Common Mistake Couples Make When Fighting

On December 17, 2014, in Resolving Conflict, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

It’s one of the oldest adages in the book - one you’ve probably heard time and time again from magazines, relatives, TV shows – you name it. It’s been a common saying for such a long time, it’s practically the first thing on people’s minds when they hear the phrase “marriage advice.”

The saying goes: “Don’t go to bed angry.”

…And it couldn’t be a worse piece of advice.

The reasoning behind it goes something like this: if you go to bed without resolving your disputes, you’ll never get back around to talking about them. You’ll bury the anger and frustration, only to have it blow up later in much larger problems. The story goes, if you don’t address the issue in the moment, you’re likely not to address it all.

Couples make this mistake most often when fighting.

Couples make this mistake most often when fighting.

Well, that simply isn’t true.

Think about it – if you’re in the thick of an argument, tempers are running high, you’re feeling tense and angry, and just maybe you’ll let your emotions get the best of you and say hurtful things you don’t really mean.

What about late at night? You’re both exhausted and cranky, arguing when you don’t need to be, and only getting more and more irritable the later you stay up. Or you may even be so sleepy that you’re not able to devote your full attention to the matter at hand!

In these scenarios (and many others), avoiding “going to bed angry” isn’t going to make things any better in the moment – instead, you’ll just stay up later, get more irritated, and potentially create a much worse argument.

Now think about the alternative: you’re in the middle of an argument, you’re exhausted and stressed, and you make a decision with your spouse to let it go for the evening – and pick up the discussion in the morning when you’ve both had some rest.

In this scenario, you’ve had a chance to “sleep on” the issue. You might see the initial problem as less of a big deal, you may have come up with solutions, and if nothing else, you’ve had a chance to calm down. With a little bit of time gone by, you can approach the problem with a clearer head. What was an argument can now be a civil discussion.

Even the passage of one day to the next is enough to help some people reflect on their behavior and realize how wrong or out of line they may have been. A little bit of breathing room goes a long way.

So, the next time that misguided piece of advice comes up in conversation – or the next time you feel like you have to stay up to “finish” an argument because of it – just let it go for the night and give it a fresh start the next day. This approach will be far more productive and far less stressful.

Now, one last thing: you do have to come back to the argument though. That’s the one part of “don’t go to bed angry” that is true – if you just bury the problems and don’t ever take the time to address them, they will come back and bite you later.

It’s just fine to go to bed angry, as long as you’re willing to get up and address the problem soon after. It isn’t going to bed that’s the problem; it’s letting issues go unresolved.

As long as you’re focused on building solutions and resolving conflict – going to bed angry isn’t going to pose a major threat to your marriage. The old wisdom just doesn’t add up.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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How Does Julia Louis-Dreyfus Stay Happily Married?

On December 15, 2014, in Keeping The Love Alive, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

Every once in a while, there’s a Hollywood couple that totally defies the stereotypes and expectations, and becomes a great example for how wonderful marriages can be!

One such couple is Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall, who have been happily married for 27 years!

The couple met in college at Northwestern University, where Julia was the only female member of an improv troupe Hall was running. In 1982, they were both hired by Saturday Night Live, and their combined work/love life continued to draw them closer and closer together. They were married in 1987.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus transcends the norm with the longevity of her Hollywood marriage.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus transcends the norm with the longevity of her Hollywood marriage.

With two kids (both grown now) and busy Hollywood careers, people often wonder what their secret is for keeping their marriage happy and vibrant.

According to Julia, she simply “chose the right man,” but we think there’s a little more to it than that. For starters, the couple has been together since long before their major Hollywood success – before SNL, before Seinfeld, before Julia’s Emmys and before Brad’s success as a television writer.

This means that they’ve acclimated to the Hollywood lifestyle together (though they certainly aren’t the typical young partiers or paparazzi fare). This has likely helped them stay grounded and connected to each other and their more humble beginnings.

It also seems pretty apparent that they share very similar goals and interests. Both being involved in the entertainment industry, particularly comedy, means they have a deep personal interest in each other’s careers and inspirations, and likely enjoy many of the same events. They are invested in each other’s lives personally and professionally.

