Tuesday, May 8, 2012

10 Mothers Day Gift Ideas for Your Wife

Ink 96645mm happy mothers day

Looking for that perfect gift for your wife this Mother's Day?   Here's a few ideas that she is sure to love.

1.  A gift certificate for her at a local spa for a massage and/or pedicure.

2. Cook a special lunch or dinner for her and you take care of all of the cleanup.

3. Breakfast in bed.  Treat her to a special breakfast in bed accompanied with a card.

4. A gift certificate to a store such as Bath and Body Works where she can buy things to pamper herself.

5. Arrange for her to have a special dinner with just her and her girl friends.  

6. Prepare a special bubble bath just for her, before bed.

7. Give her a full body massage complete with relaxing music and her favorite scents and lotions.

8. A coupon book of coupons for things like free babysitting on Saturday,  free bathroom cleaning, free car wash... well you get the idea!

9. Buy her a ticket to a movie she has been wanting to see.

10. Write her a full page letter telling her how much you love and appreciate her.

Try these out and let me know if you have any favorites.  Oh and remember you are free to use more than one idea to thoroughly treat your wife on Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Date Idea #14 - Plan a Dream Date

As life continually moves on, practicality and responsibility often overshadow and eclipse the dreams we had as a couple when we first got married.   My suggestion this time is to plan a "dream date".

This date will be unique to every couple, as everyone has a different purpose and different journey.  Pick a place that you both can enjoy being yourselves and talk freely and openly.  For my wife and I, this is usually a park or some place outdoors.

Talk about the things you dream about doing together.  Here are some ideas for "dream date" conversation starters: 

What places do you want to go together?
Talk about vacations you'd like to take together, places you both want to see, countries you want to visit.  Remember, be free to dream!  Don't be afraid to fantasize a bit. 

What are your financial dreams?  
Maybe you want a house in the country or to be able to donate to worthy causes. 

Do you have dreams of a ministry together? 
 Maybe there is something God has placed in your hearts to minister to others. 

Are there hobbies you dream of doing together?   
Maybe you want to learn to dance, play tennis, garden, cook you name it.

Dream big don't worry about if your dreams are practical.   Dream together and see your love for each other flourish.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Help your wife be more comfortable naked.

As a Christian, I want to start this post out and say it is perfectly ok for you to desire seeing your wife naked.  There is a catch though - as Christian men our goal should be to provide security and trust for our wives.  Just pushing and prodding your wife toward sexual intimacy isn't the Christ-like way to love your wife - in fact it is quite selfish.

Instead, you should pursue your wife by building her trust which will lead to a deep connecting intimacy for both you and her.   Here's a couple of tips to help your wife be more secure about her body and help her be more comfortable naked in her own skin.

Compliment her and let her know how sexy she is

Many women shy away from sex because they are uncomfortable with their bodies.   Every woman has something she doesn't like about her body.  She may think to herself that she is to thin, too fat, her breasts are too small or too big.   She will compare herself to air brushed models on TV and in magazines.   Your job as a husband is to compliment her, tell her what you find beautiful about her.   Let her know that you think she is sexy.

Connect with her emotionally

While men often become more open emotionally after being physically intimate, most women need to be emotionally intimate before becoming physically intimate.   Take time to invest in your wife and pursue her emotionally.  Set aside time to talk with her, listen to her ideas and concerns.   Don't try to fix all of her problems, but let her know you are there and that you will always support her and be her number one fan.

Love your wife with non-sexual touch

It is important to take time to communicate love to your wife through touch, but she needs to know and be reassured that you love her apart from intimacy in the bedroom.   Take time to give her a hug, hold her hand, kiss her, or embrace her when you get home without any sexual intention.   It is likely to drive your wife  away sexually if you only touch her in sexual ways.    Make it your goal to re-assure her that she is loved and secure in the way you touch her throughout the day.

Never criticize her body
Never criticize your wife's body.  This will be very damaging to her and confirm the messages she is already being bombarded with.  You need to do the opposite and help her battle the messages of our culture and let her know that she is truly beautiful.

Provide security and privacy for intimacy
If your wife is shy being naked, make sure you always create a secure and private environment for sexual intimacy.   For example, arrange for the kids to visit grand parents or wait until they are in bed.   Nothing may distress her more than fear of having an accidental intruder.  Even the kids knocking on the bedroom door may be enough to make her insecure.  Help her know that you treasure her body and will keep it for only you and her to enjoy.

Help her relax before hand
This could mean letting her have some quite time by herself.   Taking care of the kids for a few minutes to help her let the cares of the day subside.  A non-sexual massage may also help her relax and feel more secure as you help her release the stress and tension of the day.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

5 Dates to Beat the Summer Heat

Sunset on North Beach at Fort De Soto Park

Yesterday, I was quite surprised to see the thermometer break 100 degrees and we are not even to may yet. Well, that got me to thinking about what dates my wife and I can do as the mercury starts to rise.

So here are a few ideas:

1. Spend an afternoon at a lake or nearby beach and enjoy some swimming.

2. Go out for ice cream or smoothies for a nice refreshing treat.

3. Go to a community pool together and enjoy a refreshing swim.  Checkout your local YWCA or YMCA also they often have evenings where you can go swim for a reasonable price.

4. Be juvenile and have a water balloon fight in your backyard.

5. Go out and enjoy your favorite beverage together.  Many chains like Sonic have happy hours where you can get great deals on cold drinks in the summer.

Try a few of these ideas to keep your dates cool, and save the rising mercury for fun in the bedroom with your spouse.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to get a unique blog design on a budget

I am a business owner, husband, and father who has recently taken up blogging in some of my free time. Being a very technical person, but not always the most creative when it comes to designing graphics I started searching for ways to get nice website and blog designs on a budget. There are many sites where you can buy themes and templates for WordPress, but I was looking for a way to get a truly original design without breaking the bank. While it is ok to buy pre-made themes starting out, at some point you will want your blog to have its own unique design the helps communicate your message.

