Posts Tagged ‘ marriage advice ’

5 Things to Remember when saying “I Love You” for the First Time

Several months ago, a good friend of mine came to me and said, “Mulberry, I think I love her.  But I’m not ready to tell her.”  Then, last week, he looked at me and said, “Alright, Mulberry, I’m ready.”  I looked at him with a raised eyebrow, and in full dude-fashion, punched him in the arm, and said, “It’s about dang time!”

Saying “I Love You” for the first time is really a big deal.  There’s a reason that we are cautious of saying it for its time.  You don’t want to say it too early, otherwise you could freak the other person out.  On the TV Show “The Big Bang Theory,” Leonard and Penny wound up breaking up because one of them said it a bit too early for the other’s taste.

So for anyone out there who’s dating and is feeling like its getting close to time to saying those 3 magic words, I have some advice….Click here to read the full article


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  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.

The Fifth Commandment of Dating

In the book of Hesications, chapter 20, you’ll find the 10 Commandments of Dating.  Today, I’d like to focus for a minute on the 5th commandment- Remember Your Date Night and Keep it Holy.

Ok, enough with the sacrilege.  But seriously, in the strictest sense of the words, this is sound advice.  To be Holy simply means to be set apart.  And you really want to keep your DateNights set apart.  You want to keep them high on the priority list and make sure they are different than just any ol’ night with the old ball and chain.  So here are a few rules for how to do just that:

1) MEN & WOMEN :: Get it scheduled

Connecting time, play time with your honey is paramount to the success of your relationship.  If you’re married, its the most important relationship you have here on Earth- yes, even over that of your kids or grandkids, or parents or siblings or even your boss.  And there are few things in your life that should cause either of you to miss DateNight.  So come up with a regular, scheduled time that you both agree upon.  For many of my friends it’s Monday night.  But for Penny and I, its Friday night.  When is it for you?

2) MEN & WOMEN :: There’s no excuse for missing it

On occasion, it may be appropriate that something else happens on your regularly scheduled DateNight. That’s ok from time to time.  Perhaps there’s a family emergency.  A trip, a function at church.  But out of the 52 weeks of the year, this really shouldn’t happen more than 10 times or so.  But when it does, there are 6 other nights during the week with which to make something happen.  So make it up.

3) MEN:: Have a plan

Hey men, it’s your job to pursue her.  Therefore, your job to plan the dates.  Few things are worse than getting all dressed up, hopping in the car, pulling out of the driveway, looking at your date and saying, “So what do you want to do tonight?”  Sure, we can all picture that blank face looking back at us.  So- simply, have a plan.  Sure, it takes time to plan out.  It takes time to research and figure out what’s out there.  But it’s time well spent.  Just a tip, don’t do it the day of…plan it out early.

4) MEN ::Avoid Repetition

Its easy when you find that restaurant you really like or that activity that was super fun to want to go do those things again.  Its not-so-easy to avoid that thing becoming dull and repetitive and lose its flair.  For this, I recommend a concept that people always look at me sideways whenever they find out about- plan out your dates in seasons.  Have a schedule.  Its simple.  Easy.  And really works well.  I actually have an excel spreadsheet that tells me what I’m doing from now through the end of the year.  Come the first of the year, I’ll have a new schedule that goes from January through May.  In June, the summer schedule hits and goes through the beginning of September.  Then I’m back to the fall.  It’s great.  It keeps things from getting repetitive.  Let’s me find new restaurants to try.  And for anything that might require buying tickets early, gives me time to do that.  (by the way, if you want a copy of the spreadsheet I use, email me and I’ll shoot it to you).  It works, and its easy.  It even lets me plan the weeks when I know we’ll need a make up date night.

