Day 139: Planning Ahead for Halloween

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You can save a lot of money on Halloween costumes if you think about it a little bit. Usually, the first week of November the stores will mark down the Halloween costumes with deep discounts. This is your time to strike.

Get together with your spouse and your children and see what kind of costumes they might like for the following year. This can sometimes be difficult to guess exactly, but at least you’ll be putting down less money for these costumes. You will need to take into account another year of growth for each of your children and buy them a costume in the size it will likely be in a year’s time.

I’ve gotten very lucky but every year my wife has estimated the size our children would be next year, she has gotten it right. Stores all around will likely want to get rid of their Halloween stuff so that they can start putting in Christmas displays, so their impatience is your gain. If you do it this way, you should never have to pay full price for a Halloween costume.

Day 104: The Non-Complaint

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Ask yourself, what’s the one thing that I have to do that I grumble through? We all have things we should that we wish we didn’t have to. For me, for example, for me it’s trying on clothes at the store. I don’t know why, but I can’t stand it. My method of clothes shopping “Well that looks good, and it’s the right size too. Let’s get it.”

Whatever is your equivalent is for you, your spouse probably knows about it that is used to you being uncomfortable with it. Something that I’ve tried before to surprise her is to actually take something like that to be cheerful about it, even though you may not feel like it. That way, something that is coming up that she might think might be a headache to get you to do, suddenly becomes much easier. This will brighten her day in a significant way.

Day 97: Comfort Food

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Everybody has one or two. You just had a terrible day and you go home with one thing you wish you could eat. I call it  comfort food. It’s not something you eat every day or that you should, but when the day has been really bad the only thing you want.

For some it’s ice cream, for some it’s potato chips, but for me it is any kind of marinated meat. I’m a carnivore, what else can I say?

Your spouse is going to have those hard days too, and so you should know what comfort food means to her.  Surprising her with it at just the right time may be just the boost she needs to overcome a day that didn’t go her way.

Day 83: Never, Never, Never Forget…

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When you get married, a lot of new days by default become important to you. Of course, you have your anniversary, which you should never, never, never forget. Hopefully the day was memorable enough that this will be no problem.

Hopefully her birthday will also not be a problem, because it also needs to be recognized. The ones that are little trickier are the ones coming from your in-laws. It is a good idea in order to build bridges with them, to recognize them on their special days, such as their birthdays. Depending on the size of your in-law family, this could be a difficult task.

One thing that I found to help me is to set reminders on my phone. Nowadays, most phones will do this and will even let you set up the reminder as an annual event. Set a reminder for a day or a few days before the day to remind yourself to give that person a call or to do something nice for them.

After a while, these things will become routine so that you don’t have to rely on something else to remind you. If anything, this simply allows you to show that you take the time out of your busy life to pay attention to other people, which is an excellent way to strengthen your relationship with your wife and her family.

Day 76: A Few of My Favorite Things

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One thing that my wife and I like to do is take road trips. Fortunately, her family only lives a few hours away, which makes it reasonable to go see them more often. My family, however, is an over 20-hour trip by car, which makes this a trip we take only seldomly.

Over the long hours, we often decide to do things that will spark interesting conversations. One thing we do is “my favorite things”. In this case, it has little to do with the Sound of Music, though schnitzel with noodles actually does appear high on my list favorite things. Throw in crisp apple strudel too.

We each take a turn listing a category such as “my favorite restaurant to get a hamburger it”. We then have to guess what the other person will say. The person then reveals his or her answer and takes a minute to talk about why and what comes in second place.

We try to think of interesting things that do more than scratch the surface. We learned long ago what our favorite movies are, our favorite books, our favorite TV show. Be a little more specific so that it takes more thought. What was your favorite song when you were in high school? What’s the best present that I’ve ever given you for Christmas?

Using these times when you have hours together on the road
is an idea that should be used to it’s fullest. You never know what you might learn about the person you see almost every day.

