Articles Marriage Tips

Should I Try To Save My Marriage?

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

Articles Marriage Tips

How to Fight Fair in a Marriage

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

Articles Marriage Tips

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

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!

Articles Marriage Tips

Marriage: Self-Care and Remembering the Good Stuff

*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!

Articles Marriage Tips

Sexless Marriage

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.
Porn
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.

Articles Marriage Tips

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

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

Articles Divorce Love In General Marriage Tips

Infidelity is Not Okay and it is Not Forgivable!

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

Articles Marriage Tips

Why do Some Find it Difficult to Make a Commitment to Love?


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

Articles Marriage Tips

How to Save a Marriage After an Affair

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.

Articles Divorce Marriage Tips

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

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.

Articles Marriage Tips

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

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

Articles Marriage Tips

Marriage Advice – Love And Fairness

“Love has nothing to do with fairness. Love is Love.”
–Susan Page, Why Talking is Not Enough
“It’s not fair!”
How often have you heard this from young or adolescent siblings?
I grew up as an only child, so I was never indoctrinated with the concept of fairness. Not growing up with it, I have at times been baffled when couples say the same thing, “It’s not fair!”


“It’s not fair that I have to work just like you do but I do most of the housework!”
“It’s not fair that you are in control of when we make love!”
“It’s not fair that I am the one who always has to get up at night with the kids!”
“It’s not fair that you get to go on fishing trips with your friends and I always have to stay home with the kids!”
“It’s not fair that I make all the money and you just spend it any way you want!” read more

Articles Marriage Tips

You’re Married to an Alcoholic – What to Do? What to Do?

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


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

Articles Divorce Marriage Tips

Why Would Another Woman Sleep with Your Husband and Destroy Your Marriage?

Why Would Another Woman Sleep with Your Husband and Destroy Your Marriage?

Your husband had an affair. I’m sorry to hear that, I really am. I know how difficult it can be to deal with something like that. It can seem like your whole stomach just drops right down through the floor, you feel dizzy, and none of it seems like its really happening.
What can be even more infuriating though is the thought that another woman went and willingly started meddling in your marriage and pulled your husband away from you. A lot of women may even feel motivated to confront the other woman just to get a better idea about what she’s thinking.
First of all, yes, I understand that not all women know that the man they’re sleeping with is married. Some of them are in the dark on the whole situation. You can’t really blame them if your husband slips off his wedding ring before he approaches her at a bar and starts things. In all likelihood, she probably just thought he was a charming single man.
But what about those women who know that he’s married? Why would they try to tear your marriage apart?
Well, chances are that she isn’t some kind of evil-doer who takes pleasure from tearing happy couples apart.
If your husband cheated, then there’s a good chance that there were some serious problems in your marriage to begin with. He probably wasn’t getting all of his needs met, either emotional or physical needs.
The other woman probably started out as a simple platonic friends. Somewhere along the line, he probably confided in her about the problems in your marriage and the specific frustrations he was having with it.
Being a friend, she empathized with him and out of their sharing and discussion, the spark of attraction started. When all she hears from him is all the problems he’s having with his wife (you), it’s easy for her to stop seeing you as the unique, multi-faceted person that you really are. Instead, you become some kind of oppressor to this wonderful man. It’s because of this mentality that she probably doesn’t feel much guilt in having the affair.
Now, I’m not saying that she’s right or that you are a bad person. Indeed you are probably a good person, and so is the other woman. It’s just how she sees things from the story she gets from your husband.
Maybe there is some value in approaching the other woman and talking to her. Don’t do it for revenge though, if you do it make sure it is to gain understanding or to try and convince her to cut off the affairs.
Remember, that regardless of what happened, it was still your husband’s choice to have the affair. Perhaps the other woman isn’t free from all guilt, but this is still your husband’s choice and he ultimately holds the responsibility for his actions. It’s easy to point the finger at a the third party, but remember that an affair is ultimately a symptom of a problem between you and your husband, and you need to deal with that first and foremost.

Articles Marriage Tips

The Best Marriages on Six Continents of the World

The Best Marriages on Six Continents of the World

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

Articles Marriage Tips

Communication in Marriage

Lack or breakdown of communication is the primary reasons marriages fail. Couples have to learn to talk and listen to each other if they desire a solid marriage.


