Archive for the ‘ For Married People ’ Category

From the Archives: Alone in a Relationship


This is a repost of an older topic that I have encountered a ton recently.  So I thought I’d throw this one back around the look one more time.

Last week I received a message from an old friend asking if we could get together.  She needed some advice from a “man’s perspective.”  We had the opportunity to get together today and caught up on what was going on with each other.  And coming out of that conversation, there are a ton of thoughts swirling around my head, but one stands out above the rest:: I am so thankful for the rich community that Penny and I not only get to live in today, but that we got to go through our season of dating together as well.

As my friend and I talked, she told me how she was absolutely in love with the man that she is with now.  They’ve been together almost a year, and he is so far and above different than any other man she ever been with before, that she couldn’t imagine being with anyone else.  But there was something that has been bothering her over these last couple of months.  Now that all the warm fuzzies of a new relationship have worn off and they find themselves settling into a rhythm, they are finding the rhythm has turned into a rut.  The more we talked, the more what I was hearing her say beyond anything else was that she knows that he loves her, but she doesn’t often feel it.  That, unfortunately, he has stopped pursuing her.  He loves her, he has committed himself to her (but hasn’t put a ring on it yet, so keep it in perspective), and she should know that.  And as a guy, I really get where he is coming from.  But it doesn’t translate well to her heart.  So she pushes in to try to make him understand that she is feeling a gap, hoping that he will respond.  But what she doesn’t see is that he is responding, in a very guy way.  Occasionally, the way he responds does connect to her heart, but usually it only serves to frustrate her more.

As I listened, I thought back to several times in Penny’s and my dating relationship, and even now that we are married, and all the times that we did something that was frustrating or didn’t seem to connect with each other…and at first I couldn’t think of much, but the more I thought, the more I realized that we have had and continue to have the same issues as my friend and her boyfriend.  But in almost every circumstance, I reached back to sitting in the garage of my LifeGroup leader, Michael (who would later be one of my groomsmen), hashing out what was going on, what was confusing and frustrating.  I thought about my ministry team leader at church, Lorelei, who, as a girl, gave me incredibly great insight into the liv

es and hearts of women and decoded a lot for me.  I thought of a great mutual friend that both Penny and I loved and loved us, Rebekah, who had eyes on us as a couple and wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions, as well as encourage us in the things we were doing right.  And Penny had Megan, her own LifeGroup leader, that I knew she was constantly talking to (Megan would also be in our wedding). And I realized something- Penny and I were surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses of people who had nothing to gain from our relationship, they just loved us enough to love us.

So I asked the question to my friend, “Who do you have in your life that is having eyes for you both individually and as a couple?  Who has permission to slap you upside the head when you’re being stupid, and call the best out of you?”  And her answer… “No one,” she whispered as she shook her head.

You see, this guy hadn’t stopped loving my friend.  He just doesn’t have anyone in his life to hit him upside the head and say, “Hey, how about you not hang out with the boys tonight and go hang out with her.”  She doesn’t have anyone in her life to say, “Hey, you know how he said this thing and it frustrated you, do you hear how actually romantic it is.?”  They are doing this relationship alone.  Sure, they have each other, but they don’t have anyone else with them in the middle of it.

Here’s the thing, we were never meant to do any of this life alone.  We aren’t ring-bearers and most of us aren’t named Frodo.  We are designed and meant to do life- to do relationships, in community, with other people around.  It’s what I was talking about in the 10 Things I’ve Learned About Dating :: #7- Date in Community. You don’t have to be alone.  You won’t be better off for it either.  Get people around you.

So how’s it going with you?  I ask you the same question I asked my friend, Do you have anyone in your life that has eyes for you individually and as a couple?  Who has permission to slap you upside the head and cheer you on at the same time?  Leave a comment and let us know.

(PS- Thanks again to Michael, Megan, Lorelei, Rebekah, Todd, Michael R, Ginny, Brad, Jonny, Elijah, Sarah, Harlan, Mike, Teri, and so so many more who were and are part of the community that Penny and I get to do life with.  You guys rock!)

