Never Go To Bed Mad At Each Other

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
On the Today Show a remarkable segment aired. It was remarkable not because it was good or enlightening, but because it wasn’t. In fact, it was downright misleading and irresponsible based upon the research evidence, and we want to comment on it.
A psychologist and the managing editor of Good Housekeeping were on the Today Show to proclaim that the notion of never go to bed mad at each other was a myth. Imagine, calling such a time-honored notion a myth. Listening to them made our skin crawl and here’s why – credible research does not support what they said.
As many of our readers know, we have been researching successful marriages for almost 30 years. We have interviewed thousands of successfully married couples in 46 countries on six continents of the world, learning a lot about what makes good marriages work.
Towards the end of our interview protocol we ask these wonderful couples if they could offer three pieces of advice that we could share with newlyweds. And guess what, the number one piece of advice they have given, and it is has been consistent over three decades of research, is Never go to bed mad at each other!
Remember, this advice comes from thousands of happily married couples. The advice they give isn’t designed to shock the media with something unusual or out of the ordinary. These are the words of couples with a proven track record. Frankly, we got the impression when we watched the Today Show that the purpose of referring to Never go to bed mad at each other as a myth was to get a spot on a highly watched morning television show! But the sad truth is, their message was a terrible message to send to newly married couples. Our fear – they just might listen to the advice they heard on TV and that would be a big mistake in our judgment.
From time to time you hear so-called experts throw out information as if it were scientific fact. People believe it as if it were gospel. The problem is, much of what you hear has no scientific or research base.
The good news about the notion of Never go to bed made at each other – it is based on research from those who would know best – those who have been happily, blissfully, and successfully married for 30-60 years!
Married couples do, from time to time, have disagreements. They argue over big things and little things. They argue over stuff that doesn’t matter and stuff that does. But here is what we have learned from 30 years of research – successfully married couples rarely ever go to bed without resolving their differences on an issue, be it big or small. Many report to us that they have stayed up all night trying to bring closure to an issue that has divided them. They know that gaining resolution is far more important than getting a good night’s sleep. And remember this, issues that are not attended to more often than not fester through the night and only appear worse in the morning.
Do not be fooled by those who tell you that it is not important to resolve divisive issues before you go to bed. They are simply misguided and the advice they give can be hurtful to your relationship. Accept the advice of those who know – those whose marriages are happy and have stood the test of time.
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

7 Critical Issues To Discuss Before Marriage

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
While we have learned many lessons about great marriages from the thousands of interviews with successfully married couples around the world, we have concluded that what you do in the early stages of your relationship will go a long way towards determining the overall success and longevity of your marriage.
Here are the seven most important issues we learned through our research that should be discussed before getting married:
1. Share what you believe to be the core values of your loving relationship (i.e., what matters most to you in your relationship with each other?).
Starter Questions:
What are your spiritual beliefs?
How committed are you to treating each other with respect?
How important is trustworthiness and integrity to each of you?
2. Have an honest discussion of why you love each other.
Starter Questions:
Why do you want to marry me?
What don’t I know about you?
Are there things that bother you about me?
3. Discuss whether or not children are important to your marital relationship.
Starter Questions:
Do you want to have children?
What experiences have you had with children?
Do you have a sexually transmitted disease that could effect having children?
4. Talk about how you see your relationship evolving down the road – what do you want it to be 5, 10, and 20+ years from now?
Starter Questions:
Where do you see our marriage in five years?
What are your hopes for our marriage?
How will our marriage affect your relationship with your friends and family?
5. Articulate to each other how you will share decision-making in your marriage.
Starter Questions:
How should we make decisions about important issues in our marriage?
When we disagree, how can we resolve issues amicably?
How will we collectively handle our financial resources?
6. Have an honest accounting of what you want most from your marriage.
Starter Questions:
If our house was on fire what would be the first thing you would save?
How important do you think sex will be to the success of our marriage?
What interests do you feel passionate about?
7. Engage in a heartfelt conversation about the question, Can you imagine life without each other?
Starter Questions:
What are your dreams for our lives together?
What do you do to ensure your good health for a long life together?
Can you imagine a day when we wouldn’t be together?
It is clear to us that these seven leading discussions are important predictors of the health and strength of your relationship with each other and, as a consequence, great predictors of the overall success of your marriage.
Based on the responses we have gathered from the best marriages around the world, the answers to these questions will tell you a lot about the viability of your relationship and is a valid predictor of whether or not your marriage will stand the test of time.
Our advice – discuss these seven issues before you get married. You will not regret having done so.
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.
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 Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.

Research indicates that, unless there is violence in the home, children are better off being raised by an intact family. Whenever clients who have children call to work with me on their marriage, I always encourage them to do all they can to save their marriage.

Leah is a good example of a woman who, on the verge of divorce with four young children, decided to do the work of saving her marriage – and succeed beyond what she thought was possible. read more

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

Marriage and the Pain of Abuse

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
While we normally write positive stories about successful marriage, a recent interview caused us to alter course, albeit, temporarily.
A few weeks ago we interviewed a woman who had recently gotten divorced. Her story was so emotional and impactful that it had to be told. The pain and suffering caused by the dissolution of an abusive marriage is unfortunately all too common.
During this particular interview, we discovered a woman who experienced a marriage with a man who was so vile, so condescending, and so dangerous to her children that she hid the truth from the world for nearly 20 years.
Just imagine — being married to someone for so long a time who abuses his children and his wife, who makes life miserable for his family on a day to day basis, and who threatens those who disagree with his perverted methods of parenting.
The truth is this – abusive people win because those who are threatened by them, give in. We are reminded of the old saying, If you allow yourself to be pushed around then you only have yourself to blame.
As stereotypical as it may sound, people who are abused, threatened, intimidated, and belittled, need to stand up for their rights! We have found over the years that bullies crumple at the mere sight of a superior force!
Here is what we mean by that. If you decide to accept the abuse in your marriage for yourself and your children, then you and your children will end up being further abused. Our advice, based on years of research is this – develop spine, stand up for yourself and your children, tell your abusive spouse (or ex-spouse) that you are mad as hell and you will not take it anymore!
While it may sound easy for an outsider to say, we fully understand that you will need to find a support system – family, friends, counselor, abusive support groups, etc. Finding a support system that you can depend on when you begin to push back is a critically important part of your success. When the going gets tough, it is always easier to know that there is someone else whom you can talk with, seek advice from and confide in with the truth.
Abused women and children in a marriage do not have to take abuse anymore. Why would you continue to reward the abusers with acquiescence? Why on Earth would you continue to allow them to control your life? Why would you continue to allow them to make your life miserable? There are solutions out there, even when it seems like you have nowhere else to turn.
Here are some links to services and advice that can help you decide what to do next:
Help for Abused and Battered Women:…
Abused Women Organization:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline:

Home – The Hotline®

Heart 2 Heart Support Group and Self Help:
Make no mistake about it; there are a lot of women who want a way out from an abusive relationship – physical and mental – for themselves and their children. Standing up for what matters is important. Standing up for what matters is critically important to you and your children.
Our advice – do NOT let the abusers win! When you let them win you do so at your peril. You will be surprised at how well strength and fortitude work. You have more strength than you know. Giving in is never an acceptable alternative.
You and your children deserve better. Be strong. Never allow an abusive spouse or ex-spouse to intimidate you into submission. Your strength will carry the day.
In love and marriage the simple things matter.
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

