Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Your New Pain Relieving Drug: Love

posted by Michele Olson

Good time to take a look at the chemistry of love. Great re-run story this past week on the Sunday Morning CBS news program, previously run on Valentine’s Day.

Have an upcoming medical test, or even dental procedure you’re not thrilled about? Bring along your honey to hold your hand. They are finding that holding a loved one’s hand through uncomfortable procedures works as well as a pain reliever like Acetaminophen. So…love is a drug! (Here’s the UCLA Study)

From the article:
It's better than Tylenol!" said anthropologist Helen Fisher, who has looked at love for years. She says affairs of the heart are often functions of the brain."The brain is built to respond,"

Fisher said. "We are an animal that is built to love. We're built to love." Fisher, with colleagues Bianca Acevedo and Lucy Brown, did brain scans on couples who'd been in love for decades, and found that the sight of your long-time mate triggers the same brain reaction as new love. In simple terms, one of the parts of the brain involved in rewards and cravings - the ventral tegmental area (or VTA) - is flooded with the chemical dopamine when you do something pleasurable (like, say, eat chocolate) or see someone you're in love with . . . no matter how many years you've known them.

But here’s the downside: the part of the brain that makes true love so durable also makes rejection so agonizing. A broken heart really hurts.

So what can you do to stay in love, that “wonderful, pain relieving , gosh it’s wonderful to be alive love“ we all want in our lives? Here’s some advice from the article.

Tara Parker-Pope and her new book "For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage” gives this advice. According to Tara, there's a mathematical ratio that can predict whether love lasts:
5 to 1.
Five positive interactions to every one negative. (Think things like critical comments.)
As Parker-Pope writes:
"A pat on the shoulder or a squeeze of the hand or a 'Honey, you look pretty today' or 'Gosh, I'm proud of you' or 'I like you in that suit.' Those little moments are highly protective of a marriage, and good marriages have them at least on a 5-to-1 basis.

So there you have it.

Fall in love with someone and your brain is going to help you love them as much through the years as you do in the beginning if you are practicing 5 to 1. They can also help you save money on bottles of Tylenol.

Great article! What did you like about it?

Recommendations: Why not take a couple check up which are available for singles, engaged and married people to make sure this is the person you will be happy to be with for the long haul!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dominoe Divorce; Uh -Oh!

Posted by Michele Olson

“Divorce is contagious in social networks, a new study says.” That’s the first line in a CNN article.

Having someone divorce in your social circle can up your chance of divorce. Not only that, it can influence your friend’s friend! That’s the degree of separation theory...this time it’s two degrees instead of the popular “six.”

People with a divorced sibling are 22 percent more likely to get divorced than people who don't have divorced siblings. James H. Fowler, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego headed the study.

Some Facts From the Article:

· Friends have even more influence than siblings when it comes to divorce, according to Fowler's study. People who had a divorced friend were 147 percent more likely to be divorced than people whose friends' marriages were intact, the study said.

· The study also revealed a divorced co-worker can increase the likelihood of another employee divorcing by 55 percent compared to an employee who works with non-divorced employees.
· The study also found the divorce influence in chains of friends. For example, a divorcing person confides in a married friend. The married friend doesn't opt for divorce, but relays details of the divorce discussion to a third person, influencing that third person in the chain to get a divorce.

Could it be that misery loves company? Your divorced friend, sibling, co-worker or other family member’s divorce may have a strong influence on you. It makes sense. Say things aren’t all roses at your place and your “friend” laments about how unhappy they are and they have decided to get a divorce.

Had you not engaged in that exact conversation, would you view the everyday rumblings in your own marriage the same way… or has a thought been planted that maybe you too would be happier and the grass greener on the other side of the white picket fence if you weren’t with that person causing you grief right now?

What do you think? Are you divorced and you can point to someone else in your circle of family or friends directly influencing your decision because of their own relationship situation? We’d love to hear your story and words of wisdom.

Remember, thinkmarriage.org has couples check-ups and a wealth of information as welll as workshops to encourge you in your healthy relationship.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Calling Off Your Marriage At The Altar

posted by Michele Olson

How many movies have you seen where someone calls the wedding off at the altar?

Runaway Bride and The Graduate come to mind. But have you ever been at a real wedding when the bride or groom called off the wedding….or maybe it didn’t go that far, and it was called off shortly before the day.

