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Engaged

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    10 Potentially Irreconcilable Differences

    The University of Washington has more than 35 years of marital research by Dr. John Gottman that determines with greater than a 90 percent accuracy rate what's going to happen to a relationship over a three-year period.

    In a national telephone survey, there were two issues that couples were most likely to report arguing about. What would you guess those two areas are?

    ANSWER: Money and Children

    Examples of common differences might include:

    • In-Laws & Extended Family Involvement

    • Balance Between Home & Work

    • Communication Patterns

    • Sexual Intimacy

    • Personal Habits & Idiosyncrasies

    • Sharing Household Responsibilities

    • Outside Friendships

    • Political Views

    • Debt Difficulties

    • Disciplining Children

    Here is the important takeaway: Differences are inevitable. It's how you manage the differences that matters. Discuss potential differences in your relationship.

    For example: Money

    1. Discuss how money was managed in your family.

    2. How would you want money managed in your marriage?

    3. Discuss: “What does money mean to you?”

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    Getting Engaged During the Holidays?

    Christie and Jim celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with both of their families. Just before the meal, Jim began to tell Christie how thankful he was for her. He also shared what he appreciated about her. A bit embarrassed, she asked him if he realized he was talking to her in front of their entire family. With a smile on his face, he responded, “Yes.”

    After a few more moments of sharing, Jim asked Christie to marry him. She said yes, and everyone broke out in applause.

    According to WeddingWire, almost 33 percent of marriage proposals occur between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

    “There is something special about celebrating the big moment with family and friends who are gathered together during this special time,” says Dr. Greg Smalley, co-author of Before You Plan Your Wedding…Plan Your Marriage. “However, the memories of the ‘moment’ are often shoved to the backseat as many of these couples hurriedly launch into planning for a June wedding. Since they only have six months to get ready, they spend all their time planning for the ‘day’ instead of doing things that will help them stay married for a lifetime.”

    Smalley contends that many couples make this common mistake: They think they have all the answers for marital bliss. Then they find out they were wrong.

    “We see so many couples who clearly want to have successful marriages,” Smalley says. “The good news is most of them can be successful as long as they get the right knowledge and skills. Research shows that couples who succeed gain the knowledge they need before they settle into destructive patterns that often lead to divorce.”

    A study conducted by Dr. David Olson indicates that 80 percent of couples who participate in premarital preparation report higher marital satisfaction. Additionally, studies show that couples who participate in premarital preparation are 31 percent less likely to divorce.

    “Most newlywed couples are clueless that they are getting ready to face enormous adjustments like managing expectations, dealing with disagreement and disappointment, household issues, financial decisions, intimacy in their relationship, in-laws, how to spend free time, personality differences, re-orienting old friendships and more,” Smalley says. “The key to successfully navigating these adjustments is: A) attacking the problem and not each other, and B) feeling emotionally safe with your spouse.”

    Two people who feel emotionally safe in their marriage are much more likely to reveal their deepest thoughts, feelings and desires because they know their partner will still love, accept and value them. When couples can share at this level, they're much more likely to get to the heart of issues and work through them. Interestingly, communicating at this level actually increases intimacy in the marriage relationship. The skills to do this are what couples learn through premarital preparation.

    “You can have a 'perfect' wedding day and a safe marriage relationship. It just takes some additional effort,” Smalley shares. “Building a safe relationship is key to a strong foundation for your marriage. Ideally, your marriage should feel like the safest place on earth.”

    Are you planning for the day, or are you planning for a lifetime?

    For more information on becoming a Newlywed get our E-Book "10 Things Every Newlywed Needs to Know" Download Here

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    What You Need to Know About Sexual Assault

  • Benefits of Pre Marital Education

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    Tips from Newlyweds for a Happy, Healthy Marriage

    The bride-to-be shared that it was only two weeks, four days and six hours until the wedding. Her eyes sparkled as she talked, and everyone could tell she was head over heels in love.

    Many brides who have gone before her know that feeling so well. They also know that starry-eyed love is not all you need to carry you through the marriage journey.

    What kind of advice would newlyweds give to engaged couples?

    One bride shared that she and her husband didn’t talk about finances before walking down the aisle. Even though they were set up for automatic deposit and bill payment, she was clueless about what was in their checking account.

    “Not too long after we married, I decided to spend a little extra on payday,” said the bride. “I almost caused us to bounce checks because it was the first of the month, when many of our largest bills are paid. To this day, we still haven’t established a budget.”

