Funny Couples Photos: The Matching Outfits Edition

Do you have those days when you and your spouse get dressed, roll out of the house and realize that you’ve put on almost the exact same outfit? You do it without communication in relationships–it’s subconscious. And it leads to some pretty funny couples photos. When I was a teenager, this would happen quite often with my mom, which embarrassed me to no end. Now when matching outfits happens with my significant, other we usually just shrug and keep going. We are too lazy to go back home to change. What do you think of matching outfits? Fun or tacky? Cute or creepy? An inevitable part of married life?

Here are some funny couples photos of those who have gone out of their way to coordinate with each other–the good, the bad, and the hilarious. Happy Monday, and happy MLK day (I know this post has nothing to do with MLK…I’m saving that for Thursday).

Enjoy!

 

First, the unintentionally hilarious matching outfits:

Next, the intentionally funny!

And lastly, darn cute matching outfits:

Homeless family resources make a world of difference

As cost of living rises while income doesn’t, and many low-wage employees find their jobs replaced by machines or oversees workers, homelessness has become a terrible reality for many families. Thankfully, homeless family resources such as shelters and job seeking programs can provide a vital lifeline to let these families get back on their feet. Many cultures take the winter holidays to think about charity and helping our communities, and this inspired me to share this heart-breaking and amazing short documentary about the families at the YWCA shelter in Columbus, OH.

The documentary starts with some pretty scary statistics. In 2009, the shelter board allocated around $5,000  to overflow homeless family resources. In the summer of 2011, they needed nearly one million dollars to provide overflow care. In July 2010, the shelter was forced to turn away 119 families that came for aid because they didn’t have the space to serve them. This past summer, that number jumped to 1,000 seeking aid that couldn’t be accommodated. And 60% of these families needing shelter are new to the homeless resource system.

The video then focuses on two families living in the shelter. The first are Andrew and April and their three kids. While both parents are still working, the family lost their home when Andrew’s higher paying job went over seas. Then we meet Keishauna, who lost her job and after marriage problems found herself a single mom of a young girl after 10 years of marriage. We follow Keishauna as she searches for a new job and an apartment that will lease to her.

I usually feel like homelessness is so far away from me. I had a real wake up call after an article in the SF Chronicle that stated more and more families–everyday families like myself and my neighbors–are winding up homeless. In fact, the Chronicle reported that there are 2,200 homeless children in the San Francisco public school system, 400 more than just last year. Chances are, your child knows and is friends with a kid who is homeless or on the brink of homelessness.

As the documentary says, “To raise a family with nothing, not even a home, takes immeasurable strength.” I amazed at the families shown in this video, especially Keishauna as she stays strong and supportive for her daughter and continues to smile through all her misfortunes. Check out this well-made documentary and please consider donating clothes, furniture, toys, and any other useful used items from your house to your local shelter. If you are struggling yourself, I encourage you to explore the homeless family resources available at your local shelter. You’ll find wonderful, kind people and lots of job and home hunting help to give you a lifeline. Visit http://www.familyhomelessness.org/ for information and directories.

 

Funny Family Photos–Holiday Edition

Ah, the holidays. Tis the season to receive and send out greeting cards with family photos and updates on everything that’s gone on in your life for the past year. Picking that cover photo for the card can result in some pretty funny family photos. Trying to get all the kids to stand still? Getting everyone’s eyes open? Incorporating your dog or cat into the picture? A recipe for disaster…and hilarity!

In preparation and inspiration for sending out my own holiday greetings, I’ve been trolling through examples of what other families have done. The final pictures I get from friends always seem so perfect. Everyone looks great, calm, focused, and holiday spirited–no unruly kids, no stress, no marriage problems. And after all, that is the point, but man, it makes me feel like my family is just insane compared to everyone else’s. Do you ever wish that you could see other people’s outtakes? You know, the 100 pictures beforehand that will never see the public light of day, so-help-me-Gawd?

