Couples over 40 failing to make financial plans for retirement

Conversations about money aren’t being turned into plans for the future.

Couples in the UK are happy to talk about money, but are struggling to make financial plans for the future.

That’s according to a new survey from Prudential, which looked at attitudes towards money and retirement planning among co-habiting couples aged 40 and over.

It found while four in five (79%) couples aged 40 or over had discussed their finances in the last year, over half (52%) admitted these talks hadn’t led to setting a target for their joint retirement incomes.

The lack of financial planning was found to be worse among couples at a crucial age leading up to retirement (45-54), where more than two thirds (67%) failed to make a plan.

And while well over half (61%) of couples aged 40 or over had discussed retirement planning in the last year, 18% admitted they still didn’t know where their main source of retirement income will come from.

Worryingly, Prudential found a quarter of couples have retirement funds that will only provide enough money for one person.

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The survey was conducted in June, six months after sweeping reforms on pensions, savings and retirement income choices were announced in the2014 Budget.

The centrepiece was simplifying ISAs by merging Cash and Stocks & Shares ISAs into a single New ISA, or NISA, and raising the savings limit to £15,000.

Pensions were also overhauled with the requirement to purchase an annuity with pension savings scrapped.

Prudential’s survey found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of couples aged 40 or over were aware of the reforms but only 29% had discussed the implications with their partners.

Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement expert at Prudential, said: “The gulf between those who are aware of retirement issues and recently announced Budget changes, and those who discuss the implications openly with their other halves is alarming. However, simply having conversations about money is not enough. Taking action always needs to be the next step.”

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How to make plans for the future

In order to plan for the future and achieve a comfortable retirement it’s important to take stock of you and your partner’s current situation. This means taking a comprehensive look at savings, investments, pensions, assets and debts.

Once you’ve figured out where you both stand you can take a look at how much you think you’ll need and how you might get there. For tips on how to do this, have a read of our guide How to work out how much you need to save for retirement.

We can also help with our new Plans app. It gathers and stores all your financial information in one place allowing you to get an instant picture of your current wealth and help you make sure you’re on track to achieve the full future you want.

See your wealth at the touch of a button and make sure you’re on track to hit your financial goals with Plans


Age Is Just a Number: Romance Novels with Mature Couples

New-adult romances have been all the rage for the last few years, but what about more mature romance fans? Are the heroes and the heroines aging with us? We are seeing older heroines in general fiction and they are also well represented in the mystery genre. But while attending Romance Writers of America’s Librarian’s Day this past July, we heard several people bemoan the lack of older couples in romance novels and, during a discussion with publishers about trends, this was brought up as something that readers and industry leaders would like to see more of in the future.

Romance is evolving and we’re moving away from perfect couples with perfect jobs and perfect lives who just need to meet cute to have their perfect happily ever after. Characters have become more like readers over the years—they have child-care problems, elderly parents, and/or have to figure out how to manage a bad boss—and readers still love them. In some cases, they love them more because they can relate to them in a way that they can’t relate to glamorous people who have very little conflict in their lives.

These books prove that age is not a factor
in finding a Happily Ever After.

Here’s a list of romances where the heroes and heroines are more mature. They’re all over 30 and, in some cases, they are 40-plus. Everyone deserves to find the right person, and these books prove that age is not a factor in finding a Happily Ever After.

Black Rose, by Nora Roberts

Forty-seven-year-old Rosalind Harper has more life experience than a lot of romance-novel heroines. After two marriages (one happy, one not), Roz has given up on love. While researching her roots to find out more about the ghost who haunts her family’s historic Tennessee home, she meets genealogist Dr. Mitchell Carnegie and together they discover more than just the identity of the Harper Bride. Black Rose is the second book in Roberts’ In the Garden trilogy.

Forever a Lady, by Delilah Marvelle

According to society, a widow’s place is in the home, not in the streets of New York or London. But Lady Bernadette Burton hasn’t paid attention to what society says, ever since society turned its back on her after the death of her husband. Now a wealthy widow, she enjoys the freedom widowhood has afforded her. Her latest scandal is running off to America, where she begins an affair with down-on-his-luck Matthew Milton. In addition to featuring an older heroine, this romance explores a variety of social issues including poverty and access to education for all.

Hannah’s Courtship, by Emma Miller

Hannah Yoder was happily married for many years until her husband died of a heart attack. After that, she thought she’d never find love again. With her daughter Rebecca’s wedding fast approaching, it will soon be just Hannah, her daughter Susannah, who has Down’s Syndrome, and her foster son, Irwin, left in the big, old farmhouse. As her friendship with veterinarian Albert Hartman grows into something more, Hannah and Albert have big decisions to make—Hannah is Amish, Albert is Mennonite, and a relationship between the two is forbidden. The final book in Miller’s Hannah’s Daughters series can be read as a stand-alone.

by L. A. Witt

Having left behind Hollywood and now in semi-retirement, Levi Pritchard is enjoying life in small-town Washington. His days are full as he throws himself into directing community theater. When opportunity comes knocking and he takes a role on TV’s hottest new show, he never expects it to come with a love interest in the form of Carter Samuels. Carter is a much younger, out-and-proud actor that Levi finds he just can’t resist. Determined to stay in the closet due to his studio contract, Levi enjoys a friendship with Carter that slowly develops into a smoldering affair. This is the first book in the Bluewater Bay series.

Taken with You, by Shannon Stacey

Librarian Hailey Genest feels like the last single woman left on the planet. A new girlfriend talks her into an outdoor adventure designed to celebrate being single, but not being outdoorsy types, Hailey and Tori soon find themselves left behind in the woods. Hailey’s not impressed when they meet Matt Barnett, who looks like a mountain man after a two-week vacation in the woods, but she’s relieved when he gets them back to civilization. When he then moves in next door, Hailey and Matt discover that they have a lot of chemistry, although neither believes that opposites attract.

Wild Man, By Kristen Ashley

Fortysomething Tess O’Hara is happy to be moving on with her life.  She is slowly forgetting about her no-good ex, and her bakery business is taking off.  She’s even dating again, after handsome, sexy Brock Lucas walked into her bakery and into her heart. Several months into their new relationship, however, she finds out he is really an undercover DEA agent who happens to be investigating that no-good ex of hers. In between navigating their new relationship and dealing with ex-spouses, Brock and Tess still manage to heat things up in this continuation of her Dream Man series.

