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Books and classes

October 4, 2012

Inexpensive Marriage Education

I now record all of my marriage education teleclasses, and you can listen to these 45- to 70-minute recordings for just $6 each.

  • What Should You Expect from Your Husband or Wife?
  • Are You Suffering Needlessly?
  • When Your Spouse's Hobby Drives You Crazy
  • How Dare You?! Moments in Marriage
  • Should I Seek a Divorce?
  • What to Do About Your Spouse's Bad Habits
  • Open Forum: You Choose Our Topics
  • 7 Ways to Stop a Fight
  • How to Get What You Need When Your Spouse Says No
You can also be part of the audience for the next one free of charge. The topic for October 2012 is Making the Most of Your Spouse's Strengths. For more information, sign up for my Enjoy Being Married Newsletter on the same page.

June 14, 2012

A Great Summer Read: Marriage Confidential

Marriage Confidential book coverI think just about everyone who reads this blog will enjoy Marriage Confidential: Love in the Post-Romantic Age, which just came out in paperback. In it, author Pamela Haag explores the semi-happy marriage with the compelling writing of a master storyteller armed with a good bit of research.

I was sent a copy of this book as part of a blog tour. I found it delightful to read and hard to put down. It's a personal journey into discovering what's become in recent years of marriage, especially the marriages that stay just this edge of divorce for years or proceed barely noticed for years until one partner has an affair or announces angrily that it's over.

Haag tells the stories of people caught up in these marriages (her own included) and of those who have found alternatives. She weaves in a great deal of what research has revealed about them, and she pulls it all together in a manner that delights me.

If you, like me, find new perspectives invigorating, you will love this. Instead of one new perspective that leads to one person's prescription for fixing your marriage, this book aims to give you as many new ways of viewing marriage as possible and let you make up your own mind about them.

Over 60 percent of divorces, she reports, come from these low-stress, low-conflict marriages. Haag does not even take a stand on whether this is a problem (I am certain it is), but she wants to understand why. She shares what she learned in a form you will enjoy reading on vacation, while you commute, or (not for long, I suspect) while you sit beside your husband or wife in your no longer exciting bed.

In Part I, she looks at what has become of marriage as our work and wage-earner roles have shifted. Part II, explores at what children do to a marriage in these days of child as project. In Part III, she explores infidelity in the internet age and in Part IV what some folks are doing to deal with differences in their sex needs now that what's acceptable has changed so much.

Haag provides hundreds of new options you might consider when seeking Third Alternatives in your marriage, ones you have likely never considered because you just did not look at the problem that way. I picture hundreds of cocked heads as all of you read this book. There is a lot to think about.

For example, Lauren, who explains how living in a densely populated neighborhood in the middle of a city makes it possible to raise more children with less marriage-killing resentment. Or Jill, whose reaction to her husband's affair surprised her:

Insofar as Jill could untangle the injuries, she will say the one that hurt most was absolutely and unequivocally the lie, not the sex....If they were truly soul mates—well, best friends—they would actually share details of their lives with each other. What hurt much more, though, was the surprising sense of envy.

Or Tim, who disguises his basketball games as grocery shopping trips (even bringing back a few bags of groceries smuggled out of the house, because non-stop parenting of your children is now the focal point of so many marriages and so many expectations of married people. Haag manages to point out the correlation among his predicament, the 50% increase in the number of Boston Marathon runners in just six years, the doubling of the size of the average new bathroom since the 70s, and the large majority of people who find their commute "the best part" of the workday, despite the declines in public transportation.

There are, of course, places where I wanted to insert some of my own perspectives. For example, I see the "Tom Sawyer marriage" very differently and worth another look. I remain utterly skeptical about affairs, polyamory, or open marriages as the route to a relationship that will get you through retirement. And, being a good bit older, I am more attuned to second marriages, empty nest marriages, and guarding against the downside of widowhood a lot more than the downside of divorce. Someday, I will write my own book, and I hope you will read it.

But this week, I hope you will grab yourself a copy of Marriage Confidential. Read it to provoke your thinking and look at your marriage from different perspectives, even if you find yourself passionate about avoiding some of the options it presents. It's a lot more fun to read than most books that challenge your thinking and a lot less single-minded. Tell me about it in the comments below.

Other reviews (both positive and negative):
The Washington Post
Pruod Book Nerd
The Long Haul Project
Silver & Grace
Book Hooked Blog
Book Him Danno!

February 18, 2012

No Dads Needed?

The New York Times published an article yesterday titled For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage.

It's a wonderful thing that women can now support themselves and their children. I know this firsthand, as I became a single mom at 34, when my first husband died. I was in no shape to remarry just to support myself and our son, and I did not want to place this burden on my parents or my in-laws. Both helped us many times, but I was very glad to be able to handle most of the expense and time it took on my own.

It's wonderful, too, that no young woman who finds herself pregnant from a foolish misjudgment of a young man's character must marry him now, as they generally felt required to do when I was a young woman.

What bothers me, though, is the gap between the people today's young men and women are willing to have sex with and the ones they are willing to marry.

I am not willing to believe more than half the women under 30 and the men they have sex with are unsuitable marriage partners. We know they are sexually attractive. We know many of them live together. We can surmise it is not about protecting assets, as they are young and only 8% of those with college degrees avoid marrying.

So, what is it about? I suspect two things. One is a confusion of marriage and weddings. Young people delay marriage while they try to raise the cash for a "real" wedding. Why? Perhaps because their own unmarried parents are in no position to provide this for them. Definitely because we still promote the white-dress ceremony and catered dinner with open bar and glass clinking as the big rite of passage for women.

I can only hope for some trendsetter to change this.

The second cause, though, I can do something about. Fear of marriage failure is rampant in our society. And any kid who has been through their parents' divorce knows how painful it is. No one wants to inflict this on their own kids. Is it really better for the kids to know from the start that dad is temporary? Is it better to know mom does not trust dad to provide as much care as the government will if she's unmarried? I doubt it, but I can understand a woman without a lot of earning power or good marriage role models fearing marriage failure and an inability to afford a divorce.

We need to teach marriage skills
, and we must not wait until a marriage is failing. We need to teach them while people are making choices about their sex partners, about whether to marry, about how to deal with growing apart or facing temptation while in a marriage or a serious relationship.

If you are a parent, make sure you learn marriage skills, so you can teach them to your teen, your grown children, your nieces and nephews and grandchildren. If you are a teacher, teach your students to find Third Alternatives, to spot the connection between expectations and resentments, and to stop and consider alternative explanations for upsetting events.

If you produce TV or radio programming, please start incorporating the benefits of marriage education in your story lines. If you run a business, take a look at the financial benefits of marriage education for employees at H.H. Gregg and Chick Fil-A, or talk to me. I have a presentation for managers on job-relevant skills to cut the business costs of marriage problems, based on my 38 years as a management consultant.

I will keep sharing everything I can on this blog and on Enjoy Being Married. You can find more at Smart Marriages, the Dibble Institute, Compassion Power, PREP, the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center, and the California Healthy Marriages Coalition. We need our dads.

January 12, 2012

Teleclass Recordings!

For several years, I have wrestled with requests for recordings from people whose schedules don't allow them to be part of my Enjoy Being Married teleclasses. I do the teleclasses for free. I don't advertise anything during them. What I get in return is real-life marriage stories. I learn what people are facing. I hear their great ideas for each other. I discover when I make sense and when they need to hear more to grasp my rather different take on how to enjoy being married.

