The healing process after an affair is often very slow and very painful. Trust has been broken, emotions are running extremely high, and there’s often doubt that the marriage can ever survive such a blow.

If you’ve made it to the healing stage (whatever that means for you), it means you’ve at least acknowledged that the affair happened, and have decided to try to get things back on track.

Congratulations! That’s a HUGE first step. It means that you’ve decided the marriage is worth saving, that the affair doesn’t instantly mean that the marriage is over, and that there’s still enough of a connection between the two of you to make it work.

So – assuming you’ve made those difficult decisions already – moving forward is going to be a rough road. You’ll have to face up to some very painful truths, dig into the dynamics of the relationship you’ve created, and work toward forgiveness. Today, we’re covering some facts that can help.

These facts might not necessarily make you feel better, but if you know these things going in, perhaps you’ll face fewer surprises, be in more control of your emotions, and be able to approach solutions more rationally.

There are steps to take that will help you heal after an affair.

There are steps to take that will help you heal after an affair.

This might not be pretty, but they are essential to understand as you work through the aftermath of an affair.

1. Your Spouse Is A Liar… And They Can’t Prove Otherwise

At some point during an affair, your spouse lied to you. Maybe it was to cover their tracks, maybe it was to “protect” you, maybe it was something more serious – one way or another, though, no affair can take place without a certain amount of dishonesty.

Unfortunately, that means that you can’t really trust what they say, no matter what promises they make. That is, you can’t trust them UNTIL YOU CHOOSE TO.
No amount of begging, pleading, promising, or “proving themselves” will solve the problem entirely. You have to choose to reinvest your trust. They can’t convince you – they can only help make your choice easier. Trust is generally earned through actions, and your spouse’s actions have betrayed your trust. It’s going to take time to rebuild it, and it’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.

2. Details Hurt

You may think you want to know all the gory details, but if the emotional wound is still fresh… You don’t.
The specifics of when it started, where things happened, and even what happened won’t do much but give you more to think about, more to feel hurt about, and more to demonize your spouse over. The more you know, the more you’ll have to forgive.

Now, if you still want to know the ugly details after some time has gone by, after you’ve patched things up, then you have every right to ask – but understand that it won’t make you feel any better. It might even be a good idea to only bring up such questions when see a counselor or in some kind of mediated conversation. Dredging up the details can send you spiraling back into pain and distrust, even if the affair is long over.

3. Your Spouse Is The Source Of Your Pain

As tough as it is to admit – it’s true. Your spouse is the one who wronged you, and right now, they are the source of all the hurt you’re going through. This is important to understand because it helps you shift away from blaming yourself, searching for outside “reasons,” or making excuses for them.
Also, once you internalize that they are the source of the pain, you can take the necessary space to think long and hard about rebuilding trust with them. You won’t be tempted to fall back into old patterns right away.

4. You Can Still Make It Work

In the worst moments, this may be another fact that’s extremely hard to accept, but it’s true! You can still make your marriage work – it will just take time and effort.

Your marriage isn’t over unless you decide it is. You can find ways to forgive your spouse, reconnect emotionally, and move forward. The key is to recognize that your OLD marriage wasn’t a relationship that worked, but that you can embark on a NEW marriage with the person you’re already married to. You have to put the past behind you, own up to faults, and agree to start fresh. It won’t be easy, but it IS possible.

5. You Likely Can’t Do It Alone

When your spouse cheats on you, the emotional impact is devastating. In the face of such hurt, it’s difficult to make rational decisions, to communicate effectively, to even be in the same room as your unfaithful spouse…

Your judgment is clouded, you might be acting out of hurt or anger, and you can only see the situation from your own subjective position. With some professional help, though, you can understand the whole issue in a little more context, understand the conditions in your marriage that led to the affair, learn about forgiveness, and hopefully get some of those emotionally charged thoughts and actions under control.

A properly trained third party can make all the difference in getting you and your spouse talking again, helping you avoid destructive conflict, and teaching you tactics for rebuilding the damaged connection.

Our How To Survive An Affair video series is a great place to start!

It will likely be a slow process, but armed with the right attitudes and a commitment to one another, you and your spouse can rebuild your marriage after an affair. In fact, your “new” marriage can be stronger and healthier than the old one ever was! Get to work, be strong, and rebuild your relationship into the marriage you’ve always wanted!

