I need to make an apology.
For the past few months, I have had Google Ads on my site to generate some extra income and offset our expenses. When I set up the ads, I thought I had done the appropriate work to block anything that wasn’t in line with our mission to build stronger marriages and families, but apparently, I did not.
There have been several recent ads that have been out of bounds including an image of a woman making an obscene gesture with the text “Make your ex jealous” and an ad for a Divorce Attorney. There have been no complaints from readers (that I’ve received), but out of principle, I can’t in good conscience profit from these types of ads, so I’ve removed all advertising from my site. I’d rather lose income than profit from anything contrary to my convictions.
I want thank you for your ongoing readership and support of what we’re doing. I pledge to you that if any advertising partners are brought on in the future, they will be hand-picked and will be organizations that share our values. I hope you will continue to read and share our content.
Again, I apologize for the mixed messages or offense that these ads may have caused. I assure you it will never happen again.
Founder, www.DaveWillis.org, www.StrongerMarriages.org & www.MarriageGateway.com
I think most of us look around at rampant divorce and a culture that seems to be perpetually devaluing marriage and think to ourselves, “It’s not supposed to be this way!”
The problem now is that there are so many conflicting ideas and models of marriage that it’s difficult to discern which is the “right” one or if there’s even such thing as the “right” one.
Personally, I strongly believe that there is a “right” model of marriage and it’s actually much simpler than we may think. As a Christian, I believe in a loving God who created people and created marriage, so I also believe that His model of marriage is the best one. In the Biblical book of Genesis, we’re given the account of the first marriage. God created a couple who temporarily lived in an ideal setting with no debt, no crazy in-laws, no baggage, no stress, no fighting and last but not least…no clothing!
“Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.” Genesis 2:25
When God painted this picture of a “Naked Marriage” I believe He was revealing to us something more than just sexual intimacy; He was revealing the importance of having complete transparency, vulnerability, acceptance and intimacy at every level of the relationship. I’m certainly not advocating that we all walk around nude all day (although I do think most marriages would benefit from more “naked time”!), but I am suggesting that we all need to become more intentional about reconnecting with that true intimacy that Adam and Eve got a taste of in the Garden of Eden.
Practically speaking, here are three simple ways you and your husband or wife can rediscover a “Naked Marriage.”
1. Don’t keep secrets.
Keeping secrets from your spouse is like putting a veil over your soul and not letting your spouse see behind it. There’s no place for secrets in marriage. Intimacy is born out of openness and complete honesty.
2. Make Love, not War.
Okay, I stole this motto from the hippies, but when it comes to marriage, they’re onto something! Couples should make sex a priority while simultaneously making an effort to replace “fighting” with constructive communication. For more on this, check out our free video on How to build intimacy and trust in marriage.
3. Laugh more.
This one might take you by surprise or seem out of place, but I’m convinced that nothing ties two souls together like sharing moments of joy. Prioritize “fun” in your marriage and your intimacy will improve on every level!
4. Pray together.
Prayer is one of the most intimate acts a couple can share. Adam and Even had true intimacy with each other only when they had true intimacy with their Creator. The more you love God, the more capacity you will have to love your spouse.
For more tips and tools to build a rock-solid relationship, check out our book: iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage.
Last week I was sitting down with some friends who are in the midst of a marriage crisis. One spouse had just confessed to the other a past affair with a mutual friend of theirs. I was meeting with them to counsel and encourage them both just days after this bombshell had been dropped and while the emotions were very raw, and trust was fractured, this couple was already taking healthy steps to chart a new course for their marriage.
I truly believe my friends will end up with a stronger marriage than they’ve ever had before instead of becoming another divorce statistic. That conversation with them got me thinking about the importance of the decision that couples make in times of turmoil. I’m convinced that no matter how damaged the relationship may be for you right now, if you’ll commit to the following actions, your marriage can make it!