After quite a bit of searching I found Design Crowd. It is a site with over 70,000 designers worldwide. The way it works is you submit a brief that describes what you want designed and any specific details such as general color palettes you like etc. When you setup your project, you will be asked to name your budget. A basic logo starts at $240 and a small website design starts at $340. Once you complete your project setup, you may browse designer portfolios and invite designers to your project. In 24-48 hours you will usually start getting designs. As designs come, you continue to give the designers feedback to get it just right. When your project reaches its ending deadline, you pick the design you like and the money is released to the designer. Design Crowd offers a 100% money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. Thus far, I’ve been happy with the results I’ve received and haven’t found the need to get a refund.

There are a few things to consider when setting your budget, the higher your budget the better designs you will get. I generally don't start at the minimum budget allowed, but usually increase it so that the designer will get $300-$400 out of the project. After all, as Christians it is important to pay someone what their time and skills are worth. Also, don’t expect the first designs received to be the best it is an iterative process.

I have used this on a couple of websites that I am creating and it is working great so far. I hope that other bloggers and Christian web master's out there find this useful. You can also watch the short video below for a quick overview of how Design Crowd works.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

10 Ideas for dating on a budget

With gas prices soaring and the recession lingering, I've heard of too many couples forgoing a regular date night because of the cost.   Dating can be expensive - a movie for two can range from $12-$20 just for tickets.  Dinner out at a nice restaurant is hard to escape for less than $10 a piece.  And if you have small children you can add on $20-$30 bucks for a sitter.   Here's some ideas to help you save:

10 Ideas for dating on a budget
  1. Sign up for daily deals from Groupon or livingsocial.   Don't purchase every deal that comes along, but I find that I can find one great restaurant deal every 2 months or so that often leads to a 50% savings.
  2. Check with your church friends who also have kids to see if you can swap watching each others kids.   You can also see if relatives or grandparents mind watching the kiddos.
  3. Instead of dining out, go on a picnic to the park.
  4. Visit a museum together, many are free or cost very little to get in.
  5. Have dinner at home, and then visit a coffee shop on your date.  This is often less expensive than a full dine out meal.
  6. Do a movie night at home after the kids go to bed.
  7. Go dancing at home in your own living room.  Dress up or down and enjoy your favorite selection of dance tunes.  You can do this after the kids to bed, or arrange for them to go to a trustworthy friend's house.
  8. Redeem debit/credit card points for gift cards to your favorite restaurants.
  9. Go to a drive in movie.   There aren't many of these left, but often they allow you to bring your own food and snacks in.
  10. Search your local yellow page directory for coupons on food or recreation.

I'd love to hear your ideas on how to date on a budget.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Got a Tax Refund?

Did you get a tax refund this year? Well, maybe you should treat your spouse to a nice date with a portion of your refund.  Treat your husband or wife to a nice dinner, a movie, or if you had a really big refund maybe even a night at a nice hotel.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Love Your Wife - Prepare Your Family's Taxes before the Deadline

Today's tip for loving your wife is to step up to the plate and relieve taxation stress from your wife.  I'm not sure how many wives out there figure the family taxes, but I'm guessing it's quite a few.  Show your wife love and take the initiative to figure all of the income taxes for your family.  If you already do this for your wife and family, take it a step further and do your best to not become irritable or angry while getting them all prepared.   Spare your wife the collateral stress by trying to maintain your composure.  Ask God to help you handle your stress.  Trust Him for His peace and His provision for your family.

May God bless you and your family.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Date Idea #13 - Go See October Baby

If you haven't already seen October Baby, it is a great movie to take your wife to on a movie date.  It's powerful story about the value of life and the healing found in forgiveness.   You can watch a short trailer below:

Click here to find a theater showing October Baby near you.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Date Idea #12 - Take a Drive to No Where

Country road in Kentucky

Need a new date idea to mix things up a bit and throw in a little spontaneity?   Well, this is a great date to do with your husband or wife.   Spring and Summer just beg for outdoor dates so why not oblige.   Take a long drive out into the country.  If you have a truck, then take it instead of the family car or van.   Part of the fun of this date is to just drive to no where until you find a nice spot you and your mate can just be together.   I recommend doing this later in the evening when the sun is about to set and temperatures are nice (at least this is from Texas experience).  Once you find that nice back roads spot, pull off the road and camp out with some blankets in the back of your truck (if you have one).   Enjoy the sunset and the stars, get lost in your love's eyes and arms, and ...well the rest is up to you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spend Time Praying Together

Just last night my wife and I had a talk about the challenges in our life. These challenges range from running a small business to finances to planning for another baby in our family soon. It is sometimes amazing at how quickly we can get overwhelmed by life. We can go from marital bliss to the depths of despair in a matter of minutes. Why is this? Well, to quote one of my favorite authors John Elderidge, I will simply say "marriage is opposed" (from John and Stasi's book Love and War). The enemy despises marriage because it is one of the most beautiful pictures on this earth of Christ's relationship to us.

Our marriages are pictures of Christ and His bride the church composed of all believers on this planet. Satan is always prowling about seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. How can we withstand Satan's constant battle he is waging on our marriages. Well, John and Stasi in their book emphasize the importance of praying together. We can pray for each other, we can pray against the enemy, and we can ask God to bring to light areas we are living in fear or are falling victim to Satan's onslaught of lies he is hurling at our marriages.

Prayer is also unifying. Praying with your spouse draws you closer spiritually as you both come before the God that lives in both of your hearts. Just as physical intimacy expresses oneness when we come together with our mate - prayer helps increase our spiritual oneness as we unite and both come before God to see His life manifest in all aspects of our marriage. 

My wife and I have had some of our most wonderful times of physical intimacy after we have worked through a very difficult circumstance through praying together and taking the offensive on the enemy (Satan). Physical intimacy and sex then seem to become the capstone and consummation of a spiritual unity that is deeper than any words can express.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Don't Forget Your Wife During March Madness

NCAA March madness is here again.  As guys watching sports can be a favorite way to spend some downtime, and if you are a basketball lover then March is going to be a blast for you.   There is nothing wrong with enjoying sports,  God doesn't want to suppress everything we enjoy, but take some time to ask God how you can remember your wife this week/month.   Maybe take the initiative to give her a break from cooking supper or lunch. You could also invite her to join you for your favorite game.  To make it even better mute the commercials and spend every commercial break connecting and talking with your wife.

