Your Wife Wants Space! How to Handle This in a Compassionate Way

The day a man marries he’s doing so with a full heart and the very best intentions. You’d be hard pressed to find a man who recently wed who will say that he doesn’t believe his marriage will last. People just don’t take the walk down the aisle or make the emotional commitment if they don’t believe their union is going to fulfill them for a lifetime. read more

Being married to a functioning alcoholic can cause many problems in a family. Tens of thousands of families in North America alone are struggling with this issue.

A drinking problem can begin in many ways. For some people it begins with social drinking. Social drinking can gradually deteriorate into alcohol abuse and eventually into alcohol dependence. The drinking became a habit and the habit became alcohol dependence or alcoholism. It matters not whether the alcohol is in the form of beer, wine or hard liquor. Alcohol is alcohol in any shape or form. read more

We have been engaged in marriage research for nearly three decades around the world and have never been asked this question until recently – Are there words or phrases you listen for when you interview the best marriages around the world?

This is a great question and we are delighted to share the answer with our thousands of loyal readers around the world. read more

Will Your Next Marriage be Better?

It’s time for me to move on. I’ve learned so much – I just know that next time it will be better.
Our new relationship has a great chance, because we’ve both been married before and have learned a lot. We know that this time around we will do it so much better.
Is this true? Apparently not!
According to research by Jennifer Baker, of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri, while 50% of first marriages end in divorce, 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages end in divorce.
Is this surprising?
From my experience, most people who end their marriages have not learned what they need to learn, so they take their same fears and insecurities, and their resulting controlling and self-abandoning behaviors, with them into their second and third marriages. Of course, eventually they create the same or similar relationship system.
Most people who leave marriages believe that the problem is mostly their partner. But relationships are systems, with both people participating in the system. If you are not aware of the overt and subtle ways you control and abandon yourself in your relationship, then you will take all your wounded behaviors with you into your next relationship.
The thing is, we keep attracting the same kind of person, as long as we are the same kind of person.
I’ve long maintained that leaving a marriage before you have dealt with your own controlling and self-abandoning behaviors is often a waste of time (unless you are in physical and emotional danger). Now the research on marriage proves this to be true. If partners were devoted to healing their controlling, self-abandoning wounded selves, the divorce statistics would go way down – for first, second and third marriages.
The Real Issue Behind These Statistics
Self-abandonment leads to trying to control your partner into giving you the attention and approval you are not giving to yourself. There is little possibility of sharing love, fun, and passion with your partner when your intent is to have control over getting love and to avoid both the pain of your own self-abandonment, and the inevitable loneliness and heartache that exist in all relationships to varying degrees. Until your intent changes from protecting/controlling to learning to love yourself and sharing your love with your partner, you will keep creating the same relationship dynamics over and over.
Ryan consulted with me because the love of his life – the woman he thought he would spend the rest of his life with, left him after an intense six-month courtship. Both Ryan and Roz had been married before. In fact, Ron had been married three times before. Both in their early 60s, their relationship seemed made in heaven. They could laugh and play together, and the chemistry between them was intense.
Roz was a giver, who had learned to give everything in relationships – and would then feel engulfed and trapped. Ryan was a taker, and was so enthralled by Roz’s giving that it didn’t take him long to completely abandon responsibility for his feelings and wellbeing, making Roz responsible for him.
Roz, not knowing how to articulate her feelings of engulfment, or how to take loving care of herself in the face of Ryan’s pull on her, abruptly ended the relationship. That’s when Ryan called.
The point here is that neither Ryan nor Roz had dealt with their wounded selves. Both were abandoning themselves and, in different ways, trying to have control over getting love and avoiding pain. Their relationship was fantastic at the beginning, before their wounded selves got triggered. It’s sad that Roz wasn’t willing to work on her end of the relationship system, and it’s hopeful that Ryan, now working on his, will heal enough so that he won’t repeat this system again.

We thought we had heard everything until this!

We heard recently that the Reverend Ed Young of the Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas told his congregation during a Sunday worship service that he wanted married couples in his congregation to have sex all week long. He says that God may have rested on the seventh day, but he wanted married couples in his church to have sex every day for a week! read more

Falling in love with another human being is easy, but making a commitment to love them forever is up in the air for many people.

We like the term up in the air from the movie title for a whole bunch of reasons, primarily because it aptly describes the struggles so many folks go through when it comes to making a commitment to love somebody for a lifetime.
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One time in a land far away a client asked me if I could help her save her 15-year marriage.

Her husband was threatening to leave her, was stonewalling and was generally emotionally cold, but she said he was willing to see me. I worked with him for several months, and they stayed together.
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When Dating for Marriage it’s Values, Values, Values!

Perhaps you have heard that in business it’s all about location, location, location! However, this dating coach believes that for relationships, it’s all about values, values and values! What do I mean about values? Let me explain:
Your values are what you treasure. It’s what you hold dear. When your values are not aligned with someone or something, you will feel discourse and out of sorts. I can’t stress how important it is to have a list with a detailed description of your values so you can adjust your love radar connection in the right direction.
As a dating coach I have observed for many of my clients that their love connection radar is off and they are choosing the inappropriate people to date based upon the wrong criteria. When you adjust your love connection radar through your values, you will make better choices for yourself and you will recognize a good potential mate sooner than later.
So how do your values help you with finding that special person? Let me share with you this dating coach’s 3 Step Motivated to Marry Dating Secrets System:

* First CLARIFY WHO would be a good match for you.
Once you have a detailed description list of your values written out, then you have to figure out which ones are your PERSONAL VALUES and which are your RELATIONSHIP VALUES. Your RELATIONSHIP VALUES need to be aligned with your life partner and your PERSONAL VALUES need to be supported by your partner.
* Next FOCUS on WHERE to go to find people who share your core RELATIONSHIP VALUES.
You will be able to figure out where you are going to meet people who share your values? You will find that you will connect with people because you share similar values. For instance, if you have a value around giving back to your community, you may find singles’ volunteer opportunities so you can meet other single people who feel the same desire. Also, it’s important to express your values in your online dating profile so you will attract the right people to your profile! Moreover, you can tell the connectors in your life WHO you are looking for based upon these RELATIONSHIP VALUES so they can easily think about who they know to introduce you to that would be a great match.
* Last, your RELATIONSIP VALUES will SOLIDIFY your CONNECTION to your romantic partner.
By honoring your CORE RELATIONSHIP values, you have the glue that will keep you together during the ups and downs of a relationship. When you share and support one another’s values, you both get one another and find that you have an appreciative, supportive, respectful and caring partner. This will give you the best chance for your future happiness in your romantic love partnership. By disregarding your RELATIONSHIP VALUES you are missing the one thing that can make dating easier so you can determine who is a good fit, as well as, a way to kindly pass on those who don’t share your core VALUES.
What criteria are you utilizing to evaluate a potential mate for continued dating? This curious dating coach would like to know!
Coach Amy
PS. If you would like to learn more about how to utilize your values to find and solidify true love, go to and let’s talk about how we can best uncover your PERSONAL and RELATIONSHIP VALUES in support of your quest to find your Motivated to Marry Mate!