I feared I would lose this if I offered recordings. Finally, I had an idea. Keep the teleclasses free, but let those who just want to listen get the recording for a small fee ($6). And it worked. I had a good size group last night, and we got a good recording from it.

What Should You Expect from Your Husband or Wife?
Recorded Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Patty Newbold, Enjoy Being Married, LLC
51 minutes

Feeling let down? Thinking you deserve more from this person you married? Wondering if giving more would get you more or just leave you feeling taken advantage of? We discuss all of these and more on our January call. Thanks to a great question, we also cover how to handle your mate's excessive expectations.

The recording is available through JigsawBox, the same service I use for my course for new entrepreneurs who want to protect their marriage. If you are not already a JigsawBox user, you will need to sign up for a free account with them before you purchase the recording.

December 15, 2011

Marriage Book Recommendations

Here are three books I often recommend to people dealing with marriage problems.

If You Doubt Your Spouse Still Loves You or Your Spouse Doubts Your Love:
The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman

If Your Disagreements Turn into Loud Arguments:
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

If You Hit, Grab, Choke, or Belittle Your Spouse or Your Spouse Hurts You:
Love Without Hurt: Turn Your Resentful, Angry, or Emotionally Abusive Relationship into a Compassionate, Loving One

December 4, 2011

Date Night: How to Keep Your Marriage Intimate

Intimate: Marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity (
Intimate: Marked by a warm friendship developing through long association (

Date Night Goals: Become better acquainted, build warm memories with your husband, wife, or life partner.

Free Teleclass: Enjoy Being Married, Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at 9pm Eastern.

What You Will Learn: How to choose activities that make the most of date night for the two of you. How to get closer, have fun, see each other in your best light, and separate your relationship from your jobs, kids, and other responsibilities so it can thrive.

Who is Teaching: Me, Patty Newbold. I hope you will join us.

PS: Today is the last day to vote for Assume Love as a Top Ten Marriage Blog of 2011. If you have already voted, thank you, thank you, thank you!

November 1, 2011

Launching a Business Without Killing Your Marriage

Gene Marks' NY Times blog on the art of running a small business included two items that caught my attention yesterday.

The first is a great quote from Penelope Trunk in Venture Beat:

"The dirty secret about start-up founders is they can't keep marriages together. Part of the reason for this is they are crazy to begin with. And part of the reason is that you have to be married to your company to do a start-up. So divorce rates are high, especially among women, because they are much less likely to have a spouse who is willing to stay home and keep the family intact. So I got a divorce. It was on the cover of The New York Times. And all P.R. is good P.R., of course, but I realized, while I was going through the process, that I wanted a successful marriage more than I wanted a successful career. And then I thought, 'No. I want both.' And I became exhausted wondering how women get both. (Until I realized, oh, this is why women don't do start-ups.)"

I happen to think there is a lot one can do to keep the family intact during a start-up, starting with how you break the news to your husband or wife. It's all covered in my online course, Enjoy Being Married When You Take the Self-Employment Plunge.

The second was a quote by Michael Idov in Slate:

"Within weeks, Lily and I -- previously ensconced in an enviably stress-free marriage -- were at each other's throats. I hesitate to say which was worse: working the same shift or alternating. Each option presented its own small tortures. Two highly educated professionals with artistic aspirations have just put themselves -- or, as we saw it, each other -- on $8-per-hour jobs slinging coffee. After four more months, we grew suspicious of each other's motives, obsessively kept track of each other's contributions to the cause ("You worked three days last week!"), and generally waltzed on the edge of divorce. The marriage appears to have been saved by a well-timed bankruptcy."

Enjoy Being Married When You Take the Self-Employment Plunge includes a section on working together, too. Two of the most important points in it are defining "fair" in advance and divvying up the tasks in a way that lets each of you bring your best character strengths to the job, which produces a lot more job satisfaction.

Are you thinking of launching a business? Are you guiding your own business through these economic hard times? How's it going? What's working for you? What problems would you like help with? Hundreds of people read this blog every day and would love to benefit from your experiences and to help you get past your current obstacles. Your comments are always welcome.

October 27, 2011

What Twitter Can Tell You About Marriage

On Twitter, where I am known as @married, I created an Enjoy Being Married list of Tweeters with good stuff to say about being married.

Here are just ten of the tweets from the Enjoy Being Married list today.

You don't need a Twitter account to view what they are saying. But if you have one, almost all of them welcome your questions and will answer them right away. This is a huge marriage resource available to all.

October 20, 2011

Marriage Questions? We Have Answers

Once a month, I do a free marriage education teleclass. This is your opportunity to learn a little and ask me just about anything. It usually a small group, so you can expect plenty of personal attention.

The topic is announced in advance. On November 9th, the topic will be In-laws, Step-kids, and Holidays. If time allows, we will tackle other topics, based on your questions.

I would love to have you join us. To get the call-in info and a monthly newsletter, just sign up for my Enjoy Being Married mailing list.

If you have already joined us, please use the comments below to share your experience. Thanks!

October 6, 2011

Great Resources for Marriage Education

Here are some of my favorites:

Please check them out and share your opinions.

July 22, 2011

Marriage No Longer Counts in Canada

Canada has announced they will stop tracking national marriage and divorce rates, to save some money now that they have one unmarried couple living together for every two married couples. As a parting shot, here are a couple of interesting statistics from 2008, the last report they will issue, according to The Globe and Mail:

  • 73.2% -- Marriages in Newfoundland and Labrador expected to last until one or both die or they reach their 50th anniversary

  • 37.4% -- Percentage of marriages in the Yukon expected to last until one or both die or they reach their 50th anniversary

What do you think? Are marriages and divorces worth counting?

July 5, 2011

Gotta Crow a Little

I feel like everything in my life is coming together, and it feels so good!

My first online marriage workshop launched this weekend. This full-day workshop is available on your schedule, because it is all online. Complete the 19 short lessons when you want. Take as long as you like—you have full access to them, at any hour of the day, for an entire year.

I titled it Enjoy Being Married When You Take the Self-Employment Plunge, because it will be the first in a series of courses on how to Enjoy Being Married through life's many ups and downs.

This first one is for those of you thinking of going freelance or launching your own business. If you want advice on choosing a business or launching it, check out Barbara Sher, Pace and Kyeli Smith, Jonathan Fields, Pam Slim, Seth Godin, Michael Port, Barbara Winter, or the wonderful gang at Third Tribe Marketing. This course is about how to keep your marriage happy and healthy while you take the roller coaster ride of your life.

What came together for me in this course?

  • My love of helping others enjoy being married

  • My 37 years of creating training that works for corporations, government agencies, and universities

  • The past seven years of helping others do what they love, thanks to finally meeting Barbara Sher in 2004 and becoming one of her Success Teams Leaders

  • All the positive psychology and marriage research I have studied, meshed with all my experiences as a self-employed person for most of my working life

  • The wonderful, fantastic, people-connecting internet, and the chance to use it to reach and teach so many people

  • My lifelong desire to change the world, even just a little bit

I am tickled pink to present this course to you. If your own Independence Day is coming up soon, I really hope you will check it out. To encourage you, I am offering a big discount until the end of July at

To the rest of you, I say Follow Your Dream. It feels great. And thanks to ProNagger Rachel Z. Cornell for keeping me putting one foot in front of the other, to Beth LaMie for cheering me on for so long, even as she put out two great books on capturing who you are and where you come from, and to Barbara Sher, the Resistance Whisperer, who has taught me so much.

