Our Favorites and a GIVEAWAY – Sensible Singles Week

<<This Giveaway is now closed>>

The very best time to improve your marriage is when you are single. Understanding who you really are and cultivating within yourself the ability to really listen to and serve other people are things that a lot of us married people wish we’d done before we made our vows. To finish out our Sensible Singles Week, we wanted to share with you some of our very favorite resources and, of course, host a giveaway to thank you all for sticking with us this week!

:: Discovering Yourself ::

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

7 Habits of Highly Effective People - #staymarried blog

As Dr. Rachel Terrill mentioned in her post How to Find Your Soulmate in 5 Easy Steps, Self Improvement is key to finding and making yourself ready to be in a great relationship. Seven Habits is a classic, full of insight and self-discovery about what it takes to be effective in your world. Adding even one of the seven habits that you’ll learn about in this book can really change your perspective on the world around you. It was from this book that Tony and I learned the concept, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” which we shared more about in our post Same Team.
Find out more about Seven Habits of Highly Effective People here.

Strengths Finder 2.0

Strengths Finder 2.0 on the #staymarried blog

The first time I’d heard of Strengths based research was from the book Now, Discover Your Strengths. While most people become aware of their weaknesses and make efforts to improve themselves, this research instead shows that if we can understand our strengths and lean into them, our efforts will produce much greater results in life- including career and family. This book not only provides insights into the research, but an access code so that you can take the self-assessment and discover your own strengths. Having this insight has truly changed and enlightened Tony and I and helped us navigate our own daily triumphs and struggles, as well as better understand each others.
Find out more about Strengths Finder 2.0 here.

 The Five Love Languages – Singles Edition

The 5 Love Languages Singles Edition on the #staymarried blog

Gary Chapman did so much for couples with his book The Five Love Languages, but Tony and I have since learned how valuable it’s been for us to know how we best express and receive love even outside of our marriage! The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition will help you better express your emotions and affection in friendships, working relationships, or in a dating environment. Rather than being hung up on the topic of being single, Dr. Chapman will help you understand how you and others communicate love in a way that can transform any relationship.
Check out the book here.
Find out YOUR Love Language by taking this FREE online assessment.


:: Discovering Your Partner ::

Boundaries in Dating

Boundaries in Dating on the #staymarried blog

When I read Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, I knew it was revolutionary. But they made it that much more practical and personal when they published Boundaries in Dating. This book is the full picture of rules for romance that can help you find the love of your life. Between singleness and marriage lies the journey of dating. Want to make your road as smooth as possible? Set and maintain healthy boundaries – boundaries that will help you grow in freedom, honesty, and self-control. If many of your dating experiences have been difficult, this book could revolutionize the way you handle relationships. Even if you’re doing well, the insights you’ll gain from this practical book can help you fine-tune or even completely readjust important areas of your dating life. Boundaries in Dating is your roadmap to the kind of enjoyable, rewarding dating that can take you from weekends alone to a lifetime with the soul mate you’ve longed for.
Check it out here.

Date or Soul Mate?
How to Know if Someone is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or Less

Date Or Soul Mate? on the #staymarried blog

The author of this phenomenal book is none other than Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony.com. This matchmaking site has now seen over 565,000 of their matches get married! In this practical, quick read, Dr. Warren helps men and women who want healthy and satisfying marriages identify the early warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. Dr. Warren shows readers how to hold out for God’s best for their lives instead of settling for the first one to come along and outlines the factors that increase the chances for marital success. For those who want to become wiser in their relationship choices, this practical guide will help them find the love they want and avoid the pain they don’t need.
You can find Date or Soul Mate here.

For Men Only and For Women Only
What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of the Opposite Sex

For Women Only and For Men Only on the #staymarried blog

Tony and I first discovered these books on our honeymoon! We were both shocked by what we read, and our eyes were opened to the truth about the way we each think and feel and what really causes each of us the most pain. We shared some of those insights with you in our post The Truth About Tony. These books have since been revised with new research and information learned in the 10 years since their original release, including the brain science behind why men and women often feel the way they do.
You can find out more about these books by clicking on either of these links: For Men Only and For Women Only.


