An entire universe of fashion magazines, beauty products, advice columns, dating websites, and beyond are all focused on one general goal: defining what makes women attractive – or, more accurately, selling advice to women about what will make them more attractive.

Now, we’re not here to bash these types of media (though they certainly can contribute to setting unrealistic expectations), but the attractive quality we want to talk about today is often very absent from popular media, who tend to make everything about appearance.

While it is true that people are attracted to certain looks or body types, and that men tend to be more visually oriented for what they find attractive, one of the most attractive qualities a woman can have comes from within.

What’s this quality we’re talking about?

In a word: CONFIDENCE.

Self-esteem makes a tremendous difference in so many aspects of your life (and your relationship). It affects the way you carry yourself, how you speak to others, how you pursue the things you want and need, even your overall happiness. Because of those factors, your levels of confidence directly impact how attractive you appear to others.

But why do we find confidence attractive? For men, women with high self-esteem seem independent and powerful. Such a woman chooses a mate because she wants one, not because she needs one – and that makes that man feel special!

That’s just the tip of the iceberg though…

What does your husband find most attractive about you?

What does your husband find most attractive about you?

As mentioned above, confidence has a way of changing your physical appearance too. Not only do you carry yourself differently, it also has an impact on skin and hair health, and likely helps you smile more, stand up straighter, and simply be more vibrant in everything you do!

Self-esteem also has a way of making you resilient, and that can be an attractive quality as well! It means that you’re ok in your own skin – that you won’t be defining yourself based on your relationship, that you’ll work to solve problems, that you will build and maintain your own friendships, that you’ll pursue your own passions…

And while many men like to feel like protectors and providers, it’s also extremely attractive when women are in touch with who they are, up front about what they want, and not bashful about putting that confidence forward!

Now, gaining confidence can happen in many ways. At the core, it starts with searching within yourself, but you can also build self-esteem by performing “esteemable acts.”

This means doing things that prove (to yourself) that you can achieve goals, that you can face fears, that you are unique and valuable, that you are loveable and loved, and so on! You can even reflect on your past accomplishments (or even hard times you’ve endured) to remind yourself of the strength you possess. Real confidence should come from action!

It’s important to remember that there’s a distinguishable difference between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is brash and uninvited, it’s more talk than action, and it seeks attention for attention’s sake… Confidence, though, tends to be calm and collected. It’s internal and doesn’t need the approval or attention of others.

Confidence is attractive. Arrogance is not.

This simple quality can have an impact on nearly every area of your life, particularly the relationship you have with your spouse, so take a good look in the mirror and focus on the qualities about yourself that you like the most. These can be the sources of confidence you need to boost you in the right direction – and once you start embracing your self-esteem, there’s no turning back!

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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Scared Your Marriage Over? Don’t Panic.

On April 22, 2015, in Save Your Marriage, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

If you’ve been having some trouble in your marriage lately, especially if the problems seem relatively new, it’s absolutely critical that you don’t panic – and accidentally make the issues worse than they already are.

Couples can experience problems for any number of reasons, but when those problems first arise, it can be jarring. One (or both) of you might feel blindsided, or it might feel like the problem has been a long time coming – and is just now coming to a head. Either way, the tension that people feel can affect their behavior. Fights (and saying things we don’t really mean) can lead to resentment, and because of all this, problems have a way of folding back on themselves and making things worse and worse the longer they go unresolved.

So, if you are experiencing problems, what should you do?

Specific problems will, of course, require specific solutions – but in an effort to help you and your spouse keep things from getting worse, these are pretty universal tips to help you ensure you’re in a mental and emotional place that will allow you to tackle the specifics and move beyond your problems.

The first step, as the title of this blog suggests, is to keep your head. Don’t panic or stress out that your marriage is falling apart. This may sound all but impossible, but think about it for a moment – if you’re stressing out, feeling tense, angry, or depressed, you’re more likely to be short with your spouse, which could then learn to more arguments instead of productive communication.

If you think your marriage is over, don't panic!

If you think your marriage is over, don't panic!

Similarly, allowing yourself to panic or wallow in self-defeat will also make you less likely to feel like you can make positive changes to your situation – and that’s going to prevent you from making an effort to improve your marriage.