June 13, 2011

When Your Spouse Spends Too Much

When Your Spouse Spends Too Much (or Earns Too Little) is the title of my next teleclass, scheduled for July 13, 2011 at 6 pm PDT, 9 pm EDT. There is no charge to attend, but you must be a newsletter subscriber to get the phone number, and you must phone in to participate. Put it on your calendar and sign up for the newsletter now at

I do not believe you are a victim. You hold the power to change the quality of your marriage without waiting for your husband or wife to change. Resentment makes a mess of your life and your marriage, as I so thoroughly proved in my first marriage. Call in and learn a better way.

April 12, 2011

How to Stop Poking Your Spouse

Drs. Pat Love and Steven Stosny, authors of How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, gave a great webinar this past Sunday.

Ever wondered how just keeping quiet could make your mate anger or look so hurt? Or how sharing what's upsetting you could make your spouse defensive or even aggressive? Stosny and Love gave great a great explanation and tips on how to avoid such upsets in the future.

If you missed it, I got you a second chance. Dr. Stosny gave me permission to make the recording of the entire webinar available to you in movie form. Click on that link to download it as a .zip file. After you uncompress (unzip) the file, usually by double-clicking on it, you will have a .wmv file that should play automatically in Windows Media Player or QuickTime when you double-click on it.

At the end, they overview some upcoming webinars. To get on the mailing list for these, visit Dr. Stosny's Compassion Power website.

Let me know in the Comments whether you enjoyed this webinar and want more.

March 27, 2011

Black Marriage Day 2011

Today is Black Marriage Day. I wish there were a marriage day for every community. Deaf Marriage Day. Doylestown Marriage Day. Gay Marriage Day. Celebrity Marriage Day. UCLA Marriage Day. Catholic Marriage Day.

Marriage strengthens a community. Bravo and thank you to Nisa Muhammad for creating Black Marriage Day.

March 23, 2011

Ridge Project Keeps Families Intact, Dads Out of Prison

What timing! Here I am thinking about what to ask Dr. Washington tonight about keeping a marriage healthy while a spouse serves prison time and Diane Sollee just announced another award to the Ridge Project.

The Ridge Project is a Christian marriage education program in Ohio with a 24 week program called Keeping FAITH: Keeping Families And Inmates Together In Harmony. The latest award comes from the US Dept of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance, which named it a best practice and a premier grantee.

Their latest results show a 5% recidivism rate 18 months after release from prison. This compares pretty darn well with an average of 15% back in the system within just a year and 25% within three years.

They do it by teaching communications and character.

Diane Sollee awarded the Ridge Project the prestigious Impact Award at the 14th Annual Smart Marriages Conference in Orlando, FL last year.

As a best practice exemplar, the Ridge Project was visited this week by Centerforce (CA), San Quenten Prison (CA), New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJ), Oakland Livingston Human Services Agency (MI), ICF International (VA), and the National Fatherhood Initiative (PA) to see how they do it.

Bravo, Ron and Cathy Tijerina, for creating the Ridge Project and taking yet another award!

For the children of these couples, anything that helps their parents stay together during a prison sentence and helps their incarcerated parent come home to an intact family and stay on the right side of the law must mean a world of difference across their entire lifetime.

March 19, 2011

This Path We Share

Did you, like so many others, grow up without the chance to observe a great marriage at close range for many years? Marriage books and blogs like this one can only go so far to fill this gap. We need role models, not just techniques.

Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad offers us an intimate, close-up picture of her marriage to Les Hjelmstad in her new book, This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage. Lois, who also wrote Fine Black Lines: Reflections on Facing Cancer, Fear and Loneliness, kindly sent me a review copy. I am so glad she did. I would not know such a book existed, and we need books like this.

This memoir of a marriage reads like a well-written novel. Lois and Les find their way through the usual ups and downs of a marriage, the "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health" through which we vow to love and to cherish.

I can tell you to Expect Love instead of all those other things we mortal humans want to expect from a husband or wife. Lois Hjelmstad takes us into the frustrations of trying to hang onto expectations we have no control over and shows us how love unfolds and nourishes us when we choose to let go of those expectations.

Les and Lois face the same sort of unexpected challenges that lead others to give up, to live side-by-side but no longer together, to seek solace in someone else's arms, to choose divorce, but each time, they find a way through to a better place together. We need role models like these.

You can find both books at her Mulberry Hill Press website or through the Amazon affiliate links above.

March 14, 2011

Looking for Married Couples Between the Ages of 20 and 32

Catie W. O'Neal from the University of Georgia is conducting a study of gender roles in marriage. Can you help her?

She is looking for married couples. Both of you must complete the questionnaire. And both of you must be between 20 and 32 years old.

The information you provide will be kept confidential. Her project has been approved by Dr. David W. Wright, Department of Child and Family Development, and the University of Georgia's Institutional Review Board. Participating requires 30-45 minutes. There is an optional drawing for a $25 gift card.

Here is the link to the online research questionnaire:

Catie needs 100 couples to get enough data to draw valid conclusions. Her work promises to be valuable to many other married couples. If you cannot participate, would you please send this link to a couple who qualify?

March 7, 2011

March 27, 2011 - Celebrate Marriage

Sunday, March 27, 2011 is Black Marriage Day. Marriage will be celebrated in at least 300 communities nationwide, including Fayetteville, NC, Cleveland, OH, Dallas, TX, Milwaukee, WI, Richmond, VA, Boston, MA, and Los Angeles, CA.

Don't miss these events. Some are scheduled to begin on the 26th and some require reservations. Check them out now.

If none is scheduled in your community, encourage your mosque, church, synagague, community center, school, or marriage education organization to host one. Many plan to show the new film Men Ain't Boys, from Tyler New Media:

Marriage is the very real foundation of our communities, regardless of the color of our skin or our ancestors' nationality. Let's celebrate it everywhere!

February 10, 2011

Power of Two: Online Marriage Education

Did you ever play the "Tell Me My Spouse is Awful" game when something went wrong in your marriage? It's the basis for the dreadful TV show, The Marriage Ref. You disagree, so you ask friends, even strangers, to decide who is "right."

Except neither of you is right. You just disagree. And disagreements with the most important person in your world are truly alarming. After enough of them, you might think, "We need marriage counseling." But the time to act is well before you reach this point. Marriage education can save you years of pain, even if only one of you gets it.

Now there is marriage education available online, whenever you're ready for it and every time you hit a new bump in the road.

I just checked out a great online program called Power of Two. I added it to my Enjoy Being Married Resource Directory, because I was impressed. Drs. Susan Heitler and Abigail Hirsch have put together hours of videos, audio recordings, text, quizzes, and interactive games to help you learn to manage any tough spots in your marriage. And they have priced it so that anyone can afford it.
Their program teaches how to communicate clearly, make win-win decisions, deal with your anger and your spouse's, and stay positive and supportive. It also includes 14 special topics, among them Parenting and Relationship Safety.

Check out their free introduction and consider signing up. The time to learn is well before your marriage is too stressed to recover. I do NOT want to see you and yours on The Marriage Ref.

November 23, 2010

Marriage is Definitely Not Obsolete

I invite you to an internet radio discussion tonight, November 23, 2010, at 8 pm Eastern, 5 pm Pacific, about whether or not marriage is obsolete.

Our host is Dr. Veronica Anderson, on her show, Wellness for the Real World.

In a recent Time/Pew study of American adults, 39% said marriage is obsolete.

I think they are wrong.

Tune in. Speak up. Or listen to the recording later. This topic is critically important to our nation's future.