What about this idea: calling off a wedding at the last minute might result in a longer, happier marriage. That’s some thoughts from the syndicated advice column by Carolyn Hax.

How so you wonder?

If someone is having doubts and decides to explore those feelings before going forward, that’s actually a healthy thing. It takes an immense amount of maturity. Imagine that a couple is engaged, but then puts the brakes on a planned wedding. Perhaps one or the other isn’t sure, or they‘ve seen something that is making them wonder. So, they go and get help about what’s bugging them. They understand that marriage as it’s intended is for “until death do us part.”
They want to be totally sure.

They will find out one of two things; either they were right, something could not be overcome, so they choose not to marry. Or they will find a way to work out what the problem is, and find out they can work around it. The point is, they take the time to figure it out before they are married. They don’t just marry to “save face.”

As the article points out; this is a relationship based on openness and trust.

What about you? Do you or did you doubt your decision to marry? What did you do about it?
Let us hear your stories and thoughts.

Remember…you can’t go wrong with doing a premarital inventory to really talk about the important things in life.

Let us hear from you!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Beauty of the Benefit of the Doubt

posted by Michele Olson

What if you’re wrong about something you are thinking? What if you tried and convicted your spouse when it turns out not to be true, or at least not the way you thought it was?

If you have lived with a spouse that has let you down frequently, you may tend to jump to conclusions faster about something you are wondering about. The proof is in the pudding right?

If you have jumped to conclusions and not been happy with the outcome, ask yourself what a popular TV host tends to ask; “How is that working for you?”

Try these tips instead:
· Reinforce the positive. Instead of pointing out what is wrong, comment when something is done right…even if you are using the “benefit of the doubt” to get there. Notice the first time they do anything near what you were hoping for.
· Don’t let the negatives become more important than the positives. There’s that old adage about how many smiles it takes to wipe out even one frown, and it’s true when living with your spouse too. If you concentrate on the negative, that is what you will see.
· Write down the positives in your own journal. Then when you have a day where you can’t remember them, refer to your “I love my spouse” book…sometimes you need to be reminded why you are crazy about this person.
· Be kind. Give someone a break if they are having a rough time. If you can do that for each other as a couple, chances are you won’t both be on the “down” side of things on the same day, especially if lifting each other up is a habit in your relationship.

Here’s the definition of giving the benefit of the doubt to someone:

To believe something good about someone, rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of doing either After hearing his explanation, I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Why not give that a try today? If you have tried it, let us know the outcomes!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What's the Perfect Age to Get Married?

posted by Michele Olson

Dennie Hughes writing in USA Weekend , in a relation tips column was asked; When’s the right time to wed? The question was posed because the person writing in was finding herself going to wedding after wedding of friends who were also just out of college.

Her answer goes against the early 20’s, but she also does say that getting married in your 30’s is also not an instant golden ticket to marital bliss.


Yes! Why you are getting married also matters.

* Are you trying to blend in because it feels like “everyone” is getting married?
* Are you worried about when you have children and how old you will be when they are grown?
* Are you looking for something stable in our current world which is filled with chaos?

Dennie quoted Terri Orbuch, PhD, author of Five Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great. Statistically we know that the more years of higher education a woman has before she marries, the lower her chances of getting divorced. If you do the math…it takes to around 25 to have a degree or two. As Terri says; “Educated women tend to be more confident about who they are and less willing to settle for a man who doesn’t meet their standards,”
You may also be more financially secure as a couple….and since people do fight about money, that can be one less area of friction. By your mid twenties you are more likely to know more about your life goals and who you are.

Back to the advice from the USA article:

Have fun at weddings but don’t let them push you into questioning why you are single.
The more dating experiences you have, the more you may understand the type of person that may be right for you.

All good advice, but none of the many articles I read gave this stellar piece of wisdom:
Use the tools that are out there to find out more about someone you are getting serious about.
At thinkmarriage.org we have a check up for seriously dating couples…when you really like the person, but want to know if you are ready for a bigger commitment.

The bottom line; get married because you feel it’s right for you, not because everyone else seems to be getting married. “Everyone else” will not be in your home as a couple!
There is no pat answer for the right time, but it is worth considering the statistics out there. Effort in the marriage will be much more of a way to ensure a satisfying relationship than just age alone.
What do you think? Do you think there’s a perfect time to get married? Leave a blog comment!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Getting Men to Participate in Marriage Education

posted by Michele Olson

At thinkmarriage.org we have healthy relationship check-ups, online classes and workshops you can attend in person. Often we will hear from women that they would really like to participate, but they can’t get their boyfriend/ husband to attend.

