Thursday, February 26, 2009

Collection of Monthly Ideas

Hi, everyone.

I mentioned in the comments section earlier this month, or maybe it was the end of last month, I'm not sure, anyway . . . I mentioned I would post a list of all the romantic tips and ideas we've had during the month.

And as promised, here is the list, and the person(s) credited with the idea. If you have any more ideas or didn't get credited for something you suggested, let us know in the comments.

Keep sharing your thoughts.

Romance Your Spouse Monthly Ideas:

  • Cheap date ideas (matinee movies, two-for-one bowling, hiking and a picnic) – Lacy Williams
  • Going for a drive together – Janet Lee Barton, Amy Loos
  • Doing a project together (working on flower beds, painting a room, laying down flooring) – Myra Johnson, Carla Stewart
  • Give your spouse time to themselves to do the things they enjoy (girlie time or guy time) – Amy Loos
  • Late Night Picnic in the living room – Denice Stewart
  • Being available when your spouse needs you – Lacy Williams
  • Taking a walk together (walking the dog) to talk and reconnect during the week – Amy Loos, Carla Stewart, Erin Young
  • Meeting for Lunch during the week – Lacy Williams, Carla Stewart, LaShaunda, Pamela J., Myra Johnson
  • Going dancing – Koala Bear Writer
  • Explore The Five Love Languages (Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch) – Margaret Daley
  • E-mail or text each other throughout the day, Kissing in the morning and evening, Taking 30 minutes a day to catch up, Holding hands, Saying “I love you” intentionally – Denice Stewart
  • Praying over each other, even for simple errands – Janet Rockey
  • Giving your spouse your undivided attention – Pamela J, Becca Dowling
  • Cooking a special dinner for your spouse – Mary Connealy, Patti
  • Dedicate a song to your sweetie - Sandy
  • Spending a birthday at a local Bed and Breakfast – Lacy Williams
  • Rather than a special evening out, enjoy a special breakfast together – Myra Johnson
  • Afternoon break together outdoors during warmer weather – Myra Johnson
  • Combining dinner and a small event, not the movies, like exploring a new shop in town, a high school production, hanging out at Starbucks, going to a bookstore, etc. - Tina

Again, thank you all for your comments and thoughts. Keep them coming!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day Trips – Miles of Connection

As I’ve posted before, my husband and I love taking walks. We also love road trips. Doesn’t matter the mileage, we love to pack up the car and head out onto the open road and try out new places. Our road-trippin’ days may include us as couple or the kids too if we don’t have sitter. Either way is fine, so long as we’re together.

No matter where we’ve lived, we’ve always asked the locals what they love to do. We’ve been pointed towards great hikes, beautiful state parks, and plenty of Mom-n-Pop diners that have the best food.

Another way to find great getaways is to pinpoint an area magazine that highlights local and regional hotspots. Now that I’m living in the land of sun and heat, I turn to Southern Living magazine. When we lived in Seattle, it was the Sunset magazine and when I lived in Ohio, I always kept a copy of Midwest Living close at hand.

These magazines are indispensable as they feature cultural & seasonal activities. They showcase the best that the area has to offer in vacation ideas, area attractions, recipes using the local produce and day trip ideas.

In fact, it was through Southern Living that I found a hotspot for the best fried chicken in the state. Now, normally, we don’t eat a lot of fried food but for some reason, the moment I read the article, my mind spun into action, it was time to hit the road and try something new. So when hubby came home from work, I had the car fueled up, a map on the dashboard, the kiddies ready with their electronics and off we went.

Our time in the car leads to an immediate adventure for everyone. The entire family has a great time as we travel to a new destination. We sit back and enjoy the scenery, point out different landmarks and talk about what we might want to try at dinner.

What’s great about these types of trips is that they’re quick, easy, fun and typically inexpensive. And best of all, a day trip is a window of opportunity to build memories together that will be cherished for a lifetime.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a magazine, hit the local chamber of commerce, find a neighbor who grew up in the area and seek out a day trip. You’ll be glad you did.

As for us, the chicken was heavenly! Our next stop is a few hours away and promises mile-high cream pies! Yummy!