1. Confess everything.
You’ll only get through this tough season if you move forward with complete and total honesty and transparency. Be willing to humbly admit fault and seek forgiveness for every past and present breach of trust. Hold nothing back.
2. Recognize the difference between Forgiveness and Trust.
Forgiveness and trust are two different things. If your spouse has broken your trust or you have broken theirs, forgiveness should be given instantly because grace can’t be earned, but trust has to be earned and it can only be earned slowly through consistency of action. Fight the urge to punish each other. For more on this, please watch our free video resource How to build intimacy and trust in marriage.
3. Be VERY careful where you get advice.
When your marriage is in crisis, everyone is going to have opinions about what you should do next. Choose up front to only listen to people who love you, love your spouse and love God. If they’re missing any part of that list, their advice will not be balanced with wisdom.
4. Get help.
When our car is broken, we don’t have a problem taking it to a mechanic and when our arm is broken, we don’t have a problem going to a doctor, but for some reason, when our marriage is broken, we think we need to figure it out on our own. There are great resources out there, so take advantage of them! Making those investments into your marriage will pay off huge dividends. A great place to start is SaveMyMarriage.com.
5. Don’t give up!
The road ahead won’t be easy, but your marriage is worth fighting for! Take it one day at a time, lean on each other, and trust God to take care of the rest.
For more encouragement and inspiration to help build a rock-solid relationship, check out book: iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage.
We’ve all had days (and maybe even years) when life just doesn’t seem to be going our way!
I’ve had long seasons of life where I felt like nothing was working and everything was out of whack, and I’ve had frustrating days where I just can’t seem to get anything accomplished. This morning was one of those times…
I was getting all three of our boys ready for school which is a massive undertaking and makes me respect my wife even more because she is normally the one doing it! Amidst the screaming infant and complaining gradeschoolers, there was a mess in the kitchen, a dirty diaper on the floor, toothpaste on the sink and stress in the air. When we FINALLY got out the door, Connor had forgotten something and had to run back in. The door was open just long enough for (I’m not making this up) a bird to fly in the house.
Now, I’ve got to figure out a way to get the bird out of the house and all the kids loaded up as fast as I can. I eventually got the bird out (unharmed) and the kids loaded and just before I pulled out onto the main road, a garbage truck cut me off and started driving about five miles per hour and stopping at every other house. I wasn’t sure whether to scream or laugh at the irony of it.
In the grand scheme of things, a stressful morning doesn’t impact life or eternity all that much, but in those longer seasons of joblessness, sickness, financial stress, marriage strain and other ongoing life events, the stress and frustration can seem overwhelming. Here are a few things I’ve learned to remember in those challenging seasons of life that have helped me and I pray they help you as well!
1. Remember that your Character should always be stronger than your Circumstances.
We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we choose to respond. In those moments when I choose to stop complaining and instead give thanks to God for the good in my life, the parts that seem bad start to seem much less significant. Choose to keep a positive attitude and thankful heart regardless of what you’re going through.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
2. Remember that your Struggles always lead to Strength.
Every difficulty in your life, whether big or small, is something God will use to produce more strength, faith and perseverance in you if you let Him! All your pain has a purpose.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
3. Remember that God’s timing is always perfect.
God’s plans are almost always different from our plans, but His plans are always perfect! Have the patience to wait on His timing instead of forcing your own.
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
4. Remember that God will never leave your side.
You may feel like you’re going through this struggle all alone, but from the moment you ask Jesus to bring you into God’s family, He will be by your side to the end so never lose hope!
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
I pray that these truths give you the hope and strength to keep going on those days when life is at its worst!
For more tips and truths for building your marriage and your life on a solid foundation, check out our book: iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage
I’ve worked with thousands of married couples and one surprising trend I’ve discovered is that many if not most of all the fights in marriage go back to one thing…MONEY.