Communication, most especially verbal is what makes us different from other animals and that is the foundation of all human relationship.
Two people cannot walk together except they agree and they can’t agree except they TALK. read more

Articles Love In General Marriage Tips

Love, Laughter and Marriage: Why Laughter is Vital to a Healthy Relationship

Love, Laughter and Marriage: Why Laughter is Vital to a Healthy Relationship

Two happily married couples, together for over fifteen years:
“If I had to pick out one thing that has made the difference in our marriage, I guess it would be that he makes me laugh.” ~Sarah
“We just enjoy each other’s company. We’re playful and tease each other in a light-hearted way. Life can be so hard, and finding ways to make each other smile seems to be the antidote for us.” ~Hal
Two couples struggling to stay together:
“We used to have so much fun. It’s been years since we laughed together. I don’t know what happened.” ~Michael
“Everything between us is so serious now. It used to be that I couldn’t wait to get home after a hard day at work and unwind with Steve… To be honest, now I have more fun with my friends.” ~Terri
Spouses and partners who learn to laugh together have important advantages over couples who do not share the carefree abandon of laughter.
Is laughter a panacea that will cure all your relationship problems? Of course not, but making the conscious choice to incorporate laughter and humor into your relationship (whether you and your partner are naturally funny or not) offers several benefits.
Marriage Help: 5 reasons you should make your spouse/partner laugh:
1. Laughter fosters a sense of playfulness and shared abandon
Children, unencumbered by the adult restrictions maturity demands, are naturally playful and laugh often. This energy is contagious. Unfortunately, this spontaneous source of energy is often forced underground as we age and many adults seem to lose their connection to this vitality. When you and your partner laugh together, you tap into this energy pool and recapture the special liveliness of childhood. Laughter is an energy source that can be used to invigorate your relationship.
2. Laughter forges a positive bond
The following pattern seems painfully familiar to many couples: When you’re first dating, your relationship seems to transcend everyday life: it feels like an antidote to stress, a buffer against life’s inevitable struggles. Over time and as the relationship becomes an ingrained part of the daily grind we call life, the union that once offered a thrilling, escapist comfort now becomes more and more associated with the reality of stress.
This is especially the case when most of your time spent together involves navigating the pressures and stresses of life, without the respite of playfulness. Shared pleasures are often lost as couples forget to balance the stressful and the pleasurable. Learning to laugh together—setting the goal to make each other smile and laugh—breaks these negative associations that can wear down your relationship.
3. Laughter brings greater perspective
Have you ever said something so absurd during an argument that you made yourself (and your partner) laugh? And to your surprise, the argument quickly became irrelevant. Laughter quickly elevates your mood and gives you the emotional distance needed to view events in a new light. Life’s daily stresses are more tolerable when laughter becomes part of your routine.
People who take themselves too seriously (and lack any sense of playfulness) live with an emotional heaviness that is felt by others—everything seems to become weighted down with an overbearing immensity. Seriousness has an important place in life and love—but so does lightheartedness.
4. Laughter reduces defensiveness and opens you up to new experiences.
We all protect ourselves emotionally. Psychological defenses are like the seatbelt and airbags in your car—your defenses are designed to prevent injury and cushion the blow when faced with something that is potentially painful. But the same defenses that protect you in one context also come at an emotional cost–especially when your defensive barriers prevent you from making genuine contact with someone who has your best interests in mind, like a loving and supportive spouse/partner.
When you and your partner laugh together, you put your defenses on hold and open yourself up to a new kind of connection with your partner. In this context, laughter deepens emotional intimacy and allows greater trust to take hold.
5. Laughter acts as a buffer to stress
Have you ever laughed so hard and then thought or said, “I really needed that!”?
Laughter acts as a much needed, temporary respite from the pressures of life. It can recharge your emotional battery (and your relationship’s battery), it’s a safe and effective way to release pent-up physical and emotional tension, and laughter reduces stress hormones while increasing the feel-good endorphins in your brain. It seems as though laughter is just plain good for you.
Laughter acts as a protective buffer to the inevitable stresses that couples face.
Simple ways to incorporate laughter into your marriage or relationship:
Now that you see laughter has numerous benefits for your relationship, the next step is the most important: begin creating moments of mutual enjoyment and pleasure. And while you’re at it, make each other laugh.
Lacking a “natural” sense of humor is no excuse. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started:
Rent a funny movie or television series; go to a comedy show; play fun/silly board games with each other and invite friends into the laughter; read a book of jokes together or look for jokes-of-the-day on the Internet; develop your own David Letterman-like top 10 list; ask friends if they’ve heard any good jokes and share them with your partner; tickle each other; share a humorous story from your childhood; do something novel and fun together; look for the absurdity and humor in life…
But most importantly: work on creating a light-hearted mindset that will invite laughter into your marriage or relationship.
The good news is that laughter is contagious. So you’ll naturally feel good when your partner laughs; and s/he will feel good when you laugh.
This is a serious challenge for many couples, especially if there has been a history of conflict and hurt feelings. The effective use of humor and laughter involves good timing—you and your partner should agree on a mutual laughter-commitment. (Telling jokes while your partner is angry with you for being insensitive isn’t useful or funny).
So what are you waiting for? Laughter—and a healthy relationship—await!
To discover more relationship tips, visit StrengthenYourRelationship.com/ 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.”