November 4, 2010

Alisa's Husband's Funeral

I love it! Alisa Bowman has produced a marvelous video about planning her husband's funeral when her marriage hit bottom.

Spoiler alert: Don't read the rest just yet if you hate hearing how the movie ends before you watch it. Because you really should watch it.

Since then, Alisa has resurrected her marriage. She calls her great adventure Project Happily Ever After. And she has written a book about what worked for her. Like Alisa's friend Deb who told her to stop her bellyaching and do something, I hate unhappy marriages. And I hate unnecessary divorces. So I love being able to tell you about one more couple whose divorce seemed imminent but never happened, one more couple that can Enjoy Being Married.

October 31, 2010

And the Kindle Winner Is...

Rachel Cornell has won the Kindle I offered to the Enjoy Being Married newsletter subscriber who could add the most new subscribers during the month of October. She recruited more than the next two runners-up combined!

Rachel was highly motivated. She wrote a blog post explaining why; With Kindle, Legally Blind Can READ (I Want One)! In it, she wrote:

"A lot has changed since I broke the spines on new books and tore the pages out. My computer talks emails, reads PDF files and ebooks out loud to me. I download audio books from the library right to my large-type blackberry. I give my blackberry voice commands. All this is a thrill, but nothing can compare to my excitement in the possibility of being able to have a WHOLE BOOKSTORE nearly completely accessible to me, in real time."

I am so glad to put this Kindle in her hands.

Rachel is known as the ProNagger, "Guaranteed to get you working on your book, blog, business, art, website, relationship, PR, health, future. I'm blind but I see thru your stuff."

She is not just an Enjoy Being Married newsletter subscriber and frequest teleclass participant; she is also my get-it-done coach. I highly recommend her Daily-Nag service. In just a few minutes a day, she got my rear end in gear and had me feeling great about accomplishing a tough goal. This Monday, November 1st, Rachel's launching a free "HabitBuilders" beta group, sure to be another huge success.

The two runners-up, each of whom also recruited quite a few new subscribers for the Enjoy Being Married newsletter, received a $10 Amazon gift certificate, so they can read some Kindle books on their PCs. In second place was Sara Shick of Pennsylvania, and close behind her was Cathy Haskins of New York.

To Rachel, Sara, and Cathy, and to all the other Enjoy Being Married subscribers who helped grow our mailing list, a big, big thank you! I am very glad I reached out to my subscribers instead of buying advertising, and I welcome all the new subscribers to attend some of our free teleclasses on how to enjoy being married. What a great group!

October 26, 2010

Marriage Central: Singapore Supports Its Marriages

A news report that 98% of couples in the island nation of Singapore are satisfied with their marriages sent me to a remarkable website, Marriage Central.

Singapore is home to 5 million people, making it a little smaller than the Philadelphia region where I live. They speak many languages, come from many parts of the globe, and practice many religions. And lots of them, apparently, reach out for help keeping their marriages strong.

Two thousand attend an annual two-day Marriage Convention. Two thousand attended this year's Real Love Works picnic, too. There is a section in the public library for marriage resources. And there are workshops in several languages for those planning a wedding or looking to make their marriage stronger.

Take a look! It's a great resource.

June 14, 2010

Enjoy Married Life More

This summer's Enjoy Being Married teleclasses are all scheduled now, and we have some really great topics coming up:

  • Less Drama, More Wow! (June 23)

  • If Momma Ain't Happy...(July 7)

  • Oxytocin and Your Marriage (July 21)

  • Ouch! That Stings! (August 11)

  • Keeping Your Marriage Strong When Money Gets Tight (September 8)

  • Going After Your Dreams, Even the Ones You Don't Share (September 22)

These are no-charge classes, open to the public, on how to enjoy married life. For call-in instructions, just subscribe to the Enjoy Being Married newsletter.

April 27, 2010

Finding More Love in the Same Old Marriage

How much easier to love someone you see infrequently and only for special occasions: dinners, shows, trips to the beach. Gratitude, respect, patience, generosity? You get them all, simply because your partner prepares for the event, expects a good time, and knows this might be his or her last time with you if things do not go well.

Dating has a lot going for it.

Of course, your partner expects the same from you. No off days. No competing interests, or there may never be another get-together.

Dating carries this constant risk. At first, the risk creates excitement, keeps you at the top of your game.

Great fun until you need more than a good time, until you need a strong partner through a financial crisis, comfort through a terrifying illness, a caring provider for your kids. Or until you must choose between being this sort of partner or someone less.

I once thought it would be easier to look for the love I needed by divorcing my husband and dating again. If this thought has crossed your mind, or if you want to make sure it never will, let's talk about how to find more love in your same old marriage.

For starters, how about getting your way more often, without become self-centered or withholding love? How about bringing gratitude, respect, patience, and generosity back into your marriage? How about growing as a person without growing apart?

Rather than cover these topics in this blog this time, I will do so by telephone, at no charge other than the cost of the call, at 9 pm eastern time on Wednesday, April 28, 2010. This way, I can get your feedback and your questions, which help me write more useful blog posts. To receive the call-in information, just sign up for my free Enjoy Being Married newsletter, which lists all my free teleclasses and how to participate in them.

April 10, 2010

A Marriage Retreat?

Barbara Sher has me thinking about a marriage retreat. The first, most obvious kind, is a couples retreat. Hold it in some quaint little out-of-the-way town with great bed and breakfasts or a country inn. Or on a warm and sunny island south of here.

But I don't do couples work. I do the-marriage-inside-your-head work. Make yourself happier and enjoy your marriage more work. Aha moment work.

So perhaps I should do a retreat for individuals. All women? All men? No. Not so good. We need to hear from each other how our hormones affect our perceptions.

And those in tenuous marriages don't really need intimate conversations with strangers who could accidentally become lovers.

So, a couples retreat. Without couples work. Would it work? What would make it work? I'm looking for ideas.

March 8, 2010

Better Protection than a Prenup

USA Today's Personal Finance section has an article today about the importance of prenups. Reporter Laura Petrecca cites Suze Orman, Elizabeth Gilbert, and matrimonial lawyers in support of the notion that prenuptial agreements protect a person entering a marriage from financial harm.

I can definitely see some instances where a prenuptial agreement makes sense, especially to protect children or other dependents who are not related to the new spouse. A prenup can also protect control of a business a spouse won't be contributing to, especially one closely tied to a person's reputation.

However, all prenups are predicated on a risk of a marital breakup. Most people with assets to protect very likely have a much smaller risk of divorce than the 40-50% across-the-board divorce rate so often cited. And this risk can be reduced even more.

For a lot less money than that prenup lawyer will demand, anyone can significantly reduce the probability of ever needing that agreement. Marriage education is available at every stage of a marriage -- from dating (How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk) through the engagement (PREP) and the wedding (The First Dance).

If problems arise after marriage, this blog has plenty of answers. There is also marriage education for those hit by infidelity (the Beyond Affairs Network), those whose spouse wants out (Divorce Busting®), and those whose marriage has become violent or threatening (Love without Hurt).

Marriages can be fortified before they reach the problem stage. There is marriage education for those who have forgotten to make time to date (10 Great Dates) and those in Empty Nests (Second Half). And there is the annual Smart Marriages Conference, where you can experience these programs and many, many more.

Most of these programs cost a good deal less than an hour of a lawyer's time. Participating sends a much more positive message of commitment than a request for a prenup (which, in itself, can reduce your risk of divorce). And it protects a lot more than assets, as preventing a divorce may also protect health, mental health, job performance, and the children's sense of security.

