Now that you and your partner have made it past the dating stage and are relishing in the engagement phase of your relationship, you may find that besides being head over heels in love with each other, you now have an entire wedding to plan.
However, while planning a wedding is a lot of work and can be stressful, it’s a small factor to consider when planning your future with each other. In the midst of enjoying the fresh premarital bliss, it’s important to make make sure you and your future spouse take up premarital counseling or at least set aside some time to talk with each other about these following crucial topics before becoming one.
FINANCES AND CAREERS
One of the biggest issues couples argue about and stress over the most is money. As the old adage says “love doesn’t pay the bills,” so it’s important to get this conversation started as soon as possible.
Do you both want to maintain separate bank accounts or put all of your money into a joint account? How will the bills be paid, split everything down the middle or one person pays for everything and the other person is in charge of the joint savings account? Who will be in charge of the finances?
If one of you is a spender and the other is a saver, create a budget for future spending that you’ll both be satisfied with. Additionally, what are your career plans? Where do you want to be in the next five years? Does your career require you to move to another coast? Understanding each other’s expectations now can help minimize financial-related arguments in the future.
If this subject hasn’t previously been discussed, now would be a great time to discuss whether or not you both want children. If you both agree that you want to have kids, the conversation doesn’t stop there.
How do you both want to raise your future children? How do you plan on disciplining your children? How will you handle important issues regarding your kids?
If your or your partner can’t have kids, are you open to adopting? It’s okay if you’re not sure on how many kids you want to have; while it’s important to agree with a number, it’s mainly important to see eye-to-eye with the aforementioned questions.
VALUES AND BELIEFS
This topic can potentially be a deal breaker earlier on the in the relationship, but, if it somehow hasn’t been discussed too much due to not wanting to have a potential argument, then that’s exactly why this needs to be discussed. Besides religion, discussing each others’ values play a major role in marriage.
Does your partner value objects over experiences? That may be an issue if you find they have a closet full of expensive shoes and high-end clothes and you don’t get to travel as much as you’d like to.
This can also potentially lead to issues with money if one person tends to spend a lot more than what the budget allows. Additionally, when you have kids, this subject is pivotal as you both are deciding how you’d like to raise them.
Something else to discuss is potential issues with your in-laws. While it’s common for some disagreements to arise with your in-laws, it’s crucial for you and your fiancé to make sure each other doesn’t feel like your in-laws come before you.
SERIOUS PAST ISSUES
Simply put, knowing where each other comes from, helps the both of you know where you’re going. The previous relationships your future spouse was in or the types of relationships they witnessed growing up can potentially shed some light on how they may or may not handle your relationship with each other. Take some time to learn how your spouse grew up and if there are any major issues that happened throughout their life.
Anything can happen at any point in time, so knowing how you two will react to big changes is necessary. For example, if you and your family live in Texas and you receive a dream job offer to work as an entertainment journalist in Los Angeles, how will your spouse handle a big move? What if you decide you no longer want to have kids? While you can’t predict the future, it’s important to know how you both plan on handling life-changing situations.
No matter how much you love each other, arguments will arise, but know how to handle them in order to get through them. Everyone has their own ways on how they choose to handle conflict and it’s important for you both to understand each other.
If both of you have more of a fire personality and find it difficult to ease up and allow the other person to explain themselves, try creating a code word so that when one of you says it, you both have to cool off on the argument for a few minutes. By doing this, it can allow both of you to calm down and think before coming back to each other and discussing the issue. Set limits on what’s allowed and determine how you both can accommodate each other.
When discussing these six critical topics, try to be as open and vulnerable as possible. While it’s nice to have the wedding of your dreams, it’s important to make sure you also have a beautiful marriage built on a strong foundation.
15 Mini-honeymoon Destinations Perfect for a Quick Romantic Getaway
Planning a wedding is serious business. The one-night event can be months, or even years, in the making. That’s why anyone planning their nuptials should also build in a little time right after the big day for a romantic mini-moon to set their marriage off on the right foot.
A mini-moon is the perfect way to take a few days, turn off your phone, forget the thank you cards, and just be present with your new partner before you embark on an entire lifetime together.
Check out a few postcard-ready mini-moon destinations around the country, plus a few international options, to set the stage for your happily ever after.