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

End The Loneliness and Hurt... Watch This Video Today


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

Self-esteem is a tricky topic. There are so many factors, both internal and external, that can affect how you feel about yourself, and those things can change seemingly on a dime… Improving self-esteem is just as complicated. It can involve a myriad of changes – the most important of which have to happen in your own mind.

Today, we want to dig into one specific area of self-esteem: body image. This is effectively how you feel about your own physical self – from height and weight to hair, skin, figure, foot size… You name it!

How you feel about the way you look plays a major role in your overall self-esteem, and can have a serious impact on the quality of your marriage.

Imagine this scenario: you and your spouse are fixing dinner or getting ready for bed, and they come over and put their arms around your waist. It’s meant to be an act of affection, but as they embrace you, all you can think about is the weight you’ve gained, the self-consciousness you feel about a “spare tire.” Maybe you voice this concern to your husband or wife, and they tell you not to worry – that you’re attractive and sexy. Still, nothing they say can get you out of your own head, and you brush off their compliments because of your negative thoughts about your own body…

Is your body image hurting your marriage?

Is your body image hurting your marriage?

Not only is it a problem if you feel that way for you personally, it also creates a pretty major problem in the marriage. Think about it: if your spouse is complimenting you, trying to make advances or offer you affection, and you resist because of your own negative body image, how does that make your spouse feel?

They may internalize it and blame themselves, they may not understand because of how attractive you are to them, or at the very least, they may feel powerless to help you.

Negative body image affects sex lives, overall confidence, even willingness to open up emotionally. It can make us withdraw from the people we love and make us think we aren’t good enough, that they shouldn’t be attracted to us… Even worse, it can make us ignore affection, never getting to a place of intimacy or pleasure, all because we can’t stop thinking about “how bad” we look, what’s wrong with our appearance, what we wish we could change… And most of the time, it’s totally unrealistic!

In fact, according to the Social Issues Research Centre, the “ideal woman” as described by popular culture is a size and shape only attainable by less than 5% of women – and that’s just one example!

So, where do we go from here? First, let’s talk a little about how and why this happens – then we’ll get into what you can do about it.

Why It Happens

Body image problems stem from a number of factors, but many of them can be boiled down to the expectations we have for ourselves - and the outside influences of media and society about standards of appearance and attractiveness.

It can start in our younger years, and many people fixate on things they don’t like about themselves – crooked teeth, a birthmark, their ears, whatever – and carry that assumption of negativity with them into adult life. This can also happen as we age or experience changes in our bodies. We worry (and internalize) thoughts about weight, gray hair, wrinkles, and so on, to the point where it’s all we see when we look in the mirror.

Add to this the bombardment we receive (nearly around the clock) from television, social media, magazine covers, and the like – where the vast majority of the people we see are in great shape, with perfect hair and flawless skin… And it’s pretty easy to understand how we can get down on ourselves because of appearance. We simply can’t help but compare ourselves to the images we see and the people we encounter every day.

There are also people who criticize, cultural standards, and so much more that all work themselves into our brains and influence the way we feel about our own bodies… It’s just so easy to see “everyone else” in a different light than we see ourselves, and that can have hefty consequences on relationships.

What You Can Do

Now, there are two major ways we can fight back against negative body image. The first is all mental. It’s definitely easier said than done, but you can change you basis of comparison – or stop comparing altogether. Remind yourself that the people in magazines are not only professionals at “being good looking,” but also that the images are often altered, they’ve got top notch makeup, and that only the very best images even find themselves into the pages.

You can also remember that others see you differently than you see yourself. They probably don’t notice that things you fixate on, they probably have their own issues of self-consciousness, and so on. Even the most attractive people you see probably have some hang up – you’re not alone!

Another portion of this “mental solution” is to understand that confidence affects how attractive you feel AND how other people perceive you. Being comfortable in your own skin (again, perhaps easier said than done) is half the battle! No one is perfect, and you’re the only YOU there is! Quiet that mental noise that gets you down.

We could go on and on about the mental battles of body image and self-esteem, but you get the idea. Your body isn’t perfect, and neither is anyone else’s. Learn to love the body you have, be grateful for your best features, and focus on the good over the bad!

Now, the other piece of this is physical… And it won’t work for every potential body image problem… However, if you’re self-conscious about your weight, figure, lack of muscle tone, etc. – get to work! These are the parts of your body and appearance you CAN change. Healthy habits like diet and exercise have a huge effect on your hair, skin, teeth, etc. as well.