Next, do everything you can to avoid drama – both in your relationship and in other facets of your life. Conflict tends to breed more conflict. If you’re getting into it with people at work, spending time with chaotic or dramatic friends, etc., this tension will bleed into your marriage.

The same goes for the day to day of your marriage. Drama comes from nitpicky arguments, from pushing each other’s buttons, from a lack of effort to keep things loving and positive…

Picking fights, employing the “silent treatment,” even letting yourself get dragged into battles over finances, the kids, etc., can shift your focus from solvable problems to “dramatic” conflict that only pulls you further away from your spouse. Avoid this kind of drama as best you can.

Lastly, don’t be afraid of counseling! Professional counselors, material like the StrongMarriageNow System, and even the information found in these blogs can help you understand the source of your problems, as well as help you develop ways to strengthen your marriage and get things back to a place of happiness and connection.

Far too many couples wait until things are at their worst to seek help, when they could have tackled their problems much, much sooner. If you’re having problems, don’t hesitate to start working on them! At the very least, don’t be afraid to research your options or start learning about the elements of a healthy marriage!

Material and services that help couples build strong marriages aren’t just reserved for struggling couples. Any marriage can stand to benefit from this type of advice and information – and if you are worried about the state of your relationship, that’s all the more reason to explore ways to improve it!

The main point here is this: DON’T GIVE UP!

Even if things seem bad, hope is not lost. You can adjust your attitude, the way to treat your spouse, and where you focus your efforts to get things back on track.

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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Every year, people across the globe celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd. On this day, activists and concerned citizens spread awareness about the importance of preserving our natural environment, protecting the earth from pollution and damage, and the little things we can all do to help keep the planet in good shape!

Small efforts can have a big impact, too – especially when they become habits. Things like recycling, walking/biking instead of driving, using reusable shopping bags, being mindful of water usage, and even fitting your home with energy efficient and resource saving light bulbs, windows, etc.

Earth day is wonderful for awareness and large-scale events, but to really make a positive impact, we have to make efforts to both maintain and improve the planet in an ongoing way. We can’t just think about this stuff on Earth Day…

This is actually a pretty amazing metaphor for maintaining a marriage as well!

Celebrate Earth Day with your spouse this year!

Celebrate Earth Day with your spouse this year!

Just think about it – we can “recycle” our happy memories to remind ourselves why we first fell in love (and why it’s worth it to stay connected), we can “plant” beautiful new experiences by getting out and enjoying life together, and just like the small efforts we can make around the house to reduce our carbon footprints, we can build small habits that keep our marriages healthy and happy over the course of each year.

Giving each other compliments, spending quality time together (away from distractions), making sure to hug, kiss, and otherwise engage in regular physical contact, communicating honestly and openly, and simply making the effort to keep your marriage a daily priority – all of these are practices you can develop to “insulate” your marriage against growing apart or unnecessary conflict.

And like Earth Day, we have holidays, anniversaries, or birthdays that give us extra reasons to celebrate or remind us of the importance connecting to our spouses, but to really make a difference, it takes a little bit of effort every day!

This planet is our home, and it’s the only one we’ve got. Taking good care of it ensures our long-term happiness (not to mention survival). Your marriage has some parallels. It IS a defining part of your life, and taking care of it is the only way to make sure it survives and thrives!

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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7 Easy Ways to Make Your Wife Happy

On April 15, 2015, in Keeping The Love Alive, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

Every marriage is a two-way street, and while we aren’t completely responsible for our spouse’s happiness, each of us can make an effort to make the person we love’s life easier, happier, and more fulfilling – and by doing so, strengthen the marriage and make your relationship more easy going!

So, with that in mind, here are some ideas geared toward husbands. Take these tips into consideration and provide some happiness in your wife’s life!

1. Know More About Her

What’s your wife’s favorite movie? Favorite band? What’s the last book she read? What’s been going on her work life? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, it’s high time you found out. Ask good questions and really listen to the answers. The more you know about her – especially those “unimportant” little details - the more loved she will feel!

2. Be Deliberately Positive

Take a good look at how you’re interacting with your wife… Could you be making an effort to be a little more cheerful? Are you doing your best to avoid taking your workday stress or other issues out on her?

So much of the way we interact with each other is determined by tone and body language, and when we’re being snappy or irritated, or seem disinterested and aloof, it almost automatically creates a “negative vibe” in a given conversation. Try being intentionally positive – even enthusiastic – when you communicate with your wife, and just watch what a difference it makes!

