Category: May/Jun 2012

Cook Together

cook On my recent stroll through the mall, I ran into a wonderful romantic opportunity: I found a sweet cookbook at Williams-Sonoma for couples called the Bride and Groom Cookbook. To my surprise, there are many other cookbooks around for couples such as The Newlywed Kitchen and the bridal edition Betty Crocker cookbook.

Cooking is a wonderful activity to do as a couple, and it’s full of romantic opportunities. Here are a few ways to enjoy cooking together:

Take Classes
Some local bakeries, wineries, and cookware suppliers offer cooking classes for both beginners and advanced students alike. Spend an afternoon at one of these classes, getting to know other couples and enjoying your new culinary chops. For “homework” create a little intimate meal for two using the skills you just learned.

Cook (and Clean) as a Couple
Once a week, spend time making a meal together. It can be as simple as her making the salad and him making the chicken. Discuss ingredients, restaurants you’ve had similar meals in, and memories of being in the kitchen from your childhood as you put together meals. Encourage each other in the culinary realm. (Don’t tell them “how to do it correctly.”) Set the table together, and then sit and enjoy the fruit of your labor. When you’re done eating, clean the kitchen and wash dishes together. This will make the work go three times as fast and make it hardly seem like work!

Cook for an Event or Holiday Together
Bake sale coming up? Large family gathering approaching? Get together with your sweetheart and bake sugar cookies or cakes to decorate for your next big event. Have an assortment of food dyes for frosting colors, and edible decorations for gingerbread houses on hand. Enjoy one another’s creative sides.

Become Hobbyists
Do you and your sweetheart have a common interest in the food realm, such as wine, chocolate, or tea? Become food hobbyists together! Explore different venues that provide whatever culinary treasure you like to share, keeping journals on what you two like and dislike. This not only creates great date opportunities, but it also creates great conversational topics and a personalized gift wish list.

Know any great couples cookbooks or romantic tips in the kitchen? Write them in our comments!

The Marriage Bedroom

bedroom4When you hear the phrase “your bedroom” what do you think of? Do you think of serenity and warmth? Or do you think of a laundry pile shoved in the corner and a desk of unidentified papers?

Swamped by work, kids, and chores, too often the bedroom you share with your spouse becomes a storage room or a glorified office. Your bedroom, however, has three major purposes:

#1– It is a place to connect intimately
Strong marriages are those that connect intimately on a daily basis. The first thing you will see in the morning and the last thing you will see at night is your spouse right next to you. These are two wonderful opportunities to spend time together connecting, whether it be emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Schedule a little time each day to meet and connect. Take electronic distractions out of the bedroom so you can focus on deepening your relationship with your spouse.

#2– It is a place for escape and restoration
It’s really difficult to connect with your spouse when all you can think about is that pile of work on the desk that you need to sort through. Your bedroom should not be your office, your entertainment center, or your garage. Have you ever noticed that when your room is trashed, it’s harder to relax and restore yourself? Keep your room simple and clean, making it an oasis from every day life. Don’t use your room as a place to escape from your spouse, but use it when you want to escape with your spouse. This will not only restore you, but your relationship as well.

#3 – It is a place to resolve conflicts and communicate
Have you ever been to a therapist or a counselor? Once you walk into their office you know that you are in a safe place where you can talk openly and seriously about hard issues. If your bedroom meets the first two purposes stated above, then the room itself should have a feeling of strength and safety. These two things are important when hard times and rough situations arise. Use your bedroom as a safe place to come together as a couple to pray and discuss tough issues the two of you are facing.

Every married person’s bedroom should include:
A lock – for your privacy away from your kids or anyone else that lives with you.
A hamper – you know that dirty laundry exists, but don’t force yourself to look at it!
Well chosen linens – Choose soft or luxurious bedsheets and draperies that inspires romance and relaxation. (Egyptian cotton, silk, or satin are some great fabric choices.)
Low lighting – great for setting a serene and amorous mood.

Park Dates

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Parks are a simple and cheap date idea, full of possibilities. There are many different types of parks available for your next romantic interlude.

Beach Parks
What’s better than a barbecue at the beach? Some beaches have the best of both worlds: a plush grass are and a barbecue area with an incredible view of the ocean. A beach park is a great double (or triple) date location, especially if flying disks or sand castle competitions are involved. Spend the afternoon at the park, then end the evening with a quiet walk along the beach.

Neighborhood Parks
You would be surprised at just how many parks are hidden away within the neighborhoods of your city. Try to find as many parks in your city as possible, taking note of the pros and cons of each one. Discuss which park has the best playground, the best scenery, and the best location. Don’t be afraid to play on the swings, play hide-and-seek, or go down the slides!

