Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Get the Marriage Your Never Wanted

What was the marriage you wanted before you got married? Was it to make you happy? Was it to make your parents happy? Was it to fulfill an obligation? Was it to feel loved all the time?

If you've been married for more than a month, you've discovered that what you wanted and what you got are worlds apart. One option is to think that the marriage is wrong because it's not what you wanted. Choose this and, if the marriage doesn't change, you'll probably end up in divorce.

The other option is to change what you want. Stop making your marriage the vehicle to fulfill your wants. Instead of trying to get your spouse to meet all your needs and desires, you deal with yourself. Try to be happy, fulfilled and content - on your own.

That's what The Marriage You Never Wanted is all about (plus some cool, hand-drawn pictures). My friends Ben and Monica are putting together a wealth of resources. Go to the website, follow them on Twitter, attend a workshop. Ben is a licensed marriage and family therapist, but more than that, he and Monica have done the work. They've been working hard on their marriage, and it shows.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


So I've finally broken down and started up an email list. You can see the signup form right over there. Yup, just to the right. There it is.

I haven't done this yet, mostly because I don't tend to subscribe to email lists, but I've been convinced that I can't just communicate in ways that I like. I need to learn to communicate in ways that other people prefer as well (it almost sounds like there's a principle that could be applied to marriage in there).

If you haven't yet (and if you want to) would you subscribe to the email list? My plan is to use it to announce new book projects (we have one we're working on), discounts and promotions on the book, and news about upcoming events (like a marriage retreat).

What communication methods do you prefer? Which ones take some effort for you to use?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Make a Note to Love Your Spouse by Jim Maxwell

Love notes are hard work. Especially for those of us who don't speak the love languages of gift giving or words of affirmation. That's one reason why you should get Make A Note To Love Your Spouse. Jim Maxwell gives you everything you need to know to write great love notes (to your spouse and to anyone you love).

I'm not good at gifts. I'm moderately good at offering words of affirmation, but it's not a strength of mine. But my wife's top Love Language is gift giving. Jim's book breaks down how I can easily and quickly write love notes to her so she can feel that love that I want to express. It's not hard, it just takes a few minutes and the rewards are fantastic.

Jim is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the founder of REAL Marriage where he helps real people have real relationships. He's got the experience counseling couples, serving as a military chaplain and learning how to be happily married to his own wife.

Make a Note to Love Your Spouse gives you simple, step-by-step instructions on how to start writing love notes, how to make them creatively, what to write in them and when to give them. This book is full of ideas, prompts and tools that will win you points with your spouse. The appendices give you ideas for what's happening each month and holidays that you might use as a love note prompt, so this book isn't just a one-time resource.

Pick it up, read it, and write a love note to your spouse today.

(Note: Amazon links earn me a small commission. I received nothing for this review, this is my honest evaluation of the book after reading it).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The 1-Star Review that Wasn't

On Sunday, April 15th, The Marriage Challenge was free on Amazon (it's still free through the end of Tuesday the 17th). Within just a few hours of it going free, there was a new review on Amazon. A one-star review. It was entitled "to soon to tell!!" and in it "TJ" said that our marriage of 8 years was too short a time for us to write a book giving advice. TJ also suggested that conversations weren't sufficient to deal with the problems that occur in marriage.

There were several responses to TJ before I saw the review, and all of them were complimentary of the book. Thank you. I also responded to the rating (it's gone now, so I can't quote it). Basically I said that TJ was right, 8 years of marriage isn't enough time to prove that we can give advice and conversations aren't enough to fix a wounded marriage. Andrea and I don't have training as marital therapists, which is why we wrote the book we did. We want to emphasize that we aren't the marriage experts, you are the experts on your marriage.

Later in the day, TJ responded to my response (is this getting convoluted?) and apologized for the harsh review. It was shared that TJ's marriage is hurting because of addiction that's been ignored (by TJ's spouse and the people around them that should've been helping). Fortunately they're in a situation now where the addiction is being taken seriously and they're getting the help they need to heal. TJ was kind enough to remove the one-star review and has promised that they will read through the book.

