About Chuck and Eileen Rife

Chuck Rife is a licensed professional counselor and marriage/family therapist who's worked with Total Life Counseling, Inc. of Roanoke, Virginia since 1988. Eileen Rife, a veteran homeschool mom of twenty years, works as a freelance writer, author, and speaker. Together, they conduct marriage seminars designed to grow godly marriages that last a lifetime! Chuck and Eileen are also certified to administer and evaluate the Prepare-Enrich assessment tool for couples.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Faith, Friends...and Chocolate!: Holy Hospitality

Faith, Friends...and Chocolate!: Holy Hospitality: The holiday season conjures up images of family gathered around an artfully designed Thanksgiving table with turkey roasted to golden...

Saturday, July 9, 2016

40 Years & Counting!

Forty years ago on July 17, Chuck and I committed our lives to one another with God, family, and friends as witness to our vows.

Just the other day, we were talking about how long 40 years is, and yet how short.

So much has happened, so much ground covered, so many ups and downs, highs and lows, the good, the bad, the ugly.

Yet, through it all, God's been faithful!

"To 50 and beyond," we say.

Here are a few highlights of our 40 years together . . .

Graduating from college as a young married couple

 Enjoying our Thomas Road/Liberty years as students and later, Chuck on staff, Eileen home schooling.

Happy Father's Day to Chuck, Dad to three precious daughters!

Our first mission trip to India, a dream come true for our oldest daughter

Our music/drama years at Grace Baptist

Fun times with family and extended family

Conducting marriage seminars together for the past 16 years!

Ministering with Total Life Counseling for 28 years!

Fun times as we enter the empty nest season

First beach reunion as parents-in-law and grandparents!

Loving life and each other!

Stealing a kiss at the ocean

Surprise 40th Anniversary outing put together by our family (now grown from 2 to 16)

 What a joy to love and be loved! 

Keep working on your marriages, readers! It's worth the journey. If you stick it out, you'll come to a place of deep contentment in your relationship. Yes, there's always more to work on, more to learn about the other person, and yet, there's a settled feeling . . . 

You belong together.
You return to the early years of marriage when you enjoyed each other.
Laughed together
And yet with greater wisdom than you experienced when first married.

Yes, it's worth the work.

Never give up!

Sweet things are worth waiting for.

And working for.

Marriage is no exception. 

To 50 and beyond!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Family that Plays Together . . .

Happy parents make happy children.

"Family fun doesn't start AFTER you get a family. It is a lifestyle of learning to 'goof off' effectively."

-(Phil Myers, father of six, family seminar leader, retired professor, and missionary to Indonesia)

You've probably heard it said that the family that PRAYS together stays together. How true! It's difficult to harbor angry feelings and vent hurtful words when you are praying with someone. The Spirit invades, convicting and convincing one to forgive and move on.

But equally stable is the family that PLAYS together. Just as setting aside time for family prayer takes some planning and scheduling, so does family playtime. Except for those brief times of spontaneity that are bound to pop up occasionally, playtime will not happen unless someone decides it will happen. Unless, of course, you share a home with a family of otters, whose very existence depends on fun and games!  =) Most, of us, however, have to work at having fun. But, take heart, all your efforts will pay off. Even though there may be times when your best laid plans for fun result in long faces and frowns, there will be plenty of other occasions when happy smiles, giggles, warmth and love combine to exude a heartfelt thanks. It takes plenty of quantity time to produce quality time.

So, how can you pull the troops out of their cave (the Internet, television, or telephone) and motivate them to engage in some family fun? Here are a few suggestions for your consideration, some costly, some cheap, and some FREE.


Attend a sporting event--hockey, basketball, football, or whatever floats your boat!

Walk through a museum. Chuck says this is about as fun as eating dirt, but the girls and I have found it a treat, especially if the display coincides with a family hobby or interest, like rock or stamp collecting or space navigation.

Take the family golfing. Now there's one Chuck would heartily support. And then there's the good ole family vacation--a week at the beach, mountains, lake, the hardy cross-country trip in the rented RV. Now there's an adventure that won't soon be forgotten. Remember that it usually takes about three weeks after the vacation to feel bonded with the whole thing and with one another, so allow time for the full effect. While the turned over canoe with all the lost food and supplies may not seem humorous while it is happening, it probably will be weeks down the road. For the truly hard-liners, it may take years, but hey, you were together, right? And that's what counts. Sometimes shared tragedy can cement families more than the lighter times, so look for the glue in the situation. 

