5 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage

Christian marriages are under attack. There should be no debating this. It takes hard work and commitment to keep a marriage thriving in today’s busy culture. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, it simply means we need to be cautious not to allow things to creep into our relationships that could undermine them.

Homeschooling couples are far from being immune from attacks on their marriage. Why is this? The stress of juggling a family, job, church, friends, extended family, combined with the added stress of planning and purchasing curriculum, teaching, and the constant burden of ensuring you’re are doing it all right can get heavy real fast.

But homeschooling is just one thing in a long list of things that can add stress to a marriage. Sean and I know this first hand. If I’m honest the past 8 years have felt like a whirlwind. We’ve had a series of very heavy extended family issues, Sean has been pastor of our church for 5 of those years, he’s gone back to college (and graduated!), we’ve wrestled with multiple home business ordeals, and welcomed into our family the most challenging (yet beautiful) child that we’ve ever known.

Some days I feel like I’m living with a business partner instead of a husband. Whenever I start feeling that way I tell Sean, and I normally can tell he is feeling the same way. 
If there is one thing you need to keep a marriage strong, it’s communication! Don’t stop talking to each other. I’m very open and honest with Sean. We talked for hours in our courtship, which helped us keep talking in our marriage. If you don’t feel like things are going ok in your marriage, tell your husband! If you need time alone with him, tell him! It might not happen right away, but at least your husband is aware of your needs. 
There are a lot of things that go into keeping a marriage strong, but here are 5 things that can really help. Even if you have an amazing marriage, you always need to keep working on it! Don’t take your marriage for granted. 
  1. Pray together. As the old saying goes, “The couple that prays together, stays together.” It’s hard to stay mad at each other when you are kneeling down and praying to God together. Pray for your marriage, your children, your church, your job or business….bring those concerns you have before the Lord together and be united in asking Him for guidance.
  2. Flirt with each other. Seriously. It can be easy to fall into mundane life and forget to flirt with each other. What made you fall in love with each other? What attracts you to each other right now? Make sure your husband knows you think he is hot stuff! When it comes to marriage, there is no modesty. 🙂 Husbands love a wife that will flirt with them, so give it a try!
  3. Play together as a family. When you have children you won’t get a lot of time to yourself as a couple. Step away from the craziness around you, and put a game night into your family routine! Plan fun snacks and sit around the table with a few fun games. We keep it simple and play Uno a lot- they don’t have to be fancy games!
  4. Go on walks together. Last year Sean and I went on walks together, we didn’t always stay together because he would be running and I would be attempting to run, while mostly walking. 😉 But it was so much fun to get outside and do an activity together! Since we have a 13 year old we were able to leave the children home, but sometimes we take everyone with us and just use our double stroller.
  5. Leave him notes in his lunch box (my husband would insert in here “the days I have lunch.” It’s true! I’m horrible at getting up early and making lunch and really out of practice since Sean normally works at home). Send him fun text messages letting him know you are thinking of him.

I saw a quote on Pinterest that said “Love is now about how much you say I love you, but how much you prove it’s true.” This is so true. Words are easy to say but actions require a lot more work.

Here’s another idea – If you are wanting to surprise your husband with something fun, we have the 30 Days of Loving Your Man on sale for Valentine’s Day! It’s available in Sean’s Etsy store, and it’s a lovely way to show your husband just how much you care!

Included in this PDF download are 30 printable cards, each containing a different activity to help you reconnect with your husband. You can go through each challenge in order, or mix them up day by day – it’s up to you!

Also included are 8 beautifully designed ‘love note’ cards for you to print out and give to your husband throughout the challenge. There are even 4 bonus cards with empty space for you to personalize a message.

You can get this for $4.99 through February 14th. You don’t have to use the 30 day cards every day, just use them as inspiration for simple things you can do for your husband! Believe me, he will love it (and so will you)!

While you are over on his Etsy Store, check out the adorable Valentine’s Day cards he has for children! They are so perfect if you are working on building good character in your children!







Confessions From A Husband About Homemaking

Confessions From A Husband About Homemaking

You may have heard – the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is here. Even I’m excited about it! And why shouldn’t I be? For the past two years I’ve seen how it encourages my wife with its excellent resources and helpful tips. Homemaking is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and anything that can help keep a spring in my wife’s step deserves my appreciation.

I didn’t always think in this way. My early views on keeping a home were, well, cringe worthy.