I don't share this to say how great the book is, but to point out that it's not designed to address deeply wounded marriages. In the introduction it says:
"Most marriages aren’t in meltdown-crisis mode. Most marriages are pretty good; not perfect, but okay. Most marriage books, however, are written for people in crisis mode, about marriages that are falling apart and by counselors who only deal with failing relationships. Those books serve a good purpose, but they don’t help the majority of marriages that aren’t in that position yet. 
This book isn’t about how to fix all the stuff you’re doing wrong. If you need that, you need a different book (and there are plenty of great options out there, check out the bibliography for some of our favorites). But, if you want to start with your marriage that’s alright now and work to make it great, then the Marriage Challenge is what you’re looking for."

Friday, April 13, 2012

You are the Experts on Your Marriage

I've had several people ask why we felt the need to write a book on marriage. That's a good question. There are lots of marriage books out there and several that we've read that have been super helpful in our marriage (the bibliography in the back of the book gives a great list). Most every marriage book we've read comes from a marital therapist with degrees and lots of experience counseling married couples. Which is good, they are writing good and helpful things based on a wealth of training and experience. You should read those books.

Then why should you read a book by a couple that has zero degrees in marital therapy and has never given a single professional counseling session? Good question.

The real reason that we wrote this book is to help you make your marriage better. You are the experts on your marriage. You know what's worked in the past, what hasn't and you have a good sense of what needs to change. Most of the people we know aren't in crisis mode and seeking counseling as a last step before divorce. No, most people are trying to figure out how to get back that honeymoon feeling in a marriage that's gone a bit stale. There's no thunderbolt from the sky telling you that you'd better change, or else. Rather there's a slow, gray creeping of habitual interaction that lead to the same results you've gotten for years.

Because you know your marriage better than anyone else, we can't write a book that tells you how to change. So, we didn't do that. Instead, we wrote a book of conversation starters. There are 52 conversations and 52 weeks in a year (weird how that works out). There are a few thoughts and a few questions for each week (we try to keep it to about three paragraphs and three open-ended questions). Then you do what you do best - be the experts on your marriage.

Talk through the topics, skip around from one to the other (you don't have to go in order). Ignore us if what we say doesn't work for you. Challenge us if you think we're wrong (go to the Facebook page and tell us about it, please). Just have a conversation with your spouse about your relationship. Do it once a week for a year, I challenge you.

From Sunday, April 15th to Tuesday the 17th you can get the eBook for free! Now what's your excuse?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stress and Release

Stress isn't a bad thing. Wait, you might wonder how I could say something like that. Everyone wants to reduce stress and relax. There's this assumption that underlies the messages we hear on a daily basis: stress is bad and must be removed.

I disagree. We need stress. We need to embrace it and use it well. Our marriages need more stress. Ok, I know you're about ready to tune me out, but I have somewhere I'm going that I think you'll like.

Stress is a response of fear. When the fear jumps on us unawares it can debilitate us. This kind of fear is the fight-or-flight response that's locked deep inside our brains (known as our lizard brains). If you're suddenly faced with a terrifying situation your stress response will come out before you can think. If a tiger jumps out of the forest or a driver slams on their brakes in front of you, you'll have a similar reaction. But, we can choose the fears that we're facing most of the time.

Fear can motivate change. If you look at your fears and the things that cause you stress, you can find out what needs to change. For example, if you feel stressed due to a project at work, it's because you're afraid of something. You might be afraid of failing, afraid of being late or even afraid of being too successful (yes, it can happen). When you look at the fear behind your stress response, you can identify what needs to change. If you feel stress in your marriage around money, then it might be time to change how you deal with finances. What are you afraid of? What can you do to address the fears?

Take on stress intentionally. Choose your stress to address your fears. If you're stressed about your health, you can choose the course of diet and exercise to improve your life. Instead of being reactionary to your fears, you choose how you are going to experience the stress. The fear stops being a whip that drives you forward and becomes something you can eliminate from your life (which is a reward).