What Your Marriage Proposal Could Tell You About Your Relationship

The way your partner proposed to you might allow you to see into your future with this person.
Good card players can detect tells—those unconscious behaviors that give away information about a player’s hand.
When my clients described their feelings of disappointments or exhilaration about their proposal, a warning light went off in my head. A few years later, when these same couples came to see me for counseling, I realized the proposal often foretold the problems they would face. Not all the time, of course, but here are some thoughts and tips that might help you to see into your future so you can address important patterns and issues now.
Like the fairy tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, I discovered three proposal styles that can be too big, too small or just right.
1) The Too Big, Over-the-Top Proposal
What Your Marriage Proposal Could Tell You About Your Relationship Don’t let proposals written in the sky or delivered on the stadium sports screen seduce you into thinking you found Prince Charming. And don’t confuse a huge ring with love. Your man could turn out to be a prince among men, but keep in mind that proposals that suffer from a too-muchness factor might be tells about his issues regarding control, abuse and respect.
For example, a wow-proposal that sweeps you off your feet and makes you feel special could be signaling you that your man needs to be in charge and to be respected and revered. Many of these men need to be Number One, Two and Three in a relationship.
They may have a hole in their soul that needs constant feeding.
If you doubt or question him, he might minimize your needs and become abusive. These men often have emotional radar for women who are Little Orphan Annie’s who overly appreciate him.
And those surprise proposals where the man pops the question can often be more about the man’s fear of losing you rather than loving you.
Not all thrilling proposals are from controlling or insecure men. But pay attention to any pattern in your relationship where you end up feeling diminished. When you do speak up, don’t accuse, cry, throw a fit or threaten to leave. Instead, suggest ideas and work as a team. If abuse occurs, seek professional counseling immediately to learn about creating a safety plan.
2) The Too-Little Proposal
Proposals that are too casual do not create the heat of love. You don’t feel special or warm or certain. One of my clients said her husband proposed to her at work. She said, He told everyone in the office that he was proposing, and all of a sudden I was surrounded by colleagues toasting me in the lunch room.
The husband of one of my clients proposed while they were walking through a shopping mall. They did marry, but the woman never could erase the lack of feeling special.
Men who make underwhelming proposals might be revealing their doubts about you, themselves or their doubts about sustaining a marriage.
These men often fear taking reasonable risks, making decisions or dealing with confrontations. No wonder these men are attracted to take charge, competent women.
Their appeal is that these men also tend to be sweet and understanding listener. You might feel, for instance, that you can tell this man anything. He makes you feel warm. Over time, however, he may not make you feel safe enough to rely on him when the going gets rough.
Observe your pattern of decision-making if you have chosen a too nice man. You can avoid an imbalance in your relationship by including your man in your decisions, coaching him to make decisions and not blaming him for making mistakes.
And if your proposal is too little, you can have a re-do. Ask your partner to establish a different proposal experience so you can have a different memory. This re-do may never fully get rid of the unsatisfying proposal, but it can build a closer bond and greater respect for your partner.
3) The Just-Right Proposal
Smart marriage proposals don’t have to set the world on fire. They should honor your style, wishes and relationship history. An example of a smart proposal might take place where you went on your first date or where you had your first kiss.
The goals are to establish a memory and ritual that bond you in a personally meaningful way.
Wedding proposals are amongst the rituals—such as mothers’ and fathers’ day celebrations–that you and partner establish over time. These rituals are part of your unique emotional history that joins you as a team—especially in rough times.
By the time your partner proposes, you should both know that the relationship is a go. You should already have discussed key issues such as children, religion, family and finances.
Just-right proposals do not occur as a result of fights, whirlwind courtships, family pressure or traumatic events that propel you to create pseudo-intimacy. Just-right proposals are based on knowing each other over time—and through both good and bad times.
Most importantly, both of you should feel happy, warm, loving, hopeful, confident and stronger because you are a team of equals with different strengths.

What Makes a Happy Marriage?

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
As our loyal readers know, we have been researching successful marriage around the world for nearly three decades. We have travelled to 47 countries on six of the world’s seven continents in search of the best marriages.
In our speeches, blogs, and world travels we are often asked – Are there ways to ensure that a marriage will be happy? The answer is of course, no. Life, love, and marriage do not come with absolute guarantees. Marriage does not come with a warranty.
Let us hasten to add, however, you can greatly increase the odds that your marriage will last a lifetime if your profile closely resembles the following 15 findings we have gleaned from our own research and the marriage research of others whose research we highly value.
If your marriage profile looks like this, you are well on your way to a long and successful marriage. These are, in essence, the predictors of a happy marriage.
1. It stands to reason that you and the one you love must first pass the Marriage Quiz. If you can’t get out of the starting gate with a successful marriage, the rest doesn’t matter. Take the Quiz and if you both receive a score of 18 or higher on the Marriage Quiz, you have met the first pre-requisite of a successful marriage.
2. Wait until you are at least 25+ to get married. Couples who get married after the age of 25 are far more likely to stay married than those who get married sooner. Doing so will pay many dividends over the years ahead. Experience and wisdom that comes with age will certainly contribute to the success of a marriage.
3. Have an income-producing job with stability before you get married. Here’s what we know, couples with annual incomes over $50,000 (vs. under $25,000) experience a drastically reduced risk of divorce. Couples who have steady jobs with steady incomes are far more likely to have a successful marriage.
4. Do not have children in the first year of your marriage. Bring children into the world when your marriage is ready for them. Nora Ephron once said, Having children is like throwing a hand grenade into a marriage! Children are wonderful, but they bring stress and challenges to a marital relationship, especially to a new marriage. Have children when you know and understand each other and your marriage is ready for the responsibilities associated with parenting. Your marriage will be well served, make no mistake about that.
5. Being spiritual and/or religious is good for your marriage. Couples that consider themselves religious or spiritual (vs. not) are considerably less likely to get divorced. Faith and spirituality contribute to the sense of oneness felt by successfully married couples – a necessary prerequisite to a long and happy marriage.
6. Focus on getting an education that includes post-secondary training (college, trade school, etc.). College educated couples have a much less chance of divorce than those with only a high school diploma. Education almost always leads to enlightenment and understanding and more tolerance for the views of others – so critically important in successful marriages. In fact, college educated women are more likely to get married than their less educated counterparts, and much more likely to have a successful marriage.
7. Make sure your spouse is your best friend. When someone asks you who your best friend is, the honest answer must be, My spouse. There is no other acceptable answer to this question. If you answer this question correctly, your marriage has a better than average chance of success. Being in love is never enough without friendship. All long-term successfully married couples know this to be a fact1
8. Always fight fair in your marriage. All married couples argue – the good, the bad, and the ugly marriages – they all do it. The difference is how they argue. If you decide to submerge your feelings, let the anger fester, and go to bed mad at each other – well, you are heading down a path that could ultimately lead to the destruction of your marriage. Arguing is healthy for a marriage. Just fight fair and never make your arguments personal and hurtful!
9. Never lose your individual identity or subjugate your individual strengths just because you got married. While in many ways two becomes one in the best marriages, losing who you are is not a pre-requisite to being happily and blissfully married. Quite the contrary, losing the sense of who you are hurts your marriage. It doesn’t help your marriage. Be true to your identity as a human being. It will serve your marriage well.
10. Never, we repeat, never engage in acts of infidelity. While some marriages survive infidelity, the overwhelming majority do not. Think long and hard about what you will lose before you engage in infidelity – before you violate the most sacred of marital trusts.
11. Always allow time to be alone – for both you and your spouse. We have learned over the past three decades of research one fundamental truism – every human being has a fundamental predisposition to be alone, to be by themselves from time to time. Allowing yourself time to be alone to your thoughts each day will serve you and your marriage well. Extending the same opportunity to your spouse will pay huge dividends for your marriage. A marriage that does not follow this simple advice could place their marriage in grave jeopardy.
12. Talk about anything and everything! Marriages thrive on open communication and honest discussion. The most successfully married couples we have interviewed around the world tell us that they have learned to communicate frequently, fairly, openly, and honestly. Mum is not the word in marriages that work! Practicing communication with your spouse each and every day is a necessary prerequisite for the success of your marriage. There should be no sacred cows in your marriage!
13. Always show mutual respect and admiration for each other. The best marriages repeatedly engage in acts of kindness towards each other. They do nice things for each other with no expectation of something in return. They work hard to understand each other’s needs and wants. They say thank you and please. They open doors for each other. Successfully married couples do all these things automatically, without ever thinking about it. But remember – these behaviors take daily practice! Start today.
14. The greatest joy in life for both you and your spouse is spending time with each other. If you do not feel this way, you do NOT fit the profile of the most happily and successfully married couples we have interviewed around the world. Couples who love each other deeply, who want to spend their lives with each other, and who cannot imagine life without each other, will almost always tell you this – the one they want to be with more than anyone else is their spouse. There is no substitute for togetherness when it comes to a happily married couple, make no mistake about that.
15. Understand that all marriages go through seasons – much like the seasons of nature. A marriage is born in the spring, blossoms over the summer, grows to maturity in the fall, and settles in over the winter. When we find true love, most of us find it for a lifetime. Those marriages and relationships that last over time started with the simple planting of a seed. The seed was nourished over time. Love grown with tender and loving care matures into fully-grown love that can withstand the tests of time. You can make your love and your marriage last for a lifetime.
There is a profile for marital success – there are predictors associated with the best marriages and they do not occur by accident or happenstance. It takes hard work to make a marriage work.
There are characteristics associated with success and tale-tale signs of impending failure. Heed the advice and the odds are in your favor. Ignore the predictors and do so at your own peril. The choice is yours.
In love and marriage the simple things matter. Love well!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For hundreds of tips to enhance your relationship get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships

What is the Best Valentine’s Day Gift?