3. Let Her Know You Love Her In Creative Ways

This is your chance to think outside the box a little bit! It’s always great to remind your wife how much you love her, but for a little added effect, get creative! Leave her cute notes, surprise her with signs of affection like flowers to her office or having her favorite meal waiting when she gets home. Figure out the dates of obscure anniversaries (like the day you moved into your house or your engagement day) and make a celebration out of them.

There are some easy ways you can make your wife happy!

There are some easy ways you can make your wife happy!

It’s not so much the act itself that counts, but that you were thinking enough about her to go the extra mile and let her know how much she truly means to you.

4. Talk About Finances Openly

Because money is one of the most common things couples fight about, you can largely avoid the issue by talking about finances in a totally transparent way. You don’t have to sit down and have a budget meeting once a week, just make it a part of your normal conversation. Let her know what expenses you might have coming up, talk about major purchases together, and encourage each other to be totally open and honest about spending.

5. Perform Random Acts of Kindness

We should be kind to each other at all times, but taking the extra step to do something for your wife (simply so she doesn’t have to) both shows your love AND offers her some relief! This could be anything: taking care of a chore that she usually does, brushing off her car in the winter, offering to take care of a project around the house that she has been talking about, or even one step further – surprising her with a day of pampered relaxation where you handle all the details!

It’s just another way to show how much you care.

6. Don’t Be Afraid of Counseling

Even if things are going ok in your marriage (or even if they’re going really well), it never hurts to learn more about relationships, learn more about how your own thoughts and behaviors affect your marriage, and all of the other things that make your marriage tick.

Whether it’s professional counseling, books, or online resources like StrongMarriageNow, making an effort to know more about the general ins and outs of marriage – and how they apply to your unique relationship – is a way to both make massive improvements AND show your wife how invested you are in having the best possible marriage!

7. Plan Some Fun

Break out the calendar and actually put some dates and fun activities in writing! Plan out your game nights, your dates, your adventures – and stick to them! Not only will this help ensure that you follow through with them, it will also help grow anticipation and excitement as you get closer to the event! It could be anything from putt-putt golf to making resort reservations…

Planning things out shows your wife commitment, and gives you both something to look forward to.

These are just a few ideas for making your marriage run more smoothly. The happier you both are, the more lighthearted you will be with each other, the more room you’ll have for fun and love, and the more likely you will be to let conflicts and potential problems just roll off your backs. To be happily married, first you have to be happy!

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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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have one of the highest profile marriages in Hollywood. Will has been a mega-star for nearly three decades, conquering music, television, film, and presumably, anything he puts his mind to. In 2007, Newsweek called Smith “the most powerful actor in Hollywood,” and it’s easy to understand why.

Jada is also a massive presence in the entertainment world, with TV and film roles, a music production company, a heavy metal band, and a book authorship on her lengthy resume.

The two were married in 1997, and as you might expect, have had to deal with plenty of scrutiny from the media over the course of their nearly 20 year union.

The Real Truth About "The End" Of Will Smith's Marriage

The Real Truth About "The End" Of Will Smith's Marriage

There have been some scandals over the years, usually little more than rumors and tabloid exaggeration, but in a recent interview, Will shared something that he and Jada have come to embrace – something that all couples can consider when struggling through conflict.

When talking about working through problems and facing things when they’re at their worst, Will told Sun newspaper, “Whatever you have is gonna die and you are gonna have to birth something new.”

This can be a tough realization for most couples, but it’s one of the most powerful ways to move forward even when things have been terrible. It’s ok to admit that you aren’t happy, that the marriage isn’t where you want it to be, that the current relationship is NOT good… And it’s ok to call that version of your marriage dead and gone – as long as your new marriage is born right then too.

You can agree with your spouse that your existing marriage isn’t working for either of you, and start fresh – a brand new relationship with the person you’re already married to!

This means putting past troubles behind you, offering forgiveness, and agreeing on some new behaviors that will make THIS marriage different from the one you’ve decided to let die.

Will and Jada have been through a lot, with busy schedules, ambitious careers, raising kids, and the media microscope watching the whole thing… But they’ve learned over the years to roll with the punches, to deal with the problems as they arise, and to be willing to let one version of their marriage “die” so another, better, stronger version can be born.