Release your stress regularly. You can't live in fear all the time. Even Hollywood directors know this so they give you the comic relief in the scary movie. Just like you can choose your stress, you can choose to release it regularly. If you're working on your budget, put a line in there to save up for a weekend trip. Once you've hit a goal, reward yourself with the trip. If you're losing weight, you need to find a point where you can stop and celebrate your progress. If you're working hard on a project, you need the time to take satisfaction in a job well done before you move on to the next project.

Choose your stress and release together. Working on your marriage is hard work. It takes a concerted effort to have conversations, to process through conflict and to explore new ways to be romantic. Set a goal, work on it together and then take time to celebrate before you move on to the next thing.

How do you see the cycle of stress and release in your marriage?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Decision Fatigue and Ikea

The worst place in the world to go when you're tired, hungry or grouchy is Ikea, especially if you go with a significant other.

If you're a fan of the TV show 30 Rock, you probably saw the Valentine's Day episode where Criss and Liz attempt to go to Ikea together. If you haven't seen it, take a moment and enjoy.

Ikea is the quintessential place where decision fatigue strikes people down. The New York Times ran an article  on what decision fatigue is and how it affects people. You can read it here. Basically the more decisions you make, the more of your finite decision energy you use until you're all out.

When decision fatigue sets in, you will choose the easiest answer to the choices you face. Depending on your personality, though, the answer might be different. For me, it's usually the easiest answer to just not do anything. We won't buy that thing, we won't get food, we'll just go home. But that's not always the way that Andrea feels when she's also experiencing decision fatigue. For her, the easiest answer might be to just buy it or just get the food now instead of waiting. Now we're in a situation where we're tired, hungry and have no decision energy left - you might as well ring the bell to start the boxing match.

Since we've learned about decision fatigue we've been getting better at spotting it and doing something about it. When Andrea asks me what I want to do, I can say: "I'm at decision fatigue, you need to choose." We don't do it all the time, but we do sometimes and we're getting better at recognizing the warning signs.

Like last night we went to Ikea. It was rough. Before that we went grocery shopping and then we walked through all of Ikea (not just to the place where we could pick up items). We started off alright, but by the end we were both all out of deciding-juice. It wasn't pretty. But, because we knew what was happening, we stopped and got a cup of meatballs and restored some of our energy.

You can get more decision power back by eating, resting and not deciding on things for a while. So, if you know you have a lot of decisions coming up, plan for rests before and after. One option that we use is to take turns being in charge of things. Yesterday I was in charge of the grocery shopping and then Andrea was in charge of Ikea. That kept us from a 30 Rock-style meltdown.

How have you experienced decision fatigue? What do you do to recover?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Carrots and Sticks

Motivation can come from rewards or consequences. It's important to find the right motivation for the right time. The metaphor of the carrot and stick comes from the image of a donkey being motivated to pull a cart by holding a carrot in front of its face, just out of reach. Plus it's really funny to see a person trying to eat a carrot on a stick.

Andrea and I go away on a marriage retreat every  year. We take go away for one night to a business-quality hotel in town and we work through our goals for the coming year. We talk about any conflicts that have come up, work on a budget and process through what we want to do in the future. It's incredibly helpful, but it's not much fun. It's the stick in the metaphor of the carrot and the stick.

Last week, we went to Seattle for the night. We took a tour, ate out and enjoyed life. Each year after we go on our marriage retreat we plan a romantic get away. We've gone to a bed and breakfast, headed out to the coast, explored downtown Portland and several other things. It's the carrot; it's our reward for the hard work of the marriage retreat. We give ourselves something to look forward to so that we can be motivated to get through the hard process of planning and discussing.

How do you find motivation as a couple to do the things that you need to do?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Communicate about Communication

The only way to get better at communicating is to communicate about communication. Is your brain alright after that sentence? Mine's a little on the woozy side. Nevertheless, it's true. If we just keep communicating the way we always have, we won't get much better at communication.

Your marriage is a system that's perfectly designed to get exactly the results you're getting now. 

