Crosswalk asked us to create a 90 day, 13 week challenge to help move couples CLOSER. Using some of the practical wisdom found in our books Red Hot Monogamy; Red Hot Romance Tips for Women; 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband; and Bill’s phone App: Her Best Friend, we have SIMPLIFIED and synthesized an easy to implement 10 week romance challenge. Below is the article we wrote for Crosswalk, then the sign up for a special ONCE A WEEK Romance Rev — a personal email from Bill and I that contains some extra helps plus two ideas for developing your marriage with a FOCUSED date and a FUN date for each week.
Your heart beats with anticipation when you round the block and head into your driveway. It skips a beat when you hear that special ringtone and see your mate’s face on your cell phone. Your smile widens as the one you love walks in the door. Your entire being longs to be with your spouse. Others want what you have—that spark and sizzle of a love that is on fire!
The couple in Song of Songs 8:7 felt this kind of love, saying, “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away…”
Why do we long for intense, all-consuming love? It is because God designed us to give and receive love. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). With a little bit of focus, enthusiasm, and creativity, in a short time, it is possible to renovate and revive your marriage. Or if you feel your marriage is already on solid footing, a focused period dating your mate will enrich your love even more! Fanning the flame on passion is what the 90 Day Red Hot Romance Challenge is all about.
What Bill and I have observed in our 36 years of marriage ministry is when couples hit a difficult patch, or one or both are feeling disinterested, disengaged or distracted, a marriage can be reignited when one of two things happens.
1. They both commit to be “all in” for a focused period of time so new skills can be learned and feelings of love can be rekindled as new happy and satisfying memories are experienced.
2. One of you, a husband or a wife, decides he or she is willing to try to “outlove” their spouse with God’s power and provision. When one person loves like God loves, it raises the possibility for God transform your marriage.
If you want a Red Hot Romance and a sizzling, satisfying, sex life, commit to the 90 Day Red Hot Romance Challenge to give God the time and opportunity to give you back those honeymoon feelings. Just like a diamond in a wedding ring has many facets, a strong marriage has unity in 13 different areas of intimacy. Here is a preview of the journey of love you two will travel:
Week 1: Archival – The number one reason couple’s who have filed for divorce decide to pull their papers and stick it out is they remember how much they have already invested in their marriage. Just like a bellow blows and an ember sparks into a flame, a couple that feels their love is growing cold will find their romance ablaze again when they take a trip down memory lane. In this week, you will pull out memorabilia like your wedding album and video; retell your love story to your children; or create a “flashback” date and return to the place you met, first said, “I love you,” first kissed, had your first date, proposed or honeymooned.
Week 2: Social – While doing research for “Her Best Friend” phone App, Bill discovered that the primary characteristic of successful, long lasting marriages is that the husband and wife have become best friends. In this week, you will brainstorm a list of new activities you two can try TOGETHER with the goal of finding something you BOTH love doing. Each of you brainstorm a bucket list: things to do, classes to take, places to go, hobbies to learn. Now compare lists, looking for common denominators. This might be the year to take that Pacific Rim Island cooking class that reminds you of that honeymoon in Hawaii! Or this could be the summer to have a weekly picnic at the pops symphony, or motorcycle to all the best burger places in the county.
Week 3: Nutritional – While writing Red Hot Romance Tips for Women, I discovered that science supports some of the mythological food aphrodisiacs. Creating a meal together using many of these heart healthy items can produce passion as you whisk, bake and taste-test delectable ingredients. For a quick example, check out to power of beloved chocolate. 70 percent cocoa, a sweet, erotic staple, contains phenylethylamine which is linked to the release of endorphins. Dark chocolate increases the feelings of attraction between two people and causes a more intense and a longer brain buzz than kissing does.
Week 4: Physical – You will be more likely to enjoy Red Hot Monogamy if you are ALIVE and well! Couples that workout together have more sex than the average couple. This is NOT about looking perfect, rather about feeling healthy and strong. Together you will discuss, decide and complete a health and wellness plan. Exercise releases happy endorphins, but passion itself has an upside for your health too. For example, kissing for 15 minutes burns 30 calories.
Week 5: Recreational – The longer you are married, the more likely you are working harder and playing less. This is the week to find an activity you BOTH enjoy! For example, during our children’s teen years we were so busy supporting their sports we forgot what sports we loved to do as a couple. The year our first son launched into college we tried a variety of activities from cross country skiing to mountain biking in search of “the perfect set of sports.” We settled on sports of the sea: paddle boarding, kayaking, sailing, jetskiing and beachside biking.
Week 6: Vocational – Couples are often in conflict over who does what and when. Once a year, Bill and I sit down to make goals and decide what the priorities are in our careers and at home. This is also a good time to discuss and delegate chores and household, yard, and car maintenance responsibilities. In Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, we have a “What’s Important to You” worksheet that helps a husband and a wife see which areas of your personal and family life matter most to each of you. The person who cares the most about a particular priority should pick up that area—no matter if it breaks gender stereotypes. If he’s a better cook and she loves to be outside mowing the lawn, go with it! A fun date this week could be a “trading places” swap. Change the side of the bed you sleep in, who drives the car when you are together, who cooks or does dishes or even spend time in each other’s work places if that is possible. It is amazing the appreciation that builds when you walk in each other’s shoes.
