Monday, June 29, 2009

Good News from All the Bad News

posted by Michele Olson

Wow…we are on news overload lately! Passing of famous people we all knew and the passing of some marriages we thought we could trust. You might feel like it’s happening all at once, and that can lead to some feelings of despair and depression.

Be encouraged! There is lemonade out of all these lemons!

All this talk about marriage gets us talking and thinking about marriage. That is a good thing.

In a June 26, 2009 New York Times article title Marriage Stands Up for Itself, written by Benedict Carey and Tara Parker-Pope they point out that despite all the things working against marriage, the marriage bond is stronger right now than many people assume.
It’s a very good article I highly recommend you read. Look at the comment on the 50% divorce rate:

For instance, one of the most commonly cited statistics about marriage is that half of marriages end in divorce. But that number reflects the expected lifetime divorce rate of people married in the 1970s.

The story is different for more-recently married couples. A comparison of 10-year divorce rates among college-educated men married in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s shows that divorce is becoming less common, said Dr. Stevenson, the Wharton researcher. Among men who married in the 1970s, for example, about 23 percent had divorced by the 10th year of marriage. Among similar men married in the 1980s, about 20 percent had divorced by the 10th year. Men married in the 1990s are doing even better — with a 10-year divorce rate of 16 percent.

Good news huh? What do you think about the article? What do you think about the state of marriage this day?

Pass on the news about our blog and invite your friends to become a follower. Follow us on Twitter too!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hearts are Breaking

posted by Michele Olson

We move from the news of Jon and Kate to the news of Governor Sanford and his wife Jenny. Once again, an affair is part of the downfall of a marriage. Governor Sanford said in his statement that what started out as a dear friendship turned into something more. This is the statement his wife Jenny has issued.

Please go back and read my Tuesday June 9th blog in the archives of this blog. It’s about building hedges around your marriage. This man who was smart enough to become Governor of a state should have been smart enough emotionally to know that when you play with fire, you eventually get burned. Your close friendships in marriage should be with someone of the same sex.

Now read my Wednesday blog. This is a private matter they will work on, and it is possible to reconcile. It is possible.

Hopefully, all this news of marriages breaking up will cause each of us to really take the extra time today and in the days to come to value and work on our marriages. Read books. Take workshops. Be kind to each other. Value your marriage. Build hedges around it. Become a Marriage Champion.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Retrieving the Irretrievable

Posted by Michele Olson
The Jon and Kate Gosselin marriage is all over the news…and they are divorcing under the grounds that the marriage is 'irretrievably broken'.

Really, that’s not quite accurate when it comes to marriage. defines irretrievable as:

ir⋅re⋅triev⋅a⋅ble  /ˌɪrɪˈtrivəbəl/
– not retrievable; irrecoverable; irreparable.

At we don’t advocate marriage at any cost. Things like abuse, addiction, and mental health concerns are problematic for retrieving a marriage.

Adultery has many cases where the marriage has been retrieved . is one good source for retrieving a marriage where you will see examples of marriages that have experienced adultery and recovered.

We who work in the “healthy relationship and marriage world” know the difference that communication and conflict resolution skills can make in a relationship.

There is hope.

There are skills.

There is a way.

There is retrieval.

There is mending for the broken.

What a difference it would make in this world if every couple filing for divorce tried everything they could by committing to taking marriage education classes to improve their skills. What if they would read books like; How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny? What if they explored our website and took a workshop, or one available in their area?
What if the only people divorcing could know in their hearts that they had left no stone unturned to try to save their marriage.

What would that be like?

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Rest of the Kids Hurt by Jon and Kate

Posted by Michele Olson
The whole Jon and Kate saga is definitely sad, and a learning on many levels. It’s really hard to think that they renewed their wedding vows less than a year ago. Now they have announced they are separating and possibly divorcing.

They seem to have lost sight of what they talk about in the beginning of their show…no matter what the future brings, they are in this together.
Apparently now they are each in it for themselves.

Who can bear to think about the kids?

What about the kids who watch the show? It has become an event for many families to watch this family grow. The Washington Post has an article that addresses this. It’s about Sophie, a 15 year old who got her family hooked on watching the show together. She loved watching a family and a marriage. Now what is she to feel and think?

The learning is a reminder of how much rampant divorce in our society affects our children. Read the article and share your thoughts.

Monday, June 22, 2009

President Obama's PSA and the Next One

posted by Michele Olson

Hopefully, you had a wonderful Father's day celebration either being "the Dad" or honoring a Dad.
The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC),, is very proud to announce that President Obama has done some public service announcements about the importance of fatherhood. If you are going to get a spokesperson, getting the President of the United States is pretty good way to go. Visit the website to view the PSA's.
He talks about the importance of spending time with your kids and doing the day to day things that do mean so much over time.

