Thursday, October 30, 2008

Do In-Laws "Scare" You?

Posted by Michele Olson
Do you find the upcoming holidays a “frightening” thought because of in-law issues?

As we are about to finish up Halloween…it’s officially the Holiday season. (I actually saw all the Christmas decorations already up in our downtown area, but that’s another blog!) In-laws can be one more pressure on a couple when it should be a time of celebration and fun.
Here are some pro-active tips to help you keep the “happy” in holidays.

1) First and foremost is the fact that you are a couple. You are now your own family. That doesn’t mean you love your parents, or your spouse’s parents any less, but you do have to make your relationship the number one priority.
2) Decide ahead of time what works for you, and what doesn’t. Talk about the fact that there are areas of potential conflict, and you want this to be a joyous time. Make a plan of where you’re going and when.
3) Understand that your decision may upset someone. It probably will, but the sooner you make it clear in a loving way that you are setting up new traditions are have really talked about what will work best for you, the sooner people can move on with what has been decided.
4) Don’t wait to tell your plans, be the first to bring it up and let people know what’s happening. That way there’s no chance that it really had anything to do with you changing your mind after they proposed a plan.
5) Work together. Never answer on your spouse’s behalf or commit to something until you’ve talked to your spouse.
6) Set up a new tradition of your own and invite your in-laws to participate. If they aren’t available or choose not to participate, that should be OK with you too.
7) Consider a whole new way to celebrate by picking a totally neutral place to spend the holidays…turn it into a family vacation.
8) Have a signal worked out that lets the other know you are getting into dangerous territory, or they are being pushed into a corner by your boisterous Uncle Ned.
9) Stick to the spirit of the season which is peace and love and do your part to keep things calm and comfortable.

Let us hear from you! How have you made the adjustment to having in-laws and holiday celebrations? Any funny stories? Any tips?

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Silent Treatment- Revisited

Posted by Michele Olson

In 2006 we posted a blog on The Silent Treatment and it was viewed frequently. That tells us that people are experiencing this and have an interest level that reaches their day to day lives.

This is the best joke I’ve seen so far on the silent treatment:

A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other the cold shoulder.

The next week, the man realized that he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight to Chicago. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence and lose, he wrote on a piece of paper, "Please wake me at 5:00 a.m."

The next morning the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 a.m. and that he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn't woken him when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed.

The paper said, "It is 5:00 a.m. Wake up."

Face it. At some point in our life, maybe as a child, we’ve been on the “giving” or “receiving end” of the silent treatment. It’s kind of a no brainer. It comes very naturally to some people. That’s why we should be so wary of it. Basic instincts aren’t always the best way to nurture a relationship.

It’s all about “the power” when it comes to the silent treatment.

You, “Human Being A” have a need for love, respect, approval, understanding and care.

You have done something to tick off “Human Being B”, maybe only in their head, but the bottom line is; you have caused them some kind of discomfort. (Again, this may have no relation to what really happened, but in their mind, it did.) “Human Being B” decides they can get their point across most effectively by withholding every basic element of human interaction from you. No warm and fuzzies for you! The grocery clerk is getting better treatment.

In all fairness, this may be a blessing in disguise if “Human Being B” is about to explode and do some kind of damage, they may just be protecting you from what they are really capable of. Or, they may find the subject so painful that they just can’t talk about it for awhile and they need to sort through everything in their own head in their own way before they can stand to talk about it. “Human Being B” may be so disconnected that they won’t even put the effort in to talk about what you see as monumental and they see as trivial.

The most common reason for the silent treatment usually falls into the category of: Human being B has decided “You must be punished and this is the best legal way I can think of to do it and make my point.”

For human being B, at least in the beginning, this is a delicious, heady almost euphoric feeling.
“I’m King or Queen of the world!”
The problem is, as this goes on it can unravel entire kingdoms, and for what?

Ugly things. Pride. Control. Making yourself more at the expense of another human being.

So, what can you, “Human Being A” do when you are the middle of this unpleasant situation? (Very few people reading this will be giving the silent treatment, they are much more likely to be on the receiving end, if I’m wrong- tell me!)

Here are some tips:

1) When you are not in the middle of a “session” ask your loved one if they would be willing to attend a marriage education workshop with you. They are most likely resorting to this type of behavior because they probably don’t have a “better one” up their sleeve. If you would both take the opportunity to learn how to communicate and resolve conflicts when you feel you have been wronged, you lessen the chances of resorting to the silent treatment.

2) Quit making it so rewarding. First of all (and you really have to put on your maturity hat to pull this off) ask yourself if there is truth in what they are upset about. Try to understand what set off this silence even if the other half of your brain thinks they belong in the Jerks Hall of Fame. Let them know that if something is bothering them you are all ears and willing to hear what it is. During the silent treatment, your temptation will be to withhold acts of love and affection. Resist those temptations and continue to do things like a love note in the lunch box. Actions can speak louder than words.

3) If they won’t discuss or share a reason, ask if they are looking for a certain amount of time to be left alone. Make it known you had no intent to insult or offend them, and you’re willing to talk whenever they are ready. Determine if this is actually just a “cooling off” period, and not a silent treatment.