:: The GIVEAWAY! ::

<<This Giveaway is now closed>>

Sensible Singles Giveaway on the #staymarried blog

How to Find Your Soulmate in 5 Easy Steps

How to Find Your Soulmate in 5 Easy Steps - Sensible Singles Week on the #staymarried blogI became friends with Rachel in 2012. We each have two young daughters who love to laugh and play together. Our husbands, Tony and Craig, are both musicians who are also highly competitive when it comes to board games. But what really drew me to friendship with Rachel was her kind and witty personality and then, of course, her passion for long-lasting love and marriage.

I promised you a post from a Love Doctor at the beginning of the week, and I wasn’t joking. Rachel is actually Dr. Rachel Terrill, having received her Ph.D. from The University of South Florida in 2012 after studying Love and Decency in the Department of Communication. She is the most qualified person I know to give real and heartfelt advice about finding and keeping love. I have learned so much from her insights, and Tony and I are thrilled for you to hear from her today…

Studying Love

I was so excited when Michelle and Tony unveiled their #staymarried blog. I love love and I am passionate about strong marriages. So, when I heard that they were doing a Sensible Singles week and asked me to share some advice about how to find the right person, I was thrilled!

After seven years of my own marriage and a dozen years of conversations with married couples, I am convinced that finding the right person to marry makes what comes after the wedding day a whole lot easier and a heck of a lot more fun.

How to Find Your Soulmate in 5 Easy Steps - Sensible Singles Week on the #staymarried blogWhen people, especially women, find out that I study love, they inevitably tell me a story about someone in their lives who is either single or in a bad relationship. They want to know what they can tell them to help them along their path to love. The truth is, love is not a science. I don’t have a special equation to give them that will guarantee that they find a true love that will last forever. I wish I did. Can you imagine all of the heartache that might be avoided if we were taught a clear and concise path to and through love?

Funny thing is, the media tells us that it’s simple. We’re taught that love can happen in a moment and that if it is really true love, then we will live happily ever after. Media has taught us that there are a few tricks to finding our true love: we can either look into the eyes of our soulmate and we will know, we can act helpless and wait to be rescued, or we can kiss enough frogs until one of them turns into a prince. That last one is particularly dangerous because when you kiss frogs, you date frogs… and when you date frogs, you ultimately marry a frog. Then you have to divorce a frog or live with his ugly warts forever, and divorces are uglier than the frog you kissed in the first place.

The truth is, the media lies. Most of us are sent out into the world with hearts full of dreams but no helpful tools to help us make those dreams of love a reality. So while I don’t have the magical equation, I definitely have some helpful tools that might help you find someone with whom you really can spend the rest of your life loving. Here it is…

How to Find Your Soulmate in 5 Easy Steps - Sensible Singles Week on the #staymarried blog


What do you love? Before you can figure out WHO you want to love, you need to identify WHAT you love.

Make a list of every single thing that you can think of that you love. You can use the computer or just a blank piece of paper and a pen. If you’re creative, get out your colored pencils.

The beginning of my love list might include: my family, writing as a way to get out what’s inside, grape juice with crushed ice, waking up feeling rested, self-serve frozen yogurt stores, the smell of paper copy stores, crisp fall days, white sweatshirts, learning, teaching, soft blankets, playing board games, back rubs, discovering new places, inspiring conversations, spreadsheets, playing basketball, reading poetry, finishing a project, mountains, fireworks, feeling at home with friends…

Get the idea? Don’t censor yourself. I once created one of these lists that included, “strong arms that hold me” while I was dating a very skinny guy. He was upset when he read the list, realizing that he didn’t have the strong arms that I loved. It was insightful for me, both in that it was something that I loved that I didn’t have (not that this was a deal breaker for me) and that he would get so upset after reading what I wrote. I soon learned that he and I were not well matched. Although this is not the goal of the love list, it is sometimes an added benefit. The actual goal of your love list is to help to put you in a loving frame of mind.


Before you go out into the dating world, in addition to identifying what you love, it’s important to identify some deal breakers. This list will help you figure out WHO you want your future husband or wife to be… or at least what qualities you would like for him or her to have.