When a husband and wife are financially healthy, it brings a tremendous amount of peace to the relationship, but when there is stress related to finances, it can bleed over into every other aspect of life. The good news here is that even if you don’t have much money, you can be financially “healthy”. Financial health doesn’t have nearly as much to do with your net worth as you might think; it has much more to do with being unified in your financial plans with your spouse.
Every person’s financial situation is different, but there are some some rock-solid financial principles that will bring health to any marriage. Here are a four ways to get started:
1. Relentlessly Eliminate Debt.
Gaining debt is like gaining weight…it can add up pretty fast and it can be pretty tough to get rid of it! Debt can rob you of freedom and add a tremendous amount stress. Take drastic actions to live with as little debt as possible.
2. Develop a plan.
I know it can seem overwhelming to create a plan or event to know where to start. One simple and practical way to take your first step is to take advantage of the resources available through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling which is a nonprofit organization that has helped more than three million Americans through financial counseling and financial planning services. They make it easy to create a financial plan.
Don’t hide money or purchases from your spouse. Build your marriage on a foundation of trust and open communication. Talk about major purchases and show respect to one another through the whole process. Remember that money is a great tool, but it’s not nearly as important as your marriage, so keep your priorities in check.
4. Get Started.
The first step is the most important. If you want to improve your financial health, your first step is to take action. Take an honest inventory of your current financial situation. A great place to begin is to access the MyMoneyCheckUp Online Financial Self-Assessment Tool available from NFCC. It’s a wonderful resource to help you get started to recapture control of your financial destiny.
So, what are you waiting for? Don’t live another day with unnecessary financial stress your life. Take advantage of the tools available to you and begin to chart a new course towards financial freedom! Your marriage (and your whole life) will be a lot better off because of it!
For more tips and tools to create a rock-solid marriage, please check out our new book:
My buddy Jamey is a police officer in Georgia, and yesterday he had to report to a home where a woman had just died of natural causes. As he made his way into the house, he saw a frail, elderly man weeping by the bed where his beloved wife was laying. My friend was moved by the tenderness, devotion and love that had obviously held this marriage together for so many years.
After the Coroner had come, Jamey had the opportunity to sit down with the grieving husband to hear some wonderful stories. The old man seemed to have a surge of youthful energy in his voice and he described their marriage as teenagers and how they’d run off to the West Coast with only pennies in their pockets to start their new life together. There was an undeniable sparkle in his eye as he relived their lifetime of love and adventures.
He shared some of the good times and bad times and how their commitment to each other, their faith and family had kept them grounded through all the storms of life. He shared about the friendship that grew throughout their life as they became companions, confidants, and collaborators together through every season of their epic journey. Even as their health faded, their love grew.
They shared so much laughter and love, and even through the trials, they made sure there was always joy and fun!
When it came time for Jamey to leave, the old many shared one last thought that will forever stick in my mind. He said, “Sixty-six years together…it wasn’t nearly enough time! There was so much time I wasted that I wish I could go back and give to her and spend with her. It just wasn’t nearly enough time together.”
The lesson for all of us is to cherish your time together. Even in the little, everyday routines of life, be fully present in the moments together. Be willing to turn off the phones and screens and distractions and make time for each other. At the end of your life looking back, your faith and your family will be all that matters to you, so please don’t wait until then to make them your top priority!
Make a deliberate decision right now to stop wasting time and start putting first things first. You never made vows to love and cherish your career or hobbies so never put those things ahead of your marriage. Give the very best of yourself to your spouse; not the leftovers after you’ve given your best to everyone and everything else.
It’s my hope and prayer that your best days together are ahead of you and not behind you! In the good times, celebrate together, in the hard times, pray together, and in all times, be there together! Remember that a “perfect marriage” is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other!
For more inspiration, humor, tips and tools for building a rock-solid marriage, please check out our new book: Marriage Minute: Quick and Simple Ways to Build a Divorce-Proof Relationship.
Having more of the right things can make all the difference. In marriage, sometimes things don’t feel right and it’s because the relationship is lacking in a few key areas. No two marriages are identical, so I’m always careful to make broad generalizations, but from having communicated with thousands of couples all over the world, I’m convinced that most marriages would be a lot better off if they added more of the following three things:
The amount of laughter in your marriage is like the fuel needle on a car telling you how full your tank is. Early on in a relationship, there’s usually all kinds of laughter, but as the stresses of life set in, that laughter is often replaced with silence and sometimes even apathy. Life can be hard sometimes, and there are moments when crying together is the only appropriate response, but make laughter a priority and you’ll find that fun fuels a marriage! To quickly bring a jolt of laughter to your marriage ask each other these 21 Date Night Questions.
Most men measure the health of their marriage by the frequency of sex. Granted, there’s a lot more to a marriage than sex, but couples that prioritize what happens the bedroom tend to be a lot stronger in all aspects of the relationship. Don’t be afraid to schedule time for making love. It sounds like it takes the spontaneous moments away, but in the busy seasons of life, you’ve got to schedule everything that’s important or it usually won’t happen. There will still be plenty of opportunities to be spontaneous! Here’s a short video on Why you should be having more sex.
Most women measure the health of the relationship by the frequency of the communication (this isn’t to say that men don’t care about communication or women don’t care about sex, but these patterns tend to hold true for most marriages). Couples that prioritize conversations and minimize the distractions that keep them apart tend to be a whole lot stronger. Set apart time each day to turn off the cell phones and carve out time to talk. For more tips on this, check out our short video: Your iPhone might be hurting your marriage!
For additional tips and tools for building a rock-solid marriage, please check out our bestselling book: iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage and the FUN resources for couples at our new Online Marriage Store.
Last week I wrote a post called 3 Christmas Gifts Your Husband Actually Wants and it was really popular, because I guess most men are just as hard to shop for as I am! As a follow up, I’ve decided not to write an article about what women want for Christmas, because I’m a dude, which makes me completely unqualified to claim any kind of expertise about that, but I’ll see if I can talk my amazing wife into writing it.
In the meantime, I’m tackling the complexities of what to buy a married couple for Christmas. These gifts can be for you and your spouse or they can also be thoughtful gifts for siblings, parents, in-laws, or any other couple on your holiday shopping list. I hope these suggestions spark some creativity and take a load of stress of your shoulders this year as you struggle to find those perfect gifts.
Santa and Mrs. Claus have officially endorsed the matching “I heart my hot hubby” and “I heart my hot wife” tee shirts and hoodies as the most creative couples’ gift of the season. You can find them here!
Here are a few more creative suggestions to help you “think outside the (gift) box!”
1. Couple’s Massage.
Ashley and I had a couple’s massage given to us as a gift and I was a little apprehensive about it at first, but it has since become one of my all-time favorite gifts. It was SO relaxing and sharing the experience together was romantic. Even as I’m typing this, I’m thinking back to it and hoping somebody buys us another one this Christmas!
2. Personalized pictures or portraits.
Around the holidays, there are all kinds of artists trying to make some extra cash. One year, Ashley and I had an artist friend paint a portrait of my parents copied from one of their wedding photos and they were blown away. It’s still hanging in a prominent place in their house. That’s the kind of gift that will last for generations.
3. A customized date night.
Whether you’re getting a gift for you and your spouse or another couple, everybody loves a good date night! Go beyond just getting them a gift card, but plan out the whole experience based on their interests. It may include concert tickets and dinner at their favorite spot or something they’ve never experienced like a hot air balloon ride.
For more tips and tools about building a fun, passionate, rock-solid marriage at Christmastime and all year round, check out our most popular book: iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage.
It’s that time of year when the malls start getting crowded and the Christmas trees are out and the stress of getting your loved ones the perfect gift starts to set it. In most families, kids are pretty easy to shop for because they rattle off their list sitting on Santa’s lap and you’ve instantly got a a bunch of ideas you know they’ll like.