With older couples in the spotlight and no longer relegated to secondary character status, readers of a certain age have more books that give them a reason to be optimistic and hopeful about their own lives and HEAs. For more choices, try one of these additional titles:

Admiral’s Penniless Bride, by Carla Kelly (2010)

Autumn Spring, by Shelley Thresher (2015)

The Black Hawk, by Joanna Bourne (2011)

Blue by You, by Rachel Gibson (2013)

Canary Island Song, by Robin Jones Gunn (2011)

Catch of a Lifetime, by LuAnn McLane (2012)

Goddess of Spring, by P. C. Cast (2004)

Here Comes Trouble, by Donna Kauffman (2010)

Honeysuckle Summer, by Sherryl Woods (2010)

Passion of the Purple Plumeria, by Lauren Willig (2011)

Reaper’s Stand, by Joanna Wylde (2014)

A Secret Affair, by Mary Balogh (2010)

Snowfall at Willow Lake, by Susan Wiggs (2008)

Sweetest Thing, by Jill Shalvis (2011)

Treading Water, by Marie Force (2011)


7 Unusual Wedding Gifts For Couples Over 40

What do you get the couple that has two of everything? It’s a difficult situation to be in– two people have built lives apart, and now they’re starting one together. This means they’re already throwing or giving away many of the things that would have made the best wedding gifts twenty years ago; that blender you found is nice but, if both of them already have a blender, two of those three are going to end up in a thrift shop getting ogled by Macklemore fanboys. So where does that leave you? It’s an old cliche, but in this case it really is the thought that counts. Here are some out of the box, unusual wedding gifts that they’ll really enjoy… at least more than another blender.

1. Babysitting

If they waited this long to get married, chances are one or both of them already has kids. Offer to babysit. Not only is this unusual wedding gift entirely free, it’s also an opportunity for them to get out of the house and spend time together– something that’s difficult but necessary for newlyweds with young children.

2. Home Computer

Chances are that they both have their own computer, but now that they’re getting married they are going to have many more shared accounts, or at least a shared email. Go in with a friend to get them a home computer so they’ll have a place to centralize their new joint presence online.

3. Gifts to Stay Active

The two of them are old enough now to have a lot of their own interests, but that never means they’re too old to try something new. Get them matching gifts that will help them lead an active lifestyle together, like snorkel sets or pedometers. It’s a fun way for them to spend time together while staying in shape and trying new things.

4. Custom Embosser

The couple is consolidating down to one address, and is about to send out a ton of cards in the form of thank you notes. Make it easy on them with anembosser customized with their home address. It’s a bit unusual for a wedding gift, but many couples list it as the best wedding gift they received.

5. Plant a Tree

If they truly have everything, then planting a tree is the way to go. It’s classy, it’s eco friendly and, best of all, it can be done at the last minute in your pajamas. Truly the perfect wedding gift.

6. Fancy Booze Set

They may already have a kitchen so decked out that nothing you get could come close to comparing, but anyone will enjoy a nice bottle of wine or their favorite spirit. You can pick these out yourself or, if you wouldn’t know good booze from hobo juice, you can buy one of these wine or scotchboxes that come with custom glasses– perfect for the honeymoon.

7. Cooking Class

A cooking class will be a fun thing for them to do together, and even the most masterful chef can learn something from taking a class on more exotic cuisines. Try coordinating the class theme with a specialty kitchen gift, like a chinese stir fry class paired with a wok.

What would you buy for a couple over 40? We want to hear about it! Seriously; and we’re not just saying that because you’re so attractive.


Sex After 50: More Than Ever?

Ninety-three-year-old actress Betty White loves to talk about sex: “I may be a senior, but so what? I’m still hot.”

Most likely she’d applaud the recent research published in The Archives of Sexual Behavior that busts the stereotype of the sexless older adult.

While most of us know that the frequency of sex is greatest during those first throes of passion, and we grudgingly accept the fact that it often wanes as the years of wedded bliss march on, this study into the sexual behavior of long-married couples uncovered something quite unexpected. Couples who were married for longer than 50 years actually reported a slight uptick in their sex lives. In fact, the frequency of their sex lives continued to increase even after the 50-year mark.

Researchers noted, “An individual married for 50 years will have somewhat less sex than an individual married for 65 years.”

That’s right—they said “less.”

The study examined trends in the frequency of sex of older adults.

Researchers analyzed information about aspects of well-being from over 1,600 couples aged 57 to 85 who had been married varying amounts of time, based on data from the 2005-2006 National Social Life, Health and Aging Project.

If you’ve ever wondered (and who hasn’t?) how often other people are “doing it,” here’s how the numbers played out: The average older adult who had been married for a year had a 65 percent chance of having sex two to three times a month (or more); after 25 years of marriage, that frequency was likely to drop to 40 percent. After being married for 50 years, it dropped further to 35 percent.

But—and here’s the real surprise—when couples remained together after 65 years, the chance of having sex with that frequency actually improved, and increased to 42 percent.

Samuel Stroope, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of sociology at Louisiana State University, said that sexual frequency doesn’t return to two to three times a month, but moves in that direction as the years march on.

The abstract from the study, available online, also said that people in first marriages had more frequent sex than those who remarried. The researchers, sociologists at Louisiana State University, Florida State University and Baylor University, speculated that the permanency of relationships were responsible for the increased sexual activity in first marriages.

While this study’s findings are contrary to popular opinion or beliefs, they should not be taken without some caveats. Information published in The New York Times revealed that the study did not include partners who lived together but were not married, nor did it include gay or lesbian couples. And, interviewers told interviewees that the “sex” or “sexual activity” did not necessarily mean intercourse or orgasm but rather “any mutually voluntary activity with another person that involves sexual contact.”

So, does being married cause you to have more sex, or does having more sex cause you to stay married longer?

No one truly knows.

Keep in mind that this study examined trends. Some couples were not having sex at all, and some were even having it daily.

But isn’t it nice to know that some older couples can still look into each other’s eyes, blind to the physical changes that occur over the years, buoyed by the closeness and years of togetherness, and still want to be sexually intimate with one another?


Divorce rate at lowest level in 40 years after cohabitation revolution

Younger couples who marry now more likely to stay together past seven year itch than their parents’ generation suggesting ‘living in sin’ makes marriage stronger

Divorce rates have fallen to their lowest level for 40 years amid signs that the growing acceptance of couples living together before getting married has ultimately strengthened marriage.

The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 130,473 couples divorced across the UK in 2013 – down almost three per cent in a year.

The overall divorce rate fell to 9.8 per 1,000 married men or women, the lowest level since 1975 – the year after a major liberalisation of divorce law in the wake of the sexual revolution came into force.

That has coincided with a recent rise in the number of couples choosing to tie the knot over the last few years – partially reversing the decades long trend of declining marriage and rising divorce.

The gap between the number of people marrying than divorcing is now wider than at any time since 1992.

