Marriage and Religion by the Numbers

Marriage and religion are at the center of many couples’ minds, whether combining an interfaith marriage, discussing how to incorporate religion into child-rearing, or seeking religious marriage advice. Thanks to the folks at http://christiandegrees.net/marriage/ for this breakdown of the influence of religion on marriages and visa versa.

Most religions promote long-term unions between men and women and discourage divorce. Also, most Americans consider themselves religious (almost 80% Christian). Why then, are divorce rates rising? Hopefully this infographic will inspire you to think about your marriage and religion with new understanding. Continue reading Marriage and Religion by the Numbers

Spouse won’t go to counseling? Watch a RomCom instead.

As helpful as counseling can be in how to save a marriage, many spouses are still reluctant to attend sessions. Therapy can be intimidating. Airing all your dirty laundry to a complete stranger can sound less than appealing. (This is why there are alternatives like Power of Two!). While getting help from a trained professional is the best way to get over marriage problems and improve your relationship, there are some ways to engage your spouse if he or she refuses to go. Continue reading Spouse won’t go to counseling? Watch a RomCom instead.

4 Essential Wisdoms to Keep in Mind when Traveling with Your Spouse

Traveling is an incredibly challenging experience. Whether a road trip upstate or a three month journey to a foreign country, traveling puts the same stresses on individuals. Add to that a travel partner and you have the potential for your marital bonds to be tested. Our editor, Naomi, travels frequently with her partner and shares some hard-earned lessons for keeping cool and loving while traveling with your spouse.

Repeat after me: Traveling is hard

At home your brain can put on autopilot all the knowledge that you are familiar with, for instance, where the supermarket is, what time dinner needs to be started, how long it takes to go to the bank, etc. This frees up brain power for focusing on the changeable aspects of your life that require attention, such as work, new social engagements, and putting extra effort into your marriage.

During travel both your brain and body are working twice as hard. Gone is that comfortable ability to put on autopilot. Every cell is responding to new stimuli and new challenges. You’ll be sleeping in unfamiliar beds, driving new roads, your things will be arranged in suitcases, and you won’t know where or what you are having for dinner. These simple changes result in an enormous amount of stress on your bodies systems as well as your mental state.

Stressed gives our bad habits a chance to flare up. You and your spouse may bicker or snap at each other. Keep in mind that this is an exceptional situation you are in. Refrain from making any conclusions or big decisions about your relationship while on the road. After all, most of your time together isn’t traveling. However, if issues you notice on the trip continue months into resuming normal life, then you might have a problem that needs addressing.

It’s not about you

Again, traveling is hard. When your spouse seems exhausted, agitated, or upset, don’t jump to the conclusion that it is because of you. Most likely the negative mood is a result of the trip. If it’s not explicitly about you, don’t make it about you. That’s needlessly creating an argument. Let you spouse self sooth and don’t bring up marriage problems when you are both at the end of your ropes already.

traveling with your spouse
Traveling with your spouse doesn’t have to be stressful…but it probably will be.

Practice infinite compassion and empathy

You and your spouse’s moods will fluctuate up and down. One day when you are exhausted and crabby, your spouse may be ready to paint the town. The next day your moods might be reversed. On one hand, this opposition can be frustrating. It’s best when you are both on the same energy level. Still, keep in mind how terrible you feel when you just can’t handle the trip and need a break. Hold this understanding dear and use it to ignite compassion when it’s your spouse’s turn to feel low rather than being annoyed or angry for his lack of enthusiasm. You were just there yourself!

Don’t be afraid to split up

The best solution for all the ails of traveling together is to spend some time apart. A good half-day at the minimum. Take time to see sights that you are interested in but your spouse isn’t. Or just sleep all day, or spend the afternoon reading a book in the park, or visiting friends on your own. Never hesitate to split up for the day. You don’t have to, and probably shouldn’t, do everything together.

 

Think of traveling as a bootcamp, a time to practice all the marriage skills that you learn at Power of Two. At the same time, it’s a extra challenging period so cut both of you some slack. Be prepared, overall, to practice forgiveness.

Bon Voyage!

The top 5 tips to avoid holiday stress

Along with the fun and excitement of the winter season comes with a notorious amount of holiday stress. It can come from the inevitable interaction with less than liked relatives. It can result from financial troubles over rising heating bills and affording gifts and throwing parties. It can come from the overwhelming sense that the holidays have to be “perfect.” Chances are you’ll find yourself at the short end of your fuse and wondering how to make a relationship last through the holidays. Here are 5 effective tips for overcoming holiday stress and keep your marriage strong.

1. Set a budget. Holiday stress often comes from the strain it puts on our wallets. Avoid this by making a realistic budget for the season and sticking to it.Try doing a “secret Santa” arrangement in your family (for Christmas or Hanukah) to limit the number and price of gifts you give. Don’t buy new wrapping paper and bows—which is expensive and bad for the environment—instead, recycle pretty wrapping and boxes from the past year and improvise with cloth, magazines, and newspaper. By trimming off the fat you’ll find what really makes the holidays really special.


2. Muster the troops. Coming together as a family and delegating work for the holidays will reduce stress and increase your bond. Resist the temptation to “do it all.”The children can be given simple tasks such as helping in the kitchen,  decorating, or cleaning up. Play to each of your strengths and abilities. Making sure each person has their role set clearly beforehand will make them more likely to follow through.