BAEcation: Top 5 Places You Should See Together
Every vacation includes two things, food, and discovery. Add a bit of love to that equation and watch it transform your experience to a new level. Places you’ve been time and time again will show you new colors, the delicacies will taste even sweeter, and the exploration will become something brand new. When you’re with bae, nothing can ruin your time in these top 5 places you should see together:
Taking a trip down memory lane with your significant other for the very first is eye-opening. Visiting your hometown for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas is always fun, especially if he’s never heard of it. With the double take of them meeting your entire family for the first time and showing them the place you had your first kiss, the trip will make endless new memories for the two of you.
A place where all lovers go. It is truly one of the most romantic places on earth. From the traditional cuisine to the sparkling Eiffel Tower glistening at night, Paris is that place you go to with the one you truly love. Many go to pop the question or to celebrate another year in love. Take a romantic dinner cruise down the River Seine or go wine tasting to bring you two even closer.
Northern Lights in Norway
Although unpredictable, if do get a chance to see the Northern Lights, see it with the one you love. On a dark clear night, look up to see the Aurora Borealis particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere and collide beautifully with gas atoms. Creating something out of a storybook, you’ll only want to make this a memory with that special someone.
Any trip to the Caribbean islands needs to be met with a drink in hand and a happy attitude. When the sun is shining bright and the waters warm like a drawn bath, you’ll want to be next to your boo to cuddle up underneath a hammock to sleep off some of the daytime drinking.
California Coast: Santa Barbara, Malibu, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Las Vegas
The west coast is one of the most convenient and scenic places in the U.S. Starting in Santa Barbara or even San Francisco, cruise down the coast of California while making stops at Malibu, L.A., Palm Springs, and a whole lot of picturesque mini stops along the way. Never been to Las Vegas? It’s just a short 3 hours and a half drive from the city of Los Angeles!
3 Hidden Factors Affecting Your Sex Life
We see advertisements for erectile dysfunction medications everywhere from tv and radio to internet and print ads, however, men aren’t the only ones suffering from lower libido and unfulfilled sex lives. Millions of men and women alike seek treatment each year of sex performance related issues.
Studies have shown that over 50% of men will experience erectile dysfunction by the age of 45. But women aren’t exempt from sexual struggles, other research has shown that up 40% of women also suffer from female sexual dysfunction or more recently recognized, hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Here are some hidden factors that may be silently lowering your sex drive.
Stiff & Hard… Blood Vessels
We have all heard the saying “get the blood flowing” in relation to sex, but there is truth in the colloquialism. The foundation of sexual function, or dysfunction, is blood flow to the
reproductive organs. There are a variety of conditions that can interfere with blood flow but the most common associated with sexual dysfunction is arteriosclerosis or hardening of the blood vessels.
When our blood vessels become stiff and less expansive, the heart has to work much harder to get blood to vital areas in the body. Sexual organs are no different, if vessels cannot deliver blood then the organs cannot function properly. Foods high in cholesterol, trans and saturated fats, as well as processed carbohydrates, can increase your chances for atherosclerosis and other circulatory diseases.
Cortisol the Libido Killer
Cortisol is the stress hormone and is produced when the body is placed into sympathetic states, fight or flight. Increased levels of cortisol alter levels of sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen which can lead to decreased sexual desires or performance.
Higher cortisol levels can also increase body fat in the abdominal region, often adding to body image issues. Additionally, stress affects how we see ourselves, causing anxiety during sexual encounters. Reducing everyday stressors in your life and implementing practices that increase mental wellbeing are vital in lowering cortisol levels that may hinder your sexual performance.
Etcetera’s & Medications
Physical, nonsexual, conditions and
medications can also affect your sex drive. Conditions such as arthritis, fatigue, surgical history, and prescription medications can all play a role in your sex life or lack of. Not getting enough sleep can be a major contributor to low libido as sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen are produced at night while we sleep.
Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse, for a variety of reasons, will result in a decreased sex drive. Many prescription medications used to treat lifestyle conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, cholesterol, and even anxiety have side effects that include a decrease in libido. Overstimulation due to consuming large amounts of pornography can decrease your stimulation and drive during in-person sexual encounters.
When you are suffering from a lackluster sex life the most important thing to you is getting it back on track as soon as possible. While there are medications you can take to help circumvent the issue temporarily, the only to make long-term changes is to identify the root causes of the dysfunction and address them all completely.
5 Ways to Increase Financial Communication Between You and Your Spouse
Take some time right now and think back to the last time you and your significant other had a fight. What was it about? The number one cause of stress and divorce in America today is money issues…….
Originally produced by Steven Goodwin for www.goodmenproject.com in association with www.getconnectdad.com
Take some time right now and think back to the last time you and your significant other had a fight. What was it about? The number one cause of stress and divorce in America today is money issues according to this CNBC article. Did you fall into that category? Learning to increase financial communication withing the couple can be a great way to improve the marriage.
