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Articles from July 2013

July 26, 2013

Marriages on the Brink

I have not been writing many blog posts lately. One big reason is the number of replies I have been writing to comments being added daily to my April 5, 2012 post. Every one of them could be a blog post on its own. All are about marriages on the brink of divorce.


  • She wants to stand on her own two feet as her only child turns 18.

  • She's in love with a younger man in another country that she met online

  • He wants sex, she wants help.

  • She's addicted and texting a guy she promised not to text.

  • He loves her but is no longer in love with her.

  • He's had it with her bad temper, but when he agreed to give it another try, he let her catch him viewing an online dating site.

  • She's having second thoughts about going through with the divorce after three years of separation, but he's living with someone else.

  • He says it's over. She doesn't want him to go. But when he seemed unable to leave, she packed his clothes as an act of kindness.

  • And that's just in the last four days.

I hope you will read some of my replies to these hurting people. I'm hoping someone might catch the weeds in their garden a little earlier than they did. I hate to see good marriages get so bad.

July 21, 2013

An Audio Intro to Assume Love

I was interviewed recently on a new internet radio show by a great new host, Christopher Green. The show is called According to Chris, and it was the July 1 show.

I hope you will listen to the free recording of Chris Green's interview of me, Patty Newbold, about how to Assume Love, Expect Love, and Find Third Alternatives, plus the story of what got me started.

I would be thrilled if you left Chris a comment or Liked the show. I did not know anything about him, and the show was too new to check out in advance, so I was really delighted with how it all turned out, and I wish him the best of luck growing an audience for his passionate new radio show.

July 20, 2013

What Has Happened to the US Marriage Rate?

Thanks to a report issued by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University this week, I am seeing lots of news stories reporting that the marriage rate is at its lowest in a century and down almost 60% from 1970.

Whatever could this mean? Mostly, it means our population is growing older and we are marrying older.

The marriage rate and the percentage of women currently married are both based on the total number of women 15 and older. As women marry later (about 7 years later), there are more and more never-married women (and unmarried women with less than a high school diploma or less than a college degree) in our counts who are still quite likely to marry. They have not opted out of marrying, only out of marrying young.

And as the Baby Boomers doing most of the marrying in 1970 neared retirement in 2010, there was an automatic 20% drop in the number of women in their 20s, when most marriages now occur. Because we count all women over 15 when we compute the marriage rate, this creates a large and totally meaningless drop in the marriage rate.

We've had three peaks in the marriage rate since 1890: at the end of World War I, right after World War II, and 1970, when the Boomers hit marrying age, many of them marrying right out of high school.

Since then, it has gone down. In part it went down because it always goes down after a peak. In part it went down because the Boomers remained in the denominator of the fraction even after most had married. In part it went down because more women went to college and established careers before marrying. And in small part it went down for the reasons decried in all the news reports relying on Bowling Green's press release: some have lost faith in the likelihood of their having a successful marriage.

To the extent any of that lost faith results from the choice of words like "declined precipitously," "record lows," and "most dramatic" in reports like this one, I want to beg those making a decision about marriage to read the report more critically than most reporters do. And, as always, I invite you to get some marriage education before you conclude marriage is difficult. Most marriages survive. Most unhappy marriages get better. And a good marriage is an incomparable joy for you and all your children.

July 19, 2013

Cleaning Out My File Cabinet

I've been meaning to clean out my file cabinet. There is a pile of papers on my desk that needs a better home. But the file cabinet, one of those big, four drawer units with a lock on it, has been in seven different offices of mine since 1990, gathering papers, losing some, gathering more. There is no more room in it.

I need to make time to clean it out.

Over the 4th of July weekend, I painted the kitchen. Had to take almost everything out of it. And it took much longer than expected because the weather was so humid. We had to work around the mess, put things in temporary places, move pieces back in one at a time. All of which meant I got to take my time thinking about where everything should go back. The reorganization is even more pleasing than the fresh coat of paint.

This makes me want to tackle the filing cabinet soon.

I have been getting lots of comments on this blog recently from men, fathers, whose wives have left them or announced they will do so soon. They were taken by surprise, and they want another chance. They know they can do better. Like me with the filing cabinet.

They want to say the things they should have said. They want to move family dinners back to the table and away from the TV. They want to be more generous, more open, more courageous, more there. And they are ready to get some counseling.

While they have been putting this off, their wives have been hurting, hurting enough to avoid family gatherings, drink too much, fall in love with someone new, think of putting their kids through a divorce, and practice reciting, "Too little, too late."

I am sure the wives feel they have been ignored, treated unfairly, asked to do too much, denied the closeness -- or space -- they sought. But I am just as sure their filing cabinets are overfilled with unmet expectations they could have cleaned out of there.

They stick their loneliness on the nights their husbands work or see friends in a file labeled "Abandoned Again," instead of setting up an easel, pulling out their guitar, or calling a long-lost friend. They make a list of must-do tasks and add a page to the "Unfairly Responsible for Too Much" folder for each one, instead of asking for help letting go of some of them. They've read several marriage books and do something likely to please their mate, then add to the "Uncared For" file when the only reciprocation is foreplay, instead of asking for what makes them feel loved.

And I am one of those wives. So, before I tackle the metal filing cabinet, I have another one to clean out. I need lots of room in there for happy memories, for playful evenings, for kisses without yes-buts, and for future plans with the wonderful guy I married.

Join me?

July 4, 2013

Too Close, Too Distant, Just Right

You wouldn't know it by the way they rush into relationships so intensely, but for some people, marriage is frighteningly close. When the fear overwhelms them, they desperately try to create some space. Unfortunately, it usually overwhelms them when the relationship is at its happiest and most intimate.

For others, anything short of sharing the same pair of pants 24/7 can feel at times like the marriage is unraveling.

Guess what happens when these two types marry each other?

When you're feeling smothered or abandoned, you may feel unloved or like love isn't worth the pain. If you do, it's because the panic behavior feels like it's about you. It isn't. It's about what happened between your spouse and his or her caretakers in those first two or three years. And loving you has triggered panicked memories.

But you are loved. And neither of you is a vulnerable child now.

You don't want your spouse's panic to set off some of your own, so why not create some if-then rules for how you will handle the panic? Perhaps you will have a code word that means your spouse really needs to know where you are every hour or so for the next twelve. Set your alarm and send a text message once an hour to deliver a little bit of calm.

Maybe you two will create your own fun name for a day or weekend apart and plan in advance what the one who dislikes the extra space can do to pass the time. Having a plan makes it easier to give space as a gift to the one who needs it.

Another if-then rule might be that if one of you starts announcing rules for the other, you will stop and write them in a notebook for discussion on Thursday evenings only. By then, you just might find a Third Alternative that works a lot better than bossing your spouse around.

Or perhaps you will agree that if you will not be home together at bed time, the one who is out or traveling will call and say good night.

Because once your childhood fears return, your brain will be too busy watching out for other threats to bring your relationship back to just right.

The Author

Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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