Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This blog has moved

This blog has been moved to
the thinkmarriage.org main page

This blog still acts as an archive. All current blog entries will be posted on thinkmarriage.org

Thank you

Friday, March 04, 2011


A new twist on “Home Economics?”

Spousanomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes

By Paula Szuchman, and Jenny Anderson – (Random House; February 2011)

Since its recent release, this book has been soaking up gallons of ink in newspapers, magazines and blogs. No, we haven’t read it yet, but with the upcoming event “Loving Every Minute with You” - And finding more time for “Us” on our spring calendar, the subject naturally piqued our interest.

To begin, the authors ask:

“Have you ever gone to the “dark place” after a fight about who does the dishes more often?

Do you worry that your job is destroying your marriage?

Have you ever sat up at night, remembering how much more fun married life used to be?”

(From www.spousanomics.com)

Let’s just assume that many couples could answer “unfortunately, yes” to at least one of these questions at some point in their marriage.

So what comes next?

“Spousonomics” looks at every marriage as “its own little economy with a finite number of resources” (hours in the day, money, sex drive, patience, skill, etc.).

Makes sense….

The practical solution, according to the authors, is to apply “bedrock economic principles” to the home front (thereby maximizing the returns on the largest investment of your life), such as:

  • Division of Labor (Or, Why You Should Do the Dishes)
  • Incentives (Or, Getting Your Spouse to Do What You Want)
  • Trade-offs (Or, The Art of Getting Over It)
  • Supply and Demand (Or, How to Have More Sex)
  • Moral Hazard (Or, the Too-Big-to-Fail Marriage)

It works, some say, because it “doesn't discriminate between the sexes, and eliminates many of those who's 'right' and who's 'wrong' judgmental arguments.”

Postulating that the principles of economics can be the key to marital bliss is indeed an interesting twist. We’ll follow-up with some more details, but for now, we’d love to hear your initial reactions.

Friday, February 25, 2011

$eeds of Prosperity

$eeds of Prosperity

for farm and family

March 5 & 6, 2011

10:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m.

From dealing with economic challenges to having more than one generation in on financial decisions, the pressures for farm families are distinct from other families.

“When your “job” is in your backyard and your career is a way of life, prosperity has a different definition,” said Jami Kaiser, Marathon County Director for thinkmarriage.org

Jami sat down with the Brownfield Ag News for America in Marshfield and discussed the issues and the upcoming “$eeds of Prosperity” workshop designed especially for farming couples. Listen to the interview here: http://brownfieldagnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Kaiser.mp3

“Money and finances are among the top “hot spots” in many marriages. And today’s economic climate hasn’t helped…especially for farming families,” Kaiser said.

What can help is learning how to:

  • talk about financial matters constructively;
  • identify your goals both collectively and individually;
  • reduce conflict and increase understanding;
  • work together toward more productive solutions.

“To be clear, this is not a financial seminar, Kaiser said. “Nor is it about how to handle your finances. It is a special workshop specifically designed to help farming couples learn how to effectively deal with the unique challenges of financial and farm issues.”

Thought provoking, non-judgmental and upbeat, the “$eeds of Prosperity workshop examines the emotional connection couples have in handling financial matters; identifies some of the most common roadblocks; and provides valuable insight into individual perspectives.

“Designed to acknowledge the deep pride and rich traditions of family farming, the upcoming “$eeds of Prosperity” workshop helps couples increase peace in their family, and provides an opportunity to work together, as partners, toward greater prosperity,” Kaiser said.

The workshop is held at the Holiday Inn & Suites on 1000 Imperial Avenue in Rothschild.

  • For couples who must get home for chores, there is the Workshop Package for only $67/per couple and includes all events, materials, and lunch.
  • For couples who would like to get away, the Hotel Package is only $167/per couple and includes all events, materials and lunch PLUS overnight stay and entertainment.
  • Financial assistance is available, and the first five couples to register will receive a $50 gas card FREE!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions

Christmas is over and the New Year is just around the corner. Thinking of resolutions?
This week is a great time to prioritize that list.

#1: Start with the one you love.

For more insight and resources, visit thinkmarriage.org and click on the “classes” link. The new year will bring a host of great resources ranging from our upcoming webinar on the Power of Listening to our Valentine’s Day retreat celebration: “LOVE Language”– featuring psychologist Dr. Jennifer Thomas, co-author of the book The Five Languages of Apology, written with Dr. Gary Chapman, New York Times best-selling author of The Five Love Languages.

Below are five time-honored suggestions from a recent feature on WebMD.com.

What would you add to the list?

Get Closer to Your Mate

By Sherry Rauh, WebMD Feature; Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD

Whether you're nurturing a budding romance or you've been married since the first lunar landing, you can have a more committed, loving, and fulfilling relationship -- if you're willing to do a little work. Not sure where to start? WebMD consulted with top relationship experts to bring you this set of intimacy-building tips.

L-I-S-T-E-N…just listen.