Community Parks
Many cities have community parks that include a community center. Community centers offer many fun date opportunities, such as sports, swimming, or dancing. Community parks are hold special events, such as weekend concerts, car shows, or movie nights. Large grass areas are great for games like soccer or tag, or are nice for an intimate picnic.

Gardens
Gardens are usually smaller in size compared to most parks, but the atmosphere isn’t anything if it isn’t romantic. Browse through the different types of flowers, making sure you know your sweetheart’s favorite flower by the end of the date. Some gardens even offer tours that you can enjoy together, or special events and conferences you can attend.

Water Parks
With summer on its way, a waterpark is something to consider for your next date. Relax by the poolside together, or try something daring like a surfing simulator. Race each other down the waterslides, or take a double person raft down the tubes together. Gather other couples to join you in a game of Marco Polo or in waterslide races.

Amusement Parks
Between the mixture of thrilling rides, fun arcades, and intriguing scenery, an amusement park is a great way to go for a date night. Amusement parks have attractions for any taste, and are usually open until late evening. You can go to either large, renown amusement parks; or try smaller amusement parks that not only have rides and arcades, but also may include miniature golf courses. If you are an adrenaline junkie when it comes to rides and you know your date is not, be sure to be sensitive to your date’s tastes; you can always come back and ride the roller coasters later with your friends.

State and National Parksnationalpark
State and national parks are usually protected nature areas that can be enjoyed by the public during certain hours. A lot of them involve awesome natural formations, romantic streams and rivers, and picturesque landscapes. Make a list of all the national parks you and your sweetheart would like to visit, and then check them off one by one as you visit them. Married couples even have the added option of renting an intimate cabin or going camping under the stars.

Dog Parks
Whether you each own a dog, share a dog, or haven’t a dog at all, a dog park can offer quite a bit of entertainment. Schedule a day for your dogs to play together, or just spend the afternoon watching other people’s pets. Dog parks can be found in the community or on the beach, which means you and your date can plan a date not exclusive to you and pets, but also to include a romantic walk (which your dogs are also sure to enjoy).

Wildlife Parks
Whether you go to a natural animal reserve or a zoo, wildlife parks bring out some great childhood memories, and make great new memories as well. You can either take one of the tours provided by the park, walk around yourselves and see how many animals you can identify, or even find out if you can take a safari-like adventure into the unknown. Be sure to buy each other a stuffed version of your date’s favorite animal before you leave!

Forests, Falls, and Reserves
Nothing is more magnificent or more romantic than a walk through the beauty of nature. Choose between grand forests, intense rock formations, or elegant waterfalls. All three are great opportunities for picnics, romantic pictures, hiking, and star gazing.

How to Pursue a Woman – Whether Married or Single

pursuitMale pursuit is incredibly important, whether you’re a single man or a married one. The more the man pursues, the more the woman feels secure and desired, which means she will feel more comfortable in opening up and responding to the pursuit. This results in a fuller, deeper relationship.

Gentlemen, here are the ways to pursue the woman you currently have your sights on:

Find Time for Conversation
Always have an open-ended question ready when you see her. A woman connects most with conversation. In fact, when she’s daydreaming about you, she’s thinking about things that you’ve talked about, jokes you’ve told, and questions you’ve asked her. Conversation cultivates emotional intimacy. Go out of your way to start a conversation with her, whether it’s for two minutes or half hour. As her about her interests, her life, and her opinions.

If you’re married, the same advice applies. Take out time during your day to spend in conversation with your wife. Write it down in your to-do list for the day, and resolve not to go to bed until you have at least asked her how her day was.

Talk to Her Parents
Although the idea may seem out of date, you should always talk to a woman’s father about pursuing her. This gesture shows great respect to both the family and to the woman. When you talk to a woman’s father, the woman says to herself, “This man is so serious about me that he’s willing to be held accountable by my father (or another male role model). He must truly care for me more than any woman.” This shows that you are a mature man in want of commitment. And a woman is more likely to respond to commitment than flirtatious banter.

As for the man who is all ready part of the family, this may not apply; however, a good relationship with a woman’s family is important. Spend time with her father or other male role model to keep yourself accountable and respectable.

Compliment Her
Married or single, in private or in public, compliments are a huge relationship boost. Women love compliments and public adoration as much as men do. Compliments also show a woman that you pay attention to who she is as a person. Don’t only compliment her looks, but compliment her personality, her skills, and her tastes as well. Show her that you admire her completely in every aspect.

Be Chivalrous
Open doors, pull out chairs, pay for her dinner. Don’t think of these things as “old-fashioned,” but instead as things that have been tested and proved successful. Special chivalrous attention to a woman shows your interest. Chivalry is not dead – it is, in fact, a great way to pursue.

