Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Resolution You Can Keep

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It’s that time of year again, when we begin to make promises to ourselves that if we were being honest, we can’t possibly achieve. I’ve got a “doable” thing you can actually get accomplished and it will broaden your thinking. Purchase a book called Marriage and Caste in America by Kay Hymowitz.

It’s an important read for everyone.

By reading Kay’s book you’ll discover that the dramatic rise in illegitimacy and divorce during the last forty years – something she calls the unmarriage revolution – has been largely limited to less educated men and women.
Less educated women are much more likely to have a child without getting married first – over half the births to women without a high school diploma are non marital. And when they do marry, they are far more likely to divorce than college educated women. Given that children who grow up with their married parents do better on a wide variety of measures, that means family structure is playing an important role in the rise of inequality.

Think about it. Because the children of single mothers are more likely to become single parents themselves, the marriage gap is self-perpetuating. The children of college women will go on to become college educated, marry, only then have children, as well as to be affluent. The children of less educated women are more likely to not graduate high school, or if they do, to drop out of college. They often go on to have children when they are not married who will go on to repeat the cycle. That’s the basis of the title of Kay’s book: Marriage and Caste in America.

Kay goes on to explore in her book the importance of marriage as a social institution that has evolved over time to satisfy economic and social requirements.

Turns out it is more than “just a piece of paper.”

American marriage contains all sorts of messages about how to live and succeed in society. It provides the young with a life script, and orientation towards the future and it promotes wealth creation.

Still one of my favorite quotes of the season is from It’s a Wonderful Life when Clarence the angel tells Jimmy Stewart’s character that they don’t use money in Heaven…and Jimmy’s character responds: “Yah, well it comes in pretty handy down here Bub!”

While you’re buying Kay’s book, why not pick up
The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher

These two books will give you some facts and thoughts that can only make you better. And, isn’t that more important than once again vowing to run a marathon?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mr. and Mrs. #4

posted by Michele Olson

Since we’re all about healthy relationships here in our state of Wisconsin, it’s appropriate to talk about a relationship of one of our state’s most beloved sports entities.

I’m talking of course about Mr. and Mrs. #4.

Here’s some thoughts from Deanna on getting to know Brett as she wrote in a recent Guideposts article:

"It seemed like Brett and I had known each other forever, and we almost had. We grew up together in the small Mississippi town of Kiln. We went to the same school through twelfth grade. I remembered his cute blond cowlick and the way he sat in the bleachers in high school with the laces of his high-top sneakers untied. We got to know each other playing two-on-two basketball—I was just as much a jock as he was. One day he called me up and I could hear a lot of voices in the background saying, "Ask her, ask her." Finally he drawled out, "Will you go with me?" We were officially a couple, but most of what we did together was sports. We played catch on our dates and for a present he bought me a glove and a catcher's mitt. When his dad saw Brett firing fastballs at me, he came running out of the house. "Boy," he said, "you can't throw that hard to a girl!" It didn't stop Brett. Or me, for that matter. I loved him, even if he wasn't the most romantic guy. On the way to our senior prom he drove off with his wallet on the top of his car so he couldn't even pay for our dinner. In college he courted me with a plastic red rose—following a spat when I wouldn't speak to him for a month. Then he gave me a second red rose the next date. The third one appeared in his car shortly thereafter. "I guess this is the last one," I said, inspecting it. "Why do you say that?" he asked. "Because the tag on it says three for ninety-nine cents."

As the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, Brett’s career has been nothing short of amazing. Something to ponder is whether the fact that Brett is committed to a successful marriage with Deanna has also played a role in his success. If you explore one of thinkmarriage’s Marriage Myth Buster Guides, you’ll see the facts back up that idea. Twenty years of social science research tells us that married people are healthier. While heart disease can shorten a life span by six years, being unmarried chops 10 years off a man’s life!

One day in the not too distant future Brett will retire, but Brett and Deanna’s life together will go on. More of Deanna's thoughts:

" No matter how often we speak to each other during the day, we always say "I love you." We've both become big note writers and card senders, encouraging each other. Just the other day I discovered a letter Brett had hidden in my vanity drawer when he went off to training camp. God has given us strength to do more than we ever thought possible and he's knitted us into the partners he knew we could be. Not long ago we were at Disney World with a group from Breleigh's cheer squad. Suddenly I noticed Brett pulling a pink blossom from a flower bed, giving it to Breleigh. Then he said with a smile in front of the group, "Give this to your mother and tell her how much I love her." I thought of the boy with his three-for-ninety-nine-cents roses, and gave thanks for who we were now. Cancer and the trials we've faced could have driven us apart. By God's grace we were driven toward each other—for support, for strength, for love."