As you may have learned by reading this blog, I like to keep things clean. When I was in High School I began keeping my room, my car, and my things meticulously. My first job was at a local grocery store and I relished the challenge of finding efficient ways to fill a grocery sack as the food beeped across the scanner. A few of you out there might relate but at this point most of you are probably pitying Caroline for ever having married me. Read on. : )

Sean and Caroline

Years later Caroline and I met, and for all of the wonderful things about our courtship it failed to disclose just how different she and I were in this area. That’s not to say that Caroline likes a good mess. It’s just that messes don’t speak to her the same way they do me.

Random stuff on the living room floor likes to jaw at me. It laughs at me; calls me names. I have to shut it up. To Caroline its saying, “Here we are, out of our places. No hurry though. We know you’ll pick us up when its convenient for you.”

So, of course she walks by as if it weren’t there. I simply can’t. Or should I say “couldn’t”. Six children does something to you in this regard. The stuff just kind of grins at me now – no words. I think I’m improving – don’t you?

Early marriage, though, was different. I can remember coming home from work and Caroline telling me that she had taken a nap during the day. “A nap?” I thought. Whatever for? I mean, it’s just you here, in this tiny house. You shop for groceries and you clean this house and you need a nap? (Are you cringing yet?)

There were days where she only had energy or time to tidy up one room before I got home. I’d walk through the door, size things up and quietly make my displeasure known, never mind acknowledging the work she did accomplish. This always hurt her a great deal. Ok, now I’m cringing.

“Yes you fool, she needs a nap. And no, she doesn’t need you guilting her into keeping the house clean!” That’s the me of today talking to the me of yesterday, or, at least that’s what I’d say if given the chance.

Starting a home based business really altered my thinking on this. You see, I was home more, and the more I was home the more I was able to see just how difficult, how complex, how thankless, how physically draining, and how mentally taxing homemaking really is.

Simplicity Quote on Motherhood

I quickly began to realize that not only did my wife occasionally need a nap to help her through the burden of the day, she deserved something eminently more important – encouragement. On a daily basis. From me.

I saw so many needs pressing upon her every day. I saw, with my own eyes, how the tasks she performed were critical to the overall wellbeing my home. To the casual onlooker, of course, these are menial, unlovely tasks not worthy of respect. The mother’s role in society is not exactly an exalted one, and my wife had long since come to terms with the way the world views what she does.

But what about the way her husband viewed it? Did she find honor and praise for her work from him? Something a wife simply cannot and should not be expected to endure is disrespect from within the home, particularly from her husband. He is, without a doubt, the best person to provide the encouraging words of appreciation she so desperately needs and legitimately deserves. She can endure the slings and arrows of the world’s harsh judgement if only he will affirm her work and bless her constancy.

I could have spared my wife a lot of hurt feelings if I would have made more of an effort to better acquaint myself with the demands of her work in the home.

Now I’m a true believer. My wife is irreplaceable. Her work is legitimately difficult. Most men couldn’t handle it. I mean it – they couldn’t handle it. It places physical and mental demands on her that I didn’t know even existed until I spent some time by her side.

Joyful Motherhood!

Too many men treat housekeeping like professional sports. The greatest athletes make what they do look easy to the point that in some of our more delusional moments we think we could actually do what they do. It’s just like that with our wives. They make it look easy, and we think, “Homemaking – nothing to it.” What nonsense. If that’s the way we look at housekeeping is it any wonder that they receive so little encouragement from us?

So that’s my little plug for not only the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, but all forms of encouragement we can give our wives. Caroline gets excited about the bundle every year. It helps to keep her spirits up. It motivates and inspires her. I’m all for it. God knows she has a difficult job.

**Caroline here – I have to let you know my husband totally, completely surprised me by writing this. I didn’t ask him to do this, and I was deeply humbled by what he shared here. I love my husband so much, and am thankful for his encouragement!**

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle sale is almost over!  I would hate for you guys to miss out on purchasing this bundle if it would be a blessing to you all. The link is below if you are interested!
Buy Now

(Republished  – Originally this post was written April of 2015)



30 Great Date Night Ideas!

Not every marriage requires amazing date night actives. Some couples might not like date nights, where other couples thrive on them. We try to have one date night a month, but there are  some months where that doesn’t happen.

If you are needing some new ideas, I brainstormed and came up with 30 creative date night ideas of what you could do as a couple together. Some of these ideas are not strictly for date nights, but most of them are. 🙂

30 Great Date Night Ideas! These are creative date night ideas, but most of them don't require a lot of prep work!

1. Go on a walk together.

2. Read a book out loud together.

3. Watch a favorite movie.

4. Go to a sporting event together. I have discovered I enjoy sports only because my husband does. I don’t even understand the rules, but I enjoy being there with my husband!