But it follows a much bigger shift towards couples living together unmarried as a result of a transformation of social attitudes.

Recent figures showed the number of families headed by cohabiting couples up by 30 per cent in a decade and more than doubling since the mid-1990s.

Strikingly, the latest divorce figures also offer further evidence that younger couples who do marry are now less likely to divorce than their parents’ generation

The ONS said that while an estimated 42 per cent of marriages now end in divorce, there is evidence that the proportion is decreasing “for the most recent cohorts” – meaning couples who married since 2000.

The figures show, for example, that couples are increasingly likely to survive the so-called “seven year itch”.

By 2013, 16 per cent of those who married eight years earlier in 2005 were divorced.

The previous year 17 per cent of couples who married in 2004 had got divorced.

Only eight years earlier the proportion of couples who had divorced by their eighth wedding anniversary was 20 per cent.

Harry Benson, Research Director at the Marriage Foundation, said: “Yet another fall in divorce rates is both hugely encouraging and hugely worrying.

“While it is hugely encouraging that couples who marry today can expect to enjoy the kind of stability we haven’t experienced since the early 1970s … it is hugely worrying that family breakdown continues to rise because couples who don’t marry remain so much more at risk of splitting up.

“Government has consistently failed to lead on the importance of marriage for future stability.

“Unless we wish to raise another generation of teenagers of whom half have already experienced family breakdown, the responsibility falls to us as individuals, parents and adults to encourage our young couples to marry.”

James Brown, a family lawyer at JMW Solicitors, said: “We have seen a significant portion of couples who marry doing so after a period of cohabitation.

“They opt to convert those relationships into marriages because of the greater security which it represents in the absence of rights for cohabitees.

“Since 2000, there have also been a series of judgements which have underlined the equality in divorce settlements, meaning their spouses can potentially claim a larger share of their assets.

“Given that prenuptial agreements are certainly more popular but still not regarded as the norm, many businessmen and women are simply choosing not to marry and, therefore, that is affecting the numbers of divorces too.

“If the Government was to introduce legislation providing prenups with the weight of statute as opposed to just case law, I firmly believe that more entrepreneurs would feel comfortable marrying.”

Jo Edwards, chair of the family law organisation Resolution, added: “The rise in cohabiting couples, the fastest growing type of household in Britain, may also play a role [in the changing divorce rates] – cohabitation separation is not included in these statistics.”

“Whatever the reason, there are still many thousands of British families who are experiencing family breakdown every year, whether that’s divorce or separation.”


Why Long-Married Couples Split

By now, it’s an old story: one-half of a high-profile and long-married couple — usually the man, truth be told — admits to having an affair. Sometimes, the couple’s marriage can withstand the infidelity; other times, the breach of trust is too deep, and a split or divorce ensues.

David and Holly Petraeus don’t fit the mold, say, of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, since Holly Petraeus has not been nearly as prominent as her military-hero-turned-CIA-chief husband of 38 years. And we don’t know, yet, whether theirmarriage will survive.

But what we do know is that while questions of infidelity grab the most headlines, having an extramarital affair is not what’s behind the breakup or divorce of most long-term relationships.

The AARP Sex, Romance and Relationships Survey on the sexuality of people 45 and older found that extramarital affairs happen for only a relatively small number of couples. So while infidelity is certainly the precipitating factor in some marriages failing, it’s not the reason in most cases.

Why do so many long-married couples decide to split? How can people be so happy for so long, only to then have the marriage turn sour in what are supposed to be their “golden years” together?

In most cases, the reasons are far less dramatic. Some relationships have been in decline for decades and finally lose all their juice. A marriage doesn’t usually just blow up. It’s more like a balloon that has been seeping air for a long time. After a while, it’s totally deflated.

Another possibility is that a couple’s issues intensify. Most problems are manageable, but then something sends them into hyperdrive. It could be a change in jobs, health, children’s lives, personal ambitions or any number of other triggers. Whatever balance had been achieved is undermined, and with it the ability to handle the issue and still have a decent marriage.

Of course, we’ve all heard the familiar phrase, “We grew apart.” But just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it’s not a common cause of divorce or separation among long-time married couples. A typical scenario is where a husband and wife live increasingly different lives: He gets more and more into his work, she gets more and more into her children, her adult children, her grandchildren. Or she gets ambitious and he wants to relax, cut down, travel, and play golf.

Lack of communication and loss of trust are also issues that can seriously push a marriage toward divorce. I suspect that it wasn’t so much an affair that sent Maria Shriver heading for the door, but more the fact that her husband had deceived her for so long. On top of that, she is dealing with public humiliation — as well as the destabilizing presence of a child. It is a rare relationship, of any length, that could face these factors and continue on.

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of marriages are not presented with such mega challenges. Still, plenty of breakups occur after a relationship of many years. Although some people are able to negotiate the inevitable bumps in the road, for others those bumps turn into a sinkhole — something that they cannot seem to climb out of. Sadly, and often with great affection for each other, the couple say “enough.”

And, yes, couples are saying that more often these days. Why?

The answer is longevity. We live so much longer now. Half a century ago, an unhappy couple in their mid-60s might have stayed together because they thought it wasn’t worth divorcing if they had only a few years left to live. Now, 65-year-olds can easily envision at least 20 more active years — and they don’t want them to be loveless, or full of frustration or disappointment.

And then, of course, we’re now looking at the aging of the boomers. They’re different from the 50-year-olds who lived before them. In previous eras, couples soldiered on even if they were very unhappy. But boomers gave up on the concept of the dutiful-but-unhappy spouse a long time ago. They were the originators of a higher divorce rate, and while that divorce rate has slowed, we may be seeing a spike as people ponder whether or not they will stay with their spouses into extreme old age.

So, yes, there are plenty of reasons why a couple who have been married for 30, 40, even 50 years might break up. And although we don’t celebrate divorce in this country, we are not afraid of it, either. This now extends to our golden years, as well.


Couple with 40-year age gap reveal how it really affects their relationship – and how their marriage almost tore her family apart

Age differences can pose huge obstacles for some couples, but being able to talk about these challenges honestly can sometimes make the relationship even stronger.

A pair with an almost 40-year age gap between them has spoken candidly about their 10-year marriage, how their union has affected their loved ones, and how their age difference has created difficulties within their relationship.

Catherine, who is in her early thirties, and Melvin, who is in his seventies, take turns asking each other thoughtful questions in a heart-warming video for Glamour’s The And project series.

Asked by her husband about her favorite memories of their relationship so far, Catherine replies: ‘All the times we used to stand in the driveway at night, trying to say goodnight to each other and not wanting to.’

