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My wife and I are in one of the busiest seasons of our life. We currently have four young children, lead a church, lead a coaching business, and are renovating a house.

While we are definitely blessed, we have to be careful that our busy schedules don’t push us away from staying on the same page. For this reason, dialogue with one another is critical to the health of our marriage.

There are times when good communication comes more naturally and is not as rushed. This is what I have found to work for us.

1. Nightly Devotional.

When Christa and I are in bed for the night, we have a couple devotional that we read together. It goes over a ton of subjects such as communication, children, intimacy, and faith.

At the end of each devotion, there are questions designed to help strike up a conversation on the subject we just went over. This helps us connect with one another’s heart on a daily basis.

2. Weekly Schedule Layout.

At the end of my weekly review, the goal is for Christa and me to go over our upcoming week. This is to make sure that we are not missing something important and we are staying on the same page.

3. Biweekly Date.

Typically, we go on a date every other weekend. In our time away, we spend time conversing with one another to ensure we are keeping up with what is going on inside of each other’s hearts.

Since our stress level is lower when we are on a date, the conversation is more natural and not as hurried as it would be in the day-to-day. If you are looking to reignite your passion for dating in your marriage, check out this post.

4. Quarterly Check-Up

A few times a year we go through a list questions to help determine where our marriage is at. This usually occurs on a date night. Here are the questions we go through:

  • What’s one thing I like about you?
  •  What is some new information you have for me?
  • What’s one question you have for me about anything?
  • What’s one complaint you have about me?
    • This one has to be a behavioral complaint.
  •  What one dream hope or wish that you have?
  • What’s one prayer request?

These three different times of communication helps to keep our relationship together. Communication helps keep your marriage together when life it trying to pull it apart.

[bctt tweet=”Communication helps keep your marriage together when life it trying to pull it apart. #marriage #communication ” username=”justinsetzer”]

What times have you found best to help keep consistent communication with your spouse? 

Do you ever wonder how your marriage is doing? I mean, really doing.

I’m someone who enjoys knowing where I stand. I remember asking my wife a while ago if she felt like I made her a priority. Her answer: “Sometimes.”

Ouch!

It was hard to hear that. But it would have been far worse to not know that she felt that way.

Christa and I had a date night less than a week ago. During our date, I asked her if she wanted to do a marriage checkup. I had learned about the marriage checkup from Randy Bezet, Pastor of Bayside Community Church.

A marriage checkup consists of these six questions:

1. What’s one thing I like about you?

It is great to start off the checkup on a good note. Telling your spouse something you like about them gives them a sense of self-worth.

2. What new information do you have for me?

Life can be incredibly busy, and during certain seasons your marriage can feel like two ships passing in the night. You don’t really know how your spouse’s day went, and sometimes each of you can miss some very important information.

By asking this question, you show that you care about what’s happening in your spouse’s life. It also gives you a chance to catch up on the pertinent information you need to know.

3. What’s one question you have for me – about anything?

This may be a question you’ve wanted to ask for ages, but it never seemed like the right time. This is the time.

4. What’s one complaint you have about me?

This can be the most important question and the one whose answer requires the most maturity to hear. One key to this question is that it must relate to something behavioral.

5. What is one dream, hope or wish that you have?

In the midst of busyness, you can forget that your spouse has dreams and ambitions. By asking this question, you show that you’re still interested in making their dreams come true.

6. What’s one prayer request?

You can ask this question, and then grab your spouse’s hand and pray. This is a great way to end the marriage checkup.

Though some of these questions will be painful, they will help you both know where your marriage is at.

Our last date was amazing, and the marriage checkup added much to our conversation. If you need to rekindle dating in your marriage, check out this post.

Take what you learned in this post, add a question if you like – and begin the conversation!

Three Reasons to Give Priority to Your Marriage

If you ask most people if their marriage is a top priority, they would probably answer yes. Yet when you look around at the conditions of many marriages, this does not seem to be the case.

I remember a season when my wife and I were not connecting as well as we should. It was frustrating, and we seemed to be firing on different pistons.