For this step, you should limit your must have and can’t stand lists to ten items each and you should be specific. For example, don’t just say that you would like for your partner to be athletic.  It’s too broad and leaves wiggle room later on when you are trying to convince yourself that the guy you’re dating is athletic because he bowls once in a while. If you want a bowler, then say that you want a bowler. But if you’d like someone who runs marathons or someone who works out daily at the gym, say that instead.

You’re going to need a piece of blank paper. Title one side, “My Top Ten Must Haves” and number 1-10. The other side is going to be for, “My Top Ten Can’t Stands.”

Here are some ideas for you to consider:

Traits (chemistry, communicator, sense of humor, verbal intimacy, emotionally healthy, strong character, artistic, kind, educated, organized, exciting, patient, tolerant, attractive, conflict resolver, affectionate, industrious, certain energy level, emotionally generous, intellectual, self-confident, unassuming, able to accept help, curious, loyal, adaptable)

Values (family life, shared interests, style and appearance, politics, charitable)

Family (children, parenting style)

Social Habits (like to go out, stay in, many friends or a few, gives me space or wants to spend all of their time with me)

Sexuality (abstinent, sexually knowledgeable, passionate)

Spirituality (religious practice, spiritual acceptance)

Financial/Career (financially responsible, ambitious, relaxed)

These were my must-haves from before I met Craig:

  1. He must either write poetry or sing… and be willing to share his poetry or songs with me.

  2. He must be taller than I am.

  3. He must be able to beat me at basketball.

  4. He must be intelligent and able to teach me about things that I don’t know.

  5. He must have dark hair and light eyes.

  6. He must be faithful.

  7. He must want children.

  8. He must adore me and make me feel like I am the only woman in his eyes.

  9. He must be able to provide financially for our family but also be okay with me working outside of the home.

  10. He must be a good conversationalist and we must enjoy talking to each other.

There are a few things that I might change now that I lucked into with Craig. For example, at the time I didn’t realize how important it was for me to be with someone whose religious convictions were similar to mine. We just lucked out that we were kind of at the same place with that.  I would encourage you to make that a higher priority than I did.

When you’re done with that list, it’s time to create your “Can’t Stand” List. Here’s your opportunity to add a few more things to your list that you couldn’t fit on your must-haves. Again, you are limited to just 10 items. You can do this one on the same page as your must-haves if you’d like. I find it easier to have these two together because when you’re evaluating a future date, you’ll want to have both lists easy to find.

How to Find Your Soulmate in 5 Easy Steps - Sensible Singles Week on the #staymarried blogAfter creating these lists, it should be a bit easier for you to picture what your ideal spouse may be like. They also make dating easier, because when you meet or start dating someone who has something that is on your can’t stand list or who is missing something on your must have list, you can walk away immediately. You shouldn’t keep dating them in hopes that it will change. That is a recipe for many years of unhappiness. Just walk away. Do not stay out of the fear of being alone. It may not seem like it at first, but alone is a much happier place to be than stuck in a relationship with someone who has one of your fundamental red flags.

Also, a word of caution: If you are currently in a relationship, but not married, please pretend like you are not in that relationship when you are creating these. Sometimes people have a tendency to fib a bit or omit certain characteristics because that may eliminate the person who they are currently dating. Please take note of that as you do this exercise.


Now that you have a clearer vision of who you are looking for, take a moment to think about what type of person they might be looking for. What do you think they might find attractive?  For example, if you are looking for someone who is athletic and loves to work out at the gym, then might that person be attracted to someone who also enjoys going to the gym? Or if you are looking for someone who is honest, might they like someone who is honest too? Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Who do you want them to see when they look at you?

On a new piece of paper, make a list of the top three qualities that you think that your dream spouse might look for in their spouse.

Now, go over that list and compare the list to who you are and how you are currently living your life. What do you need to do to become that person? Pick at least one of the areas to work on so that you can become the person who you want them to want.


