Thursday, January 28, 2010

What's The Most Surprising Thing About Your Relationship?

posted by Michele Olson
The February 2010 issue of Simple Magazine posed a simple question to their readers; What is the Most Surprising Thing About Love?
People had many answers, like how love takes on many forms from spouse to child. How much better it feels as you age to love rather than just looking to feel loved.
One woman wrote that after 15 years, she and her husband still reach out to each other with sappy "I miss you calls" even when they see each other every day.
Many of the comments centered on marriage. One writer reflected on the fact that after 20 years of marriage, during many of which she thought she would bail if things got too rough, she now realizes just how much she values what she and her husband have built together.
The winner for the month was Laurie Ciulla. Here was her answer:
"I had no idea what was going to happen when the 'I can't get enough of you' phase ended. I thought nothing could compare. Truth is, I wouldn't trade the intimacy, trust, and comfort of being with my husband for over 15 years for anything. It does get better, deeper, and more significant."
Sounds like a winning answer to me too.
So, how would you answer that question? What is the most surprising thing in your dating/engaged/ or married relationship?
Blog and let us hear from you!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oh Napoleon! You Love Letter Writer!

posted by Michele Olson

At , one of the ways we are gearing up to celebrate National Marriage Week Feb. 7-14th is by making available our Love Letter Kits. Each kit has stationery for two love letters, plus tips on how to write a love letter. Letters in this email/twitter/facebook/texting era are even more precious because they take effort and thought and a writing instrument other than a computer or phone!

Love letters used to be the way to woo and court. encouraging people to express their thoughts in more than 143 characters typed sometimes only with thumbs. It's interesting to note that Napoleon Bonaparte (1763-1821) was quite a love letter writer to his beloved Josephine.
He may have written as many as 75,000 letters in his lifetime, many of them to Josephine.
Here's an excerpt from one of his letters:

Paris, December 1795
I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?... My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!

The good news is; if you don't consider yourself a Napoleon writer, no worries! Your loved one wants a love letter written by you in your own style and flare. Our love letters have the tips to get you started and on your way. And get ready, every day, Feb. 7-14th, we are challenging and encouraging you to write a love it size works your loved one. This blog will supply the topic, you just make it about you and voila! You have a fun love note to tuck in a lunch bag, leave on the bathroom mirror or present in person to your honey.

Get ready to join in the fun. Celebrate healthy relationships and marriage with us at Tell us, how are you planning on celebrating?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't Miss Out on National Marriage Week!

posted by Michele Olson
National Marriage Week is not kidding around this year! Perhaps you’ve heard of National Marriage Week before. It runs Feb. 7-14th. It started in the UK in 1996. It has now spread to The Czech Republic, Hungry, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Australia. It’s been going strong here in the good ‘ole USA since 2002 thanks to the efforts of co-founders Brent Barlow and Diane Sollee of Smart Marriages. (An organization that is a great friend of

This year “this big idea” has made a concentrated effort to make the appeal for stronger marriages even louder through a national campaign and website. Entitled: Let’s Strengthen Marriage, much effort has resulted in getting everyone with an interest in this topic to work on healthy marriages together. The plan is to get recognized across the country as a collective group with the same goal…even if many paths are a part of the journey to that recognition. That means everyone is included who somehow touches or is affected by the health of the marriages in our country. The list includes houses of worship, businesses, education, the media, government and yes, individual people and couples.

Visit the site and scroll to Feb. 7-14th to see our hefty offering of what is happening in Wisconsin to celebrate National Marriage Week.

It’s coming up quickly, so jump in and get involved in some way. Your voice encouraging healthy marriages in your circle of influence really does matter.
Don’t forget you can get a free Marriage Myth Buster Guide and Love Letter Kit (while supplies last) at the store.

Don’t miss out…and then let us know here on the blog how you are participating!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Not Sexual Infidelty, Financial Infidelity!

posted by Michele Olson
Interesting article in Feb. 8th issue of First Magazine on newsstands currently entitled, “She’s a Spender and He’s a Saver.” Whether that’s the way it is in your house…or vice versa…it does seem that opposites often attract when it comes to couples spending habits.

The article looked at a couple from Colorado Springs. She grew up in poverty; he grew up seeing savings as security. Married for eight years, the couple has argued about money since the beginning. The key to their marital money relationship was “secrets.” She would under gas up the car and take the extra money to get cash. He opened a secret savings account with auto deduction from his paycheck to save more.

