Easy and simple gifts? Giving gifts together – what’s your strategy as husband and wife?
Sure, you’d delight to give your loved ones their hearts’ desires with money as no barrier… Rob and I would like to do that too. However, your finances as a husband and wife team might not support what you’d wish to give as Christmas or a birthday approaches.
In truth, those who you love don’t care what you give them – your presence would be gift enough. But what if you can’t even give that? The holidays can be a bittersweet event when we’re feeling bound by circumstance. What can you do to make these days more sweet than bitter?
There are still easy and simple gifts you cangive as a husband and wife team, even if you’re in a tight spot.
3 easy and simple gifts when finances are tight.
Rob and I have had to do a bit of brainstorming this season. The way we would choose to celebrate with our loved ones isn’t the way it’ll work out. (Unless our loving God changes circumstances.) Here are three of the easy and simple gifts we came up with:
1 – Pray as a husband & wife team for those you love.
We forget sometimes what a beautiful gift praying for one another can be. No matter age or stage, those we love have needs where only God can make a difference. There’s still time to ask those you love about their needs, and then spend time each day, as husband and wife, praying for them. Start now.
Prayer has no cost. And the gift of intercession for your loved ones lasts into eternity.
Begin simply if you’ve never prayed together before. Here’s a post on how to easily do that. And if you need help remembering to fit prayer into your day (because we’re all busy right now), then try some of these ideas!
2 – Use technology to visit those you love. Make a date.
And as the special day comes closer, whether it’s Christmas or a birthday or some other occasion, arrange a time to connect. If you can visit in person that’s perfect. Otherwise draw close to each other via a Facetime, Zoom or Skype video call. Even a telephone call with that person can be valuable. Talking and sharing are easy and simple gifts.
When you’re together – pray together. And share a cup of tea or coffee and a cookie or cake on both ends. Do those things you’d do if you were together. Share photos. Tell a story. Talk about how much you value and appreciate your loved one. Play a game. Be creative.
As an aside: Our son just purchased a Virtual Reality headset – the technology is still new, but when we tried it Rob and I could see the possibilities… Maybe within a few years, we’ll be able to use this VR technology to “sit” with those far away, as though we’re in the same room. I can’t explain the extraordinarily immersive experience of VR. You really need to try it to understand. It’s truly amazing!
When distance separates you and your loved ones, there is still the opportunity to mail or ship a little something. However, if finances are a challenge then you also need to be aware of shipping/mailing costs. Rob and I need to mail items across the US border, so the costs skyrocket if we’re not careful.
As I mentioned, we did some brainstorming and came up with something those we love will appreciate, we can “share” the experience with them, and the shipping costs will be minimal. See? Easy and simple gifts. Guess what it is?
I ordered a variety of tea flavors from Stash Tea and made little easy and simple gifts to open.
Tea bags are light, and if they’re packaged correctly they’ll easily fit into an envelope. The mailing costs will be minimal, but the enjoyment will last for days! And behind every tea bag in their own little envelope, I added a Scripture verse to encourage and surprise. God is faithful. All things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. These are good reminders for all of us!
Fold a 5.5×5.5 inch piece of decorative paper around one tea bag to begin making the envelope. (You’ll eventually glue each envelope onto the cardstock.) Turn the 5.5×5.5 paper like a diamond, fold the sides first, then the top and bottom. See the photo below. Do this with all 6 pieces of 5.5×5.5 decorative paper you’ve cut out.
In the middle of each 5.5×5.5 envelope glue on two embellishments and a scripture verse. Place the tea bag into the envelope and refold it with the Tea bag inside. Use one of the cardstock embellishments (the same as the cardstock you will be gluing the envelope onto) and use the little sticky foam circles to secure the envelope closed. One foam circle at the top of the circle and one at the bottom so they secure the top and bottom fold closed. Do this with all 6 envelopes. I found it’s easier to open the envelope with these foam circles than using glue.
Glue the 6 envelopes to the 8.5×11 cardstock. You’re done!
When your recipient opens the envelope they find a different tea bag every time,
and a difference Scripture verse to encourage them!
It’s autumn. The leaves are turning bright yellow, red and orange, then falling to the ground. We see pumpkins in the fields, and on door steps in suburban neighborhoods. The season to buy! buy! buy! is creeping up on the calendar.
Do you have any plans for the holidays? And if so what about time for you and your spouse?
How will you keep your marriage strong?
As fun as the next few months will be, there will also be stresses. I don’t need to make a list, do I? I’m sure you can fill in the blanks with all the mishaps and misunderstanding from other years.
What’s your strategy to stay connected and aligned with your spouse during the next two months? It’s not enough to “wing it” in these busy days ahead – you need to have a plan.
And every plan works well if there’s a bit of fun incorporated!
Quick! Can you mark in some dates with your spouse in November and December? Yes. Really quick – before all the holiday invitations start to show up.
Demonstrate to your spouse how much you value her/him by making it a priority to spend time together.