You don’t have to be a record breaking quarterback to have a healthy marriage. Consider taking a class in the near future. If you’re not married, attend a How to Avoid Marrying Jerk(ette) Workshop. (There's one coming up Dec. 8th in Green Bay) If you’re married, check out our calendar at for a class in your area.

I’m right with you if you’re a Packers fan! At this writing they just beat the Carolina Panthers and have an impressive 9-1 record. What’s really important in the big picture though is to be a fan of healthy marriages. It’s great to watch Brett break numerous records, but probably the most important record he and Deanna can strive for is a “till death do us part” healthy marriage.

We wish them all the best.

To read the complete Guideposts article go to and read the 10/1/2007 article.

If you’re a Packers fan or a healthy marriage fan…let us hear from you!

What? You didn't get a thinkmarriage Marriage Myth Buster Guide yet? Just email your name and mailing address, requesting a guide to

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Matter of the Heart

posted by Michele Olson

The BBC recently put out a news release stating that the stress and anxiety brought on by a rocky marriage or relationship can take a toll on your heart.

That brings up the point we’re always stressing here at thinkmarriage…it’s about a healthy relationship…not just a relationship. We also work hard to get the word out, that you don’t have to enter your relationships just hoping or wishing it will work out. There are tangible and real things you can do to ensure a great future.

1) If you are single and desire to be married one day, now is the time to start to prepare. There are many books and websites including with wonderful information that you should be taking advantage of…and of course, check our calendar of classes to see if there is a How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk(ette) class coming up in your area. Why not ask a friend to join you in your pursuit of information?
2) If you are in a serious relationship or engaged, commit to taking advantage of pre-marital education and preparation by getting some of the great DVD’s available, the many books you can read and by attending a church’s pre-marital programs to prepare you for marriage. You can’t spend enough time before you are married exploring each others thoughts and attitudes toward every day subjects. The whole cliché about the importance of how you squeeze the toothpaste tube differently became a cliché for a reason…you should be talking about everything, from small issues like toothpaste to big issues like finances and children.
3) If you are married, realize that on-going marriage education is for you, no matter how many years you have been married. Often when we are out in the community we have to smile at reactions from people as they see our signs…if they are newlyweds, they often think marriage education must be for someone married at least five years. If we talk to someone who has been married five to 10 years and often raising children, they think they are too busy for marriage education and they’ll do it later. Those who are empty nesters and who have been married 20 years or more think we must be talking about someone younger. The truth is, marriage can always use the boost of a great article to ponder or a class or workshop. If you’re married, marriage education is for you!

The internet, books, websites and organizations like ours - make it your business to be thinking about, talking about and promoting healthy marriages and relationships…your own…or those of the people in your community!

Besides, a good healthy relationship and a healthy marriage is good for you heart. The BBC said so. Read the article.

Who should be promoting healthy marriages? YOU!

If not, you…who?
If not now…when?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Who Knew?

Posted by Michele Olson

There was a recent article in Redbook Magazine by Ylonda Gault Caviness that is one of the best down-to-earth articles I have read on marriage. Entitled 8 Things No One Tells You About Marriage, the writer points out that even if we are in touch with reality, there’s something deep down inside that still sees ourselves riding off in the sunset to experience happily ever after. Here’s an overview of the points, and a few little synopsis comments from me too!
You will look at the person lying next to you and wonder, Is this it? Forever?

Remember that old song, if that’s all there is my friend…then let’s keep dancing….and then something about booze! The author points out that if you’ll let go of all the “ga ga” stories of eternal bliss and be in the moment, you just might realize that a real marriage is far more rewarding.

You’ll work harder than you ever imagined.

The issue with people is - once you’ve mastered what you think you need to master about them, they change. (The alternative; Stepford people. That’s not a pretty thought!) You’re never finished and neither is the hard work of having a healthy marriage.

You will sometimes go to bed mad and wake up even madder!
Another way of looking at it: sleep on it! Sleep brings a greater calm, a new perspective and let’s face it, lessens the urge to do something drastic which would feel so good in the heat of the moment.

You will go without sex – sometimes for a long time- and that’s okay.

Say what? The author points out that no matter how drop-dead gorgeous your spouse is, or not…there are times you don’t feel like having sex that have nothing to do with them.
For example, sometime sleep is more important than sex. You are encouraged to not believe what the soap operas portray about intimate regularity and instead find your own rhythm as a couple.

Getting your way is usually not as important as finding a way to work together.

When it comes to certain disagreements, there is no right or wrong…just two different ways of looking at things.

A great marriage doesn’t mean a lack of conflict, it simply means a couple is trying to get it right.

