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Articles from November 2013

November 29, 2013

Good Stuff for Your Marriage

It's Black Friday, which means an annual lunch get-together with my husband, a dear friend since elementary school, and her husband. Much more pleasant than joining the crowds at the mall. (I am not a shopper.)

This year, we found a great Italian restaurant, where I had the most delicious broccoli, tomato, lemon chicken, and mozzarella panini. Yum!

Home again and checking my email, I have been noticing lots of wonderful offers today. I want to share a few of the best ones with you.

A free book: CJ and Tammy Renzi, often spotted in the comments on Assume Love, wrote a terrific book about changing their lives to make more time for being a happy, healthy couple. They titled it The End of Wishing Our Days Away. And for some crazy reason, they are giving it away for free on Smashwords through December 31st. The coupon code you will need is on their blog, The Great Jolly Hoombah (2017 update: sadly no longer online, so I have removed all links to it). Go grab a copy and see what's possible for making your marriage the centerpiece of your life.

A four-pack of great movies: Lamar Tyler of Black and Married with Kids is offering a set of all four of his movies on DVD for just $30. This would be such a great gift for a newly married couple, an anniversary gift, a pastor, your favorite marriage educator, or yourselves. The movies are Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys, and Still Standing, and the sale ends Monday night. Visit Black and Married with Kids to watch the trailers and grab your copies.

Free help staying on track: Whether you are working your way through your December to-do list or building new habits to strengthen your marriage, free encouragement and accountability help are always available on ProNagger Rachel Cornell's Accountability Chat.

A bundle of marriage helpers: Kevin and Cetelia Bullard, over at MarriageWorks, are offering up a package of 30 ebooks and audios for the Christian marriage for just $3 each or $30 for all 30, through Sunday. Find them on the MarriageWorks website. They also have some really great looking hoodies and tee shirts available at and

Workshops, two for the price of one: Dustin and Bethany at Engaged Marriage are offering two recorded workshops for the usual price of each one, $29. One is How to Have More Sex & Better Intimacy in Your Marriage, and the other is How to Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage (Talking Optional). They are throwing in a free copy of their ebook, 15 Minute Marriage Makeover - Refresh Your Relationship, Add Sizzle to Your Sex Life & Be Happier in Just Minutes a Day. That's quite the package for $29. This one is good through Monday.

I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving / Chanukkah / Shopping Madness weekend in whatever way suits you best. But don't miss out on these great opportunities.

November 17, 2013

Feel "In Love" Today

Remember that feeling? The one where you feel warmth near your heart and your rib cage opens up a bit as you read a love letter or look into the eyes of someone you're falling in love with?

That is the rush of oxytocin and the stimulation of your vagus nerves. It doesn't just feel great. It also improves your heart's health and helps fight off inflammatory diseases, but only if you're feeling it often. Like a few times a day often. And the more you feel it, the more oxytocin you release. And the more oxytocin in your body, the easier it is to feel it.

You need this. Your husband or wife or partner in life needs it. "I love you" is not enough. You need "in love with you," too.

Need a refresher course in how? Read Micro-Moments of Positivity Resonance, my March 12th blog post.

November 13, 2013

The Joy of Marriage

Just a quick note today to highly recommend a blog post by Carson Abrir on the Fatherhood Channel on why you might want to treat your marriage more like a professional basketball team. It includes a great handout on the Joy of Marriage, too.

Added Burden

There is no question about it: marriage adds burdens to our lives. It also adds comforts and joys. When the burdens outweigh the other two, it's time to try something different.

In my blog, I often suggest three things you can do when you feel overly burdened: (1) Assume Love, (2) Expect Love, and (3) Find Third Alternatives. I have found that all three can evaporate some of the burdens of marriage. They can do so very quickly and very dramatically.

There are other burdens they won't help with, burdens you can do little about except volunteer to carry them in hope of a better tomorrow. Big among them are a personality disorder, an addiction, a chronic medical condition, or a chronic mental health problem that prevents your spouse from acting on his or her loving thoughts toward you. I recommend you do everything necessary to protect yourself, your children, and your spouse's conscience from the consequences of this loss of self-control, including setting a time limit on accepting any effective, safe treatment that is available.

There are other situations over which you have very little say, too. Your spouse, for reasonable or childish reasons, may decide to stop making any attempt to love you or even to stop living with you. He or she may decide it's OK to take a lover, multiple lovers, or even a second wife. Some couples manage to increase the comforts and joys to match the extra burdens, but not many.

No one else can decide for you how much added burden you can or should handle. Unless your country or your faith prohibits it, I find it perfectly reasonable to divorce to put an end to excessive burden. Personally, I prefer to see someone divorce rather than remain in conflict or avoidance or depression for years.

So, let's pay attention to the difference between burdens we can do nothing about (like addiction) and those we can fix (like messy houses, angry family gatherings, too many chores, and insufficient sex) and see if we can help some of you avoid divorce without looking down our noses at those who choose it when the burdens grow too heavy.