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
It is said that some 200 million stems of roses will be sold in the USA on Valentine’s Day 2011. Imagine that! That’s a lot of expressions of love don’t you think! We Americans love Valentine’s Day. We relish the opportunity to express our love to the one we love, and we do it through multiple venues.
People propose marriage, get engaged, express love, and give lots of flowers to the one they love on Valentine’s Day. What they are really saying is, You are My Valentine and I love you! And the truth is, Valentine’s Day is romantic and sexual in its orientation for many. It is the ultimate day of love!”
In so many ways, giving roses to the one you love is an expression of love for someone that really matters to you. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to express your love. But think about it; are there better and less expensive ways to tell someone you love that they are the center of your universe? We think so.
We subscribe to the old adage that the best things in life are free. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to cost a dime of your hard-earned money during these trying economic times. Valentine’s Day, in the end, is all about love. It is about serving breakfast in bed to the one you love. It is about giving the gift of time instead of lavish or expensive gifts.
Don’t over-emphasize the importance of giving THINGS. In the end, the greatest Valentine’s gift of all to the one you love is the gift of your time. Our research on six continents of the world and in 45 countries over these past three decades completely supports this notion.
Valentine’s Day should be a time to reflect on and a time to share your love with the one you are in love with. When you truly love someone, you spend your love energy in the here and now. Valentine’s Day sometimes does often conjure up memories of lost love! Forget about that! Spend your time immersing yourself in today’s love. Spend your time being thankful for who you love today. Hindsight is always 20-20. Love is sometimes blind, but your heart will tell you the difference. Spend time with the one you love on this highly important day. You will not regret it.
So, who is the love of your life on this Valentine’s Day? What do you plan to do to express your love to the one you love? Will it be an expensive affirmation of love? Or, will you give the gift of time to the one you love? The choice is yours.
We vote, however, for the gift of time. When you go to your grave, you cannot take material items with you. You can, however, take memories of love with you with your dying breath. Spending time with the one you love ensures your place in their heart. And you can take that kind of love with you!
Here’s what we know. In our thousands of interviews, the most successful marriages and relationships repeatedly report this simple notion – being with their spouse is the most important part of their day. Nothing about love can replace the intimacy of being alone with your lover. Do not have any illusions when it comes to love – being with the one you love should be the nirvana of your day. If you don’t feel this way, it is time to reflect on your relationship with the one you purport to love.
We are often asked this question—Does love exist only if you acknowledge it in front of other people? Our answer – how ridiculous is this notion! Telling someone you love him or her should occur everywhere – in public, in private, and all around the town. People in love acknowledge their love wherever and whenever. Where they do it doesn’t matter.
Always remember, every day is a day of sunshine when you are with the one you love. Valentine’s Day reminds us why our soul mate, our lover, and our best friend is the one we most want to spend our time with and to share our life with.
In the end, there is nothing more important in a loving relationship than the gift of time. Give the one you love this special gift today. You will not regret it. Make this your best Valentine’s ever!
In love and marriage the simple things matter. Love well!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For hundreds of tips to enhance your relationship get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships

What Does Love Look Like?

What Does Love Look Like?
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
“the marriage doctors”
Award Winning Authors of the NEW Hardback Book
Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage
Makes a GREAT Wedding or Anniversary Gift
Also available at and your local bookstore.
We have written extensively over the years about love and relationships. Our recent book, Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage, chronicles the lives of happily married couples that have been married for three or more decades. Our many articles for have described different aspects of love. Our article How Will I Know I am in Love, traveled around the world several times and was even translated into Chinese!
And while we have written about how you will know you are in love, about how you will feel when you are in love, about the importance of the human touch in expressing love, and about how love sounds, we haven’t yet shared our observations and findings about what love looks like until today! So here goes.
When we interview successfully married couples we spend a lot of time observing them while we listen carefully to what they say. We record our observations. We make note of what we see. Oh, what they say is important, but what we see is even more so.
We have discovered that you can learn much about love from observing two people in love. So what does love look like? What do two people in love say through their interactions with the one they love? When you observe couples in love, how do they act? How do they interact? What do their actions tell you about their love for each other? Well, here’s something to think about.
People in love can be observed:
Listening to each other intently; holding hands while they walk or sit; touching each other often; teasing each other in playful ways; smiling at each other; hugging each other; sharing a meal from the same plate; opening doors for each other; putting their arms around each other; talking to each other with full eye contact; sitting together touching each other; sharing the care of their children; picking up each other’s plates and meal residue after eating at fast food restaurants; and walking next to each other.
The way people in love gaze at each other – the way they look lovingly at each other – the knowing glances they share with each other—tells you they are in love. There is a look to love.
These are just a few of the telltale signs of people in love. We bet you can name more, but the important point to remember is that it is hard to fake love. People, who observe people in love or those just pretending to be in love, know the difference! There is without a doubt a look of love.
So, friends, our message about love being an accumulation of the little things should come through loud and clear again. You can’t fake love. True love can be seen, felt, observed, and heard. Keep these simple things in mind next time you think about love.
We close with the words of Burt Bacharach in his very popular song, The Look of Love.
I can hardly wait to hold you

Feel my arms around you

How long I have waited

Waited just to love you

Now that I have found you

Don’t ever go”
There is no doubt – you can SEE love. You can’t hide it. You can’t fake it. You can’t fool those who observe your relationship with each other.
To love is to show your love by your actions. To say you are in love doesn’t count for much unless you show your love. To look like love is, more often than not, to be in love.
Love well!

What are the Warning Signs of a Failing Marriage?

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
We have studied marriage around the globe for three decades. And while our focus has principally been on successful marriage, we have interviewed a lot of folks whose marriage was in trouble – whose marriage was falling apart.
There is nothing more painful than watching your marriage disintegrate before your eyes. It hurts. In fact, it may be amongst the most painful experiences you will have in your lifetime.
During our many radio and television interviews over the years we are often asked this simple question – How will I know my Marriage is in Trouble?’ Our research has identified the answer to this very important and often asked question.
So, friends, here are the Seven Telltale Signs of a Failing Marriage that we have identified over the years.
1. You fight and argue much more often than before and do so unfairly.
Fact is, you have nothing nice to say to or about each other anymore. You love to nitpick at each other. Your teasing isn’t fun – it is now painful and hurtful. You use each other as a personal pincushion!
Sadly, your arguments are repeatedly about the same subjects. You are increasingly critical of each other, you fight constantly, and you no longer fight fair.
As we have said many times before – it is okay to argue – all successfully married couples do – but the truth is this, successfully married couples have learned how to fight fair. Their arguments do not become personal and attack oriented.
2. One or both of you show increasing disrespect for each other.
As we have described in our recent book, Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley), mutual respect is at the heart of the best marriages. In failing marriages, there are growing signs of disrespect. Resentment and contempt have replaced patience and love. You go out of your way to avoid being together.
And sadly, when you are away from your spouse you are happier than when you are with them. Having fun with your mate seems to be a thing of the past.
When mutual respect and understanding fail, your marriage is well on the way to its end. Make no mistake about that.
3. You and your spouse are no longer capable of communicating with each other in meaningful and productive ways.
Communication between a husband and a wife is of paramount importance to the health of a successful marital relationship. Failing marriages communicate less and less. There are fewer and fewer meaningful exchanges between the two people who occupy the marriage bond.
Worse yet, they don’t talk with each other about their mutual problems anymore. Frankly, failing marriages lose the ability and the willingness to resolve their marital problems. They just don’t care anymore.
When communication between a husband and wife shuts down, there is little hope for the marriage. Always remember this – no problem was ever resolved, no divide ever bridged, and no disagreement ever broached when people refused to communicate. When communication falters, a marriage is in trouble.
4. Sexual intimacy in your marriage is low and increasingly non-existent.
In a failing marriage, sexual intimacy is low. Sexual intimacy becomes more and more infrequent. Marriage partners turn into roommates – they live together in the same home, but do not share the intimacies of a marriage. Unfortunately, intimacy becomes a thing of the past.
It is clear from our three decades of research that sexual intimacy is over-rated when it comes to the best marriages. There are many other elements that are equally or more important to a successful marriage than sex. But make no mistake about it; INTIMACY is more than good sex. Intimacy is holding hands on a walk, snuggling in the morning, hugging a lot, touching each other, and in general, feeling emotion for each other.
When intimacy starts to fade so does the marriage. When you and/or your spouse lose feelings of intimacy, your marriage is in trouble.
5. Financial disagreements dominate your discussions and conversations.
It is clear, when you argue increasingly and incessantly about financial issues, your marriage is in trouble. We have written extensively about this subject over the past two years, and if the truth were known, most arguments in a marriage center on financial issues.
Worse yet, you discover your spouse is lying about money and other financial related issues. They lie about the bills, the balances, the payoffs, and the commitments. A very bad sign, indeed.
It is clear; we live in trying times when it comes to economic uncertainty. Unemployment is historically high, the Stock Market has wild swings, we worry about our retirement income and our savings, and our home values are in the tank. There is a lot of economic uncertainty.
But here is the truth – the best marriages survive and thrive during trying economic times. The best marriages find a way to deal with the economic uncertainties. Failing marriages have not learned to cope with economic uncertainty because they have not learned how to communicate with each other. If all you talk about is your financial plight, you marriage is in trouble.
6. You do not trust your spouse anymore.
Trust is the centerpiece of a great marriage! In fact, there is nothing more central to a successful marriage than the ability to trust. If you can’t trust your spouse, whom can you trust?
When you or your spouse start to have thoughts of being unfaithful and think more and more about divorce, your marriage is in trouble. When you worry about infidelity in your marriage, your marriage is in trouble.
Let’s face it, when the trust level between you and your spouse nears zero, there is little hope for your marriage. You cannot imagine how important it is to trust your spouse. When you don’t trust them anymore, there is little hope for your marriage.
7. Family members increasingly choose up sides instead of striving for common ground and common understandings.
Your immediate family (your children, each other, your extended family) finds it more and more difficult to find common ground in debates, discussions, and conversations. Family members start to choose up sides. Winning and losing becomes the order of the day. Compromise is out the window.
Moreover, you and your spouse try to isolate each other from family and friends. Divide and conquer becomes the order of the day.
It is sad but true – those marriages that become dysfunctional display symptoms of division and lack of common understandings among family members. Family unity begins to disintegrate. Feuding families are not good for a healthy marriage.
It is important to know the telltale signs of a failing marriage. Pay close attention. When you witness the signs, take action. Save your relationship if you can. Having a healthy and happy marriage is one of the great success stories of life. It is not too late to save your marriage.
In love and marriage the simple things matter. Love well!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
**For hundreds of tips to enhance your relationship get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships

Toilet seats can come between you and your spouse!

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
As we say repeatedly, the simple things matter in love and marriage. Do the simple things and your marriage or loving relationship will prosper.
Charley learned his lesson some 43 years ago! He grew up in a rural area of Missouri back when outhouses were more prevalent than toilets that flushed! When we first got married some 43 years ago, Charley, the consummate gentleman as Liz refers to him, had to learn an important lesson about toilet seats.
As it turns out, toilet seats are designed to protect women and save marriages! There are four kinds of husbands when it comes to Toilet Seat Love. Here they are, briefly described.
First, husband number one goes to the bathroom. He lifts the seat and goes, then replaces the seat in its down position. Wife loves husband when he does this! The marriage is saved!
Husband number two fails to lift the seat and, thusly, goes ON the seat. But, being a kind and respectful husband, he cleans up his mess with a handful of Kleenex. Wife still loves husband but not as much.
The third kind of husband goes to the bathroom, doesn’t lift the seat, goes ON seat, doesn’t clean seat, and wife sits in his mess later that day. Wife is not happy with husband! Trust us on this.
The fourth kind of husband raises the seat before he goes, but leaves seat in the upright position when he is done. Later that day, wife sits in the toilet bowl and the impact splashes toilet bowl contents on the floor. Occasionally, she gets stuck in bowl and needs assistance in getting out. Wife does not love husband when he does this. The marriage is in jeopardy!
We hope you enjoyed the levity of this little story but, more importantly, you find its meaning to be helpful as you think about the simple things that make your loving relationship with someone else thrive. Toilet Seat Love describes just one of those simple things that really matter. Always remember that lasting relationships and successful marriages are built on an accumulation of the simple things.
Simple Things Matter in love and marriage. Love well!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
Authors of the best-selling book and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
2009 Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships

There is No Recovery from Infidelity

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
Frankly, if we hear yet one more person talk about infidelity in a relationship as if it were okay, not a big deal, and forgivable, we are going to get angry!
We have studied the best marriages for nearly 28 years and we know this – the best marriages would never engage in unfaithfulness – they would never engage in infidelity.
Here is the whole truth and nothing but the truth – being disloyal to the one you love is an unpardonable sin! Why would anyone who engages in this disloyal, dishonest, and morally reprehensible behavior think it is okay? To betray someone you purport to love is unconscionable. And as we often say, based on our years of research with successfully married couples, there is a character element to marriage and to violate the code of conduct in a marriage – to engage in the ultimate form of betrayal – is to destroy the core, the heart, of that relationship.
As you have noticed over the years, we are not angry people. Clearly, we are not unreasonable people. And the truth is, we know what makes marriages work. Being unfaithful to the one you love is not conducive to a wholesome, successful, and endearing relationship.
Here’s the deal – there are NO excuses for infidelity! There is no way to excuse infidelity. Being unfaithful to the one you love is the most unpardonable of all sins. To violate the core of trust in your marriage or loving relationship is, simply put, to destroy the relationship.
It is our considered opinion – based on many years of research on six continents of the world and 45 countries – that the notion of character in marriage is real. To suggest otherwise is to ignore the basic tenets of successful relationships. We guess that it is time to say, The buck stops here! Literally translated – there are no excuses for disloyalty and infidelity to your spouse – to your lover.
Over the years, we have interviewed a lot of people who purported to be in love. We have interviewed a lot of couples that repeated the vows, Until Death Do Us Part. And these are not just words! To love someone for a lifetime does not occur by accident. To be in love is not an accident. To be in love is to do the simple things day in and day out of your relationship with the one you say you love. But trust us on this – you cannot betray the one you love and expect your marriage to survive and thrive.
It pains our heart to see couples espouse the virtues of the Desperate Housewives who think it’s okay to cheat on the one your love, and everything will be okay. It drives an arrow through our heart to think that there are people engaged in a loving relationship who think that betrayal is an offense for which there is forgiveness.
The ultimate betrayal of the one you say you love is an unrecoverable act! Writers, therapists, counselors, and psychologists who suggest otherwise are not only fooling themselves, they are misleading those they purport to represent.
Don’t be fooled and don’t be foolish. There is rarely EVER a recovery from a relationship that sinks to betrayal, infidelity, and disloyalty. Those who have been successfully married for years and years know this to be true. Once you cheat on your spouse, absolute trust – so central to the core of successful marriage – is NEVER regained. Don’t be misled by those who suggest otherwise, they are promoting a lie. Our advice to you – NEVER cheat on your spouse!
Simple Things Matter in love and marriage. Love well!
**For hundreds of practical tips to strengthen your love, read the best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