Take that Ward and June Cleaver! (Wait, they did have some conflicts about the Beaver!)

You’ll realize that you can only change yourself.

And no matter how noble your efforts as to why the other person should change, this whole tactic is exhausting and just plain doesn’t work.

As you face your fears and insecurities, you will find what you’re really made of.

If you even thought you had issues, you’re going to find out in no uncertain terms you do have issues, and that you are a work in progress. Oh, and look back at number 2 again.

So there you have it… the author’s 8 points and my take on some comments to follow.
Now…before you run off to read the whole article, why not send this to a friend or leave a comment? What point really struck home with you? Feel free to come back and leave a comment after reading it too.
There’s some good discussion here….let’s talk! Redbook article

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Marriage of Joan and Bob

posted by Michele Olson

What do you mean when at your wedding you say; “for better or for worse, till death do us part.”

Those words have great meaning for Joan and Bob Waldusky. Joan is 49 years old and lives with her husband Bob in Menasha, WI. She has a terminal disease called Huntington’s chorea which causes symptoms like involuntary body movements, impaired neurological activity and frequent falls. In addition, Joan’s condition is heightened because of pre-existing disabilities from an auto accident. She can no longer attend to her own needs like personal care or meal preparation. Her husband Bob has temporarily retired to become Joan’s full-time care attendant so she can live her life to its fullest in a loving home environment. Mobility issues now require Joan to have 24/7 monitoring for personal safety, and Bob wants to be the one to provide it for her.

Why is all of this on a blog?

Maybe because Joan and Bob’s story will make us all stop for a moment and think about our own commitment to the healthy relationships in our lives. Maybe we’ll think about the fact that healthy relationships don’t necessarily mean “bodily health.” Joan and Bob are Myth-Busting Marriage Champions who live out what it means every day to incorporate good communication and conflict resolution skills into a less than ideal situation.

Their vision is even bigger than the two of them. There is going to be a Benefit and Spaghetti Feed coming up on Sept. 22nd, from 11:30 am to 5:00 pm at the National Guard Armory, 2801 W. Second St. in Appleton, WI. The monies raised in this benefit will be used for care and expenses not covered by medical assistance, to improve their housing situation to make it more handicapped accessible. And here’s an insight into how Joan and Bob think;
“Joanie’s Huntington’s House” will eventually become part of the Joan Waldusky Foundation and serve as a fully furnished temporary hospice to couples facing terminal illness.

To donate to monies, building materials, craftsmanship, auction/raffle items or help at this upcoming non-profit event, contact Bob via email at, or call 920-558-4117. You can also contact the Community Benefit Tree, the fiscal non-profit partner handling the funds at:

For the next few weeks when we think about marriage, let’s think about dear people like Joan and Bob Waldusky and the kind of example their commitment and love is to all of us.

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!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Posted by Michele Olson,

Today I'm interviewing Sheryl Kurland who has written a book you must know about...and there's a special offer for you below don't miss a word of this interview! (Sheryl is pictured above!)

Hi Sheryl…Thanks so much for giving us the time for an interview today. I want people who visit and read this to know about the beautiful book you have written. Everyone in our office has seen it and loves it! Your book is Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years or More. It contains interviews with 75 couples who have been married 50 plus years. What an accomplishment!

Where did you first get the idea to do this book?
My grandfather called my grandmother “Miss America” every day for the 67 years they were married, until he passed away. Contrast this with the “celebrations” waged by the media day-in-and-day-out on celebrity divorces and celebrity roulette – trading who’s sleeping with whom. Add to that the ease with which couples get divorced today – like they’re pouring out a bad cup of coffee. The spark to write the book was derived from being sick and tired of hearing failure, failure, failure, and relegating myself to document “real life” successful, love stories. I wanted to know and share with the world the nuts and bolts from the “real-life” relationship experts. There are a gazillion “Dr. Phil’s” who’ve written books, but we rarely, if ever, hear directly from the voices of experience, those who’ve walked-the-walk and talked-the-talk….It’s logical, if you want to become a great artist, you take lessons from those whose work you admire and desire to emulate. Parallel this association with “relationships and marriage.” “Everlasting Matrimony” is a book of 150 role models that explain how to build loving, lasting and fulfilling relationships and marriages. Over 4,000 years of marriage/relationship experience are documented in the book.