Well, I discovered that you can! My favorite holiday distraction is Awkward Family Photos, a website that allows you to submit all your bad, funny, outrageous and downright strange family photos for public enjoyment. It’s filled with snapshots of passing fads and fashion faux pas–big hair, glasses, braces, mullets–and misguided attempts at sassy group poses. One reason that I love this website is that it is never mean-spirited and it’s always family friendly. Users submit their own funny family photos and often have crazy explanations to go along with the pictures. It’s like group therapy–a small way to share the ridiculousness of our families with the world. And, it turns out that everyone’s family is a little crazy and a little eccentric.

The holidays are a notoriously stressful time for dealing with family. On Thursday I’ll be posting some great tips for keeping your marriage strong  and how to communicate with your spouse through the months of in-laws, outlaws, holiday parties, and events. But first, some silliness and media for Media Monday. In the spirit of the holidays and all they entail in celebrating the awkwardness and love of our own families, I present to you my favorite funny family photos from akwardfamilyphotos.com. May they bring you cheer, laughter, and a bit more tolerance for your own crazy clan.

 

And lastly, my very favorite:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pay it forward with online marriage counseling-free for three days!

Why should everyone be an advocate for healthy marriage? Some of us aren’t married, or don’t believe in marriage, or can’t get married. Some say that marriage is a dying institution. It’s true, divorce rates are incredibly high in the U.S.. But I disagree that this means marriage is obsolete. Yes, any committed relationship is a tough gig. At the same time, it offers so many benefits. Numerous studies have shown that married couples are more likely to be healthy, happy, and financially secure than singles. Children raised in two-parent homes are better off than those raised separately.

Even more than this, I believe that the happiness of one person ripples out to increase the happiness of everyone else they are in contact with. You can see the exact opposite effect destroying many marriages. When one person is grumpy or negative, he tends to drag down everyone he comes in contact with. Misery, so they say, loves company. It takes an incredibly strong will–and lots of skill learning from couples counseling–not to get sucked in by your spouse’s unhappiness.

On the other hand, when we are happy internally, we tend to make the the world around us a better place. We smile at a stranger, laugh more, tend to be more generous, loving, and forgiving. Those onto whom we pass our good mood tend to pass it on to others. I guess I can call this concept “paying it forward”. Paying it forward is the idea that when someone does something good for you, you consciously pass on that kindness in turn. There’s a lovely Liberty Mutual commercial that you might have seen illustrating this of a whole chain of people doing good deeds for each other.

When married we have the tendency to take sacrifice, compromise, and suffering as our given lot. And yes, being married does involve giving up some old things and taking on new and not always pleasant responsibilities. Certainly having children is a big wake-up call that your life is no longer all about your personal needs and wants. At the same time, you don’t and shouldn’t have to be unhappy. Your personal, deep happiness matters. It matters a lot. You should never “just settle” for a mediocre marriage because it “works”–i.e. you can keep a home and feed yourselves and support the children etc. etc. At the same time this doesn’t mean you should get a divorce! Not at all. This is why programs like PO2 and other online marriage counseling free trial services exist–because most marriages have the potential to be fully happy with just a little bit a help and training such as learning how to communicate with your spouse. Counseling can seem really intimidating, so we offer a free trial so you can see for yourself that these are useful and fun skills to learn.

This is why I stand behind helping marriages stay strong and healthy. Every time a couple learns the skills to make their relationship joyous, they send out a ripple of happiness. Who knows how far that ripple will carry? 

To get that Happy ball rolling, enjoy this sweet music video from artist Segal Anat called “Come&Go”.

 

The dad connection

As I wrote about in my last post about planning a wedding budget, weddings aren’t just an emotional and meaningful event for two people: they ripple out into entire communities of friends and family. I came across this adorable video from the great people at blackandmarriedwithkids.com and it just melted my heart. I have a very close relationship to my dad. He would play with me tirelessly as a girl, enthusiastically taking part in my tea parties and creating elaborate stories with me when I got tired on long hikes or drives. We remain very close and I love him dearly.

I started thinking about the special daddy-daughter bond in our culture, and that got me looking into the origins of wedding ceremonies. In the olden days marriage was viewed as a strategic transaction between families. As the head of the family the father essentially owned his wife and children. He would “give the bride away” to her new family, transferring that ownership to her husband. Now this sounds pretty darn coldhearted, but this was just the accepted, underlying structure of society. I’m sure that on top of that structure there were strong, loving bonds between families, fathers and their daughters, and many marriages were based on choice and love.

