Married_articles

Articles for Married Couples

  • Post Featured Image

    7 Tips for Couples Who Work Together

    J.J. and Beverly Jerman were dating when they decided to venture into working together.

    “I was working as a nurse in a GI Lab at the time and developed an allergy to cleaning chemicals so I had to find a different job,” says Beverly. “J.J. suggested that I come work with him, which scared me to death. We had been dating 2 ½ years at that point and I sure didn’t want to mess anything up. That was in 2010.”

    J.J. and Beverly married in 2011. For the past seven years, they have run Office Furniture Warehouse and have learned many valuable lessons about working together as a couple.

    “One thing we would for sure tell couples who are thinking about working together is it’s important to have defined roles and to discover each other’s strengths,” Beverly says.

    Both J.J. and Beverly agree they didn’t have clearly defined roles when they started this venture.

    “We weren’t clear about the lanes either of us should be running in within the organization,” says J.J. “I knew she was a great people person. I am definitely more focused on the business side of things and not as in tune with how people are thinking or feeling. After a few months of trying to figure things out, we decided Beverly would make a great ambassador for the company working in human relations and I would focus on tasks, goals and strategy. Knowing our lanes helped tremendously.”

    The Jermans also learned that if they didn’t determine their priorities and create some boundaries, the business could consume them. If you are considering starting a business as a couple, the Jermans suggest the following:

    • Have your priorities straight. For the Jermans, it was God first, then family, with their business coming in third. They quickly learned that misplaced priorities caused things to not go well at home or at work.
    • Make a conscious effort to turn off work at home. “There are times when we are so busy going in different directions, we don’t get to connect until we get home,” Beverly says. “However, we determined that both of us need the freedom to say I don’t feel like talking about anything work-related right now and your spouse won’t hold that over your head.”
    • Start your day doing something that sets a positive tone. The Jermans start their day by reading. They read a business book, a spiritual book and a book about some type of self-improvement.
    • When you are away from the office, focus on self-care. “We think it is really important to give our brains a rest,” Beverly says. “We hike, bike ride, connect with our kids, care for aging parents and go on weekly date nights. All of this is crucial to us functioning well at work and at home.”
    • If you find yourself in trouble at work due to the relationship, ask for help. The Jermans found a coach to help them navigate through uncharted waters.They believe this saved them from a lot of drama both at home and at work.
    • Have a sense of humor. Both J.J. and Beverly agree that being able to laugh definitely helps when the going gets tough.
    • Have an exit strategy. Going into business together is a huge commitment of time and energy. Having an agreed-upon plan in case change is necessary will help protect your relationship and the business.

    The Jermans are among approximately 2 million couples who choose to work together. The lessons they have learned through the years have helped them grow a very successful business.

    “While the business is important, the most important thing is the relationship we have,” Beverly says. “We have learned when to ask for help and have surrounded ourselves with people who believe in us. We are strong, and we enjoy what we have built together.”

    Need some guidance in creating good, strong boundaries for your marriage? 

    Check out this hefty DIGITAL E-BOOK by Marriage Researchers & Therapists


    Inside, you'll find:

    • How to talk to your spouse about opposite-sex friends
    • What a good boundary for your marriage looks like
    • Practical ways to build trust between you and your spouse
    • 4 ways to connect well with your spouse & strengthen your relationship well
    • How to create boundaries with the parents and the in-laws
    • The 4 main thefts of intimacy and how to protect your marriage from them
    • AND MORE!


  • Post Featured Image

    3 Skills for Managing Conflict in Marriage

    Just weeks into their marriage, Sam and Ellen* were caught a bit off guard as their different perspectives about certain things became very real. While they had discussed many of the big potential areas of conflict - money, career, children and how they wanted to deal with their in-laws - the impact of the more “trivial” matters on their marriage surprised them.

    For example, things like socks on the floor, how to squeeze the toothpaste tube, how to do household chores, how to spend their downtime and even how to get to a certain location had become frequently intense conversations.

    It baffled the couple that these seemingly little things could have such a stranglehold on their marriage. The conflicts were affecting their relationship and neither one of them liked what they were experiencing.