Everything is easier if we have someone in our lives to help hold us accountable. After you’ve created these four lists, please share a copy of them with a trusted friend. Ideally, this will be someone of the same sex or someone who you know will always be just a friend. Explain your lists to them and ask them to hold you accountable in sticking to the lists when you find someone new.


The final step is simple. Put yourself in the types of places that your ideal person would be. For example, if you don’t want a future husband or wife who enjoys hanging out in bars or clubs, then bars and clubs are not where you should spend your time. If you want someone who loves watching live sports, go to live sports games. If you want someone who loves to ski, hang out on the mountain. You get the idea.

How to Find Your Soulmate in 5 Easy Steps - Sensible Singles Week on the #staymarried blogSo, there it is — five steps to finding the love of your life. Living happily ever after isn’t simple even with the most compatible partner, but it sure is a lot easier than trying to make it happen when you’re spending your time with someone who isn’t right for you.

Let us know as you go… what’s on your love list?  What are you looking for in your mate? We’d love to hear your success stories too!

You can find out more about Dr. Rachel Terrill and read more on love and life at www.rachelterrill.com or follow her on Twitter at @DrRachel143

6 Reasons to Take Your Date to Breakfast

6 Reasons to Take Your Date to Breakfast - a #staymarried blog on Sensible Singles Week

If you read yesterday’s post from Emily, she sort of called us out for meeting in a bar. It’s true. Tony and I did meet at a bar. While it was “Holy Crap! He’s HOT!” at first sight for me, we didn’t actually start dating until a few years later. When we did, our very first date was at Chace’s Pancake Corral over breakfast. It was perfect.

I didn’t know at the time why it was perfect. I thought it was perfect because Tony was perfect. We had such a good time, we went on several more breakfast dates trying out new places together around our city. It was fun!

I’ve since thought a lot about what made those breakfast dates so great, and every time a single person asks my advice about dating (ok, maybe only four single people ever have asked for my advice), I tell them all about The Breakfast Date. And now it’s time for me to give you the same advice. Here are some reasons why you should also try dating over breakfast.

6 Reasons to Take Your Date to Breakfast - a #staymarried blog on Sensible Singles Week

1. It’s Cheap

Regardless of who is paying, although guys, I think you should at least offer once in a while, a breakfast date will be a lot less expensive than a dinner date. If you’re considering your date an investment in both time and money, better to save up and take someone you know you really like on a more expensive date, no?

2. You always have the right outfit

I don’t know if guys go through this, but when a woman is about to go on a date she can easily spend quite a bit of energy figuring out just what to wear. When it comes to meeting up for breakfast, it’s a lot easier to keep things casual and wear something normal like jeans and a sweatshirt and rely more on who you really are than your cute outfit to keep your date interested.

3. No Beer Goggles

For some reason– ok, we know the reasons– when alcohol is involved, we tend not to make our very best decisions about people or impressions on them. Dating over breakfast, with juice and coffee, keeps things light and hopefully your true personalities shine brighter without the influence of alcohol. Though, if you’re feeling nervous, go ahead and order that bloody mary. Just maybe don’t order three.

4. Happy conversation

Of course you can have a happy conversation over dinner, but the benefits of conversations over breakfast is that they can tend to be about the future, the day ahead, hopes and dreams. Conversations over dinner can easily fall into the past, what your day was like, how crappy your work week was, and before you know it you are bashing your ex right in front of them.

5. The rest of the day is yours

Typically you wouldn’t make plans to run errands or hang out with your friends after a dinner date. In fact, I think it would be rude to do so. After breakfast, however, you’ve potentially got your whole day of errands and the rest of life ahead of you. Maybe you’re meeting your mom for lunch, or headed to a friend’s birthday BBQ. If the date was mediocre, you simply move on with your day telling them, “It was great to meet you!” If it was fantastic, you now have the option to invite your date to join you in whatever else you’ve got planned. Tony and I often left our breakfast dates and went for walks around the lake or to browse some shops downtown. We liked being together and now we had the whole day to do it.