Looking back, I believe one of the reasons we were not connecting was that I wasn’t giving her the priority she deserved in my life. Call it what you will, but I was neglecting my most important human relationship, and it was beginning to show.

While making your marriage a priority will not happen by accident, it is well worth the benefit. In fact, I believe that every person should give priority to their marriage because of these three possible benefits.

1. The marriage will last. A lasting marriage is not only part of our plan, but it was God’s original design. Take a look at what Jesus said:

“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Mark 10:7-9

Like many people reading this, I grew up in a “broken home,” meaning my parents got divorced. I have very few, if any, memories of my parents leaving the house to go on a date together. I believe if you aren’t intentional at doing things together, one of you will walk out the door alone one day forever.

2. The marriage will remain enjoyable. Someone I know told me a story of their grandmother telling them how long she had been married. I would love to tell you that when her grandmother told her the number of years she had been married, she did so with joy in her voice, but this is not the case. In fact, the wording she used before she gave the number is not something I can say.

Their marriage had fulfilled the first benefit in that it was a lasting relationship, but it was no longer enjoyable. I believe that they had possibly lost giving each other the priority they deserved, and their marriage had gone sour.

Fortunately, I have countless examples of marriages I know that have remained enjoyable for decades. These couples are still into one another, go on dates, vacations, and other adventures together.

3. The marriage will reach its full potential. I remember a season where my wife and I would wait until a Friday night to decide on whether or not to go on a date. Some of those nights we would go on a date, and sometimes we wouldn’t. It was frustrating, and I know we were not reaching our full potential.

My lack of intentionally making our time together a priority caused our relationship to be mediocre.

Much of this changed when I created a personal life blueprint, what others call a life plan. In this plan, you prioritize what is most important to you and then schedule it. Herein is the most important thing you can do:

Schedule time together:

• Dates: My wife and I started to have scheduled date nights every other Friday. Our relationship has been so much stronger, and my wife feels loved and cared for. If you need a boost in your dating life, read this post.

• Vacations: At the time of this writing, a good friend of mine is on a vacation with just him and his wife. He owns a thriving business and has three children, but he understands that he needs to give undistracted time to his marriage. They could have given a million excuses why they couldn’t go, but they knew how important investing in their relationship is.

I believe every couple should have a few overnight getaways a year, plus one that lasts a few days. Remember that you will still be together once the children are out of the home, so this is a good practice.

If I looked at your schedule, I would be able to tell you what is important to you. Take some time this week to schedule time with your spouse because if you don’t, it will get crowded out by the busyness of life. If you need some other ways to bless your spouse, read this post.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject below. If you love the post, please share with your friends and family.

 

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock 

Take Care of These Five Priorities and They Will Take Care of You.

Life can speed by at an impossibly fast pace. It seems as if every year there is another child, more child activities, extra responsibilities at work, more bills to pay, or new church initiatives when we are already struggling to keep up with what we have.

I am the type of person who can be hyper-focused on one area of my life at the expense of other areas. Early in my marriage, I was super excited about following Dave Ramsey’s principles (which, by the way, I think everyone should). The problem was that it consumed me. I was excited and we were getting ahead, but other areas of my life were not doing so well.

Everything changed when I started the life planning process. I was introduced to this by Ministry Coaching International, a sister company to Building Champions. Building Champions is known for their Core Four- Life Planning, Business Vision, Business Plan, and Priority Management.

When I started doing a life plan, I began to invest in areas of my life in proportion to their priority. Instead of focusing on one area, I looked at my life and decided what the most important areas were. I believe there are five areas of life that will keep you moving in the right direction if you take good care of them.

1. Relationship with God. I am a Christian, so this is my number one area. Growing in my relationship with God is vital. I believe everything else in your life hinges on your personal relationship with God. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” If this one is off track, it will affect every other area of our lives.

To get the most out of our devotional time with God, we should pick a time and a place. Some people will get the most out of spending time with God early in the morning, while others will benefit most from spending time at night. Choose the time when you can give God your best. If you want more information on how to get the most out of your devotional time, check out this post.