This is an area where you can absolutely control what your body looks like, and you can start as small as low intensity exercise and minor diet changes. If you and your spouse can commit together, you can both improve your bodies (and your health) with the support of the person you’re closest to.

Negative body image is a mental and social trap we fall into that fills is with doubt, distracts us from marriage, and builds up unrealistic expectations. If this sounds all too familiar, talk about it with your spouse and try to tackle both sides of the solution. Do what you can to work on the actual parts of your body you feel self-conscious about, but more importantly, change the way you think about what you’re “supposed” to look like. It will take time and daily effort, but you can fight back against the negative thoughts and standards that are creating roadblocks in your marriage. Think positive!

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

You Really Can Live Happily Ever After. Watch This Video Now

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

The New Year is just around the corner! As January 1st approaches, we can’t help but think about new beginnings and start making plans for the year to come. Just about everybody has things they want to improve on, and restarting the annual cycle has a way of putting those goals and concerns right at the front of our minds.

Unfortunately, most of those resolutions – even when they have best intentions – fall by the wayside pretty quickly. We obsess over the opportunity to begin anew, but soon the luster wears off, we settle back into our routines, and keep on doing the same old things we did last year. Research suggests that just 12% of people come anywhere close to fulfilling their New Year’s resolutions.

Part of the problem is ineffective goal setting and tracking… Not sticking with initial efforts, making too drastic of a change too quickly (especially with things like diet and exercise), or not knowing where to begin. People also lose sight of their goals because they don’t back up their actions with a purpose.

With that idea in mind, resolutions to improve your marriage provide you with accountability (by sharing the promise with your spouse), as well as a sense of purpose to keep you on track. You are a part of your marriage every single day, and it affects nearly everything you do. What sense of purpose could be better? Making your marriage as strong, happy, and satisfying as possible has a direct impact on your own happiness, sense of support, and overall satisfaction with life!

Help your marriage with this resolution

Help your marriage with this resolution

So – even if you’re making other resolutions this year – choose one of the following to tackle in the New Year:

• Improved Communication – This could be simply talking more openly with each other, improving your listening skills, asking each other more questions, or feeling more comfortable tackling difficult topics. Start small and work toward talking comfortably and calmly about anything!

• Better Sex Life – Trying new things, feeling more confident, flirting throughout the day, setting aside time for intimacy, etc. can all help improve your sex life. Like any of these goals, it takes time to really see results – but if you stick with it, remember the purpose behind it, and really put in the effort, your sex life will only get better and better as 2017 goes on!

• Conflict Resolution – Resolving conflict, apologizing, and offering forgiveness are actually skills that you can develop. Taking the time to learn the methods is like an investment into your future, allowing you to more effectively deal with problems when they arise, and not hold grudges and negative feelings toward each other. You can commit to studying the pieces, and put them into practice every time a conflict happens.

• Budget – So many couples fight about money, but don’t have a budget or financial plan to help them get on the same page. With this resolution, the two of you can make a financial plan for the year to come, agree on it, and refer back to it any time there’s a disagreement about spending.

• More Quality Time – This is probably the best thing you can do for your marriage, and it’s as simple as setting time aside – away from distractions – to spend with one another. This helps nearly every aspect of your marriage, from communication to sex, simply because the more quality time you spend together, the closer you get… And the closer you get, the more you care.

If you can both agree to take on one or more of these things as your 2017 New Year’s resolution, you stand a good chance of sticking with it. You’ll have each other for support and accountability, you can move as gradually as you need to, and you have the ultimate sense of purpose: the health and safety of your relationship!

Here’s to a new year, and improved attitude, a commitment to positive change, and making your marriage the best its ever been!

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

Fall Back In Love, Watch This Entire Video Today


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

You may choose your spouse, but you certainly don’t choose the family they come from. For some couples, the in-laws become near-and-dear almost instantly – but for many others, a connection to the parents, siblings, and extended family of a spouse can be rough going

You might be from different parts of the world, have totally different interests, or well… You just might not like each other very much.

During the holidays, when many families come together to celebrate, these tense relationships can lead to disaster – or at the very least, some discomfort around the house. The last thing you want during the supposedly cheerful holiday season is to be arguing with your in-laws – especially for your spouse’s sake.