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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In our last post, we looked at six often unspoken elements that are critical to a man’s happiness in a marriage. Today, we’ll be looking at the second half of our list.

Remember, these factors are likely important to all people – and every individual has their own priorities and needs in relationship. The items on this list (and in Part 1), however, are things men typically look for, and when they’re missing from a marriage, it can spell serious dissatisfaction for the husband.

Let’s get right into it!

1. No Judgment

Because many men have a tough time expressing their weaknesses, concerns, and shortcomings, it’s important for them to be able to open up to their wives without fear of judgment or harsh criticism. It’s a matter of trust and safety. If he doesn’t feel like he can open up to you, the connection you share isn’t as deep as it could (and should) be.

2. He Feels Like A Priority

This is a big point for men and women alike, though men might be less likely to voice their concerns. In a marriage, making your spouse a priority is critical. This could be as small as listening when they speak (instead of paying attention to your phone or the TV), or as large as forming your plans around their schedule or making decisions with them in mind.

If your husband doesn’t feel like a priority, he might reciprocate by lowering you (consciously or not) on his priority list – and that’s a recipe for a vicious cycle that can rip apart a marriage.

Are you driving your husband away?

Are you driving your husband away?

3. You Express Your Attraction

We all want to feel desirable, and for a man, having a woman who knows and expresses her sexuality and attraction to him is a huge attraction. No matter how attracted he might be to you, no matter how much he might want to initiate sexual activity at any given time, it’s a huge turn on when you do the initiating.

If he’s always the one making moves, always the one spurring on the sexual component of the relationship, it can eventually become a point of annoyance – and worse, a turn off.

4. He Doesn’t Feel Belittled

When you get into disagreements, and you surely will at some point, it’s important to keep things on-topic. Perhaps even more importantly, it’s smart to stay away from insulting one another. Men can be prideful, and if they feel belittled, made fun of, or personally attacked, the natural response is to either retaliate, or clam up and stop listening to what you have to say. In such instances, the disagreement stalls out, nothing gets resolved, and you’re worse off than you were before.

5. You Aren’t Keeping Score

Just as men can fulfill some of the stereotypes we’re talking about here, women sometimes fall into the stereotypical habits of gossiping, being “catty,” etc. – and for most men, that’s a point of irritation. It may be with him or with others, but if he notices you keeping score of who did what to whom, holding grudges, talking the like the world is out to get you, and complaining about the little inconveniences you encounter, he’s going to feel like everything you do together is subject to complaint.

This makes the marriage (and daily life within it) feel inflexible, perpetually negative, and frankly – exhausting. Part of this comes from the male habit of wanting to “fix” problems, but if yours seem innumerable, he’ll feel powerless and overwhelmed.

If you aren’t doing these things, though, the marriage feels flexible, open to new experiences, and a lot more relaxed.

6. He Feels Respected

Last but not least: the issue of respect. This is a topic open to plenty of interpretation (and can certainly be blown out of proportion)… We’re not talking about automatic, authoritarian respect here, where his word is law and you owe him unquestioning allegiance… That’s a totally unhealthy way to share a relationship.

You should, however, be respecting each other as individuals – with your own opinions, thoughts, intelligence, and experiences. That means listening to what each other has to say, considering every opinion as valid, and not brushing off concerns or minimizing the way the other person feels.

Part of this is just basic human decency, and the other part definitely is a portion of typical male ego. If he feels disrespected, it can feel emasculating or just make him angry… neither of which are a good place for a husband to be in.

We’ve focused these past two articles on men specifically, but each of these points can be taken into account for both men and women. To truly maintain a strong marriage, you should be well aware of these potential pitfalls – especially when you are in the midst of disagreements or when things already feel tense. Awareness is the first step, action is the next!
Talk about this stuff with your spouse, be aware of what pushes each other’s buttons, and work together to make your life together happy and healthy!

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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It may be a stereotype, but there’s some truth to the idea that men typically aren’t very forthcoming with their emotions. As much as we try to teach couples the importance of communicating openly, and that speaking about problems is better than bottling them up… Many men still have trouble in that department, and won’t be vocal about the things bothering them until they’ve reached a boiling point.

