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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Rekindle Your Romance Date Night #3: Plan!


We need a date night plan! Without one, Jason and I will stay home, relax, and settle into our comfy rut. I mean, we've been developing this rut for a long time. (Ahem, a few decades.) Sometimes, having a rut to share with your spouse sounds great. Like the weather is terrible. We're exhausted at day's end. And if you're like us, you're playing catch-up after Christmas spending. So staying home may seem like the perfect solution.

Yet, what about romance?
What about the date night challenge?
What about spending quality romantic time with your spouse as much as you can in 2018?



I confess, this week, we didn't have a plan.

However, in full disclosure, after my workshop last Saturday, Jason suggested we go to dinner. So we went to a restaurant, chatted about the workshop, and talked about the type of house we should live in next. But, as thoughtful as the outing was, it wasn't a date.

You know what I mean, right? There's a difference between the things we do on a regular basis as a married couple--eating together, shopping, watching TV--and the things we do when we're focused on being romantic and dating. For each couple it's different. For me it means flirty glances, hand-holding, stolen kisses, and experiencing something new together. And did I mention ... flirting? (Yes, even as a long-time married couple, flirting with each other is still part of our dance.)

Actual dating is something new for us, and we can easily slip back into our stay-at-home comfort zone. However, my goal for this year is for us to date more and focus on rekindling our romance.

How about you?
Do you and your spouse have a date night plan?

If not, may I recommend my free resource "Rekindle Your Romance! 50+ Date Night Ideas for Married Couples?" I apologize for the blatant advertising. But, hey, it is free. It's packed with ideas for date nights. Couples can use the suggestions they like, and hopefully the 50+ ideas will stir up some creative date night possibilities of your own.



For us, we need to talk about our plans early in the week, or else too many days can pass without us dating or working on rekindling our romance.

Then we get too comfy in our rut.
Perhaps, feel bored.
Or even get grumpy.
(Or is that only me?)



Spontaneity has its place in marriage too. I'm all for surprises. An unexpected romantic getaway sounds fabulous, especially in the middle of winter.

But I also like having something to look forward to.
I enjoy daydreaming about Jason and me dating.
Where shall we go next?
Is there a local venue we haven't explored lately?

Where will you go with your spouse this weekend?
What are you going to see or do?
Remember, both of you can come up with ideas. If you can't agree on one, toss a coin. Go with one of your ideas this week, and your spouse's idea next week. The point is to go. Have fun. Be together.



Hold hands.
Kiss.
Smile at each other.
Tell each other special things along the way.
Whisper sweet nothings during that movie or walk.
Laugh.
Talk.
Share ideas.
Dream.

Let's make our marriages stronger, happier, and more fun!


Plan something enjoyable with your spouse for tonight or tomorrow, or next week.
Dating your husband/wife is worth every bit of effort it takes: planning, saving, getting a babysitter, etc. If you have a tight budget, that's okay. It's not about going anywhere fancy. It's about being together, being romantic, and having fun.

Ready.
Set.
Plan.
Date your spouse!




Mary Hanks writes about second chances, marriage restoration, and rekindling romance. Visit maryehanks.com.




If you missed the first two blogs in this Date Night series, check out:




Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rekindle Your Romance Date Night #2


Last week, I asked Jason if he would date me. And he said, "Yes."
(Big smile.)
It's easy for us to get busy with life, or to feel lazy and stay home, and forget about dating each other.
We're great friends. That in itself is pretty cool after forty years of marriage.
It might be easy to think friendship is enough.
But I still want to experience romance with the man I love.
I like for us to remember what drew us together in the first place.
And to talk about those things.

So we're dating.
And I'm sharing a little of our journey as we date as a married couple.

For many, a weekly date night is nothing new. If you've been dating your spouse regularly, good for you! You are a giant step ahead of us.
But for those who have kind of forgotten what it means to date, this blog might serve as a tiny reminder to rekindle your romance.

Things to think about:

  • Dressing up can be fun. And it says something, doesn't it? You're worth a little fuss. I'm putting my going-out face on just for you! I've been looking forward to our time together.
  • Going somewhere new can be a fabulous shared experience. And making new memories together can be priceless.
  • Dating doesn't have to cost a lot of money to be special.
  • Holding hands with your spouse is a beautiful connection.
  • Kissing in the car (or on a walk) is still exciting.