Engaged couples can be pretty agreeable, but as the married years go by, it is a fact that if all the women who wanted to attend our offerings could get their husbands to attend, we would have to hire a ton more people to keep up with the demand there would be.

But, that’s not the case. Sometimes it’s the “woman” in the relationship, but more often than not, it’s the man who won’t attend.

I say all that to bring up this point to any man who won’t participate in some type of marriage education; how would you like to escape a stroke?

Yes, that’s right!

Marriage education through the years can be a great tool to keeping you in a satisfying and yes, happy marriage. A happy marriage may help guard men against fatal strokes according to a study by Uri Goldbourt at Tel Aviv University’s Neufeld Cardiac Research Institute.

Men in an unhappy marriage had a 64% higher risk of a fatal stroke than those who reported being in a happy marriage.

Married men overall had a lower risk of fatal strokes than single men.

The study was presented in February at the American Stoke Association and is based on data from 10,000 men surveyed about their happiness levels and marital status, beginning in 1963 and then 34 years later. It measured only fatal strokes, not those in which men survived.

The bottom line is; wedded bliss can lower the risk of strokes.

So, men, if you are resisting marriage education, why not do it for your health…your physical health and the health of your marriage!

Make sure you get one of our free Marriage Myth Buster Guides...Myth #3 involves marriage and health.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dangling Conversations and Superficial Sighs

Posted by Michele Olson

Dangling conversations and superficial sighs are not signs of a healthy relationship. When a couple stops talking about anything meaningful and all the conversations revolve around children and bills, things are heading south! It reminds me of this song from Simon and Garfunkel. Read the words, watch in on YouTube…and then go to the bottom of this blog to find some conversation starters. Stop the superficial sighs and the dangling conversations!

It's a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtained lace
And shadows wash the room.
And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference,
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar
In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
The borders of our lives.

And you read your Emily Dickinson,
And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what we've lost.
Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,
Couplets out of rhyme,
In syncopated time
Lost in the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.

Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
"Can analysis be worthwhile?"
"Is the theater really dead?"
And how the room is softly faded
And I only kiss your shadow,
I cannot feel your hand,
You're a stranger now unto me
Lost in the dangling conversation.
And the superficial sighs,
In the borders of our lives.
Conversation starters:
*What would be five things you would do if you won the lottery?
*What would you be doing right now if time and money was no object?
*Tell me about a movie or book that you can watch or read over and over again and enjoy it as much every time. What about it makes you love it so much?
*If we woke up tomorrow and were told we had an all expense paid trip for just the two of us…where would you want to go?
*Tell me about someone who really impacted your life growing up. Do you think about the impact they had very often?
*What do you think was the best part of our wedding day/ our courtship/our honeymoon?

Blog right now and tell us if you've been having dangling conversations.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

For Better or Worse, In Fame and in Famine

Posted by Michele Olson
Do famous people reflect the pulse of what’s happening in society? Is that why when there’s a birth, marriage, death etc of someone we never met, we still feel like we have some kind of connection to their relationship and we care so much?

Fame doesn’t seem to be a healthy ingredient in the recipe of a good marriage.

Tipper and Al, Sandra and Jesse, and now 'Dog Whisperer' Cesar Millan and Ilusion, his wife of 16 years, have decided to get a divorce.
Meanwhile Rush Limbaugh just got married again, for the 4th time.

All these people have the money to marry and separate pretty painlessly when it comes to finances. We know in the average person’s life, the current economic times are preventing divorce…people simply can’t afford it. Still, we look to these famous names to comment on marriage.

From Bill Doherty’s recent article in Psychology Today:
Rush Limbaugh's multiple marriages is a 21st century American story. As sociologist Andrew Cherlin documented in his terrific book The Marriage Go Round, we Americans are crazy about both pair bonding and breaking up. In comparison to Europe, American's cohabitate and split up more easily, we marry and divorce more frequently, and we go on to remarry and re-divorce more readily. I’m not against hope or against trying again for a permanent union. But as a marriage therapist what I find depressing is people churning through multiple marriages without learning very much—except that they married for the wrong reasons or married the wrong person (but now it’s different) or that the love went away.