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5 Great Valentines Day GDS Posts


It’s Valentines Day in America.  This is the day that so many things will be happening.  There’ll be a lot of first dates, and a lot of last dates.  Some people will be saying, “I love you” for the first time, and a lot of people saying “I love you” for the thousandth time.  There’ll be a lot of engagements, a lot of celebrating, and above all…A LOT OF DATING.  So in honor of the day that honors love, I thought I’d take a moment and repost 5 of our most popular recent posts on Love and Dating.

1) How to Say “I Love You” for the First Time. It’s pretty self explanatory, but for anyone who is thinking that tonight might be the night for those 3 magic words, this one is for you.

2) 5 Ways to Pursue Your Girl Men, this post is for you.  There is something about the way that your girl’s heart is wired that she wants to be pursued.  And whether or not you realize it, or not, your heart is wired to be in pursuit.  Here are 5 tips for making it happen.

3) Navigating the Land Between…in Dating Have you ever found yourself in a place between being just friends and knowing there was something more, but you weren’t sure what?  Read here for tips on how to navigate that trecherous terrain

4) What are You Voting on in Your Relationship There are things in a relationship that require intentionality.  Here are somethings in your Relationship that you need to be super intentional about and make sure that you are both in agreement on.

5) The Fifth Commandment of Dating. It’s easy to commit a lot of  “sins” when it comes to dating.  But this is one of the big one that you really do NOT want to commit.  Remember Your DateNights and Keep Them Holy.

That’s it for now, Happy Dating

Weekly Featured Date :: The Double Date


Typically with the Weekly Featured Date segment, I try to highlight a place to go, an activity to do, or sometimes even a restaurant.  But this time I’m pulling out something different.  I’m not even sure what category this would fit into, but considering that I don’t much like categories, I’m really ok with it.

This week’s Weekly Featured Date is simple- do something, anything, go somewhere- but this time- invite another couple along and make it a Double Date.

The whole point of a DateNight in the first place is to give a couple time out from everything else in life to spend together, getting to know each other, and just have fun together.  I know it may seem that when you introduce another couple into the equation, then you lose the intimate aspect and you have to spend all the time together with another couple.  However- think about it- on a double date you get to be a couple, the other couple gets to be a couple, and you get to be a couple together.  I’m not talking about anything dirty here- its just called being a couple in community.

Also, this is great way to take a time out from everything else in life- think of the couples you know- couples at church, couples at work, couples in the neighborhood.  Going out for a Double Date with any of these couples puts you in a different setting and allows you to get to know not only the other couple better, but you get to know your dating partner in a setting with other people.

The Double Date- the hardest part is just finding a couple who’s schedule you can get to mesh with yours.

6 Steps to Kick Off Dating in the New Year



It seems that it’s been a while since any activity has happened here on GreatDateSpot.com.  These past holidays were nuts around the Mulberry House, relatives and travel and parties and cleaning and doing it all over again…unfortunately, it seems that Penny and I haven’t really had much time for dating.  And what do I think of that?  It was no excuse.  We still haven’t mastered the make-up date just yet, but that’s ok…we’re still learning.

You see, its bound to happen…you have a plan, and set DateNight, and things come up every so often that knock you off schedule.  But that’s no excuse not to date.  Not to connect.  And what Penny and I have gotten to practice over these last 3 or 4 weeks is how to connect and keep our own relationship strong in the midst of a lot of busy-ness and family time.  Sometimes we did well, sometimes we didn’t.   It’s part of our growth.  And part of my own growth as the one entrusted to lead this marriage.  It was tricky trying to discern the times when it ok that we fore-go’ed? (fore-went?) our time together for time with the family, and when we really needed to steal away and just have time together.  It’s not really something I have ever had to do before.  But I was fully aware of it the entire time.

All that aside- here we are- back home, back on a regular schedule, and its time to get back to Dating!  We are definitely ready for another season of Dating and learning how to grow in and through relationships.  Today I want to share a thought on Dating in the New Year.

Here’s my big thought- Be Freakin’ Intentional this year.  Be intentional about having regularly scheduled DateNights.  What that doesn’t mean is being laxidasical and waiting until the day of the date to think about what you’re going to do.  When you wait till the last minute, its a recipe for the M word: MONOTONY.  Monotony is the biggest killer of a dating life.  Mostly because it takes all the fun out of it.  But how do you avoid it?  How do you avoid the Rut?  The best way I have found to plan out what you’re going to do is simple.  It’s an old school method. Create a Calendar.