One time, before we were married, Jason pulled up to a stop sign in a quiet neighborhood and gave me a big kiss. Guess who happened to drive by just then? Yep, my mother! (I was sixteen.) Oh, was she mad! And, boy, was I embarrassed! That night, I got a huge lecture about never doing that again--especially on our way back from church. (Yikes!)

But you know what? Ahem. Forty-plus years later, I still like stolen kisses from my sweetheart. It's exciting. And maybe a little sneaky--still. (Giggle.)

Not too long ago, I got an idea to compile a list of inexpensive places to go for date nights, so I asked some of my married friends to help me generate ideas. We came up with over fifty suggestions! Isn't that cool?

Here's #34 from Rekindle Your Romance:
  • Use Coupons for your next outing. Clip those coupons to go to a restaurant for less—or to one you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. One of my contributors said they like to go to a discount movie and then use coupons or a buy one/get one free deal at a restaurant. This is a great “deal” date night.

The thing about using coupons or a gift card is that you can go places together where you haven't been before, or to somewhere you haven't been able to afford. For our date night, we didn't clip a coupon, but Jason had received a Christmas gift card from his employer to a restaurant we think of as too expensive for us. So, on Saturday night, we went to that restaurant for a nice meal and an enjoyable time together. We did a lot of smiling and talking. Remember, dating is something you do intentionally. It's spending quality time with your spouse, sharing the experience, and bonding together. And it's practicing those little romantic things that add spice to your relationship.


We're more of the get-a-hamburger couple. But in my younger days, a great meal out meant a steak and a baked potato with the trimmings. Your special food might be sushi or a buffet dinner or going somewhere with a great view of a lake. On this date night, we both ordered steak and a potato. Knowing we had the gift card to cover half of our expenses helped in our decision-making. You can see I like mine well-done! (If you don't eat meat, I apologize for the photo.)


I have to admit, even with the $25 gift card we went a little over the $25 date-night budget.

But we had a great time. And the company was pretty fantastic.

Dating is a bit of a novelty for us. Yes, we're that older, comfortable couple. But I want to keep experiencing romance with my man. And now that we live in town, we can go places easier than we could living in the country. I'm also collecting date night ideas. And I'm hoping you'll catch the spirit of dating your spouse too!

If it's been a while since the two of you have spent time doing fun things together, maybe you should ask your spouse for a date. Remind him he's "still the one."

I did. And we're still having fun!



Remember those things that drew you together in the first place.
Hold hands.
Sneak a few kisses.
Have fun making new memories.

Since Jason and I started dating again, I find myself daydreaming about our next date. Where shall we go next? What can we do that would rekindle our romance? Aren't his eyes beautiful? See there! Dating my spouse is already rekindling our romance!



If you'd like some fun (inexpensive) ideas for dating your spouse, get the free resource, Rekindle Your Romance! HERE.





Mary Hanks writes stories about second chances, marriage restoration, and rekindling romance. Visit her website at maryehanks.com.



Monday, January 8, 2018

Rekindle Your Romance Date Night #1



Married couples, have you been on any date nights (days) lately?

With jobs and family and household responsibilities, our date nights can get put on the back burner. Let's change that up in 2018! I challenge you to go out and have more adventures with your spouse this year.

You can even start with something simple like we did.

From Rekindle Your Romance Date Night Ideas #1:

  • Hiking together, or even walking hand in hand, can be an inexpensive, yet memorable, day out. Other than the food you pack, possibly gas, or an entrance fee (rare), this is a day you won’t soon forget. Remember how it was when you were first dating? Flirt a little along the trail! Kiss at every bridge or switchback on the path. Take silly selfies. Laugh and have loads of fun together.

A group of fourteen ladies and I gathered over 50 date night ideas--under $25 each--with married couples in mind. Jason and I need a little prompting to get out and have more fun. So we are taking the challenge! Who's with me? Will you take the challenge to date your sweetie more often in 2018?



I'm even going to blog about our adventures and misadventures of dating at 40+ years of marriage! Truth is, we could use a little romance rekindling. Couldn't you? We still want to have fun together, and I bet you do too!

To kick off our challenge, we started with something familiar. Jason and I went on a Sunday afternoon date to a place where we've walked and talked in other seasons. But this time, it was smack-dab in the middle of winter. We wore mittens/gloves and held hands--better to get closer and keep each other warm. And per the instructions, we found a couple of places to sneak a kiss. (Ahem, no pictures of the kissing.)