How did you go about recruiting couples?
I located the 75 couples married 50+ years by advertising in newspapers, and contacting retirement communities and churches/synagogues around the country, and I received many responses. Those couples kindly gave me friends and family members’ names who also met the 50-year anniversary criteria. Thus, the couples who participated fanned out across the country, and represent a “sprinkling of America,” from all different faiths, backgrounds and ethnicities. I also became quite assertive, and in my daily comings and goings, when I saw an elderly couple with that twinkle in their eye, I introduced myself and told them about my upcoming book. I met one couple in Wendy’s Hamburgers. I was about to walk into the restaurant with my daughter when an elderly gentleman opened the door from the inside, allowing his wife to exit first. Bingo! I did a 180 and stopped and talked with them. They are the Slodyskos in the book! I met others at Disney World, on an airplane, at the grocery store, vacationing in the mountains, anywhere and everywhere. I had my radar out all the time.

How did you decide to follow the format of interviewing the husband and wife separately? There’s a conception, which, when you read “Everlasting Matrimony,” you’ll realize is actually a misconception, that wives do all the talking and their husbands say “Yes, Dear! You’re Right!” So, to avoid this potential hazard, I interviewed husbands and wives separately. Interestingly enough, husbands often had much more to say than their wives. All were frank, honest, informative and inspiring, and many are down-right funny. Throughout the book, they touch upon virtually every aspect of marriage.

Tell us about the photographs in the book…
Each of the 75 couples in “Everlasting Matrimony” has a dedicated two-page spread. There are two black-and-white photographs of each couple on their pages, one “early” and one “current.” The early photographs are magnificent, with the old-style clothing, men looking very dapper and women very elegant. In many, the husbands are in military uniform. Some are wedding photos, and the bridal gowns are breathtaking. The “current” photographs are casual. There’s something quite interesting to notice when you compare the early and current photos of some of the couples…The way they are embracing or touching each other is almost identical. If a picture is worth a thousands words, these are worth a million.

What surprised you the most about what you learned?
One big surprise was that the couples, both husbands and wives, eagerly talked about sex! I never asked them specific questions, but they described sex as a wonderful dimension of their marriage. Many said that some of the best sex they ever had was after arguments, when they kissed and made up they had some of the best romps in the hay!.......On a more serious note, I was so moved by their perseverance over the years. These couples have lived through two wars – World War II and the Korean War, which required separations as long as two and three years, the economic depression, they didn’t have the medical technology we have today (some have lost children due to illnesses and conditions that are now treatable or curable), nor the communication technology, and marriage counseling was not readily available and it was also considered taboo. If you were to lump all of these negatives together and fast-forward to today, you would tell a couple getting married under these circumstances that they are crazy to get married, and if they do, they are doomed to fail. For the couples in “Everlasting Matrimony,” their love never wavered. Period. For them, “divorce” was as bizarre as putting mustard on a hot-fudge sundae.

What were some of the common threads among the couples?
There are two that stand out. One is the “D” word. In today’s generation, the “D” word is “Divorce,” but for “Everlasting Matrimony” couples, the “D” word is “Determination.” That no matter what curve balls life threw their way – good, bad and everything in-between, they were determined to get through them together. And not just get through them, but to find ways to sustain harmony and contentment in the marriage……The second common thread among the couples has to do with “quality” versus “quantity.” Most of the couples in the book were living in poverty when they married. The core of their relationship was “quality.” Over their lives, their financial positions improved, but they never forgot the essence of their relationship – the “quality.” In contrast, today’s couples are consumed by “quantity.” How many homes, fancy cars, boats, designer handbags, etc., can we buy? So much so that “quantity” eclipses “quality” and, in many cases, obliterates it.

How did doing this book affect your own marriage?
I’ve been married only once, and that is to my wonderful husband of 17 years, Steve. We have a great marriage, and that was true even before I wrote “Everlasting Matrimony.” However, I would also say that writing the book saved me about five years of marriage counseling! The lessons I learned are immeasurable. Any page you to turn to has some nugget of information or an idea that makes you think “Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of it that way” or “I’m going to try that.” There is so much material that I never stop learning……..There’s a common saying “If only knew then what I know now.” “Everlasting Matrimony” gives you time-tested advice, a retrospective look and ability to gain the “now” wisdom without a lot of the mistakes, and trial and error that occurs over time..…Also, there are a number of great techniques couples in the book share to solve arguments once-and-for-all. Some are quite creative and innovative. Of course my husband and I have our occasional banters, which have allowed me to experiment. I shuffle the techniques to see what works best for the situation at hand. I’ve never told Steve the argument-solution techniques in-the-moment, but have found they work by osmosis!

Once your book was published, how has it been received?
The greatest compliment was Dr. Laura (Schlesinger) selecting “Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More” as her book pick on Valentine’s Day 2006! She gave it a stellar review on her Dr. Laura Radio Show. I’ve been interviewed by Leeza Gibbons, Sally Jessy Raphaël, and radio, TV and newspapers across the country. All of the reviews and interviews have been very complimentary. I’m still waiting for Oprah to call me though!