How can you spend time together – really inexpensively – to stay aligned and in tune with each other? Keep the dates cheap, but fun. Simple, but fun. Private, but active. And allow you two – husband and wife – to slow down and talk about what’s going on in your lives; to catch your breath and stay connected.
Make memories together – as a connected couple!
5 Autumn Ideas to Stay a Connected Couple
Here’s the criteria: fun, cheap, private and active.
1. Sparklers in the dark.
Buy a package of sparklers, and go outside after the kids are in bed and it’s dark. Light those sparklers, and play! Run around the yard, write your names in the air, and kiss under them. (Use good judgement and watch out for your hair/clothes – those sparks can ignite!)
Set up your camera with a timer – create fun photos to share with family & friends. Capture your memories of the evening!
The leaves might be falling off the trees, but it’s also time to plant some hope for spring: daffodils, crocus and tulips! Buy a few bulbs, and dig in the dirt one morning or afternoon to plant them. Talk together about next spring, and your hopes for that time. Digging in the dirt is therapeutic! If you don’t have your own yard, talk with your church, or a local daycare to see if they’d mind you planting a few bulbs.
You can enjoy the moment and still look to the future when you’re planting some bulbs!
Just take your laptop, and a DVD out to your vehicle, bring some drinks and some snacks, add blankets, and snuggle together! Or you can have a fully outdoor experience by pushing two loungers together and zipping up two sleeping bags to snuggle in as you watch your movie.
Remember those teenage years? Oh, the fun you can have under the blankets, while watching a movie! (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)
Yes… Yes. I know you love your coffee in the morning. So do we! But if you’re going to get up to watch the sun rise, maybe your spouse needs a little more incentive. Try a version of hot chocolate oatmeal in your slow-cooker! I’ve put some recipes on a Pinterest board for you try! Start it cooking before you go to bed, and it’ll be done by morning. Some of the recipes are with stevia & coconut milk, others incorporate yummy extras like cherries, or pecans & toasted coconut. (Click here to go to the recipes.)
Take your hot chocolate oatmeal outside, and watch the sun rise – start the day together.
Why do we only think to bake stuff with our kids? Put your kids to bed, then, why not make it a date! Just you and your spouse – to bake and decorate cookies together. (And you might playfully add some decorations to each other… you’re alone, remember?)
Be a Keeper. By being proactive, use date night to do something new, and stay connected all through your years of marriage. There’s no reason to fall out of love (or “like”) with each other! Here’s a link to a post about what we’ve seen in couples married many years.
Stress Away. No… really! Let that stress of daily life GO! Arrange a date night to let go of stress – music, physical activity, laughter, quiet contemplation while viewing a sunset or whatever works to recharge. A date night is the perfect opportunity to de-stress.
Reach Out and Touch. Physical touch is another of the 5 love languages. It’s priceless. (and not all about sex – but always could include intimacy!) Use date night to escalate the power of touch – from holding hands, to caressing a face, to massaging shoulders, to kissing, to… (Yeah. You get the gist, right?) Play a bit. Only go further one step at a time – use an hour to go no further than touching each other’s hands, and the next hour to only touch above the neck, and the third hour to only use your mouth... elsewhere…(are you smirking yet?)
Stability in Change. There’s nothing so constant as change. Your life is going to change. Guaranteed. You will change. Your spouse will change. Your kids will change. Everything is always changing. (Tired yet?) Use date night to remain stable, emotionally and relationally, in every change you encounter.
Challenged to Grow. Date night, done well, forces the two of you to stretch. What do I mean, “done well”? Whenever there’s a opportunity, you have two choices: put in some effort or seek the path of least resistance. Your marriage will grow if you always put in the effort, and date night is a regular way to make sure you push yourself.
Inject Humor into a Serious Life. Robert and I are pretty serious. We feel we don’t laugh enough, and deliberately seek out opportunities to be around people who find laughter easy. What about you? Are you one of those easy-to-laugh couples? (Hey- want to hang out together?) If you do find it easy to laugh, share your gift with each other, and others! And if you’re like us, then use date night to watch YouTube videos, listen to comedians on Sirius Comedy channel, go to the bookstore and read each other funny comics – or the card store and pick out cards to make each other laugh! (Just read them and carefully put them away – it doesn’t have to cost anything!)
“Yes, I’d marry YOU again!” Words of Affirmation. Assurance. Use date night to affirm your spouse. (That’s another of the love languages!) After you’ve been married for multiple decades (or even before that) and life becomes either hum-drum, or hectic, it’s deeply valuable to know your spouse admires you… still. Or that your spouse values you… still. Or your spouse would choose you all over again!
More than. You are more than a man. More than a woman. You are more than a mother. More than a father. More than a grandparent, an employee, a minister, a clerk, a lawyer, a note-taker, a cook, a dog-walker. You are the other half of another person. It’s so easy to lose track of that fact. To mitigate its importance. As spouses, you are One-Flesh. Made for each other. United.
