Want to have more sex during stressful times? Here are 5 things to try.

A lot of good habits can suffer during stressful times.  Some people overeat, workout routines fall off the map, sleep is often affected. Sex is another piece of the relationship puzzle that gets put on the back burner when stress hits the fan.  Here are a few tips for how to keep that lovin’ feeling alive even when stress, including holiday stress takes a hold on your life and relationship…

1. Sleep Naked.  Forego the holiday themed, fuzzy footy Pj’s and go to bed in your birthday suit.  Couples who sleep naked have more sex.  Sleeping naked removes one small barrier to getting busy.  In addition, physical touch and close contact increase oxytocin, the love hormone. Climbing into the sheets naked will encourage you to get closer to warm up on cold winter nights. Who knows you might get lucky!

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Slip into the sheets in your birthday suit.

3. Keep your bedroom a sanctuary.  When it comes to your bedroom, don’t dismiss the power of setting the mood. Too often the clutter of stressful times builds up in your bedroom. Laundry piling up, work to do, stacks of bills, papers or books waiting to be read, shopping bags full of gifts to be wrapped all contribute to the mental clutter aka intimacy killer.  Take some time to de-clutter your bedroom, take the tv out (or at least cover it up or put in in a cabinet) Letting the world in via television and devices can squeeze out special moments to connect with your spouse. Take the stacks of paper out, go through them if you can, if you can’t just put them somewhere else!  The last and probably most difficult task in the bedroom is to GET RID OF THE SMARTPHONE!! A recent article cited the statistic that “70 percent of women in a recent survey said smartphones were interfering in their romantic relationship.”  Now certainly you don’t need to get rid of it all together, just leave it out of the bedroom!

have more sex

Don’t let clutter be a barrier to a roll in the hay.

Continue reading ‘Want to have more sex during stressful times? Here are 5 things to try.’

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How to cultivate gratitude in your marriage this holiday season.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude”

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The holiday season and particularly Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to take stock in your marriage.  These few weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years can get really crazy, it’s also a wonderful time to cultivate gratitude in your marriage and make sure your relationship is getting a piece of the pie! Gratitude is more than just being thankful for something you have.  It is a state of being that can bring more love, positivity and peace and health into your life. Gratitude is an intentional act, gratitude in your marriage as in all things opens the door to deeper and more fulfilling relationship and holiday season.

gratitude in your marriage

Gratitude is the antidote to desire.  How is it that as a culture we have created the story that Thursday is the day to slow down, celebrate all that we already have and experience gratitude. Then comes black Friday where we are encouraged to hurry up, get to the store and compete with each other to satisfy our never ending need for things. Cultivating true gratitude will alleviate the need for the latest, greatest, cheapest goods and will allow love, respect and joy to be elevated in your marriage and beyond.

Here are a few ways to keep the focus on gratitude and kindness this holiday season… Continue reading ‘How to cultivate gratitude in your marriage this holiday season.’

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Why I believe in marriage.

If there is a trend in marriage for the latest generation to come of age it’s this… marriage is out. In fact marriage has been steadily declining since 1960. The other trend I have noticed lately in the world of marriage news is that people care about the habits of millennials. In recent weeks I have seen articles about why millennials aren’t marrying. The racial gap in the statistics about millennial marriage and many more trying to understand the millennial experience.

Millennials have a less favorable view of marriage and the value of saying I-do.  The number of millennials co-habitating is on the rise and marriage as a necessity is not a strong view point.  Parenting often falls higher on the bucket list than marriage. So what gives?  Why has marriage fallen off the proverbial map? If I had to guess, I suppose I would say it’s because millennials just don’t see the point.  Gone are the days of marriage being the only route to financial stability or even children.  Those things can be easily achieved outside of marriage.

believe in marriage

“Dear young people, don’t be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness.”

I am myself on the crisp edge of being a millennial (Born 1980).  I do not often see myself in the descriptions, I do not own anything that says “keep calm and carry on” I don’t take “selfies” and I consider text messaging a secondary method of communication to calling or emailing.  I have no inflated feelings about my specialness and I believe in marriage!

I wholeheartedly believe marriage is a path to a more fulfilling, generous, financially stable and satisfying, secure life.  I have been married for 7 years.  I was 27 when I got hitched.

Here’s why I believe in marriage. Continue reading ‘Why I believe in marriage.’

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Positive images of marriage in media.

I am in the midst of reading Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl.  The movie Gone Girl, based on the book was recently released  in theaters nationwide.  The story is a sinister mystery centered around the disappearance of the wife.  The book is a delicately woven tale of a marriage unravelling over time. Aside form being totally engrossed in this wonderful book, it has also prompted me to look for positive images of marriage in media.