Will you continue to follow these couples in some way?
I do. I have become a “family member” to many of the couples, although I may have never met them in person. We keep in touch by phone, email or letters. I continue to learn from them on an on-going basis…..As an aside to all I learned about relationships and marriage, my outlook on growing old is one of excitement and peace. Most people fear aging. The “Everlasting Matrimony” couples have so much gusto and verve for life! Even though many are physically challenged by the infirmities that come with aging, they feel the best is yet to come. It’s infectious to be around them.

In addition to the book’s availability, what else are you doing to spread the advice of couples married 50+ years?
I have been asked to speak and present programs for all different types of audiences, professional and community organizations, businesses/corporations and colleges. An employer would be amazed to know the negative impact on the bottom line of an employee going through a divorce or in a bad marriage or bad relationship. Offering relationship education in the work setting can be as beneficial to the business as any job skills enrichment program. In the college setting, many students today have little or no perception of what a good relationship looks, much less how to build one, because they come from splintered families. The students work hard to make good grades, but no matter how brilliant you become, if you show up at your job feeling lousy because you got the door slammed in your face on the way out leaving home, it makes for a pretty rough day. The programs are a combination of educational and entertaining.

I think this is just about the most perfect gift you can buy for an engagement, wedding or anniversary. How can someone learn more about the book and get a copy for themselves?
My web site is, and visitors can preview the book there. “Everlasting Matrimony” can be ordered by clicking on the “Buy” tab. The order form has a slot to provide information for me to write a personal message to the recipient, if desired. The book retails for $39.95 each, but for anyone who orders the book having read this interview, I’m offering a special discount rate of $35 each! To get the discount, in the “Special Instructions” box on the order form, write the words: thinkmarriage. The price adjustment will not show on the order form calculation, but it will be appropriately applied to your charge……And, on my web site, visitors can sign up for free, weekly, email “Time-Tested Relationship Tips” from couples married 50+ years. Every Monday a new tip is mailed to subscribers. Subscribers can cancel at any time. And, I never share email addresses with anyone. To sign up, on almost every page of, there’s a sign-up box in the top right corner.

If your readers have any questions, I can be contacted at, or phone: 407-786-7747.

Sheryl, I know anyone who explores your book will enjoy it as much as I have. Thanks for spending time with us here at and thanks for passing on the savings to any of our readers who are interested in ordering this great book! Keep in touch so we know the rest of the story of these dear couples you interviewed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Revisiting the Summer of Love (or The Legacy of the Hippies)

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Depending on your age, you may or may not remember the Summer of Love as it was dubbed by the media four decades ago. Ask anyone today what a “hippie” is…and they could give you some kind of definition. The flocking of people who had been congregating in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury area to the Golden Gate Park for the Human Be-In is greatly affecting you and me to this very day, especially if you are a Marriage Champion for healthy marriages!

How so, you say?

The Summer of Love actually began in Jan. of 1967 with the Human Be-In, but it’s what brought the media’s attention to what was happening out in whacky old California! As news of the happening spread across the nation (remember, this was pre-blog, pre-internet, pre-cell phones…pre texting!) people headed for the good times out in sunny California. (Never mind, that San Francisco’s weather is totally different and quite cool in the summer…) Even a song playing on the radio (probably a little transistor) was calling the country to head West.
San Francisco(Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)
When word got out what was happening, the news crews arrived…and so did the beginning of a social movement.

Now that I have you humming that song….remember it was the time of:
the commune,
free love,
love the one you’re with
the Vietnam War and President Lyndon Johnson
and saying hello to what had previously been seen as taboo. This culture wanted to be the counterculture.

Everything the “establishment” believed went out the window.

In June the Monterey Pop Festival featured the stars of the Love culture…the Byrds, Jefferson Airlplane, the Who, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and the Mamas and the Papas…to name a few. Hippies were it.

Time Magazine’s cover read: The Hippies: Philosophy of a Subculture.

After the hype…came some of the stark realities.

Turns out “free love” had a price to pay along the way.

Many died from drug and alcohol overdoses, or continue to have long term issues from what was once thought to be harmless mind-expanding experiences.

The institution and sanctity of marriage began to be called “just a piece of paper.”

People believed lies about marriage and family, and children were damaged in the process.

I recently went to Haight-Ashbury on a trip to San Francisco. Now the kids who hang out on the streets are mostly “goth.” They are still pan-handling for cash as the hippies before them did, and are often run aways who live on the street. Still, most people remember the 60’s and that time as Woodstock, good times and the era when we were free. Hippies are remembered with nostalgia and a warm and fuzzy feeling of a beautiful time gone by, especially as baby boomers deal with the reality of hitting their 60's in age instead of era!