In that same vein, the couple has worked together on several projects, and while that can spell disaster for some couples, it is possible to keep work and personal separate so disagreements on the job don’t turn into arguments at home.

As we’ve said before, simply keeping a healthy sense of humor can make a massive difference in a marriage as well. These comic veterans are certainly able to laugh off some of the stress that comes with parenthood, celebrity, and all of the business-side parts of comedy that aren’t so fun.

Healthy couples work together to make their marriages great. Julia and Brad couldn’t be better proof of this concept.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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I’m Worried My New Husband Doesn’t Like My Kids!

On December 10, 2014, in Parenting, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

We live in a time where second marriages, unmarried parents, and blended families are only becoming more and more common. Unfortunately though, sometimes combining families can cause problems, resentment, unspoken disagreements, and actually drive the would-be family further and further apart.

This particularly true among stepparents and younger/preteen children. Initially, it can be very difficult to form any kind of meaningful connection – largely because the kids are skeptical of the new adult in their lives, and because a new stepparent doesn’t quite know how to form a connection. This shortcoming on the stepparent’s part can happen for a few different reasons, but we’ll get to those in a moment.

In terms of “symptoms,” recognizing a problem is pretty easy. The child and the stepparent argue constantly, the stepparent talks down to the child or is overly critical, the child doesn’t recognize any authority from the stepparent (the classic, “you’re not my real mom”), and/or they do their best to avoid communicating altogether.

If this is happening in your newly blended family, it simply has to be addressed right away!

Children are impressionable, and will often reflect the messages that are presented to them. If a child is constantly told that they are a problem, a bad kid, bound for jail for drug addiction, they will start to reflect that judgment and “live down to expectations” as it infects their sense of self worth.

Do you feel like your spouse doesn't like your kids?

Do you feel like your spouse doesn't like your kids?

Additionally, young teens are in a state of transition – they don’t necessarily know where to turn for advice - their parents or their peer group. If they are having these kinds of problems at home, they are much more likely to seek the help, advice, and support of their peer group, which isn’t always a good thing.

To some degree, we can chalk the child’s behavior up to, well, childhood. Teens are going through major life changes, small children can be finicky or not fully understand the situation, and regardless of age, navigating a new “parental figure” is going to be a difficult transition.

But what causes new stepparents to contribute to the problems (or cause them)?

The primary problem is underlying insecurity of one form or another. It may be a lack of familiarity with being around kids, and feeling like they have to put on an authoritative face to maintain some kind of power. It may be because they feel out of place, like an “outsider” to the rest of the family, and are simply lashing out at the easiest target.

Whatever the specific reasons might be, the conflict between children and their new stepparents often comes from a place of fear – fear of opening up, fear of being ignored or minimized in some way, fear of being disrespected, etc.

The point is this: if your marriage, and your family as a whole, is going to operate in a healthy way, you simply HAVE to get past this animosity.

Start by addressing the problem with your spouse, and make sure they understand the potential damage they are doing to the child. Once you’re on the same page about how important it is to get along, you can start taking small steps toward building that relationship. Like anything else, it will take time.

You can also talk to your child about their stepparent’s efforts to make the relationship better, and ask for their patience as they try to grow the relationship.

Now, it’s also important to understand that not all of these problems are just between the stepparent and the child (or children). Some of those insecurities or issues can be tied directly to problems in the marriage as well – feeling neglected and seeking power over a child, taking out frustrations, or even just other stresses that are finding their way into the dynamic between your spouse and the kids.

With this in mind, don’t just focus on the relationship between stepparent and child, but on the strength of the marriage as well.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Most couples argue from time to time, but unhealthy methods of disagreeing with your spouse usually end up causing even more trouble. In this video, Dana sits down with a couple to talk about "fighting smart" - knowing when your temper is getting the best of you, knowing when to keep your mouth shut, and being able to set issues aside until you've both had a chance to cool off.