Now, who would like to ask the President and First Lady Michelle if they are willing to do the same for marriage? Wouldn't you like to see them together talking about the importance of valuing your marriage no matter how busy you are? What if they would encourage people to work on their communication and conflict resolution skills by taking a workshop or class?

Maybe the script would be something like this:
President Obama: Hi, my wife Michelle and I realize the importance of nurturing and valuing our marriage, no matter what the day holds. I have busy days just like you do. Whether it's a press conference in Cairo in the morning, a signing a bill from Congress in the afternoon, Michelle and I always make the time to have dinner together.
Michelle: Conflict resolution doesn't have to involve Afghanistan or North Korea, it can also take place right in your own Lincoln bedroom, if you have the right skills. Why not take the time to attend a marriage workshop or class? That way when you start getting hassled by your house staff or the secret service is bugging you, you can talk about it and be on the same page as a couple.

Well...maybe the script wouldn't go quite like that, but you get the idea.
What famous couple would you like to see on public service announcements promoting marriage?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We Need You Dad

posted by Michele Olson
It’s almost time to celebrate Father’s Day. It’s a banner year for the celebration as this is the 100th anniversary observance of the very first Father’s Day. A National Responsible Fatherhood Rally is being planned for June 20th on the Mall in Washington D.C. where organizers are asking all dads to make a simple five point commitment to their children. The five elements are:
Loving, Coaching, Modeling, Encouraging and Enlisting.

From the website: This June, Father's across the nation will convene at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC prepared to take an oath of dedication to their children and families to be RESPONSIBLE. In the words of Fatherhood expert, Dr. Jeffery M. Johnson, "When you are a Father, you are a Father for LIFE." Transcending stereotypes, past mistakes and present fears, NPCL, Guest Speakers and Dad's across the nation strive to encourage responsible fatherhood throughout the U.S. in a powerful and unforgettable way!

If you are not a dad, realize that there are 25 million children living without their dads who would still benefit from the involvement of a father figure. If you are so inclined, keep your eyes and ears open to opportunities to be like a dad to someone.

It will be interesting to see if this event gets followed in the news.

Any of you heading to this rally? Let us know what you learned!

In another Dad’s Day note: A recent article states something that we have heard in the past; when it comes to preventing risky teen sex, there may be no better deterrent than a doting dad. Lead author of the study, Rebekah Levine Coley of Boston College hopes the recent study which was published in the journal Child Development will encourage both moms and dads to keep trying to connect with their teenage children, even as their kids are pushing them away.

At the end of the day, we need dads in so many ways.

All dads! For those days when you don’t feel appreciated or that you are making a difference, please come back and read this blog.

We appreciate you Dad. We need you Dad. Keep up the good work Dad.

Thank you Dad!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thankful For The Shared Toothpaste Tube


Way harder than anyone imagines when they are just dreaming about it.


Disagreements on how to squeeze a toothpaste tube, whether to sleep with the window open or closed and how to spend money.


Now include the everyday ups and downs of marriage into the battlefields of Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere in the world our military is stationed.

Now add the fact that both Mr. and Mrs. are deployed to Iraq, not once, but twice on 12 month tours. That’s the day-to-day reality of Nathan and Jennifer Williams. In a recent article, Associated Press Writer Hamza Hendawi profiled the lives of this couple and the trials they experience in an army marriage. Nathan and Jennifer have been married for five years, but because of deployment and separate training commitments have only been together probably two of those years.

Even though they serve in the same brigade and are only six miles apart in Iraq they only get to see each other once or twice a month. Their relationship has to exist with mainly phone calls.

Although very upbeat, they worry about how all the separations could affect their relationship and how the possibilities of so much tragedy could turn them into different people.

Something we don’t always take the time to stop and think about is the future of the military families now and in the future. Then there are the families where one spouse serves and the other spouse stays behind. The National Military Family Association has a whole list of recommended readings to help with all the feelings that these spouses and families experience.

We should all be exceedingly thankful for everything everyone serving our country is doing on our behalf, and that includes the spouses and families. We should also not take for granted the privilege of being together every day and having the luxury of discussing the right way to push toothpaste out of a tube.

Nathan Williams puts it best; “I cannot wait to experience the routine boredom people say always come with marriage.” I hope they are disagreeing on their toothpaste tube very soon.

Are you in the military? Do you have a story about your marriage you can share?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Greta Garbo Really Got It; Alone Time in Your Marriage

Posted by Michele Olson

Greta Garbo, regarded as one of the greatest and most inscrutable movie stars ever produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the Hollywood studio system, is often imitated as saying “I want to be alone.” But as Greta herself has said; “I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be left alone.' There is all the difference.”

