Marriage problems and technoference: How to ditch the device for better communication.

marriage problems
Put the phones down to connect with your partner

What does your cell phone have to do with marriage problems? Recently, several prominent news sources have presented surveys and research that point to the problem with cell phones and romantic relationships.  One survey reported that “70 percent of women said smartphones were interfering in their romantic relationship.” That’s a huge number of women! In NPR’s recent story  “technoference” was citied as a serious problem in relationships. Aside from the question of what you are actually doing on the device, the accessibility and pervasiveness of  the devices in our lives is causing several problems.  Cell phones are the worst kind of distraction, the convenience of access to all your email accounts, the camera, the social media accounts, not to mention the thousands of other apps you can fill your device with offer an endless stream of information. This coupled with the dings, ringtones and other alerts that make everyone in the room look at their phone in some sort of pavlovian response to a bell are bound to cause marriage problems.

There are certainly big questions to answer individually and culturally about the influence these devices have on our lives. Technology no doubt has it’s place in daily life.  If we can thoughtfully engage with it it can actually be used for good in the relationship.  Time savings is one instance that can benefit your romantic relationships.  If you are able to take care of a task like paying bills that may have in the past taken up precious evening time at the kitchen table you can use that time you’ve gained to connect with your spouse, but do you? The evidence seems pretty clear that by and large they are causing more marriage problems than they solve. In her research, Sarah Coyne, boiled it down to this, “What I think the most important finding is, the more you let the technology interfere, the more conflict you have with your spouse or partner and that leads to not feeling great about the relationship.” So where is the balance?  Obviously this question is best left to each couple to navigate, provided the right skills are there to actually have a win win outcome!

So here are a few tips for curbing the potential marriage problems caused by technoference… Continue reading Marriage problems and technoference: How to ditch the device for better communication.

Happy New Year to You.

Words to ponder as the year turns from end to new beginning.

happy new years

The whole point to New Years is not just to have a new year. But that we should be new, better and different people. That is why we exercise to RE-NEW our bodies. That is why we write GOALS to get a Renewed sense of our potential. That is why we make RE-SOLUTIONS because we resolve that there are solutions inside of us that we have not tapped into. So don’t waste each New Years season. Maximize it! Start fresh using a new perspective for it will enable you to tap into a new season with greater capacity.
~ Sheilla Payton

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.
~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Happy New Year to you

A new year is beginning to peak through
softly beautiful and different like new falling snow,
each day unique and shaped just for you.
Your life adding something as each day does grow.
My wish for your new year is beauty
and softness with surprises thrown in for delight.
Love for each day bringing happiness to you,
making your life a scene of sparkle and shining sunlight.
~ Author Unknown

Tick Tock

I’m writing this in a state of shock,
Watching the clock—tick tock, tick tock,
Advancing, approaching, relentlessly,
A brand new year; Oh, can it be?

The calendar says the same thing, too;
Time races, vanishes for me; Boo hoo!
No, wait! If time flies, I’m having fun!
A year of fun! It’s gone! It’s done!

I now embrace the blur of time,
Because it simply means that I’m
Too busy with pleasure, joy, delight
To mourn the passing days’ swift flight.

So I’m wishing you fast, happy days,
Pleasuring you in myriad ways,
Filled with happiness and cheer,
Oh Happy, Happy Bright New Year!
~ Joanna Fuchs

The Road Less Traveled

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost

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.

Sexless marriage? What are you to do?

Sex in a marriage can be a touchy subject, especially when you aren’t having much—or any at all.  According to a 2002 Newsweek article, 15 to 20% of couples have sex no more than 10 times a year, which is considered a sexless marriage. There are many things that could lead a couple to this situation. Daily stressors like kids, jobs and finances can make it difficult to connect, while decreased libido for hormonal reasons, depression, and a whole host of other day-to-day challenges can make sex the last thing on your list of priorities. So what do you do if intimacy is waning in your marriage? 

Here are a few simple steps you can take to invite more intimacy into your relationship:

Dress to impress. Put a little effort into your physical appearance at home. Do you put on your comfy, worn in Pjs as soon as you settle in for the night?  Think about what your partner finds physically attractive and put a little effort towards looking and feeling attractive.

Schedule It! When time slips away and you find yourselves letting intimacy fall off the radar, put it on the calendar.  Spontaneity has its place, and so does a well-planned roll in the hay.


Increase Positivity. Keep negative comments (especially ones about physical appearance) out of the conversation. Express gratitude; the more positivity you create the greater the warmth and tenderness in your relationship.

