Live the Life Broadcast Premier

Exciting News! Live the Life is headed for the airwaves!

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Starting January 7th I will be hosting a weekly radio version of Live the Life on KJNP AM (1170) and FM (100.3)

Each week my guests and I will explore how to overcome roadblocks and Live the Life we were created for!

Pastor Ken Moore will be my guest for the premier show of Live the Life on January 7th. We will be talking about the radical change in his relationship with his Heavenly Father several years ago and how that has impacted his life and relationships.

Dr. Ashley May ND, will be my guest for the second show on January 14th.  We will be talking about biblical principles for physical health.

Live the Life ~ Broadcast Premier ~ January 7th
KJNP AM (1170) & FM (100.3)
Saturdays
2:30-3:00pm

For those of you not in Fairbanks, there will be podcast access coming in January.

Live the Life
You were created for More!

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Live the Life means…

A friend recently asked me a great question. He wanted to know how, as a counselor, I helped people Live the Life. My answer went something like this…

Couple at Liberty Falls

(c)1993 Dennis Eames

I have a friend who leads powerful training sessions all across the country. On many
occasions I have heard him say that one of the reasons he is not married is that, as he helps people change their lives, he sees the kinds of relationships they have with their spouses… and he doesn’t want to live life like that. Each time I hear him say this, my gut hurts. I know that many times he is right. Husbands and wives often live lives of quite desperation and loneliness, intense conflict and ugliness, or vacillate between the two extremes. There have been points in my own life that I feared my wife and I were doomed to be one of those (see I was Desperate for one of those times). At the same time I recognize the sad state of many our marriages and familes, I hold to the hope and knowledge that we were created for so much more. And that is what Live the Life is about.

Living the Life means living our lives with passion, intimate connection, and total commitment. It means living a life of purpose and meaning and being productively engaged with friends, family, community, work, etc.

Living the Life means being engaged in a continual restorative work.  Becoming that unique, creative masterpiece you or I were created to be! But, like a painting that has become faded and tarnished and its value is hard to recognize, you and I become tarnished by life. The lives we live fall short of what we were created for.  We get frustrated and demoralized because we can’t get where we want to be. It seems like there’s an impenetrable wall that we cannot break through and we become discouraged and disillusioned.

The “problem” might be obesity, anger, relationship conflict or distance, depression, anxiety and worry, professional stagnation or failure, over working, or any number of other issues that seem impossible to change. We often have the skills and knowledge needed to live differently, but still feel powerless to change. We might even experience bursts of motivation where do our best to change but give up after we make little or no progress.

The walls that keep us from living the life we were created for are many and as varied as there are people on the planet. However, below I describe some of the more common types of walls that I see people dealing with:

Conflicting Commitments: Sometimes the things we believe we are committed to get sabotaged by conflicting commitments we are not even aware of. I had been experiencing one of these walls  until last summer when I discovered I was more committed to being safe than successful.

Past Trauma or Abuse: When someone experiences a traumatic event, our bodies are designed to produce chemicals that shut down parts of our brain. Because of this, our brains don’t fully process information from that event and a portion of the memory is frozen in time. This results in responding to something similar in the present with the full emotional weight of the past.

Negative belief systems: I often see this in terms of believing lies about ourselves. Sometimes this comes from a confused identity, from negative programming as a child, from past trauma, or something else. For example, if I believe in my core that I’m a failure if someone is unhappy, then I will live most of my life as a failure because, there will almost always be at least one person in my life that is not happy at that moment.

In short, most of us live lives that only dimly represent the splendor and richness we were created for. I am privileged to help people engage in the restoration process so they can live their life as the masterpiece they were created to be.

Live the Life
You were created for More!

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Accept and Resist

Pain Relief.

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Avoiding pain is second nature. We were created with an internal warning system that helps us avoid physical or emotional pain as best we can.

Most of us have learned strategies to cope with physical pain when we experience it: kissing it to make it better, taking a pill, grabbing an ice pack, cradling the injured part of our body, or rushing to the emergency room.

When it comes to emotional pain, rejection, or embarrassment, many of us have much less effective strategies to cope with the situation. Most of us seem to either wallow in the pain – focusing our mind on it continually, or ignore it – pretending it doesn’t exist.

