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Champions of Extraordinary Marriages

The Marriage Dance January 12, 2010

Do you long to dance with your spouse?  Do fantasize of an evening out dancing together?

I do.

In many ways Alisa and I are doing a daily dance.  We interact with each other (talking, listening, touching, seeing) and our kids (telling, acknowledging, helping, teaching) the most, but there are times when family and friends also enter the dance.  Sometimes it’s good that they enter and other times not so good.  You know what I mean.

There are days when I’m dancing on clouds and other days I feel like my feet are stuck in cement.  I often wonder why this happens and sometimes in the same day.  Do you ever feel like this in your marriage?  It’s frustrating, but as the years have passed I’ve come to understand the flow of our marriage.

This past Friday night was our “Date Night”.  This is something that we are purposeful about each and every month.  It is our time alone.  Love my kids, but I want to spend the rest of my life with Alisa and if we don’t invest now who knows what could happen.  These dates give us time to connect and dig deep into our relationship without the constant interruptions.  I’m being interrupted right now as I type, my oldest isn’t going to sleep and I’m starting to get frustrated.

Back to the blog…for this “Date Night” we had decided to learn take a Cha-Cha class and then attend a dance party at the studio.  The week leading up to our date night Alisa had been “practicing” the Cha-Cha moves from instructional youtube videos.  I was getting excited to go out and dance with Alisa.  The last time I was this excited to dance was on our wedding day (13 years ago) because I knew we would end up in our hotel room afterwards.

This time learning to dance stemmed from our desire to find a passion and activity that the two of us could do together.  We were stepping out of our comfort zones to stretch ourselves and our marriage.  For me being the extrovert in the marriage I also figured it would be a great way for us to branch out and meet new people.

Friday started off great, date night was planned,  kids were going to the sitters, Alisa was going to make a romantic dinner at home and then off to Cha-Cha lessons.

Except for one small thing…kindergarten immunizations and flu shots.  Dang those shots.

Abby received five shots and Alex two as they spent 2 hours in the doctors office Friday afternoon.  Guess what?  Date night didn’t happen.  Both kids were traumatized from their long afternoon at the doctor’s office and this was one of those nights that we didn’t think it wise to leave the kids with the babysitter.

We made the most out of it the situation.  We were able to have a quiet dinner while the kids watched a movie followed by family movie night watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Was it what we had planned? No, but the reality is that life often doesn’t go the way that we plan.  I would like to just end this here and say that everyone went to bed happy, but in reality I was upset and frustrated.  Have you experienced this in your marriage?

You know what I did, I wallowed in my own negativity, but as I laid down I realized I made a big mistake.  The time with Alisa, although not a date night, was still needed and should have been cherished.  I didn’t do that.  Even though I didn’t handle the evening perfectly, I learned from it.  Isn’t that what marriage is all about?  Learning, falling, getting up and then doing it again and again. It’s The Marriage Dance.

When things don’t go the way you plan them are you going to be negative and wallow in the misery of the situation or are you going to try and find a way to take these new circumstances and use them to your benefit?  What dance are you dancing with your spouse?

 

7 Days to an On Fire Marriage January 4, 2010

Filed under: marriage,Romance — Tony & Alisa @ 9:55 am
Tags: , , , ,

Each of us desires to be more romantic in our marriage.  You may be in a loving relationship, but you don’t know the first thing about how to romance from the heart. Sure, you can say, “I love you,” just fine, but all those wonderful, romantic ideas just seem to escape you.

Start 2010 on the right foot with you beloved.  Below are 18 ideas that you can do to for your spouse over the next 7 days to set your marriage On Fire.  You can simply follow these 18 ideas or you can adapt the suggestions below to your own nature.   Either way, you will be well on your way to being the true romantic!

Day 1:

1. Leave a note professing your love for your partner to find during the day. Put the note where it will be found, easily. Try their briefcase, the driver’s seat of their car, in their coat pocket, in their lunch bag, taped to the receiver of the phone, taped to their computer, or left taped to a doorknob.

2. As soon as you arrive home for the day seek out your partner and offer a big, loving kiss. Tell your partner how much you love him or her and ask about their day. Make this a new, daily habit.

3. As an alternate idea, when your partner arrives home for the day, take their hand and pull them towards you aggressively. Offer a huge hug, kiss and say, “I missed you today!”

