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Articles from July 2006

July 23, 2006

Why Be Married? For the Lows and the Highs

A friend's mother died last week. An only child, he would have been alone in sitting with her as she slipped away and in dealing with her death. But he wasn't. He's married to a wonderful woman who provided help and love during all of it. Being married softens the blow of our low points.

It also enhances our high points. Last week, my husband, Ed, celebrated his birthday by taking his first flying lesson. He's wanted to fly for 40 years or more. He'd crossed many obstacles to reach this starting point. I went along. Shot 75 pictures to capture every bit of it. Watched him learn to do the pre-flight check. Stood there with tears in my eyes as he started up the plane lights and then the propeller and began down the taxiway. Cheered as the wheels left the ground.

My eyes welled up again as he hopped out of the plane and posed by it, all grins, for my final snapshot. When I proposed a celebration at a local restaurant, he agreed in an instant. We smiled at each other through the last bit of dessert. Then we relived the experience with the photos. It had been an unforgettable high point for both of us.

July 17, 2006

Round Up the Usual Suspects

If your wife treats you like part of the furniture or can't stop telling you how to earn more money, if your husband drives you nuts with his insensitive comments or misplaced laundry, it's time to round up the usual suspects.

The first ones that come to mind may sound like these:

  • She may love me, but she doesn't like me.

  • I thought he was a kind and caring man, but I was wrong. He's a self-centered jerk.

  • All she wants me for is my money.

  • All he cares about is how I make him look.
People don't change as much with time as these thoughts assume. The positive qualities that led you to choose your spouse remain. If anything, they've increased. And it's highly likely that your mate still wants to love you, to feel love toward you and to do the things that will make you feel loved. Other things get in the way.

So round up the other usual suspects, the ones that fit the assumption that your mate still loves you and still possesses all of those sterling qualities. See if any of them fit.

  • He or she doesn't know you'd like to be interrupted, don't want advice, don't like this type of comment, think laundry belongs elsewhere, etc.

  • Your mate wants you to notice his or her pain, so does something known to get your attention or something that others in his or her life would recognize as a distress signal. This person you love may be feeling disrespected, trapped, frightened, mistreated, or in need of attention.

  • He or she knows what you want but strongly disagrees and cannot behave that way and wants to avoid your typical response to attempts to discuss the issue.

  • This person who loves you doesn't notice what's happening, because he or she is focused on doing something else for you or another family member right now.

  • He or she feels too frightened or worried to deal with your wishes right now. Something's happening at work or with a family member or inside your mate's head. It needs all of his or her attention at this moment.
These explanations cover a very large portion of all of the odd and annoying things our spouses do. When you figure out which one's likely, you have a powerful tool to strengthen your marriage.
  • Doesn't know - Tell your spouse what you'd prefer. Speak with love to someone who loves you and wants you to have all that you want in this world.

  • Wants you to notice his or her pain - Review the last day or two. What's needed here? An apology? An ego boost? A hug? Some help with an overwhelming task?

  • Knows what you want but strongly disagrees - Offer to seek the Third Alternative, a solution that meets both of your requirements.

  • Doesn't notice what's happening - Acknowledge the higher priority. Decide whether you can accept the upsetting behavior in support of that priority. If not, commend the effort for the higher priority and ask for what you want.

  • Feels too frightened or worried - Accept the pain of whatever upset you as a way of sharing the load with your partner. After the crisis ends, discuss what you want in the future.
Of course, if none of the usual suspects fit, you'll need to think a bit harder for an explanation, maybe even ask friends to help.

July 4, 2006

Smart Marriages Conference

Wow! I spent a week in Atlanta at the 2006 Smart Marriages Conference in June. It was my first one, but the 10th anniversary of this truly remarkable gathering. Organizer Diane Sollee brought together 2,263 people who share the goal of better marriages.

At the conference, I learned from John Gray (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus), Scott Stanley and Howard Markman (Fighting for Your Marriage), John Van Epp (How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk), John Covey (Director of the Home and Family Division at FranklinCovey Company), Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt (Getting the Love You Want, Imago Therapy), Steven Stosny (You Don't Have to Take It Anymore!), Emerson Eggerichs (Love & Respect), Pat Love (Hot Monogamy), and many, many more. What a delight! If you want to be happily married, you live in the best possible times.

I learned lots about the U.S. government's Healthy Marriage Initiative and met the people responsible for more than $100 million in soon-to-be-awarded grants for promoting healthy marriages. I heard a great deal about grassroots efforts throughout California to promote stronger marriages there. And I talked to many from around the country who hope to follow in their footsteps.

It will be a month or more before I finish all of the books, brochures, pamphlets, CDs, and games I picked up at the conference. Next year's conference will be in Denver, CO. Mark your caledars for June 28 - July 1, 2007 if you'd like to learn how to improve your own marriage, teach research-based marriage skills to others, or just be inspired.

The Author

Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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