Create a schedule for DateNights.  This was our DateNight schedule from last fall.  Its simple Excel-type spreadsheet.  And below are 6 steps to creating an excellent season of Dating here at the start of 2011.

1) Get a night of the week that will generally be a scheduled night for the two of you.  For Penny and I, it’s Friday nights.  For a lot of my friends, it’s Monday nights.  Maybe its a rotating night.  However it works for you, get a night when you will intend to go out.  Keep in mind, it won’t work every week- things will come up.  But at least it gives you something to shoot for.

2) Go ahead and block out the times when you know things will interfere.  What are the big weeks you know are coming up that will disrupt your dating schedule.  For me, I color code those times.  Orange represents times when I know that Friday Night will not work.  Yellow represents weeks where Friday may work, but other things could creep in and we may have to be flexible (like the Friday after Thanksgiving).  Doing this will allow you to have a heads up and create a back up plan- a make up date night.

3) Plan an activity for each DateNight. This is where the real work and fun comes into planning these things.  You’ll see the times when the same ole thing keeps coming up- and it will allow you to move them around.  Penny and I will often go to Cincinnati or Louisville for our Dates, so for me, this lets me see when we are going out of town several weeks in a row- then lets me adjust it so we aren’t leaving all the time.  This will also allow for you to check the local theaters- what plays or sporting events or concerts are coming that you need to go ahead an get tickets for (and gives you time to get good seats 🙂 )  The key here is variety.  Revisit the old favorites, and get some new things going on as well.  One final tip: Try not to schedule too many movies over the season.  If there are some big movies coming out that you both want to see, then by all means, but otherwise- keep it changed up.

4) Schedule Food for each DateNight. Sharing a meal together is a time-honored tradition, but more than that, it gives you great time to talk.  Scheduling the food will allow you to keep a variety of restaurants on tap.  If you’re like me, you’ll see a restaurant as you’re driving around town…and think, “We should try going there sometime.” But then you never go back… sound familiar?  The Calendar will help make that happen.  And what I think you’ll find is that pairing your restaurant selection with your activity is a bit like pairing a fine wine with just the right cheese.

5) Think through the added bonus. In other words, what makes this DateNight special?  What is something that you’ll both get out of this night that doesn’t happen on too many other nights.  It could be many things: a long drive with lots of talk time.  Homemade meal.  A special surprise or gift.  Time with another couple or loved one.

6) Take Good Notes. This was a lesson I learned after making these calendars our a few times.  Let’s face it– sometimes a well planned DateNight just turns out to be a stinker.  Sometimes its really great.  Sometimes you’ll hear her say something that you want to remember.  Sometimes you’ll want to remember if you two liked a particular restaurant or if there was a lesson learned from a certain experience.  This helps you to grow and get better at creating memorable DateNights.

So go for it!  Kick off 2011 the right way- with a strong season of Dating.  Get it planned out.  I suggest start small- if you’ve never done this before, try from January through March.  As for Penny and I, my calendar this time is planned through the end of May.  We’ll move into Summer after that.

When you do it, come back and leave a message, let us know how your schedule is working out.

Her Greatest Desire vs. His Most Desperate Need


If there is anything in my life that is worthy of doing whatever it takes to make a success, it’s for sure my marriage.  That’s why I do the things that I don’t necessarily want to do; they’ve become not a big deal to do it, because I know the one I’m doing it for.  It’s a funny truth about the things that are dear to us- they tend to make sucky things not suck anymore.  Instead they become a joy.  And for me, that’s reading all these self-help books about marriage.  I hate self-help books- I really do.  I prefer fiction or an even an autobiography, but now, I take every opportunity I get to soak up anything information I can on being a better husband.  Whether it’s new books, books on tape, sermon podcasts about marriage, or reading other marriage blogs…I love taking it all in.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post telling you about a book that I was reading that was having a huge impact on my marriage, The Power of a Praying Husband.  Shortly after, Penny and I started a 6 week marriage class called United.  Wouldn’t you know it, as part of the class, we are reading another book that is also having a profound effect on our marriage, Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  And this book has highlighted a really basic principle that I don’t think most people get., but I have found to be so true.  It has helped to put words to something instinctual inside me that I don’t think I ever could have defined before, much less even realized how big of a deal it really is to men and women.  And while this principle certainly reveals itself most in the marriage relationship, it truly speaks to the male/female relationship as a whole.  Whether it’s husband/wife, brother/sister, cousins, or even co-workers.