Tabloid magazines frequently douse us with tales of celebrity woe and marital un-satisfaction.  Reports of infidelity and other indiscretions top headlines in the media. Culturally we seem to have an unending thirst for news and images of relationships gone bad.  On the flip side there are wonderful examples of skillful, warm, loving and supportive relationships on TV, in books and the media.  Here are a two television couples worth paying attention to… Continue reading ‘Positive images of marriage in media.’

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Healthy Marriage. What does that look like?

What is a healthy marriage?  This is an important question to answer in light of all the information we see and read (including on this blog) about a “healthy marriage.”  Benefits touted often include, better physical health, less depression, better outcomes for children and so much more.  How wonderful these benefits are, so how can we know what a healthy marriage is and how to achieve that standard in our own lives?

healthy marriage

Research done on this topic (see Moore et al., 2004, and NHMRC website http://www.healthymarriageinfo.org) resulted in this list…

• commitment to each other over the long haul
• positive communication
• ability to resolve disagreements and handle conflicts nonviolently
• emotional and physical safety in interaction
• sexual and psychological fidelity
• mutual respect
• spending enjoyable time together
• providing emotional support and companionship
• parents’ mutual commitment to their children

Let’s take a look at these one by one… Continue reading ‘Healthy Marriage. What does that look like?’

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Why marriage matters for the kids.

We often hear the phrase marriage matters.  In a recent article written by Kimberly Howard and Richard V. Reeves of the Brookings Institute interesting new research takes a look at the question why?  Why does marriage matter?  Can it be broke down into a few simple factors or is there bigger meaning infused in the experience of marriage that offers advantages to children? The article, titled “The Marriage Effect: Money or Parenting” puts in simple terms what the researchers were looking at.  Is money the determinant factor or the additional parenting resources and energy provided by a two-parent household?

marriage matters

According to the authors the two key take aways from the research are…

1) Children from married households do much better and are more likely to thrive.

“Children raised by married parents do better at school, develop stronger cognitive and non-cognitive skills, are more likely to go to college, earn more, and are more likely to go on to form stable marriages themselves.”

2) The research shows that some of the “marriage effect” can be attributed to the “parenting effect” and the “money effect.”

“The benefits of marriage in terms of children’s outcomes and life chances seem clear. The difficulty is teasing out the key factors. Our analysis suggests that both the higher incomes and the more engaged parenting of married parents count for a good deal. If anything, parenting may matter a little more.”

The article claims that the two key factors, more money and more engaged parenting are the most dominant factors affecting the outcome for kids.  While it is easy to understand how those two things have a positive effect on kids it isn’t entirely easy to understand if there is an additional benefit of the experience kids have living in a household with married parents.  Is it possible that there is a concrete benefit to kids witnessing the day to day experience of a marriage. There are certainly myriad factors involved not the least of which is the kind of marriage children grow up in. It would certainly be of benefit for children to witness good communication in marriage . On the flip side is a toxic marriage going to have a negative effect on a child’s well being and health? In addition, will more money and resources for parents who aren’t married result in the same outcome?  There may be no easy answer to that question, it is though an important question for couples, communities and larger institutions to look at in an attempt to understand why marriage matters.

 

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Dating Advice reviews Power of Two

Hello to all our dear readers.  In lieu of a post this week we wanted to share a review of Power of Two, sent over by the folks at Dating Advice. Hayley Matthews wrote a lovely article describing the online marriage education program and the specific value we bring to couples interested in alternative ways to strengthen their relationships through skill education.  We were particularly excited about the interest from a site that focuses on dating couples! We are thrilled at the opportunity to reach more folks at this stage in their relationship, after all it is never too early for relationship skill education!

You can read the full article here. Thank you Dating Advice for helping to spread the word about The Power of Two

Dating Advice review

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Wondering how to make a relationship last?

Pay attention to the details.

When it comes to the causes of divorce there are the biggies…

Infidelity, physical emotional or otherwise.
Addiction and substance abuse.
Excessive anger or abuse.

And then there is the slow buildup of resentment, the everyday moments that turn from loving and attentive to bitter, angry, sour, mean or otherwise ignored. Over time these feelings can turn what was once a loving relationship into an unhappy disconnect that can lead couples to look for a way out. So here’s one way to start to turn things around today. Pay attention to the details!