3. Get some “us time.” Stay connected to your spouse by setting a goal to show positive intimacy every day. Give him a hug for “no reason” multiple times a day. Hold hands or give her a massage. Scientific marriage help books have shown physical touch releases stress reducing hormones. Plus, it shows you are there for each other. Also, be sure to take an adults-only date night. Go skating or take a walk to look at holiday lights. Do something that gets you alone and enjoying each other’s company.

4. Deflect confrontation. This one’s tricky, especially when we’re stressed out and have a couple of glasses of spiked eggnog in us.  The best option for a nosy or confrontational guest who gets on your back is to face the problem directly and politely. Try saying, “I can see how you feel that way…at the same time, lets just enjoy the party and set that conversation aside.” Check out PO2’s online marriage counseling resources sections “yes…and…” and “anger ceilings” to learn how to agree to disagree.

5. Take a break—a complete break! When you feel worn down, get out of the house and do something simple that doesn’t have anything to do with chores. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Don’t try to cram something useful into the time like walking the dog or picking up some groceries. Use this moment to clear your mind, admire the houses on your block and their decorations, or the beautiful nature around you.

Is it OK for kids to see parents fighting?

Common wisdom holds that it is not good for children to see their parents fighting.  Witnessing marital conflict sets a bad example for young minds and reduces a child’s respect for his parents. Yet psychologists are divided about this subject. While all agree that witnessing abuse is damaging for any child, what about the occasional argument? Is it ever okay to have a disagreement in front of the kids?

Proponents of exposing kids to parents fighting argue that conflict is a part of life and hiding it from children does them a disservice. Children not exposed to conflict may grow up with an unrealistic view of human relationships and unprepared for the chaos of social life. Letting kids watch a marital spat shows them that it is possible to have disagreements and still love the people close to you. Witnessing arguments is also an opportunity to model healthy conflict resolution habits

.parents fighting

Professor Mark Cummings of Notre Dame University and his team have conducted several studies on children’s reactions to parents fighting. One study followed 235 families over the course of 7 years. At the beginning of the study researchers asked parents and their young children about conflict in the home and recorded indicators of emotional health. They then asked parents to discuss a touchy topic while recording how aggressively the couples argued. They followed up with surveys of the children and parents seven years later when the children were adolescents. Predictably, children from high conflict homes were less emotionally secure and more likely to act out than their peers. Continue reading Is it OK for kids to see parents fighting?

Expressing gratitude boosts your sex life

One of the earliest polite conventions we teach our children is to say thank you. These seem to be the two magic words for lifetime well-being. Gratitude has been shown to have numerous benefits in marriage. (Check out my past article on gratitude). Here’s even more encouraging news: a new study in “The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” by Dr. Amie Gordon of U.C. Berkeley found that couples who express gratitude and appreciation for one another tend to be more committed, have more sex, and be less likely to break up. More and more, it seems that gratitude is a cornerstone of a healthy, happy marriage. Continue reading Expressing gratitude boosts your sex life

A quick guide to choosing a therapist

Choosing a therapist got you feeling overwhelmed? Find out what options are available and how to pick the best therapist for your marriage (or other counseling needs).

Couples therapy can help you and your spouse increase intimacy, stop fighting and relieve long-term frustrations and old hurts. Therapy is not just for couples on the brink of divorce. In fact, the earlier you start learning how to keep your marriage calm and loving (even before you tie the knot) the better prepared you will be for inevitable future challenges.

At the same time, choosing a therapist can feel daunting. Where do you start looking? What should you look for? How can you tell if your therapist is working for you? Start here with this simple guide. Continue reading A quick guide to choosing a therapist

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?

The 25 best romantic anniversary quotes

Anniversaries are wonderful times to celebrate all you have accomplished as a couple, after difficult years even more than easy ones. These anniversary quotes can help you express your love and appreciation for your spouse on this special day. Wondering what to do for your anniversary? We’ll be bringing you some excellent and creative celebration ideas next week! Continue reading The 25 best romantic anniversary quotes

Video game talks to your wife so you don’t have to

The Relationship Pro is a “hot new device” that “helps couples drag out their doomed relationship that extra month or two,” reports The Onion. The game controller allows wives to feel like they are interacting with a great husband who listens, sympathizes and gives advice, while husbands can continue to play their own video games.

“It’s amazing. It’s like talking to a fully developed person,” says Pam, a wife who tested out the game.

She demonstrated by asking the controller a common question about the state of their relationship. “What is this? What are we doing?” she pleaded.

“You’re right, I know I have a lot to change,” responded the device. “I know our best days are ahead of us.”

Both spouses credited the Relationship Pro with saving their relationship, at least for another month or so.

“It’s great. Now I can focus on my game instead of worrying about all that stuff she said there,” added Eric, Pam’s husband.

Okay, so the Relationship Pro doesn’t exist, and The Onion is a satirical news website. This clip is quite hilarious and, like all good satire, makes you think.

Marriage tip: In marriage as in life, problems don’t go away by ignoring them. At the same time, finding the right time to talk about relationship issues is important to a successful conversation. Interrupting your spouse in the middle of a game, a favorite TV show, or other engaging activity is a recipe for trouble. Not only will your partner be less likely to focus on what you have to say, he or she will also likely respond with irritation or defensiveness. The best time to talk about sensitive subjects is when you are both fed, rested, and not distracted. Try agreeing on a specific time that you can both set aside to “workshop” any issues that have come up in the past week.

 


How One Hot New Device Helps Couples Drag Out Their Doomed Relationship That Extra Month Or Two