The Trials and Tribulations of Having Children in a Marriage

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
One of the many important caveats about marriage is this – children change the dynamics of a marriage. Make no mistake about that.
Kids! We love them. We cherish them. They bring joy to our lives. When we have children in a marriage, we understand finally, and once and for all, what eternity means. While we are not immortal, we learn the meaning of everlasting life when we are blessed with children. They make us feel like we will live through time. We carry on through them. We know that through them our lives will have meaning beyond our time on this earth.
But our children are also a pain in the butt! They challenge us. They taunt us. They demand much from us. They argue with us. They divide us. They unite us. They run up one heck of a child-care bill!
On the other hand, most %0A” rel=”nofollow”>successful marriages with children wouldn’t want it any other way. They know that without a doubt, their children enrich their lives in innumerable ways. They value their children immensely. But be clear regarding this – successfully married couples with children understand the challenges they pose to a blissful and romantic marital relationship.
You thought your marriage was nearly perfect — And Then…Along Came Kids. To quote Nora Ephron in Heartburn: Having a first child is like throwing a hand grenade into a marriage. When you are responsible for the care of your children you will, without a doubt, take on some enormous stresses.
After more than 32 years of research around the world interviewing successfully married couples, one of our principal conclusions is – the quality of the relationship between husband and wife trumps everything else in a marriage! Get it right and good things follow. Get it wrong and lots of bad things often happen!
And you know why? Without a positive, loving, and thriving relationship between mom and dad, children often don’t prosper, they are not well-adjusted, they don’t do well in school, and they are not as healthy, both physically and mentally.
Our research over the years suggests that there are a number of useful tips that you can use to not only deal with the enormous stress of caregiving, but also strengthen your marriage at the same time. These tips appear on the surface to be simple, but in love, marriage and raising children the Simple Things Matter.
Tips for Parents to Strengthen Your Marriage:
1. Share openly with each other about feelings, emotions and stresses as they relate to caring for your children. In times of stress the tendency is to keep everything bottled up inside or explode at the slightest disagreement. However, this approach will not work if you want your %0A” rel=”nofollow”>marriage to survive and thrive. In successful marriages there are No Sacred Cows. Simply speaking, happily married couples talk about everything. All subjects are fair game. They trust each other. They rely on each other’s good judgment. They depend upon each other for truth and straight talk. They share insights about everything—the good, the bad and the ugly. They are each other’s best friends.
2. Make a conscious effort to keep the flame of your love affair alive with each other everyday. Can you rattle off a list of activities, topics and places you and your spouse include in your personal book of fun and romance? Have you found what clears your mind and gives you an unobstructed view of your world together? What type of priority do you place on making time for fun and romance with each other in your hectic lives? If you cannot answer these questions easily, you need to start today by carving out time to have a romantic date with each other, bring home flowers, get a hotel room, go for a long walk together, drink a bottle of wine watching the sunset, write a love note, and snuggle or in bed a little longer in the morning.
3. Don’t blame each other when things get tough, as casting blame never solved a problem. The blame game doesn’t work in love and marriage. It is destructive. There is a natural tendency in tough times to blame the one you love for your collective misfortune, but people in love don’t blame, castigate, or chastise each other in challenging times. The truth is, there usually is no one to blame for the situation. Someone has to take care of the children and the job just fell to you.
4. Don’t wallow in self-pity; it is a wasted emotion. No problem has ever been solved by feeling sorry for yourself or your situation. Trying to pretend you are the perfect super mom while you are totally overwhelmed can only result in the wasted emotion of self-pity and even more stress. Successful couples grab the bull by the horns and work for solutions – recognizing that running a household is not easy. Making a family work is, clearly, difficult even in the best of times and even more challenging when you are the caregiver for your children.
5. Enhance your love relationship by providing each other occasional time for privacy and aloneness. The recognition of the absolute need for privacy and aloneness is, in our judgment after analyzing thousands of interviews, critical to successful marriages. The amount of time available to satisfy these two needs varies from one marriage to another and from one marriage partner to another, and can increase during times of stress. We live such hectic lives at work, at home and when raising children that the time to be alone with our own thoughts is paramount to our ability to engage in any meaningful communication with each other. The quality of communication can only be enhanced between the two of you after refreshing your mind and spirit with alone time. You have to belong to yourself before you can belong to others. Unfortunately, moms spend so much time caring for others that they don’t take the time to realize their own needs. You can’t take good care of others if you don’t take good care of yourself.
You brought your children into this world with the greatest of love and now you have to balance all of the stresses they bring to your marriage. Your children won’t be with your forever, so enjoy them while you can. Believe it or not they grow up oh so quickly. Cherish those precious moments with your children but remember that — the quality of the relationship between mom and dad trumps everything else.
Creating a %0A” rel=”nofollow”>successful marriage is not always the easiest thing to do. Your visiting our blog suggests you are highly interested in making your marriage work! And truthfully, we have learned over 30 years of marriage research that there are proven effective ways to ensure a happy and healthy marriage. In fact, we took hundreds of tips from the thousands of happy couples we interviewed and put them into our award-winning and bestselling book, Building a Love that Lasts .
Today, you can see how you stack up to the best marriages around the world. Take the Marriage Quiz to assess your chances of achieving a successful marriage of your own and buy How to How to Marry the Right Guy, to find out if your guy has the essential 33 characteristics to be a great husband.
In love and marriage the simple things matter. Love well!
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts

The Ten Essential Virtues of Love

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
This morning, a great friend of ours sent along an article that we were really taken with. For those who have read our book, Building a Love that Lasts (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010), you may recall a chapter entitled, A Tribute to Lasting Love (pp. 259-262). In this chapter we highlighted the wonderful six-decade marriage of Sandy and Pris, whom we had interviewed for our book.
Over the years, Sandy and Pris have been advocates for character education for young people. They have been very philanthropic when it comes to this passion of theirs.
As we thought about the article by Dr. Tom Lickona based in his book entitled Character Matters: How to Help our Children Develop Good Judgment, Integrity, and Other Essential Virtues (Simon & Schuster 2004), we were struck by the similarity of the virtues he believes essential for strong character and the virtues we have discovered in our research over the years about successful loving relationships.
1. The first essential virtue highlighted by Dr. Lickona is wisdom. According to Tom, wisdom is the master virtue that directs all others. Wisdom tells us how to put the other virtues into practice – when to act, how to act, and how to balance different virtues when they conflict such as telling the honest truth even when it might hurt someone’s feelings. We refer to this notion often in our book when we speak of the importance of honesty in our relationships with those we love.
2. The second virtue is justice according to Dr. Lickona. Justice means respecting the rights of all persons. In our book, we refer to this virtue as the Golden Rule – mutual love and respect for each other.
3. The third virtue is fortitude. According to Lickona, fortitude enables us to do what is right in the face of difficulty. Or, more succinctly, doing the hard right instead of the easy wrong. As we discuss in our book, all successful loving relationships have hard times, great challenges, and failures. More importantly, however, those whose love lasts a lifetime have overcome the challenges in life and have been strengthened by them. Overcoming these challenges together makes for a stronger and even more loving relationship. Fortitude is the strength to carry on even when we find it hard in our relationships to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
4. Self-Control is the fourth virtue. In its simplest terms, self-control is the ability and the strength to govern ourselves – to control our temper and to regulate our appetites and passions. It is as Lickona says, the power to resist temptation. All marriages and loving relationships have their temptations. Trust us on that. The successful couples don’t act on their temptations; hence, they survive and thrive. Read the chapter in Building a Love that Lasts entitled Character in Love and Marriage (pp. 9-11).
5. The fifth virtue according to Lickona is love – the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of another. Successful loving relationships quickly learn that their relationship is not about you or me. It is about we and us. We write about these notions extensively in our book. Suffice it to say, people who are truly in love do not spend their time finding fault with each other – they do not spend their time putting down or belittling each other. They find strength in the virtues of each other. They love each other in the truest sense of the word.
6. As the purveyors of positive love, we really like Lickona’s sixth virtue – positive attitude. We once heard a speaker say, If you frown, you frown alone, but a smile is infectious! Maintaining a positive attitude is a great virtue. Who wants to be around negative people? Successful loving relationships work like this as well. If your spouse or your lover is always in a negative mood you will work hard not to be around them. The choice of being negative or positive is ours. Choose positive!
7. Hard work is the seventh indispensable virtue according to Lickona. If you want to be successful in love and life you must work hard. Nothing worth having in a relationship comes easy. You must earn it. Love is something you earn. As we say all the time, the simple things required to make love work take lots of hard work, day in and day out, throughout the life of the loving relationship.
8. Our favorite virtue is integrity. As Lickona says, Integrity is adhering to moral principle, being faithful to moral conscience, keeping your word, and standing up for what we believe. In love and marriage, you don’t cheat on the one you love! You don’t lie to the one you love. You are faithful to the one you love. There are no exceptions to this basic virtue. To truly love someone is to tell the truth to them and to yourself.
9. Dr. Lickona reminds us that Gratitude is often described as the secret of a happy life. We would offer that gratitude is the secret of a successful loving relationship. We must show gratitude for the one we purport to love. We should always take the time to thank those we love for their support, their understanding, their sacrifice for us, and for their love. Always show your gratitude to the one you love. They will love you for it!
10. And finally, the tenth virtue according to Dr. Lickona is humility. Humility makes us aware of our imperfections and leads us to become a better person. And like in love and marriage, humility enables us to take responsibility for our faults and failings (rather than blaming someone else), apologize for them, and seek to make amends. To be truly in love in our opinion requires us to recognize that we are not the center of the universe – that the world does not revolve around us. People who are truly in love, learn from each other, they respect each other, they value each other, and they recognize that in the best loving relationships, personal humility allows us to understand the simple notion that trying to prove you are right when you are clearly wrong, is not a virtue. Trying to win a senseless and pointless argument is not a virtue. It is good to be humble!
We would encourage you to read more of Dr. Lickona’s work and you will see as we do that his essential virtues are, in many ways, a mirror of our seven surprising secrets of a successful marriage.
Simple Things Matter in love and marriage. Love well!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For more tips to enhance your relationship get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
2009 Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships

The Seven Most Common Mistakes Made By Marriage Counselors – Part 1 of 2

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
We have studied successfully married couples for over 26 years on six of the world’s seven continents. We have traveled in more countries than we can remember. And while our focus has been on those who have made their marriages work; we are also constantly reminded that some marriages need help. Some marriages need another human being to help them make their marriage survive and thrive.
Some marriages struggle, and from time to time, they need a professional counselor to lend a helping hand. Oftentimes, it’s a Marriage Counselor.
And while most marriage counselors are dedicated, well meaning, and professional, occasionally they make mistakes when helping others who are desperately trying to build a love that lasts.
Here’s what we know – marriage counselors make mistakes ever so often, and their mistakes generally fall into seven categories. We want to address each of those in this words-to-the-wise message.
Here they are in a nutshell:
1. Talking jargon with their clients when Simple Truths are required.
Here’s the bottom line – it doesn’t matter if your marital relationship is at Stage 4. Moreover, does it really matter if your marriage, like most marriages, goes through so-called stages of marriage. How does that knowledge help you? How does that knowledge help your marriage?
The simple truth is, marriages facing challenges need to come to grips with the fact that marriage is not always fair, just, and beautiful. Marriage is simple to understand, but making a marriage work takes lots of hard work. And in the end, a successful marriage is an accumulation of having done the simple things.
There is nothing jargonistic about marriage. Making yours work takes lots of hard work in doing the simple things. Don’t be misled by those who hide behind jargon. The best help a counselor can give you is to help guide you and your spouse through whatever challenges your marriage is facing without resorting to jargon that you don’t understand. Working through the trying times in a marriage is not about the mystical powers of your counselor. Rather, it is about your relationship and their ability to help you and your spouse reach resolution about important issues that confront you.
2. Overly intellectualizing marriage and marital conflict.
Love is an emotion! You can’t intellectualize love. Love cannot always be explained in rational terms. Sometimes, love can’t be explained at all!
Without a doubt, love is something you feel – in your heart, your soul, and in your being. When your relationship needs help, the last thing you need is for someone to tell you that what you and your spouse are feeling with regard to your relationship can be explained by some entry in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (currently referred to as DSM-IV-TR), the most widely-used psychiatric/psychological reference book and standard diagnostic tool used by mental health professionals worldwide.
Don’t get us wrong, the Manual is a great reference source. But in the end, an intellectual tool can’t measure love! Love is an emotion, and the best counselors know this. They act as a guide on the side as you and the one you love address the challenges confronting your marriage. They are not smarter than you. They are not wiser than you. They are trained to facilitate the resolution of a marital conflict.
They are not always successful. In the end, it is your marriage, your emotion, your life, and your future – together or separate. The best marriage counselors help your marriage feel – help your marriage get in touch with the respective emotions of you and your spouse. The best counselors help you understand what love’s got to do with it. They help you feel the emotions that cause you to come to grips with what you want from your marriage. To love is to feel emotion. Love is not intellectual. Don’t let anyone resort to intellectualizing when it comes to your marriage!
3. Being an advocate for a particular marital perspective instead of a guide on the side.
Here’s a truism you can take to the bank – it is not the role of the marriage counselor to be an advocate for anything while counseling you and your spouse about your marital problems!
Frankly, their personal opinions are not relevant to your marriage. Their stories about their marriage, their parent’s marriage, or other marriages they have treated do not matter when it comes to YOUR marriage. Your marriage is, in most ways, unique! The answers you and your spouse are seeking about your marriage are not always informed by the experiences of others.
While common positive themes run through the best marriages, and while there are telltale signs of failing marriages, in the end, each marriage that is in failure is in failure for reasons that are unique to that marriage.
A marriage counselor that assumes your marriage is failing due to anything other than circumstances that are unique to your marriage, is being disingenuous at best, and incompetent at worst. The best marriage counselors are guides on the side and not advocates for any particular perspective. Trust us on this.
Read Part 2 – the final segment of the article, so you can understand the other four common mistakes made by marriage counselors:
The Seven Most Common Mistakes Made By Marriage Counselors – Part 2
Simple Things Matter in love and marriage. Love well!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
Authors of the best-selling book and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
2009 Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships

The Marriage Ref is an Idea Gone Terribly Wrong

Remember the television show, Seinfeld? Like you, we laughed ourselves silly over the antics of the show. It was funny and full of uproarious one-liners. When Jerry Seinfeld decided to promote the idea of a new show called The Marriage Ref, he and everyone else surely imagined that it would be a hit. Why would anyone expect anything different?
But now, reality is up against the truth. And the simple truth is this – marital problems aren’t funny to the couples going through the trials and tribulations of the various marital challenges all marriages go through. Poking fun at married couples in a public way it seems is not very funny, and not very helpful in either the short or long term.
Frankly, we were bewildered when NBC decided to air The Marriage Ref. Picking six-minute segments of marital discourse and having the featured couple judged by celebrity panelists as to who was right or wrong is, shall we say, an abomination when it comes to best practices for resolving marital conflicts. Moreover, such a tactic is not very useful for growing and strengthening a marriage.
The first arrow-in-the-heart of the show is this – you do not learn about successful marriage by highlighting marital failure. We have studied marriage on six continents of the world for some 27 years and we know this – if you want to understand success, study success. If you want to understand failure, study failure. Oh, if the producers and directors of The Marriage Ref had only known these evident and researchable truths.
Let’s start with the failure notion. This notion says that if a divorced person shares with you why their marriage failed or if they think they have suddenly become an expert on successful marriage just because they know what a failed marriage looks like is the anathema of the best research on marriage of which we are aware. So having Madonna (how many times has she been divorced??) or others who have failed at marriage act as a referee in a marriage dispute is analogous in our mind to trying to learn about how to have a successful marriage from studying failed marriages.
The second point we’d like to make is this – there are many credible researchers, effective marriage and relationship scholars, and great marriage counselors out there. Many books have been written on the subject of building great marriages based on years and years of research on successful marriage. Our new book, Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Josses-Bass/Wiley, 2010) is but one of them. We are quite fond of the writings of John Gottman, Scott Stanley, and Harville Hendrix to name a few. Their work is well researched and we have found their writings to be well worth recommending to couples in marital distress or in need of marital strengthening. Any of these experts could do an amazing job of diagnosing and assisting these couples with resolving their issues.
Our point here is that couples having to deal with the stress and challenges that confront all marriages need help from credible experts who have studied successful marriage and from well-trained, successful, and experienced marriage counselors. Going on a television show where you are exposing very private issues about your marriage while being judged by others who are not necessarily competent, or who may or may not have your best interests in mind (i.e., they use your marriage for a laugh line!), is not the best way to fix or grow your marriage.
The scathing critical reviews of The Marriage Rep have used words like painfully bad, terrible, unfunny, patronizing, ugly, and heinous. Is it any wonder given the premise of the show? Let’s hope the public has not been misled into thinking that the model they bring to the airways has any credibility or usefulness. And the truth is, the show isn’t even funny!
Simple Things Matter in love and marriage. Love well!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
Authors of the best-selling book and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
2009 Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships

The Health Benefits of Marriage

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
The health benefits of marriage, both physical and emotional, have been well documented since the 1850’s when a British epidemiologist by the name of William Farr concluded that the unmarried die in undue proportion to those who are married. He offered, “The single individual is more likely to be wrecked on his voyage than the lives joined together in matrimony.” We would offer that his conclusions of a century and a half ago still apply today.
Dr. Edward P. Ehlinger, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, concluded the following in an article on September 22, 2012: Recent studies confirm Farr’s observation of lower mortality rates and better physical and mental health among married individuals. Married men and women have lower rates of depression, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, smoking, substance abuse and cancer. After controlling for other factors, married couples have higher levels of cognitive functioning, happiness and life satisfaction. All the health benefits of marriage are consistent across age, race and education groups.
His conclusion is powerful and totally consistent with our research on marriage over the past three decades. Married couples are healthier, happier, more mentally well adjusted, more socially adjusted, and better off economically, as are their children.
There should be nothing surprising or Earth-shattering about these notions. It stands to reason that those who have somebody (Everybody needs somebody, sometime.) will be happier, healthier, and more socially well-adjusted.
Human beings are social animals – they want and need someone to spend their life with. When they have someone, they are, in fact, healthier – on virtually all fronts. Why would anyone argue against something so obvious? Why would anyone deny such a well-known truth? In our estimation, and based on our 30+ years of interviewing successfully married couples around the world, it is clear that the best marriages understand the health benefits of marriage. To deny these benefits is to bury your head in the sand.
So why does being married translate into important health benefits? Simple, really. People who are married help take care of each other’s health and here is how they do it.
Couples have the recognition that the health of you and your spouse is critical to your relationship, both short-term and long-term. Successfully married couples watch out for each other’s eating habits, exercise, vitamins, and medicines because they know that their relationship with each other is enhanced when they are healthy. If you get married young, there is a tendency to ignore the health risk factors because you think you will live forever. Instead, begin thinking long-term and focus on developing healthy habits both physically and mentally.
Seven areas of focus to begin developing healthy living habits:
1. Learn to cook healthy meals together. Enjoy each other’s company while you spend extra time communicating with each other. Find recipes that are fun to fix and fun to eat together. A good way to start is to try a few of the salad recipes we have included in our recent book, Building a Love that Lasts (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) They are from happily married couples all over the world who realized that healthy eating benefitted their relationship with each other.
2. Develop a regular exercise program together. It doesn’t matter if it is just walking together in the evening after work or riding bicycles in the park or going to the gym or swimming. What matters is that you do it together and commit to staying on a regular program to enhance your physical and mental health. Yes, exercise does make a positive impact on your mental health.
3. Focus on maintaining good psychological health for yourself and your spouse. Having a shoulder to cry on or someone to lean on when things get tough can keep you from the depths of depression. Life can throw unbelievable challenges in your path, so having your spouse as your best friend can provide both of you with the support you need to make it through the tough times together. Like the song goes, that’s what friends are for.
4. For a long life together, take a balanced regiment of vitamins. Don’t fool yourself into believing that you will get all of your nutrition by eating a well balanced diet. While it might help, with the stress in today’s life it is critical that you make sure that you get the required vitamins and minerals with a good vitamin supplement.
5. Eliminate bad habits. In other words, cut back on your foods containing refined sugars, white flour, salt, food additives such as food coloring, artificial flavorings and preservatives. Stop smoking. Limit your intact of alcohol to 1-2 drinks per day. Get off the couch. Get more consistent sleep.
6. Get regular annual medical check-ups. Encourage your spouse to get a regular physical check-up annually by scheduling your appointments on the same day. Preventative care is far superior to having to deal with a health issue that went undetected for a long period of time.
7. Make living a healthy well-balanced life a priority. Just like everything else in life, you have to set your goals and priorities focused on what is important to you. While you may not have any health issues yet, if you develop healthy living habits that focus on maintaining a healthy well-balanced life style, you have a far greater chance of celebrating your golden years together.
You see, the health benefits of marriage come about as a result of the relationship between two people in love. It does take two to Tango. Marriage has many health benefits because of the behaviors of those who entered into the sacred bond of marriage. Honestly, does this surprise you?
There are many health benefits of marriage. Take advantage of them. You won’t regret it.
Love well. Love healthy.
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For %0A” rel=”nofollow”>marriage advice and hundreds of practical tips, get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts : The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book

The Functioning Alcoholic and Marriage

I recently received an e-mail from a woman who believes her husband is a functioning alcoholic. Joan (alias) recently took the Alcoholism Test and then emailed me.
Although a few details are changed or left out for privacy reasons, Joan began with:
“I was researching functional alcoholism and came across your site. I took the Alcoholism Test to determine if my husband would be considered a functioning alcoholic. I have not yet spoken with anyone about this, but just researched Al-Anon and plan on attending a meeting . . . ”
Joan went on to make the following points:
• Married for 19 years.
• Husband a drinker, mostly drinking alone.
• He has been drinking more during the last 5-6 years (now more than two liters/week of hard liquor.)
• He is not abusive and does not miss work.
• He seems to have trouble remembering.
• He just seems out of it at night.
• His personality is changing.
• He has no interest in sexual intimacy.
• He now looks at ‘adult’ websites.
• He has never thought he had a drinking problem.
• She has become less tolerant of this behavior.
• She worries that she may seem non-caring.
Joan asked for some suggestions on how to approach him and ended with wanting my opinion on his condition.
I answered Joan’s email and encouraged her to attend a few Al-Anon meetings to gain some perspective. I suggested that her becoming intolerant was a good thing, because it indicated she was not slipping into codependency. I said some other things too, but I couldn’t really offer professional advice based on her email alone.
After I answered her I kept thinking about her situation and how similar it sounded to what I have heard so many times before. The long list of responses to the Alcoholism Test on my site was evidence enough.
So I prepared a more complete answer to all you “Joans” out there who are suffering relationship problems in the presence of alcohol abuse.
Of course, what follows is only a beginning. I go into much more detail in my book, Living with a Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide.
Your Relationship Comes First
Relationships are the heart and soul of our society. If our relationships with others were to disappear, most of us would feel all meaning slipping away from our lives. Our husbands, our wives, our children, our parents and extended family, our co-workers and our friends help to create what we become in life. We are a social species.
Relationships unfortunately can falter. And when your relationship with your life partner is faltering, you need to act decisively.
There has been research showing that a majority of couples on the brink of separating who somehow manage to hold on–five years later will be getting along fine. Unfortunately, many couples allow the situation to become unbearable before they even think of getting help, and they often don’t make it.
Joan wanted to know what she could do regarding her husband’s drinking as the cause of the other problems they were having.
I prefer, however, to start with the assumption that alcohol abuse is the symptom of something. It is often much more productive to focus on your relationship and on yourself than on the alcohol problem. Your relationship is where the real urgency is.
If your relationship doesn’t survive, your partner’s drinking habits won’t affect you anymore.
Find a psychologist or other counselor who works with individuals and couples on their relationships. If possible, find one with expertise in the substance abuse area as well.
If your partner has no interest in getting marriage counseling, it may not be a problem, at least at first. When you go for counseling without him:
You will get clear about what you want out of life.
You will gain insights into what you might do to improve your relationship.
You will gain some clarity and calm about your own contributions to your problems together.
You will gain perspective on why you react as you do to his behavior.
What I have often done when working with an individual whose relationship is in trouble, is ask my client to invite her spouse to come to a session with her to assist me in understanding her. This is extremely useful on its own, but more often than not the partner will begin to participate.
Other issues will emerge, including mid-life issues, self-esteem issues, spiritual issues, empty-nest issues, fears that neither of you were even aware of, unhappiness, shame and, yes, alcohol abuse.
The point is this: if your partner stopped drinking today, you would still need to do the relationship work to recover your marriage. So why not get to work on your relationship right away and save yourself a mountain of grief?