Each day, moment after moment you have a choice about how to respond to and engage with your spouse or partner. Use each moment to make a change towards a more positive future. It is the compounding of these small moments that will make a relationship last.

make a relationship last

Here are a few steps you can take to stay focused on the moment in front of you and make it a positive one…

See your partner for who they are today. It is so easy to carry around with us the past hurts or failings of our loved ones.  Try to look past the fact that he didn’t pick up the dry cleaning last week, or the fact that she didn’t call when she said she would.  Instead try seeing your spouse for who they are today, right in front of you.  Give them the benefit of a new day to surprise you!

Forgive yourself and each other for slip-ups. Even the most skilled communicators and the most thoughtful people have bad days.  Try to take a more forgiving standpoint and say to yourself “oh he meant to say…” and look for what makes sense in what s/he said. Rather than reacting in an equally un-skilled way turn the conversation back in a positive direction.

Be a good listener. A marriage is hopefully a lasting pursuit.  Being in a relationship necessarily means you will be spending a good deal of time together.  It can be very easy to fall into the trap of not giving your full attention to a spouse or partner.  You may thing you’ve heard this story 10 times, or maybe you just get so accustomed to the day to day chatter.  Next time you are having a conversation stop, really listen to what is being shared.  You might be surprised at what you learn!

Express gratitude and appreciation for your partner. Couples who are struggling to make a relationship last will often share that they just don’t feel appreciated.  Days are busy, filled with work, social obligations, for some couples children. Remembering to appreciate your spouse if often left off the to do list.  Studies show that couples who continually express gratitude and appreciation for on another have deeper and more loving connections.  The good news is that you can increase the positivity today. Start with yourself, show genuine appreciation for your spouse and watch the love come back to you.

The bottom line is that small things add up.  They are the bricks that create a solid foundation.  Start paying attention to the details today and feel the warmth fill the room!

 

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Want more communication in relationships? Stop should-ing and start sharing.

Have you ever been around someone who just shoulds all over you? I recently spent some time with a very dear friend of mine who shoulds instead of shares, leading to a breakdown of communication in relationships.  He tells me I should do this and I should do that and I can’t help but feel instantly on the defensive and the end result is that I stop listening. This friend is also one of the most caring and supportive friends I have, I know his intentions are well meaning. I know that what he is trying to do is share in the excitement he feels.  I have come to expect these sorts of interactions with this particular friend and to a certain degree they can sometimes just be what they are. On the other hand this kind of communication in relationships, specifically in a marriage can lead to real problems overtime. Defensiveness, bitterness, frustration, and hurt feelings can build up and leave you feeling unheard and uncared for.

At Power of Two we have a term for this kind of communication in relationships, it’s called a crossover. A crossover is essentially one person entering into another persons emotional territory.  Telling someone what they think, feel, are or in this case what they should think, feel, be or do.

communication in relationships

Are you guilty of shoulding? Here’s what you can do to stop “shoulding” on your loved ones?

Turn what would have been a should statement into and “I-statement” So…

“You should call your mother” could be “I wonder what’s happening with your mother?  When is the last time you two spoke?”

“You should eat more vegetables” could be “I feel healthier when I eat more vegetables. How would you feel about having a salad along with dinner tonight?

Remember the mantra “talk about yourself, ask about the other.” Keeping this simple idea in mind will help you keep the focus where it ought to be, yourself!

The cure for the crossover is the “I-statement”  essentially replacing the “you” with “I.”  I feel.., I think…, I want to…, I really enjoyed… followed by a how or what question. Not only are you able to share something meaningful to you, you are showing your friend and loved one that you are interested in what they think.  It’s a WIN WIN!!

No one wants to be told what to think, feel or do.  At the same time, sharing rich and meaningful experiences you have had with your partner, friends and loved ones is incredibly valuable and important.  So stop should-ing and start sharing to have more communication in your relationships!

 

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Is free online marriage counseling possible?

You can find just about anything online these days, what about free online marriage counseling?  There are no shortages of articles, forums, advice columns and chats to read and participate in. While there is a lot of great information to be found, there’s also much misinformation from folks who have no place giving it out. So how do you separate the good, bad and the ugly?

Focus on marriage education programs, these kinds of programs offer real, practical skills for making changes in your relationship. Look for articles written by professionals associated with the program to give you a sense for whether or not they are reputable, trained and can teach you something. Marriage education programs often offer some amount of material for free and then if you want to continue you can pay a small fee.

free online marriage counseling

Understand that the most important thing you can do to fix a relationship is to fix yourself. There is a “fundamental law of relational theory” according to Psychiatrist Marina Benjamin “that when any part of a system changes, the entire system will be forced to change.” What this means is that the more you are able to effect positive change on yourself, the more your relationship will move in that direction. Marriage education programs are perfect for situations where one spouse is interested in working and the other is resistant. Continue reading ‘Is free online marriage counseling possible?’

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