Here’s the principle- what a woman desires most is unconditional love.  What a man desperately needs is unconditional respect.  It’s at the core of who we are as men and women, how we are created and wired…women tend to need most to be loved.  And men tend to need to be respected above all else, even love.  It’s a profound concept, and I must confess, not one that I fully subscribed to at the outset of reading this book.  But as I’ve gotten deeper into it, I am seeing that at the very least, it is true in Penny’s and my life.

I am not an easy person to upset.  It’s really pretty hard to make me angry about something.  But I can tell you, few things set me off faster than feeling unceremoniously, straight up disrespected.  It’s not something I ever would have put words to, or could have made the connection, but once I did, I see it to be all too true.

On the flip side, while I won’t speak for Penny, I can say that I have noticed when I take the necessary steps to let Penny know that she is loved above all else in my life, and when she hears it, that she responds overwhelmingly more positive and with more respect for me than I could have ever dreamt.

In either case though, did you notice that what I was talking about was how we REACT to each other?  Think about it, just about every fight you’ve ever had with your wife, husband, sibling, co-worker, has usually caught you a little off guard, right?  Because all of a sudden, they responded poorly to you.  And then you reacted.  And they reacted some more.  Which made you react…and so on…well my friends, you have just taken a spin  the Crazy Cycle.  Basically it works like this: she disrespected him, so he didn’t act lovingly towards her, which caused her to act more disrespectful towards him, so he certainly couldn’t act lovingly towards a woman who acts like that, and he responds accordingly…and it keeps going.  OK, OK, to be fair, cause it happens this way too- He acted unloving towards her, so she reacted in a disrespectful way, which made him pull away in an unloving manner (guys, here’s a tip, pulling away in a fight, while paramount in guy-code is acting unloving girl-code), and how could she respect him when he does that, and she acts accordingly.

Sound familiar?  Surprised at how accurate it is?  This really should be no surprise that women want love and men need respect…even the Bible says so when it tells husbands to go all out in love for their wives, and for wives to respect their husbands.  Yeah, that’s the actual wording.  It’s also all through the Proverbs as they talk about what it is better to be than to be in an unloving and disrespectful marriage (I think my favorite is, “It is better to live on a corner of the roof than it is to live in a house with a contentious wife”).

So, couples out there…dating or married or even just friends- how are you doing, Men, at loving the women in your lives with an unconditional love?  Ladies, how about it– do you respect the men in your life?  Are you speaking in a language that is clear to the other person, not just you?  I would highly recommend that you pick up this book.  Go through it.  Try it out.

Weekly Featured Date: Take in a Broadway Show


Have you ever had the chance to go the New York City and see a show on Broadway?  I have.  Stomp was my first.  Then Avenue Q.  And Wicked was the most recent.  All of them were great shows.  A Broadway show is more than just a show, its an experience.  And when it is a shared experience between two people, it makes for a great date!  And while I know it may seem similar, but a Broadway Show is very different than simply going to see a movie.

Fortunately for us, we don’t have to travel to New York to see a Broadway show.  With the Lexington Opera House in Lexington, the Proctor and Gamble Hall in Cincinnati, The Norton Center in Danville,  and Whitney Hall in Louisville all serving as locations for  touring Broadway shows (Broadway shows with a traveling component), Broadway is brought to us.

Each of these theaters has a range of Broadway Shows, all of them good.  And you’ll want to plan ahead, be aware of what’s coming up, cause you’ll want to get tickets more than just a week out.  There’s no doubt, these shows can get pricey, so if you’re on a budget, keep an eye out for deals to tickets to these shows.  As such, I have found one for the newest show to come to Lexington, A Chorus Line, where you could win free tickets.  Click this link to Lexgo.com and find out more.  Make it a great date!