5 Secrets to a Happy Marriage are Universal

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
Our continuing search for great marriages around the world has brought us to the incredibly beautiful country of New Zealand. Our travels have taken us to the cities of Auckland (the largest city) and Wellington (the capital city) on the North Island and Queenstown, Milford Sound, Wanaka, Te Anau, Arrowtown and Glenorchy on the South Island. We even rented a car and drove great distances on the left hand side of the road, as is the tradition in New Zealand. We lived to tell about it!
We sampled amazing wines in the Gibbston Valley; flew in a twin engine plane over the Fordland’s of Milford Sound; took a boat on the gorgeous glacier lake, Te Anau; and road in a jet boat on the Dart River. We hiked in rain forests and animal and plant sanctuaries; and strolled the streets of quaint villages and towns.
Needless to say, we always add adventure to our trips around the world. New Zealand is the 48th country in which we have interviewed successfully married couples over these past 31 years. Our travels have also included all 50 states in the USA and all 7 of the world’s continents. This current excursion of ours will have covered nearly 18,000 miles by the time we arrive home. Does jet-lag come to mind??
Our many followers on the Internet and through our books, articles, and blogs, know that we are passionate about what we have come to call our marriage work. Researching great marriages around the world has indeed been our labor of love for three-plus decades. And as we often point out, the ingredients of a successful marriage are pretty much the same around the world, across cultures and continents. New Zealand proved to be no different.
While we interviewed a number of long-time couples in New Zealand (both married and unmarried), there are two that stand out the most. Allow us to share with you the marriage advice of two sets of lovebirds who have each been married for 60 years – Hank and Hanny and Harold and Dorothy.
What gratified us the most after interviewing these two couples was this – the advice for a successful marriage from each was nearly identical! We never cease to be amazed at the similarity of the marriage advice we get whether it is in New Zealand, China, scientists who work in Antarctica, the USA and Canada, throughout Europe, South America, and beyond. There is almost a mystical consistency to the message we hear.
So, here in a nutshell are the FIVE ingredients of a successful marriage as shared with us by Hank and Hanny, Harold and Dorothy, and all those other couples we have interviewed throughout New Zealand.
1. Trust is at the heart of a great marriage. Trust is built over time. In the best marriages, trust grows and is never diminished. There is no cheating, dishonesty, or infidelity in great marriages and relationships. Those that fool themselves into thinking otherwise are, shall we say, simply fools. Trust is critical to a thriving relationship and marriage. Break the trust, destroy the relationship. And to those who say, Well, we can repair our loving relationship after one or the other violates the most basic trust – all we can say is you will have joined the ranks of the divorced!
2. Recognize that a successful marriage and relationship is easy to understand, but difficult to put into practice. Marriage is not for the faint of heart. A successful marriage takes hard work! In the end, a successful relationship between two human beings is always about working hard to do the simple things. Being kind, showing respect, engaging in simple acts and simple gestures. In the end we have learned this – a successful marriage is an accumulation of having done the simple things. A dozen roses on Valentine’s Day is not enough if you neglect the other 364 days of the year. Never, ever be lulled into thinking that you can take your marriage for granted. Work to make it work everyday of your lives together.
3. It is always better to laugh a lot than cry in a marriage! Here is the simple truth – a successful marriage does not suffer whining well! Nobody ever promised that your marriage would be fair, just, and beautiful all the time. Sure, things go wrong occasionally. You carry more debt than is healthy. You have children (Nora Ephron once said that Having children is like throwing a hand-grenade into your marriage.). You have trouble paying your mortgage. All marriages go through trauma and uncertainty. Your relationship is not alone in this. What makes your marriage work is how you react to the tough times – the uncertain times. And sometimes, you just laugh a lot! Laughing cleanses the soul. Laughter purifies the relationship between you and your partner. Laughter is the best medicine sometimes. Always remember this – it takes more muscles to frown than it does to laugh. How about more laughter in your lives together? Laughter could make or break your marriage.
4. The most important element of a great relationship is love – L-O-V-E. The most successfully married couples tell us this – express love to your mate multiple times during the day in a variety of ways. If you truly love someone you will find many ways to tell them. And there is a corollary – love is not enough. The one you love should also be your best friend. It is not enough to love someone and to express that love. You must also be their best friend. In our travels around the world we have discovered many simple truths, but foremost among these is that the one you love must also be your best friend!
5. All great relationships are characterized by “give and take.” In great relationships, you win some and you lose some. Never be obsessed by being right! Frankly, the most important notion you should take from this is that great marriages are characterized by finding common ground and creating common solutions. Share the burden. Don’t always feel like you have to find the best solution by yourself. Search for areas of agreement. Great relationships share the decision-making. Being right when you are wrong is not a good solution to any debate. Give a little, take a little. Arrive at the common ground that makes your relationship work.
Oh, the wisdom of New Zealanders! Oh, the wisdom of those who have great marriages around the world. Great marriages do, indeed, possess common elements.
Love well!
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
Creating a 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: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage
**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.
In love and marriage the simple things matter. Love well!

Marriage and Barriers to Openness

A whole lots of people are having problems in their marriage today because they allow barriers in their openness to their spouses,here let us check some of the barriers you must remove to give room for open ness in your marriage.
1.Ignorance. Many lack godly wisdom in marriage. They believe it is wrong to let their spouse know everything about them. This is not the right thing to do. Your spouse may be the only one who can give you godly counsel you need to help you solve that problem you are keeping from him or her. Just as you can’t keep any secret from God, you shouldn’t keep any from your spouse. Proverbs 16:2
Self. Selfishness is another reason some refuse to open up. A self-centered person sees things only in relation to himself. When self gets in the way, you are bound to see your spouse with jaundiced eye, then you will judge all actions in relation to you only. Do they please me? Am I justified? Will I gain from it? A good marriage is represented by the acronym- JOY meaning-
J- Jesus first
O- Others in between
Y- Yourself last.
Anything different from this will always amount to trouble in your marriage. Philippians 2:4.
3.​Poor spiritual life. A man with a deficient spiritual life or a backslider is likely to listen to the world and not what God says. It takes the fear of God to make marriage work.
4.​Unfaithfulness. When a person becomes unfaithful to his or her marriage vows, it becomes extremely difficult to open up to his or her partner. Proverbs 28:13
5.​Wrong Association. When you relate with people who do not cherish marriage, then it becomes difficult to open up to your partner. Proverbs 29:24
6.​Immaturity. It takes a mature mind to manage marriage in God’s way. Baby husbands and wives will definitely make a mess of it. 1 Corinthians 14:20
7.​Unforgiveness. Unforgiveness and a crave for vengeance destroy marriage easily. It breaks the unity of purpose and disallows openness. It breeds bitterness, hatred, resentment, nagging and a chain of evil things. Colossians 3:13
8.​Wrong Conceptions. Misconceptions in marriage also destroy openness. Some people believe that one’s spouse should not know everything about one’s life. Those with this mindset cannot open up to each other.

Marriage problems: Are power struggles destroying your relationship?

