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Articles from June 2009

June 20, 2009

How Not to Kill Your Partner in Tough Times

Any stressful event, like moving, a child's illness, or a visit from relatives you don't both adore, provides plenty of opportunities for getting angry at your mate or sulking in resentment.

"Where are my keys?" you roar. Your partner sits in silence, unmoved. You expected help finding them. You're late, and you're under incredible stress, and a little help would be appreciated...

You assume love. It's a stretch. This feels like betrayal. "OK, what if this silence is the chosen behavior of a kind and generous partner of enormously high integrity who loves me deeply? How would I explain it?"

So, why does anyone choose silence when they feel love and are being asked for help? Could be because they don't realize the question is aimed at them. Not the case here, though. It's just the two of you.

Could be because they think the question is rhetorical. Might be worth checking to see if you're looking directly at your keys as you ask the question. No, they're not here.

Could be silence is the most loving of the options available under the circumstances. Is there some reason your spouse might be under so much stress that the choices are between saying something mean and saying nothing at all? Oh, yes, that's a pained, stressed-out expression. It's not that you're being offered no help. You're being spared from dealing with expressions of outrage from a mate whose stress level is over the top.

You know what's causing all this stress. It's affecting you, too. But why would asking about the keys add to it? Being helpful to a loved one is, after all, calming.

You could use some calming yourself, so you try being helpful: "Did I leave them somewhere I shouldn't have?"

"You did! You left them on the sink again. I know you know that's where I clean my contact lenses, and I really need to keep it sanitary, and I can't use the guest bathroom this week when I don't feel like cleaning up after you, and it's really, really important I avoid getting any infections right now!"

"That was thoughtless of me. But it wasn't intentional. It's a rough week, isn't it?"

"Your keys are on the dresser. Want me to drive you, so you won't have to take time to find a parking space?"

Ahh. Much better.

June 19, 2009

Orlando Marriage Booster

Saturday, July 11, 2009 will be a great day for Orlando-area husbands, wives, and single people who hope to marry or remarry. This year's Smart Marriages® Conference will be in town, and its 17 Saturday seminars are open to the public.

The price for any of these 90-minute sessions is just $15. This also includes admission to all the SmartMarriages exhibits, where you might run into some of the big-name marriage authors attending the conference: John Gray, Gary Chapman. Michele Weiner-Davis, Harville Hendrix, Howard Markman, Steven Stosny, Pat Love, and many more.

The seminars all start at 4 pm, so you've got time to see SeaWorld or Universal Studios first or to finish your Saturday chores.

The 90-minute Saturday seminars are taught by Scott Haltzman (author of Secrets of Happily Married Men and Secrets of Happily Married Women), John VanEpp (author of How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk), and Helen LaKelly Hunt (author of Receiving Love), for starters. If you choose The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Families, you can bring your 9-18 year old kids for free.

Some of the other seminars include Hot Latin Lovers: Latino Marriage, 10 Great Dates for Black Couples , Money Habitudes: The Last Taboo, and Marital Sex As it Ought to Be.

All the rest of the conference, including talks and workshops by all those big names, is open to the public, too. So visit this page to learn about the $15 seminars, then check out all the rest of this week-long event at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando.

June 18, 2009

Love Blindness

Remember falling in love? Remember how love blinded you to little things like the food wrappers and empty water bottles in his car or her need to stop at every rest area you passed? Remember noticing instead how hard he worked to raise money for that dog shelter or how she made your cranky old grandfather laugh so unselfconsciously and feeling blown away that this terrific person would choose you?

Love goes right on blinding us. Eventually, her playfulness and great sense of humor get noticed only when she takes them a step too far and makes your boss uncomfortable. His generosity gets noticed only when he loans money to a friend you know will never pay it back.

If you could actually see those great qualities as they get played out month after month and year after year in a million different ways, you would regain some of the awe and desire you felt back then. And you might be blinded to other things, like how often you're eating that same, unexciting potato salad with dinner or looking at sweaty workout clothes lying on top of the hamper.

You two have got a lot of living still ahead of you. How can you prepare to remember the really great stuff and feel so great again? Stories! If you write them, you can read them later. Read them often enough, and you'll be able to tell them from memory. You will have them at the tip of your tongue when you assume love and look for other versions of the distressing story of the moment.

Share these stories with your kids, and you'll give them valuable lessons in how to love, as well as strong confirmation of what great people they are descended from. There's a good chance they will share them with their own kids or grandkids, too, if you make it easy for them.

I'm no expert on writing these family stories in a way that makes them fun to read and share, but I know someone who is. Personal history author Beth LaMie offers free teleclasses on documenting family stories. Put your name on her mailing list; she announces at least two new classes every month, even when she fails to list them on the website.

Beth also has a terrific new book on how to write your stories. She will help you use all five senses to recognize stories worth writing and show you how to make them interesting to read again and again. As a bonus, if you have kids, you will find many tips to engage them in writing your family's stories, too.

Beth will have you reliving the surge of love that brought you two together and creating the legacy that will get you through some big challenges down the road. Think of it as marriage insurance.

The Author

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

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