Beyonce and JayZ - Making Marriage Work

On April 16, 2014, in Marriage Advice, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

When it comes to celebrity couples, they don’t come much more high profile than Jay-Z and Beyonce. Both have been internationally recognized stars of the music world for more than a decade, building individual careers of outstanding success well before they were married in 2008.

The couple has always been private about the relationship (especially during the early dating phases), and attributes the success of their marriage to keeping most of the details out of the public eye. When you’re as famous as these two, though, it’s tough to stay entirely out of the spotlight.

There are marriage lessons to learn from celebrity power couple Beyonce and JayZ.

There are marriage lessons to learn from celebrity power couple Beyonce and JayZ.

They endured a lot of press coverage when their daughter, Blue Ivy, was born in 2012, but they certainly did not go to great lengths to keep them away, nor have they ever been known to do so.

Perhaps that’s what makes them such a unique superstar couple – they are notoriously famous, and continue to embrace it, appearing with the President of The United States, endorsing clothing lines and other products, releasing and promoting hugely acclaimed albums, and all the while, they are publicly recognized as a happily married couple – but the details of the relationship stay out of the press.

In fact, the most detail fans get about their marriage comes through their music and their performances. They have songs that speak directly about one another, their daughter, and even some of the struggles they’ve gone through – but this material rarely shows up as the subject of interview questions or in the tabloids.

They strike a unique balance between fame and privacy that most celebrity couples never achieve, and during one of their most recent public appearances, they made an even bigger statement!

During this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony, the couple performed a version of Beyonce’s hit “Drunk in Love” and caused quite a stir among media outlets and the online community for being pretty racy.

The song itself is about the happy sex life of a married couple, and one New York Times writer very accurately described this moment as empowering and inspiring for all married couples! Jay-Z and Beyonce are over 30, have a child and terribly busy lives, but in that moment at the Grammys, they showed that marriage can be sexy, that careers and kids don’t kill the spark.

They used the spotlight to show us all their closeness, and maybe teach a little lesson in the process!

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, StrongMarriageNow.com

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Get The Respect You Deserve

On April 14, 2014, in Save Your Marriage, Uncategorized, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

For all of the potential problems that can arise in a relationship, from checked out spouses to affairs, financial woes to substance abuse problems – there’s one very significant marriage-killer that often goes overlooked: lack of respect.

And while respect comes in many forms, and is shown in many ways, a lack of respect is glaringly apparent to the person feeling slighted. It comes in the form of getting walked all over, taking on responsibilities for the household thanklessly, being talked down to, being taken advantage of, or even being ignored.

A lack of respect feels like your problems or concerns don’t matter, like your contributions to the household (or even the relationship) are completely taken for granted.

It's important to show your spouse the respect they deserve.

It's important to show your spouse the respect they deserve.

From time to time, we receive emails and letters describing just this kind of situation. It eats away at the marriage, and drives couples apart – usually through resentment. Even worse, this lack of respect (or even blatant disrespect) can get into people’s heads over time, and make them begin to question their own self worth, or start to think they deserve the disrespectful treatment.

So, if this situation hits close to home, what can you do? How can you get the respect that you (and any person) deserve?

It all starts with respecting yourself - either learning your own value, or breaking the cycle of low self-esteem that disrespect has caused. If you want others to see your worth, you have to see it too. <3

Now, this doesn’t mean going to the opposite extreme, and demanding the utmost respect from everyone around you, or seeing your role in the marriage (or other parts of your life) as the most important. Being respectable doe NOT mean disrespecting others or belittling their contributions. However, to find your own self worth, start by taking stock of all the things you do – it could be chores around the house, responsibilities with the kids, your income, managing your family’s budget, or anything else. Be proud of what you bring to the table!

When you’ve reminded yourself of your own value, how do you get others, particularly your spouse, to recognize it as well?

This is something of a fragile issue. On one hand, causing more conflict won’t really help the marriage. On the other, you simply have to stand up for yourself, even if it causes a little bit of disruption. The very first rule of strong, happy marriages is communication – you need to tell your spouse how you feel.