Hope to see you on the road to adventure! Many blessings, Amy

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Last "Real" Date

Hello, all.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how much I miss dating my husband.

Going out alone, with no kids, to someplace where I’m not doing the cooking, and doing something we both enjoy, whether it’s watching a movie, going to a concert, etc.

The last real date dear hubby and I went on was for my birthday last month. The in-laws were sweet and watched the kids, so we could go do something relaxing and fun . . . for very little money, of course.

We wanted to eat someplace nice, but not too expensive, and then go someplace fun. Since we are both trying to be more active this new year, I convinced hubby to go roller-skating.

We arrived at a rink in a VERY shady part of town, and the unlit parking lot with too many questionable adults hanging out on the front steps creeped me out to no end.

So we went to the ice skating rink.

We arrived and bypassed the snack bar, entered the rink area, and grabbed our ice skates. But I knew we must have done something wrong because as we got our skates, no one asked us for the skating fee or the cost of renting the skates. Uh-oh.

Oh, well.

We decided to pay after we skated since the line had grown exponentially after our arrival . . . and YES, we did pay. We didn’t just sneak in and sneak out without paying.

We got out on the ice, and were definitely two of the oldest people skating. Kids ranging from five to eighteen zipped, slid, and flew from one end of that place to the other.

They were everywhere.

I started out near the edge of the rink, close to the rail, so I’d have something to grab onto if I fell. Dear Hubby hopped on the ice and rushed right past. He’d check on me every few minutes, see how I was adjusting, and then take off again.

And since this was only the second time in my life I’ve ever ice skated, I thought I did pretty well.

We managed to stay on the ice for roughly an hour as swarms and swarms of kids whirled around us.

The biggest obstacles were the speed skaters who insisted on darting in and out of everybody at warp speed, and when they fell, they took entire packs of skaters down with them.

Then there were the clusters of pre- and early- teenage girls who stood in the middle of the traffic flow gossiping and staring at boys, making it hazardous to get around them.

And last there were the smaller skaters, old enough to be on the ice without their parents (they sat in the bleachers to watch), but still not experienced enough to move at the median pace, and they fell all too frequently. I feared running over these little ones several times, and had to constantly be on guard to avoid hitting them.

By the end of the night I was tired and ready to go.

So overall, I gave this date a rating of: B-.

The food was decent, but not superb.

The trek into “the hood” looking for the roller-skating rink was terrifying, but I was also disappointed because I really did want to roller-skate.

The ice skating was fun and I truly enjoyed it, but it was way too crowded. Hubby and I couldn’t skate hand-in-hand more than a few seconds without fear of being run down or clothes-lining a kid trying to zip between us.

Because of the over-crowding, we left earlier than I anticipated, but didn’t have anyplace else we wanted to go. And to be honest, I was flat worn out and ready for bed so the night ended early.

It was great spending time alone with my husband, and we had fun, but it wasn’t what I would call typically “romantic”.

However, I believe having fun together is a key component of a happy marriage. And I know we’ll be trying to do more fun dates together when we can.


Monday, February 23, 2009

(Not-so) Hopeless Romantic

Hubby and I had agreed this year to downplay commercial holidays (like Valentine’s Day!) and save up for a week-long vacation. Most of our vacations in the past have been spent with his family, because they lived on the East coast and we live in the Midwest. Well, this year his family has moved HERE so we are free to use our vacation time however we want.

I was thinking Europe but he nixed that idea since the economy is still being very wishy-washy. Now we are thinking continental U.S. I really want to go to Wyoming and do some research for my current novel, but he’s afraid there won’t be much to do (I can find plenty, I promise!). We might settle on Colorado and I can take a detour up to WY (maybe!). But I digress. We were talking about Valentine’s Day.

Poor sweetie had to work that morning for a special promotion, and when he got home he brought two dozen roses and a box of Godiva chocolates! His work’s promotion involved Valentine’s Day, and they had extras left over when it was all said and done. He did have to pay for them, but not retail price (so his “discount” part of his personality was assuaged). And these are GORGEOUS red roses. They are still in bloom, full and they smell so good! The chocolates only lasted about three days, but they were delightful too.