She adds that becoming Melvin’s wife was also ‘definitely a favorite memory’, and he agrees, saying: ‘That was a fine day.’

The touching video, which was posted to YouTube on September 26, has already earned nearly 27,000 views.

The couple’s conversation soon becomes emotional for Catherine when her husband, who is wearing a smart shirt and a black flat cap, asks her about the ‘most difficult lesson’ she has learned from being with him.

‘You can think that you can trust people, and you can’t,’ says Catherine, revealing that a number of her family members ‘rejected’ her when she started dating Melvin.

‘Pretty much everybody stopped talking at my house for a long time,’ she shares.

But Catherine says that she held her ground during this trying time, and never wavered in her desire to marry Melvin.

She recalls telling her family and friends: ‘This is what I want. This is who I want to be with. No one else would make me happy.’

Things become much more lighthearted when Catherine, turning slightly red, asks her husband: ‘Am I the best sex you’ve ever had?’

‘Oh, absolutely. Without question,’ Melvin responds immediately, causing his wife to throw her head back with laughter.

The couple goes on to talk about their very real age gap, with Catherine asking her husband how he thinks it affects their relationship.

‘Well, the first thing that comes to mind is having children. I can’t think of another thing,’ he replies.

Melvin goes on to share that he actually gets a ‘kick out of it’ when the couple is out together and people ask whether she’s his granddaughter.

It is then Catherine’s turn to talk about how their dynamic relationship affected her, with Melvin asking her how their age difference scares her.

‘Just the thought of outliving you. That’s really the only thing that terrifies me,’ says an emotional Catherine.

Melvin becomes worried about his wife, questioning her: ‘You don’t think about that a lot, do you?’

Catherine reveals that she thinks about her husband dying before her ‘all the time’, and he insists that they talk about this issue more later.

Asked about the one thing he wants her to take from their marriage, Melvin says he wants Catherine to have the ‘confidence’ to go on living her life after he dies.

The couple then have the opportunity to express their love for each other, with Catherine asking Melvin why he loves her.

‘You are my soul mate, my best friend, and I can depend on you… You tell me you love me every night when we go to bed,’ he shares.

‘Because I still do,’ Catherine adds.

The video has received dozens of comments from YouTube users who were inspired by their unlikely relationship.

‘Wow! You can really tell they love each other a lot. So beautiful,’ wrote on person, while another remarked: ‘This is beautiful. Love is Love.’


When I decided to try one last time to have a baby, I realized that I needed to be completely prepared for the process of pregnancy over 40.  At the time, I thought that primarily meant being physically prepared.  Two years later and watching my baby daughter sleep, I realize there is so much more than the physical preparation although that is critically important.   Getting pregnant over 40 also requires significant mental and emotional strength.  Let’s take a look at ways that women can effectively prepare themselves for conception physically, mentally and emotionally.

Part One:  It’s Physical, Baby!

To say that women over 40 need to focus on getting super healthy prior to trying to conceive is an understatement.  Your body is the vessel that makes conception possible and you need to give it the best chance for success by being at peak health which includes several key components:

  • physical condition
  • diet
  • flexibility
  • optimal weight
  • illness avoidance
  • disease avoidance

Physical Condition

There is no one size fits all for getting in good physical condition; but it is a critical component in conceiving over age 40.  Not only do our bodies tend to decline as we age, but we also contribute to this natural physiological response by the choices we make.  Your body makes the difference in conceiving and carrying a baby so being in great condition is one of the best investments you can make in your personal fertility.   According to the American College of Sports Medicine, we should be exercising between 3 and 5 times a week for 20-60 minutes each time and using large muscle group activity such as walking/jogging, cycling or swimming.   To determine if you are working out at the right intensity, the ACSM recommends the “talk test”.  If you can carry on a conversation without being out of breath, you are at about the right level of intensity.  In addition to cardiovascular condition, it is also important to build strength through a muscle strengthening component of your conditioning.  This will pay big dividends down the road when you are pregnant and your body must support upwards of 30 additional pounds of weight.  Walk, jog, swim, stroll, dance, skate – whatever you enjoy doing.  Just get out, get moving and do it!  Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.


Mom told you to eat your greens and she was right!  You literally are what you eat so you want to be as healthy and wholesome as possible as you prepare your body for making and growing your baby.   If you follow these basic guidelines, you’ll build a healthy place to make a baby:

  • Take a good prenatal vitamin containing folic acid.  Ask your doctor what vitamin he recommends.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables that are minimally prepared.  They retain more of their nutrients and fiber this way.  Be sure to get plenty of yellow, green, orange and blue fruits and vegetables daily.  Wash them thoroughly
  • Get enough calcium.  Eat/drink low fat yogurt, milk, cheese (even ice cream on occasion) to strengthen bones and facilitate microscopic cell processes in your body.
  • Focus on lean protein.  Just think about everything that has to develop in your body to support conceiving and carrying a healthy child.  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and they will help form the placenta, umbilical cord, and your baby’s musculature.
  • Look for whole grains.  A slice of white bread isn’t going to kill you, but a slice of whole grain bread will provide more nutrients and fiber to help you build a healthy body for your baby to grow in.
  • Don’t freak out about fat.  Some fats are essential to survival.  I am not an advocate of fat being evil.  Everything in moderation.  Stick to primarily healthy fats like olive, fish and canola oil and don’t beat yourself up if you have butter on your toast.


This is one area that many people tend to ignore in the fitness spectrum.  Women trying to conceive should ignore this at their peril!  Any woman who is 9 months pregnant can tell you that extreme flexibility is required to do many normal daily tasks like putting on shoes or getting into bed.  Activities like yoga are excellent not only to improve flexibility but also encourage relaxation.  Some research suggests that stretching in general may have positive impacts on the lymphatic system.  So, take a few minutes each week and improve your flexibility.

Optimal Weight

I always cringe a bit when I see a particular celebrity who is struggling with her well televised infertility.  In one episode of her show, her doctor tells her that she needs to gain some weight to improve her chances of conception.  I caught a glimpse of her on tv last week and she was even thinner than before.  While many women struggle on the other end of the spectrum with being too heavy, it can be just as impactful to be too thin.   Check with your doctor to see what she thinks you should weigh for optimal conception.

Illness and Disease Avoidance

One of the first things a physician will do when you are getting ready to start trying to conceive is order a battery of tests including tests for measles and chicken pox.  Now is a good time to be sure that you are staying away from kids with chicken pox or measles, anyone with shingles or basically anyone who is sick.  Even if you had chicken pox as a kid, you can still get it again as an adult and it would certainly set you back in your quest for conception.  Even the latest version of the flu will weaken you.  Will it hinder your ability to conceive?  Probably not, but why add a weakening variable?    Wash your hands a lot, avoid people who are sick and stay away from kids who are experiencing childhood illnesses.