I’m not so sure we can compare “real people” to what’s happening in the world of “famous divorces.” I think the lesson is; it’s even harder to keep a marriage together when fame enters into the picture and even easier to move on to multiple marriages without feeling the day-to-day struggles that every day people deal with through the process. I’m also uncomfortable with using famous marriages as the benchmark for what’s really happening in the health of marriages. Dare we say that if the majority of famous people got divorced and the rest of the world didn’t-we’d be doing really well in seeing a low divorce rate overall.

The truth is; we don’t know these people. We don’t experience personal pain or joy at their comings or goings…it’s more like a wreck on the side of the road from which you just can’t seem to look away.

Famous people will continue to steal the headlines away from the real story. The real story is you. Make sure you participate in some type of pre-marital inventory before you marry. Once married, take advantage of all the opportunities for marriage education through workshops, online and read all the excellent books available.

Famous marriages and divorces are fiction to those of us who don’t really know these people. Any divorce is not to be made light of, but I think we have to be careful of the emphasis we place on deep sorrow over the rich and famous while doing nothing to support marriage in our own community, state, or personal relationships. That’s where the conversation and action about marriage really matters. That should be the headline we care about in the newspaper or blog.

For everyone getting married who hasn’t had their 15 minutes of fame yet, perhaps we can add this to the wedding vow: In sickness and in health; in fame and in famine.

Meanwhile, back in Every Day, U.S.A. if we put our energy into working on our healthy relationships on a daily basis and keep our eyes on how we are doing our best, we will all be just fine.

What about you? Does a famous divorce affect how you view your own marriage? Leave a comment!

Monday, June 07, 2010

A Lesson From Tipper and Al

posted by Michele Olson

Everyone is saying everything about the news that Al and Tipper Gore are ending their marriage after 40 years. Sad? Yes. Unheard of?

Why would we think that?

After reading this article by Ellen McCarthy in the Washington Post, I had to take a different thought pattern than the direction of her piece. Yes, it’s probably more of an accomplishment to stay married for ten years than five years, twenty years than ten, or thirty years than twenty.
You get the picture. But the bottom line is-marriage is not a race with a finish line that once crossed you get a prize. It’s a thriving, ever growing and changing entity based on two people. People are fragile. People are unpredictable. People have free will.

What their divorce says to me is; you can’t ever stop working on your marriage. Ever. Fifty years. Sixty years. There is never a time to “coast” or take for granted what is happening between you and your spouse.

I’m also baffled by anyone basing their assessment of the Gore marriage on happy pictures or perceptions. People in the public eye know how to protect their image…no matter what is really going on. The Washington Post article quotes Terri Orbuch, a marriage therapist and sociology professor at the University of Michigan who recently completed a 20-year study of marriage for the National Institutes of Health. “To really work, long-term relationships need regular attention, regular affirmation on a daily basis.”

You can write a book in 2003 called "Joined at the Heart" as the Gore’s did and file for divorce in 2010. It’s possible you had no idea that you would ever part when you wrote the book. But that’s the point. You can’t take anything in your marriage for granted. It can't always be based on yesterday, it has to be based on today and today always matters.

It’s not the length of time, it the time you put into your marriage on a daily basis that makes a difference for that day. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow you choose once again to honor your spouse.

Ellen McCarthy writes in her article; “But the old adage that you never know what's really going on in someone else's relationship is no comfort here.” I bet if you talked to the Gore’s children or close family members, they did know something was going on…or at least things weren’t as they once were. My parents divorced after 33 years, and our small town and people not in our inner circle were shocked. But those of us who knew them closely weren’t shocked. It is true. The two people in a marriage are the people who make it work. Others can encourage, suggest and support a marriage, but it’s the two people involved that know their own story.

Every divorce is sad, but I do hope that a divorce will never cause someone else to question whether they can have a lasting, satisfying marriage. It is always a choice with many tools available to help along the way.

Rededicate yourself to working on your marriage, no matter how long you’ve been married. thinkmarriage.org is here to encourage you with workshops, coaching, check-ups and resources. Perhaps the Gore’s will change their minds. Whether they do or don’t, it can be a good reminder to each of us to not take our marriages for granted. Each day is as important as the years.

What do you think about the news of the Gore's getting a divorce?