Take an airplane ride. We did this once at Kitty Hawk while visiting the Wright Brothers' Memorial. Two of our girls were especially interested in aviation, so this was a highlight for them.

Eat at your favorite restaurant. Try a fancy one occasionally, just so you can practice etiquette skills, like which fork to use when (tip: always start from the outside and work your way in toward the plate). Buffets are our favorite. So much food for such a small price. We have finally settled on a buffet that we all like--Chinese. Find the one that you like. Take turns if there are varying opinions.


Go to the zoo. Small children especially like this one. Take pictures and make a scrapbook, labeling the name of each animal beside the photo.

Go fishing. Some of our fondest memories when the girls were little was rigging up some make-shift poles, driving to the lake with our buckets, and catching tiny blue gill, which we would throw in the bucket, watch swim around, and then toss back in the lake at the end of the day. I can still picture the girls with pant legs rolled up, lying on their bellies, dangling off the end of the pier, gazing into the murky water.

Go horseback riding. We just happened to have some family members in Ohio who raised show horses, so whenever we made a visit, they invited us to ride. This event produced great family videos, sometimes quite humorous, as one of us would shout orders to the horse that would immediately charge off down the pasture, rider holding on for dear life. I can still hear those words, "Canter, Jilly, canter!"

Other moderate priced activities include bowling, tennis, swimming, racquetball, and a trip to the planetarium. Another fun activity is giving each child a roll of film to shoot and seeing what he comes up with.

FREE FUN . . . well, almost  (Now we're talking!)

Make homemade ice cream. Takes me back to one of our first homes, out on the back steps on a summer Saturday evening. Barefoot children. Kick the can. Neighbors stopping by, just in time for a scoop.

Make a home movie with your camera. Then pop corn or make taffy or cookies.

Go on a nature hike. Start a hobby night. Visit a dairy or factory. Finger paint. Play Monopoly. Go on a picnic. Walk through a cemetery, and then sit and write a poem or draw a picture. Remember that fun can also include helping someone else, like a neighbor or widow, or visiting the rescue mission or nursing home.

Some of our best moments as a family have been those times of just lying around on the floor. Before long, someone says something funny, and everyone breaks out laughing which leads to more funny comments, and before you know it, everyone is rolling on the floor, sides aching, and tears flowing. Just stupid stuff. The stuff  that memories are made of. Glue. Togetherness. Just goofing off. 

Why not try a little family fun this week? Don't wait until the kids are grown. They'll think you're crazy. Start now while they are young and allow the family fun to grow with them.

Pat Riley, father of a son (17) and daughter (13), and famed coach of the Lakers, New York Knicks, and Miami Heat, who was also three-time NBA Coach of the Year and destined for the Hall of Fame says,

"I missed alot of my life because basketball was always in the way of everything: family, fun, concerts, and trips. It was always in the way in a very preoccupying way. When your life passes you by and you see your children grow up, you miss so much because you gave so much of your mind and spiritual thought to the game you wish you could do it over again. At least now, I have more balance in terms of that. I don't let the game get in the way of a better life."

Coach Riley was playing so hard at basketball, he neglected to play with his family. Perhaps we each need to learn a lesson from the coach. Maybe you need to decide which game you will invest the most time playing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Memorizing Scripture Together

Memorizing Scripture together may be at the bottom of the totem pole of activities you desire to do as a couple.  After all, it takes time, energy, focus, and brain power. All of which can be in short supply in today’s fast-paced culture.
Even couples who long for a closer relationship with the Lord and each other and are currently participating in quiet times together, find it difficult to impossible to practice Scripture memory.  It’s true; it takes discipline. But before you totally write it off as a lost cause, consider the benefits to you personally and to you as a couple. 

Why is Scripture memory important?