So, if you don't work on the system, you won't get different results. It's that simple. But, if you start picking apart the system and looking for things that could improve, then you're actually addressing the eventual results you want to get. In your marriage, communication is, perhaps, the core system that connects and drives all the other systems. If you have dysfunctional communication, then it's going to be incredibly difficult to work on your conflict, budget or sex life.

What results do you wish you were getting from the system of your marriage? What one thing could you change in your communication that would help produce those results?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Communication and the "Aha" Moment

Do you ever have one of those big "Aha" moments where it feels like the world spins around 180 degrees (or it's always been that way and you just realized it). When you start working on communication with your spouse, you're bound to get at least one of those moments. You both view the world in a slightly different way, but now you get to share a house and a life.

But the communication discoveries aren't just for newlyweds, you can have them at any point in your marriage. It just takes the commitment to keep learning about each other and to keep learning about how you communicate together.

One of my best "Aha" moments came a few years after we were married. We took a few personality surveys for a job opportunity and we learned that I (James) am a natural introvert and Andrea is an extrovert. With that one bit of information we were able to go back and explain any number of arguments we'd had. Now we knew that they were due to me being tired of people and Andrea craving time with people. Using that information has helped us to choose our activities and address both of our needs. Mostly it's helped us to communicate better.

If you've had a great "Aha" moment around communication, you should go over and share it on The Marriage Challenge Facebook page. We're starting a community discussion through the book (today). Join us!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Marriage Challenge Community

Life is better with people along for the ride. With The Marriage Challenge, you have tools to have conversations with your spouse, but that's just two people. It's good to work on your marriage together, but it's also helpful to go through the process with a group. When we first did the 2010 Marriage Challenge it was a group of us working through the process together. Every week we would get to have a conversation about our conversations (that's a lot of conversations!).

Now that the book is published, we can still have a community experience. You're not alone as you do this. That's a good thing since we all have different experiences we can all help each other to understand marriage and The Marriage Challenge better. Andrea and I aren't the experts on your marriage, you are. We're just giving you some tools to work on your marriage (and we're going to work on ours).

So starting on March 1st, we're going to start going through the conversations together on the Facebook Page (at facebook.com/MarriageChallenge). If you have any questions, post them. If you have comments, post them. If you have additional thoughts, post them. Let's help each other to have better marriages!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm Proud of My Wife

My wife and I are both in a community choir (this one) and in a few days we're going to have some concerts based on Broadway musicals. When we sing the song "Whenever I'm Afraid" from "The King and I," my wife has the solo. Yup, my wife. I'm incredibly proud of her for challenging herself to do this and for being successful at it.

We are both proud of each other for different reasons, but I think that pride is an important thing to feel about our spouse. It gives you a reason to brag about them. It helps them to feel better about themselves. It's just nice.

Why are you proud of your spouse? What could you do to foster pride in your spouse (remember, it's not something they need to do, but something you can choose to do)?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The State of the Marriage Retreat

You might think it looks like this
This weekend Andrea and I are headed off on our annual State of the Marriage retreat. It got that name because the first time around we did it right after the president's State of the Union address. We head away for a night to talk through all the big conversations in our marriage.

You may notice conversations that build up over time. You know, those arguments, those criticism, those thoughts that just never seem to be resolved through day-to-day conversation. If you don't have a release for the pressure of all those unsaid words, it will explode at some point. Our retreat is a safety-valve that releases the pressure of those conversations in a controlled manner.

We collect all those things that need hashing out (budget, goals, big life decisions, sex life, arguments, etc.) and talk about them all over the course of a night away. We've been doing this for the last seven years and it's helped to make our marriage stronger and more stable.

Do you have any questions about the State of the Marriage retreat?

It really looks more like this
Have you ever done anything like this? How did it work for you?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope you have a great Valentine's day and it exceeds all your expectations.

But that's usually the problem with this day (and a lot of "romantic" holidays), they don't exceed our expectations and so they become a constant source of disappointment and fear. The person in the relationship with the high expectations is disappointed and the person who fails to meet those expectations becomes afraid. The cycle continues, year after year, holiday after holiday, until everyone just wants to give up.