So here's my challenge to matrimonial lawyers: don't just protect your client after the divorce; protect him or her from divorce. Make a coupon for a local marriage education program part of your prenup package. And suggest the couple include include marriage education every 5 or 10 years right in their agreement.

February 26, 2010

Amarillo, Columbus, NW Arkansas, & Richmond Marriage Boost

Chik-fil-A does it again. The Marriage and Family Foundation, headed by Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy's son Bubba Cathy, just changed the future for married folks again. This time, it will be in Amarillo, TX, Columbus, GA, Northwest Arkansas, and Richmond, VA.

They surprised four pro-marriage groups with big grants, announcing them via a video stored on a digital camera mailed to each of the winners. You can watch the video they received on YouTube. They had a lot of fun making this announcement!

Thanks once again to the Smart Marriages newsletter for spreading the news.

The four organizations receiving the grants:

If you live near any of these and you're married or thinking of getting married, congratulations on your good fortune!

February 16, 2010

25 Relationship Bloggers Share Tips

I am not one of the 25 bloggers who wrote it, but I think you should see this. It's a free eBook called LOVEveryday: Thoughts on Loving Amidst the Chaos of Life. It's beautifully designed and has some wonderful ideas for making the rest of the year even more delightful than Valentine's Day.

Leave them a comment and tell them I sent you. I think we need more of these, and I want to be part of the next one! Enjoy.

February 5, 2010

Valentine's Gift Idea for Couples

How does this sound? Four to eight days in Orlando, Florida, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. Four pools, a spa, golf, tennis, volleyball, walking trails, and on-site babysitting service. Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios close by.

Plus a keynote by Five Love Languages author Gary Chapman. Another by Mars-Venus author John Gray. Michele Weiner-Davis' Divorce Busting Secrets. Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, on Erotic Intelligence. Harville Hendrix. Steven Stosny. Yakov Smirnoff after dinner. The latest marriage research presented by the researchers themselves. And workshops on porn, stepfamilies, how to keep your family together, how to recover from infidelity and abuse, Retrouvaille, marital sex as it ought to be, the Love Dare from the movie FireProof, African American marriage, money differences, becoming good husbands, Covey's Habits for families. And so much more - over 200 presenters in all.

If you are clergy or lay clergy, a social worker, a marriage therapist, a clinical psychologist, a teacher, or just someone who wants to help others save their marriages or build them right from the start, you can get certified in marriage education while you're there. And not in just one program, but almost every well-known marriage education curriculum. So many you can't possibly complete them all this year, but you will want to return year after year. And there is a good chance your profession offers continuing education credit for attending.

It's one of the most inexpensive conferences I attend, and there is a big discount if you attend together. The resort offers an incredibly low room rate, too. And the place will be packed with married couples like you and others who care deeply about the health of your marriage.

This is my idea of a great Valentine's gift! The Smart Marriages Conference takes place in July, and you cannot register for it yet. But now you know about it. So, visit the website, book your room at the Rosen Shingle Creek, print out the flyer, and request the brochure. Registration opens in March, and you will need the time to choose among all the offerings.

May I suggest a beautiful Valentine's Day card and a backrub with this wonderfully marriage-affirming gift?

Disclaimer: I receive no affiliate fees or other remuneration if you attend the Smart Marriages Conference. In fact, almost no one on the program does, either. If you take their certification training programs at the conference, you will most likely pay less than anywhere else they offer it. The entire enterprise is a coalition of people who care deeply about the success of your marriage, led by the totally amazing Diane Sollee.

January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions for My Marriage

I have two this year:

  1. Find more creative Third Alternatives when we disagree - We disagree a lot, so I will have lots of opportunity here. A good Third Alternative combines delighting my husband with getting what I want, always a pure delight. I intend to reach out to my creative friends and my readers to come up with even better alternative whenever we think there are just two and we don't agree on either of them.
  2. Finally launch self-study courses on our website - How does this improve my marriage? Well, first it means more income, so we can do more of the things we love doing together. But more importantly, it makes me smile, even gets me dancing around the office, and that delights my husband a whole lot more than any self-sacrificial dish washing or floor scrubbing.

Now I really want to hear from you. Is there anything you intend to do this year to give yourself a stronger, happier relationship with that terrific person you married or pledged your life to? Click on that Comments link and tell us!

December 28, 2009

Marriage Week Plans?

The week leading up to Valentine's Day (Sunday, February 14, 2010) is Marriage Week. Does your community group, mosque, church, temple, or synagogue have something planned? It might make the difference between a couple giving up on each other and a family staying together, growing strong.

The Smart Marriages website lists lots of Marriage Week ideas. How about sponsoring a college basketball game and celebrating married couples on the Jumbotron? How about a showing of the movie Fireproof? Or perhaps just publish a list of those couples in your group celebrating their 10th, 25th, 35th, or 50th anniversaries this year?

None of these is a huge amount of work, but any one of them could be enough to help several couples over a rough spot in their marriage. When their sisters, brothers, or friends get stuck in a marital problem years later, your efforts will make a difference again. When the children of these couples begin dating, what happened when they were kids will affect their choices. When they marry, it may mean their kids get to be inspired by attending their grandparents' fiftieth anniversary celebration.

Let me know with a comment what you have planned this February.

October 10, 2009

Define Fair Class for Business Partner Couples

Whether you call yourselves copreneurs, couplepreneuers, or a mom and pop business, every relationship feels unfair at times, and so does every business partnership.

How can you tell for sure when it's time to get out? How can you get your mate to carry more of an unjust load? How do you balance child care and cooking against cold-calling and bookkeeping? How can you work things out when you disagree? I will answer these questions and more on Friday, October 23, 2009, as part of Copreneur Camp.

Define Fair, my one-hour teleclass, begins at 1:45pm Eastern (12:45pm Central, 11:45am Mountain, 10:45am Pacific). You can join in by phone or computer.

Copreneur Camp is basic training for dating or married couples, same-sex or man-woman, who run a business together.

Registration for two full days of webinars is just $29, and you can easily get a $5 discount. See the Copreneur Camp registration form on the website.

Are you in business as a couple? How has fairness been an issue in your business or personal relationship? Please share what's worked for you and what you're still hoping for an answer to.

September 5, 2009

Make Yourself Happier: Imagine Never Having Met

The How of Happiness author Sonja Lyubomirsky explains one way to add some delight to your relationship.

Take the next 15 to 20 minutes to describe in writing how you might never have met your partner, how you might never have started dating, and how you might not have ended up together. What little twists of fate might have kept you two from becoming a permanent couple?

If you can't see this making you happier, you're in good company. Neither could the people in the research she reports. Surprise! Give it a try. It's shown to make happy people with good or great romantic partnerships even happier about those partnerships.

For Ed and me, it's easy to imagine never getting together. We passed like ships in the night at least three times that we know of before discovering each other. Even after we met in person, our expectations were so different we almost missed having a second meeting. After we became a couple, we discovered we had two dozen friends in common who had never thought to introduce us.

We were lucky. Sometimes, when the little annoyances of day-to-day life weigh on my mind, I forget this. Remembering really does cheer me up. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

July 21, 2009

Today at 3 Eastern: One Roast Vegetable

Please join me today at 3 pm Eastern (2 Central, 1 Mountain, noon Pacific) when I do a guest teleclass for the marvelous One Roast Vegetable community.

Enjoy Being Married: How to Turn Marriage Problems Around in a Flash

Sign up at right now. On that page, click on the Free Teleclass link. You can submit your questions at the same time you register. And you can join the call live or listen to the recording. You will get a link to the recording shortly after the live call ends.