Every man is different, of course, and they don’t all fulfill the stoic image of masculinity. For plenty of them, though – even some of the best communicators – there are some elements of marriage that they might have a tough time talking about, and others they simply aren’t putting into words. These parts of your marriage are subtle – and likely are extremely important to your husband, even if he isn’t quite articulating them himself.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of those subtleties to be aware of. These aren’t really specific behaviors or some kind of “do’s and don’ts” list. Instead, these are the often unspoken elements of how men feel in relationships – and things to be aware of if you’re concerned about his happiness.

These are some marriage essentials for many men, and if they aren’t present, the relationship might be in trouble.

We’ll cover half the list today:

1. He Can Be Himself

This means letting his personality out with no reservations, no reining things in to fit your expectations (or anyone else’s). At home, this is extremely important. For a husband to be happy, he can’t feel like he’s walking on eggshells, feel like he’s got to watch what he says, or feel like he’s constantly stopping himself from doing or saying what he naturally feels.

If your husband can’t be himself around you, it isn’t a truly connected relationship.

2. You Need Him, But Aren’t “Needy”

Men like to feel like providers, protectors, etc., but there’s definitely a line between feeling “manly” and dealing with someone overly needy. There’s a time and a place for him to fulfill his role as a leader, or whatever typically “masculine” traits may be important to him – but if he feels like he’s constantly helping you, making all of the decisions, responding to your texts and calls multiple times a day, and otherwise dealing with an extreme level of neediness, it’s going to make him resent the dynamic you share… and eventually start to resent the relationship itself.

There’s a middle ground that helps him still feel “manly” – but doesn’t drive him up the wall!

Are You Helping Your Husband Leave You?

Are You Helping Your Husband Leave You?

3. You Feel Like Family (To His Family)

Now, this will depend on the relationship that your husband has with his parents, siblings, and the rest of his family, but if he has a good rapport with them – he will want you to as well. If he feels like he’s forced to take sides in a conflict, or choose between his family and you, it creates mental and emotional weight that will cast a shadow on the marriage.

If, on the other hand, you can easily assimilate into his family, and he can see everyone together as people he loves and cares about, his marriage to you will feel all the more “right.”

4. You Care About Your Appearance

He doesn’t expect you to be a supermodel, or go to absurd lengths to doll yourself up, dress to the nines every day, or break your back at the gym… He does, however, appreciate the efforts you make to look your best – mostly because he experiences that as you being attractive for him.

On the flip side, if you aren’t making any efforts in this department, he may interpret it as a lack of interest or care for his perception of you.

5. He Likes How He Feels With You

For many men, the women they love feel like a sanctuary – a person they can share their vulnerable moments with, a “place” where they feel relaxed, comfortable, and truly happy. These feelings are at the top of his mind on his way home from work, when he’s been away for whatever reason, while he’s at home waiting for you to get back…

It’s an essential part of why he likes to spend time with you – because it feels “warm and fuzzy.” If it doesn’t, well, it puts a damper on his desire to spend time together. If he feels under pressure, criticized, or otherwise on edge as a result of being in your presence, that’s going greatly damage the quality of your marriage.

6. You Appreciate Him

This is one of the most important aspects of a marriage for men – at least in terms of their own ego and personal satisfaction – and that’s feeling useful, appreciated, and not taken for granted. Every couple will express this a little differently, but thanking him for his contributions around the house, reminding him that you love him, and simply keeping it mind not to take him for granted will make him feel important and admired.

Next time, we’ll cover another six points that are specifically important to men in a marriage. Until then, make sure you’re aware of these things, talk to your husband about them, and above all, work together to make your marriage the best it can be!

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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I’m Tired of Being the Maid!

On April 1, 2015, in Chores, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

In every marriage, there’s an element of drudgery… It doesn’t really have anything to do with the relationship itself, it’s just a simple reality of most of our lives. Laundry has to be done, the lawn needs mowing, dishes need to be done, the floors need sweeping, and the list of chores just goes on and on and on…

It’s a hassle to take care of these things, but it’s even more irritating when you feel like all of the household responsibilities are falling on your shoulders, and your spouse isn’t lifting a finger to help. This unfair “division of labor” can lead to resentment, feeling overworked, undue stress, feeling overwhelmed with things to do, and a sense of nearly constant anger that your spouse is unwilling to help – even when you ask.