Disconnect to Connect. Turn off the television, computer, Kindle, and iPad. Media in the evenings can be a real intimacy killer.  Instead, find an activity you can share; talk, listen to music, or go for a walk. Spending quality time together can help you reconnect.

Go to Bed Early (and together).  Rather than watching television until you are both tired wrecks, go to bed when you still have some energy left for you spouse.

Sleep Naked. Climbing into bed in your birthday suit shows you’re interested.  It also increases feelings of sexual desire.  In addition, skin-to-skin contact causes a release of Oxytocin, the love hormone!

People often differ in their preferences, both for the frequency with which they desire sexual activity and what it takes for them to feel aroused.  Avoid the sexless marriage trap by understanding what makes your partner tick.  Learning some communication basics, as well as some good tools for talking about sex, will go a long way towards keeping things running smoothly in the bedroom. 

The bottom line is a little bit of effort will go along way towards getting that spark back and welcoming more intimacy into your marriage!

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

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

How to prevent adultery

Adultery can devastate a marriage, yet it needn’t be the end. Recovering from an adultery or similar trust betrayal requires the dedication and commitment to change in the erring spouse and the full support of the other. What is adultery and you can you avoid it in your marriage? Is your relationship at risk for adultery? How can your marriage bounce back from an adultery?

What is adultery?

Adultery is an ancient concept refers a husband or wife having sexual relations with a man or woman outside of the marriage. Adultery has been and still is a crime that can bring even corporal punishment or death in some societies. Preventing adultery was of great concern to early communities since exclusive sexual access to partners ensured paternity and therefor inheritance and mutual assistance rights. More recently, adultery was one of the first accepted reasons for legal divorce.

In spite of the great consequences of adultery, infidelity has and continues to be extremely common. Luckily, adultery doesn’t have to be a marriage deal-breaker. In fact, according to a recent survey, adultery has dropped from the number one reason for divorce to number two (behind irreconcilable differences), showing that more and more couples are willing to put in the work to remedying past wrongs and preventing future ones. If you and your spouse are committed enough and set precautions to ensure that the slip-up never repeats, your relationship, too, can bounce back even stronger. Prevention is the best medicine, so read carefully over the following warning signs.

What marriages are at risk for adultery?

Lack of sexual gratification inside a relationship can spur an unsatisfied spouse to seek sex outside of the marriage. Yet sexual problems are often not enough on their own to incite an infidelity. Even with desire for a person outside of the marriage, feelings of love, loyalty and intimacy for a spouse keeps many marriages with sexual issues free from affairs. Rather, more infidelities occur when one spouse develops an intimate emotional relationships outside of the marriage with a member of the opposite sex. This emotional attachment can occur with an old fling, longtime crush, or other person with whom one spouse develops a close personal relation, such as a coworker. Opportunities for emotional attachment outside the marriage, coupled with loss of intimacy (sexual and otherwise) inside the marriage, increases the risk of seeking what should be fulfilled inside the marriage outside of it.

Marriages in which one partner has indulged in infidelity in the past, even in a previous relationship, increases the odds of adultery if the older transgressions have not been fully worked through and preventative measures were not established.

Adultery can be emotionally crippling.

At the same time, risk for infidelity is not a sentence. Many marriages with risk factors remain faithful. What pushes a person in a marriage to commit adultery? “Most infidelities are inadvertent,” writes Dr. Susan Heitler. “Most married folks don’t intend to be unfaithful to their partner.  They did, however, turn a naively blind eye to warning signs pointing to danger ahead.” Catching these danger signs and creating steps to avoid them in the future can help you save your marriage.

Warning sign #1: Continuing to talk together, email or work together in private places once sexual feelings appear.

Once you notice you have less-than-platonic feelings for a friend or coworker, do everything you can to avoid intimate interactions with this person. Do not hang out one-on-one or in social situations. Cut off all unnecessary interactions and place this person solidly in the friend or professional-zone. Indulging in interactions once you have acknowledged a sexual attraction, you will only be feeding a fire that can eventually rage out of control.

Warning sign #3: Hiding the fact you are married

In Hollywood movies, the cheating spouse takes off his wedding and outright lies about his marital status to a pretty girl at a bar. In few real-life incidents do people heading down the path of adultery make such an obvious attempt to lie, because few infidelities are planned. Still, be hyper aware in your interactions with members of the opposite sex if you catch yourself subconsciously suppressing this information, reluctant to mention your wife or husband, especially if you already feel attraction. “Failing to mention” your marital status is a huge warning sign.

