Category Archives for "Preventing divorce"

Love Story Corrected After 44 Years – Love DOES Mean Having to Say You’re Sorry

Love Story - Love DOES Mean Having to Say You're Sorry

After the recent post referencing Tom Cruise’s famous movie line “You complete me,” I heard from many of you who thought there was another Hollywood line that should be on the “Relationship Drivel” list: Love means never having to say your sorry.

I agree – but I’m not the only one who does. Even the stars of the 1970 movie Love Story think it’s ‘a crock’ – it’s a wonder Ali McGraw could keep a straight face while uttering those silly words to a youthful Ryan O’Neal.

Even if you’re not old enough to remember the movie, you’ve probably heard the much-quoted line and recognized the fallacy of this adage. Not only does love mean sometimes having to say you’re sorry, actually apologizing when you’ve wronged your spouse is mandatory in marriage. At least for those who want to stay married.

An apology – if sincere – can be beneficial to marriage. Here’s how:

  • It can stop an argument before it starts
  • It can stop an argument in progress before it gets to the point where permanent damage is done
  • It can validate and lift up the spouse who was right
  • Each time you make yourself give a deserved apology, it makes it easier to do so the next time one is needed
  • Dislike of having to apologize may lead to avoiding the behavior that  creates the obligation to do so

It’s nice to know that after 44 years, we’re finally all on the same page: Real love means sometimes having to say you’re sorry.



5 More Simple Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Marriage StrongLadies’ Home Journal Magazine was onto something when they touted the importance of “The Little Meaningful Things Happily Married Couples Do.” Admittedly, as soon as I got the magazine I raced past what other couples were doing and checked to see if Steve and I were in the mix. But after I happily scoped out our 2″x3″ patch of magazine real estate and realized the focus was on the very simple things that couples did for each other, I read the whole article to see what other happy spouses were up to.

Here are 5 gems from some of the long-marrieds of the group who shared the simple acts that contributed to keeping their marriage strong:

Simple Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong“Whenever I need to run into town to get something, Julie grabs her shoes and comes with me. Just the fact that she’s always up for keeping me company is great.” John Skirvin, Cedar City, UT, 24 years.

Simple Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong“I have no sense of direction. When I know I have to go somewhere new, he often drives me there the day before so I can find it.” Susan Cooper, Albuquerque, NM, 50 years.

Simple Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong“When he gives me a birthday or anniversary card, he always takes time to pick just the right one. Then he adds a short poem of his own inside the card.” Silvana Clark, Seattle, WA, 38 years.

Simple Things to Keep Your Marriage Strong“I really like that she’ll just sit in the living room with me – even if she’s doing something else – while I watch sports on TV.” Lawrence Dumler, Westminster, CO, 31 years.

Simple Ways to Keep Your Marriage StrongFrom her: “My favorite meal is salmon, mashed garlic potatoes and a salad with blue-chees dressing. Every year he cooks and serves it to me while I watch the Academy Awards.” And from him: “She buys me snacks for the Super Bowl and makes sure no one interrupts me while I watch it.” Nancy and Thomas Clift, Napa, CA, 57 years.


Simple Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong“When he used to go out of town, he would always hide little notes around the house for me to find.” Dottie Vifquain, Lincoln, NE, married a SPECTACULAR 71 years!





Marriage, Ladies’ Home Journal, and the Simple Things That Matter

Marriage and the Simple Things That MatterIn January, Ladies’ Home Journal Magazine (LHJ) asked what little things “you and your spouse do for each other” that make the marriage special. My husband and I had fun putting together our list to send in, reminding each other of little things the other had done that made us smile.

When we heard back from LHJ, weeks later, notifying us that we had made an initial cut and were being considered to be included in their article, I was pretty sure I knew why. I figured they must have been as impressed as I was that Steve had once used fertilizer to spell out ‘I love you’ in the yard so that his message would ‘green up’ in the spring. Or it could have been his “I [heart] you” drizzled in icing on a toaster strudel that had them following up with us. Maybe even that my wifely dedication was so strong that I made Steve his favorite oatmeal raisin cookies in spite of the fact that raisins are disgusting.

I found out just how wrong I was months later when LHJ contacted us for photos, thus confirming we would be in the article. What got included in our blurb, as well as gestures attributed to the other happily married couples quoted in the article, were plain vanilla kindness. The little, seemingly insignificant acts that let our mates know they’re special – whether married two years, 70 years, or anything in between.

If you get a chance, check out the article. You won’t be bowled over by showy romantic gestures that wowed a spouse. But you will be able to relate to these married couples. You may read some clips and realize you do those little things that add up to longevity. You may see simple acts that you can incorporate into your own relationship. You may be inspired to come up with additional acts of kindness to honor your own spouse.

While I was initially delighted that our ‘grand acts’ of love toward each other would be celebrated, my review of what was actually included in our little corner of page 26 was a wonderful reminder. It’s not the occasional grand act that sustains us in marriage (although those can be very nice) but the little acts of kindness and love we demonstrate toward each other in our daily lives that accumulate to propel us toward an enjoyable longevity.

Marriage, Ladies' Home Journal, and the Little Things That MatterMarriage, Ladies' Home Journal, and the Little Things That Matter


Marriage – 73 Years of Wisdom

Marriage - 73 Years of WisdomBarbara “Cutie” Cooper knows a little something about marriage – as well she should after being married for 73 years! With the help of her granddaughters,  she tells her story in Fall in Love for Life – Inspiration from a 73-Year Marriage. And what a fun story it is!

Full of humor, wisdom, tips for practical living and (what was at one time) common Marriage - 73 Years of Wisdomsense, this book makes a great gift for weddings, anniversaries, and sweetheart holidays.

Each chapter ends with a section called “Cutie’s Counsel” – succinct, and surprisingly timeless advice, that can be appreciated by everyone from somebody just starting to date to long-time married couples. If you like hanging out with someone who ‘calls it like they see it,’ grab a cup of coffee and spend an afternoon with Cutie Cooper.

Here’s a few of her nuggets of wisdom:


On Dating:

Marriage - 73 Years of Wisdom

On Marriage:

Marriage - 75 Years of Wisdom


On Making it Work:

Marriage - 73 Years of Wisdom

Check out Friday’s Five for more Nuggets of Wisdom!


Dear Brides-and-Grooms-To-Be: Just Because You Said ‘Yes’ Doesn’t Mean You Have to Say “I Do”

Brides and Grooms to be: Just Because You Said 'Yes' Doesn't Mean You Have to Say "I Do"Many a happy bride and groom to-be are counting down to their June wedding. But there are some that, as the date approaches, wonder if they’re doing the right thing. Some that have grave misgivings. You may be saying: “but the flowers have been ordered, the invitations sent, and gifts have arrived – so I can’t back out now.” But maybe you should.

How do you tell the difference between wedding jitters and that internal niggling that you should not go through with the wedding? Can you pinpoint specific concerns about the person or behavior of your soon-to-be spouse?

Scenario: She has shared with you that her last boyfriend cheated on her and she has trust issues. She has accused you a few times of being interested in someone else while seeing her. You aren’t and you have assured her several times that you only have eyes for her. Yet you find her snooping through the text messages on your phone – again. Do you think a marriage license will make her trust issues  disappear?

Scenario: He’s gotten a little pushy with you a few times in the past – but only after he’s been drinking. He apologized afterwards and there hasn’t been such an episode in months. You see him having a drink. You immediately tense up and think to yourself: I hope he doesn’t overdo it. Your concerns are not wedding jitters.

Concerns about any of the following are more than ‘wedding jitters’ and should not be ignored:

  • Once-flattering possessiveness that seems a little heavy-handed
  • A dependency on you to frequently bolster his/her self-esteem
  • Frequent overdoing of, or addiction to, drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, or other vices
  • Increasing arguments as the wedding date gets closer or about wedding issues that start with “You always . . ” or “You never . . . ” which expose hidden resentments

Emotionally unhealthy people cannot create a healthy marriage.

Fill in the blank in this statement: When I’m with my mate, I get very concerned and hold my breath whenever ___________________.

If you were able to fill in that blank, you have some thinking to do. The quicker the answer came to you, the stronger the indication that you should be questioning the wisdom of getting married at this point. If your love could not change the behavior you are concerned about, marriage won’t either.

Too many of us ignore the red flags that wave boldly – warning us against marrying this person at this time – as the wedding nears. Embarrassment tied to cancelling so close to the event (what will people think?) or concern about angering loved ones who have spent money for the wedding (or have their own expectations) clog our thinking. Such fleeting emotions should not have more weight than doing what is best for your entire future.

Cancelling a wedding that is days away and dealing with the repercussions from doing so is hard. But not nearly as hard as living with the long-term repercussions of marrying someone that you should not have married.



Getting Personal

Two things very important to me (that I love talking about) are keeping marriage fresh and writing. Before I talk to you briefly about my writing, first up is a casual interview Stephanie Clinton did with me for her vlog at Hugs, Kisses and Friends Chat Show about how not to get divorced. (If you hurry up and turn it on, I’ll stop squinting at you with that weird look on my face!)


Now about the writing. Last week I was asked to participate in a “blog hop” by Dr. Lisa Marotta, (The Feelings Doctor) a renowned psychologist who works extensively with children. She also happens to be a writing buddy! She sent me four questions regarding the writing process and encouraged me to “tag” another blogger for you to visit next week who will answer the same four questions.  Here we go:

What are you working on?

Two things. A non-fiction project that came about as a result of the blog. It’s still in formation and I can’t talk much more about it at this point. And historical fiction – something I swore I’d never do because (to me) it’s such a daunting process. But the story is demanding to be written. And who am I to argue with my inner story? It takes place in the early 1900s in New England and involves Portuguese immigrants, textile mills, labor unions, murder, and empowerment. The research is overwhelming at times, but I’m learning a lot on the way.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

The fiction work will hopefully stand out because of the unique combination of content as well the distinct voice in my writing style. The non-fiction differs because of the source. Most writing on marital issues is coming from a religious perspective or a psychological perspective –  both offer a plethora of good, helpful information. My perspective comes from a couple of decades of seeing first-hand why people are getting divorced, what happens to them during the process, and how it affects the children. I have seen first-hand the commonalities in the process regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, and religious persuasion. My message of doing things differently in an attempt to get different results is based on addressing those commonalities.

Why do you write what you do?

I’m rather obsessed with the notion that many people who care deeply about each other get divorced because it’s less painful than staying together – my mission is to offer ideas for plugging into each other before it gets to that point. Much of what I write is basically reminders to use common sense – to go back to things that worked in the relationship. Kind of like having to stop and think a second about how to tie a shoe after years of wearing slip-ons and having velcro fasteners. I’m always on the lookout for good ideas and ways for couples to connect and reconnect with each other.

How does your writing process work? 

I’m not sure it can actually be called a ‘process.’ I generally write late at night because that’s an open timeslot – and it beats laying in bed thinking about an idea and turning on the light every 10 minutes to jot it down so I won’t forget it by morning! In spite of the fact that I try to keep a notebook with me, I have scraps everywhere of ideas that have cropped up – envelopes, magazine margins, restaurant napkins, gum wrappers. I try to herd all the scraps into files, but I’m quite sure many a brilliant idea has been tossed in the trash with the magazine or newspaper it was written on! I keep meaning to get a tape recorder so I can end the frantic searches for something to write on.

The next stop on our Blog Hop is the author of Beyond the Farthest Star and another esteemed member of my critique group, Dee Dee Chumley. Please visit her next Monday to see her writing process as well as more of her humorous posts. Or, as she would say: “Gems and Gimcracks . . . for young women of all ages!”


Keeping Secrets

Keeping SecretsI was keeping a secret from my husband, Steve, and it was starting to wear on me. Having to watch what I said, not meeting the eyes of another who was alluding to it in front of him. And it wasn’t even my secret. But I had agreed to keep it.

As constrained and burdened as I felt, I knew this was a good secret. One that, when revealed, would make Steve very happy. Rebekah Alexander, dear family friend and graduating art student, had done a magnificent charcoal sketch of Steve’s recently deceased father and was exhibiting it at her senior show before gifting it to Steve.

Seeing Steve’s face when he spotted the work of art was priceless. He was – literally – moved beyond words. And I was relieved to be out from under the veil of secrecy. Able to talk about his father without fear of slipping up and ruining his surprise.

It made me think about the weight of keeping secrets from our spouses. If I felt this burdened with a guilt-free secret, how could I endure living with a negative one?

Sometimes life, liberty, or freedom depends on keeping a secret. But for most of us, it’s guilt, shame or some other debilitating emotion that controls. If a toxic secret you are keeping from your spouse is eating away at you, consider sharing it in a way that won’t burden another. (In other words don’t dump it on somebody and swear them to secrecy. )

Is it something that, weighing the soul-stifling burden of keeping it versus the consequences of coming clean, you would be better off coming out with? If it doesn’t seem like it at first, is it something you could talk to a counselor about to find a way to deal with it and share it with your spouse? What about a pastor or priest?

Keeping secrets from our spouses can lead to a slow erosion of mutual trust and damage our marriages irreparably. Unless we’re protecting life, limb or liberty it’s not worth it.

WAYNE HARRINGTON by Rebekah Alexander

WAYNE HARRINGTON by Rebekah Alexander

Steve and Rebekah with portrait - this gives some size perspective

Steve and Rebekah with portrait – this gives some size perspective

If you’re looking for an up-and-coming artist to commission while you can still afford her, call Rebekah Alexander at 405.602.9827.

Portrait by Rebekah Alexander

Portrait by Rebekah Alexander



Pursuing Your Spouse – Again

Pursue Your Spouse - Again!Remember the passion that came with dating? How you exerted great effort to impress your mate? How wonderful you felt when what you did caused this special person to smile?

If your relationship is feeling a bit flat – or before it does – mentally review your past. Then vow to recreate it – on a regular basis.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself about your dating days to jog your memory – and reignite that crackling spark that results from making your now-spouse feel special.

  • What did I do that made him laugh?
  • What special food did we celebrate with?
  • What secrets did we share as we got to know each other?
  • What was I wearing when she said: “I love you in that!”?
  • What was the first gift I gave him or received from him?
  • What was the schmaltziest date we ever had – and do we need a do-over?
  • How did I respond when she called unexpectedly?
  • What cartoon or comic did he relate to or did we giggle over?
  • What level of excitement did I allow her to see on my face when I saw her come toward me?
  • What activity did we enjoy that we haven’t done since we dated?
  • What song did we dance to, sing to, or groan about when it came on?

Answering these questions will give you wonderful ideas for finding ways to let your spouse know how special you still think he or she is.




10 New Year’s Resolutions for Couples (without using the word ‘weight’)

New Year's Resolutions for CouplesNo matter how many challenges you are looking at or how many you conquered in the past year, 2014 is going to be a good year. It is a decision we can make right now. We can’t control everything in our lives, but we can control our choices. Let’s choose a fun way to improve our lives and our marriages by working with our mates to make this one of our best years ever! Here are 10 New Year’s Resolutions for you and your spouse to take on together – and none of them include the word “weight”!

1. Thank your mate daily. If a server at a restaurant fills our coffee, we probably automatically say “thank you.” But do we do the same at home? It’s so easy to forget to express appreciation for what is routine. If you get through the day and there hasn’t been a single incident – a door held open, a scoot over on the couch to make room for you, a kind word said – for you to say ‘thank you’ for, get creative. “Thanks for your great smile.” You keep this up and you will find yourself going through the day looking for something to express appreciation about.

2. Make each greeting a positive one. Trade in the morning grunt for a smile and ‘good morning.’ Avoid walking in the door from work and immediately announcing what a crappy day you had or letting your mate know they forgot to bring the trash can up from the curb. If those things need to be said at all, they can certainly wait until you’ve given your mate a hug, a smile and a kind word.

3. Have a technology free dinner at least once a week. Maybe tech-free Tuesday? A night where you sit down with each other and food and talk during your meal. No TV, no phone (as in off so that you’re not distracted by the all-important ‘you’ve got mail’ ping), no computer, nothing with earbuds. The one exception might be something that plays soft, mood-enhancing music in the background.

4. Do something new together once a month. Whether it’s taking a one-time class on something of interest, going to a restaurant you haven’t tried before, or something more dramatic, change things up a bit. A couple who tries new things together is a couple that has new things to talk about with each other.

5. Take the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge. Whether it’s your first time taking the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge (click here to check it out), or it went so well last year that you want to make it an annual event, it’s a great way stay focused on what is positive and good about each other.

6. Make new friends with an established  couple. If you are fortunate enough to have some wonderful friends, it gets easy to stay in our comfort zone and not continue to grow. And many of us don’t even have couple friends that we can just hang out with. With all the dating sites, it’s probably easier to find true love than another couple that you’re compatible with. But once you find a good fit, the rewards are worth the effort. (I’ll have an upcoming post with suggestions to help you accomplish this goal.)

7. Add one new healthy habit to your routine. This is not about the ‘w’ word – it’s about doing something good for yourselves. Something you’ve probably talked about doing for eons. Well, now make it a plan. Meatless Mondays? Try a new vegetable each month? Fish on Friday? Habits are only behaviors that we have done so often they become routine.

8. Surprise your mate at least once a month. We’re not talking elaborate, expensive surprises. Just fun little actions that say “You’re Special” in a new way. Click here for 5 suggestions (each one free!) to get you started.

9. Compliment your mate at least once a week. This is different than saying ‘thank you.’ This is a recognition of something personal about them. An aspect of their appearance, their sense of style, the efforts they expend, the positive aspects of their nature are all rich opportunities for praise. Make sure it’s not a backhanded compliment – as in “you have great hair – which would look even better if . . . ”

10. Kiss more. I don’t mean increase the number of obligatory pecks we exchange coming and going. I’m talking about the more expansive I-really-love you kisses. If I were a doctor I could speak to all the health benefits I’ve read about that result from kissing our spouses more often. But since I’m not, I’ll just tell you that it feels really good and has been known to produce surprised smiles, wobbly knees, and other fun stuff!



Image credit


7 Behaviors Couples Should Avoid

Married emoticons engaged in discordant behavior

We’ve all encountered that couple – the one that makes everyone uncomfortable with the way they interact with each other in public. Something they do has us looking away or pretending not to hear. They are the couple least likely to be invited back. Don’t be that couple. Avoid these seven behaviors – so others don’t avoid you!

1. Frequent bickering with each other. We’re not talking disagreeing, we’re talking disagreeable. Several rounds of back and forth on a topic that others aren’t participating in. With a serious intent to get in the last word. If you’re thinking: “Oh, that’s just how we roll with each other – our little language dance,” do us all a favor and sit out a few numbers.

2. Jokes at the other’s expense. This includes things like cracks about their physical features, abilities, and personal history. Even if it’s very funny. Chances are the person laughing at your great wit is not the one going home with you.

3. Shielded barbs. You know – that little dig you execute for the sole purpose of making a point to your mate. “Oh Chris, your lawn always looks so nice. That’s something I sure wouldn’t mind getting used to.” Ouch. We’re not thinking about poor you with the less-than lawn; we’re thinking about your poor spouse with the less-than mate.

4. Putting the other in their place. This is one step up from the barb. A conversation-ending-why-you’re-right-and-your-spouse-is-just-plain-wrong. Usually delivered in a condescending or arrogant tone. This is where we look away so that we don’t have to witness the cringe of your spouse’s embarrassment.

5. Unnecessary contradiction. During spouse’s story about falling in front of the red door, you interrupt to point out the door was green. Well, that was helpful. Spouse carried on with the story, getting to the part where the tall man with the big glasses yanked open the door. You clarify that the glasses were actually goggles. Leaving your annoyed audience with a mental “So what?” If the correction isn’t significant or necessary to the point being made, squelch it.

6. Jumping in with the punchline. Whether it’s because you’re looking forward to the audience reaction or you just think your spouse is taking too long to tell the story, let them finish it themself. If they’ve done the setup, don’t steal the payoff.

7. Excessive displays of affection. This includes such save-for-your-own-home intimate gestures as pats on the tush, kisses that last longer than two seconds, languorous arm stroking, sitting on the other’s lap, and gazing soulfully into each other’s eyes as if you are the only two present in your special world. If you have been told kiddingly to “get a room” more than once or by more than one person, it’s probably safe to assume they’re not really kidding. And by “a room,” they mean one they are not in.

Any other cringe-worthy behaviors couples should avoid in public? Add to the list in the comment section below.