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A Hot Valentine’s Day

burning heart

As a marriage blogger I’m always on the lookout for interesting and inspiring articles to share. Turns out I’m not the only one with awesome marriage articles and often I get great ideas for my own blog. I’m also learning the power of great titles. A great headline gives an idea of what the article is about while providing enough intrigue to want to read it.

I recently came across an article from Huffington Post with the headline: 11 Things That Instantly Make A Man Hot.

I thought “wow, 11 things?” Clearly it was not written by a man. Seems like a guy would have stopped at 5 or 6 things that make him hot.

Then I thought “I bet I can guess what the article is about.”

Hot can mean a lot of different things. Angry for instance. 11 things that instantly make a man angry, 1. Running out of bacon 2. Stepping on a Lego. What a depressing article. No, it wouldn’t be about anger.

Hot can mean sexy. But it couldn’t be about that, no way there are 11 things that make a man sexy especially instantly sexy.

It must be about being hot.
That’s easy, I can write about being hot. I’ve been hot.

  1. One summer our air conditioner broke. I know, first world problem, but it made me hot.
  2. Running makes me hot. Even when It’s cold outside running brings on the sweat.
  3. When my wife turns up the heater full blast. When my wife is cold, the heater goes only on high. Sure it feels good at first but I get hot WAY before she begins to get warm.
  4. Sitting in a sauna. I’ve only been in a sauna a few times but I remember being hot.
  5. I installed a metal roof in the middle of summer. That made me hot.

See, I can’t even get close to eleven.

Anyway, I clicked on the article. I was right it is written by a woman but I was wrong about the content. She shared her thoughts about what makes a man attractive including: a sense of humor, intellect, and integrity. Guess it proves you can’t judge an article by its title.

The internet is full of amazing, funny, and ridiculous articles about marriage, how to be romantic, what is sexy, how to be happy, relationship hacks etc. (my blog included). The articles may be great but they are only words on the screen until you use them. The important part is how you use the information to better your marriage.

Valentine’s Day is the celebration of romantic connection. To have a wonderful Valentine’s Day stop looking to the internet for the answers and communicate face to face with your spouse. Ask THEM what is hot. Have fun. Be silly. Smile. Kiss. Describe your love with words then listen. Don’t forget to listen. Listening is romantic. The moments you spend sharing sweet loving affirmations will make this Valentine’s Day truly wonderful. For an extra hot Valentine’s Day get in your car and turn up the heater full blast, works every time.

Have you ever inaccurately judged an article by its title? What did you learn?

7 Relationship Hacks to Make the Most of Your Time Together

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

 

We’re all busy. Marriage can be especially difficult when you have no time together.

The couples with the best relationships find a way to make the most of the time they have together.

Time is a valuable resource. Make the most of it.

  1. Look at each other. What you are looking at has your attention. Communication works better with eye contact. When you look at your spouse you can better understand their body language. Looking at your phone does not count as spending time together, even if you are posting how much you love your spouse on Facebook.
  2. Touch each other. Physical touch is an amazing way to connect emotionally when you have time together. Brief affectionate touching is all you need for wonderful connection. Touching all the time is going to end up awkward and impractical as a three legged race.
  3. Team up on tasks. Doing projects and spending time together are not mutually exclusive. Go to the store together, clean the garage together, make lunch together, clean mud off your toddler together. If you wait until you have uninterrupted time together, you will be out of time. Divide and conquer is a good strategy to get tasks done but it rarely ends up allowing for more time together later.
  4. Eat together. You have to do it anyway, do it together. Nourishing your physical body can also nourish your emotional connection.
  5. Exercise together. The benefit of exercise is both physical and relational. Couples who sweat together stay together. This Psychology Today article agrees.  Go for a run together, it could be just the adventure your relationship needs.
  6. Go to sleep together. When you go to bed at the same time you maximize your time together. The bedroom setting also allows for more private conversation and increases the likelihood of sex. Ok, this is not exactly guaranteed, especially when you have children, but it’s still a great idea.
  7. Wake up together. Morning time may not be your prime time, but starting the day together can set you up for a great well connected day. It works for Jon and Jenny Acuff.

 

What would you add? What relationship hacks have been the most helpful in your marriage?

3 Minutes of Silent Night

Copyright: romasph / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: romasph / 123RF Stock Photo

 

The nativity scene has always been one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Baby Jesus in the manger in the center, Mary and Joseph nearby, a collection of shepherds with their animals, the star. The nativity tells the story of the first Christmas, the humble setting, and the miracle of Jesus’s birth. When I look at a nativity it feels peaceful, serene, still, and perfect, just as the song explains, Silent Night.

Then I became a parent.

I still believe the nativity scene tells the story of Christmas, but only about three minutes of the story. The miracle of Jesus’s birth is still there and just as meaningful, but now that I’m a parent I see the simple miracle of a sleeping infant. Now I get the line of the song “sleep in heavenly peace” because when babies are finally asleep, it feels like heaven.

No way Mary and Joseph were able to sit awkwardly as those figurines in my house looking at baby Jesus for hours. I don’t know what they did when Jesus fell asleep but I’m sure they felt stressed. For one, feeling stressed is a basic human condition when you have your firstborn, and two, their relationship seemed a bit tense. Joseph had to be convinced by an angel to even stay with Mary. I’m not sure what they did when Jesus fell asleep, but if they were lucky they fell asleep too. The advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps” could be ancient Jewish wisdom. Perhaps they talked softly in the starlight. If they were anything like us, Mary was reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Joseph was busy installing the baby carrier to the donkey.