While you’re not going to be able to change their personalities or overcome your differences in an instant, there are steps YOU can take to reduce conflict, keep things friendly, and enjoy the holidays together… Even if you don’t particularly get along.

Is your husband's family ruining the holidays?

Is your husband's family ruining the holidays?

1. Middle Ground

An extension of the old “don’t talk about religion or politics” rule, you can help keep things on an even keel by finding conversation topics that everyone is interested in – and isn’t too opinionated about.

Maybe it’s sports, movies, or just talking about the delicious meals you’re having. The point is to steer clear of controversial topics, avoid criticism, and keep things relatively “light.” If the conversation starts to wander into dangerous territory, you can make it your mission to get it back to safety.

2. Don’t Criticize

This can be a challenge for many, but even behind closed doors, don’t criticize your husband’s family. Even if he is ranting about them, don’t join in! It might be tough to hold your tongue, but you have to remember that it’s HIS family, and he can badmouth them if he has to – but if you do, suddenly you’re attacking his family.

The next day, he might not remember the things he said, but he’ll certainly remember all the bad things you had to say.

Instead, just keep your mouth shut. If you need to roll your eyes internally, that’s ok, but refrain from voicing your negative opinions out loud. They won’t serve to improve the situation, will only call cause trouble, and will either hurt your spouse’s feelings or bolster them to confront their family – neither of which will make for a very smooth holiday get together.

3. Make The Effort

Even if it’s tough, just TRY to be nice. Even if there’s existing tension, make this year different. Go out of your way to be accommodating and friendly, or at the very least, lead the civility by example. Don’t engage in negativity, even if they are pushing your buttons.

In these moments, remember that these people are your family for better or for worse, and that you owe to it to your spouse to get along with them. If that means occasionally walking away, so be it. If it means keeping all of the conversation “surface level,” then that’s what it takes!

It’s up to you to control your temper, your annoyed expressions, your complaints, and so on. You may not be able to control their behavior, but you can certainly deal with your own!

Everyone is going to have a different relationship with their in-laws, but if you can’t get along naturally, it’s worth taking the steps you can to keep things pleasant during holiday gathering – for your spouse’s sake, for your own stress levels, for the kids, and even as a favor to those extended family members you don’t click with.

Hopefully you can have a happy, calm holiday season. You can make it that way if you try!

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

Check Out Our Video: How To Regain the Love, Rekindle Passion and Save Your Marriage


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

The holiday season is all about love and connection with family and friends, but even if we’re having good times, sharing gifts, and so on, it’s easy to forget to pause – and actually express the love and appreciation we’re feeling.

With that in mind, here’s an idea for a wonderful gift that wont’ cost you a single cent!

Get your

Get your spouse the perfect gift this Christmas.

This year, set aside a few minutes to spend totally alone with your spouse, away from all distractions or kids or guests. Use this time to ask for their undivided attention, look them in the eye, and let them know how much you love them! Share three very specific things that you appreciate and love about them, let them know how they make your life better, what the marriage means to you, and that you look forward to spending the coming year with them.

It doesn’t cost a thing, and the joy it can bring to your spouse is priceless. It’s a way to take a step back from some of the chaos the holidays can bring, and reassure your partner that you’re thinking of them, that you love them, and that you are invested in your future together.

Just taking the time to offer this gift – and doing so with sincerity – can be a boost to your spouse’s confidence, helping them feel more connected to you and more committed to the marriage. Even if you have to go right back to the family gathering (or whatever may be demanding your attention), the loving moment the two of you shared will stick with you!

Having this heart-to-heart can even help you feel more committed to working on the problems you may have as a couple. By recognizing the love you have for each other and sharing a special moment, you are also recognizing that the marriage is worth working for.

Even if you say “I love you” often, taking the time to offer this gift of direct appreciation, praise, and loving words lets your spouse really know how you feel deep in your heart.

Take the time to let your spouse know just what you love about them, and grow your connection throughout the holiday season!

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

End The Loneliness and Hurt... Watch This Video Today


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

Holiday music is a big part of the Christmas tradition, and during this time of year, it’s just about everywhere you turn! From old standards to brand new tunes, there’s certainly no shortage of Christmas music to help you get in the spirit of the season.

Beyond the usual fare, though, there’s also a strong tradition of holiday songs focused on love and togetherness, and the romantic side of this time of year. The holidays are a great chance to spend quality time with your spouse, express your love for one another, and soak in some romantic music to help you feel connected.