Friday, March 23, 2012

October Baby Coming out in Theaters this Weekend

My wife and are looking forward to seeing this movie soon - maybe on our next date night.  This movie looks like it will deliver a powerful message about the value of life.   I hope to write more about it soon.   I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on the film.

Click here to find a theater showing October Baby near you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Secluded Romantic Mountain Cabin Getaway #2

Looking for the ultimate in secluded romantic mountain getaways?  Then please read on about this secluded cabin I found on 5 private acres you and your mate can have all to yourself!   Last year my wife and I celebrated our 5th anniversary.  When I began looking for that one of a kind romantic mountain getaway, I first thought we would go back to our original honeymoon spot near Estes Park, Colorado.   The only problem was it was already booked so my hunt would have to continue.   My wife and I are especially fond of the Colorado Rocky Mountains and the Rocky Mountain National Park area so that is where I began my search.   I searched the internet until I found this cabin called the Bird's Nest near Red Feather Colorado.   Little did I know this would be another fabulous hidden treasure tucked away near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado.

The cabin is a 1 bedroom, 1 bath cabin with a fully furnished kitchen.   It also boasts a wood burning stove and a nice sized living area for two people.  The living area is full of nice big windows to see the surrounding beauty outside.  The cabin was immaculately clean and well cared for.

We could walk out from the living area onto a nice deck looking out over a beautiful mountain meadow.  Just a few paces from the deck is an outdoor fire pit and picnic table (with firewood provided), perfect for getting cozy with your spouse by a warm fire in the evening.  If you truly want to get away from civilization and just focus on your husband or wife, for a few days this is the perfect place to do it.

This is a view of the living area and adjoining kitchen.  The kitchen was fully furnished and completely ready to go.


The bathroom was very clean and nicely decorated.   A nice warm and clean bath is definitely a  must to make any trip comfortable. 

We really enjoyed having the whole 5 acres to ourselves with unsurpassed privacy.  We walked the meadow several times, had lunch outside, had dinner on the deck,  and enjoyed just laying out soaking in the sun.   My wife enjoyed sitting out on the deck reading the Twilight books.   The Twilight books were provided in the cabin and my wife seemed to enjoy them immensely.

Indoors, the cabin was brand new and very cozy and stylish.  There wasn't a TV, but what better way to force a couple to focus on each other.  In fact,   No TV is the best way to go if your getting away with your mate.   We enjoyed hot tea in the mornings.  We even played scrabble next to a warm fire a couple of times in the evenings.   We must have really been inspired, as you can see from the scrabble board on the left we used every piece, ending in a perfect tie.  The scrabble game was provided in the cabin also.

If you want to do a little shopping, Fort Collins is about a 45-50 minute drive away if my memory serves me well.  It is a pleasant drive and very scenic.   If you do drive to Fort Collins, Colorado make sure you check out Bisetti's Italian restaurant.   My wife and I went there for a fancy date.  The food is excellent and if you call in advance you can reserve their Cubby room which is a private room that you can dine in by candlelight and the best part is the reservation doesn't cost anything! (very awesome, my wife couldn't believe it).  Bisetti's is another one of those rare treasures you only stumble upon a few times in a lifetime.

The Bird's nest is truly a one of a kind escape.   It is the perfect romantic getaway for an anniversary or any other occasion.   Here are a few additional pictures from our stay from around the cabin and surrounding area.  If you want the perfect romantic getaway in Colorado I highly recommend checking out the Bird's Nest cabin.  Cabin photos are courtesy of Lone Pine realty.

A deer we saw on one of our walks near the cabin.

Looking up to the cabin from the meadow.

View from one of our walks along the cabin road.

View from Black Mountain Hiking Trail

Monday, March 19, 2012

Date Idea #11 - Four Movie Ideas for a Night In

Just last night my wife and I watched a movie together to have some easy together time after a long week.  A movie night in your own home can be a great date for a budget and also a great date if you have small children that you can't leave at home alone.   My wife and I do this occasionally after the kids are down for bed.

Make it special with a little preparation.  You might make your own pop corn with your favorite soda or any other treat that you and your wife.   Dim the lights, cozy up on the love seat, and enjoy.   You can even take turns giving each other shoulder rubs during the movie.

As far as entertainment selection, I have found that movies that are inspiring or provoke conversation afterwards are best.  Sometimes there is something about a great story that sparks memories of our own relationship or dreams we share together.

Here are a few titles you might consider: 

The Young Victoria (2009)

This is a stirring biography of the young Victoria's reign as Queen of England and her romance with Prince Albert.  Very well done and a tasteful romance for Christian couples.  I can 't say I'm into chick flicks that much but this one has a great story and is very well done, but I would recommend a preview before showing this to your kids.

Fireproof (2008)

This is a great movie starring Kirk Cameron as Caleb, a firefighter whose marriage is on the rocks.   Caleb begins a journey of rebuilding his marriage by doing a 40 day "love dare" to win his wife's heart back.

A Walk to Remember (2002)

This movie is a good story of loyalty and what true love really is.   Granted this movie does have some rough language in spots and some crude pranks carried out by high school students.  Interestingly enough though, this movie features songs from Christian band Switchfoot along with various secular artists.   This movie isn't overtly Christian but allows you as the viewer to assume that the characters might have grown spiritually in their faith.

Faith Like Potatoes (2006)

This movie isn't so much in the romance category, but it is a fabulous story taken from the biography of African farmer Angus Buchan.   Although many may not have not heard of this movie, it will take you on a journey of one man's faith and calling.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Love Your Wife - Let Her Sleep In

Want to show your wife love tomorrow?    Let her sleep in on the weekend if you can.  You take care of the kids and give her a little extra rest time.   Most women will really appreciate this especially if you have really young children that keep her up early and on her toes during the week.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Love Your Wife - Breakfast in Bed Part 2 - 10 Prepare Ahead Ideas

Dessert - Yogurt e Lamponi

If you thought about doing breakfast in bed for your wife (as I mentioned in this post last week), but just couldn't think of some good recipes to pull it off, then please read on.