4) When you have done your best to understand any part you played in your current cold shoulder situation, and you have concluded you can’t do any more, then go about your life as normal. I didn’t say it was easy, but it is necessary. Don’t feel guilty that you can’t read minds. If this has become a way of life in your relationship, you may have to seek outside help to break the pattern.

5) The silent treatment when done repeatedly is destructive behavior that can be seen as emotional abuse, depending on the situation and severity. It’ s mean and it’s no way to live. Don’t buy into it and if your loved one will not go to marriage education classes or seek help, you should still seek help for yourself if this is causing you distress.

6) When you aren’t in the silent treatment, see if you can talk about what you are both feeling during that time. See if you can agree that being right or wrong is not the most important thing, but that loving each other is what’s important.

At the end of the day, effective communication is the key to ending the silent treatment. (Ironic isn’t it?)

Have you been the recipient of the silent treatment?
What have you done when receiving it?
Have you given the silent treatment?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hey Main Street, How is Marriage Your Business?

posted by Michele Olson
You can’t turn on the TV today without hearing about Wall St. vs. Main St. The message is clear…we’re all on Main St. “They”, are Wall St. and they are the villains. We are Main St. and we are the victims.

The truth is probably closer to somewhere in the middle, since most of our retirement futures hinge on a healthy Wall St.
A healthy Wall St. is directly connected to a healthy business sector in our country.
Stick with me! (The knee bones connected to the ankle bone) A healthy business sector is directly connected to a healthy family.

There. Now we are getting somewhere.

If you ask the question, should marriage and divorce be the concern of business owners and executives whether they operate mainly on Main St. or Wall St.? The answer has to be “YES!”
Current research and thinking from the world of economics and social sciences has come to two major conclusions:

1) Happily married employees increase profitability
2) Unhappily married employees decrease profitability

Each of the 1.2 annual U.S. divorces cost society about $25,000 to $30,000 dollars. And we don’t need to look at couples as just married or divorced. Employees within companies are either in succeeding relationships and moving toward happy, satisfying relationships, or they are spiraling downward in an unhappy, hurtful relationship.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who is the more productive employee posed to be contributing at a high level.

That’s why it’s important in these economic times that employers consider marriage and healthy relationship education as a part of their plan to survive this economy. There are countless benefits for companies whose employees are in healthy relationships.

We’d be happy to provide your company with Cost of Divorce worksheets to show you just how much unhealthy relationships are costing your company and to make you aware of an important report called: Marriage and Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? put out by Life Innovations, Inc and the Marriage CoMission.

We’d also love to do a lunch and learn for you and your employees if you are in close enough proximity in the state of Wisconsin.

What do you observe in your work place when it comes to healthy relationships?

Let us hear from you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We're a Long Way from the String and Tin Cans

posted by Michele Olson
Is the internet and cellphones dividing the American family?
That's the interesting question that was posed in a Washington Post article yesterday.
The answer may surprise you. Even though parents and children are rushing through their days in different directions, the American family appears to be as tight knit as the last generation according to a Pew Internet and American Life Project poll. In the poll, 60 percent of adults said the new technologies did not affect the closeness of their family while 25 percent said cellphones and online communication made their families closer. 11 percent said the technology had a negative effect.
Turns out it's easier to keep in touch and actually know what the other is doing on a day-to-day basis because of the internet and cell phones. It didn't cause the amount of "face time" to be cut down, but rather was an addition to the amount of time spent communicating.
Personally, I know the internet and cell phones, especially texting and emails, has allowed me to stay in close contact with my children who are grown and not in the same state...and one not even in the country! My husband and I are about to celebrate our 30th anniversary and instead of a trip to Hawaii or a diamond necklace...we opted for iphones. On the very first day we communicated more because of getting unlimited texting which we didn't have before. I find an instant connection with people for even a moment is a wonderful way to stay in tune.
What about you?
Does technology keep your family connected?
Let us know what you are thinking!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to Tango Without Moving Your Feet!

posted by Michele Olson
If you’re a newlywed who has been married for less than three years, you can “uTango” and rack up financial rewards !

How so you say? is a program that rewards couples for their loyalty, not just as consumers, but to each other.

Here’s how it works: You register at the program and shop online at major retailers through the uTango site. With each purchase you earn “Tango Bucks.” If you accumulate a minimum of Bucks per year, you can turn them into cash rewards when you reach certain marriage milestones; $10,000 on your 10th anniversary, $100,000 on your 20th, and a whopping $1,000,000 on your 30th!

Be sure and read the rules but the concept is quite amazing. If you are internet shopping major retailers anyway…and you have been married 3 years or less…this may be more of a sure thing than the stock market!

There is also a system to allow singles and dating to accrue points and then convert them once married.
We don't discredit or endorse the program...we have no affiliation...but we do endorse the idea of anyone wanting to recognize the importance of long-term marriages. Visit the site and make your own judgements about how it fits into your life.

Anyone currently using uTango? Anyone about to cash in?