Anxiety

I see these patterns of avoidance over and over again as I work with people struggling with anxiety, worry, stress, and depression. Someone experiences a situation that provokes physical and emotional discomfort, and they do their best to avoid thinking about it or re-experiencing the pain. Some are successful with avoiding the feelings and thoughts for a time, but the feelings are still lurking underneath the surface, waiting to overtake them again. For others the thoughts and feelings continue to return and plague them no matter how hard they try to avoid them.

I occasionally teach people a different sort of response to anxiety or discomfort. I teach them to do whatever it takes to keep the discomfort at a high level. This often involves telling themselves all the horrible thoughts they have ever heard in their head. As I coach people through this counterintuitive process of “holding through” the anxiety, I hear things like, “but I thought I was suppose to tell myself positive things, not the same old negative things.” The way I explain the technique is to picture those “Chinese handcuffs” you tricked people with as kids. The harder you pulled, the more stuck you became. When you stop fighting the fear or anxiety, you experience freedom from it.

As a client and I were working through this recently something happened that clarified how “holding through” is different from avoiding or wallowing. As we talked, a phrase from Scripture popped into my head, “Resist the devil and he will flee.” I rarely quote scripture with clients but “Samantha” is deeply religious, so I shared the verse with her.

As the words came out of my mouth they made little sense and seemed to contradict what we had just been talking about. I had just been teaching “Samantha” to stop fighting the anxiety and fear, and then suddenly I’m telling her to resist. It’s seemed contradictory. As the client and I talked about the significance of the verse to her, and how she could use the phrase, I saw the technique we were working on in a whole new light.

I realized that part of the apparent contradiction stems from meditative teachings from different perspectives. Buddhist practitioners often advocate accepting and embracing whatever you are is feeling. What this verse and experience taught me is that a differences between Christian and Buddhist meditation is that you don’t have to embrace a feeling to accept it. I can accept that I am feeling anxious or scared or nervous or angry. I don’t have to embrace it. I can notice and acknowledge it without giving into it or running from it.

Often when we experience disturbing feelings, we want to get away from them. We do that by eating, drinking, gaming, vegging out to TV, physically and mentally disassociating, getting busy, or some other avoidant strategy. Resisting is different than either embracing or avoiding. It’s standing firm – not discounting or ignoring the feeling but saying, “Give me your worst! I can take it and not be moved!”

Another difference that emerged was the recognition that negative feelings are often based on a lie. Irrational fear, anxiety, and many other emotional challenges that we face develop because of a lie we believe about ourselves, another person, or the context. For example, if I am afraid of the dark, I might be holding on to a lie that I am not safe in the dark. This may have developed due to being tripping in the dark and breaking a leg when I was young. When I get scared after my kid turns out the lights in my bedroom, it taps into that frozen memory from the past. (This is getting into another area that I will get to cover in a future blog.)

So when my client became afraid that something bad was going to happen to her while she was listening to a lecture in a classroom, she really was experiencing fear. However, the fear was based on a false assessment of risk – a lie. While we can never be 100% certain that we are safe, the level of risk sitting in a college classroom is pretty minimal. Noticing and acknowledging the feeling was an appropriate response. Avoiding or ignoring it would have been counterproductive in her healing process. Standing firm and resisting the fear and the lie it was based on was appropriate.

The next time you begin to feel anxious or uncomfortable—accept the feeling, identify if there is a lie behind it. Then tell yourself the truth and resist the lie. Tell the anxiety to “bring it on, do your worst! I will not be moved because I am standing on truth and will not be blown over by a lie!”

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Today I am Grateful for…

Instead of my usually articles this wee, I am going to share a tool that I use to help me stay focused on what is good and worthy and what I have to look forward to.  It’s the habit of making time to write out what I am excited for in the future and what I am grateful for in the past or present. Some days I e-mail these lists to friends and family. Other days they don’t make it out of my journal. Today I’m sharing them with all of you.

This tool is based on amazing research that proved that positive physical changes take place in a human brain when they take time each day to write out 3 things that they are grateful for and three things they are excited for.  It demonstrated that what we focus on in your mind changes our thought processes and our lives.