One of the best ways to avoid blaming (and empower yourself at the same time) is to use “I” statements. This means framing your problems in the way YOU experience them. Instead of saying, “you don’t respect me,” say, “I feel underappreciated.” Instead of saying, “you ignore me,” say, “I feel like we’re not connecting as much as I would like.”

This can be an uphill battle because, as the saying goes, old habits are hard to break.

Ideally, your spouse will realize the damage they are doing to the relationship, and be willing to change their ways. If they don’t understand at first, stick with it! No one deserves to be treated with disrespect, and a marriage cannot thrive if one member of the couple feels unappreciated by the other.

Above all else, be confident and be honest. Communicate your needs to your spouse. Let them know how important it is to you, and how much damage is being done by the current pattern of behavior.

This is a problem that can be overcome, but it takes the confidence to stand up for yourself and speak your mind. Don’t let a cycle of disrespect eat away at 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, StrongMarriageNow.com

There’s a good reason people refer to dogs as “man’s best friend.” If you’ve ever had one of your own, you know exactly why!

Dogs are notoriously loyal, and some of the best nonhuman companions a person can have. Because April is ASPCA’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, we wanted to take a moment to both remind everyone what a joyful experience having a dog can be, and of course, let you know that you can lend a hand to the cause by volunteering for local shelters, or even adopting a pet of your own!

Now, dogs certainly become part of the family, but what if we took some cues from our canine friends for how to act in our relationships? Can we become better companions as well?

You can take some useful relationship lessons from your dog!

You can take some useful relationship lessons from your dog!

Think about what makes having a dog so fulfilling: your pet is always excited to see you, doesn’t hold grudges, senses when you’re upset, and stays by your side through thick and thin.

It may be a little unrealistic to expect a human being to share all of those same traits, but it’s certainly something we can all aspire to!

We don’t necessarily have to have blind obedience to our spouses, but if you’ve ever experienced the heartwarming feeling you get when your dog just can’t wait for you to walk in the door – just imagine what it would feel like if your spouse were just as excited to see you every day.

How great would your spouse feel if you were that excited to see them every day?

This can be taken even further. What about the physical attention and affection a dog loves to receive? They are always ready to play or cuddle up, they love to get outside and run around with you – they’re really up for anything you’re excited about!

In making this comparison, it’s important to note that we aren’t advocating a one-sided, totally devoted relationship, where one person is at the other’s beck and call. Instead, we challenge you to find elements of this fierce loyalty for you to both implement in your marriage.

Imagine how much happiness you could generate in your relationship if you and your spouse looked forward to each other’s company every single day, if you were both ecstatic to get out of the house and play, if you could both overlook each other’s mistakes and move forward without holding a grudge.

The qualities that make dogs such great companions are totally possible for human beings, they just might not come so naturally. If you can think about how great a pet can make you feel, though, simply through their unwavering admiration and love, it only makes sense that showing your spouse that type of affection will make them feel adored!

Take a hint from our four-legged friends, and show your spouse how much you love them!

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, StrongMarriageNow.com

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Over our last two blog posts, we’ve been looking at how attraction changes over time. We’ve talked about some of the causes, as well as some of the specific differences between how men and women experience this change.

To conclude the three part series, we’ll get to the most important part of this whole topic: what you can do about it.

Part 3: What You Can Do About It

Attraction will change over time. There’s really nothing to be done about the gradual changes that we will all experience in life. Our experiences and views can develop as we grow older. We learn new things, we realign our priorities, things happen in our lives that change what we’re interested in, we can even experience biological changes that alter the smells, sounds, tastes, and sensations we find appealing!

There is nothing more constant than change. Our bodies change as we age (and can also change for better or worse, depending on our habits), our careers may shift and cause new financial stress or financial freedom, and we may even pick up new interests over the course of married life that teach us lessons or otherwise alter the way we look at the world around us. We are never done growing and changing.

So, how can we keep up with these changes? How can we keep attraction alive in our marriages with so many things changing around us?

Physical Attraction

Of all of the “things you can do” to keep the mutual attraction alive in your marriage, physical attraction is actually the easiest to maintain!

First, it’s helpful to remember that you and your spouse ARE (or at least were) attracted to each other’s looks. You’ve got a baseline going for you already! If something about you or your spouse’s appearance has changed – and it’s causing attraction to diminish – you can figure out what changed and address it specifically!