Day 2:

4. While your partner showers, heat up his or her towel in the dryer.

5. Have flowers delivered to partner at work.

6. Surprise your partner by arriving home with their favorite drink, snack, or ice-cream.

Day 3:

7. Arrange for an intimate lunch date with your partner.

8. Afterward, send a virtual card. Tell them how much you enjoyed lunch together.

Day 4:

9. Call your partner in the middle of the day to discuss your romantic plans for that evening.

10. Print out some love coupons (find them on-line) and present them to your partner.

One might say: this entitles loved one to a full-body massage, and sign your name.

Day 5:

11. For the kid in all of us! Use multi-colored, sidewalk chalk to draw a BIG heart in red and write. Print out the words, “I love you” in the middle of the heart. Do this someplace that is prominent such as on your driveway so that when your partner comes home he or she will see it.

12. Cook a favorite meal for your partner and then eat it, slowly, by candlelight.

Day 6:

13. When the weather is best, take a brisk walk through a nature trail with your love and talk about all the reasons why he or she is so special to you.

14. If the weather is dreary, have an indoor picnic. Spend the time together, inside enjoying your favorite board games and just relaxing and talking.

15. Cuddle up in your pj’s and relish a romantic movie together.

Day 7:

16. Just sleep in and cuddle together. Call into work and explain you are “under the weather” and need to rest a bit more before coming in.

17. Make a long list of the many reasons why you love your partner as you do and then have them framed and present it to him or her.

18. If you don’t live together, call your loved one just to say goodnight. Recite a favorite love poem over the phone and end with, “Sweet dreams, until we meet again!”

What can you do this week to romance your loved one?

 

More…40 Days to a Mind Blowing Marriage! December 29, 2009

“I need to think about it.”

WHAT!!! He had to think about it? C’mon I had just said yes to making love to him for 60 days!!! What in the heck did he have to think about?

It turns out that he had some of the same questions that I did.

What if we did this?

What if I can’t hold up my end of this?

How would this work?

Could I do this?

So, we really had quite a bit to talk about as we ventured forward.  We laid there in bed talking about how this would all work out.  The How, What, Where, and When.  We set up “excused” days-illness, my menstrual cycle , and out of town trips.  During the discussion we decided that we were both willing to get creative with location, time of day, positions etc.

Over the next couple of nights we continued to discuss all sorts of possibilities that could arise.  Here are a few that I remember:

What would happen if one of us was out and didn’t get home until late and the other was fast asleep?  Wake them up.

How do we work around Tony’s bicycling schedule?  He was willing to make it work no matter what.

Does a “quickie” count? Oh, YES!

Finally, we began the countdown to September 1, the start of our 60 Day Challenge.

From the start I was blown away at what started happening in our marriage.  We began having conversations about more than just the kids, work, and the day to day stuff.  We were talking and listening to each other and enjoying it. We began to rediscover each others desires, passions, and fears.  It was truly amazing!  The craziest thing, for me, was that I looked forward to being intimate with my husband. It was no longer about making excuses to get out of making love,  but rather when and where were we going to make love.  Let’s get to it became my motto!

September was like being on our honeymoon again but better because after 11 years we had learned a lot about each other and were truly enjoying these intimate moments.  We were veterans at this and now we were really putting our years of experience to work, literally and figuratively.  We started strong, we were able to go 9 days straight before our first day off, hello fatigue!  As much fun as we were having it was exhausting keeping up with our daily tasks, kids, work, and other activities.

One memorable night was when Tony had gone to Orange County for a going away party and was expected home around 11pm.  Tony, wanting to get home so that we could make love,  got a late start back to San Diego.  It came down to the wire as he arrived at 11:55pm.  I waited for him at the door as clothes came flying off as we headed for our bedroom. We ran over into the next day and wondered if we could count this love making session as two days?  We decided no and laughed as we fell asleep in each others arms.  The end of September brought my menstrual cycle and we were both so happy and ready for a break!

The strange thing for me was after a couple of days I was missing that physical intimacy with Tony.  I was looking forward to getting back to our daily love making, but October was completely different.

October started out with two sick kids, Tony’s first ever migraine and MRI, sleepless nights and sheer fatigue!  Translation:  No desire to make love whatsoever.  We were in a state of disconnect.  With all of the health problems we were completely out of sync.

One particular entry from October 6th tells the story perfectly.

Alisa’s entry – We are healthy!  Yet I don’t want to make love to Tony.  I actually prayed tonight for a change of heart because I had been enjoying this and looking forward to it last month.  Physically I enjoy myself but mentally, tonight, I had difficulty being in the moment with Tony.  I am wrestling with it so much that after I couldn’t fall asleep.  I tossed and turned for 2 hours gefore getting up to read on the couch and fell asleep there.