Today I am Grateful…

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~For Brandon – Serving as infantry in Afghanistan
~For Joe – Serving as infantry NCO in the most dangerous place in Afghanistan
~For SPC Dove, Serving as infantry medic in Afghanistan
~For Sgt Cox, lost his foot in the most dangerous area of Afghanistan last week.
~For Hank, Serving as artillery in Afghanistan
~For Jerry, Served in Afghanistan until a medical condition prevented him from continuing.
~For Chris, Serving in Afghanistan
~For Doug, injured in Afghanistan (non-combat)
~For Bethany’s husband, Serving in Afghanistan
~For Chaplin Howell, Serving in Iraq
~For all the other soldier, Spouses, children deployed or affected by deployments to combat zones.

I am excited…
~For the freedom and safety that I enjoy
~For starting a new part time job supervising counselors at an agency
~For the shift in Kim and my relationship last night
~For many more years of morning snuggles with my family.
~The reminder that my hope is in God not numbers or other what’s.

Blessings
Dennis

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Marital Investment Strategies, Part 4

In previous articles we have looked at developing a shared story, getting time together, learning together. Today we will be exploring a basic need for both men and women alike– the need to be affirmed or respected.

STRATEGY 4: AFFIRM YOUR PARTNER.

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Philippians 4:8 says, “…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” Kim and I have chosen this as one of our marital themes. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the daily tasks of life and stop noticing what we appreciate about our partner. It’s important to say, “I love you,” and it is equally important to say specifically what we love or appreciate about him or her at that moment. Saying, “I love you and enjoyed feeling your feet touching mine last night,” goes much further to communicate appreciation than simply saying, “I love you.” Saying “Thanks for cleaning out the garage” or “Thanks for helping Rae with her homework,” invites your spouse to feel more valued than a generic “I love you.”

Many married people find it too easy to rattle off a detailed list of complaints about their partner. Unfortunately for many couples, it is much harder to think of as long or detailed a list of things we appreciate about the other.

I was talking about this idea with a friend and he reminded me that many times couples do a good job of affirming each other in their roles as husband, wife, parent, provider, etc but forget to affirm each other’s sexuality as a man or woman. He’s right. I need to hear that Kim thinks I’m a good man and a good lover. Kim needs to hear that I think she is desirable and a good woman.

Neurobiologists and epigeneticists  are discovering scientific evidence that supports the benefits of a positive focus. When our minds are focused on positive aspects of life, it produces chemicals in our body that promote wellness and health, and improve our brain’s ability to adapt and change. The same genes that produce healthy cells can also produce unhealthy cells when your body is filled with stress chemicals instead of “happy” chemicals.

It is easy to take this to an unhealthy extreme and ignore or pretend the challenges we face in life don’t exist. Affirming our spouse and focusing on the positive includes recognizing and acknowledging the challenges, while choosing to focus on and recognize the good.


One of the first couples I worked with as an Intern Therapist was emotionally bankrupt when I met them. In our first session it took a lot of work to help each of them to identify just one thing they liked about the other. Six months later you wouldn’t have recognized their relationship. It wasn’t anything amazing I did, but a choice on their part to invest in their relational bank account for the first time. They started courting all over again, going to movies, walks, and family picnics. The first six years of their marriage were full of pain and conflict.  They chose to start over by creating a shared story, getting time together, learning together, and affirming traits about each other that they appreciated as they discovered them. If these investment strategies can revitalize their marriage that was bankrupt and improve my marriage that is strong, they can increase your marital security as well.

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Only a Dreamer No More

Since childhood my identity has been caught in dreams. That all changed on October 4th.

Cloud

(c)2007 Dennis Eames

Starting when I was a young child my head has been filled with dreams.  More than one elementary teacher complained to my parents that I was constantly looking out the window lost in another daydream. Some dreams were mundane. Others were exciting and huge. In Jr. High there was the go-cart I was going to build out of scrap metal. In High School I dreamed of publishing books as a writer and photographer. During college I dreamed of saving the world as a paramedic, developing an abstinence program for Elementary and Jr. High kids (this one is still kicking around), and traveling the continent in a huge motor home training church volunteers to effectively lead marriage and family ministries. Since marrying 18 years ago, much of my dreaming revolved around creating ministries for couples and families.

