Save your marriage over dinner.

Have you heard of the term “dining dead”? In the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel asks “Are we like those bored couples you feel sorry for in restaurants?” Joel muses to himself. “Are we the dining dead?”

Can you save your marriage over dinner?

A recent New York Times article described this state as one in which a couple stops talking after many years of marriage finding themselves sitting across the table, wordless, with a vast distance between one another.

save your marriage
Image credit: Andre Slob

How does this happen?

So many couples are bursting with conversational energy when they first meet. There is much to discover; many evenings are spent talking into the wee hours. As time goes on the enthusiasm and excitement lessens and the day to day of life takes hold on conversations. Continue reading Save your marriage over dinner.

Marriage in trouble? Your health may be too.

There is plenty of evidence that a healthy marriage, one in which couples practice good communication, resolve conflict with relationship skills and create an atmosphere of warmth and positivity can have potential health benefits. Those may include, better heart health, lower mortality rates and lower rates of chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer and surgeries. If this is true can it also be true that with a marriage in trouble, health problems may follow?

marriage in trouble
Is chronic martial stress leading you to health problems?

There is evidence that a marriage in trouble, one that carries with it chronic stress, may lead to health problems. Here are some of the potential health problems relating to chronic marital stress.

Depression

Continue reading Marriage in trouble? Your health may be too.

Relationship Counseling: How to jump in when you’re ready and they’re not.

In an ideal world when there is strife in a marriage both partners will recognize the need to make some changes and be ready and willing to do that. Unfortunately this is not always (or often) the case.  You and your partner may both recognize there is a problem, however you may be on your own when it comes to seeking help.  Or you may be the only one who feels a change is needed. Either way you are on your own when it comes to relationship counseling. So where do you turn?

On your own when it comes to seeking relationship counseling?
On your own when it comes to seeking relationship counseling? Photo by Allesandro Valli

Finding the right relationship counseling is critical when you are flying solo. Here are some ideas for where to begin…

Continue reading Relationship Counseling: How to jump in when you’re ready and they’re not.

Your relationship maintenance checklist.

Have you had the gutters cleaned on your house lately?  How about weeding and lawn mowing?  Maybe you have had to fix a leak or repair a crack in the wall. Your house, in order to stay in good working order needs regular maintenance. Failure to take care of those tasks and your house is likely to suffer and eventually fall into disrepair, the same is true for the relationships in your life. Regular relationship maintenance will keep the love alive and the investment in your relationship strong.  So what’s needed to sustain a healthy relationship?

relationship maintenanceRelationship maintenance refers to regular behaviors that are engaged in by partners in an effort to stay together.  The more relational maintenance you engage in as a couple the better your chances of longevity in the relationship. Researchers Laura Stafford and Daniel J. Canary identified a set of five general relationship behaviors that when engaged in regularly increase the quality of the relationship.

Your relationship maintenance checklist…

Continue reading Your relationship maintenance checklist.

Should you get married?

should you get married

Marriage is in decline, no new news there. The question seems to have shifted from when and to whom should you get married to should you get married at all? Certainly there is no one simple answer to this questions. Looking at a brief history of marriage reveals that the societal and relational view of marriage has certainly changed over time. During several recent conversations about marriage and relationships I have found myself wondering if marriage is really necessary for today’s couple? Some of these conversations involved my spouse and I chatting with happily married couples and others with contemporaries who are as of yet foregoing marriage.  In essence, these conversations have been an effort to interpret general beliefs about marriage and to try to understand why the institution still has value.

It seems to me that there is no argument about the practical benefits.  In our society marriage gives you legal, medical, taxation and many other rights that unmarried counterparts may not have.  There doesn’t even seem to be an argument about the commitment part.  It seems those opting out don’t particularly like the word marriage.  So what is it about the word that leaves a bad taste? Continue reading Should you get married?

Relationship burnout got you down. Here are some tips for getting the spark back!

relationship burnout
Are you burned out on your partner? Get back on track together with reflection and action.