It won’t necessarily be easy to confront the problem – it’s pretty embarrassing to discuss what makes someone unattractive, or even to talk about things that have changed for the worse – but it’s the first step to getting things back to how they once were (or at least close).

There ARE things you can do about waining attraction in your marriage.

There ARE things you can do about waining attraction in your marriage.

Perhaps the most common change is weight gain. For some, it’s not even an issue, for others – a major one. So, what can you do about it?

The answer is pretty simple, though a little more difficult in practice: get in shape for your spouse! You don’t have to be embarrassed about it, or feel bad that you’ve neglected it – you just have to be willing to improve! You can even work at it together, no matter what shape you’re in. As an added bonus, exercising boosts sex drive too!

If it’s something else related to physical appearance, like maybe the clothes one spouse chooses, something like bad breath or stinky feet, or a bit of hygiene or personal maintenance that goes ignored – you just have to bite the bullet and talk about it!

If you and your spouse can remain attracted to each other, not only does it improve your sex life, but many other aspects of your life as well. You’ll look forward to seeing each other every day, you’ll smile when they enter a room, you’ll feel proud to call that beautiful woman or handsome man your spouse when meeting new people or visiting new places. You’ll feel more in love!

Sexual Attraction

While physical attraction and sexual attraction are inherently linked (physical appearance plays in important role in sexual desire), there are components of our sex lives and sexual health that can be maintained outside of any sense of physical attractiveness.

Even if you and your spouse are absolutely attracted to one another, a sexual relationship can experience ups and downs over time. Keeping that spark alive will take effort from both members of a marriage.

This happens partly because of a very basic human impulse – the more of the same stimulus, the less we are affected over time. This means that the “same old same” will eventually cease to be as exciting as it once was. This doesn’t mean that you need to be exploring all sorts of wild bedroom activities (unless you want to, of course) – it just means that you need to keep things fresh!

Just by keeping the health of your sex life in mind, you can do wonders for your relationship! Be flirty, touch each other, break out of your routines – all of these things keep both of you feeling sexy and sexually attracted to one another.

Don’t worry if your sexual chemistry waxes and wanes from time to time, it’s only natural. Just be sure you’re not assuming that once it wanes a little, it can’t come back. That kind of complacency is precisely what prevents people from rekindling their spark!

Most importantly: talk about what’s going on with you! If you’re experiencing problems, feeling unattractive, want to try something new, have reservations about what your spouse wants, feeling unsatisfied – anything that’s getting in the way of a fulfilling sex life with your spouse – you have to discuss it, or it will never get any better.

Learning to be open and honest about your desires and hang-ups will help keep you and your spouse connected for the long haul.

Attitude

In part 1 of this series, we talked about how your mental image of your spouse plays into attraction. When we fixate on something that bothers us, it can cloud the entire picture we hold of our spouses, and make us resentful of certain characteristics or behaviors.

Overcoming this problem isn’t always simple, but making sure you’re keeping an open mind and concentrating on the positives will certainly help!

We’re all human, and the longer we spend time with our spouses, the more likely we are to pick up on little nuances and quirks that drive us up a wall. Remember, though, you’re probably doing the same to your spouse. No one is perfect, and focusing on the little negatives will do little but carve a rift in your marriage.

It’s ok to talk about these things, but not to the point of nagging a spouse for a relatively minor personality quirk. Remind yourself why you love this person, and why you fell for them in the first place. Compared to all of the great qualities that made you want to marry this person, what’s so important about a little bad habit or annoyance?

This isn’t to say that you can’t be a little irritated, or that working together to minimize the ways you grate on each other’s nerves isn’t an important part of growing your bond together. Just remember that how you perceive your spouse depends largely on the qualities you choose to focus on.

The Best You

Now, for all of the ways that you and your spouse can work together to keep attraction thriving, perhaps the best way of all depends solely on YOU.

To keep your spouse attracted to you, be the best you that you can possibly be!

This means taking care of your physical and mental health, practicing kindness and honesty, doing your best to stay positive, setting your priorities for the best interests of yourself and your loved ones, and all around being the best version of yourself that you can imagine!