In retrospect, Hippies have become tye-dyed t-shirts, love beads and mostly a cartoon.

But the Summer of Love did change something very precious: the intact family and how we view marriage. That’s something the hippies started that we could have done without. With 20 years of social science reasearch we now know there is a recipe for healthy marriages, and it’s not free love and self indulgence.

Is it time for a new Summer of Love called healthy marriages and relationships?

Is it time to counter the counter-culture drowning in a divorce rate that hovers at 50%?

Can we start a social movement right here in Wisconsin?

We’re about to make available a fantastic new guide called the Marriage Myth-Buster Guide. Everyone who reads it can become a card-carrying Marriage Champion and join our social movement. This movement believes that no generation has to be a statistic because there are resources and classes that empower everyone to control the quality of their relationships.

We want people to once again see marriage for what it is: a “gold standard” to aspire to, a respected, valued and sought-after institution. That "piece of paper" is incredibly important to the well-being of children and families.

Ready to join us? Get your guide by emailing:

Let’s redefine a new Summer of Love.

Now that would be groovy!

Just wondering….
Any old hippies reading this? (Once a hippy, always a hippy at heart?)
Anyone at the summer of love in California or have memories of the time to share?
Thoughts on the NEW Summer of Love?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Reflections on a Marathon

Recently more than 6,000 people ran right in front of my house…I am on the route of a Marathon that starts at Lambeau Field and about a quarter of the way through, goes by my house. I get out front in my driveway and sit in my lawn chair or stand and cheer on the runners. Way to go! Good job! You can do it! The truly talented and people who would be deemed as “athletes” always have the bigger crowds in the beginning…they have the right outfits, the right bodies, and it all comes together. It reminds me of how we often start out in marriage. We’ve worked to have everything just right…the dress, the tux, all the latest wedding attire done to our taste and perfection. The world is our oyster…we only see the upside of everything.
As I continue to watch the Marathon from my driveway the scene starts to change. Less than perfect running bodies begin to appear, people are going slower, they look fatigued and often discouraged. These are the runners who need and appreciate encouragement.
It’s just like that with marriage. When the honeymoon is over, we can start to lag…the crowds aren’t cheering us on anymore, we don’t always have the right body or the right outfit. That’s when we really have to keep our eye on the prize…the finish line.

It reminds me of what we’re doing at We’re promoting the gold standard, preparing for marriage, protecting the marriage you are in and passing on the legacy of a great marriage. It’s not always easy, there are discouraging moments, but overall we keep putting one foot in front of another spreading the message that healthy marriages are beneficial to the well-being of children and adults. We need them.

We need to value the gold standard, no matter where we are in life. You may be single, engaged, married, divorced, a single parent or and empty-nester…whatever your stage in life…press for the gold standard. Train for healthy relationships like you would train for a marathon. We have classes for people who want to be married someday and people who are currently married. Just like running before the race, taking classes before you get married is important. Working on your marriage is imporant...runners don't quit and those committed to marriage don't quit either. (Of course in the case of abuse and domestic violence...that's a different story)

We can’t all run marathons, but we can all promote healthy relationships.
Are you in? On your mark…get set…GO!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

An Interesting Oprah Experience!

When you hear you might get to be on the Oprah show, that's a pretty exciting idea for any organization or entity trying to "get the word out"! It all began when our PR partners noticed that the Oprah show had a page on their website looking for people to comment on the recent statistic that stated for the first time in history more women in the U.S. are not married than are married. This led to a discussion with the producers by our publicst about marriage, so we were invited down to be part of the studio audience. Our publicist and I headed down to the show hoping to talk about and some of the ramifications of what that statistic meant. After arriving, we realized that even though we were back stage in a special guest area, she was the only one who might speak....(The clue? Going to hair and make-up and recieving a microphone cleverly hidden in a lapel!) We then found out, she was really there as a person who had an opinion on marriage, and was not free to mention anything about our organization. That meant it was up to me to hopefully be called on when people were able to comment. The show which aired 4/6/07 was really on a wide variety of subjects...marriage being a very small portion of the discussion. When our publicist was called on and said that she felt marriage was very important, and was concerned about single parenting and the bad example celebrity marriages often set, the tone was totally changed to an attitude of: "Women finally have realized they can live without a man if they want to...they don't have to feel that they have to be married, that marriage makes them can be empowered to raise a child by yourself" etc. I of course was breaking my arm trying to get called on to comment on the fact that the statistic was a sad one, the breakdown of marriage and the family greatly affect children...and there are a world of statistics showing that children from broken homes live in circumstances that often lead to poverty, are 14 times more likely to suffer abuse, do poorly in school, use drugs and get pregnant as teenagers...and they are 22 times more likely to end up in jail. Does that mean everyone? Of course not...the point is we don't see marriage as the gold standard anymore and the best way to raise children, with a mother and father in the home, working on a healthy marriage. We're applauding the opposite and not realizing the price we are paying in social ills. Read an excellent article that I would like Oprah to explore on our, click on research and articles
The article entitled The Black Family, 40 years of Lies is written by Kay S. Hymowitz who wrote a book called; Marriage and Caste in America. It's time to look at the facts and be careful what we celebrate. What do you think?
Posted by : Michele Olson