Financial advisers Scott Palmer and his wife Bethany who have written a book called; First Comes Love, Then Comes Money: A Couple’s Guide to Financial Communication (HarperOne 2009) say that secret purchases and secret accounts is serious financial infidelity. They contend that this type of behavior can be as damaging to a relationship as sexual betrayal.

This couple was advised to modify both of their behaviors, and to look at what was really going on behind the choices they were making. They key was talking about why they felt the way they did and what it really meant to each of them. There was more to the story than what the other perceived. They came up with the idea of having a monthly “money huddle” to brainstorm and plan. She was learning to shop with lists and limits, he was learning to loosen up and realize the more control he was exerting, the less control and ultimately security he was achieving.

Once again, knowing how to talk to each other and getting to the bottom of what was really happening that made them act the way they did made all the difference. In the best case scenario, couples will explore all their attitudes and spending habits before marriage, one of the types of things talked about in premarital inventories. Visit and explore the engaged or couples check up, and online and on-the-ground opportunities for your healthy relationship.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Do You Know How to Apologize?

posted by Michele Olson

Is it possible that some people do not apologize for the multitude of silly little disagreements, often over nothing major, because they simply don’t know how?

Apologizing may not be a part of people’s skill set. Perhaps they never saw it modeled in their own families and they brought that lack of ability to recognize when and how to apologize into their adult relationships…and specifically into their marriage.

With that idea in mind, I set out to find what resources were available to teach someone how to apologize.

ehow has a handy five step plan that starts with swallowing your pride and brings you through explaining what you perceived to be going on and to use the words “I’m sorry.” The tips also talk about being careful about not over apologizing as a method of manipulation.

The Smalley family website from Gary Smalley fame breaks it down into three easy steps which include your acknowledgement to your spouse that something happened and you are aware of something it caused them.

Next is validating the feelings of the person you are apologizing to and then asking them how you can make it right. They caution you not to assume you know what will make it feel right in their eyes.

Howdini has a youtube video with relationship expert Terrence Real that talks through the steps of apologizing if you are more of a visual/audio learner. Howdini also has videos showing couples enacting apologizing.

Another excellent resource is from the Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas, The
Five Languages of Apology. This books takes an in depth look at what way you really like to be apologized to and what really feels like an apology to your loved one.

So, there you have it…a wealth of resources on ways to apologize. Because unlike the message we received from the book and movie Love Story in the 70’s…love does mean having to say you’re sorry.

How about you? Is apology easy or difficult in your relationships and especially in your marriage? Did you grow up seeing apology put into action in your world?
Tell your "Love" story!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What We Hope the Research Will Say

posted by Michele Olson

Are you a fan of some of the black and white movies of the 50’s and 60’s? Many of the plot lines involve a woman trying to marry a rich man. If she gets her man: SCORE! A new study has come out that is probably not much of a shock to anyone: today’s woman is making money on her own. Therefore, a married man is better off financially than a single man. This Pew Research Center report shows the change for working wives over the past 40 years, — a period in which American women outpaced men in both education and earnings growth. A larger share of today's men, compared with their 1970 counterparts, are married to women whose education and income exceed their own, and a larger share of women are married to men with less education and income.

According to 2009 Census Bureau figures, women with full-time jobs earned salaries equal to 77.9 percent of what men earned, compared with 52 percent in 1970. In this recession, more men have lost their jobs than women which has also led to role reversal in many marriages…with women being the main bread winners.

Marriage is changing. Let’s also hope another big change will be couples willingness to incorporate marriage education into their lives. That will give them the skills they need to thrive through all the changes. Now, that's a report we can't wait to read.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Relationship Myths That Are Tripping You Up

posted by Michele Olson
We’d love to get our Marriage Myth Buster Guide into everyone’s hands. It busts some myths about marriage, those things that people think to be true, but when you look at the facts: they aren’t. Today I’m commenting on a blog by Clinton Powers called Relationship Matters that wants to bust some myths about relationships. There are ten in all. Look them over and see if you are someone who is believing any of these to be true.

#1 RELATIONSHIPS ARE EASY. We can probably blame this one on all our favorite movies and Disney. The author compares relationships to gardens…they need to be tended to or they aren’t that attractive. Another point: we will put the time and effort into any worthwhile thing, but just expect relationships to happen effortlessly.

# 2: GREAT RELATIONSHIPS DON’T HAVE CONFLICT. Yes, they do. It’s how you handle the conflict that makes the relationship grow or diminish.

