Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Movie Wars

Posted by Michele Olson

The economy went in the dumper and so did your couples night out at the movies. So what does any red blooded American couple do?

You stay in and rent!

The New York Times ran a pretty funny article on Sunday about the dilemma that is created when couples share a “queue”, the computer list of which films will arrive next in the mail, after those at home are returned with the company NetFlix.

What used to be sorted out in a video aisle in a store, the article points out, is now not discussed as couples go into their queue separately. Because the queue is shared, couples have been known to go into their request area and move their particular movie choice up to the top.

According to the story, there has been one “Netflix divorce” where the couple just decided to create two separate accounts. Read the article and comment on how you and your loved one decide which movie to order. Have you experienced this little red envelope stressor on your relationship?

Tomorrow! Fun, not nasty April fools jokes to play on your spouse! Send your ideas to info@thinkmarriage.org Getting great ideas from Twitter!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Husband Chooses to Stop His Affair by "Turning off the Gas"

Posted by Michele Olson

This was a recent letter sent to thinkmarriage.org The names have been changed, but you will find great encouragement from the content. It is a longer blog, but well worth the read. What do you think? Please blog your thoughts. *

I met my wife Jillian, we fell in love got engaged and married. I was a student, and worked in a restaurant. Jillian was working at home taking care of our son and getting ready to give birth to our next child. During that time, I entered into an inappropriate relationship, got too close and too personal with another student and found myself in the middle of an extra-marital affair. I was blinded by my own selfish “dreams” and listening to the lies that were being told by this woman who was not my wife. It was difficult for me to see Jillian’s suffering and needs while this other woman was feeding my ego.

Jillian had her suspicions – she even confronted me a number of times. But without any ‘evidence’ – it was just a matter of calling her crazy and insecure to get her ‘off my back’. Early in February, 3 months after our daughter was born, I had her on my chest. She was having a hard time falling asleep. Eventually she calmed down – by what I perceived to be my presence with her – and I prayed right there that God help me to get out of this lie. I couldn’t escape without His help – I didn’t want my children to know me as the man I was at the time.

Shortly thereafter; I had just arrived home from school, just minutes before planning an afternoon with this other woman. Jillian had spent most of the day on the phone with our pastor, Christian counselor and some friends who were aware of the situation. She had discovered a paper where I had been writing about my relationship with this other woman. She was advised by the counselor to remain committed to our marriage despite this evidence and to see where my commitment level was.

If you would’ve asked me a few weeks or months ago, I would’ve said zero. But on this particular day, at this moment in time, when Jillian asked me “Are you committed to this marriage,” I felt I had to think about it in great detail. After what felt like 15 minutes, I answered ‘yes’. I had ‘my chance’ – it was there in front of me but something else seemed to be driving the bus at the time. She replied “so am I”…

She then looked up from the table and asked – “and what is this?” She had placed the incriminating evidence on the table, and instantly I knew what it was. I asked where she found it. She was getting a baby swing ready to take back to a friend – she reached inside the box and found the notebook I had been writing my ideas in. Within it was a brief overview of a book I was thinking of writing with a stupid idea I came up with telling the “fortunate events” that brought me and this woman together. I knew that trying to lie about the contents, or come up with a lame excuse would not be worth it so I told the truth.

What a concept. Truth telling.

From then on, that’s what it became. Truth telling.

She asked me about the times when I stayed late at school to do research. What did we do? Where did we go? Was she in our house? Truth telling. For me it was release from my lies. For her it was excruciating pain. The liberation I was experiencing was her prison – she was dealing with the part I had already lived through lies. She had to go back through, all the times she had ‘believed’ what I had said about what I was doing, where I was – who I was. She had a journal she kept when she called me and where I said I was. We walked backwards together through the book. I gave every detail my mind allowed me to remember. She would get angry. She would cry. We would always sleep in the same bed though. That was the strange part. After all that infidelity, the lies – we needed each other badly.