Today we don’t have the same ideas of ownership, and we consider the decision of the bride and groom to wed most important. Yet we have the same marriage ceremonies. Because of this, I’ve heard arguments that traditional weddings are insulting because they reflect old fashioned sexism. What right does a father have to “give” his daughter to anyone? And when I do think about it, I see where those objections come from. At the same tim, I think traditional ceremonies work.

Marriage does not mean the same thing as it did 100+ years ago. The groom is likely not the first man the bride has dated. It probably isn’t the first time the bride is leaving her family home. There probably wasn’t a dowry involved. Yet it is a powerful marker of a new stage in life for the bride and groom. The parents are at the very least emotionally releasing their child into a new life. It is a ceremony that marks passage and transition. The newlyweds are beginning a new family, and this has a huge impact in the dynamics of all families involved.

So why not honor all the history between the parent and child? All those years of diapers, toys, school, first loves, tears and laughter, and every thing else it has meant to raise a child into adulthood. I think it is amazingly sweet. I really enjoy this video because of the tender relationship it reveals. The bride has just the biggest grin on her face. Her dad is a talented dancer and is struttin’ his stuff. When they dance and look at each other, that, ladies and gentlemen, is pure love. And that is what a wedding is all about.

An unforgettable event on a small wedding budget

Last weekend I was honored to attend the wedding of a good friend. It was a sweet and beautiful event, and had a lot of great inspiration for how to make a relationship last while involving your guests and having a great time on a low wedding budget.

The couple, “K” and “N” had already been living together since getting engaged two years ago. As a result, they had no need for the pots and pans, matching plate sets, Cuisinarts and other traditional home-making gifts. Since more and more couples are living together before marriage, this is a pretty common situation. They came up with a great alternative. The couple decided that instead of accepting presents or a gift registry, they would ask for participation from their guests to help make the wedding extra special.

First, they held the wedding at a 4H campground N had gone to many times as a child. It was a beautiful secluded camp with a creek running through tall redwoods. Guests had the opportunity to come early and stay the whole weekend camping, or to rent rooms in the hotel of a nearby town. The days leading up the the wedding were full of fun activities. All were invited to help decorate the grounds, make bouquets and create fun centerpieces. This was especially good for the little kids running around. The night before the big day there was a big latin-themed potluck and masquerade.

So many things made this weekend special. I appreciated being invited to participate in the wedding. It reminded me that this is not only the union of two people, it is the joining of two families sets of friends into one big new community. By the time the ceremony came, I felt I had bonded with the other guests. And, by having friends and family help out, K and N were able to keep the wedding simple, intimate, and low-cost.

Of course, camping weddings in the forest aren’t for everyone! At the same time, involving your guests in some way can make the event extra meaningful. There are creative ways for everyone can participate, no matter what the budget or style of the wedding! Here’s a great video, done on a big budget, that inspired me to write this post. It’s very different from my camping experience, but just the kind of thing I’m talking about. You can check out how they put together this amazing video at junebugweddings.com.

 

Be a cute couple for life

“I want to grow old with you.”

I think this is one of the sweetest things for a cute couple to say to each other. When you first take those wedding vows, it’s hard to really grasp that you will be together till death do you part. Yes, if all goes well, one day you will be old together. So how do you want that old age to look? From books to TV shows to songs, we get bombarded with the image of a grumpy old couple who can’t stop bickering at each other about their marriage problems. They micromanage and nag and are an overall nuisance for everyone. Not only does this perpetuate nasty stereotypes about marriage (marriage is torture, it’s sacrifice, it’s a ball and chain) it sends a bad message about what older adults are like.

Your relationship will change and grow just as you do. It will be very different than it was when you pledged your lives together. At the same time, healthy marriage looks the same no matter what the age. Sharing sweet moments, keeping a close bond, listening to each other, sharing, going on adventures together–all these things are just as important on your 50th anniversary as they are on your 5th.

In fact, keeping up a healthy, lively relationship with your spouse can help you live longer. Having a partner to interact and try out new activities with will keep your mind sharp. The emotional support and physical touch of a spouse will also help you stay healthy as you age. Life is for living, and a spouse is there so make sure you live it fully.