One of the keys to building a strong and healthy marriage is effective communication, and if your disagreements don't actually solve anything or lead to any changes - you simply aren't communicating in a productive way. Dr. Dana's tips in this video can give you some great tools for more effective disagreements, and less conflict in the long run.

NOTE: The video contains some adult language.

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The term “perimenopause” refers to the time period in a woman’s life before the onset of menopause, which may include typical menopause symptoms like hot flashes or difficulty sleeping, as well as mood changes, differences in sexual desire, and irregular menstrual patterns.

While this is all but inevitable with age, perimenopause can begin over a pretty broad age range, and the full onset of menopause – when menstrual cycles stop altogether and women become permanently infertile – can be gradual.

Perimenopause (also called the menopausal transition) and menopause itself are often considered to be specifically women’s issues, but with the impact they can have on marital strength, they are quite clearly couples’ and family issues as well.

Is perimenopause destroying your marriage?

Is perimenopause destroying your marriage?

Divorce instigated by women is more common than ever before, and in many of those cases, the women filing are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s – a prime time in their lives for the onset of perimenopause. Because the hormonal changes have an impact on nearly every aspect of a woman’s life, including how she evaluates her marriage, it’s no wonder we see a pattern here.

According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, a women’s health expert and author of The Wisdom of Menopause, the hormonal changes can make women place their marriages under a proverbial microscope, and be more likely to see instances of inequality, problems in the marriage, or ways their own needs aren’t being met.

Some of the chemical changes, Dr. Northrup says, can cause women to go from putting other’s needs before their own, to being more aware of their own needs and wants. This alone is enough to change the status quo of many marriages.

From a husband’s perspective, this can all seem confusing and unexpected – and in all reality, the irritable, hot-flashing, mood-swinging, perimenopausal wife may doing her fair share to cause tension in the relationship – but the bulk of the issue stems from a simple misunderstanding of unavoidable biology, and a lack of honest communication about what’s going from the woman’s perspective.

Men may be aware of menopause, and even have an understanding of the symptoms, but that does not necessarily mean they are prepared to recognize them when they happen. It’s up to the women experiencing the changes to be self-aware and open with their husbands, and let them know that things aren’t feeling the same – that their sex drive might be on the fritz, that their moods seem to changing sporadically, that they are starting to think about the marriage in different ways, and most important of all, if they are feeling dissatisfied with the state of the relationship.

For the husbands in this scenario, even if this kind of discussion is unexpected, it’s important to listen with compassion and open ears, and help your wife acclimate to her changing body chemistry. Because of the way her thinking changes, it may be a wonderful opportunity to address overlooked issues in the marriage, work on repairing them, and make the relationship much better for the both of you.

The real name of the game here, again, is honesty and understanding. Bodies are strange, with all kinds of chemicals that influence the way we think and behave – sometimes outside of our conscious awareness – and when our bodies and minds change over time, we simply have to be there for each other, be clear about what’s happening, and get through it as best we can.

If you suspect menopause or perimenopause may be having an effect on your marriage, stop hiding from it, stop being embarrassed about change or age, stop wondering – and just TALK ABOUT IT.

Once you get things out in the open, you can start to work on solutions together.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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The 6 Biggest Stressors On A Marriage

On December 1, 2014, in Relationship Problems, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

Being married to another person is a long-term endeavor. If “until death do us part” is really the idea, then chances are pretty good that you're going to share many significant experiences together over the years, and not all of those experiences are going to be pleasant…

In fact, the most trying times you are likely to face as a couple may not even have much to do with the relationship, but how you each deal with the curveballs life can throw at you - and how you support one another when things are at their hardest.

Below, you'll find a list of 6 of the biggest stressors that married couples have to deal with:

1. Job Loss

Times are tough for many, many people, and when employment falls through for one reason or another, it puts tremendous financial pressure on a family of any size. Whether you're already struggling with poverty, where losing a job a can make you feel like you're back at square one - or if you're fairly well-to-do, and losing a job means a fistful of monthly payments you can no longer afford to make…

Suddenly changing financial circumstances are one of the biggest stressors for all people. Because it's so stressful, our natural reaction is to look for reasons behind the change - which can then lead to blaming our spouses for their loss of a job (which may have been outside of their control), or serious damage to our own elf-esteem for losing our own source of income. Not only is this kind of finger pointing bad for the stability of a relationship, but financial woes are also one of the most common things couples fight about - so even if it's no one's fault, there's plenty of tension you'll likely have to wade through.