The boat dock and park by the Resort in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, is one of our fave places to hike. You can see Tubs Hill in the background--which was a setting in Winter's Past. Normally, this area is jam-packed with boats, and I love looking at them. But it's mostly empty now.



However, there were a few boats snuggled up tight for the winter:



After we circled the dock, we walked all the way around the park. Then we found coffee and hot chocolate in the Resort Mall--for a grand total of $10 (including tip). A pretty cheap date, huh?

But getting to walk and talk with the man I love? Priceless! It felt great to get outdoors and exercise together too. We talked and reminisced and bonded.

And that's the good stuff that should happen on a date, right?

Here's your challenge: date your spouse this week! Maybe you can go on a walk/hike, chat, and end up at a coffee shop. If you need some inspiration, download Rekindle Your Romance! Use the ideas that sound just right for both of you.

Do you accept the challenge?

Here's to lots of dating with your husband/wife in 2018!


Romance makes the journey sweeter.





Thursday, October 12, 2017

Waiting Again?


Waiting can seem endless.
Like life is flying by for everyone.
But me.
When will my turn come?
Will things change for the better?

Ever been there?
If you’re like me, you've experienced the waiting season many times.


Waiting can be so hard. But hope keeps us watching for something good.

Maybe the house will sell this week.
I might get that job I applied for.
My acceptance letter could come soon.
Tomorrow, I'll feel better.


Do you count the days until you're going on a trip or to a special event?

I do. But there are times when we don't know how long it will take for something we're waiting for to happen.

I waited a whole year for my house to sell. We'd spent several months remodeling, and then we moved out at the end of last summer, thinking it would sell right away. But after six weeks and the place didn't sell, we moved back in, feeling a little defeated. Had we made the wrong choice in trying to sell? Did we jump the gun on God's plan for us? We didn't know the answers. So we spent the winter and spring and summer in our country home--that was quite nice since it was freshly painted and beautiful--allowing it to be shown in all the seasons, but not knowing if it would actually sell. It required special financing, so the right person had to come along. Would that happen?

We kept praying. And waiting. And I wrote a book. :)

Finally, toward the end of this summer, the house sold. Hallelujah! Our waiting time was over. Then we had a lot to accomplish to get everything out of the house again and to do the final cleaning. It was comical because the next weeks went by really fast. Time is like that. When we're hyper-focused on what's not happening and we're stuck in the waiting season, everything seems to take a long time. Then zoom. We're on the fast track, and we can't believe how quickly the days go by.

But, oh, those waiting times ...


Remember when you were a kid waiting for summer break? Then, later, did you tire of summer and get super excited for school to start? Then, did you turn around and count the days until Christmas?



Or have you waited for a highly-anticipated event, like a wedding or for a baby to be born? Those months can seem like forever.

Or, perhaps, you're in a waiting season now.

Maybe you're waiting for someone to return from military service.
Or for the grandchildren to visit.
Or to take a long-awaited trip.
Or you're waiting for a job.
Or for a healing or a personal need to be met.

Life has many waiting seasons.
Does this particular season seem to be taking forever?
If so, I totally empathize with you.

And while I admit to being a less-than-successful waiter at times, here are a few practical ideas that have helped me during my seasons of waiting. 
Try to stay busy. Start a project or hobby. Paint a picture (or the house). Do puzzles. Write a book. Time really does seem to go by faster when you're busy.



Visit with friends. Don't become a hermit, which is my tendency. Get out and have coffee and a nice chat with a friend as often as possible. Sharing your struggles with someone who understands helps. As does hearing about someone else's life, which can make our own problems, or waiting time, not seem quite as bad.



Laugh. (Snicker, giggle, guffaw.) Become childlike. Sometimes I take myself and what's happening around me way too seriously. Laughter is medicinal. Tell stories and laugh. Watch a funny movie. Really belly laugh. Life is beautiful. And honestly, even though it may not seem like it right now, life is passing by fast. Let's look for ways to enjoy it.



Read. Take an adventure through reading. A waiting season is a great time to visit the library and get a stack of books, or download books on your kindle, and experience life in someone else's shoes.

Maybe you've always been interested in treasure hunting. Now is the perfect time to read books on that topic. Maybe you've wanted to learn knitting. Grab a how-to book--and a skein of yarn and needles. No better time to learn than now!