The next day, I met with our pastor (he was at our house the night before and coached us through some things) and we talked about the journey I had, how I got there, what was next. One thing that stuck through the whole conversation that he said:

“You’ve got to turn off the gas.” “You can fight a fire all day long, but if the gas is still coming into the house, the fire will keep burning until there is nothing left”

That afternoon, Jillian and I shut off the gas – together. I called the woman, with Jillian on the other line. I told her Jillian was listening. I started to explain to her that I wouldn’t be coming over today, or any other day. She was not to contact me. Jillian and I will be getting help for our marriage. I started to tell her that she should get help too. Without saying a word, she hung up.

The gas had been shut off and Jillian and I began to sift through the rubble that was left. It was difficult at times. Reliving my lies and shining truth into them was painful. It’s hard sometimes to think about the kind of ‘man’ I was back then, what I said and did. The best part about it though was Jillian. She forged through every one of my retellings of the events that had happened. She would get angry, then we would ‘deal with it’ – together.

She didn’t trust me at all, and rightfully so. I surrounded myself with only those that I knew Jillian could trust. I immediately stopped working at the restaurant. I finished my classes at college. I got a new job and really started a new life.

Fortunately for me, that new life was started with the same wonderful woman who said “I do” when we go married. She is the model of true forgiveness – having NEVER brought back anything from my past to use against me or to hurt me. I know that our restoration has a lot to do with forgiveness – she gave it wholeheartedly and even asked for mine of her in return. We are like the patient that was told 10 years ago they had ‘only days to live’ – By the grace of God, look at us now! So much has changed in us and in our families since then. Since that time in our life, we have seen couples survive and fall. We have mentored a few and have even convinced a few to work it out. Because of the hopelessness we had– we see the greatest of potential in almost every “at risk” marriage we come across. We never feel that God has somehow given us “special spiritual powers” to reach into couples’ lives and miraculously make their marriage problems go away. I know that it’s our transparency about what we’ve been through – sharing the struggles of our marriage, and coaching and speaking truth into their lives – that’s helped most of the couples realize the similarities of their struggles. But also too, that God has given me a second chance – to share with other couples how I’ve been transformed by His grace. This has never been out of obligation or servitude… but because I’ve been released from that which had previously enslaved me and blinded me to what is the truth.

*Author's story contains faith based statements.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Does Your Child’s Bedtime Affect Your Marriage?

posted by Michele Olson

Jill Spivack, MSW, author, psychotherapist and mother of two has some advice at momlogic. She has observed in her parenting groups that the parents whose kids go to bed at a reasonable hour, 7-8 PM, seem happier and more fulfilled than those whose kids stay up later.

Makes sense. When kids go to sleep late, there is no refueling time for the parent or the couple. Lack of sleep causes crankiness, resentment and bickering. It’s probably more the reason that couples don’t have sex that the proverbial “headache.” Her bottom line: sleep deprivation brings out the worst in everyone.

Probably an easy thing to implement for couples just getting started with little children, but for those already in a pattern of staying up late…could make for some interesting evenings.

What do you think? What time do your kids go to bed? Let us hear from you.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Busting Marriage Myths

Posted by Michele Olson
Did you get your free Marriage Myth Buster Guide yet? All we need is your name and mailing address, and we'll send one to you. It's a good read if we do say so ourselves! The reason? You're going to learn something. You're going to have some things that you think are true, challenged.
It's also a good thing because you'll come to understand thinkmarriage.org a little better. For example, did you know that we don't believe in marriage at any cost? Did you know that we don't discredit or criticize those how have chosen divorce or happen to be single parents.
Life happens. It's happened to our staff too. What we want to get you thinking about is the impact of healthy relationships and marriages on society as a whole, not just your individual situation. Whether you are married or single, the state of healthy marriage relationships do have an impact on your life...as a whole. That's what we want you to learn more about.
We want you a part of our team. No matter what your personal situation in a relationship is at this time, you can be a Marriage Champion. Get your guide today.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Barbie and Ken Got Divorced

posted by Michele Olson
Barbie, yes “the Barbie” turned 50 this month. She became a part of our culture in March 1959. Ken Carson, yes “the Ken” met Barbara Millicent Roberts on a TV commercial set in 1961 and the two began dating. (She was probably there as a result of her first career, teenage fashion model.) After quite a life which included gigs as an astronaut, nurse, surgeon, Olympic gold medalist, and serving in all four military branches…oh and a run for the presidency, she and Ken broke up after 43 years of marriage. They got a divorce.