Friday, March 09, 2007

Way Beyond The Moon

posted by Michele Olson

On Sept. 12,1962, President John F. Kennedy spoke before 40,000 people at a stadium in Houston and here's an excerpt of what he said:

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."
If you remember your history lesson, we did it. We went to the moon. Shortly before that time, in 1957, our divorce rate was at 25%. Now, in 2007, we are at a 50% divorce rate.
In the 50's, many people thought we could never accomplish a moon mission. A manned moon landing posed daunting and technical challenges. Most people derived their understanding of this undertaking from Walt Disney's program on TV which showed in scale models what a rocket to the moon would entail. They would believe it was true only when they saw it with their own eyes.
Meanwhile, other people didn't just sit around and wait for it to happen. Monies were appropriated, strategies were designed, and people in the space program began to work in earnest, step by step, even after many setbacks, to make this fantasy - a reality.
So, here we sit on the doorstep of a grassroots marriage movement in Wisconsin. Some people are sitting around wondering if there is anything we can really do about the breakdown of the family and the domino effect that follows. They'll believe it when they see it with their own eyes.
But we're hoping, you dream bigger, that you are a visionary too. Soon, we'll be revamping our website and rolling out a new idea:
thinkmarriage is an easier way to remind you to think about marriage...and to spread the word. We're still Foundation for a Great Marriage as our "parent" entity, but thinkmarriage is what you're going to see and hear more about in the future, the "brand" name we are going forth with.
If you're single: Prepare for a possible marriage someday. Read the resources on our website telling you what you can be doing now so you don't have to be a statistic, or just "hope" you have a happy marriage. Check out our calendar for the classes that will be ongoing like How Not to Marry a Jerk or Jerkette.

If you're married already: Protect your marriage. 10 Great Dates is a class we have going on right and your spouse head out on 10 great dates. Read about it at our website. You'll also find a wealth of resources that will give you many things to do to enrich and protect your marriage.

If you've been married for a while think about Pass On, passing on the heritage of a great marriage to your family and circle of influence.

Talk about marriage.
Bring it up with your friends.

Think about marriage.

Tell people about us and what we're doing and tell us about what you're thinking about.

Email us, connect with us...let us hear from you. We've made our blog address easier too!
Investigate our website and see where we can work together to make things happen.

This isn't rocket science. It's a down-to-earth idea whose time has come. The majority of all our social ills fall on the doorstep of the breakdown of the family. Our site is full of statistics that tell the sad story. So as we roll out thinkmarriage, we need you.
thinkmarriage, just like President Kennedy's speech indicated about space travel will "serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."

... and with your help, we do intend to win.

The cost of losing is far too high.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Now It's Your Turn!

posted by Michele Olson

1,000 Love Letters are going out into the city of Green Bay and no matter where you live, you can participate. Even if you aren't a kit recipient, you can be a part of this wonderful event by sending a love letter this week. The tips are geared to your spouse, or romantic loved one, but you can also adapt the tips to send a letter to a parent, a sibling, a best friend, or anyone you really want to express your feelings to. Here are some tips to get you started:

Tips on Writing a Love Letter!
Clear your desk and your mind of distractions. If you love someone enough to craft this letter, he or she deserves your full attention.

Place a picture of the one you love in front of you and put on your favorite music.

On another sheet of letter paper, make two lists: a) the unique qualities you love about him/her; b) your hopes for the future together.

Personalize the love letter salutation. "Dear ___ ," or "To my darling _____," are both fine.

In the body of the love letter, begin by telling him/her what you think makes him/her so special. List at least three different qualities of the one you love in the letter, ideally emotional, physical, and spiritual ones.

In the following paragraph of your love letter, share your hopes and dreams for the future you can have together.

Personalize the closing of the letter. "I will love you always," "Loving you forever," "My heart is yours," are all good possibilities.

Mail or deliver your letter.

Then expect great things. We'd love to hear right here on this blog what happened when you sent your letter...your stories will encourage many others to take the time to write a love letter.