The Best Marriages on Six Continents of the World

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
The heart of the matter is this – successful marriages around the world are bound together by their commonalities – certainly not by their differences. Learn the lessons, emulate them, practice them, take them to heart, and engage in the simple acts that make great marriage work every day.
For more than 26 years, we have traveled the world in search of the best marriages. Our travels have taken us to five of the world’s seven continents and to nearly 40 countries. We have written extensively about our findings on and in our book, Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage and the companion book, Simple Things Matter in Love and Marriage.
Our research and writings over the years on the subject of successful marriage have been our labor of love, make no mistake about that! To do what you love with someone you love is a great place to be in life! We have been there for nearly three decades of research together. And this August 27, we celebrate our 43rd Wedding Anniversary.
In our writings and musings about love and marriage we always make note of the commonalities present in the best relationships in the USA and around the world. We often refer to the pervasive characteristics present in all the best marriages – if you will, the seven secrets of successful marriage that form the fabric for love that lasts, more often than not, for a lifetime. We have been continually astounded that the secrets are nearly identical on the continents of the world we have visited. Pretty amazing, huh?
This November we head for Continent Number 6 – the African Continent! We are excited to say the least. First stop – Morocco! Look for our postings from there as we start our journey this fall.
Just imagine, being able to interview successfully married couples on six of the seven continents of the world. Can number 7 – Antarctica – be far behind?? Trust us, we are working on it! Maybe we can interview the Penguins. With over 40,000 human inhabitants during the summer months on Antarctica, we are confident we will find many to interview! Stay tuned as that story unfolds.
Marriage is alive and well around the world – of that you can be sure. According to recent estimates (2007), there are about 44 million marriages worldwide each year. And for the record, there are approximately 9 million divorces each year. Clearly, each year marriages out-number divorces worldwide by more than four to one. Those who have successful marriages prevail over those who don’t by a wide margin worldwide.
In addition to exploring the seven key ingredients that define a successful marriage–togetherness, truthfulness, respect and kindness, staying fit, joint finances, tactile communication, and surprise and unpredictability–we have shared hundreds of insightful and practical interviews with happy couples.
Now, you see why we are so excited about our work – why we enjoy sharing our findings with you through our writings and musings for and through our books.
Successful marriages are very similar around the world and the characteristics of the great ones are very much alike irrespective of culture, race, ethnicity, language, or continent. The real beauty of our many findings about successful love and marriage are the similarities beyond all these surface differences. Get past the obvious physical differences between the different peoples of the world, get to the heart of the best relationships beyond the cultural nuances and language barriers, and you find people pretty much alike across continents and around the world.
In so many ways, what makes marriage work is universal. We think we have found those pervasive characteristics that transcend culture, race, geographic location, and religious and spiritual traditions. They form the model for couples to follow if they want to have a loving and successful relationship.
We have said so many times before, simple things matter in love and marriage. Successful relationships represent nothing more than an accumulation of having done the simple things day in and day out. And the truth is, this simple things notion prevails in the best marriages – and it doesn’t matter much where you live in the world.
If we learn something new on Continents 6 and 7, we will let you know!
So, loyal friends and colleagues, if you want to know the seven pervasive characteristics present in all successful marriages you will have to read our book, Golden Anniversaries as many of you have done!
Having a successful marriage can really become habit forming! Simple things matter in love and marriage. Love well!
Enjoy receiving our new companion hardback book Simple Things Matter in Love and Marriage at no cost with the purchase of the multiple award winning book Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage through special publishers’ closeout of hardback versions.
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
Authors of Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
2009 Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships

The 5 Things You Should NEVER Say to Your Spouse

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
Just as important as saying the right thing to the one you love is to avoid saying statements that have the potential to destroy the foundation of the relationship. Saying just one wrong thing can negate an entire day of good statements and actions. Negative and hurtful statements can have the power to cut through the very fabric of the bond between two people in love.
Here are those five things you should NEVER say to your spouse:
1. It’s your fault! Sometimes, a financial decision goes bad, one of your children gets in trouble at school, or some household calamity occurs. And know this – things do go bad from time to time in any relationship. Decisions turn out wrong. Stuff happens! But the blame game never works! It alienates. It divides. It most certainly undermines trust and openness in your relationship.?
2. I told you so! Trust us on this – these four words are rarely ever used in successful marriages. This kind of comeuppance has no place in a loving relationship. There is no need to remind your spouse that you were right about something and they were wrong. Talk about wasted criticism!?
3. Saying I am upset with you about this or that . . . . in a public setting. Telling private secrets or criticizing your spouse in public or to someone else can do permanent damage to the trust in your relationship. True or not – it doesn’t matter. Keep private things private.?
4. Why do you always . . . Focusing on your spouse’s weakness rather than building on their strengths will only increase their weakness and diminish their strength. This habit can send a relationship into a downward spiral if weaknesses are pointed out and commented upon. Success does breed success. Stick with the strengths and don’t focus on weakness.?
5. Ask for your spouse’s opinion and then do the opposite. We have heard from many angry divorced or almost divorced couples that this is the greatest indicator of disrespect. If you ask where your spouse wants to go to dinner and he/she suggests a couple of places, then you select a different one, by your actions you said, I do not respect your opinion and don’t care what you think!
Since saying negative or hurtful things can be damaging to a loving relationship, it is wise to take extra caution before engaging your mouth when these negative thoughts come into your mind.
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For hundreds of practical tips to strengthen your love, get the best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold. Learn more about America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts

Strengthen Your Marriage Tip #2

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
Strengthen Your Marriage Tip #2
Happy marriages all require simple, practical acts. Simple gestures. Simple conversations. Success in love and marriage depends upon an accumulation of having done the simple things to build the foundation for a lasting love.
The key ingredients that define a successful marriage are easy to understand, yet difficult for many couples to practice in their relationship. As love and marriage experts, our interviews with thousands of successfully married couples throughout the world revealed the 7 tips happily married couples use to keep their relationships strong. Here is the second of seven tips you can use to begin Building a Love that Lasts.:
Tip #2: Leave anger outside the bedroom. Never go to bed mad – talk it over first and settle things before sleeping. You may have one very long night before going to bed, but you will get the problem resolved. Communicate constantly. Couples must talk about anything and everything. In successful marriage there are no sacred cows – no secrets. Don’t be ruled by emotions.
Creating a %0A” rel=”nofollow”>successful marriage is not always the easiest thing to do. Your visiting our blog suggests you are highly interested in making your marriage work! And truthfully, we have learned over 30 years of marriage research that there are proven effective ways to ensure a happy and healthy marriage. In fact, we took hundreds of tips from the thousands of happy couples we interviewed and put them into our award-winning and bestselling book, Building a Love that Lasts.
Be sure to get all seven tips to strengthen your marriage.
Tip #1: Be the number one cheerleader for your spouse.
Tip #2: Leave anger outside the bedroom.
Tip #3: Make loving behavior a continuous habit.
Tip #4: Several times a day let your spouse know you are thinking about him or her.
Tip #5: Touching each other multiple times per day is the norm in successful marriages.
Tip #6: Happy marriages are exciting, full of unpredictable things, and never boring.
Tip #7: Commit to doing something nice for your spouse each day.
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
Today, you can see how you stack up to the best marriages around the world. Take the Marriage Quiz to assess your chances of achieving a successful marriage of your own and buy How to How to Marry the Right Guy, to find out if your guy has the essential 33 characteristics to be a great husband.

Simple Things Matter In Love And Relationships

Simple Things Matter In Love and Relationships
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
“the marriage doctors”
Authors of the INDIE Book Awards Gold Medal Winner for Best Relationship Book of 2008
Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage
Available at,,, and at Bookstores
Twenty-five years of research on successful love and marriage has taught us many things, but first and foremost – no love has blossomed or been sustained without doing the simple things. Big things don’t matter until your relationship has mastered the art of doing the simple things day in and day out in your relationship with another human being whom you purport to love.
All too often in life, people make assumptions about love and relationships that do not stand up under scrutiny – that are not supported by the available evidence. So, what are the facts?
One of the great misconceptions of all time about love and relationships is this – just do the big things and everything will turn out well. And what do the Big Things include? For starters the list includes having financial stability in your relationship, being in love is all that matters, having a good job and a house in the suburbs, and so it goes. But the truth is, these Big Things are important, but they are only a by-product of doing the simple things. Here’s what we mean.
It is an established fact – successful love is based on an accumulation of the simple things. If you want your marriage and your relationship to succeed, just do the simple things! Do them day in and day out. When your relationship has mastered the simple things you have a chance to make it work. You have a chance to make it last. But if you don’t, well, failure is an option.
There is another important fact of life when it comes to love and relationships – there will be big challenges to address in your relationships, of that you can be sure. You might have to deal with financial setbacks, serious illness, the loss of a job, or the death of a loved one. And trust us on this – if your relationship with the one you love has mastered the art of doing the simple things day in and day out, the likelihood of your relationship making it through the tough times are multiplied many times over.
So what are these simple things? Here are a few: always showing respect for the one you love; saying I love you many times a day; engaging in simple acts of kindness (breakfast in bed, flowers on non-special occasions; opening doors for them, etc.); giving your lover lots of daily hugs; treating them with courtesy at all times; helping clean up the dinner table; sharing financial decisions with them, and the list goes on. Read more about the multitude of simple things that matter in our new book, Simple Things Matter In Love and Marriage, due out in August.
The point is, simple things matter and when you practice doing them, they accumulate. Simple acts add up. And always remember, you can’t keep turning on then turning off doing the simple things. You have to consistently engage in doing the simple things day in and day out. When you do, you will be surprised at how well this simple notion works. Start engaging in them today.
Love well!