It may sound a little vague, but this “best self” will be a little bit different for everyone. No matter what it means to you, when you’re motivated to live up to your full potential and actively pursuing happiness and personal growth, you’ll glow!

If you and your spouse are both following this path, and encouraging each other along the way, you’ll both blossom into warm, happy individuals – who are totally irresistible to each other! Two thriving individuals make for one thriving marriage!

Staying attractive over time is a complicated issue, but with these tactics in mind, and the will to keep your marriage alive and well, you can stay deeply in love through all of the changes life throws your way.

How have you and your spouse stayed connected over the years? Let us know in the comments!

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, StrongMarriageNow.com

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In our last post, we began a series on how attraction can change over time. We looked at a few of the ways levels of attraction can fade based on appearance, overall sexual attraction, and how mental image can affect how you’re attracted to your spouse.

Today, we continue by comparing and contrasting the way men and women process that change in attraction over time.

Part 2: Men and Women

The way we think about attractiveness, as perceived by men and women, is rooted in some pretty hard-to-shake stereotypes. It’s easy to think that all men just want a “hot” woman. We’re constantly reminded that things like wealth and power make a man more attractive to a woman. While these generalizations are true to a certain extent, they are not universally true – and there are plenty of other factors at work.

Women can also be attracted based on looks alone, and men are not immune to the charms of wealth and power. Attraction is a little bit different for everyone, so the way it develops over time will be relative.

The way you handle day-to-day activities plays a role in your level of attraction.

The way you handle day-to-day activities plays a role in your level of attraction.

Biology

It’s important to remember that some of our attraction impulses aren’t really ours to understand or control. The entire process is built upon factors necessary for the survival our species, and is so deeply ingrained in us, we barely notice it’s happening!

Particularly feminine or masculine qualities, signs of healthy, childbearing bodies in women, signs of virility and the ability to provide and protect in men, and other similarly “basic needs” in a partner trigger our animal brains, who have little but procreation in mind!

These underlying desires don’t just go away after we’ve settled into life with a partner. A man’s natural desire for a “healthy” partner is largely responsible for men’s interest in curvaceous women, and even women’s innate desire for a “protector” plays into the broad-shouldered, muscular body type that many women are attracted to.

Over time, however, these factors can become less and less important. Even though people still desire a physically attractive mate, other traits, like being a good caregiver to children, showing leadership, commitment to the family unit, etc., start to come into play – even for our most primal instincts of attraction!

So, with this in mind, it only makes sense that “hotness” only goes so far in a long-term relationship or marriage. At some point, factors like personal responsibility, accountability, and dependability become just as important (if not more) than physical appearance.

Men

Men have a bit of a bad reputation. They’re often portrayed as the drooling cartoon wolf, more concerned with a woman’s curves than her personality. There’s no doubting that there’s at least some truth to this, since men are very visually stimulated (and women know just how to attract their attention).

But over the course of a relationship, what may have begun as a purely physical attraction (which includes things like tone of voice, motion, smell, and other aesthetic elements) has to change to include all of those non-physical qualities that make people interested in spending their time together.

In other words, physical attraction can only get a man so far. He will eventually come to see that a woman’s opinions, interests, habits, and the like have just as much to do with his overall level of attraction.

As the couple grows closer and closer together, a man’s attraction is also dictated by the way he’s treated by his wife! Men tend to want to maintain a certain level of independence, typically want to have their egos validated, and will often seek a fine line where their wives rely on them for certain things, but are not totally dependent upon them. After years and years have passed in a marriage, these qualities may be more important than a primal, physically motivated attraction.

And while sex remains important throughout the duration of a marriage, men’s sex drive, which may be all but insatiable in their younger years, may begin to taper off naturally. This means that the bond formed through the sexual relationship takes on new meaning to a man over time. As trust grows, so does his ability to be vulnerable, and he looks to his wife for a trusted confidant, someone he can admit his concerns, fears, and weaknesses to.

Over time, a man’s attraction to his wife becomes less about appearance and more about companionship. The basic need for physical attraction doesn’t necessarily go away, but it is eventually overshadowed by a much deeper, much more personal and unique interest in the inner workings of his wife’s personality (and how it interacts with his own).

