The Wedding Rings Story

I really like my wedding rings.  Not only are they a symbol of the love Jim and I have for one another, but I’ve been wearing the rings for over 33 years!

About five years ago, I spent a few minutes with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste to give my rings a gentle cleaning.  (Someone told me this was an inexpensive and effective way to bring back the sparkle and shine to jewelry.)  I took a close look at my engagement ring and noticed one of the claws holding the centre diamond had worn so thin that the claw was almost gone!

Jim and I knew we shouldn’t wait too long to get it fixed so we stopped by to see a local jeweller. The repairs and necessary resizing of the rings would take 7 to 10 days.  Rather than go ringless, I picked up a $10 ring to wear while waiting for my rings to be returned.  I wanted the public to know that I have someone who loves me enough to be married to me!

Can a ring tell a story?

My temporary ring while my wedding rings were repaired.

My rings are a symbol and celebration of the special love that Jim and I share with one another!  In fact, the promise I made on our wedding day during the “Exchange of Rings” is still so meaningful:

“Jim, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow and commitment.
With all that I am, and all that I have, I honour you.”

Let’s take a minute to consider the significance of wearing wedding rings.  When out shopping at the mall, or at a restaurant, have you ever found yourself checking to see if other couples are wearing wedding bands? Occasionally, when we are out in public, Jim and I take notice of couples and, sadly, this is what we see:

Couple #1:   This is the couple, walking hand in hand, laughing together or glancing at one other with smiles on their faces.  Jim and I remark to ourselves, “I doubt that couple is married. Either they are newly dating or having an affair.” Often, when we check their left hands for wedding bands, we notice there aren’t any.

Couple #2:  This is the couple, sitting at the restaurant table in silence with unsmiling faces, waiting for their food order.   We wonder,  “Are they bored and run out of things to say to one another?” Unfortunately, we discover this couple is wearing their wedding rings.

Whenever we notice these types of couples, Jim and I are more determined to demonstrate that we have a healthy and happy marriage relationship.  We intentionally walk holding hands, smile, talk together, and put away our phones during meals!  We hope that our happy marriage inspires other couples to pursue their dream marriage too!

Our rings are a constant reminder that Jim and I belong together! As the wedding preacher often says…

“The weddings rings are a symbol of longevity in the Marriage covenant.
The circle of the rings symbolizes a never ending circle of love and commitment
which you are making. Always see the best in each other. Let each day
that you are together be full of the beauty of the never-ending love you have for each other
through the symbols of these rings.”

5 Days ’til Christmas: Day 5 | Lifelong Commitment

Has this series been a help and encouragement to you? We hope so! We’ve really enjoyed hearing from some of our married children! The topics they’ve shared on include:

And the final installment is actually from us (Jim and Carrie of The Intimate Couple)! Here we share with you one of the most critical marriage lessons we learned from our own parents — and in addition to that, something else that’s spurred on why we do The Intimate Couple!

Jim and Carrie's marriage advice!

For both Carrie and I, both sets of parents demonstrated love and commitment in their marriages that lasted all life-long. The builder generation, which formed and shaped the attitudes and values of people our parents’ age, was known for commitment.  Couples planned on staying together for life and were usually prepared to work on their relationships.

However, many of our parents’ generation found it very difficult to broach subjects that were taboo in general society—specifically, sex and sexual desire were not often freely discussed in marriage. If our parents were examples, if sex was talked about between husband and wife, it certainly wasn’t talked about with the children!

We are living in different times.

If husbands and wives are not willing to address sexuality openly and honestly in their marriage and with their children as they mature, disaster will result! We live in a society that has twisted God’s great gift of sex and marketed the counterfeit in ways that set this generation up for catastrophe.

Teaching and modeling biblical marriages and sexuality is more important than ever before!

5 Days ’til Christmas: Day 4 | Keep Flirting!

From the Children of the Intimate Couple: the Christmas Marriage Advice Series

The fourth day of our Christmas marriage advice series, and the day before Christmas (!!!), is brought to you by our son Jeremy and his wife Janelle. Below Jeremy shares some candid and hilarious thoughts!

Day 4: Keep Flirting!

Jeremy and Janelle's Marriage Advice

Jeremy writes:

Marriage has been around for a long time and there is no better way to have a good marriage than to glean and follow the examples of those who excel in their own marriages. My mom and Dad have a superb marriage. I’ve been blessed to see them live out a marriage that thrives both inside the home and out.There are two things that immediately come to mind when I consider what I’ve been able to model in my own marriage with my wife Janelle, and what I hope to grow in as well.

