Thursday, July 30, 2009

Affairs: Now You Know

Posted by Michele Olson

WAPT, the ABC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi posted a report and story yesterday regarding the fact that men and women are 5 to 10 percent more likely to cheat now than they were 10 years ago. The story talks about the specific case of Leisha Pickering and her divorce from former U.S. Representative Chip Pickering- another high profile marriage on the rocks as of recent days. The story also has tips to tell if your spouse may be cheating.

Julie Baumgardner from, a healthy marriage initiative in Tennessee, also posted 19 Close Call Danger Signs that an affair may be in the works…or that you could be on the verge of an affair. These are from a keynote address at Smart Marriages by Dave Carder. Here are those danger signs:

* You save topics of conversation for someone other than your spouse.
* You share spousal difficulties with this person. For example - "You're a woman, help me understand how my wife works."
* Your friend shares relationship difficulties with you.
* You anticipate seeing this person more than your spouse - this is a sign you are already sliding sideways. Keep in mind that you see your spouse at the 2 worst times of day - first thing in the morning when things tend to be chaotic and in the evening when you are trying to get dinner ready, homework done and you are tired from the day.
*You are more concerned about your friend than your spouse.
*You provide special treats for your friend.
*You fantasize about marriage with this friend.
*You spend more alone time with your friend than with your spouse.
*Your spouse does not have access to all of the conversations you are having with this person - email, texting, in person, etc.
*You spend money on this friend behind your spouse's back.
*Conflicts arise between you and your spouse over this friendship.
*You lie to your spouse in order to spend time with this friend - ie. You go into work an hour before you really need to be there in order to see your friend.
*You hide interactions with your friend from your spouse. For example, "Don't smile at me when you see me at church, my husband is watching."
*You accuse your spouse of jealousy when the friendship is brought up.
*You develop special rituals with your friend that are highly anticipated by both parties. When the rituals don't happen there is great disappointment.
*Your friend shares his/her feelings or touches you, which creates an inward response.
*You have conversations with your friend that include sexual content.
*You participate in corporate travel with your friend - also known as corporate dating - You participate in business travel where meals, alcohol, entertainment are involved and you are staying at the same hotel.

Read the full blog here.

The message is: Affairs Don’t Just Happen

Here is a copy of their recent radio commercial which also hits home.

Radio commercial:
Anncr: I'm going to ask you some questions. Don't answer out loud.

Have you checked out the old flame on FaceBook?

Did you wear your hot black dress to the class reunion or were you just checking out the x-girlfriend in her hot black dress?

Is there someone at work of the opposite sex that you confide in?

If you answered yes to any of these questions you might be in a CCF.

What's a CCF you're asking? A Close Call Relationship.

Really I think they should be called a Clueless Close Call Relationship because so many people caught up in an affair will say, 'I have no idea how this happened.'

If you don't want to be clueless about close call friendships here are
some things you should avoid:

Don't talk about your spouse to someone of the opposite sex.

Don't give off any vibes that you would be open to any of relationship
with someone of the opposite sex.

The infatuation of young love never goes away. Going there is playing
with fire.
For more information about affair-proofing your marriage visit joins in the call to all couples to affair-proof your marriage. This blog falls in line with our June 9th blog about building hedges around your marriage.

Please pass on the link to this blog to all your married friends and family...also great to teach young adults.

Will you become a marriage champion and pass on this information?

Once you read this information, you will realize that affairs don't just happen, and can be prevented.

Now you know.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tailor, Baker, Candlestick Maker

Posted by Michele Olson

Been to a tailor lately to do some alterations or mend a tear?

Been to a cobbler lately? (Modern translation: shoe repair)

Been to the doctor lately for a check up?

Life takes effort. We have to “tend” to things.

That’s the point of a recent Chicago Daily Herald blog by Ken Potts.

Along the way you may need to "retailor" your marriage to adjust to the world we live in.

He offers suggestions on some healthy ways to do that, ways that don’t hurt your relationship.

Take a moment to read his tips on tending to your marriage.

Doesn’t matter if you’re a tailor, a baker or a candlestick maker.

How do you tend to your marriage? Share your tips!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sick of Divorce or Is Divorce Making You Sick?

posted by Michele Olson

Ever heard someone embroiled in a divorce utter “I’m sick of this divorce!”

According to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and reported on the CBS News, those who have been divorced or widowed can suffer 20% more chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer, compared to those who are currently married.

Double whammy….having a challenging time emotionally and physically.

Another interesting finding of the extensive study. Divorce can be so traumatic that even when you get married again, it may not be enough to reverse the physical and mental toll on your body.