These were all exciting dreams (at least to me) that kept me awake at night planning out how I would accomplish them. In my head, I mapped out detailed strategies of what they would look like. For most of them, I started writing out a project plan or overview on paper. Many of them I shared with my wife, Kim. Some of them I told to a supportive friend or two. A few of them I pitched to a pastor.

Even my name has identified me as a dreamer. When you put my first and middle initial together with my last name, they spell “dreames.” (OK, so there is an extra “e” a the end, but hey! I’m dyslexic so I don’t notice. These blogs are only readable because I’m married to my walking spell-check.)

Throughout much of the past decade, however, I gave up dreaming. After a series of dreams died that I had not only mapped out in my mind, but had also started to transform into reality, dreaming became to painful. First, in Seattle I put together a team of volunteers and we started developing a Marriage Mentoring Network at our church. But in he midst of that, God moved me back to Alaska and the team fell apart. Later Love INC collapsed and killed the Mentoring Program that I was developing.

After the Love INC collapse, dreaming became to painful so I stopped. I largely gave up on my relationship with Christ, also. When I spent time reading scripture, praying, and journaling, inevitably God would awaken the dreamer part of me. My desire to see couples and families living passionate, intimate, committed relationships would grow into a new dream for build healthy marriages. This quickening would last a day or maybe a week, and then I would shut it down because I saw no way of making it become reality. It became easier to avoid God all together and avoid having my heart stirred.

Then I met Mr. Black in a Leadership Awakening training room in Portland. (See previous blog, “I was Desperate.”) God used Mr. Black to stir me up again and I’ve been awake and dreaming ever since.

“Up Until Now”, my big dreams had not become reality. Like I mentioned, several grew to include a team of volunteers or staff. But they didn’t make it past the development stage. I had started to believe the lie, that all I was good at was dreaming up ideas but was incapable of moving a dream into reality.

In 6th grade, Mr. Kelly wrote a quote on the board that we had to copy into our journal. “It may be that those who do most, dream most.” For 25 years I held onto that quote as proof that I was going to leave a positive mark on the world around me. During my dark age, I gave up on it and the notion that I would ever do anything of significance. I was awakened and dreaming again after Leadership Awakening, however, I continued to believe that I was incapable to doing a dream.

Then on October 4th my identity changed. I became a do-er as well as a dreamer. Along with Mr. Black and EmpowerU International, I launched Like it Matters Radio, an internet-based radio show with an audience covering five time zones.

So, how do I explain the significance of Like it Matters Radio to me? It’s a symbol. It represents change, truth, freedom, risk, and success.
It means that I am No Longer Only a Dreamer.

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I was Desperate

I was desperate. I was stuck in an old relationship pattern and I didn’t know how to get out. I was angry at myself. I was angry at Kim, my wife.

We had been doing this same destructive dance for more than 15 years. The arrival of children in our home intensified the pattern and dragged two more lives into the mess. Believe me, I had tried to change. We both had. I had made valiant but half committed attempts to respond differently to my wife and to act differently. Sometimes we even successfully shifted this old pattern for short periods. But we always slipped back in to the old, well-worn track, and after more than 15 years, we had dug deep ruts. As I drove to Lowe’s one night, as an excuse to get out of the house before I did any more damage with my tongue, I decided I was willing to do something desperate, even if I wasn’t convinced it would make a lasting change. When I got home from Lowe’s I told my wife I was going to Empower U’s Leadership Awakening.

Several close friends had been to Leadership Awakening, and I had watched their lives over the weeks and months after their return. Each of them came home committed and passionate for their families and for their Savior, and I had seen changes in their lives. I was planning on waiting them out to see how long these changes lasted. In my opinion not enough time had passed to say whether the changes were lasting, or whether they would fade as the glow from a mountain top experience faded. But I was desperate and couldn’t wait any longer. I had to start a change now and find out later if it would last.