Week 7: Parental – People often ask us how our family gets along so well and arguments seem very rare. One of the top contributing factors to family unity is to have a clear plan. In 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make, we share how to create a family compass including a Mission, Motto, and Moniker (or crest), and our yearly parenting plan to help our sons become “Learners and Leaders who Love God.” As parents, your marriage is strengthened as you realize your marriage is about much more than just your own personal happiness. God calls us all to pass the baton of faith to the next generation. If you are newlyweds, and having children is still in the future, this might be a great time to take a parenting class, read a parenting book and discuss your views on child rearing. If you are empty nesters, you might decide to have a date that includes your grown kids and their significant others or the grandkids. Or maybe your date could be a scouting trip to check out venues for the next family reunion.
Week 8: Emotional – This world is hard on people. Like us, one or both of you might come from families of origin filled with dysfunction and drama. A date that includes couple’s counseling, a marriage workshop or retreat might be just the thing to repair broken hearts or broken dreams. To find a quality counselor in your area, we recommend a visit to your local Christian bookstore, ask your own Pastor or Marriage Ministry Director or contact ministries like AACC or Focus on the Family. A favorite marriage tune up, with some of the best interpersonal communication tools, is a United Marriage Encounter getaway weekend. (If your marriage is in a tough place, we have a list of other resources in Marriage On the Rocks? Try Again!)
Week 9: Financial – Money is the number one area couples typically argue about! This week you will tackle this area and decide what one choice would most help you two move forward in unity. You might decide to watch some Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University or Crown Financial videos, or sign up for a class. It might be the week to actually create a budget, or clip coupons and go on a “two for one” date. Romance doesn’t have to be expensive. While writing 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband, I posted a contest on social media and ask friends to give examples of “Dates on a Shoestring Budget.” The winner wrote: “We each get $5 ($10 if we’re lucky) we take turns going into a store while the other waits in the van… Usually Wal-Mart, Kwik Trip, ACE Hardware, or Good Will… Sometimes we have a drawing for which store.) We each buy — without the others’ knowledge — whatever we want for “Date Night.” Combining the two items into one date night is a hoot! He might buy a Styrofoam cup of worms and a sixpack of Mountain Dew for a few hours of fishing — and I purchase a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.”
Week 10: Spiritual – Couples that attend church weekly, pray together daily and are in small group Bible studies with those who believe in long lasting love tend to also have a long lasting marriage and rate their sex life as more satisfying than the average couple. Mutual spiritual growth creates a pathway to true intimacy. God created us body, soul and spirit so as we seek to interweave our spiritual lives it builds trust, and trust is the key that unlocks freedom to enjoy your intimate life. Dates to develop your shared walk with God could include watching a Christian marriage video (like our Red Hot Date Night), or pop some popcorn and watch a movie produced by a Christian movie company like bestselling War Room or Fireproof; or attend a Christian music concert of a favorite or new artist.
Week 11: Inspirational – Even in marriage, it is “more blessed to give than receive.” Some of the sweetest memories Bill and I have are times we have done ministry together. We started as newlyweds teaching 4-year-old Sunday School, and more recently, God has us traveling the world equipping couples and families in various cultures on love, marriage and parenting. This week’s date is your opportunity to try a new ministry like serving food at a homeless shelter, gathering donations for a women’s center, teaching a children’s or teen class, or hosting a barbeque that reaches out to neighbors and friends that might not know Christ yet. People are looking at your marriage and wondering “What is the power that helps them stay in love?” We sign all our books with that answer, “We love because He [God] first loved us” (1 John 4:19)
Week 12: Sensual – When all five senses are used in creating a date, that memory sticks! Researchers at Cambridge discovered if you are “super surprised” then you “super learn” and more details of that experience lodge deeper in your memory. This week you will each plan a mini date using all five senses. One of our most memorable dates was when I surprised Bill at a conference he was attending. I had a picnic basic that included some of his favorite luau foods from the islands, lotions we brought back from Hawaii, candles in coconut shells, Hawaiian print sarongs and ukulele music by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, and as we experienced all five senses, we spent the night, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Week 13: Sexual – Lack of time is the number one reason couples cite for not having frequent sexual relations. The goal of this 90 Day Red Hot Romance Challenge is to increase your frequency and satisfaction level of your intimate life. Most weeks, sexual expression will likely happen simply because you are paying greater attention to one another, but this week you will talk about your sex life. In the Old Testament, the word most used for sex is “to know” and that is really the goal, to know your mate head to toe, inside and out, body, soul and Spirit. Phil 2 encourages us to consider “others as more important than yourself” so this will be the night you keep your mate’s desires in mind.
If you would like to join the Love-Wise 90 Day Red Hot Romance Challenge and receive email that gives more enrichment, encouragement, education and equipping in these 13 areas of intimacy. Take up the challenge and create a marriage that is red hot!
Pam and Bill Farrel international speakers, relationship experts and the authors of 45 books including Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, Red Hot Monogamy, 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband, and Red Hot Romance Tips for Women. Bill is the creator of Her Best Friend Phone App which sends one romantic idea a day to a man’s phone to wow and woo his wife. The Farrels have been happily married 36 years and together they are Co Directors of Love-Wise.