Women

As mentioned above, women are not immune to the purely physical attraction of a nice body, eyes, good looks, etc. However, most women will admit that while physical attraction is important in the earliest phases of finding a partner, elements of personality and other “non-physical” details about a man also come into play.

In some ways, this is little more than a stereotype, but we’ve probably all seen an example of a woman willing to “overlook” some shortcomings in physical appearance for the sake of a winning personality. Women often cite things like sense of humor, attentiveness, stability, or intelligence as attractive qualities in men. If nothing else, this indicates that that initial physical attraction may be less important, and that real attraction takes time for women to develop.

With this in mind, it’s easy to understand how this attraction based directly on getting to know a man’s personality can extend over the course of a long relationship. Some women become more attracted to their husbands over time, as they see him become more comfortable and share more about himself, and as they get a better sense of his true personality.

It’s also worth mentioning that some of the physical qualities that women find attractive in men, like shoulders, hands, jawline, etc., don’t necessarily change very much over time, and can even become more “distinguished” looking as a man ages.

Even for attractions rooted in physical appearance, though, the qualities of a good husband have to emerge over time. As a marriage progresses, qualities like stability, self-control, and compassion become more and more important. Even women who were initially attracted to “alpha male” types will look for more subdued qualities in a long-term partner (even if they are still attracted to that competitive, “alpha” behavior).

In the long-term, most women want a man who will listen to them, who will pay attention to their needs, and provide a certain level of stability and perceived safety.

Physical attraction still plays its part, but those intangible qualities only become more important over time.

Men and Women

Despite all the differences in the way men and women are attracted to one another, maintaining long-term attraction is remarkably similar. As relationships develop and mature, personality, and how couples treat each other, become increasingly important.

For both men and women, the way their partners conduct themselves in the day-to-day of married life becomes a driving force of attraction. It could be the way they attend to the kids, the way they greet one another after a long work day, the way they handle conflict, or even the way they interact with friends and family.

The qualities of an engaged and attentive spouse aren’t just attractive in a sexual way, they are attractive in the interest of maintaining a close and healthy marriage – and as time goes on, couples may start to realize that these two separate “attractions” are equally important.

Now, one of the biggest problems many couples experience over time is complacency. As the marriage goes on, one or both people begin to take the relationship for granted, and may stop putting effort into “attracting” the spouse they already have.

This is even more apparent in the realm of physical appearance. Even though we can’t control our body’s aging process, plenty of married people complain that their spouse has all but given up on maintaining an attractive appearance. Of course this needs to be a two-way street, and it’s unfair to expect a spouse to put extra effort into their appearance if you aren’t willing to do the same – but this is a major difficulty for many couples as they get older, have children, settle into careers, etc.

Next time, we’ll dive into the most important part of this series: what you can do about it.

We’ll look at ways you can stay attractive for your spouse, talk a little more about why it’s so important, and explore the long-term benefits of lasting attraction and connection in your marriage. Until next time, keep thinking about the ways attraction has changed in your own marriage, and let us know in the comments!

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, StrongMarriageNow.com

 

Marriages are a long-term commitment. The whole idea rests on sticking together through thick and thin, on developing and maintaining a partnership that can withstand the test of time. You and your spouse are supposed to be a team, each other’s support and confidant, and a source of pleasure and affection.

So, what are we supposed to do if we’re not attracted to our spouse anymore?

To answer this tough question, we’ll have to look at a LOT of angles, so the next few posts will be dedicated to how and why attraction can change over time, how it affects men and women differently, and what we can do about it.

Part 1: How and Why

Appearance

Everybody knows that appearances change with age. As we get older, we might start to sag in a few places, gain some wrinkles, lose some hair – you name it! The human body just works this way – no one can stop the aging process.

But what about other ways people change in appearance? One of the more obvious changes (and one of the most common complaints) is weight gain. The potential reasons are endless of course, from stress to eating habits to simple complacency and lack of motivation to stay in shape.

Sometimes it’s more complex than that, though. A change in appearance could be more subtle, like the effects of too much drinking or smoking, an overhaul in personal style, or even emotional or psychological changes that can affect body language, posture, and the way a person “carries” themself.

