Thursday, January 29, 2009

Six Words

Posted by Michele Olson

Can you sum up your romantic life in just six words?

Maybe I can, maybe I can't.

You get the picture, don't you?

It makes you focus on words.

It's actually quite fun to do.

That's the word challenge that was put out by Reader's Digest in their February heart issue. Here's a sampling...

Where he is, I am home. -- Julia Evans

In hindsight, I'd still choose you. -- Natana Gill

Love: eight pounds and six ounces. -- Kenny Clark

Willing to blog your idea here?

The whole article here, just click.

Blog, let us hear your version!

This could be fun, participate now!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Real Growing Pains

posted by Michele Olson

Today, what turned out to be the most popular independent film of 2008 is being released on DVD. The movies name is FireProof.*
Is it getting an Academy Award? No.
Is it worth seeing? Yes.

The background story includes the fact that the movie was produced by Sherwood Baptist Church...the same people who brought the "little film that could" to the table called Facing the Giants. Fireproof was made for a mere $500,000-chump change by Hollywood standards.

Kirk Cameron mostly known by TV audiences from Growing Pains fame plays the role of Captain Caleb Holt, who finds himself in a rocky marriage on the verge of divorce. That is when Caleb's father challenges his son to commit to a 40-day experiment known as "The Love Dare." The release of the movie on DVD will allow more couples who are struggling in their marriage to possibly "see themselves" in story form on the big screen. It may open a door for them that they would not have considered had they not viewed the movie. That's valuable.
The movie does contain a faith based message, but also manages to depict what life is really like when things are going south in a relationship.
So now that you can watch this movie in the comfort of your own home...why not?
It can't hurt!
*Fireproof does contain religious content

Monday, January 26, 2009

If The Shoe Fits

posted by Michele Olson
When something big happens in the economy, the “future tellers” come out in droves to tell us what to expect or what this means. One big trend being touted is the idea that it’s better to “repair than replace.”

That makes sense.
Your expensive shoes wearing out? Better to get them resoled than to buy a whole new pair. Your lawn equipment on the fritz? Better to get it repaired than to buy a whole new lawnmower.

Your husband or wife driving you crazy?

Better to repair than replace.

That’s right. We come from an era of “out with the old and in with the new”…but we know statistically that when a marriage ends, the same processes that worked to build family wealth now work in reverse to drain the bank account.

We already have too many things draining our bank accounts…let’s not add a divorce to the mix.
That’s where marriage education comes in. At (click the classes tab) we have some very affordable marriage education classes that you and your spouse can attend.

You’ll learn healthy ways to communicate and resolve conflicts.

Explore and this blog to learn healthy relationship tips that can go a long way in “repairing” your marriage.

Times are tough. Repair instead of replace.

Maybe what’s good for the sole, is good for soul mates.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Love You Around the World

Posted by Michele Olson

Reader's Digest recently posed the question:
How often do you tell your spouse "I love you?"

Below is the percentage of people in each country surveyed who tell their wife or husband "I love you" every day.
Any surprises for you? English-speakers (and respondents under 45) were found to be among the most expressive. USA is up toward the top...but this is one contest I think we would like to win against the rest of the world. (Or maybe we can all get to 100%!)
See the in-depth statistics here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Strong Washington Marriages

posted by Michele Olson
It's a historic day in our country. Here's something to ponder as you reflect on everything happening. Our outgoing President entered, kept and is leaving with what appears to be a strong healthy marriage intact.
That's an accomplishment in a job that has to be an ultimate stress on marriage!
Our incoming President has shown himself to be a strong family man with a strong marriage at a time in our history when we need to see that. According to a 2005 UC Davis economists study, divorce has an even greater impact on African American children than white children. The study found that in the first two years following a divorce, family income among white children falls about 30percent, while it falls by 53 percent among black children. The study also found that in three or more years after a divorce, about a third of the loss in whites' household income is recouped, but the income of black families barely improves.
Here are some more staggering facts:
Only 44.9% of Black householders in family households live with a spouse.
Black families are less likely to contain a married couple than all other groups.
Black males and females are more likely to be unmarried than Whites, Hispanics, or American Indian/Alaskan Natives
At we know that strong and healthy relationships and marriages are the foundation of a strong America.
Of all the hopes, prayers and wishes we have for the new first family...a strong marriage through President Obama's term has to be one of the most important we can hope for.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Let's Hope This Year Is Different

Posted by Michele Olson
Today, Jan 12th, is traditionally known as the busiest day for divorce filings. That's a sad statistic. The thinking is that possibly people hold on through the holidays before passing on the bad news to their kids.
If you're a tax payer, which is most of us, it's also bad news for you. The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing: First Ever Estimates for the Nation and all 50 States report is available at, or you can download it here.
If you want to do better in these tough economic times, the truth is a family can live cheaper under one roof. The sad truth is 41% of women end up in poverty following a divorce.
Statistics also show that by the time you file for divorce, you have been thinking about it for seven years. Whether those thoughts are floating around in your head or not, why not be proactive? Take a marriage education workshop, read a good book about marriage like How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny. There are more good resources listed on this blog.
I hope next year I'm able to write a blog about the fact that January 12th was no longer a day known for the highest rate of divorce filings, but instead, more people signed up for a marriage education workshop or ordered a book on marriage. Now that would be a January 12th worth remembering.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Military and Marriage

posted by Michele Olson

Every day stress in life can be hard on a relationship, but throw in an allegiance to Uncle Sam and you can imagine the added problems that could arise.

