Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Man of My Own

We think you will enjoy this recollection from a friend of
After reading this story, we'd love to hear your thoughts...and perhaps it will make you think of of some similar situations in your own life.

“A Man of My Own”
By P. Woehrer

We lived on the western edge of the Sherman Park neighborhood in Milwaukee. The single-family houses and duplexes were very modest compared to other homes that Sherman Park was famous for. Our block was ethnically diverse with Caucasian, African American, Hmong, Latino, and mixed-race families. About a quarter of the homes were female single head of households and another quarter was elderly residents who had established that neighborhood in the early1900’s.

Early one summer evening we were sitting outside on the front porch and watching the neighborhood kids play. As my husband Steve moved toward the street to pick up a rolling baseball a little 8 year old girl came running up to him, threw her arms around his leg, hugged him tightly and said “give me a hug!” A bit surprised, my six foot husband bent down and hugged her back. Just as quickly, she withdrew and their eyes locked for moment and both shared huge smiles. Little Shamika* ran back into her vacant yard, arms flailing in joy. Steve had obviously given her what she was looking for and we both chuckled at the sweet scene.

Days later, I was again sitting on my porch. Steve had been there too, but left for a few minutes to tend to something. Shamika walked over and stood before me.

What’s that?” she asked, pointing to my wedding ring.

It’s my wedding ring,” I said.

She sat next to me, and asked where it came from. Somewhat surprised by the question, I responded simply that my husband had given it me. As she gazed at it, the wheels began turning in her young mind. Pointing inside my house, she asked if “the man” in there was my husband. Again I was a bit confused why she would need to ask, but I responded that yes, he was my husband. Then she asked if she could have my ring. My first thought was that she needed some lessons from her mother on what is appropriate to ask an adult, but then it occurred to me that something much deeper was going on inside this little girl.

Young Shamika did not recognize the important symbolism of the wedding ring. In her family, her mother was not married. She only saw a father figure when a man came by from time to time to spend a few minutes with his biological son. There was another man who came to visit Shamika’s mother, but then the children were required to play outside for a while.

I felt bad as I explained that I could not give her my ring. For a moment, she seemed a bit embarrassed for having asked, but then had another idea that might fulfill her desperate inner need.

To my amazement, she asked, “Could I have your man, then?”

The entire conversation seemed surreal despite my own family heritage of divorced parents and my proclaimed appreciation for cultural awareness and sensitivity. I realized then that I didn't have a clue of what this little girl was missing, or needed, or hoped for. It also surprised me that even though I felt our own household was fragile at times due to the hectic pace of life and the adjustments to a marriage relationship; Shamika suspected it was better than what she had in her own home. At least there was a man there – every day. She instinctively seemed to sense that this was something she wanted.

For weeks, Shamika almost “stalked” Steve! She would watch for an opportunity to see him outside so she could charge forward for a spontaneous hug. Steve gladly obliged as a simple ministry to her.

I wish now that we had reached out more intentionally to Shamika’s mother and her family to tell her about my belief of how God has a divine order for relationships. As I reflect on the fact that Shamika would be about 22 years old now, I still have to wonder how she was affected by the pattern of relationships she observed while she was growing up. I have to wonder if she ever did find “a man of her own.”

*A true story but the name has been changed.

Thank you for sharing this poignant story. Do you have a story to share with us? Please feel free to forward and don't forget to share your thoughts!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Are You a Hall of Famer?

posted by Michele Olson

Answer this question quickly:
Did you ever think you would be "inducted" in to a Hall of Fame?
You might be, football or rock n' roll...either way, you probably have come to terms with the fact that most of us just won't get there!

That's OK! There's a very important Hall of Fame where you can become a member. The thinkmarriage Hall of Fame may be just where you belong as a married couple. Married the most years? No, that's not how you get in. The most kids? No, that's not a criteria either. A significant anniversary? Great time to submit your story, but not necessary.

So, how do you get in the thinkmarriage Hall of Fame?

The fact is: our Hall of Fame is simply made up of people who value marriage and want to let the world know. So whether you're still on the honeymoon or been married 30 plus years...we'd love to put a picture and a short story of you and your spouse in our Hall of Fame. (Hint...I see big brownie points in the future of a man who lets his wife know that he loves her so much he wants to tell the world by becoming a part of the thinkmarriage Hall of Fame!)

Visit our Hall of Fame to get an idea of what we're looking for, send an email with a jpeg of the two of you, or you can include your family...and let's see your smiling faces not on the cover of Rolling Stone...but in the thinkmarriage Hall of Fame!