Asking for Help. It’s not what you might think – I’m not suggesting you use your date night to go to counseling. Rather, have you ever considered a date night focused on prayer? I’m guessing your life isn’t all peaches and roses. I imagine you’re kind of like Rob and me – you’ve got problems. Concerns. Use an hour of date night to pray together – ask for help from the ONE who has all the answers and all the power. Date night doesn’t need to be (only) fun and games. You’ve already taken time away – you’re disconnected from everyday life.,, Date night is also there for the serious stuff. Make date night count – use it for the problem times too!
Be Unique! Unfortunately, it’s not common to find couples who are deliberate about making time for a date night. It’s rare to find husbands and wives who have a night/morning/afternoon date – alone – every week. Yes, it is sad. Heart-breaking. Especially when you talk with couples who are contemplating divorce and can’t remember the last time they spent quality time together.
Here’s a personal story – we have friends in Dallas – married many decades, who go on a weekly “date night”. Her work even knows not to schedule her on that evening, because it’s “date night”! In her role as the Director of First Impressions at a call center, she shares her view on the value of date-night… and she lives it! Couldn’t we all be like that?
You’re a Team. Have you forgotten? Husband and wife are a team – tackling life together. Your kids are going to grow up – your buddies/girlfriends will shift, your employment will change… You. Are. A. Team. Use date night to work together on a project, to overcome a fear, to plan a new outcome, and set goals. Oh, please set goals together!Here’s a post about setting goals as husband and wife.
Keep Each Other Young.Use date night to play. Use that time together to renew your playful spirit, and to find the kid hidden inside you both. Try board games from your childhood, or legos, or swing, or play hop-scotch, or…
Romance is ALIVE and well! Do you remember the “tingles”… those flutters, and quivers when you first saw your spouse? My first memory of Rob is hearing his deep, bass voice answering questions behind me in church. (I was 14 – he was 16.) Later, when we began dating, I would get this thrill, just to know he was going to knock on our side door, and take me out for the evening. When was the last time you felt the “tingles”? Have you dressed up for your spouse lately? Have you given her a gift? (Yeah, gifts are another of the five love languages.) What about trying a few new options in your intimacy, or an invitation to slow dance to a love song… a moonlight kiss, or a love note? A date night will keep the romance in your marriage alive!
Connect and Communicate to Encourage. We all long to feel understood, don’t we? We all need to feel affirmed. Each spouse – husband or wife – wants to feel valued. Date night does all of this – if you’ve decided to make the event (morning, noon or night) a tool to connect and communicate. It’s up to you. Each of you. Date night is the best choice to encourage your spouse, if you keep this in mind.
Really. You’re relationship will be forever changed!
It’s the first resource that Robert and I recommend for anyone. Everyone. It’s easy to understand, and easy to do. Yup. It has the big picture and the practical.
There are 5 ways we feel loved – and one of them is our primary way. So many spouses believe they’re communicating their love, and yet the other isn’t “getting” it. This book will get you on the road to solving that problem.
Have you read it a while ago? Maybe it’s time to re-read it. Together. With your spouse!
What role does hope play in your marriage? Do you talk about the future with your wife or husband?
Some couples have many decades logged in their marriage journey – and they’re planning and hoping for more. Others may be at the beginning of their marriages, and their struggles and triumphs are spread out in front of them, yet to be experienced.
Where are you?
In those beginning years?
A decade or two?
Five or more decades of marriage?
At whatever stage – let your hope expand!
You know, encouragement for the future is more than words – but sometimes words are where hopeful encouragement starts… Let hope for a strong future expand – as a husband and wife together…
Where to begin? Just talk about your future together in an optimistic way. Say to your spouse,
“We have a good future together.”
Say it. Out loud.
I dare you…
Say, “We have a good future together.”
Because you do – You do have a good future together as husband and wife.
What will it look like?
I don’t know what your future (or mine) looks like – only God does… But He didn’t put the two of you together to be miserable.
Yes, the circumstances in your life together might not be going the way you envisioned. You might not be getting what you expected. Sure. It’s devastating to be struggling with health challenges, or financial crisis, or emotional tornadoes. I get it. These hurdles hit us all – at the beginning of our marriages, all through the middles and even after multiple decades of marriage.
We live in a sin-filled world and that decaying, oozing, society scrapes past our beautiful marriages with wrenching regularity. Sometimes it takes the gorgeous shiny paint off of the outside of our marriage relationship, leaving dents and gouges. Sometimes sin corrodes our marriage hulls and penetrates to mangle what is good, till we forget what it first looked like when our life together was fine and newly made.
But there’s still reason to hope for a good future.
There is. Really.
Here’s the Big Picture:
God loves you.
He loves your spouse, too.
And He can make all things new.
I know God loves all of us… with a love like there has never been before, nor ever will be again…
Begin talking about the future by reminiscing about the past.