Champions of Extraordinary Marriages

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
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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…


Flowing River or Stagnant Pond? December 9, 2009

Filed under: Communication,Romance — Tony & Alisa @ 8:30 am
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Is your marriage flowing?

Is your marriage a flowing river or a stagnant pond?

Your marriage should be like a flowing river. Fresh, moving around and finding ways around obstacles. Your marriage should never be like a still pond of water that just exists as the mold and moss collects along its banks. Like a flowing river your marriage should always be moving forward.

Unfortunately, many marriages become like a pond over the years.  The days of being a flowing river have slowed leaving you and your spouse wondering where to go, and whether to exist at all.  Your marriage continues to exist with little or no pleasure, but you know there is a flowing river ready to be let loose.

What should you do? Sit down together, talk about the stagnation in your marriage, and talk about how to give it a new life.  If you are harboring feelings that are stopping the river from flowing you need to talk to your spouse.  I will admit it is hard to take the first step, but worth it.

Are you not sure how you will come across as you dive into some deep and intimate issues?  Talk openly with an accountability partner (same gender), pastor, marriage coach or counselor.  Any of these folks can help you arrange your thoughts as well as help you move through a personal blockade.

As for me, Tony speaking, every time that I have had to take that first step it’s been a bit nerve racking.  My hands get damp, my heart beats faster, and I get short of breath.  I’m nervous of how Alisa will respond to the conversation.  Fortunately, we have been able to discuss our issues and then work through them.  Over the years we have had less BIG discussions as our river (conversations) flow each day, week, and month.

Is your river flowing today?


3 Questions to Get the Conversation Started. December 3, 2009

Filed under: Communication — Tony & Alisa @ 9:14 pm
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Put your questions on some index cards.

Many relationship problems begin with poor communication. Couples often feel that their partner should know what they are thinking and how they feel so do not communicate and then wonder why they feel neglected and under valued.

How many people decide not to tell their partner something just because they don’t know how to say it and then the problem just eats away at the relationship until there is no relationship left?  What a waste, just the sheer ability to share a problem can make what seemed to be an insurmountable issue a tiny little blip on a large horizon.

So whenever you feel stressed or don’t know what to do don’t just bottle it up, talk about it, seek advice and listen to the answer.  Don’t keep quiet when you know in your heart a problem has to be aired and don’t put off until tomorrow what has to be sorted today. Tomorrow never comes!!!

Something that Alisa and I have done to help us through these dry spells is to get two 3″x5″ cards and on each card we write down three questions that we’ll ask one another every day. Some questions that might be used are:

What victories have built up our marriage?
Could changing our spending and savings habits make a drastic change in our marriage?
What do I do that attracts you to me?
What blessing have we seen in our marriage?
Tell me about the most exciting thing you did today?
Need more questions, check out 201 Great Questions by Jerry Jones.

Now schedule 15 minutes when the two of you can sit down and ask each other your questions.  Really listen to your spouse and hear what they have to say.  You’d be amazed at how much you’ll learn about that person you sleep next to every night.


Staycation 101 November 30, 2009

Filed under: General,Romance — Tony & Alisa @ 8:31 am
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Downtown San Diego is awesome!  The Gaslamp Quarter and Sea Port Village area are alive with people eating, sightseeing, dancing, and my personal favorite people watching.  Over the Thanksgiving weekend Alisa and I were blessed with a staycation.  My brother and sister-in-law took both of our kids for the long weekend giving us plenty of time to relax and do a couple of things we wouldn’t otherwise do.

We try to get a weekend away at least once or twice a year to reconnect and recharge our marriage.  The last time we had an overnight without the kids was in July when Alisa and I attended a marriage conference in Indian Wells.  We always head out of town for such an occasion, but this time we decided to forgo the cost of a hotel and stay at home.  We instead splurged on some great food at Croce’s Restaurant where the sounds of Yavaz, a latin jazz band played with gusto while we ate.  Afterwards we walked along 5th street enjoying the sights and sounds of the Gaslamp.

The following morning we lazed around the house enjoying the quiet that comes with not having kids around.  With rain coming down on and off all day we decided to head to the USS Midway Museum.   All I can say is wow!!!  We spent close to 3 hours on the USS Midway and didn’t see the whole ship.  After being aboard the USS Midway I have a new appreciation for all of our servicemen and women who protect and serve us with their lives.  Thank you to each and everyone of you.

That evening we attended church before heading to The Barrel Room.  Another fine restaurant with a very relaxed atmosphere.  Alisa and I decided to sit on a comfortable leather couch as we talked and ate our dinner.  There is just something about hanging out on a couch side-by-side eating a meal.  The Seared Ahi Salad was simple and tasty while the garlic fries added a good kick to the meal.

Sunday came and we were off to Los Angeles to pick up the kids.  The joy of seeing them again was fantastic and the quality time spent with Alisa allows us to be the lovers and parents that we are called to be.

So to sum up the weekend:

Dinner at Croce’s: $80
Tickets for the Midway tour:  $30 (AAA discount, use it if you have it)
Dinner at the Barrel Room:  $6 (with a $25 gift certificate)
Not staying in a hotel:  (-$250)

A weekend to rejuvenate our marriage:  PRICELESS

Are you ready for a staycation?  Take the Lead and make it happen for you and your spouse.



Truly Thankful November 26, 2009

Filed under: General — Tony & Alisa @ 7:34 am
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Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

On this day set aside for gratitude I hope that you will take the time to reflect on ALL of your blessings.  I’d like to share some of my list with you:

My life, all of it, the good and the bad because without both I would not be who I am today.

My husband, who puts up with more than he should, who does more than he probably wants to, and who loves me no matter what.

My children, who day in and day out deal with a mom who’s trying to get it right, some days more successfully than others.

My family, who has known me forever and has come to embrace, or at least tolerate, the quirks that make me unique.

My friends, who support me, encourage me, listen and love me.

My clients, who have enriched my life by sharing their lives with me.

The readers of this blog, who give me an audience for my thoughts.

Please take some time today to reflect on your blessings and share them with us.

Happy Thanksgiving!