Tony’s entry – What a wonderful evening together.  Alisa and I made love for what seemed like the 1st time in a long time.  I guess when we’re making love almost every night in September to being derailed in October it feels like a long time.  It’s great to be close to Alisa again both physically and spiritually.

With the end in sight, we had lots of nights where we were just trying to make it through.   I began to pray before and during our physical intimacy.  It helped, but that’s for another blog.

October 31st came before we knew it.  The highs and lows of our 60 Day Challenge came to an end and you know what, we survived.  We didn’t just survive we learned a lot about ourselves that and are thriving to this day!  This was perhaps the single most positive life changing thing we have ever done for our marriage.

This time together was challenging, exciting, and awesome!

I’ve been asked if I would do it again? YES!  I have come to realize that having that connection with my husband truly changed our marriage.  Putting a stop to the excuses and accepting Tony’s needs was a win for me too.  It turned out that my intimacy needs, emotional, intellectual,  and spiritual were being met more than I could have ever expected.

We’ve made a lifestyle change where intimacy is a priority in our marriage and we hope that this will spark are flame in you to move beyond yourself and begin a challenge of your own.  What are you waiting for?

Coming March 2010, Stripped Down – 13 Keys to ONE Extraordinary Marriage.

 

40 Days to a Mind Blowing Marriage! December 28, 2009

It’s time we came clean with how we find ourselves writing this blog and even talking about marriage.  It all started back in August 2008.  Tony and I were about to lead a small group on intimacy and had stumbled across an interview with two couples who had done what would seem virtually impossible.  Chandra Mueller had offered her husband 365 nights of intimacy for his 40th birthday and Douglas and Annie Brown had had sex for 101 nights.  As we are watching these interviews on the computer I’m thinking to myself that these women are NUTS!!!!! I make sure to verbalize this to Tony so that he doesn’t get any crazy ideas.

I’m glad I verbalized my thoughts to Tony, but having been married to him for 11 years I expected something.  He didn’t disappoint me.  The next day he threw it out there.  “Hey Alis, what if we were intimate (make love/have sex) every night for the next two months while we lead our small group?”

NO WAY.

Tony loves throwing ideas out there and this was one I didn’t have to or want to think about it.  There was no way I was going to say yes to be intimate with him every night for the next 60 days.  We probably made love once a week, maybe twice if we were lucky, and now he wanted to make love every day.  No thank you, good night.

That night, as I laid there in bed reading, my mind was working overtime.   I was actually kind of intrigued by the idea.  The “What IF’s” kept coming up.

What if we did this?

What if I enjoyed it?

What if I said yes?

How would this work?

Could I do this?

At the time (September and October 2008) we had a 5 year old and a 2 year old, Tony had his business obligations, we were involved in our church and our many other activities from volunteering to sports.

Would I like it? Don’t get me wrong here I enjoy being intimate with my husband, but would it still be good day after day after day for 60 days?  I didn’t want to lose the special connection just because we were trying to make love for 60 daysl.

Here’s the big ONE…Was I willing to give up my excuses (I’m tired, it’s been a long day, I don’t feel like it, etc.) and commit to saying YES every day? I’m sure every husband reading this is probably thinking that this would be the ultimate gift.  However, I had become very comfortable controlling the frequency of sex in our marriage.  If I was in the mood for it then we would make love, otherwise sorry.  Was I willing to relinquish that power I had over our sexual intimacy?

The evening after Tony asked, “What if we were intimate every night for the two months while we lead our small group?”, I told Tony the one word that will forever change our marriage, “YES”.  And then he said one of the craziest things I have ever heard…

What do you think he said?

 

It Takes Two December 21, 2009

It takes two to make a thing go right
It takes two to make it outta sight

~Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock

What’s the key to a successful marriage? It takes a willingness on the part of both spouses to do those things that we often let go by the wayside or allow to become not so important. Read through the helpful tips below on how to make your relationship extraordinary.

1. Without quality time together, your relationship will not survive. Aim to devote at least half an hour a night, and at least one day a month when the two of you spend time exclusively together.  We like to take time before going to bed to unwind and connect.  With 2 kids this is a perfect time for us.

Each month we have a date night on the calendar, usually the first Friday of the month.  This is our night to dress up, try a new restaurant, and take a drive along the coast.

2. Money is one of the top conflicts between most couples. For the relationship to work, you need to address your finances and maybe even work out a budget.  We’ve come from the depths of debt. We amassed over $50,000 in consumer debt and are now debt free.  We’ll blog more on this in an upcoming post.  Check out Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace.