You start out wanting to be together all the time. But somewhere in your relationship you may find yourself wanting some time to yourself. Maybe it's your spouse who is feeling that way.

What about having separate interests? How much is too much?

How do you maintain your individuality while still being part of “we?”

What if you and your spouse don’t agree on how much alone time is right for the two of you?

Sheri and Bob Stritof on have some great tips which include the initial conversation about needing some time alone. The tips include:

*Don’t wait until you are feeling suffocated or trapped in your marriage to ask for space.

*Accept that wanting or needing space in your marriage is okay. It doesn’t mean that your marriage is in trouble.

*Let your spouse know that needing this time doesn’t diminish your love or desire for them.

*If your spouse is asking for some space, don’t take it personally.

*Don’t measure or judge your marriage by the way other couples live. Do what is best for the both you.

The article has tips on how to give one another space which could be physical, emotional or financial.

Once again…asking for what you need and getting what you want in a healthy way comes down to great communication skills. Incorporate a healthy relationship workshop or seminar into your plans for the rest of the year. That’s one thing you can do together…and it may be just want you need to easily approach your need for more “left alone” time.

What about your relationship? Was getting enough “left alone” time a struggle? How do you hit the right balance in your marriage?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Marriage Quotes to Make You Smile

Posted by Michele Olson
Reader's Digest recently had a page dedicated to Marriage Quotes.
Here are a few of them:
"I used to believe that marriage would diminish me, reduce my options. That you had to be someone less to live with someone else, when, of course, you have to be someone more. "
-Candice Bergen
"Only two things are necessary to keep one's wife happy. One is to let her think she is having her own way; the other, to let her have it."
-Lyndon B. Johnson
"I married the first man I ever kissed. When I tell this to my children, they just about throw up."
-Barbara Bush
"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."
-Mignon McLaughlin
"Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up."
-Joseph Barth
Do you have any favorite quotes about marriage?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Priceless Hedges

posted by Michele Olson

I live next to a bike path and a small woods. When it’s rainy and muddy, people will often avoid the bike path and walk through our yard, which over time wears a path. We’ve contemplated putting up a fence or planting a hedge. Perfectly nice people but they are wrecking an area of our yard. Although we wish them no harm…we don’t want them in our private area-our yard.

This concept also applies to your marriage. You will be surrounded by perfectly nice people in your lifetime…people you work with or meet in civic and church groups. They may be particularly engaging because you tend to see the “good” side of their personality. Perhaps on a morning when your spouse doesn’t notice your haircut, someone in your social circle does and you get a compliment. That’s normal.

Now imagine that you and a member of the opposite sex are working on a project together and you are really hitting it off.


Who doesn’t want to enjoy the people they work with?

But here’s a question. Have you decided ahead of time what your boundaries are?

If not, it is time for you and your spouse to have a conversation about what is acceptable to the both of you when it comes to close interactions with the opposite sex. Just like the privacy and sanctuary of your own personal space like your home and yard, your marriage has to have boundaries.

Otherwise people, well-meaning or not, can invade the privacy of your personal space. Situations can occur that you would have not wanted had you thought about the possibilities ahead of time.
It’s often how affairs can start.
No intention.

If you and your spouse haven’t talked about your boundaries as a couple…it’s time.

Some discussion ideas, how do you as a couple feel about:

* Being in chat rooms or social networks where you go offline with member of the opposite sex.
* Working situations; frequent lunches, working late or business trips with one member of the
opposite sex.
* Social situations where you put yourself in the position of spending a lot of time alone with
someone on a committee or in a church group.
* Close friendship with member of the opposite sex that doesn’t involve your spouse.

By agreeing upon and setting up boundaries ahead of time, you take away any suspicion or wondering about your spouse. You are both clear on what is acceptable in your relationship. You are being pro active about protecting that which is special and unique.

Realistically you may have occasions where you have a business lunch or work on a project and you are alone with someone. The point is to be aware of your boundaries ahead of time so you can be wise about situations that you do have control over. You may also have to talk with a boss at some point about what your options are if it is happening beyond you and your spouse’s comfort zone, just as you would about any area where you feel concern.

It’s not about creating rules for rules sake…it’s about the spirit of the idea that can save you much heartache and misunderstanding in the future.

The cost for me to put up a fence on my bike path? Thousands.

The cost to clearly know boundaries and hedges around your marriage? Priceless.

What about you? Have you and your spouse had a talk about boundaries and hedges in your marriage? What are your thoughts on setting boundaries together?

Monday, June 08, 2009

How to Lower Your Risk of Divorce by 30%!