    In reality, it is nearly impossible for two people with different upbringings to not have differences in perspective about many things. Truth be told, we are creatures of habit. In most instances, it is far less likely that a spouse intentionally leaves socks on the floor or squeezes the middle of the toothpaste tube just to get on your nerves. It’s far more likely to be what they have always done.

    So, how can you keep these seemingly minor issues from becoming major areas of conflict in your marriage?

    Parents teach their kids to stop, look and listen before crossing the street. But believe it or not, this is a really useful skill for managing conflict.

    • Stop. Before launching into a lecture or hissy fit, consider these things. Ask yourself if what you are about to say or do will be helpful to your relationship. What is your current state of mind - are you stressed, tired or hungry? These things can impact how intensely you feel about something at any given moment.
    • Look. First, look at your spouse and remember you are on the same team, not rivals. Then, examine the situation at hand and ask yourself if this is truly a big deal or really a matter of different preferences. Whether it is folding towels, loading the dishwasher or the current condition of your car’s interior, some things boil down to personal preference. Is pursuing a conversation about these things worth the cost? And, in looking at the big picture of living life together, will you choose to place your focus on these areas?
    • Listen. Instead of assuming your spouse couldn’t possibly have a reasonable explanation for why they do something a certain way, seek to understand their perspective before telling them why your way makes the most sense. It could help you avoid a lot of unnecessary drama. Even when you truly believe you are right, is it really necessary to prove it?

    Undoubtedly, there are legitimate times for some hard discussions. Moving past those little irritations, however, will require you to think carefully about how you manage those conflicts. After you have walked through stop, look and listen, think about these things:

    • Considering how much time we have together, is this matter worthy of our precious time and energy?
    • Why does this particular issue get under my skin?
    • Am I willing to sacrifice our relationship for this issue?

    Most couples say their relationship is what matters most to them. What tends to trip them up is mistakenly making the minor things the major ones. In many instances, it’s better for your marriage if you agree to disagree and get on with enjoying life together.

  • Post Featured Image

    The Wholehearted Marriage

    Greg Smalley first met his bride-to-be during a rather embarrassing moment. Greg had fallen asleep in class. Erin, who sat behind him, decided to have a little fun. She shook his arm and said, “Stand up.” Greg looked at her with a dazed look. Again she said, “Stand up, the professor asked you to pray. Stand up!”

    Greg stood up and proceeded to pray. Then he realized that everybody in the class seemed to be laughing at him. When he finally sat down, the professor said, “Greg, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but could you wait to close us in prayer until I have finished lecturing?” When Greg looked at Erin, her face was red from laughing so hard.

    “At that moment I thought to myself, this girl has real potential,” says Dr. Smalley, co-author of The Wholehearted Marriage. “I figured marriage with her would be quite the adventure.”

    Erin and Greg have been married since 1992, and the practical jokes continue to this day.

    “My motto for our marriage is, 'expect the unexpected,' because I never know when Erin is up to something,” Smalley says. “We have had a lot of laughs, but we have also learned some very valuable lessons throughout our marriage. I would have to say that one of the most important things we have learned is that the state of our hearts is foundational for a healthy marriage.”

    Smalley contends there are a lot of people who live life with a closed heart and the impact of that on a marriage can be devastating.

    When people feel emotionally unsafe in a relationship, they will close their heart and disconnect. People usually describe them as self-centered, insensitive and mean.

    “I believe couples should strive to make their marriage the safest place on earth,” Smalley states. “When people feel safe, they naturally open their heart and intimacy occurs almost effortlessly. When a spouse feels emotionally safe, he knows he can open up and reveal his true thoughts and feelings and his wife will still love, understand, accept and value him.”

    One of the ways to create safety in your marriage is to recognize your mate’s value.

    “I often ask couples what they value about each other and encourage them to write it down,” Smalley shares. “When you are really angry, you can pull out that list and remind yourself of why you value your mate.”

    Another key to creating safety is to understand there will be times when your spouse irritates you somehow. How you respond can either create or destroy safety in your marriage.