The first is an utmost respect and honour for each other in public places, around friends, and in crowds. My Dad will always speak incredibly highly of my Mom, never slightly undermining or brushing aside. In the home as well they are a team. In parental decisions and communicating with each other it was always clear to us as children that Mom and Dad were on the same page, they supported each other and held each other up.

The second example of a marriage pro tip I’ve kept in mind and will continue to when Janelle and I are super old is this: keep on flirting.

Life doesn’t have to be so serious all the time, so make an effort the keep the fun in marriage. I love teasing my wife and flirting with her, getting her flustered and letting her know she is a friggin’ smokeshow. My Mom and Dad still flirt, they still have fun and still laugh. There is no stale drudgery, there is no monotony. Marriage can be awesome. That is what I’ve learned from my parents.

From our ‘expert’ point of view, we so agree about the flirting! Thanks for sharing, you guys!

5 Days ’til Christmas: Day 3 | Your Greatest Fear

From the Children of the Intimate Couple: the Christmas Marriage Advice Series

The third day of our Christmas marriage advice series is brought to you by our son Michael and his wife Jelena. What you may not know is that Michael and Jelena work ‘behind-the-scenes’ on the Intimate Couple website! Kudos to Michael as this Christmas Marriage Advice Series was his idea! 

Here, Michael and Jelena both weigh in on lessons learned in their marriage.

Day 3: Your Greatest Fear

Michael and Jelena's Marriage Advice

Michael shares:

Being married two years isn’t very long, but there are still a few things Jelena and I have experienced that we’d be honoured to share with you.

Committing to your spouse — not your idea of who they are.

When we get married, there may be certain perceptions or ideas that we hold about our spouse. But the reality is that the person you marry will be very different 10, 20, 30 years down the road. Not only is this because we get to know them better, but life changes us. Our personality, goals, and desires can all change and evolve. What makes a marriage last is the commitment to the other person.

To be known and NOT loved is the greatest fear for many people, but I know that Jelena is committed to me and I to her. This foundation gives us the freedom to express ourselves and be honest without the fear of rejection or judgment.

In closing, I would love to share this quote with you from Timothy Keller:

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

Jelena shares:

Marriage has an uncanny way of bringing out the best of us, and sometimes even the worst of us!

I caught myself just a few weeks ago wondering if Michael would rather I had the qualities and characteristics of some other wives that I personally admire. And so, I asked him: “Do you ever wish I was more like [so and so]? That I was more of that kind of a wife?”.

His reply astounded me, as he said, “Jelena, I would never want you to change for my benefit; I’d only want you to change if it were for your benefit”.

At that moment, I couldn’t have been more thankful to be married to him! I see how Jim and Carrie’s loving marriage over the years have helped to shape him into the husband that he is today, and the even more amazing man he is in the process of becoming! For that I am forever grateful.

All of this reminds me of what Timothy Keller writes concerning what it means to truly love your spouse:

It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!’”

Marriage is one of the loveliest, most intimate, and yet also most difficult of relationships. We can choose to see God’s best version of our spouse, even as they haven’t yet become that (nor have we!); we can also choose to pursue the other person’s greatest good (we all know that dying to ourselves and perhaps our own selfish ambitions isn’t always easy, now is it?). 

The last two years have taught me that if we allow it, marriage really can refine us, grow us, and make us into that magnificent creation that God purposed us to be. Michael has seen the worst of me, and yet he has loved me through it! Best of all, he’s reminded me of who he sees I am becoming by God’s grace — those precious glimpses, as Keller would say!

Michael and Jelena wrote their own thoughts before realizing they were both touching on this same topic of seeing your spouse for the amazing person they are becoming! How cute is that? Thank you for sharing, Michael and Jelena!

5 Days ’til Christmas: Day 2 | The Honest Truth

From the Children of the Intimate Couple: the Christmas Marriage Advice Series

The second day of our Christmas marriage advice series is brought to you by our son Nathan and his lovely wife Sarah. Here Nathan shares some very honest thoughts on how marriage is most definitely a work-in-progress!

Day 2: The Honest Truth from Nathan and Sarah

Nathan and Sarah's Marriage Advice

Over the last five years through our marriage and engagement, we have had the opportunity to see Mom and Dad interact in a very real way in their marriage. Not only did they conduct our pre-marriage counselling and officiate our wedding, but they also provided great resources for us from their website. They are a daily example of what a healthy marriage can look like.

One tool that we found helpful from their website was the 99 Questions Before Saying “I Do” e-book. We went through these prior to the wedding in hopes of covering any major areas of conflict, allowing us time to talk through them and go through our ‘deal-breaker’ lists.

Now, having been married for just under five years and with our 3rd child on the way, we can best describe our marriage as a work-in-progress! I think it’s safe to say that marriage was not what either of us expected. Amazing to learn that as humans, our natural tendency is not to want to do what the other person wants all the time. We have had our ups and downs, but I’m very excited to say that we are in this for the long haul, and knowing that that is where both of our hearts is at is a great comfort.

The more time we spend with Mom and Dad, the more we can see the way they look for ways to serve each other. On a daily basis it is clear that they are each other’s biggest encouragers, and both give selflessly of themselves for the other’s benefit. If you have not learned this in your own marriage yet, we can personally admit that this does not come naturally to us, or most people, if we are truly honest with ourselves. It is a daily decision, along with strength from our relationship with Christ that allows us to put ourselves out there and love…every day…even when we are grumpy…or our spouse’s personality traits are driving us crazy…we can choose to love them, and act selflessly.

Seeing the example from our parents’ marriage has given us the greatest goal to achieve: a marriage where both people will put the other’s needs first, and know that because of their commitment to one another and God, they will have a marriage where selflessness is not taken advantage of, and where true intimacy thrives.

That is our goal for our marriage every day.

Don’t you just love Nathan and Sarah’s honesty? The truth is, marriage is hard, but beautiful work. If we could all heed Nathan and Sarah’s advice, we’d push past the selfish and difficult moments to put our spouse first and in the midst of it all, find true intimacy! Thank you for sharing, Nathan and Sarah!

 

5 Days ’til Christmas: Day 1 | A Lesson on Kindness

This year we wanted to do something special for you this holiday season, so let us present our special 2015 Christmas series…

From the Children of the Intimate Couple: the Christmas Marriage Advice Series

We asked some of our married children to chime in and share with us some marriage advice. One of the questions we asked them was:

“What is one of the most important things you’ve learned about marriage as you watched your parents relate?”

We cherish our family — and time with them — so from our family to yours, we hope these next fives days of marriage advice will be an encouragement and blessing to you and your marriage this Christmas!

Day 1: A Lesson on Kindness from Trevor and Beth

To start things off, here are some thoughts on the importance of kindness from our son Trevor and his lovely wife Beth.

Trevor and Beth's Marriage AdviceWe have appreciated many things about our parents’ marriage, but one key theme is kindness.

They speak to each other with kindness. They chose to be kind when it would be easier not to be. They don’t rush each other out the door with harsh words or eyebrow raises when they are running late and one is still talking with a friend or getting ready. They take time to buy flowers, write notes and spend quality time together. Kindness begets more kindness in their marriage, and we are learning in ours as well.

I (Trevor) can relate to Dad in those times where he would clean the kitchen for mom after one of her great meals. Beth loves having an empty sink and tidy counters when she goes to bed. This is a simple gesture of kindness I can do.

We try to ask ourselves before we speak or act – “Is this kind?” The answer is either yes or no.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you”.

Thank you, Trevor and Beth! We so appreciate your kind-heartedness towards your family but also towards others who are fortunate to cross your path.

 

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The Thanksgiving Challenge

Thanksgiving and gratitude world cloud
As our Intimate Couple friends in the USA celebrate Thanksgiving (we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving last month), we are reminded of the importance and power of gratitude.
We wanted to share with you this guest blog post from our daughter-in-law, Jelena. She talks about one habit that really can change your marriage, and life, if you will only let it. It’s called the Thanksgiving Challenge, and today, we’re challenging you!
You can read the entire ‘7 Days of Thanks‘ series that she did on her blog. We’re sharing her Day 7 blog below. She writes:

I’m quite sold on the practice of gratitude as one of the most transformative powers in the world! The extent to which we learn to cultivate a truly grateful heart and attitude in and through all circumstances is the foundation upon which a truly rich and joyful life is built.