Warning sign #4:  Enjoying and then craving flirtatious talking

Flirting can be highly enjoyable and exciting. Flirtatious behavior, however, should be reserved for inside your marriage. Sexual attraction triggers the same pleasure zones in our brains as drug highs and can literally be addictive. Continuing to interact in a flirtatious manner with someone feeds this addiction until, as with all additions, the addiction begins controlling you. At this point an emotionally unfaithful relationship is more likely to develop into a sexually unfaithful one. Note your cravings and then see if you can refocus that fun, flirtatious energy into your marriage instead.

What is not necessarily a risk for adultery?

Lack of sexual union with your spouse is not necessarily a precursor to adultery as long as you are both on the same page about the frequency and quality of sexual interaction. Due to misinformation spread by our hyper-sexual culture, you may feel pressured to have high sex drive and frequency of sex. Men are shamed for erectile problems and women are shamed for difficulty climaxing. True, sex is very important and a wonderful part of married life, and difficulties in the bedroom can be both distressing and a sign of health problems. At the same time, if you and your spouse have naturally low libidos, that is perfectly fine. If you both crave cuddling and other physical intimacy over orgasms, no problem! They key is that you both feel satisfied and maintain intimacy in your marriage, whatever your preferences.

Secondly, crushes or feelings of attraction towards others is not necessarily a risk for adultery. It is unrealistic to expect that you will never feel attracted to someone who is not your spouse and it does you no good to agonize over this if no other danger signs of infidelity are present. Please don’t feel guilty about dreams or unbidden images of romantic interactions with another person. These subconscious explorations are completely out of your control, and are often not literal expressions of desires. Dreams tend to be highly metaphorical, and sex can represent other dynamics of intimacy, power, intrusion, or sharing that has nothing to do with the people involved in the dream or even sex itself. You may wish, however, to share particularly disturbing dreams or fantasies, with your therapist or other trusted counselor, especially if they are regular and reoccurring.

If you notice yourself developing a crush on someone that you encounter frequently, this should make you extra alert to any other behavior that might lead you down the road to infidelity. Like anger, these uncomfortable feelings can be beneficial by pointing out underlying problems in your relationship that you can then go in and address. Instead of leading to an affair, they can prompt you to refocus on your marriage and examine what you may see lacking in your relationship or spouse that you could be seeking in another person. As a result, your marriage can avoid the devastation of infidelity and come out even stronger.


Top Ten Tips for Choosing the Perfect Bridesmaids Dresses

Picking a wedding gown can be a challenge. What about the bridesmaids? There’s a long and sordid history of ugly-as-sin bridesmaids dresses, dresses that are terribly unflattering to one or all of your brides maids. This week Nancy Baker, wedding photographer and blogger, adds her wedding expertise to the Power of Two blog and helps you pick out the perfect bridesmaids dresses.

One of the many big decisions that all brides need to make is just how to dress their bridesmaids. At first glance, this can seem like a pretty straightforward task. Unfortunately, however, the reality is that it can be surprisingly complicated. Continue reading Top Ten Tips for Choosing the Perfect Bridesmaids Dresses

Are you compatible? eHarmony Guest Post

This article is a special guest post written for Power of Two by eHarmony Blog’s writing team. Compatibility is an important part of any relationship, whether you’re just dating, considering marriage, or celebrating your 20th anniversary. What is compatibility? Read on.


There are a few key components that make up a healthy, successful relationship – from mutual respect to chemistry. In order to work out if you are compatible with your partner, read on and find out what characterizes a healthy relationship: Continue reading Are you compatible? eHarmony Guest Post

The 6 most insightful marriage questions you can ask yourself

Finding objectivity to a stressful marriage can be difficult. What went wrong? Why do I feel this way? Why can’t we work through this? Should I consider divorce? are all common marriage questions people ask themselves. Yet, sometimes asking the wrong questions can lead to more marriage problems. Here are six marriage questions that can help you gain insight into the state of your marriage. You might also want to take a quick marriage quiz that can help you identify areas you need to work on.

1. Have you already given up on your marriage?

Paul Amato, PhD, professor of sociology, demography, and family studies at Penn State, conducted a 20-year study on 2,000 newlyweds and found that 55 to 60 percent of divorcing couples are leaving marriages that still have real potential. Most of these people say they continue to love their betrothed but are bored with the relationship or feel it hasn’t lived up to their expectations. “It’s important to recognize that many of these marriages would improve over time,” Amato says, “and most of them could be strengthened through marital counseling and enrichment programs.”