6. Post-Breakfast Nookie is Weird

Ok, I don’t really know the protocol anymore about how soon into a relationship people are sleeping together. Tony and I abstained for three years, and I know that’s not exactly common. But, seriously, it’s going to be a lot easier to (oops) sleep with someone you are only mildly interested in after an evening date than it would be after a breakfast date. Sex complicates things for both men and women. If you want to be in a serious relationship and seriously get to know someone, avoiding sex is just a good idea. Unless you think making out in the back of a car at 10am in a Denny’s parking lot sounds like a good idea. (It’s not.)

So there you have it. Breakfast dates are less expensive, there’s less pressure, and they’re lots more fun! I hope you go on lots of them even after you are no longer single. Tony and I still love our breakfast dates and feel like they are a great way to keep conversation light and really enjoy each other so we can #staymarried.

If you’re just joining us for Sensible Singles Week, check out Emily’s post on 8 Tips for Online Dating. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on Finding Your Soulmate!

8 Tips for Online Dating – Sensible Singles Week

I’ve been seeing headlines in the news lately that haven’t really surprised me. Headlines like this one from Huffington Post: Online Dating Leads to Higher Marriage Satisfaction, Lower Divorce Rates. You can imagine that anything that claims “lower divorce rates” catches my attention. I’ve always had a good opinion about online dating – seems efficient, no need to make a fool of yourself at a club, and as an introvert, I actually prefer email communication to talking in person. But, regardless of my positive opinions, I’ve never had any experience with online dating.

In dreaming up good stuff to share with our Sensible Single readers, I really wanted to put something together that would be helpful. At the same time, I don’t want to pretend to know about something I actually have no experience with. So I went downstairs, of course, to talk with our housemate, Emily.

Emily and I bonded in sisterhood in 2005 when we met while working together on a small staff of four. We were both single then, putting in way too many hours in the office, and doing our best to keep our heads above water. She coped with our challenging job by playing Christmas music in July. I coped by making an excel spreadsheet for everything under the sun and ignoring the printer every time there was a paper jam. She kept things fun when I got too serious. She still does now that we share a house.

Along with being one of the most fun friends I have, she is phenomenally insightful. I can’t wait for you to hear from her yourselves. Here she is!

8 Tips for Online Dating - a #staymarried blog on Sensible Singles Week

Adventures in Online Dating

Michelle asked me to guest write on the #staymarried blog about the benefits of online dating, and it’s taken me a few weeks to weed out all of the millions of things I would like to use this forum to say on the subject of relationships. You see, a few years ago, I made the decision not to stay married. I have re-written the following sentence 12 times attempting to sum up my story so we can get to present day. So here you go: I met a man and fell in love, we got married, it was bad, we separated, then we divorced. Caught up? Great. Let’s move on.

To those readers who are married, you might be tempted to check out right about now and take a pass on today’s #staymarried post. Hold your horses and read on– I’ll bet you $10 that there’s a single person in your world who would like to no longer be single. A very happily married person, my youngest sister, Haley, recommended to me that I try online dating, and today I am planning a life with the most wonderful man and two beautiful step-children.

When Haley encouraged me to try online dating, I intellectually knew that online dating didn’t mean I was a loser who couldn’t find a date on my own, but it felt that way regardless. I visited a few online dating sites and landed on eHarmony. I figured, like most things in the world, the more expensive the product is, the better it must be. So, I started to fill out the online profile with zero expectations that it would produce any positive results. Best 60 bucks I have ever spent!

After taking three days to fill out an application that would rival the one I filled out for college, I hit submit and didn’t check my profile for nearly a week. I full-on freaked out. Would I be matched with someone I already knew and then he would know that I am an online-dating-loser? Would I be matched with someone who is a bigger online-dating-loser than me? But the worst of my fears was that I would be matched up with, and fall for someone, like my ex-husband. I wanted to get married again… someday. I wanted a family with a man I could respect and trust, and I believed it could still happen for me. I had fought hard for my marriage, so I knew I have what it takes to roll up my sleeves and work on a marriage. Now, I just needed to find someone else who also had that fight in them.

Naturally, I called Haley sobbing and asked her to check my profile for me. Her advice was priceless: “Stop being such a baby! Check your profile, delete the guys you can tell that smell bad, and have fun going on practice dates with the rest. Don’t call me again until you checked your profile… but make sure you call me, because I am dying to know who you got matched with. Better yet, send me the crazy ones so Ben (her husband) and I can read them.” I love my sister.