We’d love to hear your story!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Are You Satisfied with Your Marriage?

posted by Michele Olson

There’s a 64 million dollar question to ponder!

We hear about “sticking it out” and “staying together for the kids” but we often hear more about satisfaction from a Rolling Stones song than we do about someone being satisfied in their marriage.

It would be hard to find a married couple who doesn’t want to have a satisfying marriage. It’s a big reason we take the plunge in the first place.

According to John Gottman, a top researcher in the area of marital satisfaction, it’s the “little movements toward our spouse that increase our contentment with each other. It’s the smile, the opening of the door, the back rub, the kiss on the cheek, the kind word, or the gift of their favorite ice cream.”

The question becomes; what can you do to enhance your marital satisfaction?

Often times we aren't working on marital satisfaction because it hasn’t occurred to us.
When talking with many couples who are no longer together, they acknowledge that they weren’t looking for big things…just little every day niceties or being kind would have been grand in their eyes.
We can change that.
Let’s start thinking about it and deciding to do just one thing each day that we know would increase the marital satisfaction of our mate.

So the question isn’t, are you satisfied with your marriage, but rather, what have you done to make your marriage more satisfying?

The Catholic Church has a great video campaign out called: What Have You Done for Your Marriage Today?

You can view their videos here.

So, thinkmarriage blogger, how’s your marital satisfaction?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Marriage Advice from an Ad Man

posted by Michele Olson

Roy Hollister Williams is a marketing consultant who has landed on the best sellers list because of his books known as the Wizard of Ads book trilogy. He puts out a very interesting Monday Morning Memo that normally talks about advertising , but this past week , his topic was different.

It was about cheating husbands.

It’s really about first time fathers and warning them about the “backlash” of having their first child. Roy warns that along with the joy will come a host of unexpected feelings that he was warned about and chooses to warn his young married friends about.

He gives very tangible instructions about what to do with these feelings that will inevitably come along. There’s also a link to his views on why women cheat.

He’s not a marriage guru, but he is a person who will always get you thinking.

Read the memo and see what you think.

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Come Laugh With Us Oct. 16th

Posted by Michele Olson

If you live in Wisconsin or upper Michigan, we would love to have you attend our evening of Music, Love and Laughter Thursday October 16th…great refreshments, music and the comedy of national MARRIED comedians Jerry Barnes and Amy Miner. Fresh from appearances on NBC, CBS, Comedy Central and VH-1 to name a few, this funny duo will have us all laughing.
We wanted to get to know them a little better, so I asked some questions about the people behind the comedy.

Tell us a little bit about how you met…was it on a comedy circuit?

- Yes. We met in Seattle at the Comedy Underground. We wouldn't recommend looking there for a partner. You are better off on eHarmony.

Did you know right away that you would combine your act and be married comediennes together?

- The idea never actually occurred to us. We have a producer/friend who asked us to write a show for one of his theaters about the first year of marriage. That went really well and we started getting requests to perform together. It has only really been in the last year that we have been performing together nearly full time.

Let’s hear some “hard luck” stories about how you got started and rose to the place of being on places like NBC, Comedy Central and MTV!

- Most hard luck stories stem from being hired to do comedy in the wrong place. A holiday party for fishermen. Not, let's go to the lake and get a couple bass type fisherman. More like, been at sea for six months eating nothing but spam fisherman. A bachelor party at sea, where the host doesn't tell anyone you're a comedian. So you're at sea, making fun of the groom and no one knows who you are.


A stage surrounded by a chain link fence like a moat so the audience couldn't get to you. A cruise where everyone is 80 and older. Come to think of it, most "hard luck" stories seem to be water related.

How many years have you been married and do you have any kids?

- We have been married 6 years. We have a 3 years old daughter and one on the way.

So is it funny every day at your house?

We may be comedians but we are still married. Every day is funny. but it might not be funny till six months later.

Do you notice that different parts of the country laugh at different parts of your act?

-There are certainly different geographical cultures within this country. In Virginia, we can make fun of West Virginians. No one else really thinks that is funny. When it comes to marriage, there is no difference. Men are men and women are women and we all have the same struggles. Women like to shop the same in Texas as in New Hampshire and men forget their anniversary in Florida and Washington. It might just be the one thing that makes us all Americans.

Be honest, have you ever been in a fight and had to go on stage and act as if you aren’t a little miffed at each other?

-Nope. But once we had to go on stage after one of us - JERRY - had a few too many onions in his dinner.

What have you learned doing marriage comedy that has helped you in your marriage?

It's like a night out for us, plus, someone watches our kid. Tine away form the kid(s) always helps the marriage.

Get your tickets now for this great event. Register online or call (920) 430-7300.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Webisode Your World

by Michele Olson

Do you have 15 seconds?
This could be the best 15 seconds you spend if you visit our webisodes. You'll be entertained, you might have a reflective thought or two and you'll have the opportunity to incite your inner marriage champion by forwarding these webisodes on to your friends.
This is a forward they will actually thank you for.
What are you waiting for?
Start your :15 second adventure right now!
Then come back and let us know how many people you sent it to and what you think!