There's another option though. You don't have to give up on romance or celebrating love on the fourteenth day of February. But instead of expecting others to live up to your expectations, you can choose to show them love. It's a powerful switch.

Instead of the cycle of disappointment and fear, you'll start to see a cycle of surprise and delight. The pleasant surprise of being loved will delight the person who has, up to this point, been afraid of romantic holidays. After time, that delight will be returned as surprise to the person who started it all. It may not happen the first time (or the second or the third, if you're several cycles into fear and disappointment), but eventually you'll turn things around and move toward surprise and delight.

How can you change your expectations for Valentine's Day?

Note: this post was inspired by Breanna Newbill of Dollar Store Mom and the book Love and Respect

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Laugh Together

Laughter is an amazing thing, it releases energy, improves your mood, relieves stress and helps to reset your body chemistry. Even pretending to laugh can show some of the positive effects of laughter, because the physical connection to our mental and emotional state is so strong. Shared laughter builds a shared emotional state (plus it's fun).

Fair warning, talking about humor automatically makes it less funny, sorry, that's just the way it is.

You will have differences in your humor, that's to be expected. One of you might love slapstick and clowns while the other loves the wordplay of Dennis Miller (while neither of those options sounds funny to me in the least). Enjoy your differences, experience them and appreciate them, but don't dwell on them when you're together. When you sit down together, find the things that make you both laugh.

It might be a rousing game of Pictionary that set you both to giggling like school-girls or you might be thrilled by Prairie Home Companion on NPR. Experiment to see what sets you both to laughing, be it episodes of Arrested Development or Fawlty Towers. Find time to laugh together and the rest of your relationship will feel better too.

What gets you to laughing? What about your spouse?

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Superbowl Guide for Wives

In just a few short days the biggest game of the NFL season will be upon us. There will be Superbowl parties across the land which means that non-football watchers will be forced to endure the sport, perhaps for the first time in a year.

I don't want to be sexist, often men don't know anything about sports and that's fine. I'm just speaking from my experience where I like football and my wife doesn't care. So if I use language that sounds like women don't know anything about football or sports, that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying that my woman doesn't know much about sports.

Get an idea of the basics. American football is like no other sport in the world, so getting a sense of the basic rules will be helpful. Check out How American Football Works for a good overview. You don't need to be able to call out a nickle-blitz package when you see the defense come on to the field (I can't even do that), just know the difference between 1st down and 4th down. It'll give you a better understanding of why people are yelling.

Find the stories. Because there are people involved, there are emotions and stories that lead up to game-day. After 9/11 the Patriots were "destined" to win as a representation of the American spirit. After Katrina, New Orleans was the emotional favorite to demonstrate the resilience of the city. This year it's New England versus New York - that rivalry has been heated and emotional in baseball (Red Sox vs. Yankees) and looks to be no less heated on the football field. You can also find out more about the individuals. A good place to find the story behind the stats is on ESPN's Page 2.

Ask for an explanation. Your spouse will be happy to explain things to you, if you ask at the right time. It's probably not a good idea to ask in the middle of the game when everyone is trying to pay attention. Rather, ask before the game. You can watch reruns of classic games on the NFL network or you can catch repeats of recent college games on ESPN 3. Watch some, or all, of a game and ask for an explanation of what's going on. Your spouse will enjoy the chance to share what they enjoy with you and it will help you enjoy the Superbowl better.

Place a Bet. You shouldn't put large sums of money on the game, but wagering something can make the game more interesting. Put $5 on who will win, or get more creative. Bet doing dishes or laundry for a week. Wager on the last digit of the scores at the end of the half and at the end of the game. Guess who score first or which act will mess up during the half-time show. Draw numbers from a hat and if that player does well, then you get points and the person with the most points wins the bet. However you set it up, betting on the game can make it a lot more fun to watch. Here are some great party ideas.