5. Learn a new board game/card game together. Here is a great list of games for 2 people.

6. Go bowling together.

7. Go to a bookstore together, and spend the night browsing through books! We love to do this, though Sean normally looks at car or geeky computer magazines, while I browse the books. 🙂

8. Go to a music concert together. We love to attend our Symphony together!

9. Dinner out, or dinner in! If you can’t find a babysitter just put them to bed early, or put on a movie for them to watch and have dinner alone together.

30 Great Date Night Ideas for the married or dating couple!

10. Turn on some favorite music and dance together in your living room!

11. Attend a class together (workout class, painting class, etc. )

12. Go to the gun range together. (Not our idea of a date night, but I have friends who would love this!)

13. Turn your bedroom into a romantic bed and breakfast type room. Candles, sparking grape juice and special glasses, chocolate, and some massage oil! You can learn how to give a massage to your spouse with the massage class that comes as a bonus offer in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle (only available until May 2nd!).

Melt: Massage for Couples - Get this for FREE in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle as a Bonus offer!

14. Bake a meal together, no children allowed in the kitchen!

15. Rent a fun car for the day! We have rented a Mustang a few times and it’s SOOO much fun! And it’s really not very expensive!

16. Lay on a blanket and look at the stars together. Who knows. It might turn into more than stargazing. 😉

17. Take a hike together. Not a walk in the park. A real hike!

18. Go out just for ice cream.

30 Great Date Night Ideas! Going for ice cream is always a fun treat!

19. Take a drive together. Load everyone up in the car (or van!), and spend time talking together. Let the children know this is a time for mom and dad to talk, and they can read, color, or just look at the countryside. We do pajama drives like this, where the children are ready for bed, dressed in pajamas and then we surprise them with a country drive. It’s a great way for Sean and I to slow down, hold hands, and just talk on a drive.

20. Go miniature golfing together! This is another favorite of ours, but we love to go with my sister and brother in law (who happens to be Sean’s brother), so we spend fun couple time together!

21. Go on a carriage ride together, or go horse back riding together.

22. Rent a motel room for the night!

23. Go to your favorite store together.

24. Go to Panera’s and get a special treat to share. Work on your monthly budget or calendar together!

25. Go on a bike ride together. You could explore a new bike trail, or just ride through your city and stop at a fun shop along the way.

26. This one totally depends on the couple, but you could make a fun date night at home with a homemade treat, and pick out an adult coloring book to color with together. My husband would totally go for that, but he is a graphic designer and loves anything artsy. 🙂

27. Go to your local Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning together.

28. Find a botanical garden and spend the day walking through the beautiful gardens!

29. Have a date where your spouse gets to pick what you do!

30. We will end on a practical date night idea. Go grocery shopping together! 🙂

I hope these give you some new ideas for spending some quality time with your husband! If you are looking more ideas, the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle has a great section just on marriage! Included in the bundle is our very own ebook, 30 Days of Loving Your Man, which includes adorable love notes to print off, and challenges to do!

The Marriage Category of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle has some great ideas!

We are still offering our very own bonus offer on top of the other bonus offers worth $250! 

Purchase the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle and receive a $10 gift card to Deborah & Co.

Purchase the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle and receive a $10 gift certificate to Deborah & Co. This is an awesome offer, and one you will seldom ever see! Once you purchase the Bundle, fill out this Google Form to have your Gift Certificate emailed to you! It will be emailed Monday, when I get home from the Teach Them Diligently Convention!

Go learn more about it here!

Get instant access

Just an FYI, today is the last day to receive the FREE e-reader upgrade! Not everyone has an e-reader (it’s like a Kindle or a Nook), but if you do, definitely take advantage of this $10 free upgrade today!

Disclaimer – I do receive a commission from each Bundle purchased on my blog, which is a HUGE blessing to our family! Thank you so much for your support! 

Why I Waited For My Wedding Day For My First Kiss

I grew up believing courtship was superior to dating in terms of establishing true commitment between a man and a woman, but even as the idea of courtship was being revived during my younger years there were many different teachings floating around as to what it is.

Is it betrothal? Is it “purposeful dating”? Is a mixture of betrothal and dating?

Why I Waited For My Wedding Day For My First Kiss!