I was VERY surprised and Luke got a major deposit to his husband-bank (the one where nice things make deposits and fights or forgetfulness represent the withdrawals). Although this opportunity to be romantic mostly dropped into his lap, he took it and ran with it and it helped create a wonderful Valentine’s Day for us.

My part of the V-day romance was making a special dinner. Yes, I’m not much of a cook, so this was special for us. Here’s the recipe I used for Alfredo sauce (add to tortellini and chicken sautéed with garlic, onions and mushrooms):

· 8 oz. (1 stick) cream cheese
· 3/4 c. parmesan cheese
· 1/2 c. milk
· 1/2 c. butter or margarine (I used butter)

Melt in saucepan (be careful not to burn!), stirring occasionally.

This is a surprisingly easy meal and I've actually made it again since Valentine's Day. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

View from the Empty Nest: Keeping the romance alive

Hi, Myra Johnson here. I’m delighted to be a part of this fun new blog, where you’ll find a variety of perspectives from a variety of women--and the occasional male!

My husband and I are mid-life empty-nesters, which makes it a real challenge to keep the romantic fires burning. Next May, we’ll celebrate 37 years of marriage, and though I can’t say they’ve all been great, we’ve never wavered in our commitment to each other and to the sanctity of marriage. When times got rocky, we stuck it out. We talked. More importantly, we listened. And we prayed.

Staying romantic, however, remains a challenge! As empty-nesters we enjoy a certain amount of personal and financial freedom. I’m not a big fan of cooking, so we like to dine out at least a couple of times a week. The usual routine is to hop in the car and start the “Where do you want to eat?--I don’t know, you choose” conversation.

In order to bring back that “dating” feeling, we have to do a little planning, choose an extra-special restaurant, dress up to please our sweetie. Romance takes effort and imagination. As someone said in an earlier post, romance must be intentional. And being intentional about romance can be a real struggle for married couples stuck in the everyday grind.

One resource we’ve found helpful is 10 Great Dates for Empty Nesters, by Dave and Claudia Arp. The relationship advice, date suggestions, and discussion questions provide the framework. With a little extra planning and follow-through, these dates will help you draw closer as you spend quality time together and share from the heart.

Myra Johnson and her husband, Jack, have been married since 1972. Recent transplants from Texas to Oklahoma, they share their home with two love-hungry dogs and a snobby parakeet. The Johnsons have two married daughters and five grandchildren. Myra’s debut novel, One Imperfect Christmas, is slated for a September 2009 release from Abingdon Press. You can visit more with Myra on her website, on her personal blog, and also in Seekerville.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dinner for two please...

Years ago, when my kids were toddlers, we lived in the Northwest where seafood reigns supreme. My husband and I love seafood, our kids…hate it! Whenever I’d make any type of seafood they’d go screaming down the hall, tears would fall and a battle would ensue.

I was lamenting to my mother-in-law about this seafood issue when she told me, “pick your battles wisely.” Smart woman. So I stopped chasing my kids, trying to force them to eat something they thought was horrible and gave them what they would eat, “kid food.” This worked for a while, but frankly an adult can only eat so much pizza and chicken nuggets before we simply get sick of it all and start craving real food.

One day as I was flipping through my recipe cards I came upon one of our favorite entrees. Grilled Teriyaki Halibut with asparagus. My mouth started to water and instantly my mind was made up. No more kid food! But what was I going to do? The kids hate it, we love it. Aha! Two meals. Honestly I think I left skid marks in my driveway as I sped off to the market! I grabbed dinner fixin’s for two groups, the kiddies and the adults.

Now, I swear my kids have seafood sonar. The minute I walked into the kitchen with the grocery bags, they wrinkled their noses and went to their respective boxing corners, ready to do battle. Quickly, I pulled out the pizza box and waved it in front of them. Still not quite believing me, I reassured them that I was making pizza for them and seafood for dad and I. In fact, I told them, they’d be eating dinner early and then going outside to play so they didn’t have to smell the grilled seafood. Squeals of glee rang throughout our home! Within minutes they gobbled up the pizza and shot outside, happy to have escaped a fish ordeal.