    “When couples refuse to discuss sensitive issues until they both have had time to calm down and think about their own contribution and expectations in the particular situation, the outcome is usually much better,” Smalley says. “Most people think along the lines of win/lose. If one person loses, the whole team loses. In safe marriages, the goal is to find a solution where both people feel good about the outcome.”

  • Post Featured Image

    On the Verge of Divorce?

    You started out with such great intentions, but today your marriage is floundering. The emotional pain runs deep, and both of you struggle with a sense of bewilderment. How can your relationship be in such turmoil when it started out so strong?

    "I encounter many couples who find themselves in this exact place," says Pam Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker. "They think that sex, children, money or who took the garbage out last are the issues creating obstacles in their relationship. In reality, 80 to 95 percent of what couples argue about has its origins in the first 12 years of life."

    Research shows that people learn many things about marriage during their early years of life, and they carry these perceptions into adulthood. Johnson says that every child is born with three questions: Am I lovable? Am I worthy? Do I belong?

    "We arrive into adulthood with these questions answered," Johnson asserts. "Many people have no idea how much these questions, and what they learned about marriage early on, impact their relationship right now."

    Johnson is quick to say that couples who find themselves in what appears to be a hopeless marriage need to slow down and work to gain insight and learn skills through counseling or classes.

    "Abuse, addiction, and/or chronic infidelity could make a marriage unviable," Johnson says. "Short of those dire conditions, there is hope."

    Having unmet needs is one of the most common struggles for couples. For example, a husband has played golf five Saturdays in a row while his wife is caring for their children. He walks in the door and she says, "I can't believe you played golf again today. All you do is play. Some of us have to take care of the children."

    What if, instead of getting defensive, the husband could hear past the blast to the need behind it?

    "His wife needs time for herself," Johnson says. "If the husband can hear the need and help address the need, it becomes a win. It doesn't mean 'no golf,' it means figuring out together a way for his wife to have time away, and for him to get in a round of golf.

    "One of the greatest keys to moving your marriage from hopeless to hopeful is learning how to communicate. This does not mean talking more effectively. It means listening to hear the need being expressed so you can work on meeting the need. When one spouse attacks and the other gets defensive, both alienate the very person who can help change the situation."

    According to Johnson, it's easy for both husbands and wives to get stuck in "attack and blame" mode. Moving to a healthier place in your marriage has everything to do with your attitude when approaching the issue. When you both feel you're on the same team, that a sense of fairness exists and you want the best for each other and your marriage, it is very empowering. People don't walk away from a marriage that's meeting their needs.

    If your marriage is in crisis, there are resources to help you get your marriage back on track. Don't throw in the towel on a perfectly good marriage. Ask for help.

  • Post Featured Image

    5 Ways to Protect Your Marriage

    Vice President Pence has been the subject of many conversations lately regarding his rule about not dining alone with a woman other than his wife. People have varying opinions on the matter. Some think it is a good rule; others say it is archaic.

    Regardless of your opinion, plenty of research indicates that it's worthy of our attention. Noted relationship experts - including psychologist and author, Dr. Shirley Glass, psychiatrist and author Dr. Scott Haltzman, and Dr. Thomas Bradbury, psychologist and principal investigator of the UCLA Marriage and Family Development Study - raise a red flag of warning regarding marriage and opposite-sex friendships.

    In her book, NOT "Just Friends", Glass says that most people don't plan to have an affair. And, it's faulty thinking to believe that attraction to someone else means that something is wrong at home. It IS possible to think someone else is attractive, even if you have a good marriage.

    The single most important protector against an affair is appropriate boundaries. In a culture where men and women work so closely, it’s important to make sure you are not creating opportunities for an affair to occur. This is especially true when you might be vulnerable – like right after a fight with your spouse.

    Many relationship experts understand that one of the most common pathways to an affair is when a man and woman who are “just friends” innocently begin to discuss their marriage problems. In other words, they are doing their marriage work with someone who might not be a friend to their marriage.

    Can opposite-sex friendships exist in marriage? It depends. Many enter marriage with opposite-sex friendships where they describe the person as “like a sister/brother,” yet their spouse seems uncomfortable with the relationship. What do you do with that? This is a question each couple must answer.