In the past you were single…
…and you could make decisions without having to check in with anyone.
Your favorite color was red and you liked small, fast cars (as in Cherry Red Sports Car, beloved even though you wrenched your back getting in and out);
The one bedroom apartment felt “cozy” and “just right,” so you signed the longest lease you could get;
You decided to get a tattoo … a few Margaritas later, “I love Hank” was scrawled across your shoulder. (Unfortunately, you don’t know any Hanks.)
Then “you” became a “we”…
…when you fell head over heels in love and made a commitment to another person (and a commitment to the relationship). And suddenly the two-seater is inadequate because it can’t hold groceries; the apartment is woefully too small for the visiting in-laws; and your significant other gives you a gift certificate for the newest boutique in town: “Tats: You Get ‘Em, We Strip ‘Em.”
You probably wouldn’t argue with the fact that certain responsibilities come with being part of an intimate, committed relationship (you now exist as part of an “us,” in addition to being a “me”). You could even make the argument that these responsibilities are part of what make being in love so rewarding.
One such responsibility includes consulting with your partner whenever you’re faced with an important decision. The thinking here is that big decisions impact both of you, so it only makes sense to ask about your partner’s opinions and feelings regarding any potentially important decision.
Major problems can arise when…
…you equate consulting with your partner with a loss of freedom and control in your life. Relationship problems arise when you fail to learn the give-and-take two-step, the relationship dance all couples must become skilled at in order to create a harmonious relationship.
Here’s the basic premise of the give-and-take two-step (don’t worry if you have two left feet, it’s pretty simple, at least on paper):
Step 1: You give to your partner by acknowledging and meeting her/his wishes and needs.
Step 2: You take (receive) when your partner acknowledges and meets your wishes and needs.
Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 often.
Here’s the great thing about the give-and-take two-step: there will be moments when there is no difference between giving and receiving. If it’s meaningful to see your partner happy and content, you will experience the gift of receiving every time you give to your partner. No one loses in this dance!
Unfortunately, many fail to learn to do the give-and-take, and there’s another dance that many couples start doing instead.
Enter the power-struggle shuffle
The power-struggle shuffle feeds off a destructive “I’m right, you’re wrong” energy. In this dance, your ego fights for top billing and equates the idea of “giving to” your partner with “giving in” or losing.
Rather than experience the joys of “giving to,” the ego runs on the treadmill of illusion, seeking areas of the relationship where it can feel in control and claim victory. Needing to win or feel in control is the death-knell to compromise and intimacy. When one of you loses, so does the relationship. As long as the “win-lose” tempo keeps the power-struggle shuffle alive, the gifts of intimacy will never be realized.
The playing field of power struggles: Making decisions
Power struggles often emerge when couples have to make decisions. It doesn’t matter if you and your partner are butting heads over how much to tip the wait-staff, what school to send Junior to, or where to buy a new house, power struggles reflect the need to feel in control.
Mutuality and compromise: the antidote to power struggles
Many factors contribute to a successful marriage. A major contributor to success is learning how to become a team player, replacing the selfishness of the ego with an “us” and “we” mentality. Becoming a team player doesn’t mean you abandon your identity and forgo opportunities to get your own needs met. What it does mean, however, is that you’ve made a commitment to another person and to something bigger than each of you—the relationship.
3 steps to compromise:
The first step in learning to compromise is to acknowledge (to yourself and your partner) that the person you fell in love with is a unique individual with his/her own wishes, needs, preferences, and experiences.
The second step in learning to compromise is to accept your partner’s uniqueness. Needing to be in control of decisions is a major block to accepting that your partner’s perspective is both different from your own and valid.
The third step in learning to compromise is to create enough space so that each of you has a voice in the decision-making process. This space is created when judgment is suspended and you and your partner take the time and effort to understand each other’s perspective—even when you disagree with him/her.
Why can’t I compromise?
If you find that you’re having trouble compromising, it’s important to understand your own struggle and resistance (rather than focusing your energies on what you perceive to be your partner’s unreasonableness). A period of self-reflection in these moments can lead you down a path of self-discovery. When you find yourself resisting and unable to compromise, reflect on the following questions:
Why is this so difficult for me? What is fueling my resistance (e.g. fear, anger, resentment, etc.)?
What would happen if I give in a little?
What would I have to let go of in order to compromise?
One surefire way to drive a wedge between you and your partner is to begin making decisions as if you were single again. This is guaranteed to make your partner or spouse feel marginalized and before you know it, you’ll be single again and you won’t have to consult with anyone except your lonely self.
To discover ways to create a deeper, more intimate relationship visit and sign up for Dr. Nicastro’s free monthly Relationship Toolbox Newsletter.
As a bonus, you will receive the popular free reports: “The four mindsets that can topple your relationship” and “Relationship self-defense: Control the way you argue…before your arguments control you.”

How to Fall In Love Again with Your Spouse

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
Let’s face it – we love our spouse more than life itself. And frankly, we cannot imagine life without them! But the truth is, from time to time, our love for each other needs renewal. While love can be forever, it often needs nurturance, recommitment, and an occasional makeover. Love has its season for renewal.
Every so often, our love affair needs rekindling. Every once in awhile, we need to strike another match and rekindle the fire in our relationship. And the simple truth is, sometimes we need to fall in love all over again!
When your marriage starts to stagnate, when it starts to suffer from the doldrums, and when it needs resuscitation, rest assured, there are steps you can take to bring your marriage back.
All marriages go through bumps in the road. Marriage is not always fair, just, and beautiful. Over the past 26+ years, we have interviewed successfully married couples on five continents of the world that have been married for 30-77 years. Frankly, not one of these couples reported that their marriage was consistently at the nirvana level! Every successfully married couple we have studied has reported to us that their marriages had been challenged from time to time. Sometimes, they wanted to throw in the towel with their marriage. But in the end, their desire to save their relationship was more important their desire to call it quits. There are important lessons to learn from these couples.
Learning how to overcome the challenges and make it work is a true testament to why love and marriage can last a lifetime. Sometimes, your marriage and relationship needs nothing more than a check-up. Is it time for your relationship check-up?
All too often, the daily demands of life take us away from time together. But in the end, the relationship between the two of you trumps everything else. Your love for each other and your relationship, one to the other, is truly the fuel that keeps you going.
So here is the question of the day – how do you keep your love alive? How do you fall in love all over again?
Our research on successful marriage suggests five actions you can take to fall in love again – to incur the passion you once knew in your marriage. Here they are in nutshell:
1. Our research has revealed time and time again the importance of the loving touch. The human touch is paramount to the most basic of all human connections. So, the first thing you must do in re-establishing the passion of your relationship is to touch! Touch often. Touch much. Hold hands when you walk. Take turns wrapping around each other in bed at night. Feel the warmth. Feel the love. If you pass your spouse 100 times a day, touch them 100 times. By doing so, you are acknowledging their presence and you are telling them how much you love them. You cannot express love without the human touch. Get started today!
2. Engage in a process that allows you to re-establish the communication links between the two of you. We suggest that you start with these three questions: 1. Why did we fall in love? 2. Why did we get married? 3. What are our hopes and dreams for the future? The communicative links between the two of you are highly important and no love, no marriage, and no relationship will ever be jump-started again without the re-establishment of the communicative ties that bind. Getting serious about communication in your relationship is among your highest priorities. Get started today! Check out our Seven-Week Program for Developing Ongoing Sharing in Your Marriage in the appendix of our book, Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage.
3. Work hard to have fun with each other! Dine out at your favorite restaurant. Spend a night in a motel. Take a vacation to Disneyland, just the two of you! Cook a romantic dinner at home. Whatever you do, do something that ignites the passion and the fun! Do something that takes your relationship beyond boring. Do something together that makes your lives exciting and fun-filled. Marriages can fall into the doldrums but it doesn’t have to be that way. Rediscover what makes you excited, what gives you a sense of adventure, and what makes your adrenalin flow! Successful marriages are not boring! Plan a passion starter today!
4. Upend expectancies! Do not always do that which is predictable. Here’s an example. One of the lovely couples we interviewed a few years ago told this wonderful story. Their life together was getting too predictable and too boring. At 85 years of age, they were both entirely too focused on settling in. They would sit in front of the TV, rarely talking, and content with their station in life. Shoot, they were both 85 years old they thought! But as they shared with us, it didn’t have to be that way. When Clarence came home from a golf outing one glorious Sunday afternoon, he was met by his beautiful wife, Grace, at the front door in her altogether. Grace thought, What the heck, if I can’t get him interested in anything but golf and TV, I will just meet him at the door naked. Maybe he will get interested in me! As it turns out, Clarence got the message. Of course, what happened after this homecoming episode they didn’t share with us! The most important lesson is this – Clarence and Grace decided that upending expectancies was a good thing from time to time! Try it. You be surprised at what can happen!
5. Tell your spouse how much you love them and why! Never, we repeat, never, fall into the trap that says, I don’t have to tell him/her I love them, he/she knows I do. Nothing could be further from the truth! People who love people are the luckiest people in the world, of that you can be sure. And to tell the one you love, I Love You and to do it often, makes them even luckier! Never take the one you love for granted. Big mistake! To love people is wonderful. To tell them you love them is amongst the greatest gifts you could ever give. Start today.
You see, the rekindling of love is not so complicated. Don’t make it so. Just take these five simple actions and you will re-ignite your love affair with your mate.
In love and marriage, the
Simple Things Matter. 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
Look for Building A Love That Lasts due out in January 2010 (Jossey-Bass/Wiley)

