Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life - Amy of Freshly Married

The Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life series is one that I've been really excited about for a while! Each stage of life looks different and brings unique challenges to every couple. My hope is that you will be inspired by the stories of the women featured in this series. I hope that their experiences will help you find more ways to make your marriage relationship a priority throughout every stage of your own life.

It's been a couple of months, but I'm excited to get back into this series with today's post featuring Amy Miller of Freshly Married. She and I are currently working together on The Wives Workshop (which you should all attend) and we share a passion for educating and inspiring couples to make their marriage the best that they can. 

What does it mean to you to prioritize your marriage?

When I think of “prioritize your marriage,” I feel a connotation of selflessness. So to me, it means you not only recognize its importance, but you are also willing to give up other things in order to keep this relationship healthy and growing. Sacrifices are not easy, but we’ve shown a pattern of making little sacrifices back and forth for each other and for our family, and that strong pattern of love makes it feel like a good choice. Because I believe that marriage is the most important relationship after our relationship with God, I think putting your marriage first is ALWAYS going to be a good choice.

How have the different stages you’ve experienced in life affected how you prioritize your relationship with each other?

In our short four years together so far, we have been through some interesting stages and experiences, such as the married student life, job changes, various medical issues, job loss, moving, and buying our first house. Even though some of these experiences show growth and can be exciting, they have the potential to make us stressed, frustrated, worried, depressed, and stretched to our capacities. When this has happened we help each other better focus on what matters most, and in return that obviously prioritizes our relationship.  

For example, During our second year of marriage, we just moved into our first home at the same time that I had just started a new semester of school after a 2 year hiatus. Needless to say, it was a lot of emotional change for me all at once. My husband was working full time and teaching night classes a few times a week. I had already cut down my social life so much because of how busy we were, and yet I was still struggling. Having so much going on for months straight was hard on us individually, and as a couple.

After talking about things, my husband was selfless enough to stop teaching night classes, even though it was a huge passion for him at the time. It’s something I will always remember, and has made me want to avoid either of us having to make these tough decisions. The next semester I lessened my class schedule, which meant I would graduate one semester later than I planned, but I was so much happier, and my relationship benefited from it.

This experience has helped us continually be aware of what is too much to take on for long periods of time, and if it gives the impression that it’s going to be hard on our relationship, we don’t do it. It could seem like a boring life not taking exciting risks, but in my mind, the stability of my marriage is not something worth risking.

What are some rituals/traditions (big or small) that you have with your spouse?

One of our weekly rituals is date night, of course! We have it on our schedule every single weekend, though sometimes it ends up being on a weekday, or we count vacations or fun family events as our date night. This was important to us from day one, which is why we already have money put aside to pay for a weekly babysitter when we have kids! Haha.

We are also big movie-goers, and decided to document every movie we saw in a fun way. We pose in front of the cardboard movie dioramas that the theater usually has set up. Some of the dioramas are pretty interactive so it makes for some fun poses! We have specific digital photo album we put these pictures in, too.

How have the obstacles and challenges that you’ve faced as a couple made you a stronger team?

The different challenges and obstacles we have faced together have taught us a lot about our strengths and weaknesses, individually, and as a couple. We try to assess our strengths and weaknesses together, figuring out how we can help each other grow. But also, we figure out where our individual skills are going to be best utilized in our life together, whether we follow typical gender roles or not. I think that’s what makes us a stronger team, and why I love the word “team” as part of a description for marriage!

Tell me about something that you hope to be able to do together in the future.

Something that we are hoping to do together in the near future (hopefully!), is to have and raise a family. It’s something we’ve been trying for a year to do, but have had challenges in. We both knew ahead of time that having our own children wouldn’t be easy, but we have so much optimism and faith in the process. Having our little puppy, Oli, around helps us be more patient, too. :)

Click here to read more interviews in the Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life Series

Amy Miller - Freshly Married

10+ Hobbies for Couples

Last week in the Freshly Married Wives Community, Amy of Freshly Married asked a question that I've been thinking about ever since. Her question was, "What is something you and your spouse try to do together when it feels like you don't have common interests anymore?" Throughout life, interests change, and the different stages that you go through come with challenges that can sometimes make your shared hobbies difficult to continue. Our current stage of life for example, makes it really difficult to go on long late night walks during the warmer months like we did for the first four years of our relationship.