    If you haven't talked as a couple about how you can protect your marriage, these guidelines can help inform your discussion:

    • Establish clear boundaries. It creates great guardrails and shows respect for your marriage. Discuss expectations and boundaries in your marriage. You probably believe you would never be weak enough to fall prey to a relationship outside of your marriage. The reality is, few who found themselves there say they were looking for it. A marriage where people believe they are not susceptible is perhaps the most vulnerable.
    • Keep the lines of communication open. Talk with your spouse about how you can avoid creating walls of secrecy between you. How will you make sure you do your marriage work with your spouse? How can you avoid creating unhealthy attachment or dependency on someone else?
    • Be aware, and value your mate's opinion. For example, a couple attended a party where the wife observed another woman flirting with her husband. When they left, the wife told her husband the woman was being flirtatious. With big eyes, he emphatically denied it. But after encountering the woman again, he agreed that she was indeed flirting. He thanked his wife for bringing it to his attention.
    • Recognize the danger zones. Sometimes people can be oblivious to tempting situations. Being on guard in social and business settings where alcohol is present (and spouses are not) may prevent unnecessary drama in your marriage. It's common knowledge that drinking can impair judgment.
    • Intentionally protect and nurture your marriage. Have an open conversation about how behavior impacts your marital health. For example, images of Prince William drinking and dancing with another woman went viral. We don’t know what was really happening, but it left room for questions. Avoiding behaviors that could create suspicion can’t hurt your marriage.

    So, we all know what Mike Pence has chosen to do in an attempt to safeguard his marriage. Perhaps the best thing we can do is focus on what is best for our own marriage. And let's cheer others on to do the same.


    Need some guidance in creating good, strong boundaries for your marriage? 

    Check out this hefty DIGITAL E-BOOK by Marriage Researchers & Therapists


    Inside, you'll find:

    • What a good boundary for your marriage looks like
    • Practical ways to build trust between you and your spouse
    • 4 ways to connect well with your spouse & strengthen your relationship well
    • How to create boundaries with the parents and the in-laws
    • The 4 main thefts of intimacy and how to protect your marriage from them
    • AND MORE!


    Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!


  • Post Featured Image

    Holding Out Hope for Marriage

    Believe it or not, many couples are just trying to make it through the holidays before filing for divorce. Nothing they have tried is working, so they assume divorce is the answer.

    Most people believe it takes two dedicated partners to salvage a troubled marriage. Michele Weiner-Davis, internationally-known relationship expert and author of the best-selling book Divorce Busting, disagrees. If just one partner is willing to change, she believes there is hope for the marriage.

    “Many marriages currently headed down the road to divorce can be saved,” says Weiner-Davis. “Even marriages where only one person is really invested in saving the marriage and the other person is out the door, having an affair or emotionally gone, there is hope.

    “Research shows that the primary complaints leading to divorce are not physical abuse or addiction, but rather, lack of communication, lack of affection, and nagging. I’ve grown increasingly convinced that most marriages are worth saving simply because most problems are solvable.”

    Weiner-Davis explains that many individuals want their spouse to change but don’t realize that changing their own actions can transform the relationship.

    “Based on what I have experienced with couples on the verge of divorce, if just one person in the relationship will work on recognizing and changing their behavior, the dynamics surrounding the relationship change and there is a good chance the relationship can work,” she says.

    She advises:

    • Describe your goal without focusing on what your spouse is doing wrong. When problem-solving efforts fail, stop and reassess the situation. Instead of recognizing that a particular problem-solving method isn’t working, spouses often assume they were unclear and intensify the same strategy. In a heated situation, ask yourself, “What is the goal here?” Then ask, “Will what I am about to do bring me closer to the goal?” If not, change your strategy. For example, instead of talking, try writing it down.
    • Identify what works and focus on that. While you may not agree with or be exactly like your spouse, you should understand your spouse’s needs. Give what he/she needs whether you like it or not.
    • Celebrate small changes in behavior and attitude.
    • Don’t be afraid to seek help. Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest for the trees. Choose a marriage-friendly counselor.
    • Forgive and try to laugh. Harboring anger leads to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness and laughter can encourage healing in individuals and couples.