Instead of making excuses, blaming each other, or allowing yourself to be overwhelmed and paralyzed by financial hardship, start with what you CAN control: reduce extra expenses wherever possible, cancel services you don't need, look into the process of unemployment insurance, explore the options in your area for food trucks, utility assistance, and the like, and above all, make finding new work your absolute top priority.

It won't make your financial challenges any less stressful, but if you act practically (and quickly), you can start to find assistance and other sources of income before the debts start to stack up - and your problems get even worse.

2. Having A Baby

Expanding the family is a goal for many couples, and having a baby is all part of the plan - until it actually happens. Babies are loveable and wonderful, but they are also a huge financial burden, keep you up at night, wear you out, take away from other ways you like to spend your time - and frankly, change your life permanently!

But people don't necessarily think about this stuff when they set out to have a child, they just think about the warm, fuzzy feeling of having a new bundle of joy - not about the sleepless nights… Or the long, uncomfortable time spent pregnant… Or all the stuff they'll have to buy… Or all of the doctor visits…

The point is - it's a lot more complicated than people anticipate, and the unexpected elements can stress couples to the point that they're fighting without even realizing it. They're tired, stressed, and overwhelmed with new responsibility - even if it isn't their first child - and this makes people awfully short-tempered.

If you're adding a member to your family, make a plan. Know what to expect, talk about how you're going to handle the tough moments, and how you're going to work together to make the whole ordeal as stress-free for each other as possible.

3. Retirement

This is another huge life event that seems to be all roses from a distance - but is a LOT more complicated when you actually get around to going through it yourself. Retirement means changing finances (which we already know is a huge stressor), finding new ways to spend your time, redefining your identity outside of a career, and could even mean changing homes or locations.

There are lots of things that can potentially cause stress in your marriage.

There are lots of things that can potentially cause stress in your marriage.

On top of those broad and ongoing challenges, there's going to be paperwork to fill out, and just a lot of nitpicky little things you have to get in place before you really start enjoying your retirement. When working through this stuff, the stress (and unforeseen future) can cause couples to fight about anything and everything, especially finances.

Instead of letting it stress you out, though, let this be a time of excitement! Change can be a great thing if you have the right outlook. Just because there are a lot of hoops to jump through, that doesn't mean it won't all be worth it in the end, or that the process itself can't be enjoyable - or at least educational.

4. Death In The Family

When a loved one passes away, it can be truly devastating. Grief is a very powerful emotion, and can make people push others away - or make people become extremely needy. It is a time of great emotional unrest, and this makes people volatile. We need the support of our spouses more than ever, even if we are unknowingly pushing them away.

In addition to the emotional toll a death in family can take on a relationship, there may also be added responsibilities of making funeral arrangements, dealing with the estate of the deceased, wills, inheritance, a home… Any and all of the departed's affairs.

This tough time can put couples at odds, but can also be a chance to truly support one another. Unfortunately, there is no real silver lining to this scenario, only being able to cope with grief as best as possible, and working together to manage any responsibilities you may have fallen into.

5. Fighting Through Addiction

Addiction is almost always ugly. Even when someone is committed to cleaning up, the process of fighting through it can make people lash out at the people who love them, behave irrationally, or any of a number of other troubling behaviors. It can be hard to remain patient with a recovering addict, and even more difficult to convince an addict that they need help in the first place.

Like the entry above, however, this is a time when the support of a loving suppose is at its most valuable (as well as the help of professionals), and trying to get through the challenges together may end up making the relationship stronger. There isn't any way to get around the stress that fighting through an addiction will cause - what you can do, however, is focus on the goal at the end, and how much better the marriage will be when the two of you have fought and won a battle with addiction.