Chivalry is important in a marriage as well. Even though your wife may not expect chivalry from you, you should still be willing to give it for the sake of your relationship. A little bit of chivalry goes a long way, even if it you don’t feel appreciated. The motivation should not be how she responds to your acts – the motivation should be showing love to your spouse.

Don’t Give Up
There are many stories out there of men who pursued women who turned them down a number of times. Some of these stories end with a walk down the aisle. Rejection from a woman can happen for many reasons: she may have been recently hurt, she may be unsure of your intentions, or she may just be overwhelmed with life at the moment. If you are rejected, take a step back, give her space, but continue to pursue her if you truly are interested in a life-long commitment.

And married men should never stop pursuit. Constant pursuit is necessary for constant intimacy. If a man stops pursuing, the woman starts doubting. She will ask herself if your interest in her has ebbed, and she will clam up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. One of the best ways to keep your relationship healthy, romantic, and intimate is persistent pursuit of your wife.

What Not to Do:
DO NOT pursue more than one woman at a time. If you really care for a woman, you pursue her and only her. Any other formula will backfire on you and breaks hearts.

DO NOT stalk or harass her. Avoid looking at her Facebook page every 20 minutes, calling her twice a day, or trying to trick her into going out with you. This isn’t pursuing, this is being overbearing, possessive, and – frankly – really creepy.

DO NOT demand something in return for your pursuits. You are pursuing her in order to build a more intimate relationship, and that can take time. Pursuing isn’t always easy, but it will not go unnoticed. Just be patient.

Serving as a Single

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAEven if you have no intentions of marrying (or re-marrying), your singleness can be used in a way that is for the betterment of the community, your family, and yourself. In being self-absorbed, you will never be content. Your singleness has a purpose.

Serving strengthens the community, it improves your character, and it reaches into the lives of others who need your skills or your views on life. Along with the immediate benefits, serving also has added future benefits for younger adults who intend to marry one day and have a family.

Singleness is not a period to wait for the next big thing. It is a period to prepare for the next big thing.

Serving at Home
If you are living with others, they should be the first people you learn to serve. This is a personal community you were selected to be part of, even if you aren’t particularly fond of them. People in a household need to serve one another lovingly in order for a household to be efficient and welcoming. Serve those in your home by assessing and serving their needs. Pay attention to your own responsibilities in the home – such as your own laundry, cleaning, share of cooking, etc. – and do what you can to make less work for someone else in your house. Serve them emotionally by spending time with them, repairing relationships that are sliding, and paying close attention to your way of communicating.

Future Benefits: When you are married, your spouse will be the most important person you need to serve. This will be a person that lives in your home at all times, and who – frankly – you may not be completely fond of on a daily basis. Serving the community in your home now will prepare you to serve your future spouse and family.

Serving the Church
The church is another kind of family that needs your service. Every person in church is someone who needs support, encouragement, and a community of people they can rely on. You can serve the church by joining or starting prayer chains, attending studies, getting involved with ministries, and volunteering for events and special outreaches. Serving the church helps the community as a whole, and it helps the church thrive and flourish. But most importantly, it keeps your eyes off of yourself and on God.

Future benefits: Serving the church as a young adult has many benefits. It can be a great resume booster, and a way to network with others who have the same interests. Getting involved with children’s ministries will help prepare you for your future children, and being involved with ministries with the older and wiser generations will give you insights in preparing for future issues. And most importantly, serving the church will keep you Christ-centered, which will give you a solid foundation for your life, as well as your marriage.

Serving the Community
There are many community services in your local area that are in need of assistance. Most of these projects are non-profit or barely funded, and are dependent on volunteers to make the community a better place. Check around for services your community provides, such as youth outreach, food kitchens, building repairs, or even office work. There are larger organizations that have many sites in many cities, such as Feeding America or Habitat for Humanity. Find something you are passionate about and get involved.

Future benefits: A benefit of getting involved with your community is – obviously – a better community. This creates a better place for you to raise your kids, and a better place for other people to raise their kids. Serving strangers helps you develop communication and social skills that will help you to serve your family better.

Serving the World

As a single person, you have more access to the world than you think Singleness is the best time to explore the world and gain new perspectives, and it is best to do so while you do not have a spouse. You can serve the world by joining short or long-term mission trips, getting involved with large programs such as Samaritans Purse or Youth With a Mission.

Future benefits: Not only does serving the world give you great stories to share with your spouse, but it also helps you adapt to different kinds of situations that you are sure to encounter while married. Marriage may not always be financially or emotionally comfortable, and things such as missions trips or working with organizations can help give you perspectives and insight on many different environmental situations.

There is nothing wrong with using your singleness to work towards your goals, but there is a problem when that becomes the only focus of your singleness. Singleness has many opportunities for growth in maturity, spirituality, and character. All of these will serve you, your marriage, and your family well in the future.