All of our experts agree on this point -- listening, truly listening, can reduce conflict, boost trust, and lead to a more satisfying partnership. Listening may sound simple, but it requires more than being in the same room while your better half is speaking. Signal that you care by turning off the television, offering your undivided attention and making eye contact. And don't forget to follow up on what you hear.

This is particularly important when your partner is upset. If you listen carefully, you are more likely to understand the problem and find a way to help. This can take practice, according to Steve Brody, PhD, author of Renew Your Marriage at Midlife. "Practice listening in less-loaded relationships, like with customers at work or friends on the phone," Brody suggests. "After building up listening muscle in those less-challenging relationships, the weight of your partner becoming unglued won't be as overwhelming."

Focus on the Relationship Positives

"When you first meet someone, you pay attention to all the things you like," says Kate Wachs, PhD, a Chicago psychologist and author of Relationships for Dummies. "As time goes on, you start to take that for granted and instead you focus on what bothers you. If the relationship becomes more negative than positive, you break up."

The solution is to make a conscious effort to focus on the things you like about your partner. "Your partner has many good qualities, as well as things that drive you crazy," Brody says. "Look for [the positives] and drink those in. Jot them down to remember them."

Stop Nagging

Nagging not only creates tension, it usually gets you nowhere. "If you're nagging, your partner will tune you out," Wachs tells WebMD. "If someone isn't giving you what you want, think about what you are doing. It's not working. What can you do instead? Have a dialogue ... Instead of saying what you don't like, say what you would prefer. Give alternatives."

When making a request that could be seen as nagging, take the edge off by expressing appreciation for your partner's good qualities. "Give 20 positives whenever you want to ask for a change," Wachs says. Your partner will be more motivated to please you if he or she feels appreciated.

Spend More Time Together

You've probably heard the idea before -- make dates and keep them. Putting couple time on your calendar reinforces your sense of dedication to each other. "Couples benefit when they feel commitment," Peter A. Wish, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Don't Stop at Green Lights: Every Woman's Guide to Taking Charge of Her Life and Fulfilling Her Dreams, tells WebMD. "Make these private times special by not including others."

But don't make the mistake of limiting your interaction to designated couple time. Try to enjoy each other's company for at least a few minutes every day, especially first thing in the morning, at the end of the workday and right before bed. "At those times talk about positive things," Wachs says. "It makes a big impression." Make a special point of greeting each other at the end of the workday. If you're home first, stop what you're doing when your partner arrives and spend a moment together. "Act like [he or she] is important," Wachs advises, "not just the postman stopping by with the mail."

Touch More Often

Physical communication is as important as emotional communication in a relationship. It relieves tension and shows your partner that you care. "Physically being in contact with your partner breaks through a lot of ice," Wachs says. "Go out of your way to kiss and hug during the day. Always sleep together in the same bed. Just assume you're going to have sex every night. It's hard to fight if you're having great sex."

Thursday, December 09, 2010

12 Ways to Celebrate Your Relationships this Holiday Season

Remember to laugh, love and reconnect

By Susan Dutton Freund, thinkmarriage.org

For most of us, the holiday season is about spending time with friends and family and enjoying the spirit of the season. In reality, however, this often comes after we finish the shopping, cleaning, decorating, baking, wrapping, and all of the other obligations that compete for our time. It is easy to find that even our most special relationships have been relegated to the “back burner,” in order to get everything done. 

It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to unplug the holiday machine for a moment and reconnect with the one you love. For our own Twelve Days of Christmas, we have come up with 12 ideas to help you deliberately invest in the health of your relationship this holiday season. These are simple and cost effective ideas that are designed to create positive interaction and help you experience the true spirit of the season. Add your own favorites and enjoy!

  1. Write a love letter. It’s not just for Valentine’s Day and your spouse will appreciate the time you took to share your feelings. Love letters often become treasured heirlooms that are saved for a lifetime. Put your love into words and give a very special gift.

  2. Hold hands for five minutes or more. Sometimes something as simple as physical touch can reconnect a couple. After you hold hands, take time to embrace for at least seven seconds. Focus on feeling the energy of your spouse or partner. Afterwards, look deeply into each other’s eyes and say a sincere “I love you.”

  3. Get home from work early and make your spouse’s favorite dinner. He or she will appreciate your efforts and will love to find a home-cooked meal waiting after a hectic day at work. You can spend the extra time talking about your day. While your mate is talking, focus on using active listening skills to reflect back his or her thoughts and emotions.

  4. Tackle the pile of gifts that need to be wrapped. It will be very much appreciated! Better yet, tackle it together. As you wrap, talk about how each person you are wrapping a gift for enriches your life as a couple.

  5. Finish this sentence: “I appreciate…” For example: “I appreciate you bringing me a cup of coffee this morning. You do that a lot, and it really helps me to start the day feeling loved.” Do this five times today. It doesn’t have to be recognition of a great big thing, just a recognition given with great appreciation.