    "If things are truly on the brink, one of the most common things people who want to save their marriages do is to beg, plead, cry, argue, threaten - all of which is doomed to fail,” Weiner-Davis says. “The first thing you have to do to increase the odds that your marriage will last beyond New Year's is to STOP CHASING. Stop debating. Stop begging. Take a deep breath and focus on ways to calm yourself. The more you chase, the more your spouse will withdraw."

    Marriage is not always easy, but don’t lose hope. Many despondent marriages have survived because of one partner’s commitment. It may take a long time, but studies show that the benefits are worth the wait – even if one partner has to work a little harder to save the relationship.

  • Post Featured Image

    Retirement and Marriage

    Neal and Pat Smith had a pretty consistent routine for 38 of their 50-plus years of marriage. Mr. Smith went to work and Mrs. Smith took care of the household chores and the children. Twelve years ago, Mr. Smith asked his wife what she thought about him retiring. She told him that was his decision and then promptly sought advice from a friend whose husband had been retired for a number of years.

    “She gave me some wise advice,” says Mrs. Smith. “She said that since I was an only child and my husband was an only as well that we needed to give each other plenty of space to do our own thing. I think that has made a huge difference. We are together almost every evening, but during the day we can be in the house together, but not see each other for several hours as we pursue our own interests.”

    Even though people say they look forward to the retirement years, experts know that the changes that accompany retirement can wreak havoc on a marriage. If one person is used to giving orders at work, he/she might inadvertently start giving out orders at home, or if a spouse sees his/her identity as what they do for a living, when that is no longer the case it can be a very challenging time.

    “Neal retired the first of January,” Mrs. Smith says. “I think those first two weeks were really hard. I remember one morning when I was headed to the mall, and I asked him if he wanted to go along. He grumbled and got in the car. When we arrived at the mall, we had to wait on some stores to open. There were all these people walking the mall. Neal was still grumpy. I looked at him and said, ‘You are such a grump – look at all these people that are happy.’ To which he replied, ‘I did not retire to walk these d--n malls.’ I realized that while he thought he was ready to retire, maybe he was having some doubts.”

    In spite of a bit of a rocky start, the Smiths will tell you that the last 19 years have been a lot of fun.

    “If I had the opportunity to talk with couples before they retire, I would definitely tell them that having a plan, not just a financial plan, but a plan for your marriage is very important,” says Mr. Smith. “If you retire and sit at home with no idea what to do or you think that you have to do everything together, odds are nobody is going to be happy. We have taken trips with friends, we both have our separate interests and the things we enjoy doing as a couple."

    Mr. Smith meets every week with a group of retired men. They call themselves ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out). They meet at 8:30 for breakfast, discuss the problems of the world and in their words, solve none of them. Then they finish around 9:30 and go on about their day.

    “It took us a little while to get acclimated to retirement,” Mrs. Smith says. “The first week of retirement was traumatic. Sometimes it was the little things that created a bit of tension. Neal had always pulled his car in right behind mine because he was the first one to leave. I told him he would have to find another place to park his car because three mornings a week I left before him. I also said that the last person out of bed had to make the bed. One of the most fun changes is that Neal does most of the cooking now!”

    If you are considering retirement, make sure your plan includes how you will deal with this transition in order to keep your marriage on track. The Smiths made the following suggestions to help couples prepare for this time of transition:

    • Make a plan for how you will live within your means. The Smiths talked ahead of time about how retirement would impact their lifestyle. When the time came, they were ready to make the necessary changes.
    • Talk about how things will be different. Keeping the lines of communication open is critical during this time of uncertainty.
    • Connect with other retired folks. Spending time with people who have already been through the transition can help make your passage to retirement easier.
    • Find some hobbies or expand the ones you already have. Mr. Smith is an avid fisherman and loves woodworking and gardening. No matter what time of year it is, he has a project going - whether it is preparing for the next fishing trip or planning his garden.
    • Have a sense of humor. Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself because crazy things will happen!

    “Even though it took us a while to adjust, retirement has been great,” the Smiths say. “It has allowed us time for leisurely visits with our grandchildren without having to worry about rushing back for work. We have made some great friendships and have taken some fun trips. Best of all, we still enjoy each other’s company.”

