Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Humor in Marriage

By Debra Bosacki

Unpredictable, spontaneous moments can bring humor into our marriages and break the ice when things are tense. Laughter will help you cope when times are tough. Don't wait for your spouse to be funny, find opportunities to laugh.

I will never forget the day that I walked into a local grocery store and spotted my husband standing close to the check-out. I ran to him and planted a big kiss on his lips. As onlookers watched, he pushed me away and loudly said,

"I am sorry Ma'am, I am a married man!"

I desperately tried to save myself and said, "What do you mean, I'm your wife?"

With a straight face he said even more firmly, “Ma'am I am sorry but I am a married man!”

“What?” I said, as he watched me squirm and turn five shades of red.

Then, a wide grin spread across his face and we both broke into laughter.

Although this happened ten years ago, this memory still brings a smile to my face. Humor can add life to your marriage, but when relationships are struggling this may seem difficult to do. However, don't wait for your spouse to make the first move. You make the first move. If it doesn't work the first time, don't give up. Try again, your laughter will become contagious and will set the tone for your relationship.

Medical research shows that laughter is beneficial to you physically, emotionally and relationally. It has been found that laughter releases chemicals in your brain which stimulates your immune system. Laughter reduces stress and tension, lowers your blood pressure, helps you to put your life into perspective, and produces a general sense of well being that lifts your spirits. The findings on laughter go as far back as the book of Proverbs. Proverbs chapter 17 verse 22 says, "A glad heart makes a healthy body, but a crushed spirit makes the bones dry."

When was the last time you and your spouse enjoyed a healthy dose of laughter? Like yawning, laughter is contagious and it’s free. Start looking for ways to bring laughter into your marriage. If you need a jump start, we suggest Mark Gungor’s seminar, “Laugh Your Way to A Better Marriage.” You can attend a live seminar or experience this seminar on DVD, in the comfort of your own home.

There are a lot of comedians that make people laugh, and there area lot of speakers who give people really good information, but "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” does both. It is a HILARIOUS look at life, love and marriage. You will laugh and learn as Mark takes you on the journey of how to understand men and women, with titles like:

"Tale of Two Brains"
"How to Stay Married and NOT Kill Anybody""Why Does He/She Do That?"
"The #1 Key to Incredible Sex!"

To order: Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage DVD.

To see if the live seminar is coming to your area go to

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ten Great Dates

Maybe you have asked yourself, “Where is the romance that we had when we first met”?

If real life has set in, stealing the spark in your relationship; it’s not too late to rekindle the romance in your marriage.

Authors and Marriage educators, David and Claudia Arp, offer valuable information and help through their books and programs.

Whether you are dating, engaged, married or empty nesters we suggest the following courses to enrich your relationship.

10 Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage

Drawing upon the best tips from David and Claudia Arp's popular Marriage Alive Seminars, 10 Great Dates helps spark romance with memory-making evenings built on key, marriage-enriching themes. Enjoy your dates alone as a couple or use this resource to initiate an ongoing marriage enrichment program for your church or group.

10 Great Dates for Empty Nesters

It's just the two of you again and it's time to renew your relationship. You can reconnect and reclaim that same spark, excitement, and creativity you experienced before you had kids through ten innovative, fun dates guaranteed to spice up your marriage.

We occasionally offer a Ten Great Dates Class. Check our website to see if we are offering this class in your area.

For more information about their other programs or to order theses books, go to the Marriage Alive Website.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In Sickness and in Health: Dealing with Depression

When marriage vows are given, the words, “in sickness or health, for better or worse, until death do us part” are quickly stated. It may be years before the test of sincerity arrives with a disease or misbehavior that strains the marriage. At such times, couples may be sorely tempted to end the marriage.

A research team at Pennsylvania State University, the University of Nebraska and Virginia Tech, have been monitoring about 2,000 couples, since 1980 on a variety of issues, including health. John Edwards, professor of sociology at Virginia Tech says, "What we find is that declines in health have an adverse influence on marital quality." (Kilborn, May 1999)

Susan Dutton Freund, president of Foundation for a Great Marriage, says, "keeping your vows is worth it - especially in times of crisis."

Recently Susan had the opportunity to interview a woman who survived a marital crisis caused by her husband’s depression.

How long have you been married?

Beth: Bill and I have been married for 25 years.

Susan: And has Bill been healthy the entire time?

Beth: On the whole he has been healthy until recently. He has always been the main provider for our family, while I stayed home and took care of our 5 children. So when he got sick and couldn’t work, it really created a financial crisis for us.

Susan: When and how did he get sick?

