Monday, November 24, 2008

More Empty Beds

posted by Michele Olson
I had the opportunity recently to do something that I had never done before. Along with our Milwaukee County Program Director, I visited the State of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility. Let me put it in simpler terms; I went into prison to observe a marriage education course being voluntarily taken by inmates.

Going into a prison and seeing the life there was eye opening. It’s a little like watching something happen that you know about, but you’ve never experienced. Like watching a hurricane or earthquake…something we just don’t see firsthand in Wisconsin. When you see it first hand, it takes on a whole new perspective and reality.

What struck me was the willingness of the inmate participants to share with the facilitator their thoughts on relationships. The tenants of the class being taught covered the healthy steps to a healthy relationship. The participants opened up about their upbringing and their current relationships.
It is becoming more and more apparent in this country that there are many people growing up without any exposure to what a healthy relationship or a marriage looks like. There are always cases of people who just make bad choices when they’ve been given every opportunity to act responsibly, but the number of people who truly never had any chance to “know better” is astronomical. They’re simply reflecting what they’ve seen modeled in life. With the idea that knowledge is power, there are a lot of powerless people walking around making poor decisions.

I was also struck by the compassion of the Deputy Warden, Social worker and staff who really had a desire to see these men succeed. They were very thankful for what was providing…basic communication and conflict resolution skills.

It was an eye opening experience, one that I won’t forget. I’ll also remember the looks on the faces of the general population of the prison. Some of these men can be confined for up to a year in this specific facility. I wondered about each of their stories, what led them there, what they had seen and been exposed to as they went through their formative years. I thought about how their lives might have been different if they had seen healthy relationships and marriages modeled along the way, and if they had started taking classes about healthy relationships in their pre-teen years. I wondered if it would have meant less people incarcerated and more empty beds.

We know from social science research that most of society’s ills fall at the doorstep of the breakdown of the family. That’s why it’s so important that healthy relationship and marriage education be given the chance to become a part of every person’s knowledge base. It truly is a way to change the world.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's Possible and Is It Time for a Checkup?

posted by Michele Olson

Two recent USA Today articles are worth checking into.

One is titled: Proof's in the brain scan: Romance can last It doesn't always fade over time and the other is called Marriage Checkup Aims to Prevent Problems…both written by USA reporter Sharon Jayson.

The “Proof” article talks about research pointing to the fact the honeymoon doesn't have to be over just because you've been together for years.

New brain scans of people who say they are still in love after decades of marriage are similar to scans of those who have just fallen in love, leading researchers to conclude that long-term relationships can be just as passionate and romantic as new love.

The study, presented Sunday at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C., represents a dramatic shift in thinking. Other research "always suggested romantic love is over by 12 to 15 months. This suggests that may not have to be the case," says Richmond Thompson, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Bowdoin College, who wasn't involved in the study. Read the full article here.

The other article points out that you go to the dentist twice a year and have an annual physical exam, why wouldn’t you protect the health of your union with a Marriage Check up? Sounds a lot like attending a marriage education class at least once a year! Read the full article here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The World’s Easiest Way to Faster Intimacy

posted by Michele Olson

How was your day?”

Seems a simple enough question. According to psychologist Angela Hicks, PhD, of Westminster University it packs a wallop.

She studied 48 couples and found that those who discussed recent positive experiences with each other felt happier the next day, and also had increased feelings of intimacy and connection to their partners. It was also found important to discuss the low points. These types of discussions also made a couple feel closer.

It’s interesting to note that 30% of men say their days’ most positive event involved their wife.
27% of women say their day’s most positive event involved their husband.

So looking for the world’s easiest way to faster intimacy? Just ask a simple question.

You can read the complete study here.

Now it's your turn!

Tell us about your relationship. Do you and your spouse ask each other about "your day" every day?
Do you agree with the author’s findings?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Look At Long Lasting Love in Korea

It seems that a long healthy marriage is like a smile, universal and important in every language and culture.
Korea states that with a staggering divorce rate of 47%, longstanding couples are considered a rarity in today’s Korean society.

This article entitled Two Become One on Journey of Marriage crosses any cultural borders in the advice to spend time communicating and a unique admonition to “love each other’s weaknesses.”

It’s interesting to think about the importance of healthy marriages to every culture, as the foundation for a strong society. Enjoy a look at another country's acknowledgement of the importance of longevity in marriage.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Can A Marriage Survive an Affair?

