Monday, September 29, 2008

Applauding This Hollywood Couple

Posted by Michele Olson
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were married for 50 years at the time of his passing on Friday.

One of the best actors of our time, Newman and his wife can also be remembered as a married couple who didn’t let the Hollywood life shake their remarkable 50 years together.

A.E. Hotchner, a lifelong friend and co-developer of Newman’s Own Famous salad dressing has known the couple their entire married lives. He has stated that the Newman’s simply never fell out of love, even during the rocky patches that occur in every marriage. He also said they stayed the course.

During interviews Newman was often asked how he and Joanne managed to stay together when so many other movie stars strayed. Mr. Newman answered :“I have steak at home. Why go out for hamburger?” For her part, Ms. Woodward said she stayed with Mr. Newman because he was able to make her laugh.
Our condolences go out to Mrs. Newman and the whole family.

We hope the Hollywood marriages of today take note.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Economy and Your Marriage

Posted by Michele Olson

There's a timely article in today's Chicago Tribune talking about the stress on couples from the increase in their monthly mortgage payments because of ARM adjustments.

It points out that couples can be experiencing tremendous stress from this issue and the economic downturn taking place.

The article also states that if a relationship is fundamentally sound, money problems aren't likely to lead to divorce. It points out that the best approach is a pro active one to protect your marriage.

One of the first suggestions from the piece tells couples to consider attending a relationship workshop.

You can find them across the country and of course don't forget to check out the classes available from

These are tough times. Be proactive and take a healthy relationship workshop!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Something Old Something New

posted by Michele Olson

How have things changed for marriage in the last 50 years? AARP recently compiled all the differences from 1958 as compared to 2008.

Take a look…this is interesting!

Annual Weddings:
1958: 1.5 million Today: 2.4 million

Most Common Name:
Then: Mary and Robert Now: Jennifer and Michael

The Stereoptype:
Then: Blushing Bride Now: Bridezilla

Then: Princess lace, handmade by Belgian nuns $135.00
Now: Strapless and sexy $1,317.00

Tux Rental:
Then: $5.50 Now: $69.95

Men Then: 22 Now: 28
Women: Then: 20 Now: 26

Life Expectancy:
Men: Then: 57 Now: 70
Women: Then 65 Now: 78

First Dance:
Then: “All I have to do is Dream” Everly Brothers
Now: “No One” Alicia Keys

Postage for invitations:
Then: 3-4 cents
Now: 42 cents

Piece of cake per guest:
Then: 35 cents
Now: $4.52

Honeymoon cost:
Then: $237 Now: $3,680.00
Then: Niagra Falls Now: Hawaii

Number of Children:
Then: 3.6 Now: 2.1

Divorce Rate:
Then: 33% Now: 50%

What kind of conclusions do you draw from the comparison? Were you or your parents, or grandparents married in 1958…or this year?
Let us hear from you!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy 80th Anniversary Clyde and Marie!

posted by Michele Olson

Would you like to read more about a happily married couple?

How about a couple who has been married 80 years! You have probably seen a long-time married elderly couple who unfortunately have to be separate and live in a nursing home in extremely ill health by the time something as rare as an 80th anniversary comes along, but that’s not the case with Clyde and Marie Barnes.

Married for 80 years on Sept. 20th, they have so many children, grand, great grand and great-great grand, they have lost track of how many they actually have. Their oldest “child” is now 74 and says they have been great parents.

When asked the secret to their long and happy marriage Marie explains, “We just try to love what the other one does and do it together. If he suggests something, I try to go along with it. And if I suggest something, he seems to do the same.”

They also seem to have a sense of humor, another vital part of a healthy marriage.

This Salt Lake City, Utah couple are truly an inspiration…

View the video of their news story here.

What healthy marriage tips can you share that you believe will help you along the way to your 80th anniversary?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Marriage and Money

posted by Michele Olson

Disagreements over money are the leading cause of divorce.

Makes understanding your marriage and money pretty important, right?

The other causes are kids, religion and in-laws, to name a few, but the almighty dollar tops the list. At the basis of the disagreements about money is vulnerability. When it comes to money, we are forced to share our dreams, priorities, fears and goals. That makes it possible that disagreements about money, aren’t really about money at all!