6. Injury/Illness

Fighting through an injury or illness is exhausting, stressful, potentially expensive, and just downright miserable. It can make people short tempered, difficult to deal with, and down on themselves, as well as create tension because they may need help, but resent having to ask for it.

It can also cause the healthier of the two spouses to begin resenting the help they need to provide, especially if the ill or injured person isn't doing much to show their gratitude. This is another situation where it's stressful for everyone, and that stress makes people act unpleasantly toward each other - which only causes more stress and problems… And thus the cycle continues.

In a situation like this, similar to grieving a lost loved one or struggling with losing a job, it's a matter of pressing forward, letting time pass, and finding practical solutions to the small problems you can address directly. Getting angry at each other - no matter who's injured or ill - will do nothing to help the situation.

Now, for all of these stressors, there's one HUGE way to keep your marriage on track in the face of the challenges: your attitude.

Only you have the power to control your mood, and keeping a positive, forward-thinking outlook is critical to making it through these stressful scenarios with your marriage intact.

You can choose to wallow in an illness or injury, or you can dedicate your energy to thinking positive and coming back stronger than before. You can put off the confusing retirement paperwork, or dive in with a willingness to learn something new. You can blame outside factors for your job loss, or you can accept responsibility (or just accept reality) and move forward toward a new career…

In every scenario above, how you handle it will make all the difference in the world. Don't let stress divide your marriage. Together, you're strong enough to tackle the biggest challenges and get through the toughest times.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders,

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The Real Impact of Divorce on Kids

On November 26, 2014, in Divorce & Separation, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

Divorce, as you likely know, can wreak havoc on many parts of life. It’s expensive and time consuming, can drag up painful memories, cause bitter confrontation, bring about financial ruin, damage friendships, and of course, lead to chaos and confusion in the lives of the children whose parents are splitting.

But just how severely are these kids affected?

We may have a vague understanding that divorce is tough on kids, but looking at real comments from kids who live through it, we start to get an idea of how much damage is actually being done. The Huffington Post recently featured a collection of anonymous comments from the children of divorced parents, and they are as eye opening as they are heart wrenching.

While a few of them are understandable at the surface, like having to choose between parents’ houses for the holidays, the majority are about feelings of being torn between their fighting parents – being in the middle of arguments, being forced to “choose a side,” being pitted against one parent by the other, having to be the messenger or go-between, and not being able to see or speak to a parent they love because of living with the other.

The real problem here isn’t just that the kids have had to live through a divorce, it’s that after the split, they are continuing to get caught up in their parents’ ongoing feud.

Unfortunately, when parents get divorced, it’s very difficult – almost impossible – to “leave the kids out of it.” When a couple has children together, they can’t just walk away from the marriage unscathed – they have to at least stay in some kind of contact (most of the time) for the kids to be able to spend time with both parents.

When tensions are high, though, and the wounds of the divorce (or even just a separation) haven’t healed, it can be tough for those parents to be civil with one another, or even talk civilly about each other to the child. Even if the parents are masters of holding their tongues, kids can tell when they aren’t getting along.

Combine that tension with bouncing back and forth between homes, general confusion about the nature of adult relationships, and having to explain the situation to friends or younger siblings – and we see that divorce is putting an extreme amount of pressure on children.

Now, “staying together for the kids” is not a healthy way to solve relationship issues. If your relationship is volatile and you aren’t getting along with your spouse, this is also a problematic and potentially damaging environment for youngsters. Instead of keeping your troubled marriage for the sake of the kids, use their wellbeing as a source of inspiration for improving the marriage you have.

If you know that your kids will be better off in a happy home with both parents present, you can use that sentiment to give momentum to your efforts to strengthen the marriage. It can be tough to admit problems and begin to work toward solutions, but perhaps knowing that it’s better for your young ones is the push you need to get started!

No child deserves to be forced between his or her fighting parents. Before you make the drastic decision of divorcing, put some effort into repairing your broken relationship for their sake – and for your own sake too.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders,

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We all know how affairs start…

You’re likely feeling lonely, unappreciated, stuck in a rut, or otherwise disconnected from your spouse. You may be going through the motions of your daily life dissatisfied, hoping for something better but not sure how to get it…

A person in this situation might not even know how vulnerable they are, but they can sense that something is wrong with their marriage, that they aren’t fulfilled in the same way they used to be – that something very important is missing.