Your doctor will likely also test you for sexually transmitted diseases, so be sure that you are practicing safe sex at all times as well.

The Bottom Line

In a world where so much can be out of your fertility control, why not take charge of the things that you can impact like your physical health and well being.  This is something that can give you a leg up in your quest to have a baby.  Now that we have explored physical health, let’s take a look at preparing emotionally for conception.

Part 2:  Getting Your Head in the Game:  Preparing Emotionally for Conception

A second key component to preparing yourself for conception, particularly those of us working to get pregnant over 40, is mental preparation.

Learn as much as you can

Some women don’t need to be reminded to read up on the process of conception.  They already have books and magazines about pregnancy and are fully aware of the process and its ups and downs.  Most women, however, aren’t as prepared as they should be.  For example, women over 40 have a significantly reduced probability of getting pregnant and a significantly increased probability of having a miscarriage.  It is important to understand the statistics and the odds before you see your doctor.  This will help you be prepared for what will sound like grim news.  When I began trying to conceive at age 43, my reproductive endocrinologist wanted to walk me through a series of charts with bad news.  Basically, he told me that I had less than a 3% chance of conceiving.  Fortunately, I had already done my homework and  knew what he was going to say.  It wasn’t a shock to me.  I explained that I understood the odds and wanted to know what the next steps were.   Read up so you don’t get caught off guard.

Learn about testing, fertility and what could happen in the process.

We generally don’t go into situations fully versed in what could go wrong.  In fact, its better in most cases not to go to the worst case scenario.  In conception over 40, I think it is very important to be educated about what could happen and what you can do about it.  Anyone going through infertility treatments will tell you that it can be complicated and grueling.  If you know about this in advance as a possibility, it makes it easier to deal with if it happens.

Establish a system at the beginning.

Getting pregnant over age 40 is often similar to a complex business project.  There is tracking your cycle, medical appointments, blood tests, procedures and medications all of which generally have to happen at precise times in the month.  Do yourself a favor and figure out a tracking system that works for you.  Use a planner, a notebook, your PC, your phone, whatever works best for you.  Establish this system and record everything in it.  You will find it an invaluable resource to help you keep track of test results, your cycle, expenses, appointments, information you learn and contacts that you make.   I found that I kept my planner with me at all times because it gave me all the answers I needed when my doctor’s office called or I learned something new and needed to see my previous test results.  I also pulled it out and took notes on every phone call and doctor’s visit.  It is so easy to forget something and equally easy to write notes in your system so that you can’t forget.

Keeping it All Together.

Use what you learn about the process of getting pregnant as well as the possibilities of what can happen during the process to keep yourself strong mentally.  If you wind up having to go through infertility treatments, it can take a long time and you will need to be physically and mentally strong to go through its ups and downs.

Part 3:  Stabilizing the Roller Coaster of Emotions

This section takes a look at your emotional health during the conception process and what you can do to help keep yourself strong emotionally as you prepare to conceive.

A big part of reproduction is hormones.  Ask any woman how she is impacted by her monthly hormonal fluctuations and multiply that by 10 when you factor in the stress of trying to conceive.   What used to be playful and fun now becomes a task that a couple must complete at just the right time.  Many couples report that sex becomes mechanical and sterile when they have to do it on queue.  For couples battling infertility, the stress is further multiplied when hormone injections and other interventions are involved.  All of these factors add up to emotional STRESS.  It is important to be aware of the potential stress ahead of time and prepare to keep yourself emotionally healthy.

 Establish a close support system

If you are married, this will almost certainly include your husband; but it’s a good idea to go beyond him for support.  In fact, he should establish support apart from you as well.  There will be times when you just feel down and don’t want to bring your spouse down.  You need to have a friend or family member who understands your situation and who you can count on to listen and be supportive.  Many couples (or singles for that matters) don’t want to tell too many people that they are trying to conceive because the constant barrage of  well meaning “are you pregnant yet?” can become exhausting and demoralizing if you’re struggling with infertility.  Keep your support system to a small trusted group.

Think about what you need for support and let your friends/family know

Everyone is different and needs a different type of support.  Some people want friends to check in and ask them how they are doing.  Other people, like me, prefer to be left alone but need someone there when they reach out.  Think about what you need and let your friends/family know specifically how they can best support you.  I recommend having a conversation outlining what they can do to help you.  For me, that meant letting friends know that I would keep them posted on progress but didn’t want them asking me about it.  They love me and were fine with that.  When I needed them, I asked and they were there.  One mistake I made was being in a geographic position where none of my friends or family were local.  I went through some very difficult times without a hug or a hand to hold.  If you can do it, be sure to have people geographically close as you work to conceive your child.

Give yourself a break

Take time for yourself each day to unwind and relax.  Draw a bubble bath, take a walk in the park, meet a friend for coffee, get a facial – whatever helps you de-stress.  Stress has lots of negative effects on our bodies and certainly doesn’t facilitate conception.  I actually walked away from my career because I knew the stress level was too high and I needed every advantage to conceive at age 44.

Check out on-line support

There are many online support communities that provide an excellent forum for connecting with others in your position.  Join a few forums or look on twitter or facebook for groups that might fill a need.

Keep a healthy perspective

It is easy to get so completely engrossed in conception that it almost becomes your identity.  This is not healthy.  In fact, I stopped visiting certain forums where many of the women could see no goodness or happiness in their lives due to infertility.  I understand the heartache of wanting a child and not being able to conceive.  I also understand the devastation of miscarriage.  I have experienced both and know that we need to experience the sadness and emotion that go with those situations.  Then we need to pick ourselves up and move forward.    It is critically important to put time and energy into other areas of your life.  Experience love and joy each day.  Think about and talk about something besides trying to conceive.

Putting it all together

Some women conceive right away with no problems.  For other women like me, it takes years or even decades.  Give yourself every advantage as you start trying to conceive. Get in great physical condition.  Learn all you can about fertility and prepare mentally for the process.  Finally, take care of yourself emotionally.   Remember to live each day to the fullest and experience a rich life that includes joy and happiness outside of trying to get pregnant over 40.

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Couples married for over 40 years reflect on how they did it

What these elderly couples have to say about love is a breath of fresh air 

We’ve all heard stories about sparks flying on a first date. The trick to a happy love life, though, is in maintaining the spark for a lifetime. These three couples remind us that it’s easier — yet much harder — than you think.When they were dating, Don and Flora Hutchinson were pragmatic about picking a partner with shared interests. “We talked a lot about our feelings, beliefs, goals, our faith and our future children when we were dating,” said Flora. “I wasn’t even sure I loved him at first, but I really liked to be with him, and I liked that we believed the same things.” Their enjoyment of one another built a life of play and togetherness — they spent weekends picnicking, hiking, swimming and fishing with their two children, and ate dinner together every night.