3. Communication is vital to all healthy relationships. Listen to your partner and avoid blame and judgment. Don’t let your emotions dictate your behavior. Talking things over can help you to both have a deeper understanding of each other.  Are you having trouble getting the conversation started?  Check out Three Questions to get the Conversation Started to help you out.

4. Sort out your sex life. For most of us, it’s probably not what it used to be.  It’s time to recapture the passion.  Maybe one of you prefers more sex than the other. Why not experiment with new ideas in the bedroom?  Try new positions, new locations (outside of the bedroom), use oils, and/or set the mood with candles.  Whatever you decide, remember it has to be comfortable for both of you-talk about it.

5. Learn to forgive.  One of the hardest things to do in any relationship is to let go of past hurts.  Remember that holding onto the anger and resentment does not improve your relationship with your spouse but further isolates you from each other.   Making the decision to forgive gives you power and freedom over the situation.  While it is not easy and takes time choosing to forgive can have a profound effect on your marriage. What does the Bible say about forgiveness?

6. Remember that going to a marriage coach is not a sign of a failed relationship but rather an indication that you want to make things work.  Seeking help can turn a bad relationship around and can also turn an average relationship into an excellent one. More and more couples are turning to coaching today; it shows you are both prepared to try and make things better, which can’t be a bad thing at all.

It takes 100% commitment from both of you. However, healthy and long-lasting marriages are achievable and many couples have proven just that. Not everything is always going to be perfect but if you both choose to make it work then it can. And remember it’s the little things that you sometimes do that can go a long way to making your relationship work.

 

On an Island… December 15, 2009

Filed under: marriage,Spirituality — Tony & Alisa @ 9:35 am
Tags: , , , ,

Are you on an island?

Close your eyes and think of your favorite island.  Where is it?  What memories do you have of your time there?  White sandy beaches, fruity drinks, and the smell of the ocean.  An island is a marvelous place where the sun is shinning, the surf is fantastic, and the sunsets are gorgeous.  My most memorable island experience was when I got to spend 3-weeks on the big island of Hawaii. Nothing short of amazing.

The island I’m talking about in this post doesn’t resemble the perfect island experience.  I’m going to talk about the isolation island. That island we are on when something bad happens in our lives.  We have an argument with our spouse, lose a child, have severe financial issues, etc.  In our mind we are the only one going through such an issue even with 6.6 billion people on the planet. Joy, love, and happiness is happening all around us, but we are isolated and alone.

Alisa and I have been on such an island.

On December 14th, 2004 we lost our second child, Andrew, when Alisa miscarried at 18-weeks.  It was a low and dark day for the both of us.  The joy and anticipation of a child had been stripped from us.  Friends and family were around to support us during this difficult time, but we were alone, separated from our Heavenly Father, wondering why us?  The days, weeks, and months that followed were some of the toughest in our marriage.  Alisa and I had difficulty talking, being around each other, or even parenting.  We went through the motions of marriage and parenthood, but the fog was so thick we couldn’t see. The pain was deep.  I stuffed it away so as to not have to deal with it.  Alisa went into a mild depression.  We should have sought help, counseling, therapy, something, but didn’t.  Instead we did nothing.  We existed in a house together, but that was about it. Satan had us where he wanted us, alone, secluded, and afraid.  We were on an island.

The old adage that time will heal a broken heart is true in this case.  We needed time to process the loss, but we also needed time to get back on track with our marriage.  A couple of months after the loss of Andrew, Alisa and I made the decisions to get off that island.  It was tough, but we began by sharing our hurts and pains, listening to one another, and encouraging each other to be the best person we could be.  It worked-slowly.  On November 29th, 2005 the joy and happiness returned when a beautiful baby girl was born.

It’s time to get off your island and experience the fullness your marriage has for you.   Make the effort to connect with your spouse even though it is tough.  Recognize that whatever is causing the isolation is not going to go away with the snap of your fingers you are going to have to put forth effort to rekindle the spark, the enthusiasm for your marriage.  Now is the time to get in the boat and start paddling toward a brighter marriage.

What’s your isolation island?  Are you ready to leave it?

 

A Romantic Christmas is… December 11, 2009

There have been times when we’ve posed a question for you our loyal reader to respond to, this time we’re changing it up a bit. We are looking for your thoughts, but this is also a tool to help you design your life and relationships as you move forward.

The format is easy, simply complete this sentence in the comments. While the format may be easy, completing the sentence may not be.

If you’d like to get even more from this exercise, journal on this as well, or discuss this with your spouse, family, and friends.

A romantic Christmas is…