Too many couples still view talk about finances as “taboo”. When, in reality, it affects us at our core. The reason for that is money is so deeply intertwined in our lives that it touches everything. Money finds it’s way into how we trust, help, and love each other. It’s involved in where we live, how we live, what we do, even how much free time we get. Our finances come up in almost every area where we “do” life together.
Before my wife and I got started on our financial journey back in 2011, we viewed our finances completely differently and separate. We were doing our own thing and hardly getting traction on our finances because of it. It wasn’t until we started working our plan together that we really started making a difference in our personal finances. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it.
You see, my wife is what Dave Ramsey would call a “free spirit”. This type of person basically doesn’t like doing budgets and doesn’t find talking or thinking about finances much fun. The thought of doing a budget for them is one of the lowest priorities on their list. It’s not that they don’t feel money is important. they just want to go about life and do the things they want to do when they want to do it instead of being “constricted” by a budget.
On the contrary, I am the nerd in the relationship. I created our budget spreadsheet and then created more spreadsheets to reference the first spreadsheet. In fact, right now, I actually do my budget in three different places, Mint.com, Personal Capital, and Google Sheets. Is this necessary? Absolutely not. Do I enjoy it? You betcha!
However, I was using the budget spreadsheets in the wrong way with my wife. I was showing them to her like they were the gospel or something. I was telling her what we were going to do, rather than inviting her to join me and giving her a say in the decisions.
So, what did we do? We went through Dave Ramsey’s small group class called “Financial Peace University” at our church. As we went through, we started applying the following five strategies to improve our communication in regards to our finances.
Money means different things to men & women.
Money usually has very different meanings to men than it does to women.
For some men, money can be what you measure your self-worth too or how well you are doing in life.
As men, there is often a deep sense to provide for our family. When we don’t do that, we feel like we’re not living up to our responsibilities.
I know for me, self-worth has been tougher to balance since I became a stay-at-home dad. Not being in the role anymore of bringing home that paycheck every two weeks now, I occasionally struggle in my thinking about how to fulfill my role providing for my family. It’s getting easier not valuing bringing home money, though. I’ve realized it’s more about how we manage what we have. My wife is drilling into my head that the important aspects are I interact and take care of our house chores and two girls.
For some women, money is more about security and protection.
My wife is much more at ease as we have built up margin between our income and expenses each month. If we were still living paycheck to paycheck with no room for error, my wife would be on edge a lot more. I have really noticed more of a release with her when we are looking to do more fun things since we’ve gotten our emergency fund completed.
Everyone reacts emotionally to money.
Dave Ramsey says “the flow of money in a household represents the value system under which the household operates.” This means how we spend our money is where our values lie. If you were to look over your budget for last month, you should be able to identify your value system for your household based off of how your money was spent. I challenge you to go over it, it will be eye-opening for a lot of you!
Some people are natural savers while others are spenders. What we need to do is find out how our spouse feels money and find common ground to talk about it and make a plan together. Learning how men and women view money differently is a great way to increase financial communication between couples.
Hold a monthly budget meeting.
After learning what money means to your spouse, sit down and conduct a budget meeting together. This means that both of you need to actually attend. As you continue meeting and forcing the discussion about where your finances are heading, you will start to gain an understanding of your value system.
If you don’t like where your values currently are, this is where you get the opportunity to change it.
Are you buried in debt because you buy so many material wants? Find a way to cut back and start freeing yourself up by paying off the debt and learning to find pleasure in people or experiences instead.
Do you feel like you should be giving more? Look into some charities or your local church and start finding ways to give money or time.
Are you eating out more than 25 percent of your income? Maybe you need to stop eating your future and start saving for it.
Your budget meeting allows you to set the course for the next month.
Your job is to make your money behave in a way that allows you to take control it. Don’t just going through the month hoping that you will have enough money at the end.
When to hold the meeting?
When holding this meeting, make sure to find a time that is convenient and distraction free for both of you so that you can focus on the task at hand. We usually do ours in the morning over breakfast (if the kids aren’t up) or at night after the kids have gone to bed. By taking the time to sit down and talk about it, we can both focus all of our attention on the task at hand and come up with better ideas than when trying to multitask.
Just remember, it takes time to develop a habit or a routine. You and your spouse aren’t going to do it perfect from the get-go. With continuous practice and involvement, monthly budget meetings can increase financial communication between couples.
Become a good listener.