Meanwhile, I grilled up our dinner and set the dinner table. I used the nice china, lit a couple of candles and waited for my hubby to come home. When he walked in the kitchen sheer joy erupted on his face!

Dinner was a huge success for everyone. The kids loved having Friday night pizza and we loved having our seafood night. Even now, years later, we still carry on this tradition. It’s a break from the weekly grind that the entire family enjoys.

And the greatest benefit of it all..”alone time” with my hubby. Sure, the kids are still around, well, sort of…the smell of the fish keep them outside playing! Which works wonderfully for us. We get a chance to sit, unwind, talk and enjoy a great meal as the kids play. And we didn’t need to leave our home or pay for babysitters.

So try it! Start a new weekly tradition. Pick up your favorite dinner fixin’s or your favorite Chinese take-out and enjoy it on the patio as the sun sets and the children play. You’ll be glad you made the effort to nurture your love for each other!

Wishing you all the best on your date night! Blessings & much love, Amy

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Date Follow-Up

Hello, hello.

It’s Tuesday again, and as promised, I’m here to give you the play by play of our fabulous Valentine’s “At Home” date.

Or rather, the not-so-fabulous version. Here’s what happened.

Dear Hubby gave me my free present, the entire day to myself watching romantic movies and reading romance novels during the commercials while he kept an eye on the kiddos.

My gift to him was his favorite foods during our late night picnic later that evening. And I have to say, I REALLY enjoyed my gift. I think I got the better end of the deal.

In the early afternoon, while our wonderful baby girl took her nap, Hubby and the twins went to the park to play. All afternoon. His mission was to wear them out as much as possible so they would be exhausted and fall asleep early.

He brought them home and got baths started while I worked on getting the food ready. When everything was nearly complete, I left Hubby to turn off burners and put the kids in bed while I took a quick shower (I managed to get oil in my hair while preparing roasted asparagus spears).

But when I got out of the shower, chaos had erupted. The baby was drinking from her sippy-cup, and letting the milk pour down her chin and dribble all over her fresh, clean jammies.

The twins were running naked through the house, refusing to put on their underwear, and waving their pajama bottoms over their heads like flags.

Hubby was removing the burnt crustini from the oven and yelling for the boys to get their clothes on. And in the middle of helping my husband get the kitchen cleaned up and the kids under control, I accidentally dumped raw chicken juice all over the counter-top.

Being the germ-o-phobe that I am, I spent way too much time scrubbing up the mess, and probably inhaled way too many chemical fumes in the process.

But finally, thirty minutes later than we had anticipated, we were able to sprawl out on a blanket on the living room floor (after reheating the food in the microwave), and enjoy our meal. We didn’t have time to pick up flowers, I decided not to try the candles as accident prone as I had been all night, but I did put on some soft music to relax by.

All in all, once the kids were down, it was a nice night. We both enjoyed the food, the quiet, and just being together with no interruptions.

We’ll definitely be trying the late night date again, and hopefully the prep time will have less messy results.


A Cheap Date

My husband is a tightwad. No, I'm serious. He is worse than my grandpa, who is notorious for being cheap.

HOWEVER, when my husband starts talking about paying off the mortgage early or our retirement accounts, I start feeling a little warm and fuzzy.

So I guess you could say that it's not so much that Luke is a miser, but that he is a planner, and plans things down to the penny. ;)

Well, you can imagine that there have been times when we've needed a little romance and all we had was a few dollars to our names. So we get creative sometimes.

Some of the ways we've been able to save money on dates are:
*matinee movies - we have a movie theatre close to our home that shows first-run movies for $3.50 during matinee times. Talk about a bargain! Plus, another bonus to seeing a movie during the afternoon is that popular movies aren't usually as packed as they are later at night.
*two-for-one bowling - lots of bowling alleys have discount nights or offer buy-one-get-one games (shoe rental usually isn't included but they're not too pricey). If you don't buy the food, which can get expensive, this can be a really fun date for not a lot of cash.
*hiking and a picnic - in OKC we have several state parks within a two hour driving distance, including one of my favorites, Red Rock Canyon. The hiking is free and if you pack your own picnic, all you need is some gas money to get there. This is a great way to spend a whole afternoon - lots of time to talk and just enjoy time together without distractions like TV and cell phones (leave them in the car!). And you get your exercise, too.