Sometimes changes to our appearances are something we can control, and sometimes they aren’t. Either way, this relationship between appearance and attraction is a major part of marriage. Learning to understand the differences between what’s controllable and what’s not – and proceeding accordingly – is integral to the longevity of the marriage.

Sexual Attraction

Sexual attraction can be very closely related to appearance, but doesn’t necessarily have to be. It’s perfectly natural for the sex lives of married couples to wax and wane in intensity, but it can become a serious problem if the “valleys” never turn back into “peaks.”

Attraction can fade in any marriage for a number of reasons.

Attraction can fade in any marriage for a number of reasons.

Changes in sexual attraction can happen for many, many reasons – some physical, some psychological. Beyond the direct relationship between physical appearance and sexual attraction, the frequency and satisfaction of sex with your spouse can be affected by poor health, too much stress, not enough sleep, self-esteem issues, and other personal factors that make it difficult to “get in the mood” or even see your spouse in a sexual way.

As for being sexually attracted to your spouse, there are bad habits that some couples fall into that can all but remove the sexual element of their relationship. These bad habits, like falling into a cycle of very little physical contact or one spouse becoming like a “parent” figure (controlling decision making, finances, etc.) for the other, come in a variety of forms, but all consist of behaviors that allow the marriage to operate without physical affection.

For most cases, this happens gradually, but because couples either aren’t feeling attracted to their spouses, or aren’t feeling sexually confident in themselves, the problems go unaddressed – and eventually a couples’ sex life is all but nonexistent!

And because physical contact, affection, and sex help build and maintain both emotional connections and sexual desire, a sexless (or attraction-less) marriage only creates a vicious cycle of further disconnection.

Mental Image

While there may be little we can do about what we find inherently attractive about our spouse’s appearance, there’s actually a lot of baggage we put on ourselves that makes it much, much worse.

Think about it this way: the opinions you hold are the products of the “stories” you tell yourself about people, places, whatever. When you fixate on a certain version of the “story,” it becomes the defining lens for the way you think about a person.

For example, if you find your spouse’s weight gain to be unattractive, and this thought stays at the front of your mind, it will eventually become a part of your overall mental image of your spouse. You internalize this thought, and it becomes harder and harder to see them (or even think about them) without this component in the mix.

The same thing can happen if we focus on an annoying habit, something hurtful they once said, or any other bit of negativity. We start to focus on the bad, and it clouds our ability to see the good.

As you can imagine, this can severely damage our ability to be attracted to our spouses - not directly because of something they’ve said or done, or even the way they look, but because of the way we think about it.

Growing Apart

Perhaps the riskiest (and hardest to see) change that can happen in attraction is a slow shift in both of your personalities – and by the time you notice that you’ve both changed, you feel like you no longer know your spouse.

This too is a product of not spending enough time together and not communicating openly enough, but instead of it being the physical effects of not enough touch, it’s the psychological effects of an emotional and mental disconnection. You can even still be physically attracted to one another, but the spark that made conversations easy and time fly by seems to be gone.

This is the deeper side of attraction, beyond physical appearances, and if this element of the relationship is lost, it can be very, very difficult to get back. Both appearances and personalities will inevitably change over time, and couples need to be prepared to navigate those changes together.

These are just some of the ways attraction can change over time – there are surely others, and every marriage will have its own unique facets. The purpose of the introduction to this series is to get you thinking about the potential changes and challenges you may have to face in your marriage. Or, if you’ve already experienced some of these things, to understand that they are fairly common, to think about what causes the problems, and to know that they can be overcome!

Next time, we’ll talk about how these changes in attraction affect men and women uniquely, and how the things men and women each find desirable can change over time. This is a complex topic, and something that many, many couples struggle with.

We’re here to help – more coming soon!

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, StrongMarriageNow.com

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A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley looked at more than 80 heterosexual couples, all middle-aged and older, to discover how they recovered from disagreements – and how that recovery process affected marital happiness.

The results of the study showed something that some of you might know (albeit intuitively) already!

The study found that the biggest driving factor in marital happiness in the wake of a disagreement was how quickly the wife calmed down. In a more general sense, this indicates that, at least for the demographic studied, a happy wife means a happy marriage!