I arrived in Portland several weeks later, mad at myself for wasting time and money to go to a leadership training that I expected would disappoint me. How would a leadership training produce the personal and relational change I was desperate for? Just before the first session I read a letter from the friend that had encouraged me to come. Now I was skeptical and scared. What had I gotten myself into, I wondered. As the first session started, I was even more skeptical and angry. Throughout the first evening and into the second day, I desperately wanted to change, to find the answers I was looking for, and to go home a different man, husband, and father. As I began to see classmates experience breakthroughs, I gained hope that I would also. During Friday evening’s sessions I identified fears that were keeping me from being who God had created me to be. I experienced healing from abuse that had happened to me as a teen, and I heard God calling me back to him. When my friend and sponsor made a surprise appearance at my final exercise and graduation, he didn’t recognize me. The intensity in my eyes, and the focused energy and passion in my body and voice amazed him.

That was 14 months ago. The intensity and emotion has diminished. The changed patterns have lasted. The journey of change that began during those three days of Leadership Awakening continues. I returned home a different man, husband, father, child of God. The pattern I went desperate to change is forever altered. The day after I returned home, Kim booked her trip to Portland to experience Awakening. Wow, what a change. At times Kim and I start to slip back, but each time, we recognize it and pull ourselves out more quickly than the last. In fact we were starting to slip back two weekends ago. But before we were even all the way in, we turned to God and jerked the wheels back out.

If changing that pattern with Kim was the only return on my investment of time and money that weekend at Leadership Awakening, it would have been worth it. I have experience many other returns as well; however. That weekend put me on a different life trajectory. Because of what God did in me there, I have gone back into counseling practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist at a natural medicine clinic. I have stepped back into ministering to couples and families in our church. And next week I begin a new and exciting venture, an internet radio show called Like it Matters Radio, with Mr. Black, the founder of EmpowerU and creator of Leadership Awakening.

Like it Matters Radio is a merging of Mr. Black’s and my passions. For me it’s about help people remove road blocks that get in the way of Living the Life they were created for, and experiencing greater commitment, intimacy, and passion in their marriages and families. For Mr. Black it’s about motivating, encouraging, and equipping people to live their lives Like it Matters. Because, as he says, “When you live your life like it matters,
IT DOES!”

The Pilot episode of Like it Matters Radio will air October 4th at 5pm Alaska Time
(9 Eastern/6 Pacific). Click here for a time zone converter.

To learn more click on Like it Matters Radio.

To subscribe for the FREE Pilot web cast, click on the Like it Matters Radio Subscribe button in the Right hand column or click here.

If you have questions please e-mail me at livethelifeAK@gmail.com or submit a comment below.

After the Pilot, I invite you to return to this page and give me feed back on the show in the comment box below.

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Marital Investment Strategies, Part 3

In Part one we learned about the role of positive memories for marital success and some tips for strengthening shared memories. In part two we discussed the importance of getting couple time to make new memories as a couple. This weeks strategy is learning together.

Bible Study

Photo by D G Butcher

STRATEGY 3: LEARN TOGETHER.

Brain research has demonstrated the importance of ongoing learning to fight cognitive decline in one’s later years. This should come as no surprise to Christians, as the Bible talks about the importance of life long learning in verses like “The wise also will hear and increase in learning, and the person of understanding will acquire skill and attain to sound counsel…” Proverbs 1:5 AMP. In addition to the physical and emotional benefits, learning together has many relational benefits as well. After all, what could be more romantic than building matching neural pathways together.

For some, the word “learning” may bring back bad memories of sitting in little desks, being sent to the principal’s office for his “board of education” (aka paddle), algebra tests in first period or a crazy roommate. If that’s you, take hope, formal education is only one of many ways to learn.

Engaging in learning together can be as simple as attending a church service together and talking about one or two points that stuck out to you from the message afterwards. Or it could be attending a home bible study together.  Kim and I have been a part of or led small bible study groups during most of our married life together.

Investing in your marriage could also include learning a new skill together like taking a DIY class on tiling your shower. For some guys who aren’t secure in their masculinity, this next one may be a huge stretch out of their comfort zone, but you know their wives would be ecstatic if they signed the two of them up for ballroom dance lessons.

First edition

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One of Kim and I’s favorite ways of learning together is reading together. Usually this happens at the end of the day after we crawl in bed. We read until one of us starts to nod off. We started reading books together before we were dating. Sometimes we read classic fiction like The Chronicles of Narnia.  Our first journey together through Narnia took us from our dating days until after our honeymoon.