Burnout is a term often used to describe the feeling of exhaustion and boredom related to dissatisfaction at work. Even when you really love your job it is possible to experience burnout, can the same be true for relationships? Perhaps you have recently been through a stressful time, a job loss, an illness or another major life event that rocked the boat a bit. Or maybe the opposite is true, you’ve just been sailing along managing the daily tasks and have lost inspiration about your marriage. Relationship burnout can be a significant problem for couples who have been married for a number of years.  It is not usually because of outright conflict, more often it is a slow separation of interests, time spent apart, lack of positive input into the relationship and a lack of skills necessary to keep the love alive.

You may be feeling some sense of disenchantment with your partner, the truth is though that relationship burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It is cumulative like a bucket getting filled over time, eventually one more drop in the bucket is enough to spill over and you have a mess on your hands.

Either way, relationship burnout can be a major red flag that you are headed for trouble. Take action now so you can get back on the right path forward together!

Here are 5 ways to nip relationship burnout in the bud!

Continue reading Relationship burnout got you down. Here are some tips for getting the spark back!

Empower Yourself: 5 reasons to seek online relationship help

When you are struggling to change negative patterns and turn your relationship around for the better it is often hard to know where to start. Online relationship help can be a really helpful place to begin. One of the best parts of online relationship help is that you are in the drivers seat. You are giving yourself the tools and the power to change your relationship. When your relationship is strained and you are ready to seek counseling it is not usually because one day you woke up and were unhappy.  More likely there is a pattern of broken communication, negativity, anger and resentment that has been building for some time. Looking for help can feel overwhelming, the internet is often the first place folks turn.  Online relationship help is becoming more available as therapists are offering skype and online sessions, unfortunately these options still don’t solve several other major road blocks to getting help: time and money.  Finding time to sit down with a therapist or counselor (even via skype) can be difficult.  In addition, therapists who offer online counseling options often still charge high hourly rates for sessions held online.

online relationship help

Programs like Power of Two offer an alternative way to address both those concerns and there is one other key difference.  Power of Two is a skill based learning experience.  While traditional counseling can be very effective in understanding how your childhood and past experience are contributing to your current relationship challenges as well as looking at deeper issues, most couples can benefit greatly from learning relationship skills. When a couple or an individual seeks online relationship help it’s important to look for a program that teaches skills. Online relationship help can be an incredible tool for change.

 Here are 5 good reasons for a couple (or one partner) to seek help in the form of online relationship help

Continue reading Empower Yourself: 5 reasons to seek online relationship help

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?

Does having siblings help your marriage?

The more siblings you grew up with, the longer your marriage will last, reports a new study from Ohio State University. For the study, the researchers crunched data on 57,061 adults  collected between 1972 and 2012.

“We found that if you had a sibling, for each additional sibling your divorce rate decreased by two percent,” said Douglas Downey, co-author of the study, in an interview for CBSNews.com. Only-children were less likely to marry in general than their peers with siblings, as well as being more at risk for divorce. The benefits of having more siblings seem to level off at seven. The evidence does seem to suggest that having siblings can actually help your marriage! Continue reading Does having siblings help your marriage?

Want a good marriage? Don’t call your spouse a “Ball and Chain”

Thanks to Stu and Lisa Gray of the Stupendous Marriage Show for turning me on to this topic! Check out their podcast for some smart commentary.

Negative stereotypes about marriage are so pervasive in our society that it is almost impossible to escape them. Name almost any TV show with married couples and you’ll find at least one example of the “ball and chain” metaphor. Marriage is the end of fun. It is the end of sex. It means constant bickering and being tied to someone who you can’t stand for the rest of your life.

Media and popular culture certainly perpetuate these damaging stereotypes, and, at the same time, we are all just as guilty ourselves. Every time we complain about or badmouth our spouses to others, we perpetuate marriage stereotypes and hurt our own marriages. Continue reading Want a good marriage? Don’t call your spouse a “Ball and Chain”