Whoa, hold the presses. Divorced?

Some news columns said the relationship dissolved because the pressure of being in the public eye became too great — even after 43 years. Others gossiped that Ken's ambiguous sexuality and Barbie's disproportionate figure finally took their toll.

Still others blamed the break on the fact that Barbie's career and popularity continued to overshadow Ken's. Then there were those who maintained that they were just a plastic couple from the beginning.

That was 2004. What does it say about our attitude toward divorce and marriage when the perfect couple calls it quits?
The good news is, they reunited in 2006. They must have found out, just as many couples do, that divorce is not all they had hoped for. In fact, in the real world, 6% of divorced couples over the age of 40 who divorce decide to remarry. I wish we could have gone to the stores in 2004 and bought the “Ken and Barbie take marriage education workshop” play set. Then they might not have had to traumatize all those kids who had divorced forced on them.

Kind of like real life.

Divorce is necessary is some people’s lives. But for the 70% of divorces today that are low-conflict and don’t involve any type of abuse, working on a marriage can bring a couple closer to happily ever after without the pain of divorce.

Kind of like a fairy tale.

If you are considering divorce and have not taken the time to work on your marriage with such tools as marriage education….learn a lesson from Barbie and Ken. See if you can restore what you once had before you call it quits.

Get the facts from our free Marriage Myth Buster Guide. Follow thinkmarriage.org on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Wealthy is Your Marriage?

Posted by Michele Olson

A great on-the front lines friend to the healthy marriage movement across the country is Julie Baumgardner. She has been a pioneer in many creative and on-the-ground ideas to raise awareness of healthy relationships. Julie serves as the President and Executive Director of First Things First, a grassroots organization dedicated to strengthening families in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In her recent Washington Times article she spoke with professor Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist who teaches psychology and business at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. The topic was of course, the economy! Many people are worried about how marriages are being affected by so much economic stress in the home. Her article and tips dwell on the positive and the good things that can come out of what may at first blush appear to be negative.

Read her article for a boost to your own positive attitude about what’s important in life, and what true wealth means.

Has the economy become a big issue in your marriage? Let us hear your story.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Domestic Violence

posted by Michele Olson

I was about to point you to an article by Steven Stosney in a recent Psychology Today blog when the comment to my previous blog came in. (Click on the comments at the bottom of the previous post to read this.)
Someone saying they are a whipping post, both emotionally and physically.
In the comment you will see an encouragement to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, via website or phone, with a warning. This is for the safety of someone who is being abused, and using a computer that the abuser can see.

Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet and/or computer usage might be monitored, please use a safer computer, call your local hotline, and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224

Our prayers and hope that this recent blogger will take the safe steps to get help that is available 24/7 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 1-800-799-7233

Steven Stosney’s blog talks about Rihanna, Chris and the Pendulum of Pain…the abuse that has been all over the news lately. It addresses the age-old question of “Why do you stay?” Steven points out that is the wrong question. Victims of abuse hardly ever stay. They leave and come back much like a rubber band effect. He says that unlike parties in non-abusive relationships, they leave while they are still attached. As long as they are attached, they are subject to the survival-level force of emotional bonding. For a more in-depth explanation of his comments, that don’t just repeat what you often hear, check out his article here.

For anyone living the nightmare of domestic violence, please realize that there is help, and you are not alone. Use the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Has anyone reading this been through abuse and have some words of wisdom? Your blogs are anonymous. Let us hear from you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Now, That's True Love

by Michele Olson

Boy, there's a lot of things to read these days, isn't there?

Here's a New York Times article that you must read.

It's marital love at it's finest.

It's a true story.

It will touch you.

It will make you want to value your marriage more. Please, take the time to read it and then come back to let us know your thoughts.
In a Charmed Life, a Road Less Traveled.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

And Then The Fight Started

I asked my wife, "Where do you want to go for our anniversary?" It warmed my heart to see her face melt in sweet appreciation."Somewhere I haven't been in a long time!" she said. So I suggested, "How about the kitchen?"

