5-Minute Marriage Savers

First comes love, then comes marriage…

Marriage is haaaaaaard…am I right? Whether it’s your first year of wedded bliss or twentieth year of togetherness, it can be a downright challenge some days to share life with your other half. Throw in some kids, a dash of family drama, add a little financial strain, sprinkle on some sickness and mix in an unexpected life curve ball and it can be a recipe for marital disaster.

This year we will celebrate ten years of marriage. Ten years! As I look back on our time together we have had a BUMPY road filled with challenges, failures and adjustments. Our marriage has survived a few moves (both international + domestic), major health issues, two kids, a home renovation and an autoimmune disease. Looking back over our years, I can see that there is never one BIG thing that we have done to improve our marriage. Rather it has been many small things done with intention that have brought us back to a better place each time. Here are five things we do to improve our marriage that take five minutes or less.

Stop Doing Date Nights

What?! Shouldn’t you have more date nights to connect? I don’t mean stop doing date nights all together. Date nights are important. But, do you know what’s more important? Connecting everyday! Stop counting on date night as your only time to connect. If you are anything like us, we would aim for a date night every few weeks and then the babysitter would cancel. We would reschedule and then our kids would get sick. Eventually the date night stars would align with a sitter AND healthy kids…and then we would realize it had been three months since our last date night. Instead of focusing on connection during date nights, find five minutes for meaningful connection every single day. If you can’t find five minutes in the day to truly connect with your life partner, then there is a much bigger problem brewing.

Now, you might be wondering how can you connect in just five minutes? It is actually easier than you think, but it looks different in every marriage. Here is what works for us. Some mornings my husband will bring me a cup of coffee when I wake up and we might connect for five minutes about our plans and goals for the day. Sometimes we might connect for five minutes after dinner while we clean the kitchen together and talk about a concern we have with one of our children. Other times we might connect in the middle of the day when I want to vent about communicate a frustration I have with something he did. See how I don’t let that frustration fester until date night? In whatever form it takes, these five minutes keep us connected on a daily basis and prevent date nights from becoming our only source of connection about our days, our feelings and our frustrations. On date night…when they actually happen…we can focus on making a fun memory together and enjoying each other’s company.

Quick tips on how to save your marriage and build a loving and lasting relationship.

Learn Each Other’s Love Language

Everyone has heard of love languages, right? If not, you can read all about it here. Basically we all like to express and experience love differently and the five main ways are:

  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

Most people wouldn’t mind love in several categories, but usually there is one dominant love language for each individual. Maybe spend your five minutes of connection one day figuring out each other’s love language and talk about what that looks like. Then…here is the key…express your spouse some love in the way they want to experience that love. It sounds soooooo easy, right? IT IS NOT EASY. Like everything in marriage, it takes work because you likely express love the way YOU want to experience that love and the same goes for your partner. It takes time and intention to show your partner love in their most cherished form.

My husband…like many men…values physical touch. He loves hugs and kisses and everything physical that leads to more things physical. For me, hugs and kisses don’t always rev my love language engine. I am an acts of service kinda girl. So ,when my husband gives ME all the hugs and I fold HIS laundry…well neither of us really feel the love because we are expressing our love to each other in the way we each want to experience love. That is a big fat FAIL. But, if I give my husband some extra hugs one day and he folds all the laundry…the right way…well, SWOOOON. We are both expressing love for each other in our preferred love languages and the result is we both feel more connected and wanting to do more for one other. It is the opposite of a downward spiral…is that called an upward spiral? If anything , remember this…Once you learn the love language the hard work comes in consistently using them on each other. Keep reminding yourself because I promise you will forget.

Register For A Marriage Conference

Registering for the conference literally takes five minutes! But, then you also have to attend…and by attend I mean you have to physically and mentally SHOW UP with your spouse. When you learn a new skill think about all the different ways you invest. You might watch YouTube videos on how to do the skill, you might join Facebook Groups to discover tips and tricks from others about the skill, you might even enroll in an online or in-person class. So, why wouldn’t you also invest time and gain knowledge into your marriage?

Check out some seminars and see if any are happening near you…or far from you and it can double as a mini-vacation!

National Marriage Seminars (Online or In-Person Options)

A Weekend To Remember (Faith-Based)

Marriage Boot Camp

Gottman Institute

“What Do You Hear Me Saying?”