Why not forward this blog and have a whole bunch of your friends and family become a part of this wonderful declaration of love ?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Which Ever Way You Lean; Vote Marriage!

posted by Michele Olson

This is a letter that was drafted by the California Healthy Marriages Coalition, a healthy marriage initiative working in the state of California. We can easily adapt it to use it here in our state of Wisconsin...and we don't even have to do the work of writing the whole letter!

Whether you are a Democrat or can make your voice heard when it comes to healthy marriages and their importance to our country. Once you've read the California version, check out this template for a Wisconsin version.

Dear Mr. President-to-be,

Senator Obama, Senator McCain: Do marriages matter to you? We hope they do, because they certainly matter to (name Wisconsin County, and Wis.County kids.) And, to all the kids in America.

Kids thrive in families where their parents have a healthy marriage. Sadly, most couples don't know what it takes to have a healthy marriage. This can be devastating for their kids. Plus, it costs taxpayers a bundle. Family breakdown is costing Wisconsin $737 million a year according to a recent report from Georgia State University Economist Benjamin Scafidi and David Blankenhorn from the Institute for American Values. Across America, the social cost of divorce is estimated to be $112 Billion each year.

Fortunately, there is Marriage Education! Marriage Education is a preventive, skill-based approach that teaches couples the skills for marital success. It's painless and fun and it helps couples have the kind of relationship they want to have for their own lives and for the lives of their children. Research shows that couples who take Marriage Education classes are significantly less likely to divorce.

Marriage Education programs are alive and well here in Wisconsin.
Through a wide variety of Marriage Education and Relationship Skills classes available at the Wisconsin website, , we are teaching thousands of people each year how to strengthen their marriages and families.
There are six key counties in Wisconsin benefiting from the Federal appropriation that funds the Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Healthy Marriage Demonstration Grants.

This funding is helping families thrive, and saving our communities from the much greater cost of family breakdown. in Wisconsin is grateful for this funding and we hope we can count on you keep this worthwhile endeavor going forward.

Because Healthy Marriages Matter,
(Your name)

So there you have it...the template of a letter you can customize and send to your favorite candidate. Please let us know what you are doing. You can get a copy of the report from The Institute for American Values that talks about the cost of divorce and unwed childbearing to our nation and our state. Visit on the home page for details of how we can send you the report, or how you can download it for free.

Monday, August 18, 2008

“40 Days and Counting” or “Wedding Planning Causes Multiple Personalities”

Fourth blog (scroll down or look in blog archives to read Sarah's past blogs) Welcome to a guest blogger, Sarah Nass, Brown County Director here at thinkmarriage and someone who is newly engaged! We thought you would really enjoy following Sarah’s journey from how she and Tim met and all the adventures along the way to their wedding. As a trained healthy relationship facilitator, Sarah is getting first- hand knowledge on putting her education, into practical action. Tune in to this blog often to keep up to date with Sarah and Tim’s story!
Sarah writes:

Last you all knew, Tim and I had been dating for a couple months, figured out what to do about rising fuel prices, and both had a hunch that we were getting ourselves in to a relationship of long-term value and significance. The moment when he slipped and used the word “girlfriend” in a conversation he had with a co-worker, the countless motorcycle rides…it was on one of the first bike trips we took that I knew, I just knew. And I heard a song playing in my head, unsolicited, and saw us in my mind’s eye, dancing at our reception. You can bet that totally freaked me out.
The first time he told me he loved me, and I echoed the sentiment, the first holiday we spent with each other’s families, our Christmas trip to Chicago during which Tim was very ill and still tried ice-skating for the first time! The bookshelf he built me, the BB King concert tickets he surprised me with for Valentine’s Day…

It is all of these things and many more that keep me planning, keep me moving ahead. People have been asking me, ever since we got engaged May 18th, “Are you SO excited for your wedding? How is the PLANNING going? Are you just so EXCITED?!” I usually pull out a smile and end up saying something like, “The planning is going well (for a while there it was pretty scary) and I am too busy (tired, stressed, fill in the blank) to be excited for the wedding yet. But, I AM excited to be married to Tim.” They usually look at me like “Why isn’t this bride absolutely ecstatic? What is wrong with her?” I have learned from these countless repeated exchanges that sometimes it’s best just to say “Why of COURSE I’m excited, I am THRILLED, and the wedding planning is going GREAT!!!” and let them go away, satisfied with my answer.
Since we are funding the wedding predominantly ourselves (with some assistance…thanks to those people!) we have been trying to do much of the preparation and planning ourselves, as well as attempting to be economically brilliant and go the DIY route. Not a bad plan, just a lot more time and energy and effort required. Though I won’t go into any specifics on this one, let’s just say that even keeping it simple, wedding planning can make anyone go NUTS. Tim and I have had to work through more things, miscommunication, hurt feelings, time management, financial business, whatever, as we plan this shindig. And lemme tell ya- it has NOT been pretty sometimes. On the flip side, I am SO thankful for the chance to practice talking through things, forgiveness, problem solving, and learning more about what makes each other tick. What hot buttons NOT to push. (WWIII, anyone?)