One of the most important ways you can increase communication with your spouse is by learning to become a good listener. By listening to your spouse, you’re encouraging them to freely share in the discussion. When they start to do this, make sure to give them undivided attention and look them in the eye. It’s been very hard for me to not jump in and “correct” my wife about financial matters from time to time. Although, I have found I do better when I sit back and listen to her complete thoughts.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen R. Covey
Don’t listen just to reply. Take in what your spouse is saying, then internalize it and form your reply. Don’t be ponder your response as your spouse talks. Many conflicts stem when we make assumptions about what others really mean.
Oftentimes, we think of getting our point across instead of listening to our spouse’s point of view first.
What’s the old saying? The best offense is a strong defense.
Learn to listen to your spouse to find what’s eating at them. Take time to hear your spouse out. They’ll often lead you exactly where you both need to go to compromise.
By listening, you will find the problem to address and hopefully let them vent enough. This may even resolve the situation as they talk it through. Because money means different things to each of us, sometimes we get caught up on our side of the conversation ending up missing out on some great advice.
Next time you are talking about a financial matter with your spouse, try letting them explain why it’s a good or bad idea and what the decision really means to them. By doing this, you’ll give them the say that they desire and the opportunity to truly share their case.
Define your goals with your spouse.
This one is a big one. Setting goals with your spouse assumes you actually set personal goals. If you are the nerd, you already have made some goals for yourself.
Find some time to dream big with your spouse. Think about long-term goals that you’d like to achieve. Then, break the long-term goals into easier-to-hit short-term goals. These will lead you right up to your long-term goal.
We took some time to do this a while back. On a giant sheet of paper, we made four quadrants. They were:
- Takes extra $$$ – down the road
- Challenging, but accomplishable
- Easy to do
Looking back at that list, we accomplished quite a bit. There are still some things on there that we are working towards or have put on hold.
Setting goals does wonders for opening up communication in your marriage. When hitting these goals, don’t forget to celebrate together as well!
Set some individual item spending limits.
What do you find yourself fighting with your spouse about? It’s usually not the big purchase items like a new car or house. I know in my experience that our fights revolve around a few main things: clothes, technology and eating out. We don’t fight nearly as much as we used to, but things come up from time-to-time. And it all stems from not setting proper spending limits for our purchases.
My wife might go out shopping for some clothes and when she comes home, I ask the dreaded question, how much did you spend on that? When she tells me, I might think, “wow, that’s way too much to spend on something like that.” Of course, it comes out wrong in how I talk to my wife and then we end up flustered and upset with each other for a little while.
The same can be said for my love of technology. I am always looking for the new “shiny”, it’s my kryptonite. I try to justify spending on technology when it’s not even going to be something that I really need. My wife does her best to talk me down and usually does a pretty good job. It actually took me three years to purchase my iPad.
For completeness sake, I loved that iPad. Within a year, it “leaped” off the top of my vehicle and was run over. Of course, I had pushed the purchase and didn’t buy the accidental coverage. That was such a painful experience that I still have the broken thing in the box in my basement. I still look at new ones longingly here and there.
Using “Blow” Money
The point is if we’d have set spending limits on each of these occasions, we might both be in better situations today. Since these personal occurrences, we’ve set better limits. We now set aside personal money that we call “blow” money monthly for each of us. This money allows us to spend how we’d like without having to consult the other person. Outside of that money, we have to get the other person’s agreement for purchases.
So, what are we doing now?
After taking Financial Peace University, I was blown away by the presentation of the baby steps and how simple they are to follow and focus on. We started working them together and haven’t looked back since.
We now have monthly budget meetings together. I propose the rough draft of the budget and my wife has to make a couple changes on how we are spending our money so that she gets a say in it as well as has some skin in the game. We aren’t perfect as she is still learning to get better about checking our spreadsheets to find out how much is in the sinking funds we have before going and making purchases. However, we have come a long way in that, we do adhere pretty well to what we put on paper for the most part. This has helped us achieve the success that we’ve set out to during this time.
Learning to listen to each other’s wants and needs, we are better able to compromise on how to accomplish our common goals together. It’s no longer about which goal we get to do, just about which one first.
Finally, we have clear limits set up that we must discuss with each other before we go about buying things if it’s not our personal “blow” money.
I really feel that these five strategies have greatly improved our communication together and I can see the kids feel it as well. Having the constant pull to communicate to each other about finances; the topic comes up so often over several different categories in our lives.