  • Post Featured Image

    4 Ways You Can Protect Your Marriage From Social Media

    Does media use really impact marital quality?

    This question has been swirling around in the minds of many for more than a decade. According to attorneys, the use of social media impacts divorce cases now more than ever before. Counselors also say it is increasingly common for couples to argue about media use in a marriage counseling session.

    You only have to look around to see how media use impacts marriages. Next time you eat out, watch as couples sit together at a table. Chances are, both of them will on their device instead of talking to each other.

    Jeffery Dew and Sarah Tulane, colleagues at Utah State University, decided to examine the issue. They studied more than 1,300 randomly selected married couples. Then, they measured their use of television, video games and social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The couples rated their marital quality in terms of happiness in different areas, how often they fought and how likely they thought they were to get divorced.

    The findings showed that the more husbands used social media, the worse they both felt about their marriage - and both spouses reported more conflict. Women whose husbands spent more time on social media reported lower levels of marital happiness, and they both perceived higher levels of divorce likelihood.

    It is interesting that the husband's use of social media appeared to impact marital quality more than the wife's. Dew and Tulane speculated that, since women use communication to build their relationships more than men do, they see it as just another tool to communicate and connect. However, men's use of social networking sites may violate social norms and expectations about their behavior, which could lead to marital issues.

    How can you keep media use from harming your marital quality?

    • Make time for face-to-face conversation. Focusing on your phone, television, Facebook, etc. takes away from truly focusing on each other. While media can be used to communicate with your spouse, there is no substitute for face-to-face conversation.
    • Pay attention to how much time you spend playing video games individually. When spouses disagreed about how much time the other was spending gaming, marital quality decreased.
    • Ask each other about how media use affects your relationship. You may need to take a break from media and invest that time elsewhere.
    • Establish media-free zones. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Decide together if certain times or places in your home (like the bedroom) are off-limits for media use. Be accountable to each other.

    Sitting beside each other doesn't necessarily mean you are spending quality time together, especially if you both are in your own worlds utilizing media. Take steps to ensure that media doesn't distract you from the most important relationship in your life.


    Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!


  • Post Featured Image

    How Boundaries Can Protect Your Marriage

    Have you “friended” an old flame on Facebook without telling your spouse?

    Once you marry, is it OK to have close friends of the opposite sex?

    If asked to choose between going out with your friends or staying home with your spouse, which would you prefer?

    Do you discuss details about your marriage relationship with your parents?

    How you answer these questions can have a dramatic impact on your current or future marriage relationship.

    Most people are excited about spending the rest of their life with the one they love. However, the journey gets complicated when one person wants to do something or believes they have a right to do something and their spouse doesn’t share that same viewpoint. While the questions would be great discussion topics before you marry, it's probably safe to say that most couples don’t talk about these issues until they hit them square in the face.

    “Social media, friends of the opposite sex and in-laws are part of life,” says Dr. David Banks, relationship coach. “How you handle them can either enhance your marriage relationship or hurt it, which is why boundaries are important. Most people think of boundaries in marriage as bondage. In reality they are the key to keeping your marriage healthy. Think of a four-way stop or a railroad crossing signal. These are in place to protect you from danger.”

    Dr. Banks encourages couples to talk about these issues and to put a plan in place that builds up their marriage.

    “A hot topic for couples is the role that in-laws will play in their marriage so they don’t inadvertently become outlaws,” Banks says. “Some in-laws want to hover and be super-involved in the newlyweds’ lives. This is not appropriate. You can be supportive without interfering with the couple as they learn how to make their relationship work. Couples have to learn how to crawl before they can walk.”

    Other topics you might want to discuss include:

    • How to decline an invitation from the in-laws. Never throw your mate under the bus by saying, "We’re not coming because my wife/husband doesn’t want to come over to your house." Create ground rules that will help you build a healthy relationship with your in-laws. Just because Sunday dinner at your parents' house has been a ritual for years does not mean you have to keep doing that after you marry.
    • The importance of working together as a team. The goal is not what is best for you, but what is best for the team. Is "friending" an old flame really worth the tension it can create in your relationship?
    • How will you be intentional about taking care of your relationship? Avoid talking outside your relationship about things you haven’t talked about together. Discussing marital issues with an opposite-sex co-worker or friend can endanger the health of your marriage.
    • When facing a decision, ask yourself, "Will this be helpful to my marriage?" If the answer is no, don’t do it.

