Author Archives: Carlie Kercheval

About Carlie Kercheval

Carlie Kercheval is a happily married work-at-home homeschooling mom of 3. Carlie and her husband co-founded Fulfilling Your Vows and together they co-author the Learning to Speak Life™ family Bible studies. When she is not busy enjoying her family and the great outdoors, you can typically find her cozied up somewhere under a blanket with a good book.

4 Ways to Define Happiness In Marriage

4 ways to define happiness in marriage

When I hear the word happy, it evokes many things inside of me. From an emotional standpoint, I think of blissful laughter, smiling, and companionship. From a physical perspective I think of health and good choices. From a spiritual perspective I think of peace and complete joy.

But what does happiness mean within the confines of your marriage? I believe this question is something only you and your spouse can answer. I also think it is important that you define what happiness means to each of you before marriage and continuously during your marriage. My marriage is better today as a result of doing this very thing.

But how?

There are four things my husband and I have found that helped us to define, and at times redefine, what happiness in our marriage means.

4 Ways to Define Happiness in Marriage

1. Simply ask your spouse what makes them happy. It’s really that simple. You will find this conversation piece to go every which way – especially the more often you have it. It not only helps us define happiness as individuals, but allows us to define it in our marriage union. It is intense, exciting, and very rewarding. We did this during our 8-month courtship and continue to do so several times a year (this year we’ll celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss!).

2. Define your short-term marriage goals. This is another way that we determine how happiness plays a part in our marriage. We take our short-term goals and filter them through the things that make us happy. This has allowed us to reach our goals with less conflict. And let me tell you, it’s a wonderful feeling!

3. Define your long-term goals. This is very similar to #2, however there is one major variation for us. During “this” conversation, we also define what makes us unhappy. We talk about (and make a list of) things that make us unhappy (from personality traits to learned behaviors). Then we repeat this – only this time we talk about what the other spouse does that makes us unhappy. Once these things are on the table, it allows us to openly come up with a plan to conquer the things that make us unhappy and replace them with the things that do – all the while achieving our long-term marriage goals! This is process can take more than one day, but it is so well worth it.

4. Do what you can each day to make your spouse happy. Make a conscious effort to do something (or many somethings) each day that will bring happiness to your spouse. At first it used to be a bit hard for me to do this (I am a very driven type-A woman) but now I find myself in a place that it brings me absolute joy to bless my husband by doing things that make him happy! Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to condone unhealthy things like abuse or anything that would make you feel “less than” as a woman. I’m talking about the little things that make him tick. For my husband it can be as simple as picking up his dirty socks bundled in the corner!

One key to being happy in any marriage relationship is to effectively and openly communicate with your spouse. By defining our “happy place” together, my husband and I have been able to walk out the last (nearly) 15 years in wedded bliss together. Not only am I a happy wife, but I am married to a happy husband! It takes two, so be sure to put in the work, and we’re both committed to fulfilling our vows. And if you start this process before you are married, it will greatly improve your happiness!

25 Free & Frugal Ways to Celebrate Your Anniversary

25 Free & Frugal Ways To Celebrate Your Anniversary

25 Free & Frugal Ways to Celebrate Your Anniversary

As a military family, my husband and I have spent many wedding anniversaries apart.  

But even when we weren’t with each other in person, we did our best to celebrate our wedding anniversary in creative ways to show one another how much we care.  

Celebrating doesn’t just show the world that love and marriage still go hand in hand, it nourishes the love within you. 

A few weeks ago, we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.  Just one week after moving from Germany back to the United States, and fumbling our way through getting the family settled, we once again put our ingenuity to the test to make that day special.

Here are some of the things we’ve done over the years to commemorate the day we said I do.  Try one, or two, or three – you’ll be glad you did!