I'm looking forward to answering your questions. Please join us.

July 16, 2009

Spontaneously Boring Spouses

"My husband never plans anything fun. If we take a vacation, travel to visit family or even go out on a date, it's because I came up with the idea and made all the arrangements myself. If I left things to him, we would never do anything unless we could do it right now, right here, in whatever clothes we're already wearing. And it's not just him. Most of my friends avoid planning anything, too. If I don't set a date, make the reservations and figure out who's driving, nothing happens."

Sound familiar? If you want to know why you get stuck with the planning, what it says about your relationship, and how to make a change, get yourself a copy of the August 2009 issue of Going Bonkers? magazine. My article is on page 29. This issue contains a bunch of other great relationship articles and one by Wayne Dyer on changing your self-defeating thinking habits, too.

If you can't find Going Bonkers? at Borders, Barnes & Noble, or Books-a-Million, let me know, and I'll help you get your hands on a copy.

June 19, 2009

Orlando Marriage Booster

Saturday, July 11, 2009 will be a great day for Orlando-area husbands, wives, and single people who hope to marry or remarry. This year's Smart Marriages® Conference will be in town, and its 17 Saturday seminars are open to the public.

The price for any of these 90-minute sessions is just $15. This also includes admission to all the SmartMarriages exhibits, where you might run into some of the big-name marriage authors attending the conference: John Gray, Gary Chapman. Michele Weiner-Davis, Harville Hendrix, Howard Markman, Steven Stosny, Pat Love, and many more.

The seminars all start at 4 pm, so you've got time to see SeaWorld or Universal Studios first or to finish your Saturday chores.

The 90-minute Saturday seminars are taught by Scott Haltzman (author of Secrets of Happily Married Men and Secrets of Happily Married Women), John VanEpp (author of How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk), and Helen LaKelly Hunt (author of Receiving Love), for starters. If you choose The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Families, you can bring your 9-18 year old kids for free.

Some of the other seminars include Hot Latin Lovers: Latino Marriage, 10 Great Dates for Black Couples , Money Habitudes: The Last Taboo, and Marital Sex As it Ought to Be.

All the rest of the conference, including talks and workshops by all those big names, is open to the public, too. So visit this page to learn about the $15 seminars, then check out all the rest of this week-long event at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando.

June 18, 2009

Love Blindness

Remember falling in love? Remember how love blinded you to little things like the food wrappers and empty water bottles in his car or her need to stop at every rest area you passed? Remember noticing instead how hard he worked to raise money for that dog shelter or how she made your cranky old grandfather laugh so unselfconsciously and feeling blown away that this terrific person would choose you?

Love goes right on blinding us. Eventually, her playfulness and great sense of humor get noticed only when she takes them a step too far and makes your boss uncomfortable. His generosity gets noticed only when he loans money to a friend you know will never pay it back.

If you could actually see those great qualities as they get played out month after month and year after year in a million different ways, you would regain some of the awe and desire you felt back then. And you might be blinded to other things, like how often you're eating that same, unexciting potato salad with dinner or looking at sweaty workout clothes lying on top of the hamper.

You two have got a lot of living still ahead of you. How can you prepare to remember the really great stuff and feel so great again? Stories! If you write them, you can read them later. Read them often enough, and you'll be able to tell them from memory. You will have them at the tip of your tongue when you assume love and look for other versions of the distressing story of the moment.

Share these stories with your kids, and you'll give them valuable lessons in how to love, as well as strong confirmation of what great people they are descended from. There's a good chance they will share them with their own kids or grandkids, too, if you make it easy for them.

I'm no expert on writing these family stories in a way that makes them fun to read and share, but I know someone who is. Personal history author Beth LaMie offers free teleclasses on documenting family stories. Put your name on her mailing list; she announces at least two new classes every month, even when she fails to list them on the website.

Beth also has a terrific new book on how to write your stories. She will help you use all five senses to recognize stories worth writing and show you how to make them interesting to read again and again. As a bonus, if you have kids, you will find many tips to engage them in writing your family's stories, too.

Beth will have you reliving the surge of love that brought you two together and creating the legacy that will get you through some big challenges down the road. Think of it as marriage insurance.

March 19, 2009

Men, Women, Love, Respect

In one of those fascinating blogs I never would have run across any other way, I found my review of Emerson Eggerichs' book Love & Respect reprinted last week.

The author of Suzanne's Bookshelf, Suzanne McCarthy, wrote a six-party series on the book, especially the author's claims to a basis in the Bible for the idea that women seek love and men seek respect.

I think Suzanne and I, were we to meet, could have a grand time debunking phony gender differences. I went to MIT, after all, back when male students outnumbered female students fifteen to one. Did any of the faculty back then imagine the class of 2012 could have more women than men in it if we stopped believing women don't have the same capacity as men for math and science?

As a marriage educator, though, I think this claimed difference, that men need respect from their mates as fiercely as women need love, is one worth paying attention to. And it doesn't matter whether it is true of all men and all women. What matters is that it may be true in your marriage and, if it is, the difference matters.

My take on Love & Respect when I read the book was similar to Suzanne's. I want respect, too. Who doesn't? And I know my husband wants love. So where's the difference?

Shortly after, though, I heard the author speak at a Smart Marriages conference to a couple thousand pastors, marriage educators, pre-Cana teachers, relationship therapists, social workers, and married folks whose careers or part-time volunteer work involve teaching marriage skills. Just about half of them were men.

It was the sheer volume of the response when Eggerichs asked these people about what mattered in their own marriages that brought his message home.

None there would contend women do not seek or should not get respect, or that men don't need love. But when asked how different acts made them feel, the men as a group made it abundantly clear how critical respect is to their sense of the relationship with their wife.

The sort of respect Eggerichs spoke of might be better understood by us women as trust. Not compliance with a husband's wishes or kowtowing to his goals or methods but showing trust as a way of showing our love, because men value it at a different level from us.

It means spotting the difference between our real fears and the ones that come from our what-if thinking and comparisons to other men with different strengths. A wife's lack of trust cuts to the very core of the relationship. We ought to save it for those real fears.

Fearing a husband's alcohol-fueled rage is quite appropriate. Let him know it's not acceptable and get yourself out of harm's way. Fearing and refusing a directive to do something against your best interests is also definitely legit.

But, for a very common example, fearing how he's driving when he's had a decade or two of accident-free driving and most likely cares deeply about your safety is going to come across as a serious lack of trust (or respect for his driving skills and his intentions). Calm yourself instead of criticizing him, and you strengthen the bond between you.

Rolling your eyes when he tells you of his plan to earn money to support his family may get him to think about another approach, but it will also chip away at the bond between you.

Yes, the same is true in reverse. Yet the volume of the men's and women's responses at that talk to marriage educators tells me there's a definite gender difference in the degree of harm done.

Eggerichs' air hose analogy really fits. Respect matters to us women, too, but we can only understand the degree of panic a lack of respect causes for most men by recalling how we feel when we believe we are no longer loved.

We women need to know that if we decide we cannot respect a man who no longer appears to loves us, it's all over but the divorce papers. If we are married to a man like the large majority of the 1,000 or so men in that audience, none of that other love stuff we do to preserve the marriage -- the talks, the dates, the sex, the gifts, the special meals, the concessions -- is likely to matter while we're stepping on the respect air hose.

Of course, this is the same as when a man refuses to show love because he's not getting respect. He's not going to win us back just by trusting our judgment or praising our contribution to the kids' wellbeing. For most women, this sort of respect is very nice, but we need love. If you are one of these women, consider the possibility you are married to one of those men. Give respect a try. See what happens.