    Research shows that money is one of the least important factors couples consider when preparing for marriage. However, it is the number one thing that creates distress in marriage. Many newlyweds create massive debt furnishing their home, driving nice cars, and generally “keeping up with the Joneses.” Instead of trying to immediately have what your parents accumulated over many years, attend a money management seminar to learn how to budget your money. Most money experts agree there are three cardinal rules to follow when it comes to managing your money: Spend less than you make, avoid going into long-term debt, and put away a little bit for a rainy day.

    One couple shared that even though they love each other, adjusting to having someone else around and having to consider their thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes is a huge change. Everything from getting ready with only one bathroom and bedtime when one person is a night owl and the other isn’t - to spending habits, how to do the laundry, a clean bathroom, in-laws/extended family, visitors and time for date nights - are now up for discussion and negotiation.

    Learning how to do the marriage dance without stepping on each other’s toes is a skill that takes time to master. The best thing you can do is talk about all of these issues as they arise. Keeping your frustration to yourself will only create friction in your relationship. This is where you learn it isn’t all about you and your wants and desires. It is learning how to let another person be a part of your life. You have to figure out how to give and receive and compromise.

    One bride said she wished she had known she'd have to sacrifice who she was for the sake of her marriage. Healthy marriage isn’t about sacrificing who you are when you come together as one. Coming together should make you better as an individual and better as a team. Talking about career expectations, children, individual and collective goals before you marry will be helpful. There are seasons in marriage when you choose to make sacrifices because it honors your relationship. This doesn’t mean that only one person makes sacrifices.

    Finally, keep expectations realistic. The person you marry cannot meet your every need, make you happy and always be perfect. You will disagree. You will make mistakes. And believe it or not, there will be times when you don’t feel head over heels in love. That doesn’t mean you married the wrong person - nobody is perfect. We all have needs and growth opportunities. Don't focus on your needs and your mate's weaknesses. Instead, focus on their needs and strengths, and on your own opportunities for growth.

    A great start for your marriage takes at least as much prep time as you put into your wedding day. These couples have high hopes for a long lasting, healthy marriage. If that is your goal, make it a point to start investing now in your relationship.

    The return on your investment will be worth it!

    For more information on becoming a Newlywed get our E-Book "10 Things Every Newlywed Needs to Know" Download Here

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    8 Ways to Help Boys Become Men

    When it comes to strength and courage, males have always dominated society. Therefore, it may surprise you that boys are having a hard time growing up and understanding what it really means to be a man.

    In fact, research indicates that boys are in real trouble.

    They receive lower grades than girls. Two-thirds of them have learning disabilities. Boys are the suspects in 8 out of 10 arrests for alcohol and drug charges. They are also responsible for more than 70 percent of juvenile crimes.

    “You can’t go to a newsstand without seeing a steady stream of magazine articles questioning the role of males in today’s society,” says Dr. Kirk Walker, retired headmaster at McCallie School. “It is rare that you pick up a newspaper without reading of the problems males are experiencing and causing – and most of the articles concentrate on the problems facing adolescent males. Something is amiss and the national statistics are chilling.

    “Six-year-old boys who kill do not have a relationship with strong adults who can rescue them. In most boys' lives, human moments and interactions are gradually being replaced with electronic ones; the power of the human touch replaced by a touchpad. The values of honesty, integrity and responsibility are replaced with the values of popular culture – a culture dominated by fame, sex and violence.”

    Tim McGraw’s hit song Grown Men Don’t Cry says, “I don't know why they say grown men don’t cry.” Actually, there are a number of people questioning why our society teaches boys it is not okay to cry.

    Michael Thompson's book, Raising Cain, stresses that it is critical for parents to give their boys permission to have a full range of human emotions - including permission to cry. Thompson believes that helping boys develop an emotional vocabulary helps them to better understand themselves and to communicate better with others. These skills will help them develop into well-rounded adults.

    Dr. William Pollack, author of Real Boys, agrees with Thompson. He says that boys are beginning to question the double standard of masculinity. That double standard pushes boys and men to choose between being the kind of tough, competitive, unfeeling, uncommunicative man traditionally celebrated as “masculine” (the boy code) and being the kind of open, expressive, egalitarian man now heralded as ideal by much of contemporary society.

    “If we don’t let our boys cry tears, they’ll cry bullets,” says Pollack.

    “Depriving boys of the opportunity and encouragement to grow beyond the strict guidelines of the 'boy code' leaves many boys with an impoverished repertoire of emotions, a sense of shame at their weakness, sadness, anger and aggression," Walker says. "Some have said that we are in an ‘anger epidemic.’ The boys feel fragile and respond to that feeling by hurting themselves and others.”

    Walker believes that parents as well as the community-at-large play a critical role in the lives of boys.

    Adolescent boys are not "guided missiles." Instead, they are "guidance-seeking" missiles. Boys need and want positive role models to help them define themselves.