Posted by Michele Olson

What happens if you never change the oil in your car?

What happens if you never go to the dentist?

What happens if you never get a physical from a doctor?

What happens when you don’t do anything concrete to work on your marriage?

Studies now show that taking part in marriage education is a good idea for any marriage.
A study published in early 2009 titled, "Investigating the Effects of Marriage and Relationship Education on Couples' Communication Skills: A Meta-Analytic Study" by the American Psychological Association, a scientific and professional organization that represents psychologists confirms what is really common sense….it pays to work on your marriage.

Looking at more than 100 published and unpublished studies dating back to 1975, the study found a significant positive effect on a couple’s communication skills and relationship quality when they attended marriage education courses.

Determine now that you are going to take a marriage workshop or class in your area. Why not decide to take one before the end of the year? Check out the classes tab at or research what is available in your neck of the woods.

Here’s another great resource: Drs. Michelle and Patrick Gannon talking about the importance of marriage education with some couples telling what it means to them. They cite the statistic that 10 hours in a skills based workshop can reduce your divorce risk by 30%! Wow! What couple wouldn’t invest 10 hours to reduce their likelihood of divorce? Now that’s return on investment. Take a moment to watch this short You Tube video.

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself: What am I doing in a tangible way to work on my marriage?

Let us hear from you…have you been to a marriage workshop of any kind? Did you learn communication and conflict resolution skills, and how did they change your marriage?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Research on the “No-Sex” Marriage

Posted by Michele Olson

Tara Parker-Pope writing for The New York Times posted a blog in their wellness section where she interviews Denise Donnelly, an associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University who has studied sexless marriages.

According to the General Social Survey which tracks social behaviors of Americans, married men and women, on average, have sex with their spouse 58 times a year, a little more than once a week. Married people under 30 have sex about 111 times a year. It’s estimated that about 15 percent of married couples have not had sex with their spouse in the last six months to one year.

This article explores the reasons for a sexless marriage.

The question is posed: Are people in sexless marriages more likely to get divorced? The answer from the research is; people in sexless marriages report that they are more likely to have considered divorce, and that they are less happy in their marriages. Ms. Donnelly goes on to say that of the former research respondents who have kept in touch with her, the happiest ones are actually those who have moved on to other partners.

The story does touch on the fact that non-communication can help lead to problems, if you aren’t communicating, you definitely aren’t communicating about what is happening in your sex life.

What if instead of just “moving on to other partners” the couple tried utilizing marriage education to increase their ability to communicate and resolve conflicts? While each couple is complicated, this is one solution that we hope couples will consider to bring their sex life back to a satisfying level for both partners. Being able to talk about anything as a couple in a healthy way is a good beginning to a possible restoration of their sex lives. Read the article here.

Any thoughts on “No Sex” Marriages? Have you worked through this issue with your spouse?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

If You Hear “You Look Fine”: Watch Out!

Posted by Michele Olson

In chuckling over a current Cheerios commercial where a husband unintentionally gets into trouble over a comment that he did not mean, I remembered an article I read called “You Look Fine” by Dave Meurer for Marriage Partnership.* His wife asks him how an outfit looks and he has the great misfortune of simply saying “It looks fine.” Dave is a humorist and author of a book titled Mistake it Like a Man.

He states what was said, and then what she heard. He also explores how many different interpretations there can be to a word such as “fine.”

Brings me back to the Cheerios commercial.

It’s a great illustration of how we should think before we speak and how our words will encourage or deflate another person. Or, how something we had no intention of ever implying is “out there” because we chose the wrong words. We don’t want to all be walking on egg shells, but considering how many times a day someone’s words can affect your mood, it’s a good reminder to think before we speak, because our words are important.

Or…maybe you will just enjoy a good laugh when you read this article. That would be fine too.

Any good examples in your own marriage of this type of thing?

*Marriage Partnership is a non-for-profit Communications Ministry of

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Quiz Question: Who Doesn't Love a Quiz?

Posted by Michele Olson
Who doesn’t love a fun quiz type exercise to find out more about yourself, your loved ones or a situation?

Power of Two has a great website filled with these types of quizzes which also include graphics that will make you smile. The latest quiz question asks: Are you an effective listener?
Although this is geared to expectant parents…anyone can learn from the skills being taught.
The expectant parent area of the site also contains self assessments, skill builders, quiz shows and new Dad skills…all interactive, fun, informative and well worth your time.

With an eye on growth, right now the quizzes are in the teen and expectant parent area…with more to come married and engaged couples.
Explore and have some fun at They’ve hit on a very engaging style of learning. Take a break from your regular routine today and take a few quizzes!