A Better Marriage
by Michele Johnson
True Romance for Parents
5 Frugal Date Nights
Don't Penny Pinch the Romance out of Your Marriage
These are tips which people can do in their marriage that don't cost a thing:
Wrestle for fun once a week. Nothing rough - just good-natured rolling around! No hits, no bites (unless it's a love bite!). Wrestling helps relieve stress while creating a playful mood which could lead into being a sexy mood!
Do "nothing" with your spouse for 30 minutes or so. Sitting together and doing "nothing" forces you to hear that small voice - call it intuition, deep thought, spiritual sense - which can only be heard during quiet times. Just sit together and do "nothing" physically, mentally, and sexually. Let your thoughts flow like water, and your breath like whispers...smooth, quiet, and undisturbed. You'll both feel refreshed, yet connected.
Clean out the attic together or the basements, closets or drawers. It costs nothing but time and more than likely, the two of you will dredge up some old momentos you'll laugh or smile about, as well as getting a chore done at the same time.
Draw a picture of the house you each lived in as a child (the one you liked best) and then tell each other the happy memories you had when you lived there. Or draw a picture of the first place you lived after you married - then talk about your favorite room there.
Make a "memorabilia collage" of your marriage. Cut out pictures, ads and words from old magazines. Arrange your cut-outs on a large piece of paper. Negotiating placement is part of the fun! You might also want to include ticket stubs, dried flowers, or other memorabilia. When you're done, talk about the items and what they mean to you and your marriage.
E-mail a message, virtual postcards, virtual flowers, or even virtual presents to your spouse.
Affirm your spouse for seven days. Write a note, make a phone call, or say "I love you" because... This only takes about 15 seconds a day and no matter how busy you are, you should be able to find 1 3/4 minutes per week to tell your spouse what a wonderful person he/she is. By the way, therapy takes longer, costs more, and isn't nearly as much fun!
Be honest with each other. Don't run up debts your spouse isn't aware of. And always consult with each other on major purchases.
Develop a suitable family budget and stick to it. Make the budget realistic and one that works for you, not for someone else. Each couple's financial situation varies to some degree, along with their priorities and needs. For instance, a family of six will require a much greater allotment for food and clothing than a single couple.
Work together to save money. Sit down and clip coupons together. Chip in, clean out the attic and have a garage sale. Have a contest to see who can plan the same vacation for the best price. And what's the prize for all of this? Money in your pocket for other things!
Create a contingency plan. Make a point to obtain some disability insurance, write a will, and set aside three to four months salary in emergency funds. This will ease pressure in the event one partner has an extended illness or loses a job.
Don't let romance interfere with the "business" of your marriage. Financial management between couples is a business just like a job. Approach it with knowledge, a clear mind, and plenty of discussion.
Live within your means. Stay away from credit cards. Don't envy the possessions of your friends, then get angry when you can't have them. Work together with what you have to get what you want.
Special Ways to Say I Love You
Give your spouse a "welcome home" party. Simply pick a day to have a special festivity and buy a cake or pizza, decorate the kitchen with some streamers, and even light some candles. It will make your spouse feel good to be home and it's a great way to say "I love you".
Write your spouse's name on a piece of paper - vertically. Above the first letter, write "I love you because..." Then for each letter of your spouse's name, pick a quality or trait beginning with that letter and write it down. Sign your name and give your spouse this list as a romantic, personal gesture.
Set up a job jar. Write each chore down on separate pieces of paper. Fold the papers and stuff them in the jar. Then have a drawing where you each draw out an equal number of papers. The papers you pull out are the jobs you do. This can be done weekly or biweekly, or however often necessary! It's a fun way for you both to participate in working together as a team.
Michele Johnson is the CEO of Petals of Life and the Author of "Marriage 101" and "Chocolate Fantasy".
We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!