As I was perusing the internet today I stumbled on this article on theKitchn blog.   It lists 10 great ideas for easy make ahead of time breakfasts.  Many of these ideas are simple, yet still creative with a gourmet touch.   Your wife is sure to like one of these prepare ahead breakfasts.   Check it out and let me know if you find one that is especially good.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Love Your Wife - Pursue an Intimate Relationship with the Father

Often times, when we think about loving our wives we think about things we can do or actions we can perform that will show her love.  Many of the ideas on this blog are just that - practical actions we can take to show our wives love.  While it is true we can love our wives with our actions and our words, we can also love her by pursuing a close relationship with our Father in heaven.

Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

We love our wives when we pursue closeness with God and Jesus, and when our mind and our strength is renewed by the Holy Spirit she will experience an even better love from us.  We need the Father to be our source of renewal so we can love with His love.

Ephesians 5:25-27 says,  "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."

If we do not receive love from the Father and believe that He loves us, it will be hard for us to pour out love on our wives.  We are asked to love our wives sacrificially in the same way that Christ loved the church.   Jesus had a perfect oneness with the Father, and he expressed the Father's desires in everything he did from His miracles to His sacrifice on the cross.  Let us also take time to bask in the goodness of the Father, walk with Him, set your thoughts on Him and how much He has done in your life.

Practically, this renewing of our minds may take place through prayer or reading of scripture.  Note that these activities done as an obligatory to do list won't necessarily bring renewal, but done under the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit these things can bring renewal. For me personally, I have had wonderful times with God setting my thoughts on Him and praying as I enjoy a stroll in the freshness of the morning.  Remember that these activities aren't to pursue a greater holiness or higher level of righteousness. Our holiness and righteousness are complete in Jesus' finished work on the cross.  Fixating on God and Jesus will help us live from His life inside of us as opposed to living from our flesh.

It does take a conscious choice to choose the things of God over the things the world lures us with.  Satan wants to distract us and to keep us focused on the frail things of the world.  Ask God, to help you understand fully and most completely who you are as one of His children.   Receive His love, and then as God continually works in you, you will grow in your capacity to love and serve your wife, even as Christ loved and served the church.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Favorite Romantic Mountain Getaway #1

As we get geared up for spring, and with spring break currently underway it makes me begin to think about getting away with my wonderful wife in the summer.  In this post I thought I would take some time and give an inside scoop on one of our favorite romantic, mountain getaways we have enjoyed in the past. This is not a high profile resort, but rather a quaint and romantic place that offers a great escape for a first or second honeymoon.

 My wife and I enjoy the quiet seclusion and peacefulness of the mountains. Thus far, we've only visited Colorado and New Mexico, but both offer beautiful mountain vistas and are a great place to retreat from the heat of Texas summers.   In this post I will cover one of our favorite destinations, and I hope to include a few other romantic spots in future posts.

Fowler Cabin - Meeker Park, Colorado

Fowler cabin will always remain an unforgettable place for my wife and I because it is where we spent our honeymoon. We enjoyed a full seven days at this wonderful cabin right after we were married. The cabin is located in Meeker Park, Colorado which is near the Estes Park area and the Rocky Mountain National Park. The cabin is fully furnished and all you need to do is show up. A spacious deck wraps around the cabin and makes a perfect place to relax and watch hummingbirds, squirrels, and chipmunks.  The owner even kept a stash of bird seed to feed the wildlife if you enjoy watching wildlife - and there is certainly plenty of wildlife to enjoy.   Or, if you like to grill that special meal for the love of your life there is a grill ready to use (or at least when we were there).  We thoroughly enjoyed a steak dinner out on the deck during our stay.

A gentle running stream is only a few foot steps away from the cabin. The stream flows into a small pond with a bench near by so you can sit and listen to the peaceful sound of the running water.  My wife fell in love with the place as soon as she got out of the car and saw the pond and heard the stream.  The bench by the pond is a very romantic place to cuddle with your wife and enjoy the sound of the water. This property also boasts an area for playing horseshoes which is nestled in the trees and blanketed with deep green grass. If you walk a little further from the cabin, you can enjoy an open meadow, a great place for an afternoon picnic.  This cabin is a very romantic and secluded place where and you and your wife can enjoy being yourselves with a level of privacy hard to be found elsewhere.

Bench near the horse shoe pit.

Horse shoe pit.

All of this, and so far I haven't even gotten to one of our favorite aspects of this cabin - the jacuzzi around back.  Behind the cabin is a private, secluded jacuzzi hot tub. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed this on our honeymoon, but we have since concluded that after nearly 6 years of marriage that we could probably enjoy it even more now. 

Inside, the cabin has two bedrooms, a cozy bathroom, a living area with fireplace, and a small kitchen.   If you want to check this cabin out, you can view a large number of photos the owner has posted here.    The cabin photos above are courtesy of The Fowler Cabin.

If you like shopping, you can take a short drive to Estes Park and enjoy a day trip there perusing the small shops that are there. My wife and I also bought a 7 day pass to the Rockey Mountain National Park and enjoyed several excursions there. Our favorite adventures there included the Emerald Lake hiking trail, the Trail Ridge Road scenic drive, and a horse back trail in the park.  Below you will find a few photos of a few of our favorite spots in the park. These photos are from our own personal photographs.

Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Waterfall seen on hike to Emerald lake.

Mountain view from Trail Ridge Road.

Another view from the tundra on the Trail Ridge Road Scenic drive.