5) WOMEN :: Be catchable

Hey ladies, if the man’s job is to pursue you, its your job to make the pursuit worth it.  Sure, you, in and of yourself, are worth it.  But you really can add in the things that make the pursuit fun.  Dress for your man.  Have a few “surprises” of your own for him.  Flirt with your man…in public.  Do something rather sneaky that just the two of you know about.  Acquiesce to his request. In other words, be catchable.  Your man’s job is to plan the date- in other words, lay the framework.  Your job- make the date fun.  And for when you get home later that night, have a plan of your own…if you smell what I’m cookin’.  Surprise and shock him!

Go for it- improve your dating life by following this, the 5th Commandment of Dating!  Remember Your DateNights and Keep Them Holy.

Weekly Featured Date:: Danger Run

This week’s Featured Date is an all time favorite for Penny and I.  I’ve tried getting many friends to go, but honestly, until you go for yourself, its hard to understand just how much fun it is.

Here’s the basic jist of it.  It starts from any of the 3 Lowes hardware stores in Louisville.  The cost is around $15 per person- which is totally worth it.  For that, you get the clue book for the car, some free food coupons, some goodies, and if there’s 4 or more people in the car, some free gas.

Then, following the clue book, you weave and wind your way around Louisville (and other places) trying to tally the most correct mileage (down to the 1/10th of a mile.  If you win the “race” by getting the most accurate mileage, not by being the first to arrive, there’s lot of fun prizes.

What makes this so fun is that you follow the clues, Every one of them a limerick so says the rules.  On the verge of lost is what you’ll feel, a game like this will seem unreal, But you’ll have so much fun, it will cure your dating blues.

Included in the ticket price are tickets to 2 of Kentuckiana’s best Haunted House attractions, which alone is worth the price of admission.

Here’s what I really like about this as a DateNight activity.  It forces you to work together as a team.  And if you want to make this a double date with another couple, this is great thing to go for.

Be sure to check out their website,, for more information, helpful tips, and even a take a Test Drive of the game.  And if you get to go, please come back and leave a comment for us.

Weekly Featured Date :: Boyd’s Orchard

This week’s Weekly Featured Date is Boyd’s Orchard located just down the road from Lexington in Versailles, KY.

This place is a Great Date Spot because it is perfect for a Day Date or an Evening Date.  Every weekend they have a new festival that you can be a part of and their on site restaurant, the Apple Blossom Cafe offers a variety of food.  There’s even a Fish Fry on Friday nights.

Two of my favorite activities to do there are the Corn Maze, which is great place to get lost with that special someone and going to pick your own apples from the orchard.  Be sure to try the different kinds of apples because they really do taste different.

While there, don’t forget to try the hayrides or just sit back and enjoy the live music.  And just before you leave, be sure to go pick out your own pumpkin for the fall.  Maybe grab an extra one, take ’em home, and finish your evening pulling the guts out of the pumpkin to make a Jack O’ Lantern while snacking on the baked seeds.  (Never tried it before, check here for a great and easy recipe.)

Be sure to check the website, for hours of operation and the current festival.

If you do go to Boyd’s Orchard, please be sure to come back and tell us about your experience!

Let Talk About ______!

So what’s his favorite tv show?

What’s her favorite meal?

What’s his favorite thing about you?  Do you really know?

What are those things in bed that she might be ok with, but you need to ask her first?

We all know the biggest thing that any couple needs to work on is communication, right?  So how are you doing with communication in your relationships?  Well, the folks over at have come to help.  They have posted a communication and discussion guide from designed exclusively for couples.  It has surface level questions that are fun to know such as “What is your favorite color?” all the way to the most intimate of questions.  Nevertheless, all things that a married couple should be discussing.  Not that I’m a marital counselor, but I would suggest this to be used in pre-marital counseling.  It’s pretty specific and really will force clarity on intimate expectations heading into a marriage.

Some of the material could seem a bit awkward to talk about, but it’d be a night well spent.  Here’s what to do:

  • Click HERE to get the guide from
  • Print out two copies.  One for you and one for your spouse.  Be sure to have plenty of paper and ink, it’s 21 pages.
  • Talk with your spouse about wanting to know him/her better.  Make sure they are up for the process of going through a guide.  Present them with the questionnaire and set a date to be finished by.  I’d recommend planning to review the guide on a date night.
  • One the night you both agreed upon, exchange discussion guides and go through them section by section.   You get to keep your partner’s guide.