You may sit down one day and realize that all of those interests that you once shared have gone out the window. If you feel like you "Netflix and chill" too often, and maybe even every night, the two of you might want to start seeking some new hobbies together. I'm a big fan of Netflix binges, so I'm not knocking that at all, but I am in favor of having a few different activities that you enjoy doing together as a couple. Throughout the course of your life, you find new hobbies and get rid of others, the same could be said about your marriage. As you shift into new stages of life, some of your shared activities may become interests and other things may become more interesting.

If you're looking for some ideas of hobbies that you could enjoy together, you're in luck because I have some for you! Sit down with your spouse this week and pick something new to try. Come back any time you need a new idea!

Bowling

Have you ever thought about joining a bowling league? If you enjoy bowling together, make it a regular part of your lives together. Purchase your own shoes, get a ball of your own and find a league near you. Work together to perfect your game and start a tally to see who can bowl the most strikes in a certain time frame. Maybe the person who bowls the most strikes in a night gets to pick where you go for dinner, or the highest scorer within a few months or a year gets to plan their dream vacation for the two of you to go on together.

Hiking

I was never much of a fan of hiking growing up, but I think that I could really start to like it if we went on hikes during cooler seasons or times of day. It's a great way to exercise, see more of the area that you live in and see some spectacular views! Our county has a pamphlet that they distribute listing every trail in the area, where they are located (with a map), their features and their difficulty. You could make a date once a month to check out a new trail and another date each month to hike one of your favorites. 

Gardening

My parents share a love of gardening, and consequently, their yard looks amazing all year round.  My dad's favorite day of the year is the one when the seed catalog comes in the mail. They have bushes, trees, flowers, fruit trees/plants, and a vegetable garden. I'm in awe at the variety of things that are in bloom every time we go to their house.

Sit down and research plants together, look at the things that are in bloom around your community, pick out your favorites and learn how to grow them successfully. Spend time in your yard together every day watering, weeding, and enjoying the spoils of your harvest!

Random Acts of Kindness

I've seen so many fun date nights focused on serving those in the community around you. This could be a great tradition to start in your family. Your acts of kindness could be as simple as paying for the person behind you in a drive thru, taking dinner to a sick neighbor, or sending a card to a friend. You could go above and beyond by offering to clean up a neighbor or loved one's yard, provide Christmas for a family, or one of my favorites--this Sharing Soup idea from A Bountiful Kitchen.

Volunteering

Similar to serving those around you, but on a more regular basis and at one or two locations. Some ideas for places to volunteer: animal shelter, through your church program, with a youth organization, at a senior living center, local hospitals, food banks, etc.

Dancing

Is there a type of dance that you've been wanting to learn? Look for a community class near you or a dance studio that hosts events for couples to learn different dances. You could also find YouTube videos and learn on your own at home. Practice on a weekly basis, then find a dance that you can get dressed up for and attend to "show off" your skills.

If you are experienced dancers, find somewhere near you where you can go to dance together once a week or a few times a month. I have friends who would regularly attend a club near us that had Swing Dancing, Country Swing and Line Dancing nights.

Theater

When we got married, I was a season ticket holder at the community theater, so I bought my husband tickets as well and we remained season ticket holders for a couple more years. A year or two into our marriage, we got season tickets to a theater that puts on musical parodies, and we remained season ticket holders there for a few years as well. Becoming season ticket holders at a local theater is something that I'd suggest to anyone who asked me.

Our current stage of life makes it difficult to attend all of our shows, and we missed quite a few due to my classes, illness related to pregnancy or one of our kids being sick. I was sad to give up being season ticket holders, but we still make a goal to see two or three shows together a year and we love it!

Sports

This is one hobby that I don't know much about because we are not sports people in our house. I have seen couples have a lot of fun tailgating and attending all of the games for their local team. I've also seen some people post on social media that they put on their jerseys and support their favorite teams from the couch every week. Maybe you and your spouse would rather play together and join a coed team for softball, flag football, indoor soccer or another sport that interests you.

Foodies

All of the mom & pop or hole in the wall restaurants seem to have the best food, but are not the first thing that comes to mind when we are trying to decide where we want to go to eat. If you enjoy good food from non-franchised restaurants, this could be a new hobby for you. Sit down together and create a "bucket list" of restaurants that you want to try. Break them down by types of food so when you are craving something specific, you can quickly locate a restaurant from your list that you could try. 