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

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

Marriage Slumps, Relationship Ruts and Other Painful Realities About Love

Warning: the contents of this article may upset you. In fact, I strongly recommend that you close this page. If you’re like most people, you have a child-like naïveté about romance. I don’t want to spoil that. Sure, you were able to handle the truth about Santa Claus and the tooth fairy (oops, you didn’t know about the tooth fairy? Sorry…), but maybe you’re not ready to learn about love’s painful truths.
Okay, if you’re reading this paragraph, you’re either very curious, stubborn, or downright foolish. I warned you not to read further, so if you continue, do so at your own risk.
Twelve painful truths about love:
1. Love will not make you happy—not in the long run. In fact, it’s never been love’s job to make anyone happy. But for some reason, more and more people enter into relationships thinking that they’ve signed up for a life full of happiness.
2. Love is unpredictable and offers no guarantees. If it’s certainty that you’re after, do yourself (and your partner) a favor and remain in the dugout. When you’ve entered the game of love, you’ve gambled—like it or not. There’s no way around this truth.
3. Love is not enough to keep your relationship healthy and running smoothly. Although the Beatles announced that all we need is love, the truth is they were wrong. (And just for the record, love didn’t prevent John, Paul, George, and Ringo from ending up divorced.)
4. You can love someone and not like them. Life can be pretty unpleasant living with someone you love but don’t like. For some reason, couples stop behaving in ways that maintain their likeability factor. Big mistake.
5. Love doesn’t keep passion alive—passion keeps passion alive. If you don’t nurture romance and eroticism, you’ll end up in the land of platonic love. While this might work for some, many unhappily deny their need for sex in order to preserve their relationship.
6. You can feel lonely and still be in love. This painful truth often results from a lack of trust or an inability to take the risk of sharing all of yourself with your partner. People who feel lonely are vulnerable to looking outside their relationship for what’s missing (ironically, this pattern of loneliness can follow you from relationship to relationship).
7. That old adage, “Love is blind” has merit. Your feelings (and your desire to be in love) can obscure certain painful truths about your partner, especially in the beginning of the relationship. Rather than appropriately dealing with the shortcomings of your relationship as they arise, your myopic love-vision may allow problems to fester and grow, and before you know it, love is a thing of the past.
8. Even within committed, stable relationships, love can be imbalanced and inconstant. You may find that you love or need your partner more than s/he loves or needs you. And at other times the reverse might be true. Because humans are dynamic, evolving creatures, the love they feel for each other is also subject to change over time.
9. Love involves a fall from grace. People often enter relationships with unrealistic expectations and ideals that have more to do with a Hollywood script than real life. If love guided you into the arms of your partner, it’s up to you to toss the Hollywood script and prepare for the day-to-day work needed for love to survive.
10. Being in love can hurt. Loving the wrong person hurts even more. Here’s the irony: if you want to receive the gifts of intimacy, you must humbly stand at love’s door without the protective armor that has shielded you throughout your single life. When you take this risk, the joys and wonders of life intensify—and, sometimes, so do life’s sorrows.
11. For some reason, love doesn’t prevent ruts, arguments, or unreasonableness. If you forget this truth, you are less likely to remain committed to each other through the inevitable downturns that all relationships travel.
12. The love you feel may not last. This is especially the case when couples fail to give their relationship the attention and effort needed to keep it healthy. Because of the euphoria that accompanies new love, you might falsely assume that your relationship is immune to the struggles others face. The reality is, all relationships (even yours) are vulnerable and can buckle under stress.
There you have it, some unattractive truths about love. Are you still willing to step up to the plate and enter the game of love? If you’re like most, you probably answered “yes” to this question. Despite all the risks, people love being in love. If you’re the type of person who idealizes love, keep this list handy and refer back to it just in case you need a dose of reality.
To discover relationship tips to help you build a lasting relationship, visit and sign up for Dr. Nicastro’s FREE Relationship Toolbox Newsletter.
As a bonus, you will receive the popular free reports: “The four mindsets that can topple your relationship” and “Relationship self-defense: Control the way you argue before your arguments control you.”

Should I Try To Save My Marriage?

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
As we have said for many years, Most marriages and relationships are worth saving and can be saved, but not all! Here’s what we mean.
In the case of abuse – sexual, physical, mental – many failing marriages and relationships are simply not worth saving. In fact, to attempt to save them puts one or both partners in the relationship at risk for further abuse.
Frankly, we know that some %0A”>marriages and relationships are not worth saving. And do you know how hard this statement is to make for people like us – the eternal optimists who always see a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—who always see a silver lining? Unfortunately, the truth is the truth when it comes to love and life . . . and marriage.
Our six decades of life and more than three decades of research on the topics of love and marriage, tell us that some relationships become so poisoned, so dysfunctional, and so hopeless, that it is better to end them than to operate under the illusion that they are worth saving or can be saved.
We recently interviewed a young American couple that had been married for 15 years. It was clear from the beginning of the interview that this was not a match made in heaven. In fact, this marriage had failed so miserably that the only just and decent thing to do was end it. End it now! No amount of counseling and therapy, no amount of praying, and no amount of hoping were going to save this marriage.
For 15 years, the husband had mentally abused his wife. He discounted her every word. He made her feel insignificant by his words, his deeds, and by his actions. And even though his wife was pursuing a doctoral degree at one of America’s most prestigious universities, he treated her like she was some kind of dumb cluck – someone capable of nothing significant, lasting, or meaningful.
When we interviewed them, it became clear to us that she had had enough. She had had enough of his disrespect, his belittling, his mental abuse, and his coldness. She had finally decided that if she were to have any life at all, their marriage and their relationship would have to become history. So, she decided to end it.
The truth is, the mental anguish she suffered over the years had taken its toll – on her, her three children, and on her marital relationship. She asked us the most profound question of all – How can I continue to live with a man that makes me feel so worthless, so insignificant, and so meaningless. How can I continue to live with a man that respects me so little?
Her questions reveal the truth of all this. Sometimes it is just time to move on. Sometimes, to save your soul you have to free yourself of all that is oppressive. Sometimes, you must remove the albatross around your neck if you have any hope of living out your life with happiness, hope, self-respect, and meaningfulness.
Sometimes, you simply must move on with your life before it is too late. For the couple we interviewed, her time had come. The action she must take was clear. The action she must take to save her soul and the souls of her three children became clear to her – if she had any hope at all for her life and her children’s life, the time to move on was now!
The simple truth is, some marriages and relationships should not and cannot be saved. As harsh and evident as this truth is, it cannot be avoided in the case of some marriages and relationships. And in the end, when you have exhausted the solutions available to you, you simply must cut the tithes that bind.
For over 30 years, we have interviewed couples around the world and across cultures and all seven continents. Most of the time we have concluded that most marriages and relationships can and should be saved – but not all! When you can look in the mirror and honestly and truthfully say that you did your best to save your relationship with another human being, but to no avail, then ending it is the right thing to do. Life is too short to waste it in torment, in abuse, and in lost love.
Save yourself.
Creating a %0A”>successful marriageis 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: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage
**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.
In love and marriage the simple things matter. Love well!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