Because my wife had this open communication already, it helped us find some common ground during the early years when our children were very little. There was a period where we were just going through the motions, doing our own thing and not communicating as much on the rest of the family stuff. However, the budget was still there changing every month. This forced us to talk about it like we had always done.
Actually, it’s turned into one of the things we have in common. Talking about our finances and where every dollar should go that we’ve been blessed with. We both come from divorced families and we’re both thankful that we have this open communication. If we ever got to a point where the communication line was closed off, our marriage would most likely be at great risk. It’s not that we don’t fight and bicker, we do. But, at least we’ve gotten past the part of getting on the same page with where the finances should and are going.
Summary: Check out these 5 ways to increase your financial communication with your spouse.
- Learn the differences about what money means to men and women.
- Hold a monthly budget meeting.
- Become a good listener.
- Define your goals with your spouse.
- Set individual item spending limits.
Originally produced by Steven Goodwin for www.goodmenproject.com in association with www.getconnectdad.com
Looking for Her, I Found Myself
As a young alpha male, I was enamored with the grace, beauty, intellect, curves, and presence of beautiful women.
As a young alpha male, I was enamored with the grace, beauty, intellect, curves, and presence of beautiful women.
At such a tender age, I was not cognizant nor was I concerned about what was purported by science to be the “natural” maturation process. Scientists have meticulously shared with us this researched-based blueprint laced with what is thought to be unquestionable documentation, which references one’s maturity and its relatedness to the body’s physical and mental growth academically and commonly known as puberty.
I observed God’s wondrous species from a distance, careful not to offend nor cause any consternation while desperately trying not to be seen nor heard by this elegant creation. I was mesmerized and awestruck by their hypnotizing scents, their iridescent smiles, and the opalescent twinkling of their eyes. Their laughter mimicked that of cherubs slowly stroking their harps as love arrows sailed through unsuspecting skies striking their intended targets with the softness of a clouds touch.
My thoughts were to be the man that would be simultaneously struck by this arrow as she awaited my arrival and anxiously encouraged me to propose marriage!
Obviously, not even being old enough to get a driver’s license or to vote, I did not have a clue of what it meant and what it would take to be the ONE, let alone understand the complexities of something as permanent as going to the altar.
Given all of those obstacles, I was not deterred; with beauty and compassion being exhibited in each direction that I dared to look, I smiled with exuberance as I enjoyed the canvas and all of the carefully crafted, hues and “colors” that the creator dipped his loving bush in as he ultimately shared an incessant cadre’ of glamorous beings that are visible throughout the world.
Aw, but where does this alpha male appear within this canvas, what is his role, how does he show appreciation to and for this well-crafted creation, what is he to bring to the table, does he have a place at the table?
Finding myself while searching for her, that elusive, alluring princess that was placed on this earth just for me.
Muscle bulging, every hair in its place, face cleanly shaven with mustache shaped and trimmed, bald head shining like a new penny, voice deepening, attired in the latest fashions and equipped with the quintessential conversation that will surely impress this goddess that the alpha male is pursuing the stage was set!
I quickly realized that I couldn’t see her until I saw myself, I wondered both silently and aloud:
- Have I prepared me to be worthy of such a treasure?
- Do I admire and respect her as an equal regardless of what is being; discussed, proposed, disagreed with, questioned or just plain old skepticism?
- Am I careful not to be condescending due to my “self-imposed” male prowess as it relates to politics and other matters of worldly concerns?
- Am I prepared to protect her and her honor in all situations?
- Do I project my fears and lack of self-confidence onto her?
- Do my flaws dictate how I respond to her needs and concerns?
- Am I prepared to be that quintessential provider to the best of my ability?
- Can I cry with her?
- Will I genuinely celebrate her and her victories?
- Will I be responsible, dutiful, trustworthy, and loving to her, and our children?
- Will I love her unconditionally?
Finding myself brings me full circle within a realistic prospective to own my flaws, work to correct them, do not blame others for mistakes that I made which may or may not have resulted in causing unfavorable situations and circumstances of a personal nature. Maintain an open mind to life’s challenges, see, read, process and think for myself with an honest eye, mind and to allow space for others to realize their own flaws and to grow within themselves as we grow into the “we” that we perceive ourselves to be.
In finding myself I realize that I know no one better than I know myself, I work diligently to ensure that my vision is not skewed because I refuse to see what is before me and it may not be what I have been lead to believe, sight unseen.
As I crown my Queen, I place her on the throne of my heart, realizing that she is not “something” to behold and to be owned, but a treasure that is to blossom and seek her level of comfort within.
Originally produced by Melvin Casey Lars at www.goodmenproject.com