I've got lots of discount date ideas. I think I'll save some for future posts. What about you? Do you have creative ideas for cheap dates?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Guess it's time for my intro. I'm Janet Lee Barton and I'll be posting on the second Thursday of the month. I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and author, and I feel blessed with all the Lord has given me. I write Christian Romance, both contemporary and historical, so contributing to a Romance Blog seemed a good thing to do.  You can find out more about my writing by visiting my web site .

I'm married to a wonderful man who is also my hero--most of the time, anyway. :) I think I'm the only blogger on Romance Your Spouse who is living with adult children and grandchildren. That's right. Two years ago my husband and I bought a house with our daughter and her husband. What were we thinking you ask? Well, to tell the truth, we all asked ourselves that question several times that first year. But things have smoothed out and it is working out great. Thankfully, we have a big house with plenty of room for everyone and our granddaughters especially love it. It works great for my writing life too, because I get to witness life at all ages and stages each and every day. :)

As you might imagine, getting time just for each other can present challenges for both Dan and I and for our daughter and her husband. It does take some thought and planning but it's always well worth it. With Valentine's Day almost upon us, I'm still not sure what we'll do yet. But I have been thinking back on some of the romantic times we've had and found that some of the most memorable ones were when we drove across town, or to a nearby town to have dinner. The drive there and back in the car seemed to lend itself to more conversation than when we normally 'go out to eat.' The drive gave us enough time to talk about the things that I'd think "Oh, I need to tell, Dan..." or he'd think, "I need to tell Janet..." during the day, but that was often forgotten during the busyness of each day. The drive over, the dinner, and the drive back gave us time to concentrate on each other and reconnect. We never minded the wait at the restaurant because it gave us more time together as did the ride home.  It wasn't so much about the meal or where we went, but that time together that seemed to make the next day, the next week, a little more special for us.

In today's world it seems so hard for couples to have time for that special time together, but whether it is a drive across town or even to another town, a long walk together or just an evening alone at home to give each other your undivided is something we all should strive to make time for. Hmm...maybe we'll try that this year!

Have a Happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Alone-ly Hearts Club?

Thanks solely to my youngest son’s travel sports team I will be spending most of Valentine’s Day alone.

Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my hubby and my children dearly and I’ll miss them while they’re gone. However…

Now that my daughter is away at college, I am the only female in a household full of males. Absolutely everything reeks in our home of male. I’m so outnumbered it’s laughable. Outside of the boys and hubby, I have 2 male Labradors, and a male guinea pig. When you count in the fact that those beloved men of mine bring their guy friends over to eat, play sports and make a mess of my home, forgive me if for a handful of hours, I take a breather and say, “Yippee!” as I wave them off to the competition! This girl’s gotta recoup!

I love my troop and the wonderful chaos they bring to my life. I also enjoy the sweets that Valentine’s Day brings, especially if it’s dark chocolate. But I’ve got to be honest; sometimes I need my peace and quiet more than a card, flowers or a meal out on the town.

When I was younger I felt as if Valentine’s Day was a way to measure how much my husband loved me, i.e. if he bought me a dozen roses or took me to a fancy restaurant for dinner, then I must truly be loved, our marriage, a success. Instead what I have learned is a single holiday, however wonderful, does not make a marriage successful.

Making a marriage work, takes thought and purposeful effort. Treating every day as if it were Valentine’s Day. Taking a moment each day to say, “I love you” and really mean it, sneaking a love note into your husband’s suitcase as he packs for his next business trip or making a favorite dessert for you both to share when the kiddies are in bed. Those are the efforts that really matter in the long run.