It’s often not the amount of money that causes the friction, but how the money is handled.

A full 60 percent of married couples surveyed by the Consumer Credit Counseling Service report fighting about money with their spouse. In other research, 57% of divorced couples cited financial problems as the main reason they didn't get along.

Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover shares these tips when it comes to couples and money:

1) Opposites Attract. Usually a spender is attracted to a saver. This can work because they can create a balance. He suggests you have to sit down and work out finding the middle but very few couples do that. You need to get rid of “I” and start thinking “we” when it comes to money habits. It can be a power issue, so you have to discuss how you are using it together.

2) Together is Better. Get rid of the negative thoughts about money and realize that two heads are really better than one. Working together on goals and dreams can improve communication. If you can’t sit down and discuss money, then there are larger issues in play.
(Hint; for better marital satisfaction, communication and conflict resolution skills where everyone can reach decisions in a healthy way, take a workshop!)

3) Budget can be a dirty word. Really it’s just a plan of how you will spend your money. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun anymore. Start to think of it as telling your money what you want it to do so you don’t have to wonder where it went!

4) Lose the Battle but Win the War. Sometimes you each have to let the other win small battles so you can stay on track and reach your mutual financial goals.

5) Stick to the Plan. That means sticking together and sticking to the plan. Think about this; when the debt is gone and you have money in the bank, all that’s left is to enjoy it together. Sticking to your plan is also telling each other that you respect your mutual goals.

Don’t let these tough economic times put a damper on your marital satisfaction. Let them be a catalyst to help you work together and strengthen your relationship. offers a workshop called “Family Wellness, The Couple, The Strongest Link” which is an excellent resource to help you have healthy discussions about marriage and finances.

Tell us about how money matters influence your marriage.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Marriage in the Later Years

posted by Michele Olson
Are you a younger married person wondering if love can last?
Take heart says author Maggie Scarf, age 77, who has spent more than 30 years studying relationships. Married for 55 years to her husband Herb Scarf, a Yale professor, she has done the research and is living it out.
Her new book, September Songs, contains a U shaped curve. It illustrates how studies over the past 40 years show that contentment is at its highest in the earliest phase of marriage. Then you get to know each others faults and idiosyncrasies. Kids come along, you lose sleep, you want the other person to do more, and life ceases to be as shiny. While raising adolescents your sense of well-being can plummet further.
Next it's the empty nest ...and when embraced... it is possible for your sense of well-being, contentment and time for intimacy to go up. You can rediscover the person you once knew.
Her book is based on interviews with 75 couples, all older than 50 and married 20 years or more. She addresses contentment, sex lives and how people get better with age.
So if you're in those early years and it worth it...there are many couples out there who would like you to know, yes, it is.
What stage of marriage are you in?
Tell us your story.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

“The End is in Sight” or “We’ve Only Just Begun”

Fifth blog (scroll down or look in blog archives to read Sarah's past blogs) Welcome to an on-staff guest blogger, Sarah Nass, Brown County Director here at thinkmarriage and someone who is 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:

I am finally starting to get excited. These past couple weeks have been filled with finalizing details and reorganizing lists and gathering supplies and rallying the troops. At the time I am writing this, there are currently ten days until our wedding day. Tim has the pergola built and set up in the backyard, Mom and Dad have been tending to the garden and house, and I have been trying to contact and finalize plans with vendors. I have also been learning how to delegate tasks and find a balance between work time and play time and planning time. It is no easy undertaking. I have also been attempting to move some of my belongings down to Tim’s house…and have realized that it is futile to think that I will have everything completely moved before the wedding. There’s just no way. There are still more tasks outstanding than make me comfortable, but hey, what can you do except to keep on plugging away at them. One of my high school teachers once asked the class, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer she gave us was, “One bite at a time.”