How to Fight Fair in a Marriage

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
We are often asked this question – Is arguing healthy for a marriage? The simple answer is, Yes! When a husband and wife argue, they are engaging in a perfectly normal and expected part of what it means to be married. In fact, disagreement between two people in love is actually healthy for their relationship. To argue or not argue is NOT the question! The question should be, How do we argue effectively and fairly?
Learning how to fight fair and to make appropriate compromises will go a long way towards keeping a relationship strong. Compromise is rarely ever 50/50. Some days it is 90/10; some days it is 60/40; and some days it really is 50/50.
The truth is, compromise is part of what marriage is all about. Whether it is what to make for dinner, what movie to see, when to have children, where to live or what color to paint the living room, the two of you have to make the decisions together that both of you can support after the decision is made. Sometimes arguments can actually – pardon the pun – get to the heart of the matter.
Our interviews with successfully married couples around the world have revealed to us that unilateral decision-making on the part of one partner or the other, more often than not, exacerbates the debate and makes it less likely that a mutually agreeable resolution is possible.
Fighting and arguing are just as much a part of marriage as sex. It is a natural part of relating to another human being.
Over the years, our thousands of interviews with successfully married couples around the world have revealed seven rules of engagement for fighting fair and they are:
1. Fight in a calm manner. That means don’t shout or throw things or rant about the situation. Think about what you are going to say before it actually comes flowing out of your mouth. Keep your body language in tact. In other words, don’t take a position of anger or be mad or hostile before a single word is even spoken. Relax as much as you can and try to put down the anger you are feeling to keep a calm demeanor.
2. No name-calling or ugly verbiage about your spouse. Don’t let the argument degrade into a battle of personal insults. It doesn’t address the issues and can do lasting damage to your relationship with each other even if you didn’t mean what you said. You can’t take back your words!
3. You are an adult, act like it. Don’t have a temper tantrum! Don’t just sit there looking mad without saying anything. Engage in the conversation with the thought of how can we solve this problem together as adults.
4. Keep the argument logical and focused on the issues at hand. Don’t wander off topic to old battles or old scars. Determine what the problem is, what issues need to be dealt with and what are the possible solutions. If you focus on determining which solution would work best, it keeps you moving towards an end result, rather than diverting your attention to negative side issues.
5. Don’t cast blame. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. You share the problems together and you have to share the solutions together. What you discover is that when you figure out how to solve the problem and you can arrive at a solution by working as a team, the two of you can tackle anything that comes your way.
6. Don’t hold grudges. As soon as the issue has been resolved, forget it and move on. The worst thing you can do is resurrect old arguments in the context of a new one. That means no gloating if you were right and no reminding him or her constantly about how mad you still are. Couples with great marriages tell us that they have a short memory when it comes time to their past arguments. In fact, when asked, they can’t even remember what they were arguing about or who did what to whom. That is the way it should be.
7. As we have said many times before, NEVER go to bed mad at each other. Settle your fight before you go to bed, no matter how long it takes. You can defer the ultimate decision on an issue until further discussion the next day, but you can’t go to bed mad at each other! This is the number one piece of advice given to us by the thousands of happily married couples that we have interview over the past 30 years around the world.
Remember, it is perfectly okay to argue and debate with your spouse. Better solutions are often arrived at when you engage in wholesome debate. Learning how to argue effectively is critically important to a healthy marriage and to a healthy relationship.
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

Giving Up the Fantasy of the Perfect Mate, What REAL Marriages Are All About

We all seem to think that we need to find our perfect mate or soul mate. But does a perfect mate even exist and, if so, does this mean that the only way to be happy is to find this perfect soul mate? What if you don’t? What if you spend your entire life looking, only to end up alone in your fantasy delusion because you didn’t find him/her? Are we really searching for fantasy in our relationships?
To some degree, I think most of us have bought into the fairytale myth that we will find Prince or Princess Charming and AUTOMATICALLY live happily ever after. This belief in fantasy, soul mates, and the perfect partner, are all contributors to being unhappy and dissatisfied in our marriages. We want the fantasy mate and most relationships begin with perfect bliss with the perfect partner. But when this fantasy starts to fade into reality after the first 6 months of a relationship, we’re disappointed, try desperately to keep the fantasy alive by sweeping disagreements under the rug, or start looking elsewhere for that perfect mate. But the perfect mate really doesn’t exist…except in our fantasies. Our fantasies are always more compelling than our reality that can become boring, repetitive, filled with logistics, bills, jobs and dirty dishes. Fantasy is filled with feelings of being on top of the world, of things coming to us easily, of soaring, and feeling our hearts are full of love 24/7. Who wouldn’t choose fantasy over reality and hold onto it as long as we can?
So, how do we get over this desire for fantasy, the desire to feel that in love feeling ALL the time? How do we make a REAL marriage work and simultaneously keep the love alive when reality of the everyday chores, struggles, and inconsistencies of our partner sets in? Here are 7 truths to remember about REAL marriages when the fantasy turns into reality:
1. Real marriages are based on a solid foundation of mutual love, respect, and an understanding of differences in your partner. It is based on two people being balanced in their individual strength and their ability to share and connect with their partner.
2. Real marriages are able to handle the hard aspects of life through open communication and realistic expectations.
3. Real marriages are based on two WHOLE people enhancing each other, rather than two people EXPECTING their partner to complete them: filling in their weak spots, rescuing them, or taking care of them at their own expense.
4. Real marriages are two people who know they are human and, therefore, know that everyone makes mistakes and likewise exhibits tolerance for this humanness.
5. Real marriages are based on the deep knowledge that it’s a give and take from both partners. They know themselves and take responsibility for their actions, rather than projecting onto their partner who they feel their partner should be.
6. Real marriages are about companionship, appreciating your partner’s differences and uniqueness, and knowing that love is deeper than only sexual desire and feeling madly in love all the time.
7. Real marriages are about knowing and loving yourself so that you don’t need a fantasy partner or a perfect mate to complete your life. You instead need a partner who enhances your life and adds to it.
Lasting, REAL marriages are based on a solid foundation of honesty, respect, and love… love, not in the fantasy sense that the Prince or Princess saves me, but love based on a deep knowledge of yourself and your partner. In love the paradox occurs that two become one and yet remain two. When we follow the above 7 truths about a REAL marriage, we can enjoy the reality of our deepening union more than any fantasy we could imagine!