Other times we read books specifically about building our relationship. The most recent example of this is Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony. A few books have brought up difficult issues and reading out load together has led to arguments. Instead of reading together we have read a chapter at a time separately and then discussed the chapter together.

If you’re looking for a book to start with The Five Love Languages,by Gary Chapman, is a good one.  It examines how partners often give and receive love very differently. (For a review of Five Love Languages check out the blog article Loving in a Foreign Language.)

Whether you and your spouce engage in formal book learning together, start your own private book club, or learning a new skill together, the time you will invest will pay off big dividends in your marital investment account.

What ways have you and your spouse engaged in learning together? What relationship book has made the biggest impact on your marriage? Let us know by posting a comment below.

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PLANES CRASH AND PEOPLE DIE..IN THE WINK OF AN EYE…IT IS A FACT OF LIFE!

Guest Blog by Scott V. Black, Founder of EmpowerU International

American flag over Library Square

Image by davef3138 via Flickr


Do you remember where you were 10 years ago?  That is something we will be hearing a lot of over this weekend as we commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the largest terrorist attack against the ideals and freedoms we hold dear.

Let me suggest the question is better asked not in the physical realm, but in the spirit realm, in the “personal growth” realm.  Where were you 10 years ago emotionally and psychologically in your life?  Today, compared to 10 years ago…;

  • Are you doing better with your attitude?
  • Are you closer to your goals?
  • Are your relationships more intimate?
  • Are you closer to the person you were put here to be?
  • Is your walk with God closer?
  • Has your knowledge of life and wisdom grown?

This weekend when you are reflecting on where you “where 10 years ago”, consider who are you today?

As I have been saying for many years, before Sept 11, and continue to speak the truth today…PLANES CRASH AND PEOPLE DIE, IN THE WINK OF AN EYE

…SO HOW ARE YOU GOING TO LIVE YOUR LIFE LIKE IT MATTERS…so that no matter how much time you spend on this planet, it was worth it?  Your life has value!  And others in your life should have value.

You might be telling people all kinds of things, but what are your actions saying?  Where are you saying things like this;

  • I love you…
  • You are the leader in my life…
  • You are my best friend…
  • You saved my life…
  • I owe you my life…

Saying those things with your words, but your actions are saying something else…words are nothing but a whole bunch of letters put together without the energy to back them up.  We all know the saying;

A PICTURE IS WORTH 1000 WORDS

What message are your actions sending?  Love is not a FEELING, it is a VERB!  What are you doing to make those people who matter feel valued…?

It is time to remember, again and make those people feel they have value!

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Marital Investment Strategies, Part 2

In Part 1 we learned about the importance of positive memories for marital success. We described some ways to invest by creating a shared story. Today’s strategy involves making new memories as a couple.

STRATEGY 2: GET AWAY.Get Away

Life is hectic! It’s easy to put the most important person in our life on the back burner while we care for the immediate demands of each day. We reason that we have a lifetime to spend together so there will be time later to make up for it. But this only works for so long. “Getting away” isn’t about how long you stay, how far you go, or how much you spend. It’s about making new memories. It could be as simple as a picnic at a nearby park, a walk on a beach, or cuddle time on your couch while the kids are staying next door. Time together alone must be a priority. Some couples schedule a weekly or monthly date night to stay connected.

Believe me, I know how difficult this is to make happen regularly. Sometimes a month or two go by without a date with my wife. Sometimes we don’t even notice until we start to see the signs of drifting apart, and recommit to regular time together. The bottom line is that there has to be a commitment to prioritize time together (at home or away from home with out children) or life will start to gently (or not-so-gently) pull you apart much like Casting Crowns Sing about in their song Slow Fade.

While I was in graduate school time and money were scarce. Kim and I committed to get away for at least an overnight each quarter. This focused time together every three months kept us connected and helped us survive two difficult years. Our first daughter’s birth brought a new set of barriers to time alone. One of our first “dates” after she was born was when we shared a burrito while Rachelle slept in her car seat on the other half of the table. Now that we have two children, and they are older, that trick no longer works. We have to be more intentional and creative.

Tell us about your favorite couple get away or a creative way you and your spouse have squeezed in some couple time. Post a comment below.

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