Memorizing Scripture creates a three-fold bond (you, your spouse, and the Lord).  You share a project, whether it involves one verse or twenty, that requires teamwork.  As with other life pursuits, you schedule in a time to come together and focus on the weekly passage.  Time in God’s Word strengthens the couple bond as you apply the Scripture to your life situation. We’ve also discovered how the memorized passage begins showing up in our prayers.  Another cool benefit. 

Memorizing Scripture invites the Holy Spirit to open your eyes. The more you read through a passage, the more keywords and phrases will begin to jump out. We’ve found this true even in familiar passages. Concepts we’d never thought about before suddenly take on new life when we purpose to memorize. The simple act of multiple readings is a form of meditating.  

Memorizing Scripture opens the door for discussion. As key words and phrases jump out, questions arise, too. This causes one or both of us to dig deeper into the meaning of words, historical background, and doctrinal considerations. Before long, we’re at the computer using The Power Bible or E.sword or pulling out a Bible study reference book. This is spontaneous enough not to be burdensome, and the excitement of discovering a new truth breeds shared joy. 

Memorizing Scripture gives you an arsenal of God’s Truth for the Holy Spirit to draw upon when you are under spiritual attack, need encouragement, reassurance, direction, comfort, or conviction in a certain area. This may be the most beneficial reason of all. We can’t use what we don’t know.  When we memorize, we store God’s Word in our minds, which the Holy Spirit can bring back as needed. We may not always have our Bibles with us, but we can carry Scripture in our minds and hearts. God often uses even a scrap of Scripture to guide our way. There is so much power in hiding God’s Word in our hearts. The very act is nourishing to the soul in a way that is only explained by the supernatural.

Memorizing Scripture can make you laugh! How many times we’ve taken a verse, accidentally added words from another passage, or used different words that in some way relate, but miss the point. This often results in a hardy belly laugh. Which, by the way, is good for overall health and wellbeing. And it brings us even closer as a couple. Of course, we make sure we go back and learn the verse correctly. 

Memorizing Scripture stimulates the brain. This is a good thing, especially as we grow older.  The practice requires focus and discipline, which exercises our brains, in much the same way as other forms of exercise work other muscles in the body. 

So, if Scripture memory is important, how do we do it?

First of all, decide on a verse, passage, or book. Don’t get stuck here. You may select a familiar verse(s) to get started. The book of John is a great place to start. Psalms is another. The important thing is pick something. One spouse may feel strongly led toward a certain verse, etc.  That’s okay.  When we recommitted to regular Bible memory this past fall, Eileen suggested the book of Philippians. A few years ago, we worked our way through Ephesians, which Chuck often uses in his counseling practice. The point is, choose something and jump in. 

Secondly, set a measurable goal. We’re currently memorizing the book of Philippians. Have been since October. This week, we started into chapter three. Generally, we tackle five verses a week. Most mornings of the week, we read through the set five times. Chuck is an auditory learner, so this works fairly well for him. Eileen is a visual learner, so paying attention to the words on the page is important to her. She circles key words and memorizes the opening word of each verse as Chuck reads out loud. At the end of the week, we take turns quoting as much as we can. If we still need help, we carry the same passage over into the next week. 

You can start with any number of verses you like. Start small and build your way up. If you shoot for too much in the early stages of Bible memory, you’ll only grow discouraged and give up. 

Thirdly, set a specific time to work on Bible memory. This is crucial. If you don’t have a plan, it won’t happen. Mornings along with our smoothies work well for us, right before Chuck leaves for work. We devote anywhere from 10 – 30 minutes for our couple quiet time most days of the week, except Sunday. 

Attaching Bible memory to an activity you already have in place, such as a meal, can be effective. Play around with what works for you. Again, shoot for a measurable goal. If you can’t do it every day, shoot for two – three days a week, or whatever works best for you. The point is, you can tailor-make a plan that suits you and accomplish your Bible memory goals little by little.  

Finally, reward yourselves when you meet your Bible memory goal. While learning God’s Word is reward enough, sometimes, especially in the early stages of developing the Bible-memory habit, it can be helpful to reward ourselves. Think of something you’d like to do as a couple to celebrate your accomplishment.  This will create a further bond between you as you look forward to your couple treat or outing. 

