Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Never Ignore a Theme

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Have you ever been going along your merry way and out of the blue, a theme begins to emerge?

That’s what happened to me.

I was thinking about this blog, and was about to go a very different direction when several things from the pile on my desk began to thread together and look like something. Hmmmmm. What is that about, I wondered?

It all started when I came across the New York Times listing of the 10 Most Viewed Articles of 2006. I’ll show you the top three on the list…

1) What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage
2) The 10 Best Books of 2006
3) Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish they Had) Before Marrying

Interesting. Of all the articles that people chose to view in the New York Times, two out of the top three involved marriage. Wow, now you have my attention!
My next stop was to read the number one article.

What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage by Amy Sutherland

Delightful. Well written. Fun. And you can find it here. (But read the rest of this blog and comment first!)

Turns out while researching a book she was writing about a school for exotic animal trainers, Amy started to make comparisons between what trainers could accomplish with wild animals like hyenas and baboons and what she might accomplish with some of the incompatible behaviors she was experiencing in her marriage. Her key insight came from watching a dolphin trainer who taught her about L.R.S – Least Reinforcing Syndrome.

But wait, before you head for that article…one more tidbit.

Around the thinkmarriage offices, there is a well-loved movie from the 60’s called “If a Man Answers.” This movie, starring Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin, follows what happens when a mother gives her daughter advice on how to train her husband using a dog training book. Come on…can you ever lose when you watch a Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin movie?

The bottom line is: we can learn a lot from our friends in the animal kingdom when it comes to healthy relationships and marriage. I’d write more, but I have the irresistible urge to go to the zoo.

Enjoy the Shamu article and don’t forget to leave a comment on this blog!

(If you are coming here from the newsletter and looking for the 50 year, coffee table hint…see the blog prior to this one! AND don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter, just send an email to and put; send me the newsletter in the subject line!


Michael said...

I agree with you 100% on "If A Man Answers"--you can't lose with a Sandra Dee/Bobby Darin movie, and this is probably their best. Nice to see it getting a mention, particularly in such an interesting context.

Dedicated to the Life, Legend and Legacy of Bobby Darin

The Foundation for a Great Marriage said...

Well, Michael, nice to get a comment from such an interesting source! Isn't it refreshing to see the worlds of marriage and movies collide in such a positive way! :O)
Hopefully your readers can take what they learn from this fun movie and explore all the great resources at
Thanks for finding us!

Kristina Erdmann said...

That article was awesome I am going to have to try her techniques to train my husband to stop obsessing and working on his car--hmmmmmmm---how would I do that??

The Foundation for a Great Marriage said...

Hi Kristina,
Well this seems like a perfect time to experiment with LRS...
the Least Reinforcing System!
Of course you're not talking about a bad behavior...just one that you don't share an interest in. about you go to a car show and while he's looking around, you do some heavy duty shopping in the town and then you convene in the evening for a wonderful dinner together! Anyone have any ideas for Kristina?

Anonymous said...

Great article.
It really does make since.. this can even works on children and co workers. Thanks for the laughs and great information.


The Foundation for a Great Marriage said...

Hi Melissa...
Children and co workers yes! Great idea! Thanks for the encouragement and please blog often!

Maribeth said...

thanks for the great article(s) Michele! And now I won't feel guilty anymore about not helping my husband find his car keys...

The Foundation for a Great Marriage said...

Hi Maribeth,
Oh the joy of one less thing to do! Thanks for the encouragement...and Go Shamu!

Kristina said...

Hi Michelle,
Thanks for your response! My issue is more with the fact that we have three kiddies, and when he gets home from work, he'll go straight out in the garage and work on his car. I understand that is his escape...I haven't made my sarcastic comments as the article told us to refrain from, and he has been going out there about half of the time as he used to!
Thanks for posting that article it really helped.

PS It does work on kid's I tried it on my 1 yr old and 2.5 yr old, and there whining habits have subsided significantly.

The Foundation for a Great Marriage said...

Hi Kristina...
Half the time is on the right track right? I would also encourage you to check out our class calendar on our website and attend a class on marriage. While there can sharpen your communication skills and conflict resolutions skills and along the way, have a good way to "talk about" these types of things that you'd like to be able to both feel good about. Good news about the kids...and they're so can benefit from this for years! Keep blogging..getting your ideas out there is always good too!