Do you feel like the maid?

Do you feel like the maid?

As if this weren’t enough of a problem, there’s even another downside – one person in the marriage feels like they’re doing all the work, and the other person feels like their constantly being nagged to help. Neither member of the relationship is happy in this scenario – though it’s safe to say that the person doing the disproportionate share of labor is “worse off.”

Now, we won’t pretend that some people don’t do this on purpose – specifically take advantage of their spouses so they don’t have to do much of anything around the house (or otherwise) - but this is less likely than the alternative, that they simply never sat down to discuss an effective division of labor. Instead, they’ve let assumptions and habits dictate how they handle household needs, and it has lead to a place of unhappiness and unfair division. This is largely the product of a lack of communication.

There may be some household responsibilities that you would rather do yourself, some that you simply do better than your spouse, and some that you don’t want to mess with at all – and all of that is just fine! Solving this problem involves taking stock of all the daily, weekly, monthly responsibilities that come with maintaining your household and lifestyle, and having an open discussion with your spouse about who’s going to do what.

The goal is to effectively divide things up so you both feel like the other is contributing their fair share, and everything is getting taken care of as needed. This could mean taking turns for some chores, combining efforts to get things done together, divvying up tasks for who’s best suited to handle them… or any combination of those options. You have to sort out what’s going to work best for you, and that starts with having the discussion in the first place.

If nothing else, you should be working together to make sure one of you doesn’t feel overburdened or taken advantage of.

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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They Just Can’t Forgive Me

On March 30, 2015, in Forgiveness, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

When problems have caused a rift in your marriage, when disconnection or disagreements have gotten out of control, and you’ve done or said something truly hurtful…

It can be extremely difficult to find forgiveness and move forward.

One of the largest barriers to forgiveness, though, is forming and offering an effective apology. Even when people are truly sorry for their actions, they may not articulate it very well, or be able to show their spouse how much they regret the behavior.

Because it can be so difficult, we’ve broken down an effective apology into 7 steps:

1. Figure Out What Happened

You have to know what you did wrong – exactly. Get the facts in order. Understand precisely what you did and how it made your spouse feel. You can’t apologize for something you don’t fully understand.

2. Explore Why

Now that you know what happened, figure out why it happened. Even if there are factors outside your control, accept that you were susceptible to them. Getting to the bottom of why helps you truly understand the nature of your actions, the factors that lead to them, and how to avoid it in the future. Remember, though, there’s a difference between explanation and excuse – finding a “why” doesn’t mean pointing fingers.

3. Express Regret

Tone, body language, and plenty of other things beyond the word “sorry” have an impact on your apology. Just brushing off a problem with a quick “I’m sorry” is a far cry from looking your spouse in the eye and genuinely expressing your apologies – and stating specifically what you’re sorry for. Include some of the “what” and “why” mentioned above.

Here are some simple steps to help your spouse forgive you.

Here are some simple steps to help your spouse forgive you.

4. Admit and Accept Responsibility

You have to accept and own what you’ve done. Statements like “I’m sorry you feel that way” do little but shift blame toward your spouse. Don’t look for excuses or shift the focus on to something else. If you made a mistake, admit it. Even if you didn’t intentionally hurt your spouse, you can still apologize for upsetting them and take responsibility for the behavior that caused the problem.

5. Don’t Repeat The Behavior

While there are no 100% guarantees for the future, making a concerted effort (and giving your word) to do your best to never repeat the problematic behavior goes a long way toward forgiveness. By exploring your “why,” you probably have a good idea of what lead to the problems in the first place, and you’re now prepared to see when those factors are stacking up again – and you can use that ability to avoid falling into hurtful actions again.

An apology is useless if you just turn around and repeat the behavior.

6. Make Peace

Before you can get to a place of forgiveness, it’s important to make amends as best you can. Ask your spouse what can be done to “make things right.” It all depends on the issue, of course, and some are much larger than others, but you might be able to “make up for” your errors with gestures of kindness, or sometimes by making personal changes or seeking extra help.

This might be anything from agreeing to make dinner for the rest of the week to enrolling in anger management classes. Whatever it is, be open to smoothing things out and showing your commitment to apologizing.