Walk. Get a step counting app and see the world around you by walking and keeping track of your steps. Have a competitive friend or spouse? Make a race of it to see who can do the most steps in a week or month. Winner buys dinner or coffee?



Pray. Hope. Believe good is on the way. Because surely it is. Also, pray for others. Being concerned about others helps us get our mind off of our woes.


I confess that I've struggled with my waiting times. Why doesn't God answer sooner? Did I sin and that's keeping Him from resolving my dilemma? Did I miss the boat? Depression and low self-esteem can sneak in and rob my joy way too easily.

But it seems to me that waiting is a kind of testing ground of personal struggle that builds something good and strong in us. Like this verse says: "We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Rom 5:3-4) Waiting can be a form of suffering, that builds strength, which builds character, and we can learn from that process, if only we are willing.

A friend of ours would say, "What is God trying to say to you in this situation?" 

Which makes me sit back and ponder, is God teaching me something through my waiting? Do I need more character building? Um, probably so. But it can be such a painful process.




Lastly, looking for the good in a situation, and being thankful, can be a powerful stepping stone to hope. Jason and I realized we were extremely thankful for a warm house during the winter. We got the chance to say goodbye to a home that had been the last place we lived in with our four kids. It seemed we needed the sentimental time of letting go. God knows our hearts and what we need, sometimes even when we don't realize it ourselves.

If you are in a waiting time right now, I pray that you find peace and joy right in the middle of the struggle. And that you will see how hope can overcome discouragement--even in a waiting season.




And don't forget, something good may be just around the corner.



Friday, May 12, 2017

Let's Dream Again!


I must admit, I was totally an idealist when I got married at seventeen. Youthful bliss? Or ignorance, perhaps?

Check out these synonyms for idealist: utopian, visionary, wishful thinker, pipe-dreamer, fantasist, romantic, dreamer, daydreamer, stargazer.

In other words, ME!! Do you see yourself in there too?

Back then, I thought I knew so much. I had everything figured out. Hand in hand, Jason and I were going to take on the world. Nothing was impossible. Don’t even dare cast a shadow of doubt on anything we imagined doing! I believed in “happily ever after” in a glorious this-is-going-to-be-so-easy sort of way. We were in love. And love conquers all!!!

Ahem. (I clear my throat. Squirm in my chair.)

Looking back over a few decades of life, marriage, and motherhood, I find that my “visionary” thinking has drastically changed. Wilted a bit. “My pipe-dreamer” tendency has been replaced with reality. And sometimes reality hurts. No more rocking in a “utopian” bliss fantasizing over what my life could be like. Daydreamer? Wishful thinker? Kaput. Zip?

Ever been there?

Last night, I attended a Bob Goff event. A couple of years ago, two of my adult children traveled across the country to hear him speak. So this was my chance to listen to him at a local fundraiser. I tell you, I've never seen anyone more comfortable in his own skin. The guy is totally relaxed onstage. Dresses simply. Tells stories in such a heartwarming, endearing, and simplistic way, I had tears in my eyes and was laughing, almost non-stop. The humorous thing? He laughs like crazy throughout his presentation. Completely real. And I loved how he spoke to my heart through simple stories.

Today, hours later, I’m still pondering his handheld mirror object lesson. When his kids were young, he’d hold up a mirror and have them gaze at themselves. Then, while they were doing so, he’d tell them what he saw in them. Almost like prophesying good stuff into his kids’ lives, even when they were little. Isn’t that cool? (How many times have I gazed into the mirror and thought derogatory things about myself?) Through Bob’s life lesson, he was instilling a positive inner self-image about who those youngsters were: “I see you. You are strong. Capable. Going to do great things.” Talk about a visionary!

I think it’s time you and I picked up a mirror and told ourselves some good things about ourselves.

No, I’m not talking about your gorgeous eyes Mama gave you. Or that cute mole above your lip. 

Let’s gaze into that mirror and tell ourselves something amazing about who we still are on the inside. “You are brave. Courageous. Kind. You offer friendship to the lonely. You help missionaries. You see good in people! You want to spread  hope.”

It's seeing the good stuff God has already put inside of you. It's seeing the real you.

So, I have to ask myself, and I hope you will too, why have I given up on being a “dreamer?” Aging? I surely am. Disappointments? Had a few. Lost hope? Traveled that road, been there, done that, and it didn’t work out? Sound familiar?