4 Real Political Issues Every Couple Must Vote On


It’s the first Tuesday in November.  That means it’s election day.  And as I am about to head off to the polls to perform my civic duty, I can’t help but wonder if my wife will be able to make it to the polls after work.  And as I picture her standing there at the booth, punching in her vote on those oh-so-reliable machines, two thoughts occur to me : 1) I wonder when the machines will get smart enough to actually scrap our votes and vote a machine into office- I’m telling you- that’s how they will take over.  2) I have no clue as to who my wife will vote for…and I’m really ok with that.

Politics is not something that Penny and I ever really discuss.  It’s not something that matters enough to either of us to spend our few precious moments together discussing.  We have, however, spent a little time discussing how it’s not important enough to spend time discussing it.  Discussing.

Simply put, politics is not something unites or divides us.  It’s mute issue.  But it makes me wonder… should we be talking about it at least some?  I mean, I couldn’t tell you what political party she lines up with.  I have a good guess, but I don’t know for sure.  I think I’ve told her in passing where I line up, but I couldn’t swear to that either.  Should I know what my wife thinks politically?  Should I even care if she doesn’t think like I do politically speaking?   Either way, I guarantee you that tonight when we go to bed, we won’t be talking about this election or who we think should or shouldn’t have won.

No, I don’t think I should know more about her political standings and I don’t particularly care to either.  If it was important to me that we line up politically, then it would have been something we talked about when we were dating, before we got married.   But I’m satisfied with the idea that my guess is that we line up more than we don’t.  And if I’m wrong- who cares?

Politics just don’t have a place in our relationship.  It’s not what we’re about.  We’re not going to quibble over those issues.

But I do think this raises a great question…what are the issues we should be concerned with? what are the real issues that we need to be sure that we line up on.  I’ve narrowed it down to 4 basic Issues that are the real issues couples have to contend with.  These are issues that you MUST be in alignment on for your relationship to work.  And if you’re thinking about moving your dating relationship to the next level, think of this like a good check list.  Here we go:

1) The Issue of Faith.  It is paramount that you as a couple agree on at the least the basic tenants of faith.  Since what you believe or don’t believe about God is really at the core of who you are, it certainly is something to be talked about.  (Notice I’m not talking about the finer points of theology.  I think its way less of an issue to agree on Calvinism vs Arminianism than it is to agree on whether or not Jesus’ death on a cross has atoned for sins – or – was it all a charade?  Or perhaps There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.)  Whatever your faith- your partner better be in at least basic agreement with you on that

2) The Issue of Love. Do you agree that you love each other?  A man smarter than me once said that love is choosing to put the wants, needs, and desires of another individual above your own. Basically its serving one another.  So are you going to love each other.  One of things I’ve learned in the few short months that I’ve been married is that it works best when Penny and I are each serving each other without requiring that the other one serves us back.  It’s hard in a relationship to be the one constantly serving and never being served, so it’s important that you agree that you will serve each other.  However, I know my own selfishness comes into the equation more often than I would like and that’s when things start getting rocky.

3) The Issue of Longevity Are you in it to win it?  More than that, are you in it till the end?  Let’s face it, craps comes up.  You will both make stupid choices.  Are you going to own up to it when its you?  Are you going to forgive when it’s not you?  Is your commitment to sticking it out more than your fleeting urge to run?  When things get rocky and you uncover the full extent of the brokenness of your partner, will you lean into your marriage or pull away from it?  Are you in it for the long haul?  Does your spouse know that?  I challenge you… make it a point to remind your spouse today, no matter what, you’re in it till the end.

4) The Issue of Unification Are you going to be one with each other?  Are you so committed that you will agree to work on the places that you disagree on to come to a unified conclusion?  I like what Matthew Henry said in his commentary about Adam and Eve – That the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. It’s a beautiful statement.  Whether you believe this account or not the idea is true, man and woman, husband and wife are one… side by side, walking together.  Do what it takes to be unified with your spouse.  And if you’re dating, you should know that there is not a single person on this earth that you will be completely unified with 100% of the time.  The question is :: who is the person that you want to work through those issues with.

Those, my friends, are the real issues to be voted upon, not whether or not we want local control over the water company.  And if you’re dating, those are the real issues that you want to work through before deciding to move to the next step.

How about you?  What about in your relationship?  Do politics play a role?  Are they an issue?  What do you think are the real issues that couples have to contend with.  Leave a comment and let us know.