The recommendations of interviewed psychiatrists for the TV piece fall in line with what we at advocate. Relationships that involve physical or mental abuse…often leading to the fact it is impossible to get along…are worth dissolving. However for the 70% of divorces considered low conflict; the effort to stay together and work on your marriage through things like skills based marriage education are worth it.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere goes as far as recommending that you have a doctor on hand if you are getting a divorce. He states in the interview:

We’re finding that divorce is so traumatic on the system, on your mind, on your body, that it’s important that you consult your physician or even talk to a mental health professional about the stress that you’re going through so that you don’t become sick.” An amazing statement from Dr. Gardere.

The bottom line is: men in marriages have wives telling them to take care of themselves and go to the doctor. That adds to them being healthier. The news piece does advise remarriage because things do get better over time.

What are your thoughts? Does the data match up to your experience or the experience of someone you know?

Monday, July 27, 2009

That Crazy Home Movie Wedding Video!

posted by Michele Olson

If you are on the Internet at all, or watch TV, by now you have seen the unexpected video of what appears to be a normal wedding ceremony except the bridal party dances down the aisle…and culminates with the groom and bride doing the same thing. I saw it last week for the first time and twittered it and laughed my head off. I watched it at least five times because I loved it so much.

This all took place on June 20th in a St. Paul church at the beginning of Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz’s wedding. With You Tube now boasting 1.75 million hits and growing and multiple TV appearances, how people proceed down the aisle may never be the same.

A Saturday Washington Post article talks about the whole story including the fact that they claimed to have only one rehearsal. You can watch the video and read the story here.

Congrats to the fun, gutsy couple who made their wedding their own and wanted to express to their family and friends the joy they were feeling about entering into marriage. Perhaps they have opened the door to more people expressing their personalities in small or larger ways as they express their love in the wedding ceremony.

This is a great boost for how to enter a wedding. Now…what could we do in a compatible way to get people as excited about the marriage in a huge viral move?

How about spreading the word about our :15 sec to a Better Marriage Webisodes. You can access them right here in the right hand column of our blog or at

Do you think we could create the same kind of buzz if everyone reading this just started sending them all over the place? Let’s try!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Good Information on TV

posted by Michele Olson
Applause to Good Things Utah, ABC 4! Came across this “5 Things NOT to Do after You Say, “I Do” information. The five tips are great for newlyweds or a marriage of any length.

1) Don’t say “My family always does it this way.”
2) Don’t think marriage will make you happy, because it won’t.
(The point being happy is a do-it-yourself job)
3) Don’t believe your partner will change.
4) If you think talking about the hard stuff will take the romance out of your marriage, get over it.
5) Don’t shy away from a fight.

You can read the explanation of the points, but I encourage you to watch the video for a much more animated viewpoint. It’s great to see that they encourage learning conflict resolution skills, which of course we offer through marriage education at

What do you think of the five points? Any life stories about them from your marriage?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is There Hope for The American Marriage from Time Magazine

Posted by Michele Olson

Sometimes in summer life is so busy we don’t have time to keep up on things like magazine reading. If you missed the July 2 Time Magazine article Is There Hope for the American Marriage by Caitlin Flanagan, it’s worth reading.

Caitlin brings up all the marital discretion in the news lately, but she gets to the heart of the article which is the question: What is the purpose of marriage?

She asks:
Is it simply an institution that has the capacity to increase the pleasure of the adults who enter into it…


Is marriage really to raise the next generation. To protect and teach it, to instill in it the habits of conduct and character that will ensure the generation’s own safe passage into adulthood?

It’s a fundamental point in the whole healthy marriage movement…what is the purpose of marriage? Maybe if we can get that right…we can readjust expectations and reasons for marriage.

As Caitlin writes:
A lasting covenant between a man and a woman can be a vehicle for the nurture and protection of each other, the one reliable shelter in an uncaring world- or it can be a matchless tool for the infliction of suffering on the people you supposedly love above all others, most of all your children.

What about you? What do you think is the purpose of marriage? Does thinking about the purpose of marriage make you view your own marriage in a different light?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Saving Black Marriages

Soledad O’Brien is doing an investigative series on CNN this month looking into what African-Americans are doing to confront the most challenging issues facing their communities. She is highlighting people who have found innovative solutions to transform their world. A recent article asks the question; Saving black marriages: Does it take a village?