But what if all those dreams and ideals and creative thoughts haven’t really died like I thought? What if, somewhere deep inside, on the edge of where faith and doubt collide, I could see myself as that kid who still imagines big things? What if I could find the girl who likes to swing and balance on fallen logs and loves the color blue, and there I find my dreams have been sleeping, dormant, just waiting for me. And all it takes is a little zap of what-ifs flowing through my veins again, or a nudge of inspiration from a friend, or from God Himself, or maybe even, a slight kick in the seat of the pants??

What if you sat on the porch tonight and did a little “star-gazing” of your own? And while you were there, you remembered who you were when you were a little kid and believed you could do anything. What if you and I became dreamers again? People willing to try something. To take a chance again. To stomp on doubt and say, “You know what, I do believe!”

I want to be that girl again.
How about you?



Mary Hanks writes stories about redemption, restoration, and romance.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happily Ever After



Awww. The movie ends, and we’re left with such dreamy feelings.

“Happily ever after.” Sounds almost perfect, doesn’t it?

Yet I wonder, does that quote sneakily imply when we marry we’ll never have problems? That a wife will meet her husband’s every need? That he’ll keep her happy and free from being sad or lonely for the rest of her life?

In movies, happiness seems to be a deal breaker. Like if they aren’t happy they can walk away. When did happiness become the on-demand ingredient in marriage?

While marriage certainly has its blissful moments, I can guarantee that a husband and wife—being human like me—will err one or two or a bunch of times. Someone will get mad or jealous or irritated. Someone may storm out of the house. Or cry. Or yell. Stuff happens. Hurts will come. But so will forgiveness. Healing. Peace. And reconciliation, if we let it.

“’Til death do us part” is all about being sold on loving our spouse and choosing to remain by his or her side—no matter what. Through thick and thin and all the ups and downs of life, our love and promises hold us together with a magical super glue.

However, no marriage partners get it right all the time.

Jas and I aren’t living “happily” ever after. We’ve had problems. We’ve also experienced crazy joy and love. We are best friends. But we’re still working on some things. We’ve fallen out of love. We’ve also fallen deeply in love with each other—over and over.

In fact, I fell in love with him just a few days before Christmas.

Ever heard of a cuddle chair? It’s a chair that’s narrower than a loveseat, yet wider than a regular recliner, and built for two. By the name, I think you basically have to cuddle in it.


Due to us trying to selling our house, we didn’t have much furniture left in the place. In the evenings we were sitting in uncomfortable office chairs to watch movies, not in our old loveseat like we used to. The arrangement didn’t promote closeness or romantic interactions.

In need of a solution, we went on a furniture hunt. As soon as I spotted the cuddle recliners, I wanted one! We store-hopped for a while, trying out various recliners built for two. Finally, we chose the most comfortable fit for us and brought the new piece home.

We were now able to sit very close. We ate dinner next to each other. We watched movies in the evenings side by side—and sometimes fell asleep there.

Jas had two weeks off for Christmas. Almost from the first day of his vacation he was more relaxed and attentive than he'd been in a long time. Seemed he might just be on the lookout for ways to romance me. And me being the romantic girl I am, my heart melted with the attention! One night, we were sitting on our cuddle chair watching something, and we turned and stared into each other’s eyes—held gazes just like they do in the movies. A cute smile crossed his lips. Romantic sparkles lit his green eyes. I was seeing into the same heart of the man I’d fallen in love with as a teenager.

We closed our eyes and tenderly kissed. There was healing and hope in that moment. For a while, I just gazed at him, loving him all over again.



Yep. I think every married couple should buy a cuddle chair. ;)

When was the last time you gazed deeply into your spouse’s eyes and let yourself become vulnerable enough to let him/her peer into yours? How long since you kissed each other like you were eighteen and madly in love? How about having some intentional romance this weekend? Not because it’s Valentine’s week. But because he or she is the love of your life! You both deserve some quality alone time to get to know each other again.

Go on a date. Hold hands. Sit in the car and kiss passionately. And love your life together. Remember, you are so blessed to have each other!

You and I may not live “happily ever after.” But a lot of ever after sure is going to be happy!








Mary Hanks writes stories of second chances.

We all need a second chance sometime.





Friday, February 10, 2017

Valentine's Day Kindle Giveaway

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