November 6, 2013

Woohoo! A Great Example of Assume Love

A brand new reader named Ona shared a fantastic example of what you can learn about your spouse and yourself when you Assume Love. At the end, she asks for a little help with her next steps, so I want to share her comment and my advice with you. I hope it lights a few candles for you, because I want you to enjoy being married.

Ona wrote:

Wow has this philosophy been an eye opener. I can't stop reading. But now I need to practice what I'm learning. My husband and I had an argument that ended with him expressing he's ready to leave the marriage. This isn't a complete shock as we've both been feeling frustrated and expressing this for over a year. But now 3 days after he expressed this conclusion, 2 days after confirming it, I realize I wasn't ever assuming love. But how to go about life now? We're in separate bedrooms and barely talk.

The last argument was because he signed up for 2 runs on Thanksgiving morning, and we host both of our extended families at our home. He had asked if I was interested a few days prior and I immediately gave him the reasons why I couldn't (& therefore he couldn't) including needing the morning hours for setting the table, getting the turkey cooking,
preparing the meal and cleaning the house. I told him he needed to be home to help too and entertain our 3 year old so that I could work on the dinner. But now I see all sorts of possibilities for this last act that we fought about, the one that I assumed meant he's just a selfish person with no regard for the importance I place on providing a fabulous Thanksgiving feast.

Being around the family stresses him and running is a great stress reliever for him and could help him prepare for the family coming into his space. Perhaps he was even planning on taking our toddler along, I didn't ask, but we have a running stroller. He monitors his weight and running before a big feast may allow him to enjoy the food I'll work hard to prepare.

But now as I've assumed love and have allowed my assumption to change, do I go to him and express this? He barely looks me in the eye and we circle around each other within our home, careful to not find ourselves in the same room. I don't know how to approach him. I fear if I do it in the wrong language he will not receive my love.

I am overjoyed to see how well you did on your first try as Assuming Love, Ona. Way to go! Yes, you really have to share this with him. It sounds like he would like to have back the old you, the one who cared more about him than logistics, the one who found his ideas well worth listening to.

Start with an apology. He was proposing a new way to celebrate Thanksgiving, a healthier one, a less stressful one, and you called him selfish. And he probably labeled you controlling. And neither of you are either of those.

You are just human beings who actually care about each other and your child and your families, in search of a good way to celebrate a holiday. Even though you sleep apart, he invited you to join him for this run. And you can still see the situation through his loving eyes. You two are far from done loving each other. You're just having a hard time designing a life that lets you do it.

So get to work on a Third Alternative. Your picture of Thanksgiving and his are not the only two available to you. There is at least one version you could both really enjoy together and welcome your grandchildren to in another 25 years or so.

You could use paper plates, eat in a restaurant, have the food catered, hand your first guest a vacuum cleaner and dust rag, hire a cleaning service on Wednesday or Thursday, send your child out with your husband if he agrees, or offer a friend who loves the parade a pie and a couple of reheatable side dishes to take your child for the duration of the parade.

You could brainstorm conversation topics to bring up together to avoid the usual stressful topics, taste test the local bakeries for rolls and desserts you won't need to bake, put the kids at the grownups table or move them off to their own table, switch to buffet or to pass-the-bowl service to lower the dinner stress level.

You could (maybe not so soon after a blowup, but next year perhaps) have a fun Sunday cook-a-thon together with music and no time pressure to prepare enough in advance to free you up to join the Thanksgiving Day race, or ask each of your guests to bring a side dish or gravy so you can go out as a family while the turkey and ham are in the oven.

November 3, 2013

A Challenge from a Fellow Blog Reader

Susan, whose comments you may have noticed, sent this:

Patty I have a throwdown challenge for your readers: try not saying one critical word to your spouse for a full month. During that time tell your spouse at least three times a day things about them you are grateful for -- even if it is taking out the garbage. My husband and I found this really hard at first and now there is no going back to the old way of living.

Let's make November that month.

Gratitude is good for you. It makes you happier with your life. It is good for your relationship, too. Let's give it a try. Report back in the comments if it's working for you.

November 1, 2013

The October Blog Challenge

Darn! I lost the last three days of the month when my web server crashed repeatedly under the weight of an avalanche of spam comments. Lots of greedy people appear to think this is a place to post advertising for spellcasters, sneakers, clothing, and porn for free.

But I got in 28 solid blog posts, and I hope you enjoyed them. I wish my schedule allowed me to post daily all year round. Someday!

I thank you all for the many comments this month and for the great birthday gift you gave my mother at her blog (

Have any marriage questions you'd like me to answer in my November blog posts? Just ask in the comments form. (If you get this by email, click the title to get to the comments form.) Using a fictitious name to spare your spouse any embarrassment is fine.

Now I've got to get my next Sher Success Team by Phone set up. If you've got a dream you want help achieving, drop me a note in the comments. I'll reply to the email address without publishing your comment.

OK. One more. We've got houseflies breeding in a pair of windows 16 feet above my desk and no ladder that reaches up there. We're killing flies all day everyday as they come down, but at least once a week there are 100 or more new flies up there. We're trying to avoid buying, transporting, and storing a ladder. Any ideas?

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

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