Date Your Spouse - Date Idea #10 - A Self Serve Yogurt Creation

Yogurtland Yogurt High Res

If you need an idea for an inexpensive date that will please your wife's palate, then this could be it.   See if you can find a self serve yogurt shop in your town and give it a spin.   If you have never been to one of these shops, it works like this.
  • You go in and fill your own cup with the frozen yogurt and toppings of your choice
  • Next you take it to the the cashier who then will weigh it.  
  • You pay by the ounce, but it is usually not too expensive.   
If you make this an experiment in togetherness, you can share a cup and get a good treat for only a few dollars.   Once you have finished your edible soft serve masterpiece, enjoy fine conversation with your wife as you both delight in your creation.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Date Your Spouse - Date Idea #9 - Go Bowling

Do you and your wife ever need to just get out and have some lighthearted fun to escape the stress and worries of life for a little while?   This date idea might provide just some plain old recreational fun for you and her.   Try taking her bowling even if neither of you have ever been before.  Do it just to try something new.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, be a good sport,and don't get overly competitive.   Take any chance you can to complement your wife on her exploits with the bowling ball.

This date may not be the cheapest now days.  It seems that bowling alleys are getting more expensive.  Some bowling alleys are better than others in terms of atmosphere so do a little research to find the best one in your town.   If you want to save a few bucks, check your local yellow pages for coupons.  Our local bowling alleys usually publish a few coupons that will ease the stress on your wallet.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Love Your Wife - Breakfast in Bed

Breakfast in Bed at Idwala

Alright, guys.  The weekend is almost near.  So what is a great way you can love your wife this weekend?   Maybe you should prepare breakfast tomorrow morning and deliver it to your wife in bed.  Add a simple love note to her tray and make it even more special.   If you have small children, you might even help them write a special note for mommy to deliver alongside her breakfast.

If you can sneak out of bed and prepare this while she is asleep, that is perfect.  Be aware not to wake her up to early though.  Letting her sleep in a bit and enjoy a quiet slow breakfast will rejuvenate her soul.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Love Your Wife - Take Care of Car Maintenance

As I was reading the news this morning, I noticed that Toyota is recalling 680,000 vehicles (http://money.cnn.com/2012/03/07/autos/toyota-recall/index.htm).  So this made me start thinking about how many of us let our wives take care of her car or all the cars in the household.  Sure, we may make the mechanical decisions, but often times she executes the plan of getting it into the shop and picking it up.   If you want to show your wife love, take care of car maintenance and repairs for the household cars.   For example, if you happen to have one of the above mentioned Toyotas, you can be the one to take the initiative.   Call the dealer, schedule an appointment, and take the load off of her.   Most dealers offer a courtesy car ride and many are open early in the morning and later in the evening so you can drop off and pick up before or after your normal work hours.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Love Your Wife - A Bubble Bath Just for Her

Remember the old Calgon commercials?  The mom sitting in the bath tub resting in perfect peace and utter bliss.   The kids come screaming at the door and the mom exclaims, "Calgon, take me away!".   One great way to minister to your wife is to draw her a warm bath.  If she likes bubble baths you can add some bubbles or even her favorite bath salts.  Bath and Body Works has an enormous selection of bath products in a multitude of scents that you can get to pull this off. 

Make sure to get the bathroom nice and toasty for her before hand.  If you want to go all out, light some candles or dim the lights.   Once you've got everything prepared, tell her to go enjoy her bath and let her know that you will watch the kids while she has a nice relaxing time to herself.

Love Your Wife - Text Her a Compliment

It is amazing what a few simple words can do to encourage someone.  Today, my wife texted me asking a few questions in regard to paying some bills.  I was so blessed that she was on top of getting them paid that I texted her and said "You are awesome!".   Little did I know that this would mean something to her.  She responded back in a few minutes with "Thank you! That means alot to me!".

If you can, text your wife a short message of affirmation or encouragement.  Let her know how wonderful she is.  Remember though, don't just do it because I suggested it.   Do it in sincerity, and send a message that will mean something to her as the unique and special person God made her to be.

Give it a try!  I would love to hear how your wife responds.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Love Your Wife - A Back Massage for Your Wife Before Bedtime

As men, when we said our vows we promised to love, cherish, and protect our wives.   Often times we don't give our wives enough acknowledgement for all the things they do.  We can get so preoccupied with our own jobs and to-do lists we forget all our wife does each day.

Tonight, take some time and tell your wife how much you appreciate her and all that she does. Whether she works to bring in additional income or stays at home and takes care of the kids, most women will greatly appreciate this.  After you tell her how much you appreciate her and how precious she is to you, offer to give her a back massage before she goes to sleep.   Communicate with her to find what she likes the most.  Remember, to be gentle.  There are also small hand tools you can use to make your hands last longer.  They usually have a few prongs with smooth balls on the end that you can use to massage the muscles.

If you're massaging against bare skin, remember that a lotion or massage oil will make your hands move more smoothly over the skin and will make your hands less abrasive to the skin.

While you're doing this, genuinely affirm how much she means to you and how much you appreciate her hard work each day.

Date Your Spouse - Date Idea #8 - Coffee and a Board Game

Sometimes as the responsibilities of life take over and our lives are predominantly spent trying to make wise decisions and make ends meet it is very easy to forget how to just have plain fun with our spouse.  This date idea will hopefully inspire you to have some lighthearted fun with your wife.

Set aside some time and play a board game with your wife.  Maybe an old favorite you both like.  My wife and I enjoy an occasional game of scrabble together or nertz (a card game).  Or, another variation you could try is working on a puzzle together - this is great because it requires you to work together and you can sit close.

You can do this date at home, but my personal favorite is to go to a coffee shop and setup there.   Enjoy your favorite beverage and a little fun competition with your spouse.   Flirting across the board is completely allowed.  Just remember don't be a poor sport or a poor loser, as that can take this date south very quickly.   Yes, we men sometimes need to tone down the competitor and just enjoy the experience of being with our wife doing something fun.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dating Your Spouse - Date Idea #7 - Attend a Symphony

Ever enjoyed fine music with your wife?  If not maybe you should take her to a symphony,  most larger cities have an orchestra.   You may not have a symphony if you live in a rural area, but it is well worth the experience for most couples to try attending at least once.   Granted depending on the music you and your wife like to listen too it might not be an experience enjoyed by all couples.  If you enjoy fine culture and the romance of classical music, this could be a great date idea for you and your wife.  

Be advised though that it is wise to dress for the occasion.  A symphony is a good excuse for you and your wife to dress up and enjoy the elegance of the evening as you bask in the sound of violins, cellos, and timpani drums.  This date may not be the cheapest date, but with some planning it is doable for most couples.