So, from the comfort of my home, in my PJ’s with a cup of coffee, I read through over 20 profiles of men that I had been matched up with. It was like the Sears and Roebuck catalog of husbands. My attitude toward online dating was turning around rather quickly – It was like being able to cram the same amount of guys I had met in all of my 20’s into a 90 minute time block. No awkward “Let’s just be friends” talks or faking my own death to get out of a relationship. I just hit the delete button and kept on reviewing potential matches.

For the next few months, I met a few guys and ended up going on a few dates. All of those dates were great experiences, but nothing more. Then I met Jason.

Jason, like me, had been married previously, and he was tip-toeing his way through online dating to see what he might be up against. He had been out of the dating world for over 15 years and, like many adults, was looking for an appropriate and safe way to meet other people. We were matched up, and he pursued getting to know me better using eHarmony’s guided question and answer system. After a few days, we graduated to open emailing on the website’s interface. I remember trying to craft witty and thoughtful responses to his brilliant questions, pressing send and watching my email inbox like a hawk for his response. We moved onto sending emails via our personal email accounts, then to the phone, and then we met nearly two months later for our first date. It was perfect.

Jason just proposed a few days ago, and I didn’t know I could be this happy. I didn’t know I could love someone, and be loved, this much. Whenever anyone asks how we met, without skipping a beat, I tell them we met online and that it was the greatest dating experience I’ve ever had. We usually get one of two responses from people we talk to about our online dating experience: they either know someone who just got married after meeting online, or they lower their voice while leaning in and ask us how we did it. Well, aren’t you in luck, because I have a few online dating tips to share.

8 Tips for Online Dating - a #staymarried blog for Sensible Singles Week

1. Determine your motives before you start.

To have and to hold forever or for the night? Knowing what you want out of this whole thing will help you find which online site best fits your needs. Having a clear goal in mind will also determine what your profile will look like to give potential matches a baseline understanding of who you are. I knew I wanted to get married someday, but I wanted to go on some practice dates first. I wasn’t interested in any casual physical relationships, so I kept my profile light and humorous while remaining 100% honest about who I am and what my likes and dislikes are.

2. Be positive, honest, and brief.

Don’t waste your time, or anyone else’s, with statements, answers, and pictures that don’t accurately represent who you are. Filling out your profile isn’t a test from 10th grade history class on which you try to supply the “correct” answer. Showcase yourself in a positive way that is honest and to the point. Stand back and ask yourself if you would date you. Ask a friend to review your profile and encourage honest feedback. Jason won me over when he talked about how much he loved being a father, his passion for writing music, and how important his personal faith is to him. An online dating profile is not the place to emotionally manipulate people to pay attention to you.

3. Smile!

Pictures are a huge part of the online dating process, whether you think they should be or not. Posting a few shots of yourself doing something you love can help matches learn a little bit more about you. Toss up some current shots of yourself regardless of the few extra pounds you’ve put on since Christmas, or the few less strands of hair you’ve been sporting since college. Jason had posted some shots of when he had long hair, and I posted shots from 50 pounds ago. We had to have the awkward conversation where he told me that he was starting to bald and I told him that I was actually heavier than a few of my posted pictures. His exact words were, “I think I would like you even if you looked like Herman Munster.” Um, Thank you?

4. Play capture the red-flag.

Red flags are hard to see when you are staring into a pair of dreamy brown puppy dog eyes over candlelight at your favorite restaurant. Take your time before meeting a match face-to-face to search out potential deal breakers in your online communications. I talked to a guy for a few weeks before I realized that he never once asked me a question about myself. He made a lot of assumptions about what he thought I would like, and asked me to make a trip from where I live in Seattle, to where he lives in Portland, to meet him. If we had met, let’s say in a bar, I may have been too busy staring at his perfect chin to notice that he talked about himself constantly. Because our computer screens divided us, it was very easy to send him a “thanks, but no thanks” note, discontinue our communication, and move on with my life.