And that's when the fight started....

Have you seen these: And that’s when the fight started jokes circulating? They are pretty comical.

So, what do people in a marital relationship fight about?

Is it the toothpaste cap left off, the in-laws, money, who is in control or sex?

Yes! Married couples fight about chores, time on the computer, jobs, recreation, neatness, infidelity, sex, kids, annoying habits…so many topics, I could go on and on!

Why fight? To clear the air, to resolve issues, for control, to vent, to win…lots of reasons there too.

It’s not the fact that people fight, disagree, have “discussions”…the point is; do you fight fair? Without fighting fair you are just causing lots of bad feelings and not getting anywhere. So instead of the old movie line “I hate it when we fight!” It should be, “I hate the damage we cause when we don’t fight fair.”

Here are some guidelines to fighting fair
· It’s not about winning, it’s about fighting for your marriage
· Listen to hear rather than being busy thinking up your response.
· Don’t assume or fancy yourself a mind reader, they don't really exist
· If you know you are too worked up, take a break first
· Find the “win win” whenever possible
· Forgiveness is an important part of fighting fair
· Use the technique of repeating back, “So what I think I hear you saying is…” and then be
prepared to listen again in case you are way off
· Take responsibility in an honest way for what you have contributed to a problem

Just some basic guidelines for fighting fair…the only productive way or reason to “fight.”

Here’s another giggle:

My wife sat down on the couch next to me as I was flipping channels. She asked, 'What's on TV?'
I said, 'Dust.'

And then the fight started...

Tell us about your fights. Do you fight fair? Can you work on your style of fighting?

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Silver Lining in the Divorce Recession

posted by Michele Olson

Rosemary Black from the Daily News recently pointed out that divorce is the latest recession casualty. Some couples who were planning on divorcing have put their plans on hold. In this economy there may not be funds to hire an attorney, or the ability to sell a house as part of a settlement. One or both spouses may be unemployed.

If you have ever seen our thinkmarriage.org Marriage Myth Buster Guide, you know that we address the greater wealth that comes from staying married. Myth number two is that marriage puts a strain on your finances. In reality, marriage gives you a much larger pocketbook. The fact is: it’s expensive for a couple to get divorced. Then there’s the monetary cost to society. It’s estimated to cost $20,000 to $30,000 in public resources. For example, in 2006, Wisconsin taxpayers spent $300-$500 M due to family breakdown.
That doesn't even touch the subject of the emotional devastation.

The silver lining? People may be forced to work on their marriage rather than give up too easily. For those who can turn this crisis into an opportunity to improve rather than dissolve their marriage, the recession may turn out to be good for their pocketbooks and their hearts.

Get your own Marriage Myth Buster Guide for free. Send name and address to info@thinkmarriage.org

Friday, March 06, 2009

Happy Marriage Can Increase Healthy Heart for Women

posted by Michele Olson
Heartbroken over a troubled marriage?
A new study shows it's not just in your mind. It could really be affecting your heart.Researchers at the University of Utah studied hundreds of couples and found that women under marital strain had an increased risk for heart disease, including high blood pressure and obesity. Leaving a troubled marriage doesn't seem to offer any relief for men or women -- the same study finds that divorce also raises the odds of heart disease. Instead, experts recommend counseling for couples in rocky relationships -to improve communication and give men & women the skills to cope with the stress.
Experts should also be recommending yearly marital check-ups and marriage education. Another great reason to work toward a healthy, satisfying marriage!
Read the story here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Things are Happening Today in Michigan

Posted by Michele Olson

Have you heard?

An interfaith coalition of religious leaders is launching a marriage offensive in Michigan over the next 48 hours.