Marriage as an institution has been particularly challenging in the African American Community as witnessed by these statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Website.
Statistics on Marriage, Divorce, and Living Arrangements
On the whole, Blacks or African Americans (hereafter called Blacks) have lower rates of marriage and marital stability than all other ethnic groups. They also have higher rates of single-headed families than other groups.
· Black males and females are more likely to be unmarried than Whites, Hispanics, or American Indian/Alaskan Natives (AIAN) (42.2% for males, 40.8% for females, compared to 27.5% and 21.2% respectively for Whites, 38.2% and 30.3% for Hispanics, and 35.7% and 29.9% for AIAN ).(ACS 2002)
· Black individuals are far more likely than Whites and Hispanics to be divorced (in 2002, 9.4% of Black males were divorced, and 13.3% of Black females versus 9.1 % and 11.3% respectively for Whites and 5.9% and 9.3% for Hispanics). (ACS 2002)
· Among married Black individuals, a greater percentage is living apart from their spouses than among married White and AIAN individuals (15.7% for Black males, 24.1% for Black females, versus 5.3% and 6.3% respectively for Whites and 11.1% and 12.8% for AIAN). Only Hispanics have a higher rate of living apart from their spouse than do Blacks – 16.2% for males and 16.9% for females (in many cases this may be due to immigration complications). (ACS 2002)
· Black families are less likely to contain a married couple than all other groups (46.0% versus 81.0%). White families have an 81% chance of containing a married couple, AIAN families have a 67% chance, and Hispanics have a 67.4% chance. (Census 2000)
· Single male-headed families are slightly more likely in Black homes than in White family homes (about 8.5% versus 5.3% for whites.). Hispanics and AIANs have a higher rate of single male headed families (10.3% and 10.4% respectively). (Census 2000)
· Single female-headed families are far more likely in Black homes than in all other groups' homes (45.4% versus 13.7%). By contrast, Whites have a 13.7% rate, AIANs have a 28.8% rate, and Hispanics have a 22.3% rate of single female headed families. (Census 2000)
· Only 44.9% of Black householders in family households live with a spouse. This compares with 80.6% for Whites, 60.1% for AIAN, and 70.2% for Hispanics. (Census 2000)

The CNN story examines a couple who appears to have it all, married for 13 years and successful with children. Even though they have it all on paper, this couple’s marriage was in turmoil. Another part of the question is; does a strong marriage equal a strong family? This couple decided to seek help in the form of skills based training for couples. Translation: marriage education!

The article also talks about many influences that have shaped, affected or strained black marriages in particular.

The comments left by people who have read the article are also interesting.

Read and let us know your thoughts.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature

Remember the old margarine commercial…It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature? Dr. Hendrie Weisinger has an interesting article posted on the Huffington Post blog recently titled Mother Nature’s Six Tools for a Thriving Marriage.
He cites startling research in the evolutionary sciences that reveals we are all “hard wired” with natural instinctual tools whose purpose is to help marriages thrive, not just survive.

Whether you believe Mother Nature should be relegated to margarine commercials and fairy tales and whether you agree with the idea of natural selection being a part of thriving marriages…he makes some interesting points.

He highlights that thriving couples experience these six tools vs. marriages that are just surviving. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version. I encourage you to read the article:

1) Shelter Seeking. This instinct helps us find an environment that provides us with the emotional nutrients we need to develop ourselves. Do you and your spouse know what each of you needs to emotionally keep growing?

2) Care Soliciting. This instinct helps us ask for help. If you are vulnerable you feel comfortable asking for help and are more likely to thrive.

3) Care-Giving. Do you tend to one another? Do you pay attention to the mental and physical needs of your spouse?

4) Beauty. Do you continually develop attributes that help keep your partner attracted to you?

5) Cooperation. Do you have a division of labor and create a positive marriage identity in your marriage?

6) Curiosity. Curious couples try new fun things together.

Does Mother Nature hold the key for you to move from a surviving marriage to a thriving marriage? Read the article and let us know your thoughts.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Could 12 Hours Change Your Marriage?

posted by Michele Olson

There are lots of great books out there about marriage. One of my favorites is on our recommendation list on the right hand side of this blog. It’s called How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love and Steven Stosney I think it has some very fresh ideas regarding how we treat each other and perceive one another in marriage.

I came across another book with an intriguing title and would love to see one of our bloggers read it and let us know if you think it worked This book is called 12 Hours to a Great Marriage written by Howard J. Markman, Scott M. Stanley, Natalie H. Jenkins, Susan L. Blumberg and Carol Whiteley. One has to think that with so many authors there must be some value in this book!