Afterwards, maybe dig a littler deeper what did the music make each of you think and feel?  Did it inspire you or speak to your heart and soul?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dating Your Spouse - Date Idea #6 - Visit an Aboretum or Botanical Gardens

As spring starts to show its blossoms this year, it has me more and more anxious to be in the great outdoors.   One of my wife's favorite places to visit in the spring and summer is our local aboretum.  Many cities have either an arboretum or botanical gardens for the public to enjoy.   They are often a great place for a nice leisurely and romantic walk.  So check out your city to see if you have a botanical gardens, and enjoy the warm whether with your wife.   Take a nice stroll, hand in hand, and take some time to learn more about her.   Use this time to learn what is important in her life and treat her like the treasured beauty that she is.

If you try this date, make sure you have adequate time to not be pressured by the clock.  The objective is to learn more about the desires of you wife's heart, not to complete the agenda and check it off.   Forget time, get lost in her eyes again, look her in the eyes and let her know she is still the love of your life.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dating Your Spouse - Date Idea #5 - Take Her Dancing at Home

There is something about dancing with my wife that makes me feel more connected to her, but when it comes to dates it is very hard to find a dance venue that is suitable to attend.  The club atmosphere with alcohol overflowing isn't what my wife and I enjoy.  Not that I have anything against alcohol in moderation, it just seems hard to find a classy place to go dancing.

If you have never taken your wife dancing, you should give it a try.  And here is the good news - you can do it at home.  Don't worry.  You don't have to be a perfect dancer.   Even a modest effort on your part will put your wife on cloud nine (assuming she like dancing).   This date is also nice because you can do it at home after you put the kids down for bed.

Pulling this off is really quite simple.   Browse your CD or mp3 collection for some great songs,  and choose a few songs that she likes and a few that you like.  You can mix it up with a few upbeat songs and a few nice swaying tunes.   To add a nice touch - dress up for the occasion.   You might even have some sparkling grape juice or wine to enjoy between your dancing interludes. 

Dancing is a great way to connect with your wife. There is something about moving together in unison that is a physical expression of what your relationship is like emotionally and spiritually.  God has called us to be one with our wives so use this date idea to pursue oneness and connection with her.

Another great plus to this date, is you can express as much passion and desire in your dancing as you and your wife would like.  No need to keep it tame - as long as you both enjoy your time together!  Maybe you could checkout a ballroom dancing video at the library and spice up the evening with a little salsa dancing or maybe even a tango.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dating Your Spouse - Date Idea #4 - A Walk Down Memory Lane

As time passes in our marriages, we often seem to lose the spark and giddy feelings we had when we were dating our spouse.  I am glad though that the security of marriage brings a stability and lessens the nervous anxiety we might have had during courtship and dating.  Nonetheless, it sometimes takes a little effort to keep that excitement going that you once had early on in your relationship.

My tip in this post is to setup a date with your spouse and plan to revisit places in your city you were fond of when you were courting.  I did this with my wife a couple of years ago and she still mentions it on occasion.  For example, if there was a particular park that you spent many hours in together revisit it and initiate conversation with your mate by asking her what she remembers about those times you spent together.   You can even visit several places from your courtship if you have time.  Maybe take her to her old neighborhood and go for a walk.   Visit your old college campus if your relationship budded there.   The possibilities are endless, but you must choose places to visit that have memories and significance to both of you.

Not all the stops on your date need be memorable places from your courtship - places that have become memorable after marriage are great also.   Try this date idea and have a great time with your spouse reliving the memorable moments of your relationship and making new memories at the same time.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Love Your Wife - Do an unexpected household chore for your wife.

Something that I have discovered that never fails to put a smile on my wife's face is when I do a routine household chore that she normally caries out.   If you have a chance, find out what daily tasks your wife dislikes the most then try to do it for her when she is not expecting it.   For my wife it is laundry and cleaning the bathroom.   On different occasions I have done the laundry or cleaned the bathroom while she was out of the house.   Even if you can't get her out of the house to surprise her,  just pick up and do it and I'm sure your wife will be blessed also.

I will admit sometimes I don't recognize all that my wife does everyday, but even a little effort in relieving her of a simple task makes her happy.

And you gentlemen out there might think... "Well if I do this once she will expect it everyday".  Thus far I haven't found that to be true.  Generally, my wife has expressed that it makes her feel loved and noticed, and makes her feel more inspired to keep doing all of the ordinary things in life.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dating Your Spouse - Date Idea #3 - The Gourmet Picnic Date

As warmer weather is slowly approaching, I am getting more eager to be outside.  Spending time outdoors with your wife is a great date idea.  My wife and I have spent several dates walking and talking in various parks around our city.   One of my favorite dates is having a picnic in the park.   If you want to take the romantic atmosphere of the picnic date up to the next level, maybe you should consider a gourmet picnic in the park.   I use the term "gourmet" rather loosely, as for most of us gentlemen this would mean anything we put a reasonable amount of effort into making.

If you can find a nice park that has tables and charcoal grills available it will make it easier to pull off a meal of finer cuisine.  Also, most of us gentlemen have better skills with the grill than with the stove in our homes.   This date will take some planning, but it is very doable.  Pick a grill worthy meat - whether it be a steak,  pork chops, or even shish-k-bobs just pick something you both will enjoy.   When I last did this with my wife,  I grilled pork chops at the park and pre-baked potatoes that I baked prior and put in an insulated snack sack.   To round out the meal you can include a tossed salad (for even more convenience you can get a pre-mixed salad at the grocery store).   As a beverage consider something like sparkling grape juice or even ice tea depending on her likes/dislikes.  In addition to the food items,  you might also think about taking a few of your actual dinner plates and glasses (maybe even champaigne flutes - but be aware that many public parks have ordinances about consumption of alcohol).   This might sound strange, but using real plates, glasses, and silverware adds an extra fine touch to the meal to keep that gourmet and romantic feel.   A few other items you won't want to forget are tablecloths or a blanket (red checked is a classic),  silverware, napkins, charcoal, lighter fluid, matches, candles, and maybe bug repellant.   Generally,  I would recommend doing this type of date in the evening to take advantage of pleasant temperatures (note I live in Texas where it is often to hot in the middle of the day). To top off the fun you might include a frozen treat like a small container of her favorite ice cream.