We have put together our own "foodie bucket list" as part of a new website that I started. It's been a fun way to branch out in our date nights and explore new places that we never knew existed or had never thought to try. A suggestion I have, from watching a few of my foodie friends, is to each order different menu items and something unique that you wouldn't usually get at any other restaurants. This will allow you to experience more of what the restaurant has to offer and you will be branching out and discovering new favorites that you might not have previously known existed.

Reading

I know some couples who have their own book club! Some will read a chapter of their book together every night while others read separately. I've even heard of one couple reading a physical copy of the book while the other listens to the audio book. This is how Joe and I would read books if we were to start our own book club. After both parties have finished reading, plan a date night to discuss the book over dinner or dessert.

Running

My friend Camille of Friday We're In Love once told me that she and her husband share a love of running. If I remember right, they used to train together and run races. Now that they have a little one, she's shared that they trade off training for races. They support each other by standing on the sidelines of the race, cheering the other spouse on. I love that they've found a way to keep up their hobby, even if they aren't able to share it in the same way they've been used to. 

Cooking

Everyone needs to eat, and I'm willing to bet that one of you spends a lot of time in the kitchen cooking the meals for the family to eat. Why not share that task and cook together. Turn on some music, divide up the tasks or tackle separate parts of the meal and have some fun making your food together. Find a blog or a cookbook that contains recipes that appeal to both of you and cook your way through it together. 

Home Improvement Projects

This is our current hobby; finishing up all of the projects in our house. We have cosmetic updates we still want to do, some that are also needed to cut the cost of our electricity/gas. We're also still working to get our basement unpacked and organized and every room of the house decorated. Updating your house and adding decor that shows off who you are as a family is a great thing to do together and will help turn your house into a home.

Need a hobby to do together? Check out this list of over 10 ideas for hobbies that couples can enjoy together.

Whatever you choose to do for your shared hobby, make sure that it is something you'll both enjoy and an activity that will help strengthen your relationship and create new memories. If you're missing an old hobby that you used to enjoy together, find a way to make it a reality in your current stage of life. 

What hobbies do you and your spouse enjoy?

Making Marriage a Priority Through Challenging Times

Earlier this year, I found the Freshly Married blog and through finding that site, made a new, very dear friend! Amy invited me to be part of her blog and answer some questions for her spotlight series this week. Read below for a short excerpt and to find the link to read the rest of the interview.

From Amy:

"Amberly of A Prioritized Marriage, is someone I absolutely look up to when it comes to marriage! I instantly fell in love with her message and admired the educated expertise she brings to her platform. She is someone I want you to hear from, so I asked Amberly a few questions to answer for you!

She gives great responses that not only demonstrate her important message of making the relationship with your spouse a priority, but she shares specific actions on how to do that. She also talks about how the unfortunate situation of having a premature baby in the NICU taught her and her husband to work as a team. In the final question, she gives an AWESOME tip for when you can’t do a legitimate date in the week! It’s like my new favorite marriage idea right now!

I hope that you will take to heart her advice and suggestions, as she experiences everyday marital challenges herself."

Click here to read my spotlight interview on Freshly Married.

8 Date Night Tips for Married Couples

Since I've been participating in the #ReviveDateNight series with Justine and Kailei this month, I wanted to share all of my best tips in one post. Date night can be just as much of a priority once you are married as it was before. Honestly, date night has become more exciting now that we are married and have kids. I look forward to those few hours every week when we set aside our side hustles, housework, projects and other responsibilities. It's nice to step out of our parenting suits for a bit, dress to impress and enjoy focusing on being a couple in love. So... here are my best tips!

The best date night tips for married couples. Make date night happen, no matter what comes your way!

Create a Bucket List

Date night bucket lists have become a favorite thing for us. We take those big activities, fancy restaurants and things that we've always thought about doing and commit to making a date night of it. Click here to read my four tips for creating a date night bucket list of your own.

Plan Date Night in Advance

I am a die hard planner who has become really good at going with the flow and sometimes resorting to 'Plan Z'. Even though a lot of our date night plans change last minute, I usually sit down at the beginning of the month and plan out our date nights. Click here to read about the five benefits I've found from planning our date night activities in advance.

Make it Memorable

You might think that in order for a date night to be memorable, it has to be big and extravagant, but that's not the case. Click here to read about our most memorable dates and what made them so memorable.

Put Forth Effort

Back when you were dating each other, every date night was special. You put on your favorite outfit, and put forth the effort to make it a great night. Just because you are married, doesn't mean you should give up some of the habits you had when you were dating. Click here to read my four tips to make date night just a little bit sweeter in your marriage.

You Don't Need a Babysitter

Once, maybe twice a month, we hire a babysitter to watch our kids while we go out together. The rest of the time, we don't leave our kids and go out. I read an article once that changed the way I approached date night and the way I view the term. Click here to read what date night means to me and how you can go on a date without leaving your kids with a sitter.

Even When You're Busy

Every stage in life is busy and comes with its own set of challenges. We've been through quite a few of these different stages of our own. Working opposite schedules, homework and school deadlines, newborn babies, a baby in the NICU, and I'm sure the list will only continue to grow. Click here to read my three tips for making date night happen even when you just don't have the time.

Movie Dates Can Be Meaningful

The classic movie and dinner date night sometimes gets a bad rap. It's not always considered quality time, but I'm here to tell you that it can be quality and make a great date! Click here for five ways that you can make movie dates more exciting and then click here for a list of date night movies that you'll both enjoy.

Make Date Night a Priority

No matter what your life looks like, how little free time you have or how much time you feel like you already spend together, it is important that you continue to date your spouse after you get married. Click here for more reasons why you should prioritize date night, tips on how to do that and over 200 date night ideas.

Ebook - Prioritizing Date Night in Your Marriage
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Why you need to date your spouse and how to make date night happen. 200+ date night ideas for every stage of life.

In this e-book you will find:

  • Research based reasons you should continue to date your spouse after the two of you get married.
  • Benefits that your marriage will enjoy when you make date night a priority.
  • Seven tips and suggestions for making date night happen, no matter what obstacles life brings.
  • Over 200 ideas to keep date night fresh and fun throughout every stage of your marriage.
  • Date night ideas to fit any budget, time constraint or other limitations.

We've been doing #ReviveDateNight this month. We'd love to see what you've been doing to revive date night in your marriage. Link up with us below and share your date night posts from the past month. Or write a post recapping your date nights from this past months and all of the

Five Tips for Helping Your Dog Feel Like Part of the Family

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. #CollectiveBias #PurinaPetPack

You've all met our forever puppy, Howie, here on the blog and on Instagram. He's been a part of our lives for four years, can you believe it? Because we had Howie for two years before having children and then added two children to our family within the next two years, there were a lot of adjustments that he had to make in a short amount of time. Howie is an important part of our family and we strive every day to make sure that he knows that he has not been pushed aside by the kids that have joined our family.

Read: Why Every Marriage Needs a Puppy

As your family grows, your pets may start to feel left out and less important in your lives. Here are five easy ways to ensure that they always feel loved and know what an important member of the family they are.

Warm Greetings

Whenever we walk in the door, we make sure that we acknowledge Howie. He sits in the window and watches for us to come home every day and we watch him jump down excitedly to greet us as we approach the door. When I'm on the inside waiting for Joe to come home from work with him, I love to watch the way his head perks up when a car enters the circle and how he sits right in front of the door waiting for Joe to come inside.

Having a dog (and kids for that matter) makes every homecoming a big party with lots of hugs, kisses and love. No matter what my day looks like, I always know that I have a furry friend at home who thinks that I am the greatest thing in the world and is waiting eagerly for me to return. Howie's friendly greeting has the ability to turn any day around.

One of our favorite things is the way that Howie greets both of the kids when our entire family comes home from an outing. He'll jump up to give Bensen a kiss and then run over to Emmy's carseat to greet her as well. When we leave with the kids and come home without them, because we've left them with family for a couple of hours, he'll greet us and then search behind us and sniff at the door looking for them. He loves all of his humans!

Daily Walks

I was excited to get a dog and have a reason to get out and move every single day. Howie knows which clothes I wear to go walking and sits next to my side somewhat impatiently while I tie my tennis shoes. There's a specific order we have to follow to get ready for our walks because if we pull out the leash too soon or say the word 'walk' before we're ready to go, we are left with a sad, whining puppy who can't wait to get outside and can't understand why we're not following through on our promise.

Howie loves to join me for my daily workout, walk alongside the stroller while we are out as a family, or take a quick stroll around the neighborhood. When the weather is cold and we can't get out, we play fetch around the house and run up and down the stairs with him at our heels. I'm grateful for a great walking buddy who encourages me to get my daily exercise.

Our toddler loves to hold the leash and walk the dog. When we are getting ready to go out, he holds the leash and tries his hardest to get Howie to come with him around the house. While we are out on our walks, he will often hold onto the leash to "help" us walk the dog and make sure that he doesn't run away. Although you can tell that Howie isn't thrilled about being pulled around by Bensen, he patiently obliges.

Play Time

If someone sits down on the couch or a spot on the floor, Howie immediately runs over with one of his toys. The expectation is that said person will play tug-of-war or fetch until the dog decides that the game is over. If you don't play, Howie barks a little, "Hey, I'm here, play with me!" message. Both kids are quickly catching on to how to play with the dog. He still prefers Joe and I as his play mates, but the better the kids get at throwing his toys, the more he brings his toys to them instead. We're looking forward to watching them all play together and become the best of friends as the kids grow.

Lots of Snuggles

Just as Howie runs over with a toy if you sit somewhere on his level, he jumps at any opportunity to snuggle when Joe lays on the floor or in bed. He is playful and energetic, but that dog of ours knows how to relax with the best of them. He's a fan of early bedtimes and stays under the covers for as long as possible in the morning. In the middle of our play throughout the day, he loves to be held and snuggled with the kids. There are moments when you can find Emmy in my arms, Bensen on my lap and Howie sitting as close to me as possible. Joe and I always look forward to a little extra snuggle time with the dog after both kids are in bed and I know that Howie appreciates the one-on-one time with each of us.

Read: What I Learned About Marriage from the Dog

Meal Time Routine

Every morning and every night, Howie eats his meal while the rest of us are at the table eating ours. It's hard to say what part of his life he loves the most, but I'd say that meal time is right up there at the top of the list. One of the biggest adjustments that Howie has had to make with kids in the house deals with his food. Mobile kiddos who will put anything in their mouths force us to keep Howie's food up off the floor the majority of the time. He has learned to scratch gently at the floor where his food normally sits whenever he is hungry or needs a drink.

Now that Bensen is older, he loves to help feed Howie. He talks us through the process every time he is in charge of feeding the dog. "Scoop da food. Walk careful, no spill. Pour it in dish. Good job!" We love the responsibility that having a dog is helping him learn, even if it means a few pieces of kibble dropped on the floor or water spilled out of the dish.

Amazon.com has made keeping our puppy fed, happy and feeling loved so much easier. Using Subscribe & Save to order our Purina® ONE® is convenient, saves us time and leave us with more time to play with Howie and bond as a family. And the best part is, using the Subscribe & Save feature leaves me with one less thing that I have to remember to do each month. I only had to place my order once, choose my shipping frequency, and Howie's food shows up on our doorstep when we need it. Ordering and subscribing is easy as 1-2-3, seriously, look at the three steps of my order below.

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Howie was really excited when our most recent package of food showed up on the door step. As soon as I brought it in the house, he started scratching at the box, and he ate his food before Emmy even noticed that we'd put the bowls on the floor. He highly suggests the NEW Purina® ONE® SmartBlend True Insticts Real Salmon and Tuna flavor!

You can save $5 off your first purchase of Purina® Pro Plan® or Purina® ONE® for your dog or cat using Amazon.com's Subscribe & Save. Save 5% when you subscribe for one product or save up to 15% when you subscribe for five products. We may or may not be subscribed to receive a few different flavors, one each month, on a three month rotation, to keep things interesting for Howie.

As you can see, our kids both love the dog and much to his dismay, are very interested in everything that he is doing. I think that he looks forward to eating during our mealtimes because it means that he can eat in peace, without an audience or his friends attached to his side "helping" him. As our babies get older and our lives get busier, I hope that continuing to do the five things outlined above will help Howie adjust to each new stage and continue to feel loved and like the important member of our family that he is.

Read: How Howie Adjusted to the New Baby

How do you help your pets adjust to the changes that life brings?