Beth: Early in our marriage he was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance that causes depression. For years he took medication to keep him in balance. But then one day a friend convinced him he should stop taking his medication. The friend made him feel like he was doing something wrong by using conventional medicine, so he quit taking it without consulting his doctor. Shortly thereafter he started becoming volatile and angry. This went on for 2 1/2 years, progressively worsening. One day he finally raised his hand and almost hit me. At that point I told him that if he did not go for help, I would have to leave him.

Susan: That must have been a really tough time for you. Two and a half years can seem like an eternity for a relationship.

Beth: I felt like my world was falling apart. My home was no longer a safe place for me. I felt such a loss. Who was this man that I was married to? Where was the father of my children? I didn’t know him anymore. I was afraid of the future and felt intense pain and loss. Because it was a daily event, I felt like I could not take much more.

Susan: How did the situation get resolved?

Beth: I finally went to his doctor with him. He told us that cutting out Bill’s medication so abruptly caused his brain to have a severe chemical change which altered his personality. The doctor prescribed new medication but it took months to find one that worked. Meanwhile Bill sunk deeper into depression, so much so that he could hardly walk around the block. I wasn’t sure if he would ever be well again.

Susan: What kept you beside him?

Beth: Some of my friends advised me to leave him, but I remembered my commitment to him, “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health”. So I decided to stick by him, even when things got tough. During the illness a friend took me out to eat weekly. This brought a sense of normalcy to my life and a much-needed escape from the stress. I also prayed a lot! It took a long time, but I’m glad that I stayed. Eventually his chemical imbalance came under control and I had my wonderful husband back!

Beth and Bill’s case had a happy ending because of Beth’s perseverance. When any debilitating illness or severe injury occurs, it is natural to feel loss, frustration, anger and depression. Over time both spouses are likely to struggle with such emotions. That is when it’s especially important to reach out for help from trained professionals who will work not only with any physical needs, but the emotional ones as well.

If your spouse becomes depressed:
  • See a doctor together. Discuss not only the symptoms of the affected spouse, but the toll it is taking on you individually and as a couple.
  • Reaffirm your commitment to each other.

  • Spend time together, doing something that you both enjoy.

  • Try to remain encouraging toward one another. Focusing on your spouse’s needs can actually help lift your spirits when you’re depressed.

  • The supporting spouse should be sure not to neglect him or herself. You can’t help your spouse unless you remain healthy. Activities outside of your home will help keep you sane. Enlist family and friends to give you necessary breaks from the situation.

  • Get emotional support for both of you. Consider getting help separately, and be sure to see whoever it is on a regular basis. But avoid people who push you to give up on the marriage.
  • For some people, keeping a journal may be a great way to unload negative emotions and relieve stress. Writing can be a safe way to vent feelings that would damage a relationship if directly expressed. And often the act of writing them down causes them to lose their steam.

  • If you have a faith tradition, spend time in prayer or meditation. Studies show that both prayer and meditation actually alter brain wave patterns and can produce deep relaxation.

  • Make up your mind not to become bitter, but better!

When depression strikes, seek help for it immediately. Depression can cause physiological changes in the brain that become more resistant to change the longer they last. Consider using an approach to treat it that combines both medicine and therapy. And be sure to continue putting energy into your marriage so that you emerge not only as an intact couple, but a much stronger one.

Friday, September 15, 2006

How to Stay Married for Life

Two, twenty-something filmmakers went looking for the secret to lifelong marriage. Mat Boggs and Jason Miller cooked up “Project Everlasting” to document what couples married for at least 40 years had to say about why their marriage lasted. Their hope is to help young people of their generation learn how to stay married.

After hundreds of hours of interviews, they discovered some common themes. Guess what? The list is composed of plain, old-fashioned values.

Top 5 Secrets of long-married couples:
1. Being uncomfortable (suffering) for the sake of the marriage
2. Respecting each other
3. Putting the marriage first, before work or even children
4. Sacrificing for each other
5. Sticking with the marriage no matter what happens
We would like to point out that these are more than just a philosophy of marriage. These are actions that the long-term couples have taken that have kept their marriages together. The couples that have stayed together have suffered for it, put their spouse’s feelings and needs ahead of their own, made their marriage their first priority in life, and stuck with it even when they got much worse than they bargained for.

In other words, the bottom line for a lifelong marriage is being a person who will stick to your word to love, honor and cherish, no matter what it costs you. Not very glamorous, but, if you listen to these couples, deeply rewarding in the long run.

Read an article on Project Everlasting from the Deseret Morning News. Order the documentary on DVD from the producers.