Party. Ignore the game if you just can't get into it. Leave the room (until the commercials come on) and talk with friends. Enjoy the food and atmosphere of a party. While you do this, be considerate of the people who want to watch the game. Go in the other room and don't make so much noise that they can't hear the game (probably don't practice your drum-line).

Go Out. If it's just that bad, you can go out and find something else to do while the big game is playing at your house. Grab brunch, hit up a sale or go to a show. Enjoy yourself. It's not bad to enjoy separate things from your spouse. Give each other space to have a great day and then come back together and swap stories.

What tips do you have for surviving the Superbowl for non-sports fans?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Get off the Phone when You're on a Date

One of the 5 Love Languages is Quality Time, which means that spending meaningful time with your spouse is a way to show love. The problem is we're often in the same place at the same time without being present. Smartphones, iPads, tablets, eBook readers, iPods and laptop computers all make it possible for us to be in the same physical space, but mentally checked out.

Andrea and I had a good moment the other day. We went out to eat and we were sitting in a restaurant talking. She got a text message, checked her phone and started to reply (that's not the good part). I was able to say: "I don't feel very respected when you stop talking to me to check your phone." She was quick to apologize (it's a practices that annoys her when I do it) and we were done with the conflict (that was the good part). We started talking about the appropriateness of using phones when we're together which helped us to understand each other better.

We came up with a few rules that work for us and help us to have better time being present with each other. First, no phones on dates. If we're dating each other, we don't need to check Facebook or respond to text messages. Second, when we're engaged with each other, like being out to eat or talking while in the car, if a text comes in, we just need to say, "Excuse me, I got a text, can I check that?" Similar to the way that we would deal with any other interruption of a conversation. But, when we're both just having some down-time after work in the evening, we'll be on our phones or computers while watching TV (the ultimate zone-out).

How do you deal with keeping your quality time distraction free?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Politics in Marriage

In marriage you share everything. You share a home, money, life and even politics. That's not something that people often talk about at the wedding ceremony. The officiant probably didn't say: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God and men to figure out which political party is right on the issues." You didn't vow to stay married: for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in Republican primaries, until death do you part.

But once the ceremony is over, life starts to creep in. And, in a presidential election year, a part of that life is politics. Whether you're firmly political or staunchly apolitical, you have a stand on the issues and so does your spouse. If you share political views, that's great and it will probably help you to unite on other things in your marriage.

My father-in-law loved to say, "If two people agree on everything; one of them isn't necessary."

It's likely that you don't agree on every political issue. You might have the biggies in common, but there are bound to be differences. My wife, Andrea, and I are pretty close in our beliefs, but our differences led us to vote for different candidates in the last presidential election. We've talked about it, and we'll even get passionate about it. What we keep in mind, is that we aren't defined by our political views. Even though we come to different conclusions, we can still come together and find unity (even when we vote for different people).

How do you deal with politics in your marriage? What tips do you have for making the conversations smooth?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Compatibility versus Working Hard

How big a role does compatibility play in marital success? Online dating sites and premarital counseling material are designed to determine how compatible a couple is. The thought is that the more you and your partner have in common, the more likely you are to be happy and have a long, successful marriage.

But what about the aphorism, "Opposites attract?" What would Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat have to say about compatibility tests? There is so much joy in discovering the differences that you and your partner have, being too "compatible" might prevent that.

Whether you're very similar to your mate or incredibly different, hard work is the answer. You can't replace work with compatibility or the novelty of being different. Either way you need to learn about each other, practice conversation, conflict resolution and showing love to each other.

How compatible are you with your spouse? How has that affected your relationship?

And here's the video for your enjoyment.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Power of Conversation

Where did all the conversation go? When you were dating, you couldn't stop talking. Every moment yielded a new, fascinating tid-bit about your beloved. You couldn't get enough information about them.

Now, you sit on the couch together and watch TV while you both check Facebook. The conversation is limited to the menu, calendar and money. It's a complete change from what you used to have. Where did it go?