2. Spouse. Many will agree in theory that their spouse should come second only to their relationship with God, but in reality, this area is not usually given the attention it deserves. With so many other things competing for our time, we usually push this priority down the list. I once heard someone say, “Never trade something that is unique to you for something that is not permanent.” That means we shouldn’t put our family below things that may not be permanent, such as career and finances. Common sense and wisdom tell us quality alone time with our spouse is a must. I wrote about ways to be a blessing to your wife in this post.

3. Children. When it comes to your children, making memories is more important than making money. My wife once told me you show how much you value your children by time spent with them, not the amount of money spent. Mark Merrill, the founder of Family First, wrote a great blog post on how to have a positive influence on your child.

4. Health. If your health deteriorates, it will be a burden on many of the above relationships. To be honest, this is an area in which I need to improve. We all know the essentials of good health— diet, exercise, and rest. The issue is putting to use the knowledge we have. Instead of going from one extreme to the other, decide on two things you can improve today that will have the biggest impact on your health

5. Finances. Like health, this is more behavior-based than knowledge based. Everyone knows you shouldn’t spend more money than you make, yet many do. I believe the greatest defense against financial problems is making a monthly budget and sticking to it! Deciding where your money goes is much better than trying to figure out where it went. Early in my life, I really struggled with money management. It wasn’t until I decided to follow the principles laid out in Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover, that I got on track. I learned all I know from Dave Ramsey, so I encourage you to buy his book.

Keeping all these areas in check is not easy, but it is easier when you have a personal life blueprint. Being intentional in these areas will keep the rest of your life in the right lane.

What area(s) do you need to give a higher priority? What could you add to this list?

If you enjoyed the post, please share the love by sharing on your social outlets.

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

Five Ways to Bring Dating Back to Your Marriage

I had been single for most of my twenties, so when I saw a section on dating in our church library my interest was piqued. The first book that caught my eye was the Divine Revelation of Hell. Obviously, the book had been put in the wrong section, but it was slightly humorous.

Fast forward 10 years. I now had an amazing, beautiful wife, but our dating life was just okay. Honestly, I didn’t look forward to date nights as much as I should have. We knew things needed to change. Like most married couples, we could not say our dates were a “Revelation of Hell,” but we couldn’t say they were heavenly, either.

The reality is most people don’t put much effort into their dates. Sometimes, dating in marriage becomes more of a struggle than a blessing. We wait until Friday night to ask our spouse where they would like to go, to which we get the classic response, “I don’t know, where would you like to go?” Many times these conversations become sources of frustration as couples try to figure out what to do with their evening. My wife and I were left feeling as if there must be a better way, and there is.

1. Have a scheduled date night. We don’t want to show up on Friday night and decide whether or not to go on a date. Pick a day and frequency that works for you, and don’t let anything get in the way. It’s that important. My wife and I have date night every other Friday. This is non-negotiable for us. We need this time to connect one-on-one. We have to adjust which days we spend time alone as seasons of life change, but the frequency stays the same.

2. Plan ahead of time. This was probably one of the greatest frustrations of our dates. My wife loves it when we have a plan. There are some questions that have to be asked ahead of time—What are we doing on the date? What time? Who will watch the kids?

3. Ask your spouse on a date. I know you are married, but there is just something about asking your spouse to go on a date. When we get married the passionate pursuit of our spouse should not stop. You can call them, leave a note, send a text, etc.

4. Alternate responsibility. This has been a game changer for us. We alternate the responsibility to plan the night out. To even sweeten the deal, the partner who plans does so for the other’s pleasure. Husbands, when it’s your turn, select activities you know your wife will enjoy.

5. Let this be a no-distraction zone. It’s unfortunate this has to be said, but it’s a sad reality. When you are on the date make sure it’s about the two of you and not about Facebook, the ball game, etc.

If you put these five simple rules into effect, you will revitalize your dating life. I can’t tell you how much more I look forward to our date nights since we implemented them. Instead of being frustrated, I am focusing on one thing- my wife- and we are connecting with each other. For other ways to be a blessing to your spouse, check out this post.

Get together with your spouse this week and go through the list. Schedule a night, time, and planning responsibility and make it happen. Bring dating back to your marriage; you will be glad you did!
When are you going out on your first revitalized date? What else could you add to this list?

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock