7 Marriage Lessons from Flying on an Airplane

by Karl & Sharon Leukert

With summer travel in earnest, you might be considering boarding an airplane to take you to your destination for fun and relaxation. When we were younger (and it was our first few times flying) it seemed like such an adventure. Now, after many multiple flights, it too often ends up being a major hassle. This is kind of like marriage – at the start it is so fun and exciting, but after years of the journey, too often it ends up often seeming like more trouble than it’s worth. To help you on your journey, we’ve put together some Marital Flight Rules that will help you regain or retain the sense of adventure.

FlyingCouple

Copyright: andresr / 123RF Stock Photo

1) Everyone has baggage. Some is carry on, some is check on. Everyone enters marriage with “baggage” – EVERYONE! Some of that is very visible. Little idiosyncrasies from how we have been raised, or the culture we’re from, or just from our unique way of seeing the world around us. This is totally normal, even though it may be frustrating to our spouse. But we all also have hidden baggage – learned parenting skills or financial management that are destructive; emotional constructs that impact our relational success or failure; sexual activities prior to marriage (either with your now spouse, someone else, or pornography) that effects your relationship and sexual behavior after the “I do”; abuse in the past that has not been dealt with; damage from divorce; lack of understanding yourself enough to enter the marital relationship with a mature frame of mind. Of course this list is not exhaustive. What can be exhaustive – and exhausting – is that even if the “check ons” are hidden at the beginning of the flight, at some point they will come to the surface and will have to be dealt with. It’s all part of the successful journey of marriage, so don’t get discouraged! (Did you bring your dysfunctional childhood into your marriage?)

2) There will be turbulence. Everyone who been flying for any length of time knows that very few flights are completely smooth from takeoff to landing. As the plane passes through the air it encounters invisible pockets of varying pressure as well as currents, causing the plane to suddenly rise and fall. Usually it is not too concerning (and can actually be a bit fun). When severe enough, though, it can cause serious injury.

Marriage can be like this as well. Every marriage has normal ups and downs, which, while somewhat disturbing, can also be enjoyable, if relationship growth comes from them. Then, there are also occurrences that almost seem like the video above. Financial setbacks, health emergencies, car or home accidents, deaths of family members, relationship crises that seem to hit without warning. All these and more can create havoc in your marriage. So what do you do?

First, don’t get out of your seat, and stay buckled! It’s easy during these times to want to try and run to greater safety. Resist! Second, spend time going back over the most important positive events in your married life.

  • What were your favorite dates?
  • What are your best/worst hotel experiences?
  • Recount what one vacation together you would relive if you could.
  • Make a list of the most memorable POSITIVE sexual experiences.
  • Share some of the things your liked/didn’t like about each place you’ve lived.
  • anything else that reminds you of your good history together

Those good memories are what keeps you in place during turbulent times. Third, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help.

3) Have a destination picked out when you start. No one would get on a plane without knowing where it will land. You have to have a destination determined before boarding. What about marriage? “Til death do us part.” Historically this has been part of vows recited at weddings by both spouses. However, as is too often the case, this seems more of a fantasy than a reality. Does that mean that it should not still be the goal? Hardly. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of long-term marriage. Every day, remind yourself of this destination. Just like you wouldn’t start flying without knowing where you’re going, plan from the beginning (or start now) that “Til death do us part.” is still the ideal.

4) Don’t get off until you get there. How many of us have heard the speech about what to do with the loss of cabin pressure (“Pulling the mask toward you will start the flow of oxygen…”) or what to do in the event of a water landing (“Your seat cushion will act as a flotation device…”)? Of all the flights we’ve been on, we have yet to hear the flight attendant say, “If you desire to get off of the plane in mid-flight, please press your button as we have parachutes available.” Many times marriage problems show up within the first 5-7 years. It’s at this point too many couples opt for the parachute of divorce. We are not advocating remaining in a an abusive marriage. If you are in an abusive situation, seek help immediately! What we are advocating is to not move to ending the marriage when the normal turbulence of marriage occurs. In fact, if you make it through the first 7 years, you are more likely to make it all the way to “Til death do us part.”

5) Trust other, more experienced flyers. The first time we each went on a flight, we had so many questions. What luggage should I use? How early should we arrive at the airport? What toiletries should I take? Window or aisle seat? Am I taking too many clothes? Etc. Now, we have been able to answer those questions for our oldest child as he went away to college for his freshman year. Asking those who have successfully flown makes a huge difference. For your marriage to be successful, it’s vital to find out what others have done who have solid marriages and learn from that. Do a search online for advice from other couples, but be ready to filter out those things that would not benefit your relationship or fit into the principles of an Unashamed Marriage. Beyond that, look for couples that you know who have solid marriages and ask them to mentor you. It will have tremendous benefits!

6) Enjoy the in-flight refreshments and entertainment. When you’re on a cheap one hour flight (and even longer ones), you’re going to get a soda and maybe some pretzels. It’s fun to watch the flight attendants pass out the goodies and then quickly pick up the garbage before the plane lands! Then there are longer flights where you can order your meal to your preference (and enjoy a movie that’s offered). When we’re on the soda and pretzel flights, we don’t refuse what’s being offered just because other flights have place settings and meals designed by food stylists. Wherever your marriage is at, enjoy the benefits of what’s there in front of you.

God has designed marriage to be full of joy, refreshment and entertainment, when it is lived unashamed. In fact, living out the 9 principles of an Unashamed Marriage will help to make sure they are present in your marriage.

7) Lose some baggage on the way. It was our first flight with all three of our children, two of which were under the age of two. How were we to balance the car seats we would need for our rental car when we arrived with our connecting flights? We made mistakes the first time and we were traveling from one gate to the next with all of the car seats and fixtures. On the return flight home, we found there was a lot more luggage that could be checked in, we didn’t have to carry it with us through all the connecting flights. We even combined our things in to one carry on diaper bag/wonder bag. We adjusted and kept things simpler, enjoying the flight home much more than our trip out. A few other times, our luggage has been delayed and had to be delivered by shuttle. As technology has improved there is much less lost luggage, but here are tips to minimize that even more. (Curious about what’s been found in lost or unclaimed luggage?)

There are some things in your marriage that always need to stay in the forefront – baggage that NEEDS to be lost. Do you have carry-on items that really should have been put into the cargo hold? It’s OK for most or all of that to be lost in transit. Also, know that others on the marriage plane may have extra baggage as well. Be careful not to add to your burden while even on the flight. Regularly go to marriage programs, read marriage strengthening materials, take part in online or offline assessments to see where you are at, or, if necessary, seek a flight attendant (a.k.a. marriage therapist/counselor).

 

Make your marital journey the best it can be! Thanks for flying, UNASHAMED AIRLINES!

Top 10 Ways to Care for the 21st Century Wife

by Nicholas Miller (guest post)

Our friend, Nicholas Miller, came up with this list. We thought it was good and asked him if we could re-post it. He graciously agreed.

 

10. Remember to put the top back on the toothpaste, put the toilet seat down, and leave at least one cell-phone charger free in the bedroom.

9. Listen, listen, listen, and only then, text your response.

8. Be the first to say “I’m sorry,” and avoid the temptation to add “lol,” and especially not “rofl.”

7. Don’t forget to help with the dishes (cause it’s a prime time to watch basketball on the iPad)

6. Take out the trash, change the light bulbs, and defrag her hard drive. For some reason, these are all man jobs.

5. Use a male voice on your GPS, so she can still be the only woman telling you where to go.

4. Keep an extra computer power cord in your briefcase so when she “borrows” your regular one you can more easily be sweet, gracious, and forgiving.

3. Just be there for her, and don’t try to solve her problems—even if you think of a really cool Google search that could do so.

2. Remember, if when she is talking, and you take at least one ear-bud out and one eye off the screen, you MAY get half your dinner.

1. Just remember that emoticons are no substitutes for real emotions, and that hugging her and telling her you love her beats xoxoxoxox, bff, lolo every time.

 

Here’s the link to the list as he posted it on Facebook.

N_Miller

Your Health and Your Sex – Part 5

by Karl Leukert

When God created Adam and Eve, He designed them perfect, including their amazingly complex sexual interactions. This series has been exploring the research that reveals more of the benefits He designed for all couples. This is the fifth part of this series on Your Health and Your Sex. You can read previous parts here: PART ONE, PART TWO, PART THREE, PART FOUR.

We encourage you to signup to receive our blog updates via email in the right hand sidebar so you won’t miss any of the great items coming up.

1) A recent Google search of the term “sleep deprivation effects” yielded nearly 1,280,000 results. It seems that nearly every week a fresh news story comes out about the damage we Americans are inflicting on ourselves by our lack of adequate sleep. It turns out, there is one more bit of damage to add to the list, and hopefully this one will cause some additional sleep when the other study results have not. In an article published in 2015 in the Journal of the International Society for Sexual Medicine, sleep has a direct correlation to sexual likelihood as well as enjoyment. Now, we need to hasten to add that the study done was using college age females. However, the results are significant – a one-hour increase in sleep resulted in better genital arousal the next day and a 14% greater likelihood “of engaging in partnered sexual activity.” Considering other studies that show that healthy marriages already have a greater frequency of sex and report a more satisfying sex life than single college girls, the one extra hour could have an even greater benefit for them. Husbands, do all you can to help this happen! Help with the household chores. Take burdens off your wife and make sure she gets her sleep.

2) For most wives, when they get pregnant, it is happiest time(s) of their lives (except for the morning sickness, clothes not fitting right, false labor, REAL LABOR!!!!!) Well, you understand. But, for a small percentage – 3%-5% – it can be life threatening due to a condition called pre-eclampsia. Symptoms include increased blood pressure and protein in the urine and, in some cases, can cause seizures and death. We thank God that He planned ahead for this problem. According to Danish research, frequent sex with the father of the child before conception (as typically happens in marriage) greatly reduces the possibility that the mother will develop this condition. This is due to the HLA-G protein that is present in the father’s sperm. The pre-eclampsia condition is an immune response to what the mother’s body thinks is a foreign body – the baby. If she has had repeated exposure to his sperm, her immune system recognizes similarities in the HLA-G and the baby and will not react the same. There is also some anecdotal evidence that the most beneficial introduction of the sperm is through oral ingestion.

3) We met while we were in college – Sharon a Journalism major and Karl studying Broadcasting. One of the things that attracted Sharon to me (yep, Karl is writing this), was that during Intro to Speech class I did not stay behind the lectern but stood beside it and moved around the platform when I spoke. She said she liked my confidence. Actually, neither one of us has ever been shy to be up front, but we know that some people are. One of the tricks 471-AncientPoetry3_zps785553a0that has been used for people who experience stage fright is to tell them to imagine everyone in their underwear. To me that would be scarier than I can imagine. It turns out that according to research published back in 2005 by Biologic Psychology, the best thing would be to have a great roll in the hay with your spouse before you have to speak. Scientists studied the effects on blood pressure during stressful situations after three activities – masturbation, partnered sexual activity with no penile vaginal intercourse (PVI), and PVI. Discounting all other factors, the couples who reported regular PVI and not other sexual activity showed significantly lower blood pressure reactivity. Have more sex – lower your blood pressure. That’s a great prescription!

 

Marriage Maintenance

This is a guest post from our friends, Mike and Gayle Tucker at Mad About Marriage.

Maintenance is boring UNTIL something breaks down.

These 5 tips are routine maintenance healthy couples follow to stay happy:

1) They tackle problems.

Problems are a reality of life.

Some come from the inside our marriage relationship and others from the outside.

Doesn’t matter whether they’re internal or external, problems must be dealt with.

Healthy couples stay happy because they tackle problems – they don’t stick their heads in the sand.

2) They understand.

Next time you’re disappointed, upset or frustrated with your spouse, try to understand where they’re coming from.

Do what grown ups do: Start a conversation.

Think twice before assuming, attacking or accusing.

You might discover it’s just a simple misunderstanding.

How do you keep from having full-blown, in-your-face conflicts? By dealing with simple misunderstandings along the way.

Healthy couples stay happy because they seek to understand each other.

3) They act.

We have a tendency to react to our environments and relationships.

The challenge is that if this becomes a dominant pattern in our marriage, we can easily create a marital environment where we all we’re doing is reacting to problems.

It’s good to remember that marriage isn’t always about solving problems.

Marriage is about celebrating life and love, which is a pattern of action that keeps love ignited.

So come up with special dates or surprises for your partner; recreate romantic moments.

Be active, not reactionary.

Healthy couples stay happy because they take action to savor life and love.

4) They express their feelings.

Don’t assume your spouse knows you love them.

Healthy couples stay happy because they demonstrate their love routinely.

5. They make love.

If sexual fulfillment is weak or missing from your marriage, your relationship is unhealthy.

Granted, there are situations where, due to a medical situation, sexual intimacy might be lacking.

But generally speaking, a sexless marriage is an unhealthy marriage.

But before blaming your partner for drop-kicking your relationship into the “friend zone” where you behave more like roommates than lovers, evaluate your own behavior to see if anything might be throwing cold water on the fires of sexual intimacy.

Healthy couples stay happy because they enjoy mutually satisfying sex.

These are a few ways healthy couples stay happy.

If things aren’t running as smoothly as you would like, then maybe it’s time for a little routine maintenance.

Keep Your Bed Small

by Karl Leukert

Our first bed when we got married was a hand-me-down that used to be in a guest room at Karl’s grandmother’s house. It was a full-size frame and mattress that was just perfect for our two-bedroom apartment in the married student housing at the university we were attending. When the mattresses were first purchased, they were at the higher end of price and value and were still fairly comfortable. (As newlyweds, they served our active needs quite well. BIG SMILE!)

As the years went by and our bedroom activity continued (not too mention the addition of some weight), they began to deteriorate. When we got ready to purchase new ones, we decided it was time to upgrade both in quality and size. Karl had the idea that if we could we should go with king size. Bigger is always better, right? Due to constraints of the budget and the size of the room where we lived at that time, we had to settle for just a queen size.

While this did help us not be as crowded while sleeping, we still were near enough that during the night we were able to touch each other and to cuddle up to each other. Of course, an added benefit was that as we felt each other, it did lead to some great middle-of-the-night sexual activity. But, didn’t we need a bigger size?sexualcontact.feet_

The first time we went away for the weekend to a hotel with a king-size bed, we discovered our answer. While there was much more romping room, we found that if we felt the need to feel each other’s skin during the night, we nearly had to go on an expedition to a foreign country to find each other and it almost seemed like we were not even in the same bed. We have to say that aside from the additional room for sexual activity, we really did not like it. Now, when given the option, we will choose a room with two queen-size beds, rather than one king.

Without knowing it, we have realized what other couples have:  sleeping close together and having regular touch while sleeping is actually part of marital satisfaction. According to a recent British poll of 1,000 couples (links to articles below), those couples who claimed to sleep less than one inch apart from each other reported an 86% satisfaction with their relationship versus only 66% satisfaction when the reported sleeping distance was 30 inches or more.

Our recommendation for your Unashamed Marriage:  keep your bed small. Choose a size that keeps you touching as much as possible!

 

MAKE IT REAL

1)      See how many sexual positions you can utilize in the space of a twin-size mattress.

2)      Cuddle more often away from the bed. It releases health producing oxytocin.

————

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/10768902/Happiest-couples-sleep-an-inch-apart.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/what-does-the-way-you-sleep-say-about-your-relationship-9264867.html

Affectionately Yours

by Sharon Leukert

I’ve got an insider’s tip for you: someone has been going around selling a faulty idea. When they come your way – RUN! The idea that is destined to bring misery and failure into your marriage? The lie that affection stops after you say I Do, or at least after the honeymoon is over.

Remember when you were dating your spouse and just a slight grazing of the hands made you tingle? What about the first time he put his arm around you publicly so everyone knew you were “a couple?” Remember the first time she wanted to hold your hand. That affection helped to fuel your relationship. Guess what? It still does!

Now we know that some folks are a little more reserved than others. If you’re the more private type, fine, but make sure you are showing affection in the home at least. Make sure you have to brush past his arm as you reach for the canister on top of the fridge. Make sure you reach for her dangling fingers at times, and go for one of those delightful strolls hand in hand. Say the words you know your spouse wants to hear. Go all out in your efforts to get that full smile that attracted you years before.

Keep affection in your marriage and keep the flames fanned!