Husbands, on the other hand, tend to be a lot tougher. I know, because I’m a husband, and every year when Ashley asks me what I want to for Christmas, I shrug and say, “I don’t really need anything. Whatever you want to get me is fine.” Most of us guys just don’t seem to be very good at expressing what we really want or we simply don’t give much thought to it.
This list below is the product of a lot of thought to make your holidays a lot happier and to help you get your man something that won’t just end up buried in the back of the closet by New Year’s Eve. I hope this simple list removes stress from your shopping and brings a lot of smiles on Christmas morning.
Use the holidays as an opportunity to show your husband how you feel about him. These “Trophy Husband” tee shirts are a creative and affordable way to show your man you’ve still got the hots for him. He’s guaranteed to smile when he opens it up and he’ll wear it with pride! You can this and other marriage-centered Tee Shirts Here.
1. A sexy “Coupon Book”
Whether it’s Christmas or any other time of the year, what most husbands want more than anything is pretty simple…Sex! If you create a simple little “Coupon Book” with vouchers good for one seductive act (get creative), I can personally guarantee that it will be his all-time favorite Christmas gift and it won’t cost you a penny. Sure, he’ll probably have the book completely used up by the first week of January, but it’s a gift that will make a lasting impression and will probably give your marriage a new surge of energy and intimacy.
2. An experience WITH YOU centered around his favorite hobby or team.
Most guys would rather have one, big, memorable experience with you than a bunch of smaller gifts to unwrap. If he’s into a certain sports team, plan a weekend trip to go see a game with him and explore the city together. Trust me, he’ll be blown away when he opens that gift!
3. Stuff that celebrates manhood.
Most guys feel like they’re got to put their testosterone on a shelf most days, so give him a gift to let his manliness come out! Whether he’s into tools, or guns, or Duck Dynasty, or sports, or whatever else, give him a gift that shows him that you value what he likes and you celebrate his epic manliness.
For more tips and tools to have a fun, passionate and rock-solid marriage at Christmas and all year round, check out our book iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage.
Have you ever said something to your spouse and then immediately thought to yourself…”Ummmm…I didn’t actually say that out loud just then did I?!” I think we’ve all been there and sometimes we can say the most hurtful things to the people we love the most.
Whoever said “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” didn’t know what they were talking about! The truth is that our words can make or break our relationships and we need to commit to using our words wisely. You can communicate your message without being mean or sarcastic and if you approach your spouse in a supportive and encouraging way, your message is going to be received much better.
For the health of your marriage, you need to remove some words and phrases from your vocabulary. Here are some practical ways to get started…
DON’T SAY: “Have you gained weight?”
If they’re gaining weight, they know it without you pointing it out. Instead of drawing attention to the weight, try suggestion healthier options for meals or going on walks together to promote ways you can spend time together and both get healthier at the same time. Be their biggest cheerleader; not their biggest critic!
DON’T SAY: “You Always…” or “You Never…”
When we’re trying to make a point, we often make hurtful allegations about our spouse that exaggerate the truth. “Always” and “Never” can be dangerous words. If you do say the words “You always…” or “You never…”, make sure you say something positive, like “You always know how to make me smile.” Instead of something negative like “You always make everything so complicated” or “You never do anything to help me.”
DON’T SAY: Anything mean, degrading or disrespectful.
Okay, I know I just listed a whole bunch of things with this one, but the important point is that you need to always keep a positive tone in your words if you want to maintain a positive tone in your marriage. Once you say a word, you can’t take it back, so be very careful about each word you speak to each other. A marriage can’t have too much encouragement or too little criticism.
DON’T SAY: “Divorce”
The “D-Word” shouldn’t be part of your vocabulary. Don’t use it as a threat or as an option. There’s no intimacy in marriage without complete commitment and there can be no true commitment if you have even the threat of an exit strategy.