7. Ask For Forgiveness

Last but not least, ask to be forgiven! This will likely take some courage, but if you really want to get over the hump, it’s ok be direct – and ask if you can be forgiven for whatever problems you’ve caused. No one owes you forgiveness, and while it may come without asking, being humble and vulnerable enough to admit your mistakes and show how much being forgiven means to you will show your spouse that you’re serious about atoning for your mistakes.

Moving past problems and finding forgiveness can take time. It can be a tense process that takes several stages, or even several tries. If apologizing to your spouse and being forgiven for your errors is truly important to you, be humble and put in the time and effort required to make it right!

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 Porn Ruining Your Marriage?

On March 25, 2015, in Porn & Internet Addiction, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

Pornography is a touchy subject for most people. For starters, it’s an intensely private (some would say shameful) use of time that most people are uncomfortable talking about, or even bashful about admitting to – without even going into any detail.

The unfortunate reality is that the internet has made porn more abundant and available than ever before – and that means that its damaging effects are even more widespread than they used to be.

And while people of both genders watch porn, men are far and away more likely to – and more likely to suffer from the negative effects. You might be wondering just what those affects are – and as you probably guessed, every last one of them has to do with closeness, connection, and a healthy sex life.

Let’s take a closer look:

1. There’s No Intimacy

The sexual parts of our brains learn from the things that stimulate us. In a real human relationship, sex involves communication, connection, and intimacy – but in pornography, there’s absolutely none of that. It strips the whole complex sexual relationship down to the acts themselves – and we can’t help but internalize those patterns.

Because everyone in porn is “ready to go,” it imparts the “lesson” that this is how normal sex works, and therefore makes it all about the act – instead of about the connection.

2. Unrealistic Expectations

Not only does pornography give us an unrealistic representation of sex, foreplay, and connection – it also gives unrealistic expectations of what bodies should look like. These are people whose bodies ARE the product they sell – and that means intense workouts, plastic surgery, professional makeup artists, and on and on to make sure they are looking like some sexualized “ideal.”

But the truth is, people don’t really look like that – at least most of us don’t. When we start to associate our sexual thoughts with those images, though, it creates an unrealistic standard that our partners can’t live up to (because they are real people, after all, without makeup, airbrushing, and camera tricks to help cover up imperfections). For men, it creates a totally objectified view of the female body, as well as standard of male physique and “anatomy” that doesn’t reflect reality – and may lead to self-consciousness and self-doubt.

Is porn ruining your marriage?

Is porn ruining your marriage?

3. Conditioning

Just like Pavlov’s famous dog, we are all subject to conditioning – that is, associating certain stimuli with certain outcomes. What the means for a porn user is that, well, eventually the images/videos/etc. become a central component of sexual stimulation – instead of the real live person they’re married to.

This goes for arousal and stimulation, but also runs deeper, affecting even the desire to be with another person (instead of on the computer). The longer this goes on, the harder this conditioning is to break. For most people, they don’t even realize when it’s happening until after the damage is done.

In a similar vein, being conditioned to pornography can also make “regular” sex seem boring. While there’s nothing wrong with “spicing things up” from time to time, many of the acts depicted in pornography simply aren’t pleasurable for both partners, are too strenuous, or – like the people themselves – are dramatic, exaggerated versions of “real life.” Thinking they are the norm can be problematic, to say the least.

4. Selfishness

Like the entries on intimacy and conditioning, getting satisfaction mostly through porn (and usually masturbation) can lead to developing bad habits surrounding sexual needs – particularly a spouse’s needs. If a person is used to instant gratification, and can achieve it by themselves (and relatively quickly), it can make seduction, foreplay, even connecting at all feel like too much work, or somehow not worth the effort.

People become concerned with satisfying their own needs, and disregard the needs of their partner – and what starts with sexual desire eventually bleeds into intimacy, connection, communication, and ultimately, even participating in the relationship at all!

These are only some of the problems that pornography can cause in a marriage. The parts of our brains that control sex drive - and all of the related desires, needs, and behaviors – are complex and subject to outside influence, and not always under our control. If you’ve noticed some of these problems in your relationship, it might be time to ask your partner about porn use.

If it’s already a problem, talk to your spouse about the damage being done. If it’s truly an issue, you may even want to consider seeking professional help.

As with so many other issues, overcoming the obstacles starts with communication and honesty. Don’t let porn ruin your marriage!

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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