5. Ask the hard questions.

Are you married? Do you have kids? Do you like kids? Are you currently employed? Are you the craigslist killer? (That last one was an actual question I asked Jason.)

6. Brush up on your typing skills.

Pen pals aren’t just for inmates anymore. Take some time emailing back and forth, and then moving to phone calls before meeting up. Building an intellectual and emotional relationship with someone may help you make a better choice about who you may want to spend an afternoon, or your life, with. Jason and I took our sweet time before meeting. Our first date was so much fun – it felt like we had known each other for years. We talked for hours that night and have talked every night since. We still write each other notes nearly every day.

7. Try not to get killed.

When you do decide to meet up, choose a public place. Have an agenda planned out beforehand and don’t accept the “It’s a surprise!” date invitation. Know where you are going, what you are doing, and what time you might be wrapping up. Keep in mind that not everyone, and everything, on the internet is as it seems. Don’t give out your last name, phone number, place of employment, home address, credit card information, your mother’s maiden name, your social security number, etc. Before Jason’s and my first date, though we had been communicating for several weeks, I told my housemate, my Mom, and Facebook where I was going and what time to expect me back. If I had wound up dead later that night, it wouldn’t have been a hard case to crack.

8. Lighten up and have some freaking fun.

Dating is fun! Talk with new people. Go grab a drink or a meal with the intention of learning more about yourself and another human being. Just because you meet someone online doesn’t mean you have to marry them. I went out with a few guys before meeting Jason, and do I have some stories! One guy owned a successful boutique software company with his brother and had a keen eye for architecture. Another guy was a D&D Game Master and into Live Action Role Play. Who cares? I was going on practice dates and keeping my hands to myself! I was seeing who was out there and meeting some truly fascinating people along the way.

8 Tips for Online Dating - a #staymarried blog on Sensible Singles Week

Michelle and Tony like to say that they met like normal people: in a bar. That was sooooo 2004. Jason and I met like normal people: online. When Jason took me ring shopping, the lady helping us asked where we had met. We both beamed and I told her, “we met on eHarmony! Isn’t that great?!” She told us that at least 75% of her clients meet online, and the last four weddings she attended were from online matches. My encouragement to anyone who is thinking about trying online dating would be to just go for it – you have nothing to lose, but an entire future to gain. Worst case scenario: you go on some dates with some duds and decide online dating isn’t for you. Best case scenario: you meet the right person, fall in love, and #staymarried.

For more of Emily’s musings, you can find her on twitter @emilykgarrison

Sensible Singles Week

Yes, I'm Single - kicking off Sensible Singles Week on the #staymarried blogYep, you read that title correctly. Why on earth are we talking about being single on a marriage blog? Simple! We’re kicking off our Sensible Singles week here at #staymarried!

From the get-go, while our intention was always to write for married couples, we’ve seen our single friends comment and give us feedback that these posts were making a difference in their lives, too. Though we were surprised at first, we now recognize that there are single people out there who don’t actually want to be single forever. They hope to be married someday, and happily, so they are taking the time to read and invest in their future relationships by learning what they can now. We think that’s BRILLIANT! (But “Sensible Singles” is a little more catchy, so that’s why it isn’t “Brilliant Singles Week.”)

Whether you are single, single and dating, or single again, we have dedicated this week to you! This week, we’ll be introducing you to our single friend and housemate, Emily, and hear her 8 Tips for Online Dating. We’ll also share why we think breakfast dates are the way to go. Then, we’ve got an actual Love Doctor sharing 5 Easy Steps to Finding Your Soulmate. Finally, we’ll finish out the week by highlighting some resources we think you’ll love… and maybe even A GIVEAWAY!

So, while you faithfully attend your friends’ weddings, baby showers, and bachelor parties this summer, we want you to know we are in your corner. We’re not going to be like Aunt Jane prodding you with, “When will it be your turn?” or shoving you out to the dance floor to catch the bouquet or garter at the wedding. We are here for you. We don’t think you will be phenomenal when you get married someday. We think you’re phenomenal RIGHT NOW! If you’re already married, tell your single friends that this week is all about them!