Both Don and Flora added, though, that maintaining their individuality was important for their success. “Flora learned how to fly a plane!” Don said. “I get airsick but I still loved when she would take me flying.” Meanwhile, Don kept his watchmaking skills and enjoyed his own hobbies. The happy couple will soon celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

Family is hugely important to both Ann and her husband Jim, who will celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary at the end of this month. Ann beamed when she spoke of their four children, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

“You know, Jim and I married when we were just 18 and 19,” said Ann. “I know that marrying young doesn’t work for a lot of couples, but it worked for us, and I think that’s because we approached our marriage with complete commitment even from a young age.” For the Ginnings, divorce was never an option, and the respect for their union helped sustain them through the hard times. “You know what else helped?” Ann asked. “Trust. Respect. And a sense of humor is really important, too.”

When I spoke with Melinda White, who just celebrated her 45th wedding anniversary with her husband Ron, it was clear that the two deeply value their friendship. “One of the things I love most about our marriage is our companionship,” Melinda said. “We do things together. We have shared dreams.”

She explained that couples often stagnate and turn away from each other when reality hits and dreams change. “We all have our goals, but life can often interfere. It’s by working through challenges and finding a way to make each other’s dreams come true — perhaps differently than first imagined — that marriage and a lifetime friendship is possible.”


40 Lessons From 40 Years of Marriage

Four decades ago, I married Barbara Ann Peterson. Looking back now on the first 12 months of our marriage, I’d have to describe myself then as an idiot—repeatedly ignoring the dignity of the woman that God had brought me.

But after six children, 19 grandchildren, and decades of married life, I’ve learned some things. I think of them as 40 lessons from 40 years of marriage … and family … and life.

1. Marriage and family are about the glory of God.

Genesis 1:27 makes it clear, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” From the beginning, marriage has been central to God’s glory on planet Earth. The Bible begins with a marriage and ends with a marriage. What God designed, lifted up, and gave a transcendent purpose, man has dumbed down.

Many today make the purpose of marriage to be one’s personal happiness—of finding another person who meets my needs. God created marriage to reflect His image, to reproduce a godly heritage, and to stand together in spiritual battle. Your marriage, your covenant-keeping love, will be your greatest witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Marriage is about the glory of God—not about the happiness of man.

2. Marriage is taking place on a spiritual battlefield, not on a romantic balcony.

Satan’s first attack on the image of God was to destroy the image-bearers’ relationship with Him. Then Satan went after Adam and Eve and their relationship with one another. If he targeted marriage to begin with, why would we think our marriages would be any different?

I think we often forget that our marriage—our family—can be targeted by the enemy to destroy the image-bearers, to destroy the legacy that is passed on to future generations.

I believe that the very definition of marriage is under attack today because of who created marriage, God.

3. Your spouse is not your enemy.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood. Have you ever looked at your spouse in the morning as your enemy, asking God, “What did you do in bringing us together?” I have.

But the Scriptures tell us, your mate is not your enemy. Your mate is a gift from God to you. In all his imperfections—in all her imperfections—God has given you a gift. You can either receive it by faith, or you can reject it.

4. The couple that prays together stays together.

In the first months of my marriage, I went to a friend named Carl Wilson and said, “Carl, you’ve been married 25 years. You’ve got five kids. What’s the best single piece of advice you can give me, as a young man who’s just starting out his marriage?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “Pray with your wife every day.”

I said: “That’s it? ‘Pray with your wife’?”

“That’s it.”

So I went home, and Barbara and I started praying together. This worked really well for a couple of months … until the night when we went to bed facing opposite walls. Although it wasn’t the most comfortable position physically, it expressed where we were spiritually and emotionally.

There seemed to be a tap on my shoulder that night, and it wasn’t Barbara. God was speaking to me in my conscience. He said: “Hey, Rainey! Aren’t you going to pray with her tonight?” I said, “I don’t like her tonight!”

He said, “Yes, but you made the commitment to pray every day with your wife.” And I said, “But God, you know that in this situation, she is 90 percent wrong!”

God said, “Yes, but it was your 10 percent that caused her to be 90 percent wrong.”

I wanted to roll over and say, “Sweetheart, will you forgive me for being 10 percent wrong?” But after the words got caught in my throat, I said, “Will you forgive me for … ?”

Barbara and I are both strong-willed, stubborn, rebellious people. But we’ve been transformed by praying together. Now we are two strong-willed people who bow their wills before almighty God, on a daily basis, and invite Him into our presence.

Praying with your spouse will change the course of your marriage and legacy.

5. Isolation is a subtle killer of relationships.

Genesis 2:24 gives us a prescription from Scripture: Leave, cleave, and become one. The enemy of our souls does not want a husband and wife to be one. Instead, he wants to divide us.

In John 17, Jesus prayed for the church to be one. He realized that when we are in isolation, we can be convinced of anything.

Isolation kills relationships.

6. It’s easier for two broken people to build a marriage and family from the same set of biblical blueprints.

What would a physical house look like if you had two different architects, two different builders, and two different sets of blueprints? You’d get some pretty funny-looking houses, wouldn’t you? The same thing will happen in your marriage if you and your spouse are building your relationship and family from different plans.

For the past 37 years, FamilyLife has hosted Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. If you haven’t been to this with your spouse, I encourage you to go. Weekend to Remember speakers explain God’s blueprints for a successful marriage and family, and transparently share from their own lives.

7. It is healthy to confess your sins to your spouse.

James 5:16 reminds us, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

If you want to be healthy, develop a marriage relationship where your spouse has access to the interior of your soul. Are you struggling with bitterness over a betrayal? I’ve been through that. I’ve asked Barbara, “Will you pray for me?”

Maybe you’re struggling with a bad attitude … a sense of rebellion … toying with something you shouldn’t be toying with. Bring your spouse into the interior of your soul so that you may be healed.

8. It is impossible to experience marriage as God designed it without being lavish in your forgiveness of one another.

Ephesians 4:32 says we should forgive each other “just as God in Christ forgave you.”

Failing to forgive or to ask for forgiveness kills oneness, and unity, and life in a marriage.

I love this statement by Ruth Bell Graham: “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Why is this true? Because forgiveness means we give up the right to punish the other person. In a marriage relationship there are plenty of things (either committed or omitted) where you’re going to have to give up the right to punish the other person. Bitterness does not create oneness.