A new study shows that (middle-aged and older) women may be the key to happiness in a marriage.

A new study shows that (middle-aged and older) women may be the key to happiness in a marriage.

Now, this isn’t true across the board, of course. It takes both members of a marriage to keep things happy and healthy, but this study certainly says a lot about who’s pulling the emotional strings of the marriage, and lends some validity to the stereotype that women are the emotional epicenters of romantic relationships.

The study, lead by Lian Bloch, looked closely at the process of calming down emotionally, not necessarily resolving the problem itself, and found that when wives were able to calm down more quickly, both members of the marriage reported higher levels of overall happiness.

The researchers believe that this is directly related to communication, and more importantly, the way effective communication relates to marital satisfaction. Bloch says, “You don’t have to have an anger-free marriage to have a happy marriage. By calming down emotionally instead of being caught up in the negative hot spots, couples are able to think and communicate solutions more clearly, and this drives marital satisfaction.”

When the wife is able to calm down, it in turn helps her husband calm down, and the couple can move forward with more effective communication, resolve problems, and achieve higher levels of happiness! It doesn’t mean not getting angry, it just means overcoming the emotional hurdles that can cause you to say things you regret, make rash decisions, and prevent productive problem solving.

Husbands, you’re not completely off the hook on this one – you both contribute to marital happiness. This study, however, confirms that (for this demographic) women may very well be the emotional gatekeepers. When wives are happier, husbands are happier, and the entire marriage is stronger for it!

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, StrongMarriageNow.com

 

It’s something we never really want to think about – the dreaded moment where we’ve tried and tried, and the only solution that seems to be left is to separate from our spouse.

Now, if you’ve been following our blog or subscribing to the StrongMarriageNow System, you know that we believe marriages can be saved even when it looks like all hope is lost. We’ve developed methods to work on your marriage when your partner is checked out, ways of helping them to understand the importance of making a joint effort to improve the relationship, and more.

But sometimes – and hopefully the rarest of occasions – separation seems like the only option left.

Ending the relationship should be a last resort!

Ending the relationship should be a last resort!

So when is separating from your spouse a viable option? We’ve narrowed it down to three scenarios:

1. Abuse

This is the ONE area of marriage problems that you simply can’t wait around for things to get better. If a spouse is physically or sexually abusive (or verbally abusive in some extreme cases), getting out is the only right thing to do. This goes beyond working on a marriage, and into the territory or criminal behavior that needs to be reported to the authorities. Abuse should never be tolerated.

2. You’ve Exhausted EVERY Opportunity

In some cases, one half of a marriage is just too stubborn or inconsiderate to change at all. These are the people who have checked so far out of their marriages that they won’t even entertain the idea of working to make things better. If a spouse refuses to end an affair, won’t consider counseling, won’t even glance at any educational material, or even admit that they might be part of the problem, there is very little you can even do!

To be clear, this should be the very last resort. You should consider separation only when you’ve absolutely exhausted every possible solution, and haven’t gotten anywhere. When you’ve truly tried everything you can think of, sought out all of the help available to you, and made every effort under the sun to at least begin the process of getting your marriage back on track – and you don’t even see a glimmer or hope – it might finally be time to let go.

3. For Your Sanity, For Space, For Progress

While separating can be a sign that things are over – it doesn’t have to be! This third reason is all about temporary separation - a chance to hit the reset button and reevaluate your relationship.

One of the biggest problems that some couples face is the inability to communicate about one issue at a time. There’s so much pent up frustration, anger, and hurt that it all comes exploding out every time one tiny little thing comes up. This is totally preventative to progress.

Because anger and frustration are such powerful emotions, and because people have a tendency to stew on the things that bother them until they come boiling to the surface, sometimes taking some space away from one another can actually provide the perspective needed to start addressing the problems.

Remember, this is a temporary solution. Staying apart will ultimately cause you to grow apart, but if you’re butting heads so often that you can’t even begin to address the problems in the marriage, taking a step back will give you a chance to reflect, regroup, and start working on the issues one at a time.

If this fits your situation, you must remember to use separation as a momentary “cool down.”