So if you find yourself like me, alone this Valentine’s Day, enjoy the moment. Treat yourself to those things that normally take a backseat because of life’s responsibilities. Watch a favorite movie, connect with a good friend, eat your favorite take-out or enjoy a much-needed nap.

Eleanor Roosevelt, once said, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. So true. By taking advantage of these small precious moments you will begin to relax, causing you to be a happier, more content partner. And when your loved one returns, you’ll be able to welcome them back home with a smile, a hug and possibly a sweet treat from Godiva!

Whether you’ll be spending this holiday alone or snuggled up close to your sweetie, enjoy your Valentine’s Day. Wishing everyone much love and happiness - Amy

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We Have a Winner

AND THE WINNER IS . . . Sandee61.

Sandee61 is the winner of our Valentine's Day gift card giveaway. She will receive a gift card from the restaurant (a national chain) of her choice.

Thank you to all those who left comments, and be sure to check back often, cause you never know when a giveaway is gonna pop-up.

The RYS Contributors

Our Valentine's Day Plan

So, Valentine’s Day is approaching. Having been married for ten years, my feelings about this day of love and affection are mixed.

As a young married couple, Hubby and I relished the time alone to enjoy a delicious meal, exchange our tokens of love, and express our physical affection behind the closed bedroom door.

Money didn’t matter . . . we could live on love . . . blah, blah, blah.

Now Valentine’s Day is creeping in again, and we are facing a new set of challenges. We have young, rambunctious children (a polite way to say wild heathens), and dear Hubby was laid off last week.

All our babysitting options are busy this year with plans of their own, and we are in a financially difficult position that makes even the tiniest extras harder to justify. So what have Hubby and I decided to do?

We are having a late night picnic in our living room.

I’ll lay out the game plan for you today, and tell you next week if it was successfully executed.

Our children are still young enough to have an early bedtime (8:00pm), and if we wear them out during the day they’ll fall asleep even earlier. We plan to make sure they eat their dinner early, and then we can dine in private later.

We have a special, but affordable, meal planned for the evening, and while one of us gets the kids ready for bed, the other will get the picnic preparations underway.

After the children are down for the night, we will finish laying out the food and any other mood enhancers: candles (placed away from anything flammable, and believe me, I’m capable of forgetting and setting the curtains on fire), flowers, music, etc., and enjoy the night with quiet conversation where we are actually able to hear each other speak.

Then we have the rest of the night to ourselves for . . . whatever.

For us, this option makes the most sense fiscally and logistically. And if it works out, we might be able to have even more quiet and romantic evenings without breaking the bank or imposing on family for babysitting favors.

I’ll update everyone on our success next week.


Monday, February 9, 2009

The Most Romantic Date of the Year - 2007

Some people may believe that Valentine's Day is the most romantic day of the year. And they may even plan a super-romantic date on February 14.

My husband and I usually exchange cards and small gifts, but we don't go overboard for Valentine's Day. We try and celebrate our romance all year long. Let me tell you about the Most Romantic Date of 2007 (for me, anyway). It was in April 2007...

Wait - I'd beter start at the beginning. I am a homebody. I love being at my safe place - home - with my husband and dogs. With or without company, with or without a good book. I love being at home. I LOVE snow days. After about 3 or 4 days of vacation, I am ready to be home. That's just who I am.

So during April 2007, I was scheduled to work at a client that would require me to be gone (about 1.5 hours away from home) for one week, then home for the weekend, then gone for another week. That's ten days away from home, with one weekend in between.

I did okay for the first week. Talked to hubby a lot on the phone. Watched a lot of TV.

Not so much the second week.

On Wednesday around lunchtime I broke down and started crying on the phone with hubby. I missed him and the pups (2 at that time), and BEING HOME. If you know me at all, you know I don't cry. My emotions are usually pretty even keel. But that's how much I was missing being home.

So what does hubby do about his damsel in distress? After work, he drives up to meet me, with the dogs, and stays the night with me in the hotel. Then he got up extra early the next morning to drive back to Oklahoma City for work. That's right. Three hours of driving just to spend a couple of hours together and catch some sleep.

Basically, my most romantic date of 2007 was pizza and watching TV, but hubby got major brownie points (and major smoochies) for going above and beyond his "normal duties".