The point of this date is to enjoy treating your wife to a nice meal and getting lost in her company.  It also is an adventure that you can embark upon together and overcome any challenges that come up (as they usually do when attempting outdoor fair).   I think the gourmet picnic is a fun and creative way to show your wife that you love her.  There is just something about the outdoors that inspires romance.

If you attempt this date, I'd love to get feedback in the comments about what you and your spouse thought about it.

And since I am a fan of bulletted lists here is a check-list of items to prep for the "gourmet picnic":
  • charcoal
  • lighter fluid
  • matches
  • a grill suitable meat
  • potatoes pre-baked
  • potato trimmings - butter and whatever else you like
  • tossed salad (maybe even dressing)
  • a beverage (ice tea, sparkling grape juice, water, lemonade, you pick)
  • dinner plates
  • silverware
  • glasses, goblets, or champaigne flutes
  • napkins
  • tablecloth or blanket
  • optional - a frozen treat for afterward (remember to pack this well-iced)
  • optional - candles adds a romantic touch even if it isn't dark yet
  • oh and yes ... don't forget to bring your spouse.
I hope that you find this date enjoyable and a great way to connect with your spouse.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dating Your Spouse - Date Idea #2 - The Extended Weekend Shopping Date

In our culture today, it is so hard to keep our busyness from distracting from our time with our spouse.  In my own marriage, I've found that getting away for a few days with my wife is absolutely critical to growing our relationship.

In conversations with my wife, one of the things I discovered is that although she really loved getting away the responsibility of planning and preparing for a trip diminished her excitement and enjoyment of it especially in the days leading up to travel.

Well, this past year my wife worked very hard and followed a very disciplined diet and exercise regimen and she lost 25+ pounds.   She felt strongly  that this is what God wanted her to do and He brought her tremendous victory with her weight - an area she has struggled with since adolescence.   The perseverance by which she stuck with her diet inspired me to try to do something special for her this year around Valentines Day.   I decided to plan an extended shopping date to Dallas, Texas for her to replenish her wardrobe,  but I wanted this to be a surprise.

So first things first,  I began checking around with family to find child care for our children.  With a little work I had child care covered in a few days.  Fortunately, being family that was watching the kids, I didn't have to pay a babysitter.

With childcare covered, the next step was to find a nice place to stay.  I wanted to treat my wife, but as most people do I needed to be frugal.   What I have discovered, that helps tremendously with getting discounts on hotel rooms, are websites like priceline.com and hotwire.com.   It takes a little work to find a good deal with these sites and patience.   The way these sites work is you get discounted rates on hotels that aren't going to fill all of their rooms.  The caveat is you do not know the exact hotel until you book.   So if  you go this route be sure to research the best areas to stay in and pick hotels that are in nice areas.  You can also check with friends that may be familiar with your destination and get their opinion.   I have had good experience booking hotels as long as they have an 80% positive customer review and no less than 3 stars.    Using price line I reserved us a room in a 4 star hotel for around $57 per night  (which is much less than even a cheap hotel would be at full price).

With lodging and childcare in place, it was now time to figure out a way to give my wife some money to spend.   Since I had to live within our means and also keep it a surprise,  I scavenged around and found several restaurant gift cards we had been given,  I redeemed points earned on our credit card for a $50 visa gift card, and I found two $50 gift cards we had from smart phone rebates we hadn't used yet.   So I added $150 cash from the bank to provide her with some unconditional spending money.

As time came closer, it was time to think about getting her out of the house to pack everything up.   I arranged for my wife's sister to invite her to breakfast on the Saturday we were to leave, and I agreed to text her when I had all of the bags packed.  If you do this, I suggest making a packing list in advance so you can get things in order quickly.   Also, I would advise paying attention to your wife's morning routine.   Take note of what cosmetic items she uses,  make-up,  hairbrushes, perfume, curling irons, etc.

Here is a sample packing list if you need some help in this area:

  • Clothes appropriate for your destination -  I would suggest overpacking to give her plenty of combinations to choose from
  • Soap and shampoo
  • Undergarments  (Remember gents that ladies require more undergarments if she doesn't have 2 undergarments packed for every 1 undergarment you pack you are missing something)
  • Nightgowns or sleepwear (although if you forget these items hopefully you and your wife can still enjoy yourselves...maybe even more...and this enjoyment is legal for married couples)
  • Toothpaste/toothbrushes
  • Makeup and cosmetics
  • Hair brushes and combs
  • Her razor
  • Vitamins and or medications either of you require
  • Shoes (take note of what shoes your wife wears for different occasions)
  • Music for the car or an iPod
  • A camera to capture your memories together.
  • If you aren't going to be dining out, you will also need to think about taking the appropriate food items.
I found that for me it worked best to walk through our morning and evening routines and collect all the necessary travel items and pack them up.

A few days before we left, I purchased an appropriate card and wrote a personal note in it and put the gift cards and spending money in it.   On travel day, I put this card in the glove box when I packed all of our bags into the car.

Once I finished packing everything up,  I sent the text message to my sister-in-law that everything was a go.   When my wife came home, and I told her we were going on a trip she was overtaken with surprise.   Please be aware that if you do this your wife may burst into tears, but I assure you in most cases they will be the best kind of happy tears.   Once we were on the road,  I had her open her card which she received with much surprise and more tears.

Be sure and don't overbook the agenda for your trip.  Leave yourselves some flexibility to be spontaneous and have leisurely fun.   We hit a couple of shopping malls had dinner out a couple of times, and our last day we just kind of did whatever seemed fun at a slow pace.   