Make a point to come together (even while the “separation” is in effect) to talk, to see if you can address one issue or resolve one problem. Come together for counseling or SMN videos, to spend time with the kids or share a meal. Whatever you do, don’t let being separate become the norm.

While we don’t like to see married couples have to come to separation, sometimes it’s the only option left. Make your decisions carefully, and resort to separation only when you absolutely have to!

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, StrongMarriageNow.com

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How Google Saved My Marriage

On March 19, 2014, in Save Your Marriage, by Dr. Dana Fillmore

The internet has changed so many things about our society, from the way we do business to the way we stay in touch with our friends and family. It’s changed the way we shop, created new terminology, and even redefined the way we can make new friends!

When it comes to marriage though, how is the modern, online world helping? At a glance, it might seem like there are more temptations than anything else. In the past, we’ve talked about the potential problems of reconnecting with old flames via Facebook, as well as the issues posed by all of the pornographic content available online.

Most people think the internet can only cause harm to marriages. See how Google helped one married couple.

Most people think the internet can only cause harm to marriages. See how Google helped one married couple.

The internet, however, can also be a way to save marriages!

At StrongMarriageNow, we know first hand how a simple Google search can turn the tides on a struggling relationship – all because readers like you have been kind enough to share their stories!

One of our email subscribers, Michael from Canada, wrote to us:

“I was devastated with the breakup, so I started to look online to what I could find to help me try to get reconnected with my wife – and possibly save my marriage.”

A fortunate Google search led him to our site. He goes on to say:

“Currently, I receive daily messages from StrongMarriageNow.com, and although I have not bought the program yet, I have either watched the online videos or read some VERY helpful information that relates to my situation. I am learning a lot about marriage, and how people fall in out of love, and that marriage takes work. I have started to use the information that I have learned from this program as a better way to communicate with my wide, and to better understand marriage and life.”

Michael’s marriage was in trouble, and a simple Google search set him on the path to not only rethinking his approach to marriage, but also equipping him with the tools to really make a difference!

How did you find StrongMarriageNow.com? What other ways has an online search gotten you the information you needed to make a positive change in your life?

Let us know in the comments section below!

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, StrongMarriageNow.com

 

Over the last two articles, we’ve been looking at the problems alcohol can cause for your health and for your marriage. Today, we’ll finish up this three-part series by discussing another area of your life threatened by alcohol abuse: your family.

Much like the ways drinking can damage a marriage, the social and psychological impact of such behavior has a way of causing trouble with members of the immediate (and even the extended) family.

If someone is drinking too much, too often, they have a tendency to check out of their day-to-day lives, and this means checking out of the lives of family members as well. This distance can lead to family members feeling isolated from a person they love, or worse, feeling completely unimportant.

Drinking can cause problems in not only your marriage, but the rest of your family as well.

Drinking can cause problems in not only your marriage, but the rest of your family as well.

If causing family members to feel isolated and unimportant wasn’t bad enough, missing family events and being generally uninvolved in family affairs can also breed resentment and anger – which damages relationships even further.

On the behavioral side of things, people struggling with alcohol problems also have a tendency to lash out at their family members, and even blame them for the problems instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. In some cases, this can lead family members to blame themselves, damaging their self-esteem. This misplaced sense of responsibility can do lasting damage, and will likely impact future relationships.

As we discussed last time, being under the influence of alcohol impedes the ability to make rational decisions, and when it comes to parenting, this can have devastating consequences. Beyond endangering the safety of young ones, consistently poor decision-making can spur a cycle of problematic behavior. Our children learn from us whether or not we are teaching them directly, and if they observe a parent drinking heavily, making bad decisions, etc., they may very well follow suit.

The problems associated with alcohol abuse are numerous, and there are many more that we haven’t even touched throughout this series. The main point, however, should be absolutely clear: excessive drinking threatens more than just personal health and safety – an individual’s behavior can have consequences for people beyond themselves, namely the people closest to them, like family members and spouses.

If you think you may have a problem, or know someone who does, help is available through counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous, and many other organizations dedicated to helping people overcome alcohol addiction and getting their lives back on track. Know that you’re not alone – help is out there!

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, StrongMarriageNow.com

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