At this point, I am getting glimmers of excitement for the actual day as more and more items are being crossed off my to-do list. One things remains, and continues to increase with each day, I am more and more excited about spending my life with this kind and persistent man, and thankful that he feels the same way. Together, we can survive the wedding!
What will happen next as Sarah prepares for the big day?
Do you have any advice for her as the countdown continues?
Tune in for Sarah's next blog coming here soon!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Is it Time to Divorce Your TV Set?

posted by Michele Olson

The Parents Television Council has just released a new study;
Happily Never After: How Hollywood Favors Adultery and Promiscuity Over Marital Intimacy on Prime Time Broadcast Television.

Wow…that’s a mouthful!

The study points out that broadcast networks depict sex in the context of marriage as either non-existent or burdensome while showing positive depictions of extra-marital or pre-marriage sexual relationships.

As a sitcom lover from way back, I am disheartened to see TV turn into a medium for bombarding viewers who just want a good laugh from a well-written show. More and more I've tried to find the redeeming value in a funny or interesting premise, only to have to cringe and turn off the TV. I find myself going more and more to the channel that just plays the old shows from the 60’s and 70’s. To think we once blushed at cutting edge programming like All in the Family and couldn’t bear to see married couples in the same bed on TV like Rob and Laura Petrie and Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.

We used to rely on talent, not shock or fringe behavior for entertainment.

Networks have decided that a laugh is a laugh...even if it's an “easy, uncomfortable” laugh that so many comediennes have resorted to. They've forsaken the idea of investing in good, solid writing to a more mainstream audience. They've also made it extremely difficult to break into the industry without pitching something shocking and bizarre.

What was once deemed as deviant or criminal behavior has been given the stamp of approval by the TV industry.

Can you imagine being from a remote foreign country, getting your opinions of the U.S. only by what you see on TV, and thinking this is really how most of us act in America?

If just “blocking” certain shows is the answer, The Parents Television Council (PTC) found the reliability of this V chip technology to be inconsistent. That doesn't seem to be the total answer to protect children either. It's just as harmful to see the eroding of what we will tolerate simply because we are not given much choice for certain mediums of entertainment.

Michael Medved, Nationally Syndicated Talk Radio Host and PTC Advisory Board Member points out that we have moved from portraying just destructive sexual behavior to the de-glamorization of marriage. Has the message become…you’d have to be crazy to get or stay married?

What can you do as a Marriage Champion?

Write and email the advertisers in the programs.

Write and email the networks.

I don’t think shaking our heads and turning off the TV is the total answer any more than it makes sense to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

TV can be a worthwhile form of entertainment and relaxation. We just have to let our voices be heard about what we want to see as a society in programs, and maybe just as importantly, what we won't tolerate.

Let’s keep fighting for healthy portrayal of family and marriage on television.

What’s your opinion?

Have you ever written to an advertiser or network about content in a TV program?

Monday, August 04, 2008

True Stories of Saved Marriages

posted by Michele Olson

As a resource for marriage, authors often contact us regarding their books on the subjects of marriage and healthy relationships. A recent book is well worth reading and giving to someone who wonders if their marriage can be saved. The book is aptly titled: Can My Marriage be Saved and it’s written by a mother/daughter team; Mae and Erika Chambers.

Mae and her husband John have had their marriage saved since 1985 according to their bio. Because she has seen her and John’s restored marriage story have a great impact on so many people, Mae partnered with her daughter to put together a book full of saved marriage stories.

While the book addresses individual stories of people who had their marriage saved, website also founded by the mother/daughter team has resources for all types of marital brokenness including financial struggles, abuse, separation, sexual addiction, loss of a child and more. Some of the resources are also listed in the back of the book.

The tone of the book does include a faith element as part of the healing, but with such a strong message of hope, it’s easy to see how anyone can benefit from seeing so many types of hopeless situations turned around.

In an age when marriages are discarded often too quickly, even considering the option of saving a broken marriage is a refreshing change.

Have you read this book? Do you have a story of a saved married?
We’d love to hear from you!