*Marriage: Self-Care and Remembering the Good Stuff

Are you finding yourself irritated with your spouse lately? Are you having problems remembering why you love this person – or why you even got married in the first place? You are not alone!
Ramona consulted with me because this is exactly what was happening in her marriage.
“When Randy and I first got together, we had a wonderful time with each other. We could talk about anything. We fell passionately in love, but now I can’t even remember what I love about him.”
“Ramona, how long have you been married and how long has this been going on in your marriage?”
We have been married 7 years. We have two children. Our daughter is 5 and our son is 3. I think this has been more or less going on since our daughter was born.”
“How do you see Randy as a father?”
“He is a very good father. And he is a very loving husband. I just don’t get why I’m feeling this way.”
“Ramona, what do you find yourself focusing on regarding Randy? What do you get irritated about?”
“Oh, I get irritated when he is feeling insecure about work, or when he is tired and needy with me, or when he is complaining about something.”
“Ramona, right now I’d like you to focus on what is wonderful about Randy. Put aside what you don’t like and just focus on what you do like. I’d like to hear what is wonderful about Randy.”
“Randy is a very good person. He is so kind and caring. He would do anything for me and for the kids. He is very smart and is an extremely talented musician and composer. Even though sometimes he is insecure about it, he really loves his work and is successful at it. He has a great sense of humor. And he takes good care of himself physically, which I really appreciate.
“You know, as I talk about him, I realize that I haven’t thought about these qualities in a long time. I have been focusing on the problems instead of his good qualities.”
“Right, and this has caused you to lose your feelings of love for him. I’m wondering if you have been focusing on the problems because there is some way you are not taking care of yourself when he is complaining or feeling needy? Is there some way you are caretaking him and giving yourself up when he is insecure or needy??
“Yes! I listen to him when I don’t what to and then I try to fix him. That’s when I get irritated. So what should I do when he is like that?”
“What would you do if you were focused on taking loving care of yourself instead of caretaking him?”
“I might just go in the other room and read a book! But wouldn’t that be selfish and unloving to him?”
“No. It is not loving to him to enable him in being needy and complaining. Your caretaking does not help him learn to take better care of his own feelings. If you lovingly disengage when he is not taking care of himself, you give him an opportunity to take responsibility for himself. It is the opposite of selfish – it is self-responsible!”
“Wow, I never looked at it in that way! So, if every time he complains or acts needy or insecure, I just walk away and do something I like to do, then I won’t feel irritated with him. I can see that if I take care of myself, it will make it much easier for me to remember what I love about him.”
Ramona emailed me a few days later that things had completely turned around in her relationship with Randy. She was delighted that she was again feeling her love for him, and she was noticing that this was even affecting her children’s behavior. They were much calmer when she was happier!

Sexless Marriage

The extent of the research and the methodology employed far surpassed any study before it. Published by the University of Chicago in 1994, the public version of the report was provocatively titled Sex in America. The scientific version carried the duller title of The Social Organization of Sexuality. Though all sex studies are controversial, this one did its homework in its attempt to avoid research flaws and to get as true a representation of America as possible. Trained workers interviewed 3,432 scientifically randomly selected American men and women across America between the ages of 18 and 59.
One unexpected finding was that sex is not happening as much as most folks thought. The research indicates “about a third have sex with a partner at least twice a week, a third have sex with a partner a few times a month, and the rest have sex with a partner a few times a year or have no sexual partners at all.” How do those numbers change if you leave out singles and consider only those that are married? It seems that 20% of married couples between the ages of 18 and 59 have sex with each other ten times or less per year. Another 15% have sex with each other about twice a month or less. The ten time or less couples are often referred to as no-sex marriages (or sexless marriages) and the about twice a month group as low-sex marriages. In this article, we’ll combine them into the term sexless marriages.
Why should sexless marriages concern Christians? First, there is a Biblical imperative that should prevent Christian couples from having sexless marriages, but they exist anyway. Second, ample research exists to show that marital satisfaction and sexual satisfaction rise and fall together. If one or both mates are sexually dissatisfied, that negatively affects their satisfaction with their marriage as a whole. Third, medical science has found that those having sexual fulfillment benefit medically in important ways. If we believe that Christians must take care of their bodies, then we should believe that they must be sexually active in their marriages. Fourth, pornography. It may be that a sexless marriage increases temptation for porn usage. On the other hand, porn usage may lead to a sexless marriage. Either way, sexual fulfillment in marriage either affects or is affected by porn usage.
Biblical Imperative
Though some claim that sex is immaterial in a Christian marriage, Paul said that it is. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5, New Living Version)
Though not often preached from modern pulpits, this is a command of God. Depriving a spouse of sexual fulfillment is wrong. It is a sin.
How often is enough to obey this command? There may be an answer to that in the health benefits discussed below.
Marital Satisfaction
Many studies could be cited, but common sense and observation told us this before any social scientist tested the hypothesis; marital satisfaction and sexual satisfaction go hand in hand. Interestingly, as far as the social sciences are concerned it is somewhat of a chicken and egg question. Does a couple’s increased marital satisfaction lead to increased sexual satisfaction, or is it the other way around? I’m currently researching that question through the auspices of the University of Sydney (Australia).
My work with thousands of marriages indicates that when one is not satisfied with the marriage, s/he seldom is satisfied with sex in that marriage. Also, if either spouse is not satisfied with the sex in the marriage, s/he is not satisfied with the marriage either. Maybe it’s so symbiotic that one cannot exist without the other for most couples. One thing is sure, if a husband or wife is dissatisfied with the sexual relationship in the marriage – too little, not sensual enough, too much emphasis on the sensual, poor skills, body no longer in shape, hygiene, hang-ups, you name it – then that person is usually not terribly satisfied with the marriage itself.
God commanded us to fulfill each other sexually in our marriages. Science shows it is a factor in marital satisfaction. If the church believes that divorce is bad and staying married is good, then the church should be clearly teaching the Bible’s sexual command for sexual fulfillment.
Health Benefits
A great deal of study has been done around the world as to the medical affects of achieving fulfillment in a sexual encounter. There isn’t room to cite all the studies, but if you wish to know more a good source is a book published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, The Science of Orgasm.
An Israeli study found that women who regularly reach fulfillment are less likely to have a heart attack. There is associated research from other places in the world that address decrease in the likelihood of endometriosis, reduction of the intensity of cramps, and the like. From sexual interaction with the man there are also benefits that reduce the likelihood of breast cancer.
A British study found that men who regularly reach fulfillment are less likely to have a fatal heart attack. Other studies show that they are less likely to have prostate cancer.
Each time a man or woman reaches fulfillment, oxytocin releases into the brain and body in quantities that promote bonding between the two people. The more a married couple have sexual fulfillment (each of them fulfilled), the more they bond with each other; they become closer and more attached.
Additionally, with each achieved fulfillment, stress reduces, anxiety reduces, and the body’s ability to handle pain improves.
How often are the fulfillments that have good health effect taking place in these studies? Think of it this way, the male body produces a new batch of sperm about every 72 hours; that’s the way God made men. If fulfillment were achieved on average every 72 hours, that would be about two to three times per week. That’s about the average that most of these studies found to be medically beneficial. It appears that God made us to have sex with our spouses two to three times per week and that each of us should reach fulfillment. In marriages where that frequency occurs, not only are there health and emotional benefits, but satisfaction with the marriage increases, as indicated earlier. Taking care of one’s body, especially in sexual fulfillment, also helps take care of one’s marriage. It all ties together.
I realize the danger in discussing this because far too many women have suffered self-doubts about their appearance and ability as a result of their husbands turning to pornography. A lady once told me that she wished she had the money to have plastic surgery from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet so that her husband would want to look at her rather than those women on the Internet. Be assured that I do not in any way wish any woman or man to take blame for the sins of a spouse. Porn addiction is just that; an addiction. Drunks who claim their spouses drove them to drink are just as ridiculous as porn addicts who claim their spouses drove them to porn. Each person makes his or her own decisions. No one makes us addicts; we do it to ourselves.
Also, in this age many enter marriage with a distorted view of sex, sexuality, and sexual fulfillment. The more that people are exposed to porn before they are married, the more likely they are to believe that there are men and women who are always craving sex and that will do anything, anywhere, at any time. Boys and girls who have this as their teacher about what sex will be like in marriage are in for a great disappointment and, very likely, a lot of anger when they realize that their spouse isn’t like that. No one is. Not even the porn actors. If a person enters marriage with that expectation then his or her spouse is going to find it nearly impossible to please them sexually. Intense and repetitive education, maybe therapy, perhaps a miracle will work, but the other spouse trying to live up to this spouse’s fantasy won’t.
With that said, allow me to share a few thoughts about how a married couple might use sexual fulfillment to overcome pornography.
In the passage cited earlier, 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, note that a major reason to sexually fulfill each other in marriage is so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. God put our sexual drives within us. He knows how powerful that drive is and how a human that is sexually unfulfilled has a greater likelihood of yielding to temptation. That’s not a new thought; it’s in the verse. If I refuse my spouse the sexual fulfillment that she needs, I am a part of increasing her susceptibility to sexual temptation. If she sins, it is her choice, but this passage states that I helped her become vulnerable to that choice.
In our culture, men don’t have to find lovers or go to prostitutes if they seek sexual fulfillment outside their homes. With the advent of the Internet, porn is readily available and can be viewed in relative secrecy. I have heard from many men and many women that they feel justified in their usage of porn because there is little to no sexual fulfillment in their marriages and porn keeps me from doing something bad with a real person. If a wife is not actively involved in sexually fulfilling her husband, or if he is not actively involved in sexually fulfilling her, then yielding to the temptation of porn becomes easier for the unfulfilled spouse. It doesn’t make it right but it can make a person more susceptible. Of course, nothing justifies sin, but perhaps there is a way to de-porn at least some, if not many, of those who have yielded to this temptation. How? By obeying 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.
This does not mean that a wife becoming a sexual tigress will automatically eliminate her husband’s addiction if he is addicted to porn. Addictions require special help to overcome and no matter how sexually intriguing she becomes, he will return to his addiction until he receives the proper help to heal. She is not the cause of his addiction nor is she the one to heal it. (Change gender in the above sentences if the wife is the addict which can be the case.)
However, it does mean that if a husband or wife is using porn as an occasional outlet for pent up sexual drive or frustration, his or her porn usage may well be precluded by a fulfilling sex life in their marriage.
So, how does a couple do that? What does a Christian wife do to be what her husband needs sexually? What does a Christian husband do to be what his wife needs sexually?
This is the succinct answer: Make lovemaking fun, warm, and regular. You can do anything that both of you wish to do that doesn’t involve another person in reality or fantasy, doesn’t involve bestiality, and doesn’t harm the other. That sums up the Biblical prohibitions. What makes sex right is having it within the confines of the right relationship, marriage as God intended. What makes it wrong is having it with someone outside the confines of that right relationship. But we must realize that a sex deficient marriage is something that will harm our relationship with our spouse and act to keep our spouse fulfilled as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.