This is my spouse’s favorite line in the middle of an argument. I used to roll my eyes, but then over time I realized it actually helps to resolve our issues…most of the time. During a heated debate people can tend to latch onto an emotion and sometimes that emotion can distort the words we are hearing from our loved ones. So, we try to take a breath and pause to ask one another “What do you hear me saying?”. When we do this, we discover that the majority of the time we want the same thing, but are expressing it in different ways. This phrase gives each of us some space to identify the underlying emotion we feel and can use words to explain the thoughts and feelings surrounding that emotion. Next time a disagreement starts to escalate in your marriage try to remember to take a deep breath, pause and ask your partner what do you hear me saying?

Look for the Positive

I recently saw this reminder and I loved it because it is true about life and true about marriage. My husband does something everyday that I could be mad about and in the past we have traveled this road. (Spoiler Alert: It leads to nowhere good.) When I am looking for his mistakes they become magnified and each one seems to be more glaring than the last. Do you know what else happens? I fail to see all the positive things he is doing. If I choose to focus on the mess that my husband and toddler failed to clean-up, then I miss seeing the quality time they just enjoyed together. If I focus on the fact that he didn’t empty the overflowing trash can in the kitchen, then I fail to see that he was on the phone handling a billing issue for our family. If I focus on the fact that he didn’t do this or that or that other thing either, then I miss seeing all the positive ways he is contributing to our family. So, next time you spot a shortcoming, practice turning it around. It will feel impossible challenging in the beginning, but eventually it will be easy to spot the positive in your spouse when you are always thinking about the positive in your spouse.

Do you have any 5-minute marriage savers that have made a difference in your life? Don’t keep them a secret! Share them with us as we all work towards healthy and happy marriages that go the distance.

Quick tips for a happy, healthy, stronger marriage to last a lifetime.

Green Your Cleaning Routine and Save $$$

Spend less money. Have less toxins. Produce less waste. Have less clutter.

Sometimes it can feel like a trade-off between using greening your cleaning routine and saving money. When I choose the most eco-friendly cleaner from the store shelves, I want to kick myself at check-out when I hear the total. But then when I buy the cheapest bathroom cleaner, I instantly regret the decision the minute I accidentally breathe some in and start coughing. Why can’t we have green cleaning supplies without breaking the budget?

That’s a great question, friends! And I have an answer for you. It is possible to go green and save money (or at least not spend more money). The best part is you don’t even have to spend time making your own green cleaners with mixing cups and…whatever else goes into green cleaners. So, let’s begin with the top four things to save your hard-earned green while greening your cleaning routine.

P.S. Sometimes my posts contain affiliate links. This is at NO extra cost to you. I support these products because I use them and I believe in their quality. See my disclosure policy for more details.

Buy Cloth Napkins and Washcloths

Use cloth napkins and washcloths to green your cleaning routine today.

First, let me introduce you to my family. We use paper towels for both cleaning AND as napkins at mealtimes…don’t judge us. As you can guess we went through tons of paper towels every month. Somewhere along the lines, my green guilt built up and I pushed our family to take the plunge. So, the first step to green our cleaning routine was to incorporate cloth napkins and washcloths into our household. I started this process by placing our paper towels in an absurdly inconvenient location. Next, I filled the cutest wire basket with a boatload of washcloths in an array of coordinating colors. Then, I filled an equally cute mesh basket with just as many rolled up colorful cloth napkins. (Tip: Buy your washcloths and napkins on clearance and use baskets you already have around the house.)

BEFORE: Paper towel roll = $2.00. Three paper towel rolls per month = 36 rolls per year. Annual cost for paper towel = $72

AFTER: After the initial expense of wash cloths, cloth napkins and wire baskets, the only expense is laundering of all your reusable materials. Annual cost is $10*. (*Sidenote: I still need paper towels here and there for BIG messes, so I estimated about 5 rolls per year.)

SAVINGS: $62 per year!

Puracy Laundry Detergent

The second step to green your cleaning routine is easy too. I can’t quite remember how I discovered Puracy, but I did and I LOVE them. Even better is that they are home-grown here in Austin, so I feel like a better human being for buying local. Why do I love Puracy laundry detergent? Let me count the ways.

  1. They are scent-free and made for sensitive skin.
  2. They are comparable in cost to other higher-end detergents.
  3. They have a two-pump system, so it prevents me from overfilling the detergent cup, thus wasting money with a heavy-handed pour.

