comedian to escape for a bit and laugh together. It felt like medicine to giggle together after an ordeal like that. We’ll do the fun parts tomorrow and tonight I’m just going to be grateful for the precious gift of our baby girl.
Isn’t that just what parenting littles is like? You think you’re sorted out when something goes sideways and you find yourself in a new challenge and have to navigate it together.
It’s easy to feel like we just need to gut out the crazy years of marriage when kids are little, money is tight, and time is limited. But the next stage will have its challenges too, they’ll just be different from the ones we’re facing now. We can choose to work on our relationships throughout OR we can ignore our marriage and important friendships and when the hard times come, we won’t have the skills or resilience to weather the storm well.
Thanks, Joanna! And that is the thing about life, isn’t it? Things never go as smoothly as you plan, but that’s why we can’t keep putting off working on your marriage.
I really like the teaching that’s in the Get Your Marriage On app. It’s like they encapsulate the best and most actionable parts of great teachers like John Gottman, and then give you little bites in each of their videos. So you don’t have to devote two hours or anything to it. You can watch a bit, and then talk a bit and do an exercise. And as you work through the app, you get badges and more for finishing certain bits of the curriculum. And then you can still have fun with the conversation starters, date nights, strip battleship, the marriage meetings, and more.
There are even hilarious videos that will help you laugh at yourselves! And tons of foreplay and sex tips, too. 🙂
In fact, I’ve given them 70 of my own conversation starters to use in the app. They’ve got the 50 from my conversation starters post, plus twenty that I wrote, just for them. You can use one or two in each of your marriage meetings. Just use the code TLHV when you buy to open up the extra conversation starters!
I’m so grateful to the Get Your Marriage On app for sponsoring, and also for creating this great app. You all know that I’ve been quite dismayed at the quality of many Christian marriage books lately, and so it’s wonderful to have a resource that is HEALTHY to recommend–and one that’s also easy to use.
Lots of people just can’t sit down and read a whole book, and even if they do, how do you put it into practice? This is focused on putting things into practice and actually making small changes that add up, which is completely my approach to marriage, too. I love it! And I love finding things to recommend and companies to partner with that fit in so well with the blog.
So take a look at the app for yourself, either on Android or iOS. And then see your marriage grow!
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