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

Infidelity is Not Okay and it is Not Forgivable!

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 more than 25 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. But the notion that betrayal is acceptable or excusable gets us riled. 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 – 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. Don’t be misled by those who suggest otherwise.
The Simple Things Matter in love and marriage. Love well!
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

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.
read more

How to Save a Marriage After an Affair

Divorce breaks the hearts of those involved — couples, children, parents, friends, church, and the heart of God. One of the greatest underlying events destroying marriages today is adultery. The following is a frank and spiritual message on how to save a marriage after an affair.
My fervent passion is in saving marriages and making them healthy and holy again. I encourage you to at least make a commitment not to remain at a disinterested distance when couples you love have their lives coming apart.
So let’s get started.
To better understand extramarital affairs, I sorted them into three categories.
1. The Short-Lived Affair lasts from one night to several months and is primarily about sex. Subcategories included Revenge Affairs, Affairs of Opportunity (at the right place at the right time to do the wrong thing), Self-Esteem Booster Affairs, and more.
2. The Allowed Affair has become more prevalent with the graying of morality in our culture. It was once called “Swinging” and now its participants just call it “The Lifestyle.”
3. The most difficult kind of affair to overcome is the Relationship Affair. It typically starts as friendship that evolves into shared emotions and eventually shared bodies. Those in Relationship Affairs usually are in love with each other. Madly in love.
This is why so many Relationship Affairs lead to divorce — no matter how strongly you tell the person that s/he is sinning and no matter how hard the abandoned spouse tries to save the marriage. Because of such passages as Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9, churches usually grant the offended spouse the right to start over with a new mate, and few blame him or her for moving on with life.
May I offer another possibility?
Wouldn’t it be better for everyone — the cheated, cheater, children, church, and community — if there were a way to rescue the straying spouse, heal the hurts, and guide husband and wife back to a marriage of love and commitment? We in the marriage business know that if a marriage survives an affair, it will be stronger and more loving than it was before the affair.
Salvaging a marriage when a spouse is in love with someone else usually isn’t accomplished by pointing the adulterer to scripture, logic, or consequences. If I had space, I’d explain why. The short version is that they are driven by strong and compelling emotions that they’re convinced you don’t understand. Therefore, they disregard you, along with your Bible, lectures, and piety. Very often they’ll even tell you that God sent the lover to them.
So how do you save these marriages?
Based on my experience, I suggest the following to the abandoned spouse and to all attempting to help:
1. Believe that an affair, even an exceptionally strong Relationship/Love Affair, is not necessarily the end of a marriage. It may be, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t give up. Keep praying and doing the right things, no matter how hopeless it may seem.
2. Don’t beg, cajole, or attempt to manipulate the adulterer. S/he is already emotionally on edge; emotional actions from you exacerbate the situation. Be firm, but always loving and calm.
3. Don’t try to convince him or her that the lover is a bad person or primarily responsible for the affair. That might work in a Short-Lived Affair. However, it typically causes a person in a Relationship Affair to develop an “us against the world” union with the lover.
4. Drag out any divorce proceedings as long as possible. The intense emotions involved with being “madly in love” last anywhere from six to thirty-six months. Though the straying spouse may become angry and try to manipulate the abandoned spouse into divorce (“I’ll make things tougher for you if you don’t go along with me …”), the abandoned spouse should be strong, endure the other’s wrath, and drag it out as long as possible. There is a very real possibility that the abandoning spouse will eventually lose the intensity of desire to be with the lover. Don’t give up!
5. The abandoned spouse should demonstrate his or her ability to survive and prosper without the abandoning spouse. S/he must concentrate on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. This accomplishes two things. 1) The abandoned spouse needs this for him- herself. 2) The abandoning spouse often is drawn back to the abandoned spouse when s/he continues to be strong and self-sufficient.
6. In fervent prayer, ask God to bring chaos, financial distress, and anything else He will do to cause pain as a result of the sinner’s actions and to create circumstances so that it is difficult for him or her to continue in the affair.
7. The abandoned spouse should procure an attorney that will protect his or her rights, finances, and the like. The attorney should make the divorce as painful as possible — financially and otherwise — to the abandoning spouse while still protecting the interests of the abandoned spouse. Expect the abandoning spouse to react with anger. However, making sin have strong negative consequences is the right thing to do.
8. The church should practice discipline, though in our day and age that hasn’t nearly the effect it had in biblical times. It’s so easy now to walk down the street and go to another church. However, if done in love and compassion, it still may have the needed effect.
9. Practice intervention. (If you need more information on how to do this, contact us and we’ll send you a PDF with step by step details.)
10. Convince the straying spouse to take one last action before ending the marriage. Sometimes the abandoned spouse does this by offering a concession such as, “I’ll give on this point in the divorce if you do this.” Sometimes a friend, church leader, or even the person’s child may convince him or her that, for conscience sake, s/he should do one more thing to see if there is any hope for the marriage.
In my weekend turnaround workshop for marriages in crisis, LovePath 911, we have many couples who come because someone convinced the abandoning spouse to attend for conscience sake or to get some concession. Over nearly a decade, we’ve witnessed one seemingly hopeless marriage after another turn around during that weekend. They don’t have to want to be there; they just have to be there.
Whether you use our services, your own counselors, or someone else, the message is the same. We must not give up on marriages because we think that either spouse is beyond rescuing. Don’t give up on the power of God and what He can do if only we do our parts.

Your Marriage in Trouble – Is a Trial Separation the Way to Go?