Check out this video of a cute couple performing an impromptu duet in the lobby of the Mayo Clinic. Their cheeky sense of fun and togetherness is inspiring for marriages of all ages.

Enjoy!

 

The art of the funny wedding theme

These couples let their individuality and special bond shine through by choosing a funny wedding theme. It’s not for everyone…but for those who rock it, rock it hard! Kudos to the amount of preparation and creativity (and good humor of their guests) seen in these pictures. If you’re thinking of your own funny wedding theme, just go with your instincts. It doesn’t matter if it’s been done before–it’s all about what makes YOU two feel special and sets you off right on your life journey. Enjoy these crazy, creative photos.

 

This couple has been dying to get hitched for ages:

A shotgun wedding in a galaxy far, far away.

Yaba-daba-I-do!

In later millenia the traditional “clubbing of the bride and groom” was replaced with throwing rice.

They have two marriage licenses–it’s tough having a double identity!

He thinks she’s a real catch.

All the guests received 3D glasses for the ceremony.

“I fell down into a wedding ring of fire…”

No ghosts invited.

Well prepared for their happily ever after…

 

 

A kid’s take on healthy relationships

Our understanding of healthy relationships comes from watching our parents. Asking a child “what is marriage” is a revealing experience. Children tend to see the basics in things much better than adults, and they are always observing and learning.

This adorable little boy, Jesse, must have happy parents (even more brownie points to them for giving him the opportunity to be on Sesame Street!). The first thing he notes is that married people kiss and hug. They show each other affection every day. Physical signs of affection are essential to a young child’s development and is their most basic understanding of love. Physical intimacy continues to be a core human need and is part of the foundation of healthy relationships. Give your spouse hugs and kisses. Cuddle up, stroke her hair, take his hand and give it a squeeze. Physicality shouldn’t always be a prelude to sex, but it is certainly a part of sexless marriage help. Touch (all kinds) is therapeutic and should be part of your everyday interactions. Scientific studies have shown that touching and intimacy release chemicals in your brain that promote relaxation, warm feelings, and bonding with your partner.

Grover has some great insights about marriage, too. He points out (and Jesse agrees) that marriage is about living together, being friends, and helping each other. While the online marriage counseling field often goes into detail about marriage skills and our smallest interactions, sometimes it’s helpful to step back to think about the basics. Kissing, hugging, friends, helping.

How might your kids answer the question “What is marriage”? Why not try asking them–it could be very revealing.

Why a silly wedding is a recipe for a happy marriage

It seems like a silly display of surprise wedding dancing is as de rigeur as the cake these days. And I think that’s fabulous! Of course, there is certainly nothing bad about a strictly traditional and solemn event. At the same time, there are a few things I love about these spontaneous dance shows that falls in line with some great marriage counseling advice. Here are my reasons for why these weddings contain the recipe for a happy marriage.

1) If the dance is planned by just the bride and groom. Ya gotta hand it to these couples, they have a great sense of humor and can work together well (and keep a secret). Planning a surprise dance during the wedding is a great way to work on a project together that doesn’t involve anyone else…no florists, no best men and bridesmaids, no event staff. It gives you an excuse to spend some lighthearted solo time with your betrothed during the stress of wedding planning. It can be a sweet, silly and very special bonding opportunity for a couple, and sets a great tone for your marriage! Holding on to that sense of being adventurous, silly “partners in crime” even during stressful events is how to make a relationship last.

2) If the surprise involves lots of people. In the video I chose below, the groom and his best men have plotted and schemed to break out into a show for the guests and bride. First, check out the huge amount of effort that went into learning the choreography. They’re pretty good! Not only does this dance show how much the groom wants to surprise, delight, and show his love for his bride, it also shows the dedication and support of the groom’s friends. Having a solid network of friends who support your partnership is a key ingredient in the recipe for a happy marriage. These guys are there to back up their friend and his marriage even if it means publicly embarrassing themselves. It is just as important to maintain your separate friendships and to spend time strengthening them as it is to spend quality time together as a couple. Again, this sweet involvement in the wedding is a great sign that the groom’s friends will be there to support him throughout the marriage.

wedding thriller