Then they meet someone new or rekindle a long lost connection, and suddenly things feel different. That excitement they’ve been missing comes rushing back into their lives, and before they know it, they are beginning to fall in love.

Consider this one question before you cheat.

Consider this one question before you cheat.

What starts as a brief conversation can turn into time spent together, which can turn into something more, and eventually, the person who felt so lonely and unfulfilled is staring at a very difficult choice: do they throw away their old life for this new prospective happiness?

Well, before they even consider such a question, there’s something they have to understand: they won’t be happy in the new relationship either.

It’s pretty simple – successful marriages are made by people who not only invest in the relationship, but who also invest in themselves. So with that in mind, here’s the question referenced in the title of this article. If you’re feeling tempted to cheat, to seek a new partner, to find happiness in someone else, you need to ask yourself one critical question:

“Have I found a purpose?”

The unfortunate reality is that many, many people look to others to make them happy, and when that happiness falters, they look to someone else. If you have a purpose though, a sense of meaning and drive that makes you fulfilled as an individual, you have your own source of happiness. When two people come together, both with a purpose in their hearts, the relationship flourishes because they complement and support one another, instead of relying on each other for that sense of purpose.

If you don’t have that drive, that special thing that gives you personal joy, no amount of changing relationships is going to make you happy. You’ll always be looking to someone else for fulfillment and direction.

Another way of phrasing this question is: “Could I be happy all on my own?”
This is why finding your own passions – and sharing them with your spouse – is so important. A happy marriage is not about 50/50, it’s about 100/100 – when both people are complete and fulfilled, and make the relationship greater than the sum of its parts.

Now, before you feel down on yourself for not having a “purpose” figured out, realize that it can be anything – and it can change over time. What this really means is finding something that makes you happy independent of all the other things in your life.

It could be making music, teaching children, designing houses, fixing cars, writing stories, helping people in need, coding apps, cooking gourmet food, studying astronomy, learning foreign languages, collecting antiques, taking photographs, knitting, singing, acting, painting…

It could be literally ANYTHING that you can pursue on your own, grow within, enjoy achievements and accomplishments, and find fulfillment based on your own actions.

This is all about finding your own strength and your own happiness, instead of looking to others – especially a relationship partner – to provide that stuff for you.

If you’re feeling unfulfilled in your marriage, before you start looking for someone else (or let temptation get the best of you), ask yourself if you’re being the best YOU that you can be. Is your source of dissatisfaction really the other person? Or are you not doing enough to create fulfillment for yourself?

A new partner, a fling, an attempt at escaping from the unhappiness you may be experiencing now will only be a temporary fix. You can’t define your happiness in terms of other people – instead, two people that have found ways to be fulfilled on their own can come together to add even more joy and meaning to each other’s lives. It’s ultimately up to you.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Stay Close and Connected with Laughter

On November 19, 2014, in Celebrity Relationships, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

With her movie Tammy making headlines across the country, Melissa McCarthy is something of a household name, though for many people, the comedienne has been a fan favorite since her days of stand up, through her role on TV’s Gilmore Girls, and numerous television and film appearances.

Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy

Her husband Ben Falcone (who is also the director of Tammy) has shared the screen with her on several occasions, been in a handful of funny movies, and appeared in numerous comedic roles on TV.

Beyond their on-screen roles though, the two share a wonderfully strong marriage – nearly ten years strong – and they owe it, in their words, to simply not being “very Hollywood” and having “a lot of fun.”

At the Tammy premier, Melissa told an Entertainment Tonight reporter:

“We're not very Hollywood. We have little kids, we stay in our little area. [If we weren't here] we would be sitting in our backyard."

Not only do they keep their family unit tight by spending time together, it’s pretty clear to see from the couple’s interactions (on and off screen) that their talents as comedians keep one another entertained.