Your relationship has gotten so bad that you are talking about divorce – when you are talking at all. Should you consider a trial separation? Why and why not.
A trial separation is a huge step to take – an acknowledgement that your marriage is on the brink of collapse – a public statement of your situation that can no longer be hidden from your children, family, and friends. Choosing to live apart for a time is not an action to be undertaken lightly – but neither is divorce.
When a trial separation is probably a poor choice:
1. You are both sure that you want the marriage to work and are committed to making changes to create a better relationship. If you are not actively considering divorce, don’t consider a trial separation either – regardless of your day-to-day conflicts.
2. One or both of you are sure that you want a divorce. A workable trial separation requires both parties to be in civil communication, and to agree that there is some possibility for the future of the relationship. If either your partner or you knows they want a divorce, a “trial separation” would be a painful farce.
3. Something unacceptable has occurred in your relationship. Physical violence or threats of violence are always unacceptable. You may or may not also consider adultery or other behaviors unacceptable.
4. One or both of you intends to date or have sex with someone else during the “trial separation” period. If either of you desires to be intimate outside the relationship, just get the divorce and be done with it.
5. Either of you is sure that the other is 100% to blame for your difficulties. Reconciliation – whether through a trial separation or otherwise – requires YOU to change. If you are unwilling to consider making changes, file for divorce now.
A trial separation is likely to produce a good outcome when you and your partner agree that either reconciliation or divorce are possible and acceptable outcomes of your current difficulties. Both of you understand that the purpose of a trial separation is to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion about the viability of your marriage.
A trial separation has NOT failed if you both end up amicably agreeing to divorce. A trial separation is a time to weigh both options – without attachment to either.
The benefits of a trial separation are the opportunity to:
1. Eliminate co-dependence. Spending time away from your partner, provides each of you with the space to develop self-assurance and minimize neediness.
2. Develop self-responsibility. When there is no one else to blame, life looks different, and provides an opening to become more aware and responsible.
3. Explore new interests. Develop new hobbies. Join affinity groups. Try a photography group or a book club.
4. Experience a relatively stress-free cooling-off period and gain a more detached perspective.
5. Minimize the stress on your young children. While some experts would argue that having one parent move out of the home increases the stress on children, I believe that the benefit of no longer seeing Mommy and Daddy fighting far outweighs any negative effects.
If you do opt for a trial separation, it is important to:
1. Deepen your support system. Share yourself even more deeply with those who know and love you.
2. Become more introspective about your situation. Keep a daily journal. Consider what you like about yourself and your life. Consider what you would like to change about yourself, as well as your relationship.

Marriage and the Empty Nest: Five Strategies for Rediscovering Your Spouse

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
Okay, the children have all left home. You and your spouse are finally alone after two decades of marriage. Now what? How do you cope? What lies in store for the two of you?
These are questions faced by millions of married couples worldwide each and every year. If you are lucky, it is something you will have to deal with some day.
You get married, your children are born, they grow up, and they leave home. Nothing unusual about all that. But the truth is, it is a significant event in the lives of married couples with children around the world. No matter where you live on planet Earth, married couples with children will eventually have to deal with the empty nest.
So, how do you deal with it? When your children leave home, how does that affect your marriage? What are the potential pitfalls? What good comes of all this? What are the negative and positive impacts?
Just understand this – having your children leave home is a scary proposition. It is painful. It hurts! The good news – you are not alone!
We have traveled the world in search of great marriages – forty-six countries on six of the seven continents of the world so far. And all of the successfully married couples we have interviewed report the same thing to us – they missed their children when they left home, they had to learn how to cope with it, and their marriage was affected by it – some in positive ways and some in negative ways.
So what can you expect and what should you do to deal with the empty nest syndrome?
When the children move on – go to college, get married, get a job – and your nest is empty, the impact on your marriage can be substantial. The relationship between you and your spouse can change, and often does. Some call into question the very nature of their relationship with the one they love.
In this day and age, the extended family is less and less prevalent, and less and less important. In previous generations, the extended family gave us more flexibility when it came to the empty nest. Clearly, this is no longer true. The empty nest today is much more impactful than it used to be.
Always remember this – it is natural for a mother and father to feel sadness when the children leave home. There is no debate about that. It is natural to feel weepy. It is natural to feel irritable. And for sure, it is natural to feel lonely.
Someone once said, Parenting is terminal. We are not so sure about that. Charley’s father (rest his soul) used to say that no matter how old he got and how old Charley got, he was always Charley’s father. He worried about him and his safety no matter what. He worried about Charley each and every day.
Honestly – and trust us on this – parenting is NOT terminal! Parents are always parents, no matter how old their children. Successfully married couples around the world have reported this to us during our three decades of research. When your children leave home your nest is empty, but your children are always your children.
With all this said, the question of the day is this – what are the five strategies for discovering your spouse again when your nest is empty?
Here is what we have learned over the past 30 years from our thousands of interviews with successfully married couples around the world. According to the successfully married couples we have interviewed, empty nesters need to adhere to the following advice:
1. Empty nesters need to take stock of their relationship now that the children are out of the house. In other words, they need to set goals for their relationship, plot a direction they want their marriage to go, and start thinking about where their marriage is and should be 5, 10, 15 years down the road.
Why is this important? Well, the two of you have devoted so much of your time to your children over the life of your marriage that is time to start thinking more about the life you want for yourselves. Frankly, married couples often need to rediscover their relationship with each other. And the simple truth is, if you are lucky, you will spend the rest of your natural born life with your spouse. The quality of your relationship must be good if your marriage is to survive and thrive, post-children.
2. If your marriage is a typical American marriage, the chances are very high that both husband and wife work outside the home. The great danger for empty nesters is that they often throw themselves even more into their work, often at the expense of their spouse. Our advice – based on the advice of thousands of successfully married couples around the world – don’t make this mistake!
Your careers are important to you but plunging your heart and soul into your work as a way of compensating for the absence of children in your home will only cause stress in your relationship with your mate. Not a good plan! Don’t do it.
3. Rekindle the romance and passion of your relationship that is often put on the backburner when you are raising children.
Plan for lunch or dinner out. Meet in some clandestine place from time to time for some good old fashion passion. Take a spontaneous trip out of town. Go to Disney World – just the two of you! And remember this highly important point — rekindling passion for each other takes action! And practice! Get in the habit again of engaging in passion with each other. You will be surprised at how easy it will be to fall in love all over again with your spouse. Practice, practice, practice!
4. The health of your spouse is of paramount importance to your marriage, especially in the empty nest. The two of you should plan some kind of daily exercise routine. For example, we ride our bikes in the area parks and trails 5 or 6 days a week AND we walk our dog, Louie, every morning.
It is also important to eat healthy foods – salads and fruits in particular. When you exercise and eat healthy, you have more energy, you will be healthier, and you will live longer!
5. The final piece of advice goes like this – the worst thing you can do to your spouse or yourself as an empty nester is to hover over each other all the time. Just as you need alone time with children, you need it as empty nesters.
As you have heard us report in our writings and in our recent book, Building a Love that Lasts (Jossey-Bass, 2010), there is a fundamental predisposition in every human being to have time alone. Everybody needs time to be with their own thoughts, with their own hobbies, with just themselves. Empty nesters have more time to be together, but couples often forget that the need to be alone is just as strong and just as important when the children are gone. Respect that need for privacy and aloneness in yourself and your spouse. You will both be better off for it.
Living in an empty nest is not all that bad. Couples have been doing it for centuries! Make the most of it. Follow the simple rules espoused by those who have been there, done that, and been successful at it. You won’t regret it.
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

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.

We have witnessed time and time again marriages in which one or both partners failed to understand the importance of being alone, not only for themselves, but for their spouse as well. read more