One of the other things Tim and I have done in the past weeks that has been of great value to us is take the Prepare-Enrich Inventory. This is a program that can be taken online or with paper and pencil. It can be used for pre-marital as well as married couples. The inventory is designed to help a couple realize their areas of strength as well as their areas of growth. Basically, what areas are you good at and what areas need a little more working out? After we took the inventory, we met with a couple who has been using this program for several years with young couples in their church. They walked us through the evaluation, and explained to us what each indicator meant. We also had a chance to talk through a few of the growth areas that we have. I don’t think either of us was surprised at the feedback we received. I do think that it gave us a great opportunity to discuss some very important matters, before the wedding. Even in the midst of all the craziness and business and planning it is important not to lose sight of what it is you and your fiancĂ© are planning and preparing for. The wedding is one day, one glorious, beautiful, significant day. Your marriage is for a lifetime. It has been a priority for us to continually invest time and energy in that long-term goal and relationship instead of unintentionally neglecting it in favor of wedding hubbub.
Planning this event together has given us opportunity to practice our communication skills, our conflict resolution skills (certainly), having patience and being gracious towards one another, and has also reaffirmed the idea that we are indeed on the same team. That is just the sort of foundation on which to build our marriage.

Sarah and Tim's big day is almost here! Stay tuned for the rest of the story!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

“Why Can’t You See Things My Way?” A Crucial Tip to Overcoming Disagreements and Creating Acceptance in Your Marriage

By guest blogger Larry Bilotta*

Would your marriage improve if your spouse would just do things "your way"? Most of the time, this just isn't the case.

Let's imagine for a moment that you married your complete opposite, your relationship is stressful and the two of you can't even agree what to have for dinner. Does this mean that for the rest of your life you’ll have to endure an endless series of battles over "your way vs. my way" unless one of you gives in?
There is no need to argue over "who does what which way." And most importantly, neither of you need to change who you are.
The first thing you need to do is talk with your spouse about the things you passionately believe in - or feel strongly against. You can start by discussing the little things in life that frustrate you.
For example, my wife absolutely hates when people pop, smack and chew gum with their mouth wide open. While this may sound trivial to you, it absolutely drives my wife crazy.
Now, if I didn't know WHY this little pet peeve drives her mad, I might become annoyed and aggravated whenever she starts to attack the nearest "irritating gum chewer" under her breath. But here’s why that doesn’t happen. Most people don’t know this, but each and every one of your pet peeves, habits or beliefs is created by a memory or event from the past.
Take my wife for example. The reason she becomes so frustrated when people pop and crack their gum is because her mother would do it without any regard for her feelings throughout her entire childhood. My wife hated it then and she still does today. This seemingly trivial issue brings back too many painful memories from the past for her. To my wife, a gum chewer might as well be scratching nails on a chalkboard or screeching a fork against a plate, while to others, it’s not a big deal.

The main idea here is that you need to discuss with your spouse WHY you do things a certain way, WHY certain things frustrate you and WHY you love other things. And don’t be afraid to talk about the "problem areas" in your marriage. That is the point of this discussion after all.
Give your spouse your perspective on "hot topics" in your marriage which could be anything from punctuality, family values, religion, eating habits or even personal privacy. Ask your spouse questions and have your spouse do the same.

Ask questions like:
"Honey, when you were growing up, did your mother or father have a problem with being on time?"
"What happened when you were young that makes you hate clutter and messes so much?"

WARNING: Don't make this sound like an accusation! If you do, your positive discussion will be over! When you ask your spouse these questions, s/he will probably struggle for words or not come up with an immediate explanation for WHY he or she does these things and that's okay. Try to jog your spouse’s memory by recalling your own memories about this subject.
For example:
"The reason I (fill in the blank) is because my parents (fill in the blank) when I was a child."
Remember: you and your spouse were shown how to live by your parents or guardians. They shaped most of what you value and believe in today. The point of this discussion is to understand WHY the two of you disagree on any given topic. This will help the two of you accept each other because you'll no longer feel threatened by your very different values in life.
Use this tip to get to the source of your problems and gain a better understanding of your spouse. If you don't know which values are causing conflict in your marriage, you'll never be able to truly resolve your disagreements.
When I finally understood WHY my wife's values were so different from my own, the stress in my marriage was drastically reduced. I know you'll find the same to be true when you put this marriage saving tip to use in your own marriage. For more information and articles on marriage, visit*

* References and websites from guest authors do not necessarily constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or preference. The views and opinions of guest blog authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect the attitudes and opinions of