25 Free & Frugal Ways to Celebrate Your Anniversary:

  1. Write a love letter to your spouse. Spray it with your perfume or kiss it with your favorite lipstick. Here is an anniversary letter I published on my blog last year when my husband was serving in Afghanistan.
  2. Blow up a balloon for each year of your marriage and put a piece of paper in each one with something nice about your spouse. My husband enjoys popping the balloons and reading what I have to say on each one.
  3. Go out to breakfast instead of dinner. It is much lighter on the wallet and is a great way to start off your day.
  4. Dress up and dance all night in your living room or bedroom.
  5. Enjoy a quiet game night at home preparing your favorite snacks and beverages. If you feel like it, invite some friends to join in earlier in the evening, reserving the late evening for the two of you.
  6. Make a special dinner with choice ingredients at home. Spice it up with candles and your favorite music playing softly in the background.
  7. Go out to dessert instead of dinner. This is a great way to have time alone while going easy on the budget.
  8. Bake an anniversary cake together. My husband and I bake together every chance we get and we use this time to test out our newest recipe ideas.
  9. Record a video using your webcam or cell phone telling your spouse what you appreciate about them. My husband and I have done this several times during deployments and it is such a wonderful memento to keep!
  10. Order takeout from a local restaurant and eat under the stars.
  11. Go to a local wine tasting during the day.
  12. Ride bikes at a favorite recreation spot. Our personal favorite is along the coastline near the ocean.
  13. Make ice cream sundaes at home.
  14. Take pictures of one another and make some fun collages for free at a site like Picmonkey.
  15. Take a shower together. This is something that in the business of life many may not do. Not only is it fun, it is free.
  16. Eat a picnic lunch at your favorite spot. We have done this at the beach, on a mountain, at a park, and even in the desert.
  17. Learn how to say I love you and happy anniversary in several different languages. Once you learn this, show it off on your anniversary.
  18. Play your favorite sport together. Don’t have a favorite, then learn a sport together – even better! 
  19. Paint or draw pictures of one another. Hey, you might not be an artist, but let me tell you, it will be a time of laughter and fun – that’s for sure!
  20. Have a fun night of intimate games planned. Get a new special “outfit” for the occasion and enjoy one another.
  21. Go bowling.
  22. Go on a hike.
  23. Go on a boat ride. If the food is expensive, just bring some of your own to share on the ride.
  24. Read aloud a book to one another.
  25. Have a dream night. Hubby and I have done this on several anniversaries. We just dream big together setting long and short term goals. We are both big dreamers so this is a wonderful thing for us to do.

This is your special day.  Whatever you do, don’t allow financial challenges to get in the way of celebrating the wonderful union you share.  Set aside the time and get creative!

QUESTION: What are some of your favorite ways to save money while celebrating your anniversary?


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the argument free marriage book


THE BOOK: Read the book that inspired the powerful TED talk and prompted author of The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman, PhD., to write the book’s foreword. Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, bestselling authors of Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts said, “We’ve been counseling couples and writing marriage books for a long time, and we can say with absolute certainty, there has never been a book quite like The Argument-Free Marriage. If you think no such union exists, or if you’ve come to the conclusion that arguments are necessary in marriage, allow Fawn to challenge that notion and set you on a path to creating the greatest partnership in life: your marriage.”

4 Important Reasons To Smile At Your Husband Every Single Day

4 Important Reasons to Smile at Your Husband

I’ve been looking forward to sharing another article from Carlie Kercheval ever since she gave us this popular post on free and frugal ways celebrate our anniversaries (that’s been shared nearly 150,000 times)!

As a military wife and homeschooling mama of three, time is scarce.  So that’s why I’m so grateful she’d take a moment out of her jam packed schedle to write this post for us.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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Over the last 14-plus years of our marriage, I cannot think of a day that we were together that I didn’t smile at my husband.

To many, smiling is no big deal. But the truth is, it can make your husband feel loved, respected, empowered and desired. And I know for me, it is important that my husband feel all of those securities in our marriage (and more).

I remember the first time my husband made me laugh after our wedding. It was the first night of our honeymoon in Kaua’i. While he had made me laugh countless times prior to our first night as a married couple, something was just so fresh and new about it all.