Articles Marriage Tips

Great Marriages Require Unencumbered Time

Great Marriages Require Unencumbered Time

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
Make no mistake about it – great marriages require unencumbered time!
You have read our musings about the fundamental predisposition of every human being to have time alone – to have time only to their private thoughts. In our book, Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage, we describe privacy and aloneness as one of the seven secrets of successful marriage.
In many ways, unencumbered time might, in fact, be the eighth secret. Everyone needs time alone – that’s an established fact. But just as importantly, everyone needs unencumbered time – time when nothing is planned, nothing is programmed, nothing is on your iCal calendar on your iPhone, and nothing is in the way of your completely spontaneous day!
Successfully married couples know this – there are days in their marriage and in their relationship when nothing should be planned, nothing should be scripted, and nothing should be in the way to a totally and completely unencumbered day.
We have interviewed couple after couple – thousands of them – on our journey around the world in search of the best marriages. Our travels have taken us to five continents, with the sixth coming this next year (we still haven’t figured out how to get to Antarctica to interview successfully married couples!).
On each continent, and with each successfully married couple we have interviewed, there are many truths we have learned, but first and foremost among them is this – unencumbered time is necessary to the health and well being of the best marriages.
Here’s how it works. The next time you and the one you love wake up in the morning, let it be your resolve for that day – plan nothing! Let your whim drive your day. When you get to the fork in the road, take it, as Yogi Berra used to say! Make choices for no particular reason.
To have a day without restrictions and without encumbrances is to have a day you will cherish. In our hectic, fast-paced lives, it is good to know that you can, in fact, slow down, smell the roses, and let your instincts guide your way.
So many marriages are predictable – everything is planned. But the truth is, that is not the way the best marriages go. The best marriages understand that there are days when you need time alone. The best marriages understand that there are days when you need to plan NOTHING!
Being spontaneous is the hallmark of the best marriages we have studied over the years. Placing trust in your collective ability to do what comes naturally and impulsively is, in fact, a wonderful indicator of the quality of your loving relationship. Trust yourself. Trust the one you love. Live dangerously!
Over the 43 years of our marriage, we have come to appreciate our unencumbered days. They have proven to be the best days of our lives together. Why don’t you try having an unencumbered day tomorrow!
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

Articles Love In General Marriage Tips

Compatibility in Marriage – The Core Values of Love


Over the past 30 years, we have learned much about what makes great marriages tick – about what makes them successful. Even in spite of ominous odds from time to time, the best marriages survive and thrive, and we know why!

They survive and thrive because they are committed to the Core Values present in all great marriages and successful loving relationships. Here they are in a nutshell. read more

Articles Marriage Tips

How Important Is Trust In Marriage?

How Important Is Trust In Marriage?

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
Successfully married couples literally trust each other with their lives, their wellbeing, and their sacred honor. The words they use to describe the one they love more often than not include words and expressions like trust, honesty, loyalty, respects me, admires me, always there for me, never lets me down, truthful, and never lies to me. Their trust for each other is about as complete as you can get.
In our interviews with thousands of happily married couples throughout the world, we are always struck by their undying trust in each other. Over the past 30 years, when we asked couples in love to place, in an overall sense, where their relationship is on a 10-point scale with 10 being Absolute Trust, without exception, they say 10! Isn’t that wonderful? As love and marriage experts, we find that remarkable!
Trust is not something all loving relationships start with. For some couples the trust becomes complete in a few years. For others, it takes awhile. But one thing is for sure; happy marriages survive and thrive on the basis of this trust. Trust is so pervasive in their relationship that they never give it a second thought. They expect it. It’s always there. It is part of the fabric of their relationship.
To be truly in love is to be unequivocally and unconditionally dedicated to the one you love. Successfully married couples never cheat on their spouse! To betray your spouse in intimate ways is to destroy your relationship, make no mistake about that. Most marriages cannot recover from this form of betrayal. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it can. As love and marriage experts, we can confirm that once lost, trust cannot be fully regained.
There is one thing you can take to the bank—all people in love have faced temptations in their relationship. Couples who are truly in love in their relationship know that a few moments of sexual satisfaction can NEVER replace the loving, trusting, and caring relationship they have developed with their mate. As someone once said to us, I have a marriage license but I didn’t give up my looking license! Admiring others in intimate ways is normal and healthy. But acting on those urges has ruined many a marriage and many a loving relationship.
Those wonderful couples we have interviewed resist these normal urges and temptations of life because they know their relationship is so much more important to them. Destroying the trust between them would literally cause the very foundation of their relationship to crumble. Destroy that foundation and you destroy your love. When you do so there is rarely redemption—there is rarely ever reconciliation.
Character in a successful marriage or relationship does matter, and character is about trust. Being honest and trustworthy is at the heart of all the best loving relationships we have studied. It really is a 10 on a 10-point scale. In our estimation, character is the foundation of true love!
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 .
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