# 3: ROMANTIC LOVE LASTS FOREVER Again, movies, romance novels, Disney…you name it. A lot of people think there is something when with their relationship when the 24/ 7 romance lessens. The truth is, no one can keep that up forever.

# 4: MY PARTNER SHOULD THINK THE SAME AS ME Similar backgrounds and likes and dislikes are great, but there is no one on the planet who thinks the same as you…and chances are, you would find that boring in the long run.

# 5: IT’S GOOD TO VENT ALL MY FEELINGS IN MY RELATIONSHIP This is a tricky one because it sounds good, but it’s not. The author points out that you don’t vent all your feelings to your best friend, and you really shouldn’t with your spouse either. What and how you share is very important.

# 6: MY CHILDHOOD WON’T AFFECT MY RELATIONSHIP The truth is that it doesn’t totally define you, but it is where you started your patterns of relating.

In fact, 80% of all issues that couples have never get resolved. Sometimes you agree to disagree.


# 9: THE RELATIONSHIP WON’T IMPROVE UNTIL MY PARTNER DOES Here’s where it’s best to remember, the only person you can really change is yourself.


These are Clinton Powers myths with my commentary. Explore his article for his take on the myths. Then pick out a myth or two you’d really like to comment on. Everyone would like to hear from you! And remember you can get a free Marriage Myth Buster Guide and amaze your friends!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Laughter and the Sorrow

Posted by Michele Olson
Remember the names Barnes and Miner? We were happy to bring them in for a marriage event in the past. Whether you saw them or not, you will enjoy their comedic take on “Now that’s a marriage.”

Both comediennes have national success. Since getting married, they base their act on marriage and parenthood. A married couple performing on stage together is not something you see that often. Usually the comic is making jokes about their spouse. Barnes and Miner are refreshing because they look at the funny side of marriage, not resorting to demeaning one another for a laugh. If you need a light moment in your day, check out their comedy act.

On a more serious note, our hearts and prayers go out to all involved in the Haiti earthquake tragedy. Imagine the devastation to families and marriages as so many people are displaced, injured, and dealing with the loss of a loved one. Please do what you can to help, but be smart about using a proven donation entity. Give an extra hug to your spouse or loved ones today. Tragedies like what has happened in Haiti remind us that life can change in a moment.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seinfeld Has a New Show...Not That There's Anything Wrong With That.

posted by Michele Olson

This show is about something.
Since his success with his show about nothing, Jerry Seinfeld is coming back to prime time TV in something other than Seinfeld reruns. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Much like the pitches he and George Costanza made as their TV characters when they were putting on a show about nothing in the episodes showing them selling their ideas to NBC, this show too is hard to explain. It has one make people laugh.
Called “The Marriage Ref,” this new show is a combination reality/game/comedy all in one, and there are no big prizes! NBC is providing a peak at the show Feb. 28th before it moves into its regular time slots on Sunday nights starting March 14th.

The Jerry of today is now 55 years old and married with kids. His perspectives have changed a bit since his 90’s hit. Spats are filmed in people’s homes, and a stand up comic serves as the marriage ref who makes the final decision. Various actors and famous people will be weighing in along the way with comments, sure to be funny. Not at all to be taken as a show on any type of marriage expertise, it is only for the purpose of making you laugh. (Translation: marriage world, don't judge this show as something at all geared to actually working on marriages.)

Let’s wait and see if it’s done well, lessons will be learned along the way and if we see ourselves in this new type of entertainment.
Still looking for someone who wants to foot the bill for getting on as an advertiser during this prime time show. Stay tuned for more comment on this program after it airs. We look forward to hearing from you too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker…no! CEO and Farmer!

Posted by Michele Olson

Here’s an interesting question. What occupations tend to lead to more divorce? Yes…your job may influence your marital success if you don’t pay attention.

Susan Daly writing in the Irish Independent tells the findings of the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology regarding what occupations have a higher rate of divorce. It’s not just how much you work but what you do that makes a difference. Dr. Michael Aamodt at Radford University initially was trying to find out if police officers suffer a high rate of marital breakdown, something you always hear about police and firefighters.

Guess what. They aren’t doing too badly. It’s the dancers who are having the problems! Dancers have a 43% chance of problems. Bartenders and massage therapists are not far behind with 38 percent. Guess you can figure out your own scenarios of why that might be.

Next, and surprisingly so, it’s the caring professions. Nurses, home health aides, psychiatrists, at 29 percent.

Then entertainers, performers and sports stars, 28.49 percent.

So, statistically, who should you marry? CEO’s and farmers are doing quite well. The correlation is that these people have more control over their time. An even bigger cause of success may be that their spouses understand the nature of who they are marrying…a go getter or an agriculturist. Their break up rate is just under 10 percent. Pharmacists and dentists also do very well.

By the way, police officers fell into the 16 percent category along with writers and travel agents…just slightly above teachers.

So, where does your marriage fall into these types of statistics?

Take heart dancers, bartenders, massage therapists and everyone else in the higher categories. Probability just means you may have to work harder to make sure marital breakdown doesn’t happen to you…and that means taking advantage of marriage and healthy relationship education.

Determine to do that….and the fact that you will look great dancing at your wedding will be the icing on the cake!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

YouTube Puts You In The Know

posted by Michele Olson

Two great YouTube offerings for you to check out!

First, a speech from Theresa Okafor, the CEO of Life League of Africa, a league comprised of young professionals and students committed to upholding the inherent and inviolable dignity of the human person. From Nigeria, Theresa has a long list of credentials. She first came to the attention of when she spoke on the necessity to preserve African heritage in a changing world. Basically, Theresa is telling the world that the breakdown in the respect for family, marital fidelity, the dignity of women, the love and proper upbringing for children are not African values. She is challenging the anti-family policies being tied to foreign aid for Nigeria.

Listen to her speech to the World Congress of Families in Amsterdam, August 10, 2009.
Theresa will be speaking in Wisconsin the week of Feb. 8 – Feb. 13th. If you would like to know where to listen to her talks live, please contact

One more Poet/ Author Nathan M. Richardson recites one of the best wedding poems you've ever heard.

Open up your mind and eyes…take a visit to YouTube.

Then come back and leave your thoughts!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Survey Says! Family Feuds

posted by Michele Olson

Did you grow up watching Family Feud with Richard Dawson? Survey says! The show is still on today with a different host, but I can’t read a survey and not hear Richard Dawson’s voice in my head. CBS news just did a poll about Americans’ attitude toward family, divorce and marriage.

See if some of the findings are true for your own life.

63% of those surveyed know someone who has cheated in a marriage.

Are people in a higher income and education level more or less likely to know someone who has cheated compared to those with lower income and lower education?

Survey says! The higher income/education level people are more likely to know someone who cheated.

Are most married Americans satisfied with their marriage as compared to their parent’s marriage?

Survey says! 55% think their marriage is better than their parent’s marriage, 41 % think it’s the same and 3% think their marriage is worse than their parents.

Do Americans favor divorce if the marriage isn’t working out?

Survey says! Overall Americans do favor divorce over staying together, though by a lesser margin than they did 15 years ago. (We can hope it’s because the “healthy relationship/marriage education as a tool for a satisfying marriage movement” is making a difference!)

What do American’s think is better for kids growing up? They stand behind the choice for divorce as a better choice if parents are fighting all the time. Again…learning how to communicate and resolve conflicts in a good way could turn the tide on this poll number. Parents could stay together and not fight all the time with the right tools, education and implementation. (Visit

As you can see, there is a real need for healthy relationship and marriage education.

The majority of Americans do feel that getting a divorce is too easy.

The CBS poll was not a huge one, but probably is a good benchmark on what American’s are thinking.

We know what the survey says….now…what do you think?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Committed Together, Are You In?

posted by Michele Olson

NPR has a story out on what the divorce revolution meant for kids. Perhaps you are one of the “kids” who is a product of the divorce revolution. You can speak to this first hand.
You can read the written story or listen to it by Sasha Aslanian. The author points out the difference between divorce then and divorce now…when it comes to the kids.

Kramer vs. Kramer was the movie about divorce in the 1970s and it showed the intense pain of the couple. It’s clear the child didn’t get much of a voice. That’s a great reflection on what divorce was like. People are still carrying around the scars.

Even though we’ve made it more civilized in this day and age…more programs and sensitivity to the children, people are still carrying scars.

After studying kids for five years, the author thought the story would be about how the kids were now O.K. But she found it wasn’t the truth.

The comments to the story are also interesting…comments of all types.

Sometimes divorce is necessary. But this New Year, we at are as committed as ever to work with people to make divorce the exception, not the rule. And work is part of the equation.

Work on your relationship. Take classes whether in person or on-line. Read books. Learn healthy ways to resolve conflicts and to have stellar communication. Do the work. It’s worth it. Ask anyone from a family that has lived through a divorce.

Do you have a story to share?