Here are a few tips: Go slow through the guide.  Ask for clarity on places that you’re not sure about.  Ask for specific examples.  Assume the best of your spouse.  You really are for each other.  It will be tempting to try to give a reason for why things are the way they are.  Agree ahead of time that neither of you will judge, argue, defend, or dismiss what your partner is saying.  Accept that, for them, its reality.  Remember, often what you intend and what he/she will perceive are two different things.  Ask yourself, which one has more of an impact on your relationship?

So who’s in?  Leave a comment and let us know.  When you’ve gone through the guide, be sure to come back and let us know how it went!  Share this with your friends.

Go for it!  You really can do this!

The Tension in My Marriage

So what do my marriage, my ministry, and my business all have in common?  They are all things that I get the incredible privilege of leading.  So it makes sense that I would want to invest in my own leadership by attending great trainings and conferences.  One such conference happened last week, the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit.  From the very first talk, presented by Bill Hybels, I knew that I would be dual tracking with what I was hearing: it would affect both my ministry and my business.  But it wasn’t until the final talk of day 1, given by Andy Stanley, did it occur to me that this would also affect how I lead my marriage.

His talk was simply that compelling and hit me right where I was, -er-… am.  He helped me put some great words and flesh out a series of thoughts that had been swirling around my head and my heart as it related to my marriage.

The concept was simple.  All too often we see problems as something that need to be solved.  As a man, I relate to this.  It’s my role, my nature to solve problems.  I am keenly aware that when I’m talking with Penny about problems she’s facing that I have to stifle my tendency to offer advice to help her solve her problem and instead just listen and be in it with her (something I’m still not so great at I fear).

And while it is true that there are some problems that need to be solved, there are other “problems” that aren’t really problems at all.  Rather they are tensions, opposing forces that co-exist, and its the job of the leader to not try to solve these “problems” but to leverage these tensions to advance the organization.

I think some great examples of this in the real world would be like in business, there is a tension that companies that during hard times, there is a need to spend money advertising and making your business the best it can be, but you also have to conserve money as much as possible.   You’ve got to please not only your customers but also your shareholders.  In education, school presidents and principals often face the daunting task of providing the best and most well rounded educational experiences, but when you only have the funds to offer a certain amount of classes, which is important- the arts or the core studies?  In churches, there is an tension between reaching out beyond your own walls and caring for your own.

Tensions.  Opposing forces.  Mars and Venus. Yin and Yang.  Superman and Lex Luthor.  They don’t go away.  They aren’t problems to be solved.  They aren’t meant to live in harmony.  But what if we could leverage that tension to push our organizations farther faster.  But how- how in the world does this happen?  Stanley offers some great advice for how to make this happen.  He says to come to know and recognize and embrace the Rhythms of the Seasons.

In business, there are seasons where you have to spend money and get the word out.  There are seasons when you stop spending money.  They are natural to your business.  Go with it.

In schools, there is a time to study the core subjects, and a time to study the arts.

In church, there is a time when you rally the troops and spend the energy to reach out to the community and those around you.  There is also a rhythm to rest and recharge your people, when the pace should slow.

Rhythms of Seasons.  Go with them.

So it occurs to me, if those tensions exist in other places, surely they exist in my marriage as well.  And that thought got me thinking…what are the things that I might perceive as “problems” in my marriage to be solved but in reality, they are tensions to be leveraged to help my marriage grow and thrive and be all that it was intended to be?

Well, I’m still figuring that one out.  I forsee a night soon, maybe a date night, where we’ll try to talk about it.  Invest in a deep way in our own relationship.  So immediate ones come to mind- work vs play.  Time together vs alone time.   Sexy time or time to go to bed?

So what are the tensions in your marriage?  In your dating relationships?  Let me know, tell me your story or leave a comment.