Articles Dating Tips Marriage Tips

What is the Best Valentine’s Day Gift?

What is the Best Valentine’s Day Gift?

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

Articles Marriage Tips

The Functioning Alcoholic and Marriage

The Functioning Alcoholic and Marriage

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

Articles Marriage Tips

Intimacy In Marriage: IN-TO-ME-SEE

Intimacy In Marriage: IN-TO-ME-SEE

According to a Dictionary intimacy is defined as, “showing a close union or combination of particles or elements: an intimate mixture.”
Being intimate involves the mixing of our life with another’s, a mingling of souls, a sharing of hearts. This is something we all long for because it’s how God made us. We were designed to connect.
Real Intimacy is More Than Sex
Maybe you are wondering about sex. Assuredly, sex is a part of intimate expression, but it is not intimacy. Sex is a basic level of physically connecting to another person, but intimacy is a deeper connection.
INTIMACY BEGIN WITH YOU:
Yes, it begins with you, you must know yourself and make yourself known to your partner, you must be willing to remove all barriers, be open, reveal your true self; your joy, your fears, your passions, plans, visions, dreams, hopes, desires.
A writer wrote:” True intimacy is being close to the one you have chosen to always be closest to… forsaking all others. This is a closeness of minds, of hearts and of bodies. This is someone who knows what you’ve been through, what you want from life, and what you’re capable of. You cannot find this level of intimacy with someone if you are a false representation of yourself”.
You must be willing to open the door to the one you married without fear or reservation.
To do this, you must be able to know yourself, who you are, what you want, how you want to be treated, you must first be connected to yourself, accept yourself and be able to bring others in to your sanctuary.
INTIMACY IS TRANSPARENCY:
To be transparent means to be open, candidly free from guile and to be frank.
Transparency in marriage simply means the state of been open, truthful, candid and frank with your spouse, it also means to be free from dishonesty at home.
Marriage becomes a difficult task when couples are not transparent with each other, there can never be intimacy in such a marriage, to build intimacy in your marriage, be transparent.
INTIMACY IS ACCEPTANCE:
Intimacy involves acceptance, accepting yourself the way you are enough to open your life to your spouse, if you don’t accept whom you are, you will not be able to release your whole self to your partner.
It also involves accepting your spouse, accepting the person’s strength, weakness, past, future, vision, hobby, plans and aspiration.
When you accept the one you married, you will not find it difficult to release yourself wholly.
INTIMACY IS OPENNESS:
It also involves opening of your mouth to talk, but when you talk you are not just to open your mouth but to open your mind, your totality.
No openness, no transparency. No transparency, no Intimacy. No intimacy, No True Marriage. If you want a better marriage, then open up, let your spouse know you.
INTIMACY IS TRUTHFULNESS:
The foundation of openness is truthfulness, if you are not truthful then you are not open, because it only means you are opening the wrong room to your spouse which is even worse because it will end up destroying trust which is the real foundation for intimacy.
INTIMACY IS TRUST:
The end point of truthfulness and openness is transparency, the major work of transparency in marriage is INTIMACY. Do everything to build trust in your marriage.

Articles Marriage Tips

Keeping Your Marriage Strong While Raising Children

Keeping Your Marriage Strong While Raising Children

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
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 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 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 27 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 three decades suggests that there are five useful tips 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 to Strengthen Your Marriage While Raising Children:
1. Share openly with your spouse 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 marriage to survive and thrive. In successful marriages there are No Sacred Cows. Simply speaking, happily married couples talk about everything. They trust each other. 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, watch 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 human 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.
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.
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 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships