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Articles from December 2010

December 31, 2010

Why Be Married? For a Lot of Little Things

Just saw this ad from Whitcoulls in New Zealand. It brought a big smile to my face.

I hope it brightens your day, too. Happy New Year!

December 22, 2010

How to Make Christmas Truly Miserable

Here are some ways people make themselves miserable at Christmas time, just in case you would like to avoid them and boost your happiness level:


  • Ask your very busy husband or wife to join you for caroling or Aunt Maggie's Christmas Eve eggnog tasting without mentioning that sharing such events with your mate matters far more to you than a pile of gifts under the tree or help with the gift shopping. We all have different Love Languages, as Gary Chapman explains so well. Don't keep yours a secret.

  • Point out the odd angle of the reindeer when your husband invites you to admire his outdoor decorating. Husbands want to look good in your eyes. Emerson Eggerichs points out they find it much easier to show you their love when they know they have your respect.

  • Stand near the mistletoe silently waiting for a chance to kiss your wife, who's helping your nieces wrap their gifts while baking cookies for the folks at the nursing home (another Love Language mismatch). When she heads back toward the kitchen, ask, "What's the matter with you? Are you blind?! Get back here and do the mistletoe thing, you miserable excuse for a wife!" John Gottman's research shows harsh startups are one of the biggest clues your marriage is on its way down the tubes. The road to divorce is almost never a happy one. Don't go there.

  • Instead of telling your life partner how happy you are that your friends and family all eagerly agreed to the invitation to your place on Christmas Eve, share the news by handing over a to-do list. This way, you can be sure not to receive the active-constructive response that Shelly Gable's research shows to strengthen relationships.

  • Measure how good your Christmas is by how closely it matches the ones you remember fondly from your childhood (or, worse, your first marriage). Don't allow your mate's strengths, your financial circumstances, or your one shared Love Language to shape something new and different that brings the two of you closer together. Tap your foot impatiently until you get what you want and you will be quite unhappy. When you expect something particular, you cannot Expect Love and enjoy the fullness and richness of your marriage.

  • Grumble to your spouse all day Saturday about how too much is made of Christmas in a country of so many religions. Or complain that Christ's birthday has lost all its meaning. "In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003)." Grousing's effects on us are a bit less enticing.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Let me know what you do to make it even more delightful for yourself, whether you observe the holiday or not.

December 16, 2010

Assume Love in Top Ten Marriage Blogs of 2010!

Top Ten Marriage Blogs of 2010Thank you, thank you, all you wonderful Assume Love readers, for voting this blog as one of the Top Ten Marriage Blogs of 2010. What a great honor. You are the best readers a gal could ask for. I will work hard to bring you even better content in 2011.

And a big thank you to Stu Gray, The Marry Blogger, for creating this top ten list to highlight all the wonderful free help available on the internet to married folks and those thinking of getting married. You are never alone in dealing with whatever comes up in your relationship. There is always someone who can help.

December 13, 2010

Falling In and Out of Love

Remember how easy it was to think of ways to be kind or generous to your husband or wife back when you were dating? Remember how you ate that stuff up when he or she did things for you? Remember how you could do something nice without expectations and still be surprised and delighted when something nice happened in return?

What stops you from doing those things and enjoying those benefits today? Perhaps you haven't fallen out of love, only out of the habit.

December 9, 2010

Losing the Baggage

What if you planned a special time with your mate — a meal, a weekend in a cabin, a quiet time after the kids are in bed — and stayed fully present in the moment? What if you acted as if — and spoke as if — nothing at all, good or bad, had ever happened between you and all of your current problems were completely under control?

What if you ignored your husband's or wife's anxieties about the future or baggage from the past and paid attention only to the sound of your life partner's voice, the solidity or lightness of this other body near yours, the feel of your hands touching, the unplanned synchronizing of your breaths, the pleasure of eating or stoking the fire or playing Scrabble together?

Could you keep your own baggage, your fear of abandonment or being controlled or hurt, your worries about scarcity or your need to defy it, in some other room for this special time?

What if you did this once a month or once a week?

December 6, 2010

Three Perfect Gifts for Your Husband

Everyone says men are so hard to choose gifts for, so I thought I would offer some assistance. These three gifts will suit him perfectly.

One that helps him do more of what he does best, whether it's paint, make music, lead a team, learn something new, or be kind to animals.

One that speaks his love language, whether it's tickets for the two of you to an activity he loves, an act of service that makes his life easier, a night of great sex, a poem expressing your respect for who he is, or a beautifully wrapped reminder of how special he is.

And one that reminds him of a special moment in your marriage and lets him know how much it meant to you to share it.

Hey, those wouldn't be so bad for a wife, either. What would your perfects gifts be?

December 4, 2010

When You Can't Say Yes to Your Husband or Wife

Sometimes, what your mate proposes just doesn't work for you. It seems too risky or scary or it asks too much of you. You can't say yes.

Ron wants his wife Ronee to see the Grand Canyon with him. He thinks they should fly out there this summer. She would love to see it, but she's terrified of flying. She says not this year. She wants to make Ron happy, and it makes her feel lousy to say no.

Nan wants her wife, Lynn to pay all the bills. Lynn thinks it's a really bad idea for one spouse to handle all the finances, because she knows all too well that emergencies happen. So she won't agree with Nan on this one, even though she adores Nan and wants her to be happy.

Jen wants a new sofa. Zach wants to hang onto the money, because their SUV is wearing out. Zach kicks himself for not making enough money to be able to buy Jen the sofa she wants. He knows how much the appearance of the living room means to her, and it kills him to tell her he's just too uncomfortable with the risk.

Been there? You just know you must say no, but at the same time you wish you could give your mate a big, enthusiastic yes and put a bow on it to boot? It turns out you don't have to say no. Try this:

"I want you to have that. However, I can't do what you're asking of me. Help me figure out how else to make sure you get what you want."

Is this possible? It most definitely is.

Ron and Ronee needed to do a lot to make it happen, but they both took off enough time from work to drive to the Grand Canyon.

Nan and Lynn decided to alternate paying the bills every 6 months, and they traded vegetables from their garden for assistance from a local MBA student when it was Nan's turn.

After talking about it, Jen admitted she wanted a better sofa now for a party they were planning. However, they would not be home much for a few months after that, so she and Zach rented a gorgeous sofa for the party. It was a display piece at a local furniture store feeling the pinch of the recession. They were happy to deliver it and pick it up a week later for a small price.

When we're asked for something we just don't feel we can do or give, it's an awful feeling, a my needs versus my spouse's needs emotional tug-of-war. Saying no feels awful. Playing the martyr or being the doormat feels awful. But saying "I want you to have that" feels terrific.

If you have found a way to say yes to your husband or wife without compromising your own values or needs, please share it with us with a comment.

December 3, 2010

45 Marvelous Marriage Blogs and a Chance to Vote

Best Marriage Blog NomineeAssume Love is one of 45 finalists for the Marry Blogger Top 10 Marriage Blogs of 2010 list. Voting continues through December 14th.

While I hope your vote will go to Assume Love (#37 on the list), you may want to check out the rest of the finalists, too. Some of my other favorites include:

Project Happily Ever After, the story of Alisa Bowman, who was almost out the door when she found her way back and discovered what it takes to enjoy being married

Better Husbands and Fathers, with lots of tips from Eric for date nights and learning to be a great dad

The Power of Two, a wonderful accompaniment to Dr. Susan Heitler's great book on communication in marriage

And, of course, The Marry Blogger, Stu Gray's blog on how to have a stupendous marriage, which is not on the list because it's his list

My thanks to Stu for rounding up so many great blogs about marriage and to you for voting for Assume Love by December 14th, if you will be so kind.

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

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