Come back often and let's see what happens. This could change our world!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Can Love Letters Change the World?

posted by Michele Olson;

With the "Big" holiday of Valentines day coming up on Feb. 14th, most people won't realize that another celebration is taking place from Feb. 7th -Feb. 14th...It's National Marriage Week!

In honor of this wonderful week, we at the Foundation for a Great Marriage are celebrating in a unique way on Feb. 9th. We've put together 1,000 Love letter kits to hand out. Each kit will contain stationery, a stamped envelope, a pen and tips on writing a love letter.

So, what will be the results of 1,000 PLUS love letters going out into the universe?

We're hoping we won't have to guess! We want everyone who writes a love letter to blog back some results of what happened when you sent your love letter!

When was the last time you wrote a love letter to your spouse, especially if you aren't newlyweds? We're all pretty good about signing the word "love" at the end of a greeting card that has the sentiment "I'm sure I don't say it enough", but that doesn't quite go far enough in really getting out some heartfelt thoughts.
We fall closer to the old story about the lady who complained that her spouse never told her that she loved him. When asked why he replied "I told her once, and if anything changes, I'll let her know! "

So what about you? Even if you aren't getting a kit...can we count on you to join the celebration and send a letter?

It's really quite simple. Find a quiet place, and take a moment to clear your thoughts. Put on some of your favorite music, put a picture of your loved one in front of you and start to write.
To truly make it a special letter, write about all the things you cherish about your loved one. Add your you like to doodle...or write rhymes? Does a verse or chorus of a song come to mind? Add it in! Really express yourself in a new and fresh way.

Can love letters change the world? We think they can. Best of all, they can change your world with your loved one.

And, they can change you.

On Feb. 9th send a love letter and then tell us the stories of what happens.

We'd love to hear from you!

P.S...Send this blog to all your friends so they send love letters on Feb. 9th...we're counting on you!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bringing Up Marriage in 2007

Author Note: You'll notice a change in the tone of the blog in this New Year...many thanks for all the great educational articles previously posted, and don't forget to visit them in the archives! I'm Michele Olson, Communications Director at Foundation for a Great Marriage, and you'll notice that we're moving to a more conversational mode. We really want to hear from you and your thoughts on marriage in our culture. Please blog often, the blog will never be as good as it could be if you aren't participating! Blessings to all!

If you’ve been attending some holiday parties the past few weeks, you’ve probably made more than your share of small talk. From sport teams to the weather to family news, you’ve been bringing up topics and lending your thoughts to the conversations.

This year, why not bring up a topic that may be a surprise to your circle of friends and colleagues.

Talk about the state of marriage here in Wisconsin.

Stay with me, it really is something worth thinking about.

Ask people if they think about it much, and what they feel about marriage. See if anyone has given much thought to the sad statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce.

If you think bringing up this topic could be the proverbial “wet blanket” and cause a few eyes to roll, let’s imagine what the conversation could be like.

You: Hey, anyone else tired of hearing the statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce?

Them: Yah, we’re tired of it. But, that’s the way it is…anyone see that new reality show?

You: Wait a minute... I’ve decided that I can’t live with that statistic. In fact, the very act of thinking about marriage and what it means to us as a community has really stirred up something inside of me…

Them: Really? There are a lot of things to think about; world hunger, poverty, wars, crime…

You: All important, no doubt…but it’s good marriages that are at the root of the well-being of children, the prevention of poverty, the dignity of women and men…the health of our society really stems back to the health of our marriages.

Them: Sounds like you have been thinking about marriage! I guess I can honestly say, I have never given much thought to the fact that I should think about marriage… that I could do anything to affect the breakup of the family.

You: What would be the impact if we agreed to just start thinking about the importance of marriages and healthy families…what would be the effect? What kind of conversations would we hear at the water cooler and the local coffee shops? Just getting the conversation going could make a big difference

Them: Sounds easy enough, to really start exploring what that statistic of 50% divorce rate means and learning more about it. What got you so excited? How did you begin?

You: I went to the internet and found out that there are other people that are thinking about the importance of marriage. A great first stop is an informative website that has wonderful resources in the form of articles and programs that promote marriage…
Explore the site. That’s a good first step. Next…I’m going to bring up the topic of marriage, and get people talking. I want to do something about the marriage statistic because in the end…statistics are people, and people matter.

Them: Explore a website and start thinking and talking about marriage. Sounds pretty doable for anyone.

You: Are you with me?

Are you with us? Can we count on you to explore the website at You’ll find a wealth of information in the resources and research area…enough to get you thinking about marriage and bringing it up in your next conversation!

We’d love to hear your stories of what happens when you bring up marriage…
Together we can affect a really sad statistic…

Let us hear from you!