I remember the smile on my face that night, full of love, respect, and desire for my new husband. And so does he. As a matter of fact he references it often. He tells me how he already knew I was the one he’d spend the rest of his life with, but that my smile that night somehow made it that much more concrete.

4 Reasons To Smile At Your Husband Every Single Day

1. Because you love him. It’s as simple as that. You love that man – and he loves you. What’s not to smile about? Even when you are going through a tough time in your marriage, don’t forget to smile at the one you vowed to spend the rest of your life with. It will help carry you through some of the roughest times with great joy and peace.

2. Because you want to empower him.  In this popular Ted talk, the hidden power of smiling was revealed.  Did you know that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate?  ”Smiling can help reduce the level of stress-enhancing hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine, increase the level of mood-enhancing hormones like endorphin and reduce overall blood pressure.”  Smiling is contagious so becoming a smile inducer for your husband unleashes all the health and life benefits that come from this powerful facial expression. 

3. Because you respect him. I can’t think of another man on this earth that I respect more than my husband. I value him in a way that I didn’t think I could ever value another human being. I know for sure (because he’s told me) that when my husband is sharing his dreams with me or asking me to help him and I look at him and smile – he knows in his heart that I respect him as a man and as my husband. And that makes me happy!

4. Because you desire him. If you’ve spent any length of time here at The Happy Wives Club, you know that sexual intimacy is a large part of a happy marriage. And it should be. One of the wonderful blessings about being married to my best friend is the simple fact that I am also able to have physical and emotional intimacy with him! How awesome is that? And believe me, when your husband feels desired, it makes him excited to be an active part of your marriage!

YOUR TURN: How does your smile make your husband feel? I am excited to hear all about what a smile can do to brighten your husband’s day! Share with me in the comments below.


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Happy Wives Club Book


THE NEW YORK TIMES® BEST-SELLING BOOK: It’s been described as, “Like Eat, Pray, Love but not down on marriage.” Make sure to check out the Happy Wives Club book.  I had the great honor of traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, interviewing couples happily married 25 years or more, with 1 mission only: to find out what makes marriages happy…and keeps them that way.  It’s a marriage book line none other.  Guaranteed.

3 Ways to Increase Spiritual Unity in Your Marriage

3 Ways to Increase Spiritual Unity in Your Marriage

Spirituality is something I don’t talk about often here.  

A part of that is when I set out to create this community, I did so desiring for it to be a spring of hope for every woman no matter age, number of years married, religion, culture, background, or socio-economic status.

I’m so grateful, four years later, this continues to be a place women can come no matter their background or faith.

When I read this post by HWC contributor, Carlie Kercheval, I never thought twice about whether or not it would be well received.  And I, too, believe that although your faith may be different from Carlie’s or mine, these principals are universal.

Staying spiritually connected in my marriage has been a bedrock.  Our faith has carried us through a number of storms and we’ve come out on the other side stronger and wiser because of our faith in God and one another. 

Although I cannot say this with absolute certainty, I’m fairly certain our marriage would not be this strong without our spiritual connection.  Mind, body and spirit…we’ve stay connected on every level.

My guess is it is the same with you and this brief reminder to feed our collective souls will draw you closer to one another and will strengthen your faith.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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Often times as married couples, we can get caught up in the physical and mental aspects of marriage – neglecting the spiritual side. For my husband and I, the spiritual side is just as important as the physical and mental. In the more than 13 years my husband and I have been married, we’ve always noticed a stark contrast in our marriage when we were neglecting to nurture our own spirit leading to lack of spiritual intimacy between each other.

My husband and I happen share the same faith, we are both Christians. We even met at a Bible study during our undergrad days at Washington State University (go Cougs!). While I realize not everyone reading this will share the same faith with us or their spouse, I believe the principles are universal.

1. Resolve to Pray For Your Spouse

Sometimes this can be a difficult thing to do when you are facing hard times. Sure, it’s easy to pray when things are going well, but it’s an entirely different story when things are not so easy-going. Resolving to pray for your spouse no matter the circumstance can help prevent future rough patches in your marriage.