At Christmas we often expect holy perfection and become disheartened with our real experience. We have visions of perfect holiday peace and joy; we even decorate the house with those words. In reality, the holidays may feel neither peaceful or joyous. Stress and conflict, busyness, pressures, and exhaustion seem more the norm, especially when parenting.

Parenting is difficult. It can be especially taxing to your marriage during the holiday season.

  1. Discuss what you and your spouse would like your children to experience and learn this holiday season. When you understand you have a common goal negotiating the strategy to meet the goal is easier.
  2. Celebrate your kids. Stop, even in the chaos of parenting, and express thankfulness for the blessing of your children. It’s extra meaningful when your children hear you.

To learn more, including three practical strategies to successfully connect with your children and your spouse during this special season, Click here for your Holiday Survival Guide!

boys with nativity

Nativity Stress

Copyright: ivonnewierink / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: ivonnewierink / 123RF Stock Photo

Despite the misleading “all is calm” nativity scene, conflict has always been a part of the Christmas season. In the Biblical passages containing the Christmas story (Luke 1-2) you can see plenty of relationship conflict. We tend to concentrate only on the nice parts of the story, when the stars shine and angels sing. I’m guessing Mary and Joseph remember the first Christmas as pretty stressful.

I get stressed when getting ready for holiday travel. I pack the car perfectly and then I have to add another “just one more thing” and finally, I’m expected to top it off by cramming in the gift bags without crushing the delicate tissue paper. Tension and conflict overcome my peace and joy.

Mary and Joseph were familiar with stressful travel. Before the first Christmas they traveled to his hometown of Bethlehem. Joseph had to pack the family donkey for the trip. I have no experience with donkeys or packing one for a trip with a pregnant wife, but I know at some point he was thinking “there is no way I can fit anything else on this poor donkey” and then he heard Mary say “just one more thing.”

Then after traveling to Bethlehem they had no place to stay and she was “great with child.” That would be a huge problem in our family. When our first child was due we planned for the birth for months including birthing classes and tours of the neonatal wing of the hospital. Joseph ended up taking Mary to a stable last minute. I’m not sure of the Hebrew word for procrastinator, but I’m sure Joseph heard it.

Somehow it helps me to think of Mary and Joseph as imperfect and stressed during the first Christmas. If Jesus was born into a chaotic scene like that, then the chaos I feel at Christmas time is ok too.

Not everything religious has to be orderly and stern, relationships are complex, loud, and stressful at times. My house is ok, even with my imperfect efforts and our imperfect marriage.

The miracle of Christmas is Jesus is here with us.

If you experience stress in your marriage during the holidays, you are not alone. To learn more about the top six sources of conflict and how you can move from conflict to connection in your marriage this holiday season, get Your Holiday Survival Guide!

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Stress and conflict don’t have to define your holidays. The solutions are simple, the resulting connection will be profound.

Click here

Free Fashion Tip for Couples: Extreme Matching

Via http://www.pleated-jeans.com
Via http://www.pleated-jeans.com

 

I was cruising Twitter and I came across the unbelievable story of Mr. and Mrs. Fetherstone.

Every day for the last 35 years they have worn matching clothes. Click here to read their story and to see more pictures of their outfits.

 

I’m speechless.

Thirty-five years of matching clothes every day? Wow. For most couples, matching one or two times in 35 years would be embarrassing enough.

I shake my head in unbelief but I admire them.

They are happy together.

They have embraced an identity of togetherness.

For a better connection in your marriage cultivate an identity of togetherness. Don’t worry, it’s not necessary for you to wear matching clothes. Besides, the only people who should be allowed to wear matching clothes are identical twins under the age of five.

When you daily cultivate an identity of togetherness you will increase your experience of cohesion and happiness in your marriage. You will notice the benefits and others will notice (even if you don’t wear matching clothes) by the words you use with each other and body language displayed when you are together.

To cultivate an identity of togetherness:

  1. Consider each other when making decisions. When you identify as together, checking with your spouse before making a major decision is not a sign of control but of respect.
  2. Participate in activities you enjoy together. Shared activities improve connection in marriage. 
  3. Use together language. Say “us” and “our” rather than “me” and “mine.” It’s a subtle change that can make a huge difference.

 

Doing everything together is not required for great connection. Liking only the same things often ends up suffocating connection.

It’s good for marriage for you and your spouse to have separate interests. For example, I like football more than my wife does and she likes pedicures more than I do. Pursuing and enjoying different activities is healthy for individuals and marriage as long as opportunities for connection are not neglected.

When I heard of the Fetherstones, I thought they had to be the only couple in the history of the world to wear matching clothes on a daily basis for 35 years. Then I found Joey and Mel Schwanke have a similar commitment to wearing matching clothes. Click here to read their story.

 

Free marital fashion tip: If you find yourself in a fabric store and come across an extreme floral pattern, don’t resist the urge for matching outfits, make something nice and start your own daily habit. If you prefer you can find a different way, maybe matching hairstyles or phone ringtones, could do the trick.

 

How ever you commit to daily increase feelings of togetherness, the benefits will last at least the next 35 years.

 

What fashion tips do you have for a great marriage?