It's not gone, but just hibernating. The saying, "familiarity breeds contempt" is all too true. We don't value what we have every day. But you can inject the value back into your marriage. Have a conversation. It could be five minutes of your life. Stop watching TV and talk about what you saw. Ask questions about the characters. Discuss whether you like the plot. Or, you can use a tool like The Book of Questions to spark the conversation (Andrea and I love this book).

Once you have a five minute conversation, you'll find a renewed interest in your spouse. The person who shares the couch with you is still interesting and insightful.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Win a Free Signed Copy of the Book!

We will give away one, free, signed copy of The Marriage Challenge to a person who comments on this blog post between now (if you can see these words, it's now or later) and 11:59pm Pacific Standard Time on Sunday, January 15th. We'll pick and announce the winner on Monday.

Rules: Leave any comment below, only one entry per person. Previous promotion winners are not eligible for future promotions for 6 months (Tim). The drawing will be determined by a random number generator or mice in a maze searching for Cheetos.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Talking about Sex

We have such a weird relationship with sex conversations. I don't know if it goes back to our country's puritanical roots or Victorian England or what, but we aren't good at talking in a frank, honest manner about sex. Sure it comes up in TV and movies a lot, but it's either the butt of a joke or erotically charged material designed to arouse. There's almost no real information about sex given in the mass media.

There's a stigma against sex in churches and schools that, I'm assuming, can only be traced back to the home. We aren't comfortable with talking about sex in our own homes. If the population numbers are anything to go by, people are having sex, but just not talking about it. Ed Stetzer, a pastor and church planter, notes that churches need to learn how to talk about sex. It's not possible to remain neutral. Messages about sex will be communicated, but right now those messages are that sex is a joke or something dirty.

What has your experience been in talking about sex? What do you think should change? Where should sex be discussed?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Free Shipping on Signed Copies

Hey, look over there to the right. Yup, that's a link to buy the print copy of The Marriage Challenge. But wait, what's that say, it's free shipping? Whoa, there tiger, free? That's right. What else does it say? Signed! You can get a signed copy of the book (with both James and Andrea scrawling their signatures) shipped to your door for only the cost of the book. But it's limited to the first 25 copies, so hurry up!

Also, type in that box if you want any special names or drawings with the signature. We'll do our best to accommodate.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Real Marriage by Mark Driscol

Mark Driscol, the controversial pastor from the Mars Hill church in Seattle, offers his thoughts on marriage in a new book. Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship and Life Together collects Mark and Grace Driscoll's thoughts and feelings about marriage from a biblical perspective. I haven't read the book (yet), but I think it bears looking in to. If you want other opinions, you can find them easily online (here, here and here).

The major controversy about this book seems to be with the view of marriage, women and sexuality that Mark and Grace take. They come from a school of thought known as Complimentarian which affirms a biblical hierarchy of gender (i.e. men are above women), but that both sexes should compliment each other. Other people read the bible as Egalitarians which state that both men and women are equal according to the bible and have an equal role in marriage and the church.

How you see the roles of men and women will have an enormous affect on how you view marriage and how you treat your spouse. What's your view? Why?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

You Don't Need a Kindle to Read Kindle Books

One of the issues that people have brought up concerning the eBook is that they don't have a Kindle. That's okay, you don't need a Kindle to read a Kindle book. Amazon has made applications available for free for almost any device. So if you have an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android phone, Android tablet, Blackberry, Macintosh computer, Windows computer or a computer with a web browser, you can read Kindle books. That list should, hopefully, cover most everyone.

However, if you just aren't down with reading things electronically, wait and I'll get the physical book done just as soon as possible. I'm waiting to get the proof copies from the printer before I can finalize the design and get the physical books going.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Get The Marriage Challenge for Free with Amazon Prime

Amazon has a great deal for members of Amazon Prime: you can borrow books for free, including The Marriage Challenge: 52 Conversations for a Better Marriage. You do need to be using a Kindle device (Kindle Fire, Kindle XL, etc.) and have an Amazon Prime membership. But, if you have all your ducks in a row, you can check out books for free for up to one month.