Respect in Marriage Matters- 3 Ways to Show You Care

respect in marriage

If you’ve been struggling with your relationship, you aren’t alone. Many couples experience frustration and anxiety when one party doesn’t feel respected. You might know that you’re fighting without knowing the reason why you’re fighting- which can cause even more stress and anxiety. If you’re tired of losing arguments, of fighting over stupid things and of wondering whether or not your relationship is going to survive, it’s time to take action. Respect in marriage matters. Here are three meaningful ways that you can start to demonstrate respect and compassion to your partner in an effort to improve your relationship.

1. Let your partner win sometimes

Nobody wants to lose an argument, but sometimes you need to let your partner win. This demonstrates that you value and respect your partner’s point of view, but it also shows that you don’t always have to get your way. Part of being in a relationship means being willing to let the other person take the lead sometimes. If you’re ready to show your partner that you’re able to change, start by letting them have the final word.

2. Let your partner feel needed

If you’re used to handling everything on your own, your partner might not feel needed. This can be especially true with military couples after a deployment. Instead of trying to prove that you can survive without your partner, let them know how much you truly need and want them in your life. This could be anything from letting your husband take care of the baby one night, asking your wife to show you how to cook something, or asking your partner’s opinion about how to best handle a workplace problem you feel stressed about.

3. Let your partner know you value his or her opinion

Respect essentially boils down to one thing: value. When you demonstrate respect to someone, you let them know how valuable they are to you. One important way that you can show your partner your respect is to let them know how much you value their opinions. The next time that your partner offers advice on something, take it. The next time your wife suggests you wear a different tie, do it. The next time that your husband suggests you apply for a specific job, listen. Part of a successful relationship means demonstrating that the other person is important. Valuing their opinions is one of the simplest ways to show them how much you care.

Want more marriage advice before your big wedding day? Go to and enroll in our online Florida premarital preparation course. Many couples who have completed our course highly recommend it.


Saving Money on Your Beautiful Wedding Cake

Saving money on your wedding cake with non-edible tiers

Saving Money on Your Wedding Cake is Possible! Here’s How You Work the Price Down. 

Wedding cakes can be made to look as delicate and as lacy as flowered hats, as beautiful as mysterious treasure chests and as jewel-like as something on a shelf at Tiffany’s. To many wedding guests, the last course of the meal when they get to sample that wedding cake is one of the most special parts of the wedding.

For the couple paying for the wedding, though, aiming to not disappoint with the cake can be an expensive indulgence. A grand wedding cake can cost as much as $1000 – or 5% of the price tag of the average American wedding. Whatever way you can find to save on the cost of your cake can be worth it so here are some ideas for saving money on your wedding cake.

Mostly, it isn’t the size of your cake that makes it expensive

Cake is flour, eggs, shortening, cream and sugar – it’s fairly inexpensive to make. Even a huge five-tier cake shouldn’t cost more than $200. How does it end up costing $1000 then?

It isn’t the ingredients that make wedding cakes expensive. Rather, it is the amount of the decorative detail ordered that sends the bill up. If you want your cake covered with three-dozen intricate roses, for instance, it takes skill, artistry and time. For the most part, such fancy decorative work is what tends to make wedding cakes expensive.

Cakes that are made to look like flowers or other shapes are extremely labor intensive. Choosing simple, square cakes is one way of saving money on your wedding cake. You should even consider staying away from a tiered cake. Many bakers charge as much as 25% extra to stack cake tiers. Going with a single-layered cake can save you serious money as well.

Learn how to achieve beautiful results cheaply

Icing flowers with intricate detail are very expensive. Instead, you can choose to order large, sugar paste flowers that are simple four-petal designs. These can be inexpensive and still look impressive. Studding your cake with icing pearls is another less costly way to come by elegant results.

For the material that makes your frosting, you should choose buttercream instead of fondant. Cheaper frosting materials can save you approximately $1 on each slice. The kind of icing flavor you choose is another area to pay attention to. Simple flavors like chocolate, strawberry, lemon and vanilla are cheaper than other flavors like hazelnut.

You can save a few dollars with a slightly smaller cake

Not every guest at a wedding asks for a slice of wedding cake. Guests can have different reasons for staying away – a special diet, perhaps. Since wedding cakes are priced by the slice, you can count the number of guests you have and consider ordering fewer slices.

Also, a smaller cake doesn’t actually have to look smaller. Wedding cake bakers can often build your cake up with inedible decorative layers. Then you can end up with very impressive results that are inexpensive, nonetheless.

Another good idea is to order a small, but richly decorated wedding cake for the ceremonial cake cutting. This isn’t the cake that you serve your guests, though. For them, you order a separate, simply decorated cake that tastes the same. It will remain in the kitchen and be served by your catering staff. Your wedding cake bill can often cost half as much this way.


Reception venues have a habit of tacking on something called a cake cutting charge worth $5 a slice, or more. You can negotiate ahead of time and many couples succeed in working this surcharge down as well.

Getting ready for your wedding? Don’t forget to also get your relationship ready so you can enjoy a long and successful marriage. Take our popular online premarital course at

Starting a Conversation with Your Spouse

starting a conversation with spouse over breakfast

Has starting a conversation with your spouse become a challenge lately?  

Even though you generally think you have good communication with him or her, there may be times when your communication doesn’t seem to flow as easily or the occasional silence doesn’t seem as comfortable as it once was.

So what can you do to stimulate a good conversation with your spouse?

Here are some ideas to get your communication flowing again.

  1. Ask what was the best part of their day while they were away from you (for example, if they were away at work)
  2. Ask about the worse part of their day
  3. Read up on several news items of the day or some trending topic or report on social media and share some interesting information about one or more of those stories with a follow-up question such as “What do you think about that?”
  4. Research and give a few ideas for activities to do together this coming week, weekend, or month, and see what they think about those ideas. Also, ask them if they have any other ideas and which one or two would be their top picks from among the choices.
  5. Ask something about one of their family members- For example, “Have you spoken with your mom (or your brother) recently? What is she up to?” Also share some observations, opinions, or ideas related to the topics brought up about that relative and any issues they are going through.
  6. Tell your spouse you want to plan to have a nice dinner together so you want their input on either what type of food and/or which restaurant they’d like to go to, or, what type of food they’d like to have for the menu of a make-at-home dinner. Work out specifics of where, when, who’s cooking, who’s making the list, who’s shopping for the ingredients, for whatever the case may be.
  7. Bring up a minor to moderate problem for a problem-solving brainstorming session. Think of something you’d like to try to address together and ask your partner if they’d be willing to toss around some ideas and potential solutions so you can both find a resolution for that problem.
  8. Use some conversation starter, such as: “If you were going to be stuck on a deserted island, what is the one thing you would have to take that you cannot live without (besides me!), or what is the one type of food you would want to have there that you would not want to live without,” or, “If it was our 30th anniversary next year, where do you think we should go for a fabulous anniversary trip?”
  9. Or try: “I miss hearing your voice. Can you sing to me or tell me a funny story from your week or something you read online?” If you have a wise guy in your life, he might just reply: “Yeah, my funny story was when my wife asked me, the guy who can’t carry a tune, to sing to her! Isn’t that hysterical?” But hey, at least you would have jump started some talking!
  10. Tell about your latest activity or hobby you’ve done (your workout at the gym, latest book you’ve read, encounters during your online gaming or bicycle ride) and then ask about your partner to tell you more about how their recent hobby or activity.

Remember that even if the talking fizzles out quickly, every day brings more ideas and more opportunities to begin a conversation. Be mindful of trending topics in the family, in your lives, and out in the world, so you can continue to take advantage of opportunities to engage your partner in lively conversation and keep your communication strong throughout your marriage.

Want more marriage strengthening ideas? Discover them by taking our e-learning course at 

How to Become a Great Step-parent

Copy of bigstock-Portrait-of-happy-family-with--33002837Becoming a step-parent is one of the most challenging situations that an adult can face. Developing a good relationship with your new stepchildren doesn’t happen overnight, and it often doesn’t occur unless you put in considerable thought, preparation, and hard work. While the transition may not be easy, there are several measures that you can take in learning how to become a great step-parent and growing into your new role.

Deal with the “You’re Not My Parent” Argument Right Away

Regardless of the age of your stepchildren, it is inevitable that this conversation will be brought up. When you receive this response from your stepchild, be clear and confident about your role in the family. Let the child know that you are aware that you are not his or her parent. Let the child know you do not intend to replace their biological parent. However, if a biological parent is not available to handle a situation in which a rule has been overstepped, it is important to exert your authority as an adult that is in charge. Discuss your intentions and ideas about this with your partner who is the child’s biological parent first, to agree on parameters of your parenting involvement and to avoid conflicts with your partner. Both of you should have a united approach towards parenting the children for the best parenting results as well as marital harmony.

Be Realistic with Your Relationship Expectations

You should not go into your new step-parent role expecting instant love and attachment, as these feelings take time to develop. Instead, begin your relationship on the foundation of respect. Exemplify respectful behavior toward your stepchildren, and let them know that you expect to be treated the same way. Avoid making negative or derogatory comments regarding the absent biological parent in order to encourage trust with your stepchildren.

Spend Time with Each Child Individually

Although a group identity is essential for becoming a family, it is also important to spend one-on-one time with each of your stepchildren in order to develop a positive relationship. Make time to spend alone together, and try to get into your stepchild’s world. Consider driving your stepchild to school or volunteering with the child’s extracurricular activities in order to get this alone time.

Be a Cheerleader

As a step-parent, it is important that you support your stepchild in all of their endeavors, including school projects, sporting events, dreams, goals, and ambitions. Go to as many school functions or activities as possible that you are invited to attend, but ensure that you are respectful to the biological parent during these events. Acknowledge the struggles and efforts that your stepchild experiences, and work to be a good role model. Your stepchild will begin to learn to rely on you and will trust your feedback over time.

Focus on Having a Successful Marriage

Your marriage is the most vulnerable relationship in your home. While you may feel selfish at times, it is important to do what is necessary to ensure that your marriage remains strong, not only for you as adults, but also for your family. Guard your alone time, as a couple. Talk about issues that you may be experiencing regarding the stress of your role as step-parent and problem solve to address any issues together. Eventually, your children and stepchildren will likely model your loving and respectful marriage in their own relationships as adults.

Taking on the role of a stepparent is a challenging endeavor that will likely have its bumps along the way. By putting in effort with your new family to forge positive relationships, you will be on your way to becoming a great step-parent.

Intimacy in Relationships: How intimate are you?

couple hugging: intimacy in relationships

Intimacy is important for any long-term relationship. But it goes beyond the meaning that we normally associate with intimacy. There are three classifications, and they are all important to understand and strengthen intimacy in relationships.

Self-intimacy has to do with each individual feeling comfortable with themselves. This is extremely important since the lack of self-intimacy can cause a person to develop low self-esteem. Reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses, and becoming more self-aware is vital to enhancing self-intimacy, which will ultimately allow you to be a more cheerful, and healthier individual. Reflect on the reasons why your partner fell in love with you. Make sure your partner can reflect on what makes them unique, too!

Conflict intimacy is another important classification, since it refers to how close or intimate couples can be during arguments. It may seem difficult, but maintaining closeness during this time can improve communication and relationship strength. Stick together through thick and thin!

The last form of intimacy to understand is affection intimacy. This is the one that most people associate with the word “intimacy.” Affection intimacy can shown verbally, through actions, sexual expressions and non-sexual physical actions (such as holding hands, a kiss, or something else entirely). Giving and receiving affection is a vital skill for long-term couples. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and loved by their soulmate.

With this in mind, we encourage you to reflect on how these three types of intimacy play a role in your relationship. Take time to discuss ways to keep intimacy strong so you can always show just how much you care about each other.

Secrets to Cutting Your Wedding Costs

Couple figuring out wedding budget

Cutting your wedding costs can seem like the new priority once you start to get actual quotes for wedding services. Your initial wedding budget may be way off from those other actual quote numbers! Fortunately, there are often ways of cutting your wedding costs.

To do so, though, you will need to prioritize and agree to spend more of your budget on only a few of those things you both feel are most important. For the rest, you will need to become more flexible or downright cut-throat so you can substitute or eliminate other things often included as part of “traditional” weddings.

Here are several ideas for cutting your wedding costs, if you dare…

1. Avoid or reduce use of real flowers – Use potted plants or other decorative inexpensive items as centerpieces, artificial flowers, or paper crafted flowers (the latter two can also work for bouquets). Or, use extra-large type of flowers so that you can buy less stems overall.

2. Have your wedding reception at a fancy restaurant in a scenic location to avoid renting a location and separately catering

3. Have your wedding ceremony and your reception at the same location

4. Find a venue that gives you the flexibility of using your own outside vendors instead of only theirs

5. Ask for help from friends and family members and use their gifts and talents for your memorable wedding day. You can request their service instead of a traditional gift. You may have a friend of family member who is skillful enough to make your wedding cake, another who can craft flower arrangements, or another who may be willing to help you set up a play list or be skilled as a DJ or musician.

6. Choosing a wedding day that is a weekday or a Sunday (instead of the most in demand day, Saturday). Also, when possible, find out the high season in your area, and see if you can instead book a wedding date during a lower season to reduce costs.

7. For the reception, consider either: no alcohol, limiting alcohol to just beer, wine and champagne (rather than open bar with all liquor) or limiting the hours of an open bar

8. Take a premarital preparation course. In Florida, and in some other states you can get incentives from the state- For instance, if you’re marrying in Florida, you can save money on your marriage license and avoid the usual 3 day wait. Regardless of state incentives, though, taking a premarital course can help you have a more successful marriage and avoid a costly relationship breakup later on.