For this romantic situation, it didn't take a lot of thought or preparation. All it took from hubby was being available when I needed him. Now that I've written this post, I'm wondering if I've taken all of the opportunities I've had lately to be available for hubby. Something to think about...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Investing in Happily Ever After

Ok, so I’ll admit it. I’m a hopeless romantic. Always have been, always will be. Which is why I love watching chick flicks. Boy meets girl, they overcome a few obstacles, fall in love and then poof! Happily ever after. Ahhh…my kind of ending.

Frankly, I would love nothing more than to stay in that googly-eyed, butterflies-in-the-stomach sort of moment but let’s face it, when the movie ends; life smacks you between the dirty laundry, cranky kids and job relocations. So then what happens to happily ever after? Exactly, it takes a back seat.

Now for those of you who have kids, you know very well what happens when children sit in the back seat of your car. Yep, junk everywhere. And if you’re not careful things might get spilled and permanently soiled making it near impossible to clean and make new.

That’s what happens to our marriages when we don’t make them a priority. They become crusty and gross. Is it easy to make time? No, it’s not. Good Lord, if it were, do you think the divorce rate would still be tipping the scales at 50%? Not a chance! We’d all be living in the happily ever after stage and divorce court wouldn’t exist.

Let me share something that my husband and I have done from the minute we met each other. We date. Sounds simple right? It’s not. Especially when you throw kids into the picture. But let me tell you from experience what’s harder. Divorce.

So for the past 18 years we have made our marriage a priority by having a Friday night date. What do we do? Walk & talk. We hand our kids over to grandparents or sitters, and head to our favorite park. I can’t tell you how many miles we’ve tallied as we’ve discussed our kids, jobs, family, friends and the highs & lows of life.

Every mile, every minute that we share is an investment. Those walks belong to us. It’s our time as a couple to stimulate and revive our happily ever after. I believe every marriage needs a date. Often. A time set apart that will enable you both to remember why the person you’re married to is your best friend, confidante and lover.

Let me encourage you to do the same. Find a time and place where you can hold hands, talk about your dreams and invest in happily ever after. When you do, you will find that you cherish those moments. They will draw you closer to each other and make your marriage stronger.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you do as a couple to invest in your happily ever after. Do you grab burgers at your favorite drive-in? Take long drives in the country? Are you a Harley couple who love the open road? Drop me a line and share your date night stories and how they impact your marriage. I look forward to hearing from you.

Blessings from me to you ~ Amy

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Intro/Love Languages

I am one of the monthly contributors to this blog. What a perfect month to really get start! With Valentine's Day only nine days away, this blog is so appropriate. After all love is in the air and people are out there frantically looking for the perfect gift for their significant other.

Before I go any further, I'll tell you a little about me. I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense for Steeple Hill Love Inspired lines. You can check my web site out for more information on my books. I have been writing for twenty-nine years and also been blessed to have been married thirty-eight years. My husband is my best friend. We often finish each other sentences and know what the other is thinking--I don't read minds but after thirty-eight years I know my husband well. He's actually more of a romantic than I am. The picture is of my husband and I on vacation last summer. Our hair is just a little wind blown. To tell you the truth, I don't have a lot of digital pictures of us together. Either I was taking the picture or he was.

What I wanted to talk about is a book I read called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It is a very interesting look at how people relate to their love ones. And it could definitely help in romancing your spouse, especially if you've hit a snag.

Below are the five love languages. Which one are you? Which one is your spouse? It helps to figure it out.

These are the five love languages:
1) Words of Affirmation-Some people need to hear the words from their loved one to believe they are loved. They need verbal compliments and praises.

2) Receiving Gifts-To others the receiving of a gift from their loved one tells them they are loved by that person. The gifts don’t necessary have to be expensive. The thought behind the gift is what is most important. It tells the person he was thinking about her. In a time of turmoil the gift of your presence can be what is valued the most.

3) Acts of Service-There are some who need love expressed through doing something for them. It could be something like doing the dishes or taking out the trash. It is important that the act of service is given freely, not demanded.