    These may be topics you didn’t discuss prior to marriage. However, there is no better time than the present to do something that will help you tighten the knot.


    Need some guidance in creating good, strong boundaries for your marriage? 

    Check out this hefty DIGITAL E-BOOK by Marriage Researchers & Therapists


    Inside, you'll find:

    • How to talk to your spouse about opposite-sex friends
    • What a good boundary for your marriage looks like
    • Practical ways to build trust between you and your spouse
    • 4 ways to connect well with your spouse & strengthen your relationship well
    • How to create boundaries with the parents and the in-laws
    • The 4 main thefts of intimacy and how to protect your marriage from them
    • AND MORE!


  • Post Featured Image

    Keys to Effective Communication in Marriage

    Research on what makes marriage work indicates that happy and healthy couples demonstrate a ratio of 5:1 positive to negative behaviors in their relationship.

    This means there are five times as many positive interactions between happy couples (i.e. listening, validating the other person, using soft words, expressing appreciation, affirmation, physical affection, compliments, etc.) as there are negative (i.e. raising one’s voice, stating a complaint, or expressing one’s anger).

    Tips for improving the quality of communication in your relationship:

    • Be intentional about spending time together talking. The average couple spends only 20 minutes a week talking with each other. Turn off the technology and make it a point to spend 20-30 minutes a day catching up with each other.
    • Use more "I" statements and less "You" statements. This decreases the chances of your spouse feeling like they need to defend themselves.  For example, “I wish you would acknowledge more often how much work I do at home to take care of you and the children.”
    • Be specific. When issues arise, be specific. Broad generalizations like, "You do it all the time!" are not helpful.
    • Avoid mindreading. It is very frustrating when someone else acts like they know better than you what you were really thinking.
    • Express negative feelings constructively. There will be times when you feel bitterness, resentment, disappointment or disapproval. These feelings need to be communicated in order for change to occur. BUT - How you express these thoughts is critical. “I am really disappointed that you are working late again tonight,” is very different from, “You clearly do not care one whit about me or the kids. If you did, you would not work late every night.”
    • Listen without being defensive. For a marriage to succeed, both spouses must be able to hear each other’s complaints without getting defensive. This is much harder than learning how to express negative feelings effectively.
    • Freely express positive feelings. Most people are quicker to express negative feelings than positive ones. It is vital to the health of your marriage that you affirm your spouse. Positive feelings such as appreciation, affection, respect, admiration, approval, and warmth expressed to your spouse are like making deposits into your love account. You should have five positive deposits for every one negative. If your compliments exceed your complaints, your spouse will pay attention to your grievances. If your complaints exceed your compliments, your criticism will fall on deaf ears.

    Tired of the so-so communication in your marriage? 

    Check out this hefty DIGITAL E-BOOK by Marriage Researchers & Therapists

    Inside, you'll find:

    • How and why you and your spouse communicate differently, and what to do about it
    • 5 proven listening techniques that will pump up the intimacy in your relationship
    • 4 ways to start and end difficult conversations well
    • 5 ways you may be hindering communication with your spouse without realizing it
    • AND MORE!

    PLUS! Every section has an easy, no-stress discussion guide created for you and your partner to build the communication you want in your marriage.


     



  • Post Featured Image

    What's The Point of Marriage?

    Popular shows like Married by America or The Bachelor might lead you to believe that marriage, which has been declining for 30 years, is making a comeback. But look closely at these shows: their focus is more on romantic relationships and lavish weddings.

    Is marriage only about fulfilling our emotional needs, or is it something more?

    According to Dr. David Popenoe, co-director of Rutgers' National Marriage Project, marriage means much more than that.