And maybe that’s the most valuable lesson here – that being silly, taking the time to have some fun, and making an effort to make your spouse laugh can have a huge impact on your marriage.

We can’t all be movie star funny people, but it’s pretty safe to assume that most of us know how to crack a joke or give our spouse a good laugh – so remember the importance of humor in your day to day!

Even if you’re not the “funny type,” you can still use this a reminder to loosen up a little bit, and least keep yourself open to the idea of a good belly laugh, and even just seeing the humor in every day life.

Laughter has all kinds of physical, mental, and emotional benefits – and enjoying a good laugh together will undoubtedly draw your closer as a couple.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders,

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Is Your Marriage Immature?

On November 17, 2014, in Relationship Problems, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

To maintain a truly successful and happy marriage, you both have to be grown ups about it…

Unfortunately though, a lot of us might not be as grown up as we think we are, especially when the chips are down. When fights are happening, when you feel defensive, when you’re struggling with stress, when you’re hungry or over-tired – how mature is your behavior really?

The roughest situations can bring out our worst behavior, but like anything else, it is something that can be improved upon. We’ve put together a list of damaging ways to approach the problems you may encounter, and hopefully you’ll be able to recognize if you’re slipping into these less than “grown up” ways of dealing with marital challenges.

Now, these are not accusations – and we may all be guilty of falling into this kind of behavior from time to time – but here are a few notoriously immature behaviors to watch out for:

1. Absolutes

If you find yourself saying things like, “you ALWAYS…” or “you NEVER…” – stop it!

These kinds of absolutes simply aren’t true, and only serve to make the issue at hand into something much larger, and much more difficult to resolve. When you start throwing around words like “always” and “never,” you’re no longer talking about an individual issue, but a source of frustration that is much larger – and still can’t really be resolved unless you start talking about the specifics.

Broad generalizations and absolutes take the position that things can’t change, that they are permanent and fixed as they currently are. The more mature approach is to talk bring up an “ongoing” problem, and discuss ways to develop new habits. Or, conversely, bringing up a “never” topic as “I’d appreciate if you started…”

Focus on solutions, not just accusations without any room for resolution.

Does your marriage need to mature?

Does your marriage need to mature?

2. Stubbornness

This is the classic “well that’s not the way I learned how to do it…” mentality.

Change and adaptation is a constant part of our lives, and if we’re trying to dig in our heels instead of expanding and growing into a given situation, we’re only adding unnecessary difficulty and resistance. It’s amazing how many simple little things people resist, just because it’s not the way their parents did it, or because they are familiar with a different process.

The mature approach to disagreeing on a process, whether it’s how to cook dinner or what to do about a child who won’t behave, is to discuss the pros and cons of each approach, let go of your one-track way of thinking, and find a solution that you can both agree on.

Crossing your arms and refusing to collaborate is totally counterproductive, adds tension to any situation, frustrates your spouse, and prevents you from learning new things.

3. Finger Pointing

If disagreements happen in your marriage, and they surely will at one point or another, a sure sign of immaturity is trying to deflect all blame away from yourself.

This might mean lashing out at your spouse, making excuses about stress from work, blaming factors other than your own decisions, and basically looking for anything to shift the focus away from your own mistakes.

Now, this isn’t to say that every argument is your fault, or that you have to bear the burden of ALL the blame for every problem. However, it’s important to understand the role you play in pretty much any disagreement you have with your spouse. Even if you feel like you’re in the right, your spouse doesn’t, and trying to understand where they are coming from (instead of deflecting any criticism) will help you get to the bottom of the issue.

Even if you aren’t to blame, you’ll never really know for sure if you don’t face the problems head on. Accepting responsibility for your own actions and decisions is a sign of maturity, and shifting the focus away from criticism shows your spouse that you’re running away from opportunities for self-improvement.

There are plenty of other examples of immature behavior that can lead to unnecessary conflict, but these are some of the biggest problem-causers. So many arguments spiral out of control because people don’t want to accept responsibility for the role they play, and don’t want to be flexible enough to find a solution.

Instead of worrying about who’s right or wrong, worry about resolving the problem.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders,

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