9. One of the greatest threats in any marriage is losing a teachable heart.

Proverbs 4:23 reminds us, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Most of us do all we can to prevent a heart attack. Why? Because there’s a simple equation: If the heart dies, you die.

The Bible is filled with references to the heart. In fact, the Great Commandment is one that calls our heart to love God totally and fully, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Pay attention to your heart. Guard it lest it become hardened or not teachable.

A teachable heart is a spiritually-receptive heart. When was the last time you asked your spouse to forgive you? When did you last listen to a child who had perhaps been hurt by you?

Remember, from the heart flows the springs of life.

10. Every couple needs a mentor couple who is one lap ahead of them in the seasons of life.

Who’s your couple? Who’s your person? If you’re a newlywed, you need someone to coach you on the habits you establish at the beginning of your marriage. If you’re starting out with your kids, you need someone just to say: “You know what? This is normal. This is the way it happens.”

Even if you are moving into the empty nest with adult children, I’ve got news for you: You really need a mentor in that phase! Relating to adult children has been more challenging than the terrible twos—not because our kids are bad kids. It just didn’t turn out the way I envisioned it.

Who’s your mentor? Be careful about who’s speaking into your life.

11.  What you remember is just as important as what you forget. 

We tend to suffer from spiritual amnesia.  Wanting to remember God’s faithfulness, I started a spiritual milestone file in 1998. It now has 920 reminders in it—remembrances of the little things, and the big things, that God has done.

Milestones remind us of three things: what God has done; who God is—His provision, care, and deliverance; and the need to trust God and walk by faith.

When we forget the deeds of God, we will ultimately forget to trust Him.

12. Marriage was designed by God to be missional.

Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …”  And Acts 13:36 says, “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep …”

I want to be about the purposes of God, in my generation, with my wife.  She is a partner in ministry.  We are not two individual people who are just successfully going our own way.  We are two people who work at merging our life purpose and mission together so that we increasingly share it as we move toward the finish line.

The other evening, Barbara and I sat in our living room in two chairs that we bought in 1972 for $5 apiece.  They’ve been reupholstered three times.  We sat in those chairs, talking about, “Should we reupholster them, or go buy new ones?”  I turned to her and I said:  “You know what?  We have not given our lives to stuff.”

Now, do we live in a nice home?  Do we live better than we deserve? Absolutely. But as imperfect as we are, as many struggles as we’ve had, we are headed toward the same mission.  We are a part of the Great Commission.  We want to be fulfilling the great commandment, together as a couple.

My challenge to you is this: As a couple, believe God for too much, rather than too little. Remember what A.W. Tozer said, “God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible.  What a pity we plan to do the things we can only do by ourselves.”

Life can wear you down.  It can wear you out.  Disappointment chips away at faith.  As a couple, you have to work on this to go to the finish line.

13. It’s okay to have one rookie season, but it’s not okay to repeatedly repeat it.

I was an idiot in our first 12 months of marriage—repeatedly ignoring the dignity of the woman that God had brought me.

The lessons that you learn need to be applied. It’s not good to repeat rookie errors in your 39th season of marriage.

14. Never use the d-word in your marriage.   

Never threaten divorce in your marriage. Never let the d-word cross your lips, ever!  Instead, use the c-word—commitment, covenant, covenant-keeping love that says, “I’d marry you all over again.”

I can still remember an argument my parents had when I was five years old and divorce was not in vogue.  Your kids are highly sensitized to what your relationship is like and how you communicate when you disagree. Let them hear of your commitment to one another.

15. Honor your parents.

Exodus 20:12 is the first commandment with a promise: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Our marriage was brought to life as we honored our parents.  We are a generation that has bashed and blamed our parents, ignoring this commandment.  It is time for us to return home to our parents with honor.  A practical way you can do that is by writing them a tribute and, then, by reading it to them.

Instead of giving your parents a dust buster for Christmas, or a tie, or a pair of house slippers, give them a tribute, thanking them for what they did right.  Barbara did this with her parents.  I did it with mine.  Honoring your parents is a life-giver.

16. Different isn’t wrong; it’s just different.

We marry one another because we’re different, and we divorce each other because we’re different.  When Barbara and I moved into the empty-nest phase, we discovered that we are much more different than we ever imagined.  Here’s the key—your spouse’s differences are new capacities that God has brought to your life to complete you.

Barbara’s an artist and as we began our empty-nest years I told her, “Wherever you go, you make things beautiful.”  You see, I didn’t appreciate beauty.  I had no idea how beauty reflected the glory of God. Your spouse is God’s added dimension to your life.

17. Marriage and family are redemptive.

Being married to Barbara and having six kids has saved me from toxic self-absorption.  The way to have a godly marriage and family is the same path as coming to faith in Christ.  It is surrender—giving up your rights to Him first, then to your spouse—serving them.

I have a confession to make.  I mistakenly thought that God gave Barbara and me six children so that we could raise them. Now I think that He gave me six children, so He could finish the process of helping me grow up.  Nothing has taught me more about self-sacrifice and following God’s Word than loving and leading my children.

18. A man’s wife is his number one disciple. 

Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru in the United States), said countless times that a man’s wife should be his number one disciple.

Husbands, help your wife grow as a Christian. It’s the smartest thing you could possibly do. When your wife grows in this area, not only does she triumph at life, but you benefit as well.

19. Go near the orphan.

When you go near the orphan, as a couple, you go near the Father’s heart.  Barbara and I went near the orphan, and we adopted one of our six children. I’ve learned more about the Father’s heart through adoption—of choosing a child and unconditional love. This is pure and undefiled religion.

20. Make your home a storm shelter.

I grew up in southwest Missouri and spent many a night in a cellar, down with the potatoes and green beans. It was a musty smelling place. I was down there trying to dodge a tornado that never hit.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus compares two builders of two homes—both in storms.  We should get a clue from that: We’re going to build our marriage, our family, our home in the midst of storm warnings, floods, wind, and rain.

Barbara nearly died on four different occasions; she had a heart rate of more than 300 beats a minute. I often imagined life as a single dad, until we got her heart problem fixed. And then there was a 13-year-old son, our athletic son, who was stricken with a rare neurological disorder.  There was a prodigal.  There was the day my dad died.  There were short paychecks in ministry.  There were challenges in my ministry—all kinds of issues with people.

Your marriage covenant is more than just saying, “I do,” for a lifetime.  It is for better and for worse.

Make your home a storm shelter—a safe place to go in a storm.

21. Suffering will either drive you apart, or it will be used by God to merge you together.

Scripture teaches that our response to God and His Word is the difference-maker in how we handle suffering.  You and your spouse have to decide to suffer together rather than falling apart.