    “What people seem to have forgotten is one very important element or purpose of marriage,” said Popenoe. “Throughout history, marriage has been viewed as a child-rearing institution. As a society, we, like other modern societies, are drifting ever further from that understanding. While Americans aspire to marriage, they are evermore inclined to see it as an intimate relationship between adults rather than as a necessary social arrangement for rearing children.

    “There is a robust body of research that indicates that children raised with their two, married biological parents (mother and father), who are in a low-conflict relationship, on the whole do much better in life than children raised in other family forms. To the degree that we as a society want our children to do well in life, we should be very concerned with what is happening to marriage.”

    Popenoe believes that the stakes are high, and that it's worth a good fight to correct the current situation. He says the weakening of marriage has contributed to a new kind of child poverty: a poverty of connectedness.

    Four decades of persistently high levels of marital disruption and non-marriage have taken a toll on children’s primary sources of emotional nurturance and security. Parent-child, especially father-child ties, have become more fragile, inconsistent and distant. Children’s emotional lives have become more turbulent, insecure and anxiety-filled as a result.

    In the midst of materially abundant society, signs of emotional want and deprivation are growing - even among the most economically-privileged young. Anxiety, depression, eating disorders and other psychosocial difficulties are on the rise. Overall, a child's quality of life was no better in 1998 than in 1975. Children have borne more than their fair share of the burdens associated with the weakening of marriage.

    American society today requires ever-higher levels of individual competence and educational achievement for a successful adult life. To meet these demands, children need strong character, healthy bodies and able minds. Warm, consistent and firm parental attachments help children defer gratification, set and stick to goals, and resist harmful peer pressures. Close parent-child bonds protect teens from emotional distress. But they also protect them from risky behaviors such as early sexual activity, smoking, drinking and drug use. Young adults' ability to form strong, lasting marriages enhances their own emotional well-being. It also confers psychological benefits on their children as well.

    “One of the best things that the society can do for children is to create the conditions for healthy marriages,” Popenoe said. “This does not mean pushing marriage at any cost on everyone. But it does mean increasing the proportion of parental marriages that are low in conflict and high in mutual respect, cooperation and duration. It also means reducing the economic and social obstacles that stand in the way of successful and long-term commitment to marriage.”

    The research is encouraging. For the first time in 40 years, the percentage of two-married parent families has slightly increased. Through conflict resolution, mediation, premarital education and communication skills, couples are learning how to have a healthy, long-lasting marriage. While marriage is a covenant between two adults, research shows it is not just for their benefit; it benefits children and society as a whole.

    “We go to great lengths to educate our children in hopes that they will have a bright future,” Popenoe said. “Certainly, having a strong marriage and family is every bit as important as having a good education.”

  • Post Featured Image

    Top 10 Strengths of Happy Marriages

    David H. Olson, founder of Life Innovations and one of the creators of the Prepare/Enrich marriage enrichment tools, has surveyed 21,501 married couples in all 50 states to identify the top ten strengths of happy marriages.

    Research shows the strongest couples are those who have strong communication skills, a clear sense of closeness as a couple, flexibility, personal compatibility and good conflict management skills.

    In strong marriages, there is a balance between separateness and togetherness. These couples make togetherness a top priority, ask each other for help, like doing things together, and spend most of their free time together.

    1. Partners are satisfied with communication.
    2. Partners handle their differences creatively.
    3. They feel very close to each other.
    4. Spouses are not controlling.
    5. Partners discuss their problems well.
    6. They are satisfied with the affection they show and receive in the marriage.
    7. There is a good balance of time alone and together.
    8. Family and friends rarely interfere.
    9. Partners agree on how to spend money.
    10. Partners agree on spiritual beliefs.

    Tired of the so-so communication in your marriage? 

    Check out this hefty DIGITAL E-BOOK by Marriage Researchers & Therapists

    Inside, you'll find:

    • How and why you and your spouse communicate differently, and what to do about it
    • 5 proven listening techniques that will pump up the intimacy in your relationship
    • 4 ways to start and end difficult conversations well
    • 5 ways you may be hindering communication with your spouse without realizing it
    • AND MORE!

    PLUS! Every section has an easy, no-stress discussion guide created for you and your partner to build the communication you want in your marriage.


     



RSS Feed