One of my favourite verses from the Bible suggests that gratitude partnered with prayer is the antidote to the destructive nature of worry! This explains why seeking to start each day with gratitude, and guard that grateful attitude, helps us see solutions, instead of focusing on problems. It says this: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

I want to share a practice with you that will radically change your life. If you aren’t sold on having a daily gratitude practice just yet, I hope this will convince you! :)

Something that really impacted me is what Darren Hardy shares in his book The Compound Effect. He issues this ‘Year-Round Thanksgiving Challenge’ to all of us who want more in life by sharing these powerful stories (excerpt follows from The Compound Effect):

We’re particularly gifted in the finger-pointing department when it comes to our romantic relationships—you know, where the other person is the one who needs to change. Let me explain how something extremely simple, taking less than 5-minutes a day, can literally change your life.

 

A few years back, a friend of mine was complaining about his wife. From my observation, she was a terrific lady, and he was lucky to have her. I told him as much, but he continued to point out all the ways she was responsible for his unhappiness. That’s when I shared an experience that had literally changed my marriage… and me.

 

One Thanksgiving, I decided to keep a Thanks Giving journal for my wife. Every day for an entire year I logged at least one thing I appreciated about her—the way she interacted with her friends, how she cared for our dogs, the fresh bed she prepared, a succulent meal she whipped up, or the beautiful way she styled her hair that day—whatever. I looked for the things my wife was doing that touched me, or revealed attributes, characteristics, or qualities I appreciated. I wrote them all down secretly for the entire year. By the end of that year, I’d filled an entire journal.

 

When I gave it to her the following Thanksgiving, she cried, calling it the best gift she’d ever received. (Even better than the BMW I’d given her for her birthday!) The funny thing was that the person most affected by this gift was me. All that journaling forced me to focus on my wife’s positive aspects. I was consciously looking for all the things she was doing “right.” That heartfelt focus overwhelmed anything I might have otherwise complained about. I fell deeply in love with her all over again (maybe even more than ever, as I was seeing subtleties in her nature and behavior instead of her more obvious qualities). My appreciation, gratitude, and intention to find the best in her was something I held in my heart and eyes each day. This caused me to show up differently in my marriage, which, of course, made her respond differently to me. Soon, I had even more things to write in my Thanks Giving journal! As a result of choosing to take a mere five minutes every day or so to document all the reasons why I was grateful for her, we experienced one of the best years of our marriage, and it’s only gotten better.

 

After I shared my experience, my friend decided to keep a Thanks Giving journal about his wife. Within the first few months, he completely turned around his marriage…

Wow! What can five minutes per day do for your marriage? What can it do for YOU?

They say that the best things in life are free; the very best of things is who we become along life’s journey.

So, here’s how Darren’s challenge works:

  • get a nice journal with enough pages for a year’s worth of short entries (each day’s entry can be just a few sentences long — this is meant to take as little as 5 min!). Even a journal of 100 pages will do!
  • each day, jot down something that you love or appreciate in your spouse’s character or actions — make sure your spouse doesn’t catch on! It’s a surprise. If you’re ever stuck, a simple “I love you” or “I appreciate you” will do.
  • in a year from now, present it to them as a gift of appreciation for who they are, who they’re becoming, and how much they mean to you.
  • except some massive transformation in yourself!


What do you think of the Thanksgiving Challenge? Here at the Intimate Couple, we agree that expressing gratitude for the gift of your spouse will most certainly change your marriage, and you! We can’t wait to hear how this impacts you and helps you get that much closer to the marriage of your dreams!

ps. Jelena’s included a special Thanksgiving offer for you! Found here. FREE for you to enjoy this Thanksgiving Holiday! Get it while it’s available.

Marriage Health & Fitness

What can health and fitness teach us about a healthy marriage?

It was just over four years ago that I had a ruptured brain aneurysm and massive brain haemorrhage. Going through that crisis, the corrective surgery, and the recovery time was a major wake up call for Jim and I. Up to that point, we took our health for granted and weren’t being intentional about staying healthy. After my brain surgery, though, we took time for regular exercise, we made sleep and rest a higher priority, and we made healthier food choices. It’s troubling that it took a medical crisis for us to start working on getting physically healthy and fit.

In the same way, many couples take the health of their relationship for granted. There is no evaluation of their marriage until they reach a crisis! This is our recommendation to you and your spouse: use the three strategies we’ve listed below and you’ll keep your marriage healthy and fit!