February 24, 2009

Happy Marriages Start with Happy Partners

One thing I learned from screwing up my first marriage is that happy marriages start with happy partners. It's not the other way around. As much as your mate might want to add to your happiness, he or she cannot make you happy when you are not.

In my second marriage, Barbara Sher's book Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want has been a big part of our efforts to find our own happiness and support each other's. This wonderful book came out 30 years ago, and it is still so popular that a special 30th anniversary edition comes out on March 24th.

I met Barbara Sher in 2004, at a PBS donors workshop in Bethlehem, PA. Immediately, I signed up to coach others using the techniques in Wishcraft, through something she calls Success Teams. My next team, eight weeks of workshops following Barbara's great program that will start you on a lifetime of successfully going after your dreams (no self-improvement or positive thinking required), is a telephone team, so anyone can participate.

Whether you join a Success Team or work through Wishcraft on your own, it's a fabulous program for getting past your procrastination and self-defeating stories about why you can't do what you love. And Barbara Sher plans to celebrate the 30th anniversary edition in a big way. She's offering prizes to those who join her, plus a giant, worldwide, 24-hour Idea Party to figure out ways to get you where you want to go, which begins the evening of March 23 for those of us in US time zones (all day March 24 UTC / Zulu / Greenwich Mean Time).

Recent research into happiness shows the pleasure of a box of chocolates, a bunch of flowers, or a massage is short-lived. More effective are a career or hobby that engages you daily and a life of meaning, in which you bring your talents to a cause greater than yourself. You owe it to yourself and the man or woman who loves you to find a way to do what you love.

February 8, 2009

Great Couples Book: The Usual Error

Pace and Kyeli Smith have knocked one out of the park with their new couples communication book, The Usual Error: Why We Don't Understand Each Other and 34 Ways to Make It Better.

What is the Usual Error? It is the very normal, very human, big-trouble-creating mistake we all make. It is assuming that others think like us, would react like us, or value the same things we do. When we do this, we get ourselves into all sorts of love-squelching communications problems.

While showing you how to spot these errors and fix them, Pace and Kyeli offer code names for them, so you can defuse a situation quickly. They provide wonderful little vignettes of how they have cropped up in their lives and how they now handle them. And they offer some great techniques for dealing with the big ones.

The book has four sections: communication dynamics, boundaries, turning conflict into communication, conflict resolution, and positivity. The chapters in each section are short, fun to read, and immediately useful.

I love their third alternative to peacefulness (avoiding all conflict to be nice) and violence (overstepping boundaries to protect what's rightfully yours). They call it fierceness. It is the assertive middle ground so many of us need help finding.

I also delight in their answer to indecision, trust your future self, and their approach to handling verbal attacks, verbal aikido.

The illustrations, by Martin Whitmore, are illuminating and fun. You cannot find this book in most bookstores, but you can order The Usual Error online or learn more about it at the Usual Error website.

January 30, 2009

What Managers Need to Know about Marriage

I will be speaking about managing married employees on Wednesday, February 11, 2009, in Philadelphia. If you are a manager, a supervisor, or a trainer, I promise lots of useful ideas. I hope you will come to this meeting of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Why should managers care? Because unhappy marriages tank productivity and breakups cost employers money. Because your company secrets and your company's reputation are at stake when execs' marriages go bad. And because there is a lot you can do without prying into employees' personal affairs or turning into their marriage counselors, and all of it will directly benefit job performance.

What do I know about corporate productivity and training? In addition to being a trained marriage educator, I am a Certified Performance Technologist with 34 years of experience working for IBM, J&J, AT&T, Chase Bank, and many other corporations.

The meeting, which includes a buffet dinner, runs from 6:00 to 8:30 PM on Wednesday, February 11, 2009. Join us at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA. Save $5.00 by registering before noon on February 10th.

I hope you will introduce yourself at the meeting. I would love to meet you.

January 29, 2009

Did Fireproof Change Your Marriage?

Have you seen the movie Fireproof? It's worth a watch, and it's now out on DVD. It's the story of a couple rediscovering each other and the meaning of commitment through a 40-day "Love Dare" from the husband's father.

If you have seen it, and it has changed your marriage, Gary Chapman, author of the fantastic book The Five Love Languages, is offering you a chance at a great prize. The contest ends February 3, 2009. The grand prize is a trip to one of his conferences with your spouse, plus the book and the DVD of the movie.

Let me know if you win!

October 11, 2008

Hispanic Marriage Day October 12th

Tomorrow is National Hispanic Marriage Day (Festival Nacional del Matrimonio Hispano-Latino), with events scheduled in Sacramento, California and Dallas, Texas. UNIVISION Radio Dallas is a sponsor. Tune in if you're in the area.

The Orange County (CA) Register reports, from a survey of 2,000 Californians:
"While just 57 percent of the general population said they want to get married, 75 percent of Latino respondents said they do."

Unfortunately, nearly half the Latinos respondents say the high likelihood of divorce makes marriage too risky. One in three Latinos never marries, twice the rate of non-Latinos.

Let those couples whose marriages stand as models for the rest of us know. And, if you're not married, consider offering to babysit so a married couple with kids can celebrate their marriage with a date on October 12th.

October 9, 2008

Join the Tribe of Well-Loved Husbands and Wives

Last Saturday, I received a wonderful treat in the mail. Seth Godin sent me an advance copy of his new book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, due for release on October 16th. In the tradition of his earlier books, it's short, a great read, highly inspirational, and the sort of book that gets you thinking, rather than telling you what to do.

What it's got me thinking of are ways to reach out to other wives and husbands and life partners who long to be well-loved. There are so many of us. Seth writes, "[i]t takes only two things to turn a group into a tribe:

  • A shared interest

  • A way to communicate"

I invite you to communicate with comments on this blog and by asking questions and sharing your viewpoints in the teleclasses I offer through Our shared interest, how to be well-loved, provides plenty to talk about. And we need each other, because it's way too easy to slip into thinking the only answer is to turn our partners into someone other than who they are: the very people who committed themselves to us.

We need many leaders. We need family leaders, the folks who reach out to troubled spouses in their extended families to help them find their way through trying times. We need leaders among marriage educators and marriage counselors. We need leaders at work, too, who create marriage-friendly workplaces through policies and practices and training in the skills we need for relationships both at work and at home. Seth writes:

"Managers are the cynical ones. Managers are pessimists because they've seen it before and they believe they've already done it as well as it can be done. Leaders, on the other hand, have hope. Without it, there is no future to work for."

Your job title might be manager (or trainer), but your role can be leader.

Seth also says:

"I think most people have it upside down. Being charismatic doesn't make you a leader. Being a leader makes you charismatic."

We need you to lead us. Read the book. Join the tribe of well-loved husbands, wives, and life partners. Stand up for lasting, loving relationships. Help those in your life to Assume Love, Expect Love, and Find Third Alternatives.

July 1, 2008

My Spouse Acts Like He (She) Hates Me!

My article,
My Spouse Acts Like He (She) Hates Me!
When You No Longer Feel Loved,
in the Summer issue of Going Bonkers? The self-help magazine with a sense of humor, will be in bookstores on July 3rd.

Which bookstores? Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, Hastings Books, and independent bookstores like Doylestown Bookshop. Some outlets may not carry the magazine, and some may run out, so please ask a sales clerk if you have any trouble locating a copy.