Day 69: Room Service at Home

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One of the things that I grew up seeing my father do was surprising my mother periodically with breakfast in bed. Admittedly, most of these fell on days that she was being recognized, such as Mother’s Day, their anniversary, or her birthday. But sometimes he did it just because.

I was raised in a family of eight children and though we weren’t exactly poor, there wasn’t all that much money to spare on lavish things. Getting breakfast in bed just made you feel like you were doing something out of the ordinary, a little fancier like getting room service delivered at a hotel. It shows planning and forethought, and usually entails sacrificing a little bit of sleep so that you can get up early enough to prepare the meal.

When my dad did breakfast, it wasn’t just plain toast and a bowl of cereal either. He’d make his famous sourdough pancakes with buttermilk syrup and serve them with scrambled eggs and bacon, and some kind of juice. Other times he would bring donuts and milk, anything that my mother enjoyed.

As we got older, he invited us to help him prepare the meal for mother. We’d get up early and sneak around softly so that she wouldn’t wake up. He would let each of us put a different elements of the meal on the tray and another one of us would carry the tray to her room. If it was her birthday, we would come into the room together and sing her Happy Birthday while we handed her the tray with the food.

These were wonderful memories and breakfast in bed is an excellent way that you can help your kids recognize their mother’s special days. And maybe once in a while just because.

Day 34: The Extra Thing

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Some of the most romantic gestures you can make to your wife are some of the smallest. I have found that a simple question works well for me. Once I am done doing something she has asked me to do, I ask, “What’s one extra thing I can do?”

For example, if I was supposed to load the dishwasher, I finish that and then take the trash out at the same time. If I’m supposed to put clothes in the dryer, I take the time to put a new load in the washer.

It is those little things that make a big difference in the quality of your marriage.

Question: What is some little extra thing you can do today?

Day 27: Date Night

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Though it may sound like a cliché, you have to keep dating your spouse. Especially when the children start coming, you will spend more and more time wearing the “mom” and “dad” hats and less time wearing the “husband” and “wife” hats.

Like anything that is worth it, there are obstacles.  Just to name a few:

  1. I don’t know what to do. The great thing about date night is that the emphasis can be on how much time you spend together and not as much you spend on the date. It doesn’t matter so much what you do, just that you enjoy it and you do it together. Find ways to do your shared hobbies together, or do something as simple as going on a walk without the kids.
  2. I don’t want to leave the kids.  Trust me, spending some time away from the kids actually works to their advantage in the long run. It is easier to appreciate them after you’ve been away from them for a while. Make sure that you find a reliable babysitter, and get to know them first if you don’t already.
  3. I don’t have the money for it.  Date nights do not need to be expensive, though an occasional splurge is fun. Many dates don’t need to cost money at all. Watch a movie together at home with treats, play a board game together, share a dinner you made at home without the kids. Let it be something where you can talk like husband and wife instead of mom and dad.

Set a night every week, maybe Friday, maybe not, and stick to it. Your whole family will thank you for it.

Question: What night could be your date night if your don’t have one already? What are some things you and your spouse like to do together?

Day 13: There’s a Coupon for That

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For my last birthday, my wife came up with an amazing idea. After she had given me all the rest of presents, she handed me a coupon booklet that she had created for me.

This wasn’t your typical collection of clippings that save you 65 cents on cereal or gets you 2 for 1 peanut butter.

Instead she gave me a whole coupon book full of nice things that she would do for me. For example:

Redeemable for your favorite home-cooked meal of your choice.

Redeemable for a free Saturday where you can go out and do whatever you want.

Redeemable for a free day of sleeping in.

And many more. She got very creative and I can tell you, I love just knowing that I have them. It is a gift of giving of herself, rather than a new tie that I’ll probably spill BBQ sauce  on, or a computer game I’ll play for a few weeks and then complete.

Question: What sort of things could you give your spouse that would be meaningful to her?