22. Men and women process suffering very differently.

It is a wise husband who gives his wife space and grace to process loss and suffering differently from how he processes it. After Barbara recovered from several near-death experiences when her heart raced over 300 beats a minute, I remember wanting her to flip a switch and move on with life.  That was easy for me to say. I hadn’t been the one who they took away in an ambulance with a heart beating so fast that the bed was shaking.

23.  Loss is a part of life and increases as we age.

How you and your spouse process loss, by faith, will determine whether you grow old and bless others, giving them life, or whether you grow old and curse others, becoming a bitter crotchety old person.

Process loss well.

24. Communication is the life-giver of a relationship. 

Simply put, find a way to get five, ten, fifteen minutes together to talk every day.  Turn the TV off, set the computer aside, take a walk, and just talk with each other.

Barbara and I used to do this and walk in our garden.  The kids thought we were just going out there to see the flowers bloom.  We were going out there to get away from them, so we could have a complete sentence between each other.

25. No shepherd can lead any faster than the sheep can follow. 

You are the guardian of your marriage and family’s direction and vision. C. H. Spurgeon said, “It was by perseverance the snail reached the ark.”  Sliming my way to the finish line is the great hope for me as the spiritual leader of my family.  After you fail (and you will), get back up.

When the kids were young, our family devotionals were chaos—flipping peas, spilling milk, crawling under the table.  Who knows what they heard?  No shepherd can lead any faster than the sheep can follow.

26. Maximize your wife’s talents, gifts, experience, and passion as you would an Olympic athlete. 

Ephesians 5 talks to men about loving their wives as they love their own bodies. Help your wife accomplish everything that God has in mind for her.

Do an inventory of her gifts, her talents, her passions.  What motivates her?  What demotivates her?  Pray for her and her vision.  What are her core competencies?  Dream some dreams together, and don’t wait until you’re in the empty nest to dream the dreams.  Start dreaming even when you’re building your family.

27. Wives, your respect will fuel your husband, and your contempt will empty his tank. 

Ephesians 5:33 commands wives to respect their husbands.  Ladies, keep in mind that 93 percent of all communication is non-verbal.  How are you expressing belief in your man non-verbally?

Barbara’s belief in me as a man has helped me excel.  It’s not a blind belief, but it’s a belief that speaks the truth in love.

28: Women spell romance differently than men. 

Women spell romance r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p. But men spell it: s-e-x. God, in His cosmic genius, has brought two very different people together in marriage who are to dance together. And what an interesting dance when I think that I understand my wife. For example, I bring her roses, and I write her a note, and I fix dinner, and put the kids to bed, and that equals sex.

So, as a man, I begin to think, “A+B+C=D.  It did last night.”  So, I try it again the next night or perhaps a few nights later.  Roses, a nice meal, put the kids to bed—“Huh?”  Nada.  “Huh?”

So, I went to Barbara: “What’s the deal?  You changed the equation.”

Would you like to know what she said: “As a woman, I don’t want to be reduced to an equation.  I want to be pursued as a person relationally.”

29. Your marriage must be built to outlast the kids. 

Our romance gave us children, and our children tried to steal our romance.

Barbara and I had to make an effort to have special dinners together and go on short getaways two or three times a year. We fought to keep these times on the schedule.  It was a hassle finding a babysitter, but time alone together was worth it.

30. Build too many guardrails around your relationship rather than too few. 

Men, don’t trust yourself alone with the opposite sex.  I have asked people to go out of their way to take me to speaking engagements instead of one woman taking me.  I’ve got a friend who won’t get in an elevator alone with a woman.  You may say that’s a little extreme.  Let me tell you something.  Given the fallout today in ministry, I’m not sure it’s extreme.

31. Wives generously use your sexual power in your husband’s life. 

I think that one of the mistakes we make when we read chapters 5-7 in Proverbs (which is a father’s advice to a son about the harlot) is to believe that sexual power over a man is limited to just a woman in the streets.

I think Proverbs 5-7 gives women an interesting glimpse into how to encourage and bless her husband—by speaking love to him in the language that would encourage him.  Ladies, use your sexual power liberally with your husbands.

32. The first essence of rearing children is “identity.”

This has to do with disciplining your child to know his or her spiritual destiny and spiritual address.  It also has to do with his or her sexual identity as well.  This culture is seeking to distort the image of God imbedded in boys and girls; we have to help our children know how to navigate those waters.

33. The second essence of rearing children is “relationship.” 

Disciple your child to know what real love is, how to love another imperfect person, and how to experience love as a human.  The Great Commandment makes it clear (Matthew 22:34-40). Life is about relationships.  It’s about a relationship with God, loving Him, and it’s also about loving others on the horizontal.

34. The third essence of rearing children is “character.”

The book of Proverbs talks about this, obviously.  It is disciplining your child to be wise and not be a fool.

35. The fourth essence of rearing children is “mission.” 

It is no mistake that the Scriptures compares children to arrows in the hands of a warrior.  Arrows are meant to be pulled back by an archer, aimed at a target, and let go.

What are you aiming them toward?  What are you challenging your children to give their lives to?  The Kingdom’s work is paramount.  We’re going to need another generation to carry on should Christ tarry.

36. Determine your core values as a couple.

In the early years of Barbara’s and my marriage, we went on a little retreat together. She got alone and wrote down the top ten core values that she wanted to produce in our children.  I got alone, separate from her, and wrote out my top ten core values for the kids.

Then we got together and prioritized them, agreeing on our top five.  Those five helped us to not compare our family with other families, but to do just what God had called us to do.  And it helped us be one as a couple

37. Interview your daughter’s date, and train your sons not to be clueless.

May I suggest two books that I wrote: Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date andAggressive Girls, Clueless Boys?

In today’s culture, even our little eight year old/nine year old boys are being preyed upon by older girls. It is bizarre.

I was recently told about a young man who went away for a Passport2Purity®weekend, which is a weekend getaway, with his father.  He was 11 years old.  After learning about the birds and the bees for the first time, he arrived back home. Two days later, two eighth grade girls asked him to have sex with them.  He said, “No”—told them to leave.

38.  Become smaller, not bigger, in the lives of your adult children.

As Barbara and I have watched our grown children manage their own families and extended families, we have learned that we must become small.  By this I mean that we cannot fix their problems. We can give advice when asked, but not unless we are asked.

39.   As I get older, I want to laugh more with my wife, gripe less, and be found guilty of giving her too much love, grace, and mercy rather than too little. 

40. Have a view of God that will guide you all of your days.

What you think about God is important. Your view of God, of who He is and the blueprints of His Word, will guide you all your days through many valleys and mountaintops in ministry.