Bethrothal is obviously the strictest of all these. The parents are deeply involved in the process to the point of nearly hand selecting a mate for their child. The word is taken from the Bible and it’s presented as being the most biblical way of finding a spouse. I knew my dad would never be interested in such a process and honestly I never agreed with it. I was the one spending my life with my spouse, not my parents. 🙂

Courtship is entering a relationship with someone with the intention of marrying them. You normally spend time getting to know each other in a family setting first, and then the young man approaches the father and asks permission to court his daughter and tells him his intentions are serious. It still involves parental permission and oversight but the daughter has more input and say in the relationship.

Sean and I went through courtship with our own unique twist. Instead of getting to know each other in a family setting, it was at a college scripture study I was attending with my sister. I was still in high school and finding a spouse at the study was not something I was planning on! Sean didn’t approach my dad; my mom finally had him come over for a little chat after we had been friends for 8 months. She told him that our relationship had reached the point where either his intentions needed to be made known or we needed to take a step back in our friendship.
Why I'm Glad I Waited Until My Wedding Day To Have My First Kiss!

After Sean went home to pray about it he came back that night for dinner and we officially started our courtship. A few weeks later I left to visit my grandparents for almost a month and before I left we both told each other we were committed to this relationship for the long haul. We didn’t need more time to know that we wanted our relationship to end in marriage. I spent most of my vacation money on pre-paid phone cards to call Sean. 🙂

Growing up I attended a lot of homeschool conventions and courtship seminars so I was familiar with many of the rules: Rejecting the word boyfriend/girlfriend and being introduced as a “friend” only. Never being allowed to sit next to each other. Writing letters that had to be approved by parents before being sent. Talking on the phone with family around. Physical contact? Nothing at all until marriage. No hand holding, no putting your arm around each other, and you didn’t even dream of kissing each other until marriage.

We didn’t follow all these rules. My mom was the main parent setting the groundwork (Sean’s parents had never heard of courtship before meeting me, and my dad wasn’t terribly interested in being involved). She told Sean she trusted him to decide when he felt it was time to hold my hand, but told him she assumed we would wait until our wedding day to kiss.

Wedding PIcture

Our Wedding Day! I was 19, and Sean was 21. Yes, now I realize how young we actually looked!

We had a long courtship. It was 18 months before we were married. After six months we started holding hands and sat close to each other. Sometimes he would put his arm around me, but not often. We learned that when you are committed to marriage from the beginning, long courtships can be difficult. Physical touch is one of my love languages and I really needed some sort of physical touch in our relationship before I felt comfortable getting married so I was elated the first time he took his hand in mine.

The one rule we held absolutely firm on was no kissing until our wedding day. Sean had previously been in dating relationships and had kissed his girlfriend, but he didn’t want to have the same type of releationship with me. I had grown up dreaming of my first kiss being on my wedding day, and we were both extremely committed to waiting. While we definitely looked forward to that special moment it wasn’t a tempation that was constantly before us. We were fixed in our decision.

I’ll never forget our first kiss in front of 200 people. It was incredibly sweet, but I was so embarrassed! I wouldn’t even look at Sean for a few minutes after he kissed me! Now I look back and laugh at how silly I was, but everything was so new at the time.

Sean and Caroline

13 years later…he is still my Prince Charming!

Sean and I have talked about what guidelines we want to pass on to our own children, and waiting until your wedding day for your first kiss is definitely something we will encourage but probably will not mandate. If you are committed to staying pure until marriage, waiting for that first kiss can certainly help guarantee that will happen but we see circumstances in which kissing after engagement can be appropriate.

Let’s face it though – kissing often leads to intimacy. I’ve only ever known the freedrom that comes with marriage, kissing can safely lead to intimacy, without reserve.

While I don’t appreciate legalistic rules that have emerged from ultra conservative homeschooling families, this is one guideline Sean and I have been blessed by.

Come to my Paparazzi party! Jewelry for just $5 each!

*****I’d love to invite you to a Facebook party that I’m hosting for a friend Thursday, April 14th. Yes, that’s tomorrow night! It’s for Paparazzi, which is jewelry and accessories. Here is the best part, everything is just $5.00 each, and that includes many matching necklace and earring sets! They have super pretty headbands, and I have the wire flower earrings shown in the picture.

The Facebook party is this Thursday evening, but even if you are busy that night you can still catch up on everything the next morning! If you are interested, you can join the party here.

Just click through the link and click on the “going” button to join the event! 

Jessica always does a fun job with her parties!! I thought some of you might be interested since it’s accessories and jewelry. She will have some fun prizes throughout the party!

Paparazzi necklace!

Here is a necklace I have, and it even came with the matching earrings! I love it. It was only $5.00 for the set!