1. Monitor…

Just as a doctor checks blood pressure, heart rate, and performs blood tests to determine his patient’s health, a husband and wife can regularly check in with each other to monitor the health of their marriage. Here are a few suggestions of ways to help monitor your relationship:

Ask each other questions

Take some time, perhaps during a weekly date night, to pause from life’s busyness, remove distractions, and focus on each other. Ask your spouse questions like…

  • Do you feel loved by me and how?
  • Are you satisfied with our physical intimacy?
  • Where would you most like to see change or improvement in our marriage?
  • Was there a time this past week where I caused you pain or disappointment? (If yes, take time to ask for forgiveness.)

Take the Intimacy Survey offered on the Intimate Couple website

After each of you have completed the survey, discuss your answers. Look for areas in your relationship that need attention.

Meet with a marriage counsellor

A trained counsellor can ask questions, observe you and your spouse, listen to your conversation, and help pinpoint areas that need improvement or blind spots that you and your spouse need to be aware of.

Find another couple to be your marriage mentors

Meeting regularly with a couple who are committed to coming alongside you is so beneficial! Marriage mentors are helpful in giving advice and challenging you to move ahead in your relationship… most of all, they are your cheerleaders and friends!

2. Avoid Unhealthy Actions

When a patient’s blood pressure readings are higher than average, the dietician will teach her how avoiding certain foods will help lower the blood pressure. In the same way, there are habits and actions you need to avoid in order to have a healthy marriage. 

Review these examples of what to avoid:

  • Get distracted by phone or TV when listening to your spouse
  • Use an angry tone of voice
  • Make family decisions without consulting each other
  • Disrespect spouse (in public or private)
  • Use electronics in the bedroom
  • One of you stays up while the other has gone to bed
  • Take your spouse for granted and rarely say “thank you”

3. Raise Love Levels

Has your medical doctor ever recommended you supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals? In our marriages, there may be times we need to use good habits to increase our levels of love and affection.

Here are examples of “daily marriage supplements” for you and your spouse to use:

  • display expressions of kindness
  • say “I love you!”
  • pray for each other
  • call or text in the middle of the day to connect
  • kiss good morning and goodnight
  • express gratefulness and appreciation for your spouse
  • smile at one another
  • lovemaking

Again, let us encourage you! Don’t wait for a marriage crisis before working on keeping your marriage healthy. Instead, start today to… monitor your relationship, avoid unhealthy actions, and raise love levels. We’d also recommend that you do the 7 Day Sex Challenge! Being intentional with these strategies will help you and your spouse experience a vibrant, healthy, and fit marriage!

Intimacy: The Challenge We Face

The intimacy challenge between husband and wife

CNN recently featured an article by Lee Woodruff entitled, Why Veterans Have Intimacy Issues.

In her article, Woodruff—herself the wife of a war vet—explained that for many war vet couples, the lack of intimacy is the ongoing heartache after many of the wounds of war have been healed. PTSD, chief among many psychological disorders, is one of the obstacles to gaining the communication of mind, heart, spirit, and body that intimacy requires.

Woodruff states:

For many couples, once the acute healing is finished [the physical healing of the body], the impact of combat injury on sexual health, intimacy and fertility is perhaps the biggest heartbreak. While sexual health is a huge contributor to overall mental health, this is an often overlooked and uncomfortable subject.

Woodruff’s article points out how the psychological trauma of war results in couples feeling that intimacy is almost unreachable.

The Challenge

Yet, even for many of us without this kind of trauma, genuine intimacy seems almost unattainable. A simple-minded observation of soaring divorce rates would make us conclude that intimacy—the super glue holding couples together—is challenging to obtain! Much more than just sex, intimacy is the oneness of heart, mind, body, and spirit. It has 4 components: intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and sexual. Obtaining this in a relationship is increasingly unusual.

The Journey

Repairing intimacy is not a quick-fix project; it is a journey. Our approach, then, to developing intimacy must reflect this idea. There is a place to start, a direction to take, and a destination to move toward.

The place we start is the position of humility: we acknowledge that, to some degree, we are needy, broken, and ready to receive help. This position frees us up to get counseling, reach out to others, and most importantly—acknowledge to our spouse that we need and want help.

The direction we take is the pathway of learning: we are life-long students of each other. By actively studying each other in pursuit of greater understanding, we will automatically increase our appreciation of each other.

The destination we move toward is oneness of heart and mind: the end of it all is to become closer to your spouse! With our stated destination of closeness, we will more easily identify factors in our relationship that either draw us away or draw us toward each other emotionally.

Although obtaining intimacy remains a huge challenge for many couples—its pursuit represents a journey of heart, soul, mind, and body that makes every step along the way more than worth the effort!