Other authors in the marriage world also seem rather excited about the book…

"This book makes lasting love achievable." — John Gray, author, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

"I love this book! It's like hiring your own top-notch relationship coach for twelve hours and getting a lifetime's worth of lessons for creating a loving, lasting marriage." — Michele Weiner-Davis, author, The Sex-Starved Marriage and Divorce Busting

"It actually makes working on your marriage fun. In fact, it introduces an approach that believes having fun is one of the hallmarks of a successful marriage." — Diane Sollee,, and founder and director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education

"Delivered in a personal and engaging style, the most helpful book yet from the 'dream team' of marriage educators." — William J. Doherty, Ph.D., professor, University of Minnesota, and author of Take Back Your Marriage

The table of contents is not broken into chapters, but rather each chapter is an hour.

12 hours? Want to give it a try? This is a great tool to invest in working on your marriage.
If you’ve read the book and have feedback, please blog. Are you thinking about getting the book and devoting 12 hours to your marriage? Let us hear from you too.
It might just be the best way to spend 12 hours you have ever come across!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Thank You Wall Street Journal

posted by Michele Olson

The Wall Street Journal online is speaking our language, on the same page,and helping tell the story we like to tell. While many people only think in terms of counseling when it comes to working on your marriage, at, we work in marriage education. That’s a new thought to most people…the idea of learning communication and conflict resolution skills in a workshop setting as opposed to sitting together as a couple with a counselor.

Yesterday two articles were posted. One was titled:

Working on Your Marriage- at Work

The first article poses the question: Is the ability to stay married something that can be taught? For people wondering if it’s just a matter of opinion, there is evidence that marriage education can help a couple stay together. Follow the links in the article if you are someone who likes to see statistics and studies. Then there’s the person who just knows a good idea when they hear it. It makes sense that if you work on something and have more knowledge about it, it has a far greater chance of working better.

The second article talks about another trend we are happy to be a part of: providing marriage and healthy relationship education on the job. That’s because statistically we know that unhappily married employees decrease profitability. There’s a whole page on our website with great resources for you to check out regarding what is available to you as an employee or employer. The bottom line is; the healthier the relationships in a business, the more the employer makes and the more likelihood there will be money for raises for employees. That’s why everyone should care.

Read The Wall Street Journal articles and come back here to comment. It is great to see this valuable discussion opening up across our country.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Romance or BFF?

posted by Michele Olson

Is your spouse your best friend…your BFF?

An Illinois columnist, Ken Potts of the Daily Herald has a good article talking about that, and why friendship is more important than romance. He cites that researchers estimate that only about 20 percent of marriages - two out of 10 - really meet the expectations,fulfill the hopes, make real the dreams of the men and women involved.

Unto itself, that’s a rather discouraging number. As the article points out, there is good news about what you can do about helping grow that statistic in a positive manner.

We have a pretty good idea what works.

Think about your friends in life. Why are they your friends? Usually you like the same things and you have similarities in your life experiences and values. When you think of a friend, you think of someone who is there for you through thick and thin.

Now think about the springboard for many marriages….it’s romance. Those euphoric feelings that are based on exactly that…feelings. While the best of both worlds is experiencing both…anyone who has been married for any length of time knows that romance is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs.

Friendship on the other hand…that can be an enduring glue that will hold a marriage together through life. In our society, we love romance, horse drawn carriages, riding off into the sunset and the idea of eyes meeting across a crowded room, unable to resist each other. It’s definitely heady stuff, but can a lifelong relationship be built on romance without the fundamental elements of friendship?

One of my favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally, is a great example of friendship that becomes love. If you’ve never seen it, it’s worth it.

What do you think? Do you think friendship is even more important than romance? Which should come first? Is your spouse your best friend?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Judge With A Higher Purpose

Posted by Michele Olson

Leah Ward Sears just stepped down this week as the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. In a article she reflects on her brother’s sudden death and his despair over what has been happening to the American family which she believe played a role in his demise.

Leah herself has had a front row seat to what is the truth behind the statistics of family breakdown…the devastation happening to the lives of people day after day. She talks about our lack of viewing marriage seriously. She believes the U.S. is engaged in an unintended campaign to diminish the importance of marriage and fatherhood by refusing to do what we can to change the course of so many divorces and unwed childbearing.

She points to the devastation to children.

She stepped down from the bench to pursue a life’s work to do something about what she sees.
Read the article and let us know your thoughts.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Getting a Good Job Like Looking for a Good Mate

Posted by Michele Olson

Amy Hoover writing for did a fun article on the comparisons of what a really great job offer looks like from a company and what a really great dating relationship looks like.

The comparisons are right on…including making sure you are paying attention to the red flags that should encourage you to run in the other direction.

The points cover:

Honest first conversation

No games played through the early stages

Good chemistry

Open discussion about the future

Perfect proposal

It’s an interesting way to look at a good future employer and a good future mate.

Enjoy the article and leave some feedback…does this make you think?