Prayerfully, you will take the first step, faltering though it may be, to begin memorizing Scripture. Let us know how we can help you. What are your concerns? Challenges? Fears? What might you do to get started? Leave a comment below.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Warming Up to Valentine's Day!

Warm up to Valentine's Day with a special gift, one that will enhance your sexual relationship. Our devo, Sex as God Designed It: Intimate Meditations for the Married Couple, might be just the thing to breathe fresh desire into your love life. 

Sex as God Designed It is written for the married couple to enjoy together in the privacy of their own bedroom. Short, intimate meditations lead you and your spouse to a deeper understanding of God’s beautiful plan for your sexual relationship. Each vignette promotes oneness and enhances excitement as you anticipate your God-ordained union. Experience the sweet surrender of offering yourself totally to God and to your spouse. No greater relationship illustrates the love God has for His precious child than man and woman coming together as one flesh. Cherish your sexual relationship the way God intended it: as an act of worship to bring glory and honor to Himself!

To preview the book, click HERE.

Treat yourself and your spouse to Sex as God Designed It this Valentine's Day!  

And don't forget the chocolate . . . 

and flowers . . . 

for a truly memorable celebration of your love !


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dealing with Holiday Stress

Aunt Edna plunges through the front door loaded down with gifts. On her heels, Uncle Henry grumbles about the cost of fuel. Popping gum with cell phone glued to her ear, niece Marcie stomps in, plops on the couch, and props her snowy feet on your antique coffee table.
Kinda reminds you of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, doesn’t it?
With all our best efforts to prepare for and enjoy the holiday season, we sometimes lament with the Griswold’s wife when she tells her daughter, “Look, it’s Christmas; we’re all miserable!
Take heart. The holiday season doesn’t have to weigh us down with stress if we follow a few helpful guidelines.
Stop. Take a deep breath.
That’s right. In the midst of shopping, food prep, company, programs, and parties, stop and breathe deeply through your nose. Hold it to the count of eight, then let it out slowly to the count of eight. It’s almost impossible to be stressed when you breathe deeply. The exercise slows you down, forces you to regain equilibrium, and sends nourishing oxygen to all of your organs.
Adjust your expectations.  
If your expectations for a happy holiday do not match reality, then your stress level will go up. You may be the type who wants it all—the china, linen, silver polished to a sheen, and the turkey roasted to golden perfection. Gifts wrapped and glittering under a fresh Frazier. Fire lit and house sparkling. Christmas caroling and hot cocoa and cookies waiting at home. You may want to host a neighborhood open house, serve at the Rescue Mission, or take charge of the office party or church drama.
Choose one or two activities that best represent your desire for the holidays. Then let the rest go. You will be doing yourself and everyone around you a big favor. And you’ll likely experience godly contentment, which no amount of gifts or glitter can replace.
Remember, relationships are more important than things.
If you are so frazzled that you can’t sit down and carry on a meaningful conversation with your spouse, family members, or friends, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. God loves people. That’s His focus. The Babe in the manger came to restore us to the Father. He’s all about relationships. We should be, too. Take time to play games, read the Christmas story, listen to each other, pray together, and laugh around the table. These are the memories you will carry into the future, not how many activities you completed on your list.
Set aside some one-on-one time.
It’s okay to leave Uncle Fred snoozing on the sofa while you slip out with your honey for a well-deserved walk. Work off that heavy meal with a little touch football in the front yard with your teenager. These activities will not only build connection but also provide exercise during a time of year when diets typically fly out the window.
Share the load.
Consider using paper plates instead of china. Delegate various menu items to members of the family. In our household my husband’s motto is Ladies cook, men clean up! I love it!
Take a nap.
With late night parties, church drama practice, or meal and gift prep, it’s likely you’ve been staying up later than usual. Sneak in an afternoon nap to refresh yourself. Even some quiet time alone in your room can help you regroup so that you can jump back into family life and better enjoy those around you.
Count your blessings.
Remember to stop and breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to the One who has richly blessed your life. An attitude of gratitude can go a long way in building strength and fortitude when busyness threatens to swoop in and rob your joy.
Eileen Rife, author of December Sunrise, conducts marriage seminars with her husband, Chuck. Together, they host the website, www.guardyourmarriage.com, where they discuss dealing with holiday stress via a video clip.