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.

Is marriage counseling inevitable?

All couples have challenges, there is no doubt about that. Sometimes the challenges are external; job related stresses or job loss, familial conflict or major life events like the birth of a child. Some conflicts are internal; depression and anxiety can result in conflict in a relationship, poor habits from past relationships or even patterns learned as a child all contribute to how you relate to your partner.  Add to that personality differences, cultural differences and you have loads of potential for conflict.

Is it just inevitable that at some point in a long term committed relationship you would need to seek marriage counseling?

marriage counseling

Just as the question gets complicated so does the answer.  All couples can benefit from learning new relationship skills. Couples who are able to manage conflict in a healthy way are far less likely to divorce or need counseling. While all couples can benefit from a good marriage therapist, counseling can likely be avoided if you are proactive about learning solid skills as early on in your relationship is possible. Continue reading Is marriage counseling inevitable?

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?

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

Five Benefits of Pre Marriage Counseling

Recently I attended a baby shower, and among the silly games and exclamations of “oh isn’t that just adorable” there was the inevitable discussion of what the couple was doing to prepare, including which preparation classes the couple had taken.  I started to wonder, why is it that we expect new parents to take classes and read countless books to prepare for the newest change in their lives and relationships, but we do not have such expectations when a couple is preparing for another huge change in their relationship: marriage? Why isn’t marriage prep more common for newly engaged couples?

The benefits of marriage preparation are substantial; a study published in 2006 by Scott Stanley, P.R. Amato, and Howard Markham out of the University of Denver showed that couples who participated in pre marriage counseling had a 30% lower divorce rate.  Whenever possible we prepare for the big changes in our lives, so it’s worth asking, what are the benefits of pre marriage counseling? Continue reading Five Benefits of Pre Marriage Counseling

Can a marriage boot camp really help your marriage?

Next year WE tv is launching a celebrity Marriage Boot Camp featuring five couples who are desperate to repair their relationships. These celebrities include spouses from other reality TV shows such as Real Housewives of Orange County‘s Gretchen Rossi and her partner Slade Smiley. Will attending a marriage boot camp (recorded and televised, on top of that), really help these marriages? Could marriage boot camp help save your marriage?

Continue reading Can a marriage boot camp really help your marriage?

Should you change your name when you get married?

Kate Winslet is marrying again and has announced that she will not be taking on her new husband’s last name. With a name as famous as hers, this seems like a no-brainer. Yet the question is vastly complicated. Should you, would you, or did you, change your name upon marrying?

A recent survey of Facebook users showed that women are again taking on their husbands surname after a long decline in the practice. In partnership with The Daily Beast, Facebook looked at the names of 14 million married females, ranging in age from 20 to 79. Facebook found that 65 percent of the survey group in their 20s and 30s changed their names. Even more women in their their 40s, 50s, and 60s changed their names — 68 percent, 75 percent and 80 percent, respectively. Continue reading Should you change your name when you get married?

8 beliefs that are actually terrible advice on marriage

Much “commonsense” advice on marriage doesn’t actually make sense when you look at it closely. Here are 8 common beliefs about marriage that are counterproductive to a happy relationship, if not down-right harmful! If you have been experiencing marriage difficulties, check to see if any of these bad pieces of advice on marriage may be at the root of the problems.

 How good is your marriage? Take Dr. Heitler’s Marriage Checkup Quiz.

Bad advice on marriage #1: My spouse has to go to counseling with me or it won’t work.

Actually, one spouse can carry a lot of sway in a relationship and, on her own, turn around a failing marriage. Power of Two has been shown in studies to be just as effective as counseling when both spouses go. At some point you’ll need to get your spouse on board and working on his own contribution to the marriage. At the same time, he can be gently led into this by following your example of increasing positivity, practicing better communication skills, and initiating intimacy. Continue reading 8 beliefs that are actually terrible advice on marriage

Should I get married? 9 questions to ask yourself.

Should I get married? Yes! I love him so much! I can’t imagine life without her…

Marriage is a big commitment–in fact, it’s one of the biggest commitments we can make in our lives. Is he/she “the one”? Are you ready?

Ultimately, no one can answer that but yourself. Not your parents, not friends, not marriage experts or writers like me. Here are 9 important questions to ask yourself that can help you answer the question “Should I get married?” Many of these are based on statistics that predict successful marriage or divorce. Continue reading Should I get married? 9 questions to ask yourself.

Wedding proposal fail ends in 4 arrests

In the history of how to not propose to your girlfriend, this wedding proposal fail wins a gold star for complete ridiculousness:

All was well along the 10 Freeway in West Covina around lunchtime on January 7th. That was, until approximately 200 to 250 motorcyclists stopped simultaneously, blocking all lanes and surrounding a bike with a man and his girlfriend. After his girlfriend–clearly confused–got off the motorcycle, it released a giant puff of pink smoke, and the driver got down on one knee to propose. She said yes, some bikes did wheelies, and they hugged. Continue reading Wedding proposal fail ends in 4 arrests