BEFORE: We do approximately 400 loads of laundry per year. Store bought laundry detergent is $19.97 for 81 loads. Annual cost for laundry detergent = $98.

AFTER: Puracy Laundry Detergent is $15.99 for 96 loads. If you join Amazon Prime and enroll in Subscribe & Save, then two bottles of Puracy will cost approximately $22.09 for 192 loads! Annual cost is $46. 

SAVINGS: $52 per year!

White Vinegar vs. Dryer Sheets

The third step to green your cleaning routine comes with a fun fact. Did you know that you can use white vinegar in the last rinse cycle of your washer and it acts as a fabric softener? Mind blown! Once I discovered this little trick I hopped on the bandwagon and never looked back. I already knew I wanted to ditch the dryer sheets and this gave me the final push to just do it already. So, repeat after me. Use 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser…Boom. Money saved and your family is greener.

BEFORE: Eco-friendly dryer sheets are $7.98 for 80 sheets. Annual cost is $40.

AFTER: 1/4 cup white vinegar per load (purchased in bulk from Costco) averages about $21/ year. (Tip: Add 10 drops of an essential oil into the vinegar, such as lavender, purification or lemon.) (Another tip: Throw some wool dryer balls or tennis balls into the dryer to help soften laundry even more.)

SAVINGS: $19 per year!

Force of Nature

The fourth step to green your cleaning routine will also set you free of under-the-sink cleaning clutter. You’re welcome. Have you heard of Force of Nature? Me neither. But, Force of Nature discovered me through a Facebook ad strategically placed in my feed. I clicked. I read. I was interested. I purchased. I fell in love. End of story. There is some fascinating science behind Force of Nature, so check out their site and read all about it. The super simplified version is electricity + water, vinegar, salt = a substance as effective as bleach with zero toxic chemicals. After you buy the starter kit (approximately $50), then you only need to purchase the capsules each year.

Force of Nature Cleaner

BEFORE: Glass Cleaner $2.48, Bleach $1.75, Grease Cleaner $2.76, Rug Cleaner $2.96, Soap Scum Cleaner $1.97, Odor Eliminator $2.97 = $14.89

AFTER: After the initial expense of purchasing the starter kit (approximately $50), you will need to purchase the capsules each year. Annual cost for 25 capsules is $18.99.

SAVINGS: You have a single bottle of green cleaner versus six bottles of non-green cleaners cluttering up below your kitchen sink. Welcome to minimalism!

How much money did we save making these changes? The short answer is we save about $133 each year! The longer answer is that we didn’t save much the first year given the investments we had to make to begin the going-green process, but now that we are deep into our second year of greener cleaning, we would never look back. We eliminated toxic chemicals. We produce less waste. We spend less money. We have less clutter.

Reach out and let me know if you decide to take the plunge to a greener cleaning routine. What products or methods do you love? Did you save some money?

Green your cleaning routine and save money. Take these four easy steps to a green and clean home.

2019 Reading List

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Every year one of my goals is to read MORE. Sometimes I succeed and mostly I fail, but it never stops me from trying again the next year. This year I’ve compiled my 2019 reading list and am reaching out to various friends who have the same books on their list and creating a virtual book club. I’m hoping this will increase my motivation factor to finish each book if I’m reading along (virtually) with a friend. This year’s reading list has EVERYTHING…biographies, autobiographies, fiction, classics, poetry, international authors, Black authors, fiction, non-fiction, parenting, Christianity, social justice, book prize winners and more. So, here it is…my 2019 reading list! Are any of these books on your list? What is your MUST READ in 2019? How do you diversify your reading list?

Do you have some literary inspiration? Are you ready to open up a book right this minute? Gather up your books and come along with me on an adventure to resolving to read more in 2019!

My 2019 Planner

I did it…I purchased my 2019 planner! I realize I am late to the planner party, but better late than never. In the past years I’ve tried the Erin Condren planners, Commit30 and this year I have decided to try the Simplified series by Emily Ley. Woo! Cheers to setting and keeping our 2019 goals like a #boss. What planner have you invested in this year? Which planner is your favorite to stay on track throughout your day, week, month and year?

Hello World!

Hi. Welcome to Laugh. Yell. Repeat. Here you will find all things related to our messy, beautiful life. Each day I try to be a better mother, wife and human being. Most days life feels like I take one step forward and two steps backward, but it’s better than staying still. So, come along for the ride and let’s try to be a little better each day. The world could always use more goodness.