2. Study Your Faith Together

This has been one part of our marriage that we have fought hard for. When we don’t read the Bible together, a distancing occurs. It occurs from a spiritual perspective first, and then translates into distancing both mentally and physically. However, we find that if we read our Bible and share our faith, it builds up and continues to grow our spiritual intimacy with one another.

3. Create Positive Confession Lists

For us, we do this often. We try to come together once a month and do some goal setting for our marriage, family, and personal lives. In keeping with setting our goals, we always want to choose positive words (for us primarily from the Bible) to speak life into our situation. We will print out our confession lists and hang them on our mirror, keep a copy in our vehicles, and any other handy place we see fit. This has worked out very well for us and helps our confidence in one another, God, our faith and our marriage. And it is an excellent way to see the powerful impact that positive words have!

While every couple has their own idea of what spiritual intimacy looks like, the important part is making it a priority in your marriage. Even if you and your spouse have different views on things, find a way to commune with one another on a spiritual level. It will bless your marriage and build a stronger foundation for it! Believe me, it works!


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5 Great Ways to Start and Replenish a Date Night Fund

5 Great Ways to Start and Replenish a Date Night Fund

5 Great Ways to Start and Replenish a Date Night Fund

We’ve been talking alot about date nights (and date days :) ) in our HWC community recently and there’s a reason for that.  

Dating your spouse isn’t just great for staying connected and taking time out for yourselves, it sets your friendship on fire!

HWC Contributor, Carlie Kercheval -whose post on free and frugal ways to celebrate your anniversary is among our most popular article…ever- is back to share a nifty little trick to make date nights affordable.

Until Monday…make it a great weekend!

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Do you have a date night fund?

We do.

We didn’t always have one, but after our first two years of marriage, we decided it was a necessary tool to keep our marriage thriving. I would encourage you to start one today if you haven’t already.

Being a single income family with three children - we are careful to make every penny count.

Sound familiar? 

Well, guess what? I am going to share 5 ways my husband and I keep our date night fund afloat.

1. Every month choose one thing to cut back on. For instance, many people I know buy coffee at fancy coffee shops. Nothing wrong with it, but what if you decided NOT to do that for one whole month and save the difference? Bingo! You’d have money in your date night fund! No need to carry it over to each month (unless you want to). But one this is for sure, this will help you see more areas of excess that are robbing you of your precious date nights!

2.  If you shop online, use Ebates. This has been our #1 source of date night funds for the last 5 years! Basically you sign up and find your favorite online retailers on the Ebates website. You will click on the Ebates link and start earning cash back for your purchases. Best. Site. Ever. Because you can save so much money already by buying online, this sweetens the pot. Go to the Ebates site and check it out!

3. Only buy what you need. Sounds simple enough, right? Well I can tell you this: I find most people don’t follow this rule. They tend to buy a lot of “little” things or things simply because they are on sale - but if you resist the urge to buy into the consumers trap - you will see a large increase in your monthly bank account. This will mean different things for different people, so figure out the ways you can make this happen in your particular situation.

4. Use coupons whenever possible and save the difference on one or more of your trips. For instance, we’ll go for a weekly shopping trip, use our coupons and how ever much we save, we’ll put that into the date night fund. To save time I use FREE sites like that give you coupons and deals by area including weekly store sales at many retailers.

5. Dedicate a percentage of your monthly income to your date night fund. Even if you can only afford to save 1% of your income each month, it will add up. Nothing is too small. Start where you are at and work with what you have.

Date night is so important in your marriage, so be sure to invest what you are able to keep it going!

I pray this list can help inspire you to start your very own date night fund. And if you already have one, I hope it sparks new ideas to keep it going. 

Be sure to check out my last post for more ideas: 25 Free & Frugal Ways To Celebrate Your Anniversary (can be used for creative date nights too!).

After reading these, there is no way you won’t be inspired to get out on a date with your man! Enjoy!


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