  6. Have a date night. With all of the holiday parties to attend, it’s easy to let this one slip. But having a date night (where it is just the two of you, not the two of you in a crowd of all your friends) will give you the time to focus just on each other. Spend the date talking about your dreams for your future together.

  7. Watch a classic holiday movie together. Then talk about what you liked after the movie is over. Highlight any positive aspects of your relationship you saw reflected in the movie.

  8. Share your favorite holiday traditions you had while growing up with your spouse. Talk about what traditions you two have built together and how it has enriched your family. If you don’t have any, talk about what traditions you might like to build and how you imagine they might enrich your family. Even doing something different every year can be a tradition.

  9. Go for a walk right after a light snowfall. Even a walk around the block is an opportunity to connect after a long day. During the walk focus on feeling the energy of your spouse or partner. Think of reasons you are grateful to be together. Talk about what you experienced when you get home.

  10. Meet for lunch during a work day. Commitments increase during the holidays. Meeting for lunch guarantees some time together when you just can’t fit one more thing into the day. Deliberately flirt across the table with each other. See if you can make other people smile as they watch you interacting.

  11. Bake holiday cookies together. It’s a great activity that can become a holiday tradition for the two of you. Pretend you just met recently and you are having a first date. Compliment each other on the baking and decorating skills you are showing. Go overboard making a “special” cookie for each other. Feed the special cookies to each other the way the bride and groom do with a wedding cake.

  12. Volunteer. Helping a worthy cause is a great way to remember what the holidays are about. Find a cause you both would feel good contributing to, and work out how you will contribute together as a couple. Afterwards talk about how your marriage can or does enrich the lives of people around you.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

FISCAL ATTRACTION: When it comes to love and money, OPPOSITES really DO attract

We've all heard it. It is safe to say that many of us have experienced it. But if you have ever wondered why money and financial issues make up the #1 “hot spot” between couples, check out the research.

The research*—in this case, by assistant professor Scott Rick of the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business—suggests that people who are tight with their money often end up marrying those who spend more freely.

"Generally speaking, birds of a feather flock together," says Rick, assistant professor of marketing at Ross. "We tend to be attracted to mates who share similar demographic characteristics, similar attitudes, similar values, even similar names. But our surveys of married adults suggest opposites attract when it comes to emotional reactions toward spending.

"That is, tightwads…and spendthrifts… tend to marry each other."

Sounds like a good balance, yes? Well, not always.

As Rick explains: “This complementary attraction…is associated with greater conflicts over money. The more spouses differ on the tightwad-spendthrift dimension, the more likely they are to argue over money.”

There you have it, folks. Not only is it normal; in some ways the differences of perspective in how couples approach money matters may be inevitable. The question is how to deal with it effectively?

For the answer join us on November 13th and 14th for the “$pend Your Life with Me” weekend getaway at the Stone Harbor Resort in Sturgeon Bay, WI.

This exciting weekend workshop teaches insightful and useful communication and conflict resolution skills with a timely focus on the biggie “hot spot.”

This is not a workshop about finances. Or even how to handle your finances. It is about how you deal (or not!) with financial issues as a couple.

The bottom line is to help couples learn how to:

· Talk about financial matters constructively;
· Reduce conflict and increase understanding;
· Work together as partners toward more productive solutions.

With a thought-provoking, non-judgmental and fun approach, the "$pend Your Life With Me" workshop identifies some of the most common roadblocks and examines the emotional connection couples have in handling financial matters; PLUS provides valuable insight into your individual “Money Habitudes.*” It is a great way to begin a real --and constructive conversation about the habits and attitudes that affect your financial decisions and actions …both individually, and as a couple! (*Habit + attitude = habitude)

*Three separate studies -- surveying more than 1,000 married and unmarried adults--were conducted by Rick and colleagues from Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania. To read the entire article: /www.bus.umich.edu/NewsRoom/

Postscript: If you are unable to make the retreat, check out the “Money Habitudes” cards available in the thinkmarriage.org online store. (thinkmarriage.org/store/storefront/printed materials.) This non-threatening card game will give you an intriguing sense of your own (and each other’s) thoughts, feelings and patterns of behavior about money matters. You may learn as much about yourself as you do about each other!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hmong Relationship Seminar a Success

thinkmarriage.org held a seminar for 200 Hmong Clan leaders and guests from across Wisconsin last weekend. For many participants, this was their first time taking a marriage/relationship education class. Those in attendance were taught healthy communication skills and how they can apply those skills to their relationships.

"Our relationship programs are preventive, because they are focused on teaching effective skills that build positive relationships," stated Susan Dutton Freund, executive director of thinkmarriage.org. "The Hmong Leaders and their wives attended together, and everyone had a very good time. The material is fun and engaging, and there was a lot of laughter and smiling going on throughout the event."

Read more from the Wausau Daily Herald on the outcome of a very successful event! http://bit.ly/bpYdpS