Unfortunately, repairing a relationship is much more difficult if either or both spouses have already assumed the marriage is over. Look deep into yourself to see if these marriage questions are true – it may be an unconscious assumption that then contributes to withdrawal from the marriage. Then take heart! The odds of rekindling love and reclaiming a happy marriage are actually in your favor. Ready to try? Let’s go!

2. Do you think that this is the best you can do?

Do you believe that your current marriage is the best you can manage or even that you deserve to have an unhappy marriage? Every person is deserving of love, respect and appreciation. And, no matter your past experiences, it is possible for you to move on and grab hold of the warm, positive and safe marriage that is your right! Consider seeing a counselor, therapist, or other trusted figure to help understand what feelings of inadequacy, guilt, or shame may be holding you back and come up with a game plan for empowerment.

3. Are you expecting your spouse to change?

When facing marriage questions, spouses are likely to look outward for the root of the problem. That is, they can come up with hundreds of little things that other people could do to fix the marriage. “If only my spouse did X everything would be better.” “If only my in-laws weren’t so overbearing and miserable.” The truth is, each person is only in control of his or her actions. No one can make another person change, and furthermore, it is not your job to do so. You can, however, change yourself. In a marriage, all problems are joint affairs, even while more responsibility may lie on one spouse or the other. Recognizing how your behavior contributes to the unhappy marriage is the first and most essential step in doing what you have in your power to fix the problem. Ask yourself, “Other than getting my spouse to change, what can I do about this issue?”

4. How often do you insult or become physically aggressive with each other? Marriage questions

Psychologist Dr. John Gottman found that, rather than frequency of conflict, the number one predictor of divorce among couples was how nasty they were to

marriage questions
Got marriage questions?

each other during fights. The meanest of these conflicts weren’t necessarily the loudest. Rather, these aggressive couples used sarcasm, personal insults and disparaging comments that have no place in a marriage. A marriage should be a safe and supportive place, even in the face of disagreement. If you find yourself calling your spouse names, using insults or sarcasm when you are angry, stop immediately. Power of Two can teach you some tricks for keeping anger levels low and responding to your spouse’s anger in a way that diffuses the situation instead of escalating it.

Any behavior from your spouse that makes you feel unsafe should be a big flashing warning sign. Physical assault, including throwing objects, is unacceptable. Any repeated bodily harm towards you or your children is a sign that you should seek the counsel of a trusted friend or professional immediately. Behavior like this is considered abusive and is likely to worsen with time. Constant insults, emotional manipulation, threats and other behavior that attempts to control you or makes you feel worthless or dependent is also a form of abuse. Call the free and confidential National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) for more information.

5. How do you clean up after upsets?

Dr. Gottman further found that couples who were able to joke about their conflicts even while in the middle of one had more positive marriages and less likelihood of divorcing later on. These couples defused stressful situations using humor, compliments, and other neutral cool-down techniques. Even if you end up in a food-fight after an argument over who does the dishes, as long as you can quickly de-escalate, apologize, and regain positive, loving feelings for each other, you will be in a solid place. From this point, you can learn the skills to avoid angry episodes altogether using emotional climate control.

6. Have any big life events occurred, such as a death, birth, stressful project, or job loss?

Stress, grief, depression, and anxiety from big life events impact both the brain and body in just as real a way as an infection or injury. Yet Americans in particular tend to downplay or downright ignore this impact, instead opting to “get over it” and plow on. If your marriage has taken a sudden turn for the worse, reflect upon any external circumstances that may have impacted you or your spouse’s mental state. Then, take time to support each other in healing from and working through these emotional experiences. A healthy, happy marriage is built upon the foundation of two healthy, happy individuals. Taking care of yourself is far from selfish – it is essential! marriage questions

6. Have you truly tried to improve your relationship?

Couples counseling, marriage education, retreats, therapy and support groups can work wonders for almost any marriage. Have you had a negative or unsuccessful experience with one form of marriage help in the past? Don’t give up! Marriage counseling is not one-size-fits all and while one therapist’s approach may not have worked for you, another’s likely will. One marriage help method that tends to work well for most marriages is called marriage education. Rather than focusing on specific issues or past experiences like traditional talking therapy, this method teaches couples the skills they can use on their own to improve communication, positivity and intimacy.

The Power of Two program has been scientifically proven to be just as effective as the most effective in person marriage education programs. Try it out now with a FREE 3-Day trial.