9. Find and compare all inclusive wedding ceremony and reception deals which can sometimes save money on separate pieces and using various individual vendors. For example, consider a golf club location/restaurant, cruise ship, local botanical gardens, or local dinner cruise boat. They will often offer wedding packages that already include scenery, decorations, music and/or food.

10. Consider use of a wedding planner, especially if they can show you they have discounted deals with various vendors that you can benefit from.


Florida residents complete a premarital preparation course online at




How Can You Handle a Disagreement in a Productive Manner?

Couple in a disagreement

Here’s a scenario. You and your spouse are having a disagreement. Each of you has a different idea about the issue of contention. How can you get past the frustration and handle this disagreement in a productive manner?

First, you need to decide what “handle this disagreement in a productive manner” means to each of you. Then, that will guide you towards an end-goal during your discussion. The interpretation of that phrase is what leads you down one road or another and towards a goal. It’s as if you’re at a fork in the road. One road leads to more arguments, anger, and perhaps even insults and verbal abuse. Yet, another road leads to keeping the peace, continued happiness with your partner and keeping a happy home.

As an illustration, consider that making the decision to turn onto one road is when you decide what goal you prefer to follow. Then, driving the car down that road equates to the steps you take with what you think, say, and do during the next few minutes or hours with your partner so you can get yourself down the road you choose and to your end-goal there.

Let’s explore two very different types of interpretations of “to handle this disagreement in a productive manner.” Keep in mind that there can be other interpretations and if so, the person will be led down an even different road as they attempt to realize that different goal. For this discussion, we will focus on one interpretation which generally leads the couple into a worse conflict and another which generally leads to a calmer conversation.

The Fighting Road

If one of you interprets the phrase “to handle this disagreement in a productive manner” as meaning “I will get what I want” (because what I think is the best way and so of course it’s the most productive way to handle the disagreement) and your partner interprets that phrase similarly (so they think their idea is better and they will also fight tooth and nail to get it), then the two of you will be locked into an escalating fight where the goal is to control and win (what only one person wants). In this case, each person has as their end-goal “to win with my idea.” Unfortunately, this road typically leads to a worse conflict where neither truly “win” because of what they also “lose” (the trust, respect, good feelings from their spouse).

If you choose to think and act like that couple, then you and/or your partner might be:

1. Intimidating the other by yelling louder or interrupting them so they can’t even put forth anymore of their thoughts

2. Insulting the other so they will buckle and accept your idea instead

3. Trying different tactics to “prove” your idea is superior to your partner’s idea, or that your partner’s idea is “stupid” whereas yours makes the most sense

4. Refusing to talk with each other anymore while harboring resentment, being angry with each other, and with no resolution in sight

The Power Couple Road

On the hand, if you are part of a couple where you each decide to interpret the phrase “to handle the disagreement in a productive manner” to mean “we will agree to some solution to resolve the current issue, if possible, but the main goal is always to maintain the well-being of our relationship and stay respectful, loving, and happy together” then you will not be locked in a fight where the goal is to control and win what only one wants. In this case, your partner’s happiness, ideas, and feelings are a top priority and you want to maintain a happy home. So you and your partner go down a road where each is saying and doing things towards that end-goal by calming the situation and winning by gaining ongoing good feelings towards each other in a respectful and loving relationship.

If you choose to think and act like that couple, then you and/or your partner might be:

1. Thinking of more alternatives: discussing more ideas until you both agree to one, even though the “solution” you decide on may be one that neither of you originally proposed- however, you are both “satisfied enough”

2. Standing down- letting your partner get their choice instead so you both stop arguing and continue happy together rather than angry with each other

3. Supporting your partner’s feelings even though you don’t agree with their proposed solution (example: partner is fed up with kids that day and proposes selling them online – instead of yelling that your partner is stupid for thinking that way, you give your partner a hug, say you’re sorry they had such a hard day with the kids, you know the kids can be extra challenging some days, and ask what can you do or both of you do now to help alleviate your spouses’ distress)

4. Agreeing to have different ideas: tabling the discussion because “it’s not worth it” (it’s not worth hurting each other over this issue) and you decide you each can just continue thinking differently about this and still get along fine- OR- temporarily stopping the discussion by mutual agreement so each of you has time to calm down and/or to think of more ideas for more discussion at another time

5. bargaining or negotiating such that you or your partner get what one wants now but only by also making the other one happy by giving them something in exchange now or in the future, and both of you are satisfied with the deal

This second scenario of resolving a disagreement in a productive manner is one that generally leads a couple down the road to having a stronger, respectful, and happier relationship. With such a couple, they both do all they can to make choices in what they say and do to keep the closeness and happiness they feel in their relationship as their first priority, even when they (at least initially) disagree.

Ultimately, though, this couple chooses to agree on one very important thing. They agree to put the topic of disagreement in the background (as less important) and to put their relationship first.

Happy National Proposal Day and First Day of Spring


Each year on the first day of Spring is also National Proposal Day! This year it falls on March 20, 2015. Marriage proposals are great fun and a sentimental moment for the happy couple- and also for their family and friends. Apparently National Proposal Day was created to help designate a day to help couples go ahead, take the plunge and get engaged.

Here are some ideas for starting to hone in on how you want to propose to your loved one:

1. Think of a shared activity you both really enjoy and incorporate proposal during the next time you do that shared activity

2. Decide on a feeling reaction you want to create with your loved one. If your other half has a good sense of humor, you can think of a funny situation within to propose marriage. If your partner is very adventurous and thrives on a feeling of exhileration and danger, you can schedule some extreme new adventure and propose then! If your partner is very sentimental and romantic you may want to create a marriage proposal with words and images that will put them over the top with sentimental feelings.

3. Consider if you want the marriage proposal to be a private or a social event. If your partner is very outgoing and social (and if you’re quite sure of their answer) you might consider crafting a marriage proposal in the company of family and/or friends. If your partner is a more private person or less outgoing though, they’ll probably prefer a more private marriage proposal experience.

Here is a series of fun videos of some memorable marriage proposals you’re sure to laugh and cry along with. A marriage proposal can be very simple and traditional, or quite surprising or extreme. One of the videos begins with scaring the woman that an airplane flight they were on together could be in trouble! We would say that one is one of the more extreme type of marriage proposal situations (and kudos to the gal who was a good sport!)

So enjoy! Maybe one of these videos will inspire you, your partner, or one of your friends to propose marriage today (or real soon)!


Marriage Poem: I Promise

Are you looking for wedding vows ideas or for a marriage poem that could be suitable as a reading for your wedding ceremony? If so, here is a heartfelt poem, ‘I Promise’ by Dorothy R. Colgan, which might fit your … Continue reading

How Apologizing Can Go Wrong

How apologizing can go wrong

Sometimes it can seem like your good intentions backfire.

Whether it was a miscommunication or an unneccessary argument, sincere appologies are important for opening communication and moving past a problem. But why is it that sometimes, when you apologize, things just seem to get worse?

Even if we have the intention to admit we’ve done something wrong, it can be easy to throw in an additional phrase that will put your partner on the defense. These acusatory phrases are a means to shift the blame. Here is an example of how apologizing can go wrong. Which would you prefer to hear if your partner was apologizing to you and you were feeling hurt? “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have reacted like that. It was inappropriate.” OR “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have reacted like that… but if you had just listened to me…”

Apologies are stand-alone statements where we take responsibility for our actions and ask for forgiveness. Shifting blame is an attempt to apologize where you claim that the actions you made were someone else’s or something else’s fault. In doing so, we’re not really taking responsibility for our words and actions. So, the next time you want to do a heartfelt apology, don’t let it turn into the blame game. When you start blaming your partner for your actions, it’s no longer about recognizing that you’ve done something wrong and hurtful, but rather, it becomes about attacking and hurting your partner further. Remember, when you blame your partner for your actions, it’s more difficult for them to forgive you and move past the situation.

How can you avoid shifting blame?

First of all, it’s important to understand that blame-shifting is often done in an attempt to protect ourselves and our image. Nobody wants to be at fault for a mistake. But we need to also recognize that blame-shifting can be detrimental to relationships, both in our personal lives and our professional lives. If you’re apologizing for something, avoid using the word “but” at the end of an apology and don’t bring up the actions of someone else. These tips will help keep you on track to accomplish your end goal.

If you have a problem, you’re going to want to talk about it. But doing so should be done in a way where both individuals feel comfortable. Starting the conversation with an apology and following it up with something your partner did that really bothered you isn’t the way to begin a healthy, open dialogue. Starting with “I feel…” is a better option, but remember that your attitude, inflection and word choices are significant when it comes to having a worthwhile discussion.

Discover more great tips that will help you achieve a successful, long-lasting and fulfilling marriage by taking Envision Love’s fun, online marriage preparation course. Taking the premarital course will allow you to receive a discount on your Florida marriage license and skip the 3-day marriage license waiting period.