4) Quality Time-Another love language is spending quality time with your loved one. I don’t just mean being with him. I mean really talking and listening to him. You must be totally focused on him to the exclusion of everything else. Within this are also quality activities. When doing things together, one should want to do the activity and the other has agreed. You are showing your love by doing the activity together.

5) Physical Touch-A touch on his arm as you walk by, holding hands on a couch, or a back rub when he is tense can be to some an expression of love. There are many levels of physical touch and not all have to be intimate to show you love someone.

So are you and your spouse speaking a foreign language to each other? If you aren't understanding what's going on with your spouse, you might be talking in a different language.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Little Things

Hi everyone.

I just wanted to start this post by saying thanks to all who have commented so far, and entered for the gift card giveaway (if you haven't entered yet, see Friday's post).

And I also want to thank you on behalf of my darling husband (see Thursday's post). He was very excited to get so many responses, and I think he's secretly looking forward to the next time I "drag" him into writing something for me.

I have to say, my husband can be quite the romantic guy. There have been some sure-fire winners in the romance department over the years, and there have been some not-so-great moments.

In the last few years, though, I have to say we have been struggling with romance, and I have an idea why. Actually I have three ideas why: Twin A, Twin B, and the Princess.

Having small children makes it difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with the little things that nurture a relationship. And it also makes the big things: trips away with just the two of us, or a regular date night almost out of the question.

So we've been trying the little everyday things to make it better, to blow on that tiny ember in hopes of stoking the fire.

And as sad as it may seem, these little things are deliberate because in the daily struggle to keep the kids from swinging on the ceiling fans, we tend to forget about just enjoying each other until a month or more has passed, and we're both left thinking, "What in the world is going on?"

We have been trying to take the time to:

  • Send an e-mail or text message to let the other know we're thinking about them.

  • Kiss in the morning before he goes to work, and as soon as he comes home from work.

  • Make sure we spend thirty minutes every night catching up with each other after the kids have gone to bed, with no TV, Internet, or flipping through a book or magazine to distract us. This way, we actually listen to each other.

  • Holding hands while we're driving in the car, even if it's just to go to the grocery store. With three kids in the backseat competing to be heard, even if we can't have silence to enjoy, when we hold hands, it still feels like we're connected . . . a united front.

  • Saying, "I love you," and really meaning it. I thought about how many times we're on the phone, or rushing in and out the door, and toss out a quick "I love you" like we'd say, "See you later," or, "Be home after six." This way, I put the true emotion and feeling behind the words, and hopefully it lets him know we may not still be in our early lovey-dovey stage of marriage, but we are in a deep, true, and committed relationship.

Those are the little things we try to do every day. We do them deliberately, but in all honesty I have to say they don't always work out.

This morning I was in the shower when Hubby and the boys left the house, so no kiss or intentional "I love you." Hubby has a lot going on with his job right now, so no text or e-mail today.

But we still try, and I hope you will share some of the little things you do to sustain the romance.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Superbowl Commercials

My husband loves football. Mostly college football, but this year he played in a fantasy football league (pro), so we watched that too. And when I say "watched", I mean that he watched while I read a good book. ;)

After Sunday football, Monday night football, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night football, for MONTHS... needless to say by the Superbowl I am all footballed-out.


I love watching the Superbowl commercials. Some of them can be pretty dumb, I know. But there are usually several hilarious ones that really get me cracking up. Mrs. Potato-Head, anyone?

The commercials got me thinking about how important it is to do the small things to make life more romantic for your spouse.

For three years, my hubby and I worked full-time and also attended night school. We got to see each other from 10pm to 7am every day and sometimes on the weekends. But we worked relatively close together, so we started going to lunch several times a week. For us, this was a workable solution so that we could see each other, interact, have fun. And it was a nice break in the middle of a workday that was usually pretty stressful. We didn't even eat out all the time, sometimes we brought our food and just ate TOGETHER.

And now that we're "all grown up" and have graduated school, we like to go to lunch together every once in awhile just for fun. It's a nice, romantic interlude in the middle of an otherwise hectic week!