God Bless every single person who has or ever will serve in the military, in any capacity. That being said, serving your country can be tough on your marriage.

Thank goodness that many branches of the military are paying attention to this fact.
Military divorce rates rose by .1 percent – to 3.4 percent- during fiscal 2008, with 492 more divorces that the previous year according to a Pentagon spokesperson.

The Marine Corp experienced the biggest increase…from 3.3. to 3.7 percent. That adds up to 3,077 divorces last year. The Army also increased while the rate dropped .2 percent in the Navy and remained stable in the Air Force.

The military services are now providing a full range of outreach programs. They are often offered through the services’ family support, chaplain and mental health counseling networks.

If you are in the military, or have a family member or friend serving our country…encourage marriage education for every military couple. That includes couples who are done with their service and are adjusting back to civilian life.

To read more on this subject visit The Military Family Network.

Want to thank a military person or couple for their service to our country? has gift certificates available for healthy relationship/marriage workshops in six Wisconsin counties.

Tell us your story as a couple in the military.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Virginity Pledge Study Reminds Us to Beware of Sound Bites

posted by Michele Olson

Coffee is good for you. Coffee is bad for you. A different sound bite each day. Unless you go and read the details of each study, you will form your opinion based on short sound bites and newspaper headlines.

Upon delving into a study on coffee, you may find coffee in moderation is good for you, but excessive “Joe” will cause other problems.

Unless you dig a little, you won’t get to the story behind the story.

That’s what has happened with a recent study published in the Jan. 1 edition of Pediatrics. The author concluded that teens who take a virginity pledge until marriage really don’t behave any differently who those who don’t take a pledge.

Here’s what you saw in the headlines:

Virginity Pledges Don’t Stop Teen Sex - CBS

Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds - Washington Post

Study: Teens Who Pledge Abstinence More Likely to Have Unprotected Sex
-Fox News

As a parent or someone who works with teens, you are probably thinking…"Well, so much for that idea…”

Not so fast.

William McGurn in an Opinion Journal on the Wall Street Journal website has posted an article
highlighting the disconnect noticed in the study by Dr. Bernadine Healy, former chief of the National Institutes of Health (the first woman to hold the influential post), former head of the American Red Cross, and former deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Dr. Healy points out that the only way the study author, Janet Elise Rosenbaum of John Hopkins University could come to such results is by comparing teens who take a virginity pledge with a very small subset of other teens: those who are just as religious and conservative as the pledge-takers. She brought to light the fact that “virginity pledging teens were considerably more conservative in their overall sexual behaviors than teens in general, a fact that many media reports have missed cold.”

It’s not the pledge itself that distinguishes these kids from most teenagers. The real difference is their more conservative and religious home and social environment. When comparing both groups with teens at large, the behavioral differences are striking.

Those differences are listed in the opinion piece, which is well worth reading.

That's quite a different story than what you can garner from the headlines.

That, as Paul Harvey for is famous for saying, Is the Rest of the Story.

Monday, January 05, 2009

A thinkmarriage workshop attendees letter

posted by Michele Olson

Did you ever want to hear from someone who attended a workshop?

I hope this prompts you to make plans to take a healthy relationship/marriage education workshop this year!

Letter to us from Z:

I have been engaged for a little over 2 months to a man who is truly the love of my life, and who has blessed me by feeling the same way about me. Our relationship is not without complication or pain, but everything we do, we do deeply and with vigor. We have been together for over four years, and nothing could have ever prepared me for the ever-present beauty that has come with our journey. There are elements of fear on my part; compliments of our already once-divorced statuses and our decision two years ago to buy a house together. I realize that statistics show the odds are against us - more so even than the national divorce rate for first marriages and non-cohabitators. But I know that we have what it takes.

Several weeks ago we signed up for the P.I.C.K. a Partner class through - this occurred shortly after we became engaged. My how dynamics have changed - this engagement has introduced an ever-present "elephant" in the room, and taking this class has given us the insight and resources we need to face and conquer that elephant, always taking it one day at a time.

Things I know now that I didn't know "then" (and I thank God every day for):

1 - We are working harder than we ever thought necessary. Human beings are not simple creatures and unearthing the mysteries of our personal depths is exhausting, but so rewarding.
2 - There is no black and white solution to any disagreement. Focusing on and embracing the gray area is its own reward. Learning to do that takes maturity and an open mind.
3 - A successful relationship (and eventually a happy marriage) doesn't mean no conflict. Coming to realize that and making the best of it will only make us stronger.
4 - I can only change myself. Period. And in knowing this, I am acutely aware of what I'm really made of. Sometimes it makes me grimace (when realizing things about myself that aren't so nice or attractive), but mostly it makes me deliriously happy on the inside.
5 - And finally, my favorite quote:

"The way I see it isn't necessarily the way you see it...Or the way it is or ought to be. What's more important is that we're both looking for it and a way to see it."
- Desi DeNardo
I think is a fantastic starting point for all couples that have a desire to build a stronger, happier, and more intimately passionate relationship with their partner. Realizing that you have to do all the work yourself took some getting used to, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks Z for your comments...We would love more feedback from workshop and class attendees!