    If you want to help boys in the journey from boyhood to manhood, here's what Thompson encourages:

    • Recognize and accept the high activity level of boys and give them safe places to express it.

    • Talk to boys in their language in a way that honors their pride and masculinity.

    • Be direct with them.

    • Let them solve problems and be consultants.

    • Teach boys that emotional courage is courage. Courage and empathy are the sources of real strength in life.

    • Use discipline to build character and conscience, not enemies.

    • Model a manhood of emotional attachment.

    • Teach boys there are many ways to be a man.

    “It is our responsibility to break the stereotype of what the popular culture defines as a ‘real’ man,” Walker says. “It is our responsibility to help a boy learn to be ‘real’ and to be a man. And it is our responsibility to help a boy define his self-worth in ways that are worthwhile to his community and to himself.”

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    What Parents Need to Know About Preventing Teen Pregnancy

    Teens want to know what adults think, even if they don't act like it.

    • Adults are powerful figures in the lives of young people and hold the key to preventing teen pregnancy.

    • An MTV poll found teens ranked their parents as their #1 heroes.

    Forget about "The Talk." It is an 18-year conversation about love, relationships, values and sex. Start early and let your kids know that you are an "askable parent."

    • Teens tell us their parents tend to give them information too late and in too vague a way.

    • They can get clinical information from school or books (and they already know more than you think), but what they really seek are parents who are comfortable talking with them about relationships, how to handle peer pressure to have sex, how to say "no" without hurting feelings, and other such issues.

    Don't let your daughter get involved with a much older guy.

    • Teen girls who date much older guys are more likely to report later that they didn't really want to have sex in the first place and are less likely to use birth control/contraception.

    • Among mothers aged 15-17, about one in four has a partner who is at least five years older.

    • Older boys and men can lead younger girls into very risky situations and relationships.

    • Seventy percent of teenage pregnancies are caused by guys over the age of 20.

    Sometimes, all it takes for teens not to have sex is not to have the opportunity.

    • Many teens say that if they had something to do after school that's fun and interesting, they are less likely to experiment with sex, drinking, and other risky activities.

    • If parents can't be home with kids after school, they need to make sure their kids are busy doing something constructive and engaging.

    Parents need to make girls feel valued and important. You can't give a girl self-esteem, but you can give her the opportunity to develop it -- encourage her involvement in sports, volunteering, drama classes or other activities that make her feel talented and confident.

    • Girls involved in sports are half as likely to get pregnant as non-athletes, regardless of how much sex education they have. They are more likely to delay sex until they are older, and to use protection when they do so.

    • Another study shows that girls who are active volunteers throughout their high school years have half the teen pregnancy rates of the average for their peers.

    • If you give a girl something positive to say "yes" to, she'll be much more likely to say "no, not yet" to sex and pregnancy.

    • Remember, condoms do not protect the heart.

    Talk to sons as well as daughters. The nearly 1,000,000 teen girls who got pregnant each year don't do it alone.

    • Boys need to know that teen pregnancy happens to them, too. We need to talk to boys - not just girls - about consequences, responsibility, sex, love and values. Surveys show that boys want to do the right thing.

    Learn the facts yourself. It is a scary world out there. Sexually transmitted diseases have multiplied at a frightening rate in the last 30 years.

    • We have gone from two to 38 identifiable Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s), and some of these – including AIDS, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and Herpes – are incurable.

    • HPV causes more than 90 percent of all invasive cervical cancers, and condoms do not prevent HPV. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 45 million Americans have HPV.

    • In addition, chlamydia is rampant and is frequently symptomless. Chlamydia is a leading cause of infertility in later life.

    Adapted from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy Tips for Parents

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    Top 10 Potential Marriage Pitfalls

    Here's what some couples say are major issues to deal with in marriage, according to a Life Innovations survey of 21,501 married couples from every state. 

    1. Problems sharing leadership
    2. One partner is too stubborn
    3. Stress created by child-rearing differences
    4. One partner is too negative or critical
    5. One partner wishes the other had more time
    6. One partner wishes the other was more willing to share their feelings
    7. Feeling responsible for issues
    8. Avoiding conflict with partner
    9. Difficulty completing tasks
    10. Differences never get resolved

    Building a healthy marriage means that you have learned to turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Build on your strengths and find ways to creatively address your differences. Conflict management/resolution skills are crucial.

    In strong marriages, both partners say:

    • their partner understands their positions,

    • they feel free to share their feelings and ideas,

    • they take disagreements seriously, and

    • they work cooperatively to resolve conflicts.

    The happiest couples said they were satisfied with the way they communicate, find it easy to express their feelings and find their partner to be a good listener. They note that their partner doesn’t use put-downs.