Posted by Michele Olson

I love television…the medium and all the funny, happy moments it can bring if you watch the right programs. One thing I don’t like is its inability to convey the depth of pain that comes from some real life situations. There is a danger in thinking that real life mirrors the ability to wrap things up in a tidy bow in 60 minutes. Television programs and the movies are filled with people casually having affairs, and making it look exciting, romantic and painless.

In real life affairs are devastating.
Someone along the way gets hurt. Something that was once one way is now changed in some shape or form.

But does that mean it’s RIP and recovery isn’t possible?

Not according to a resource like Beyond Affairs Network (BAN for short)

Ban’s mission statement should be a healing balm of hope for anyone reading this who is feeling the pain of an affair.

Beyond Affairs Network (BAN) Mission Statement

To provide an opportunity for people who are dealing with the devastating impact of a spouse’s affair to come together face-to-face, for strength, insight, and mutual support.

To provide a safe place to share the painful emotions that interfere with recovery and a place to gain perspective and understanding, aimed at thinking more clearly and acting more effectively, in order to proactively move forward, make more informed personal decisions and recover from this experience.

To reinforce people’s own efforts toward recovery, working in conjunction with and not in place of other support they are seeking such as therapy, counseling or marriage healing and strengthening seminars.

To help people reach a point where they are fully healed from the experience and no longer need support.

To become as commonly known about and available worldwide as other major support groups such as Al-Anon, so that no betrayed spouse needs to suffer in isolation.

BAN is one great resource and you can visit their site for more information.

Another resource is Dear Peggy and her Extramarital Affairs Resource Center.

For a great book on the subject read: Staying Together When An Affair Pulls You Apart by Stephan Judah, P.H.D.

The point is: there is help and hope for marriages that will help if your marriage is suffering from an affair. You are not alone. Many couples have survived affairs and gone on to have healthier marriages. In the end, your outcome is between you and your spouse, but rest assured that there can be help along the way.

Let us hear from you. (You are anonymous on this blog)
Has your marriage survived an affair?
Have you and your spouse ever talked about marital affairs?
Do you have an encouraging word to someone because you’ve “walked a mile in their shoes?”

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Devoted to You

Posted by Michele Olson

November 4, 1978

As the main writer of this blog and the Communications Director for, I can't help but share this special day with you, readers. It's the 30th Anniversary of my marriage to my husband Ray.

It was a beautiful fall day in 1978, and we were so young and not sure of what the future held. It's amazing to look back 30 years later and think of all we've experienced together.

We're crazy about our family...our son Ben and his wife Sara, and our daughter Molly and her boyfriend Wim. We can't believe we're here, because we remember thinking how amazing it would be to be married five years! There have been so many good times, many hard times too...but through it all, I think of the song we sang to each other at our wedding; A James Taylor and Carly Simon song - Devoted to You.

"Through the years our love will grow, like a river it will flow. It can't die because I'm so, devoted to you."

We had a very "home made" wedding as we used to do in the 70's and my parents and family made the food for the reception of over 300 people. The main dish was spaghetti and we all wore matching red, white and blue bibs...little did we know what a historic day our 30th anniversary would be for our country. (Don't forget to vote!)

I just want to encourage anyone reading this to keep on going...respecting one another...and taking time to be together. It's really "sweet" when you are in it for the long haul and you have the idea deep in your heart through all the obstacles that life can throw at you that you will be there for each other. You will survive the economy, kids, extended families and life. Just remain committed to doing it together, hand in hand.

I look forward to 35, 40, 50 and more Lord willing...because marriage can be one of the best things you ever decide to do in your life.

As the poet Robert Browning said: Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.

Monday, November 03, 2008

No Matter Who Wins, Keep Voting for Marriage!

posted by Michele Olson

Tomorrow is a big day in our country. You would have to be living on another planet not to have received the message that it matters that you vote. Long after we know who our next President will be, there is something you need to keep “voting” for so to speak…and that’s marriage!

A new administration will be looking at all the programs and laws regarding families…so you need to stay on top of what’s happening. Make your voice heard when it comes to pro-family and pro-marriage issues. Investigate what’s happening in your community that supports marriage and family. Lend your time and talents to building up marriage and healthy relationships.

Take a marriage or healthy relationship workshop if you have one available in your area. Watch community calendars on newspaper, TV and radio for events you can attend. Attend Representative forums when they come to your area and learn their views on marriage and family.

Every four years we get all excited about issues and they come to the forefront. The real work is often in the “in-between” times so that when our country gets excited …our issue is a part of the conversation.

Healthy relationships and families are at the core of our country’s success. No matter who wins the election tomorrow…let’s keep “voting” for marriage!