It looks like a really great issue, with 29 feature articles on relationships, motivation, personality disorders, getting unstuck, and more, plus lots of shorter pieces and cartoons. Mine is the lead article on the cover, in case you want to look for it.

December 31, 2007

Where I Disappeared To

I haven't posted here in almost six weeks. Where was I? Creating a new website, I hope you'll come check it out.

It has a resource directory of do-it-yourself marriage education resources (books, DVDs, CDs, games, etc.) from many sources. It lists my upcoming teleclasses. And soon it will have podcasts and eBooks for you to download. I want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to enjoy being married.

November 10, 2007

Divorce Prevention Holiday

How would you like to learn to keep your marriage going strong through thick and thin while saving money on a San Francisco vacation this summer? That's what I'm planning to do.

I've been to an earlier Smart Marriages Conference, so I can't wait for the jam-packed program to arrive in my mailbox for this one. I'll be taking some of my favorite marriage education books with me for autographs, because many of the authors will be there. And I'll be at all the keynotes, because I had such a good time at the ones in 2006 and came away wiser to boot.

What's especially exciting about the 2008 conference? It's in San Francisco, and the hotel, a Hilton, is only $115 a night, a 60% discount off their AARP/AAA rates. The location is attracting plenty of big names -- Gary Chapman, John Gray, Steven Stosny, Harville Hendrix, Howard Markman and Scott Stanley, the founders of Marriage Savers, the co-author of Tony Robbins' new marriage course, even the author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence.

The price is very low, $355 for the whole thing, $185 a day, or $15 per seminar for the Saturday afternoon sessions. There are big discounts for students, your spouse, and people from one community or organization who sign up as a group. If you're a social worker, marriage and family therapist, psychologist, counselor, or family life educator, you can even earn continuing education credits while you pick up tips on how to make your marriage as wonderful as you hoped it would be.

The main conference runs from the evening of July 2 through the evening of July 5, 2008. There are additional classes before and after to get yourself certified as a marriage educator in a large number of proven marriage education programs.

If this interests you, put yourself on the mailing list for the conference brochure listing the 150 or so workshops, seminars, and keynotes. You might also want to make your reservations at the Hilton before then.

November 5, 2007

Teleclasses: Enjoy Being Married

Want to learn more about how to enjoy being married, including how to assume love and how to find the third alternative in a disagreement? Phone in to my free teleclasses, offered twice a month. We cover a different topic in each one.

To subscribe to the monthly Enjoy Being Married newsletter, which includes the teleclass schedule for the month, send an email to You should immediately receive a reply by email. It will include a link to click on, to confirm it wasn't some someone else who sent us your email address.

Check your inbox for this confirmation message. As soon as you confirm, the latest newsletter will be mailed to you right away. If either of these doesn't show up within 15 minutes, be sure to check your junk mail or spam folder.

October 8, 2006

Love & Respect

Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs, a book by Emerson Eggerichs, makes an excellent observation. Many a woman feels as if her air has been cut off when she feels unloved by her husband, but a man is more likely to feel this way when he feels he's lost his wife's respect. And to make matters worse, women tend to disrespect husbands who don't love them, and men tend to withhold love from wives when they feel disrespected. Eggerichs calls it the Crazy Cycle.

His book offers advice to couples who want to break out of their Crazy Cycle. Lots of books offer advice on how to show love, but few tell how to show respect to a loved one, and I've heard from a lot of men who confirm there's an important difference.

I think it's unfortunate that Dr. Eggerichs, a Protestant minister, chose to bolster his proposals for improving marriage with fragments of verses from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Many come from passages unrelated to his subject and appear to be wrestled into service of his ideas, which would stand quite nicely on their own. He's also going to lose a few readers by emphasizing what he sees as the husband's proper role as head of the family.

But don't let those deter you if they don't fit your religious beliefs. This book offers some important insights not offered elsewhere. Run them past your spouse and see if they'll make your marriage stronger.

Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs. Emerson Eggerichs. Brentwood, Tennessee: Integrity Publishers, 2004. 240 pages.

July 4, 2006

Smart Marriages Conference

Wow! I spent a week in Atlanta at the 2006 Smart Marriages Conference in June. It was my first one, but the 10th anniversary of this truly remarkable gathering. Organizer Diane Sollee brought together 2,263 people who share the goal of better marriages.

Continue reading "Smart Marriages Conference" »

June 3, 2006

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

One of the most widely read and cited books on marriage is The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, Ph.D., and Nan Silver.

Gottman can predict whether a couple will divorce after watching and listening to them for only five minutes. His predictions are correct 91% of the time. He watches for four things as they try to resolve an ongoing disagreement. Here's what tells him a couple is likely to divorce:
1. A harsh startup to the discussion
2. The "Four Horsemen" of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling
3. Flooding (feeling so overwhelmed that you avoid further discussion)
4. Body language indicating a fight-or-flight response
5. Failed repair attempts
6. Bad memories (rewritten history of their relationship)

The antidote, Gottman claims, is a strong friendship between husband and wife. This helps them remember, when things go badly, that they are dealing with a friend. Gottman claims that 69% of all marital conflicts don't get resolved, perhaps can't be resolved. Those who enjoy their marriages find playful and supportive ways of dealing with these differences.

His Seven Principles emphasize Emotional Intelligence and friendship. Each one comes with a set of exercises. Couples who do them together will build Emotional Intelligence skills and strengthen their friendship with each other.

Those who already Assume Love will find it much easier to master Gottman's Seven Principles. They will also have a great tool for fighting off the Four Horsemen: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. John M. Gottman, Ph.D., and Nan Silver. New York: Crown, 1999. 288 pages.

April 11, 2006

You Don't Have to Take It Anymore

I've just finished reading You Don't Have to Take It Anymore: Turn Your Resentful, Angry, or Emotionally Abusive Relationship into a Compassionate, Loving One by Steven Stosny, PhD. What a great resource for anyone in a marriage where they are walking on eggshells!

Stosny, a psychologist who runs programs for abusive men, credits his abused mother for suggesting the core of his program. He identifies resentment as the problem and compassion as the solution.

Continue reading "You Don't Have to Take It Anymore" »

March 7, 2006

Fighting for Your Marriage

I strongly recommend Fighting for Your Marriage by Howard J. Markman, Scott M. Stanley, and Susan L. Blumberg. A new and revised version was published in 2001 by Jossey-Bass.

Assume Love can be the first step on the road to a happier marriage, but it should not be the last step. The PREP program taught in this book can improve your marriage even more. PREP stands for Prevention and Relationship Enhancement. The course benefits both engaged couples and those seeking a better marriage.

They list four hallmarks of a great relationship:

  1. Be safe at home.
  2. Open the doors to initimacy.
  3. Do your part and be responsible.
  4. Nurture security in your future together.

PREP, a well-researched program, works best for couples who can do the exercises together. If your spouse isn't yet ready to work with you on the marriage, you'll find some useful ideas that you can use on your own. Just remember not to add Markman, Stanley, and Blumberg's advice to your list of things your spouse "should" do. That would erode, rather than help, your marriage.

Fighting for Your Marriage. Howard J. Markman, Scott M. Stanley, and Susan L. Blumberg. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001. 374 pages.

February 14, 2006

The Five Love Languages

The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, was first published in 1992. It's been republished twice and widely read. There's even a special edition for men.

In case you've missed it, Chapman explains five different ways that we love and like to be loved. Knowing them makes it easier to recognize when your spouse is offering love that might not look like love to you and to find the words to ask for what you want. The five are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Gary Chapman. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2004. 203 pages.

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

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