Convinced that stubborn rates of divorce will yield to marriage counseling and patience, a group of more than a dozen ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and laity have scheduled a series of meetings today and Friday to introduce marriage-saving programs to Metro Detroit couples, lobby legislators for mandatory waiting periods for divorce and commit Macomb County to a Community Marriage Policy, which 223 communities across the country have adopted.
Signatories to the policy pledge themselves to encourage enactment of the five-part Community Marriage Policy program, which calls for six months of preparation before marriage, annual church-run marriage retreats, training married couples to intervene in troubled marriages, a 12-week reconciliation course for separated couples and creating so-called step-families -- support groups for families and couples dealing with troubled marriages.

Michigan had the 27th highest rate of divorce in the nation, with 3.4 divorces per 1,000 residents in 2007, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Illinois, with the third-lowest rate of divorce -- 2.6 divorces per 1,000 persons -- requires a two-year waiting period for contested divorces and six months for uncontested divorces. Although Wisconsin’s numbers are not quite as high as Michigan's, every state should be concerned about Community Marriage Polices that can have a positive effect on bringing down the divorce rate. If you would like to know more about what is happening in the state of Wisconsin email john@thinkmarriage.org

Michigan would also do well to understand the role that marriage education, not just marriage counseling can play in bringing about this policy. Meanwhile....go Michigan! (Read Full Story)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Being in a “Crevasse”

Posted by Michele Olson

This is a story, part of a paper presented at National Conference on Marriage, Malta, 7th February 2009, written by a gentleman from the U.K., Harry Benson.

Many of you will see yourself in this story, or you will see the lives of your parents or someone you know. It’s the tale of what happens in a marriage when people grow apart, and what happens when they are willing to take part in marriage education.

The story is about the marriage of Harry and Kate. There is also an interesting thought about the idea of “crevasse moments.” Harry describes these as moments when a couple realizes they are drifting apart, and they fall into a crevasse…or crevice as we would more likely call it in the U.S.

He describes it as a fall. It feels horrible. It’s scary, dark and uncomfortable to be disconnected from the one you love. And, you have to climb out.

The difference is; with marriage education, you know how to climb out. You know that the effort is worth it.

It’s an interesting paper well worth your time. Read it, and then let us know some thoughts.

How do you handle your “crevasse” moments?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Statistics Show ADHD Increases Divorce

posted by Michele Olson

We all know the statistics about divorce. They are high. Now a study is saying that couples who have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are nearly TWICE AS LIKELY to divorce or separate as couples who do not have children with the psychiatric disorder, according to a definitive new study that is the first to explicitly explore the question. The reason appears
simple: Having a child who is inattentive or hyperactive can be extremely stressful for caregivers and can exacerbate conflicts, tensions and arguments between parents.

Guess anyone who has a child with ADHD could shout a loud “Amen!” right about now.

The Washington Post article goes on to explain that it’s a sensitive topic because no one wants to say that scientists are blaming kids for the marital woes of their parents. There have been many studies of how parents affect kids, but this is one that points to how a child can affect the marriage of the parents.

What it means is ADHD should not be treated without involving the parents in the treatment. It affects the whole family including the marriage. Just another important reason that communication and conflict resolution skills have to be at their best…another reason for marital education. thinkmarriage.org does have several opportunities every year for parents of special needs kids to take a workshop that addresses communication and how special needs affects the marriage. If you are interested in this type of class, please contact us so we can let you know how you can attend a workshop.
Are you the parent of an ADHD child? How has your child’s diagnosis affected your marriage?

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Word Not To Use

Posted by Michele Olson
There is one simple thing you can do for you marriage. Don't use the "D" word. You will have times when you are so angry you could "spit" as my Grandma used to say. That's normal. But don't use the "D" word. It's not a word to be taken lightly. It's not something to use as a threat.
I'm talking about Divorce.
People do get divorced. Some divorces are necessary. Abuse should never be tolerated. But, don't use the word lightly. Some couples fall into a pattern of flinging the word out every time there is a disagreement. Don't be one of those couples.
Don't say it. Don't imply it.
It's one of the most destructive things you can do for your relationship. It can cause mistrust and fear for the future. And, don't be dropping the word lightly around your children either.
It's a simple thing, but it's something you can choose not to do.
Don't use the word divorce unless you know it is absolutely necessary.
You'll be doing you and your spouse a favor.
Let us hear your thoughts.