If you are worried about shopping,  I'll let you know that shopping isn't my favorite past time, but I have come to enjoy it more with my wife.  Maybe pick a few items for her to try out and let her know what you think she looks really good in.   Most ladies will enjoy knowing what you think she looks attractive in.   Be tasteful though and don't push her to try on things she isn't comfortable in.  If you have made her feel special in all the preparations and have showed her you truly love her, don't be surprised if she becomes very open to you.  I was quite surprised when my wife turned to me in the store and said she would try on anything I wanted her too just for me.  Of course, now my surprise was surprising even me as my wife wanted to know what I thought she would look sexy in.   And if you are getting worried because this post seems to have become a little racy, just remember as Christians we should have the corner on the market when it comes to enjoying the beauty of our wives and their bodies - this is good and right and nothing to be ashamed of.    I will say that my wife's willingness to try on anything I wanted to see her in excited me, yet it did humble me and made me realize that she was offering me a great deal and it was my place to honor and cherish her by not taking advantage of her open heart or compromise her by pushing the limits to far.    It is an amazing thing how letting the Holy Spirit express love through us comes back to us many times over when we have truly expressed His love to our spouse.   All the effort was certainly worth it and the time to connect and learn new things about my wife is priceless.

I certainly don't want to sound more holy than anyone else,  I stumble and I am not always as loving as I should be, but this I can say - I've never been let down by loving my wife the best I can.  I hope that someone somewhere will feel inspired by the post and maybe help you plan that well deserved date or getaway for your wife.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dating Your Spouse - Date Idea #1 - A Twist on the Typical Movie Date

Dinner and a movie - the classic date for all ages.  For many of us if we started dating in college or high school, dinner and a movie was probably one of the most common dates we went on.   Interestingly enough, my wife and I never went on a movie date until after we were married.  Before we were married I remember desiring to just be with her so much that the idea of taking my attention off of her for a movie didn't sound all that fun.   As life has progressed a few years with young children and more responsibility we often have found ourselves in the movie theater due to lack of energy and often times lack of planning on my part.

With all that said, I am by no means saying that going to the movies with your spouse is a bad thing.  I have found that it does require a little more effort to connect.   It's very easy to become passive.

Here is a dating idea that my wife and I have done before.  Planning a date to a movie can be fun, but as Christians it is worth a little caution in what we watch.   My wife and I like to use plugged in.com to get a Christian perspective on a movie before we go.  We pick our movies carefully, but that doesn't mean we restrict ourselves only to PG movies.   I personally believe we are free in Christ and it is between you and Jesus about what you feel you should not watch.  Each person and couple may be more or less sensitive to certain kinds of content.   I believe it is best for us as Christians to avoid films with explicit nudity and sexual content.

If you are on a budget, most movie theaters offer an evening matinee on an off day of the week.  In our town, Tuesday evening movies are usually $6 per person.

Now that I've rambled about some of the basics of movie selection and budget, its time to think about planning the date.   As a husband I've found it is important for me to establish connection with my wife in everyday life and on dates.   Dates in which we talk a lot and connect rank higher on my wife's scale.   To build that connection if you can do something unexpected and thoughtful the day or your date or even a few days before you can help establish that connection.

Something that I have found that blesses my wife is to leave a random hand written note for her in a unexpected place.   Tell her how much you appreciate her and love her and maybe leave the note on her breakfast plate, in a drawer she is sure to visit, or any other place she can find it unexpectedly.   You might even include something like "I look forward to spending time with you on our date tonight".   This builds anticipation for her and you as well.

When you choose your movie if you can choose a movie that is inspirational or heart touching it may give you more opportunity to connect with your wife.   During the moving if you think your wife is being touched by a certain part in the film, put your arm around her to connect with her and let her know you are experiencing it with her.   As a married christian couple it is also quite okay in my opinion to kiss your wife during a moving, granted you may want keep it tasteful so as not to be disrespectful to your fellow movie goers (passionate making out can always be caught up on later in the evening :) ).

After the movie, take your wife somewhere you can talk whether that is a coffee shop or a park.  On our last date, my wife and I picked up a light bite to eat after the moving then parked beside a park and talked in the car for nearly an hour.   Rather than just forgetting the movie, talk about what you both liked and didn't like.  Was there anything that meant something to her in the film?  What were the positives and negatives about the characters.   Movies can be a great way to explore life and process how we should respond to things in our culture.   Also, if your wife decides to rabbit trail to a different topic just go with it, the point is to connect - to love her and get to know her very soul.

My fellow christian men I hope you have many fun and creative dates with your wife in you future.

Husbands Love Your Wives - Does that include Creative and Playful?

As christian men we have all heard those these words from Ephesians 5:25-26:

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Work,.." Ephesians 5:25-26 (Amplified version)

We are to love our wives sacrificially just as Christ loved the church - a calling that I myself often find intimidating to aspire to.  We should each learn the love language of our spouse, whether it be quality time, acts of service, gifts, affirmation, or physical touch.   Dr.  Gary Chapman has written an entire book (The Five Love Languages) on the five love languages that is worth checking out if you haven't already.

So you may be asking what is this blog about.  Well, I only claim to be a fellow christian brother trying to learn to love my wife the way God desires.   I hope to share my own experiences and ideas on how to pursue the woman in your life.  I often have found myself caught up in the busy freeway of life trying to earn a living, keep the cars running, and keeping the house in repair that pursuing God and my wife slips from the forefront.

I believe first and foremost we must pursue Jesus if we are to truly pursue our wives.  I have recently picked up John Elderidge's new book Beautiful Outlaw.   If you have a view that Jesus is an ethereal, angelic, and austere fellow this book is a must read.   As I have read this book, it has given me a new perspective on Jesus personality and how wonderful His love is for us.   In this book, Elderidge ponders the playful side of Jesus - the loving and fun personality that came to win us back to the Father.

Thinking back to the verse "Husbands, love your wives..."  in light of this playful side of Jesus got me started thinking on how I can exhibit the playful and loving nature of Jesus to my wife.  My wife and I for a few years now have blocked off one night every week to have a date night.   This has been a huge blessing in our marriage, but I've often found too often I default to dinner and a movie and let these times become more routine than imaginative and playful.

As part of this blog my hope is to offer up some creative dating ideas for christian couples, hoping that I try to keep fun and creativity alive in my own relationship with my wife that maybe other men will find the ideas helpful or even inspire their own.