Listen to romantic Christmas songs to get in the mood this holiday season!

Listen to romantic Christmas songs to get in the mood this holiday season!

Here are 10 of our favorite romantic Christmas songs. Enjoy!

1. Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas
2. Gloria Estefan – Christmas Through Your Eyes
3. Billy Squier – Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You
4. Sara Bareilles – Love is Christmas
5. Kelly Clarkson – Wrapped in Red
6. Mary J. Blige – This Christmas
7. Marvin Gaye – I Want to Come Home for Christmas
8. Justin Bieber and Boyz II Men – Fa La La
9. Neil Diamond – You Make It Feel Like Christmas
10. 98 Degrees – This Gift

These should cover a decent range of musical preferences, and this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the romantic Christmas songs out there. Chances are, many of your favorite singers have dabbled in holiday music, and whatever style of music you like most, there’s likely a holiday version of it!

Check out the tunes listed above (all available on YouTube – and wherever you typically get your music), and queue up some other favorites as well. You can spend some time with your spouse around the holidays, snuggled up and listening to some romantic music, and give yourselves the gift of stronger marriage!

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

You Really Can Live Happily Ever After. Watch This Video Now

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

When you’ve got company coming for the holidays, it’s common to feel a little frantic. All of those projects you’ve put off, those bits of clutter you haven’t taken care of – they all suddenly come rushing to your attention… Every speck of dust or smudgy window is a reason to feel self conscious about your home…

It’s kind of silly that we let ourselves get so worked up about it, and that we assume the people coming over – likely our friends and family – are going to judge us over the condition of the house.

Still, it’s understandable to want to have everything in order for visitors, and to make your guests feel comfortable in your home. Taken to the extreme, though, it can create more stress than necessary, and prevent you from actually enjoying the company of your guests!

Check out this hysterical video about the pressures we feel with company on the way. It’s definitely a little extreme, but we can all identify with those frantic feelings – and frankly, an unrealistic ideal of how “put together” the house should be for guests.

If you’re pulling your hair out to get ready for company, pause and reflect for moment. Are you giving yourself undue stress? Are you making too big a deal out of the small stuff? Are you even going to let yourself enjoy the holiday visit?

Maybe the absurdity of this video will help you laugh at yourself a little, and act as a reminder that you don’t have to be perfect!

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

Fall Back In Love, Watch This Entire Video Today


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

If you’ve ever lived with an intense snorer, you know how trying it can be. If you’re married to one (or are one yourself), it can have more consequences than mere annoyance – in fact, it can put your whole relationship at risk!

A little bit of snoring from time to time is to be expected, but when it comes to ongoing, nightly, high-volume “sawing logs,” there are a host of problems that couples may have to deal with.

While there are some health concerns for the snorers themselves, today we’re looking at the consequences of being the partner of a heavy snorer – and the rift it can create in marriages.

This problem has two main elements. The first is sleep quality.

Can snoring end your marriage?

Can snoring end your marriage?

When you aren’t getting enough sleep (because of being kept awake or waking up in the night due to your spouse’s snoring), it affects all kinds of activities in your waking life. Not only are your decision making skills impaired when you don’t get healthy sleep, you also face a weakened immune system, reduced reaction time, even difficulty learning.

Not getting enough sleep also leads to irritability – and that’s where it really begins to impact your marriage. If you’re more irritable in a general way, that can lead to more arguments, a shorter temper, blowing small problems out of proportion, and so on. When you can place the source of that irritability upon your spouse, you’re putting yourself on the fast track toward resentment.

More frequent arguments, plus an undercurrent of resentment for your spouse (based on something they can’t really consciously control), will chip away at the quality of the relationship – even if other areas are going wonderfully. As you suffer from insufficient sleep, the negative effects will compound over time. You may not even be consciously aware of anger or resentment, but if you can’t sleep… You will take it out on your spouse or avoid the situation as much as possible.

That idea of avoidance brings us to the next major problem – sleeping separately. It’s perfectly understandable, if your spouse’s snoring is keeping you awake, that you’d seek refuge somewhere else, like the couch or another room in the house.

This may be a short-term solution for getting some sleep, but in the long run, that too begins to chip away at the quality of your marriage. It may begin as an occasional thing – heading somewhere else for some rest when their snoring is at its worst. Eventually, though, you may start heading to this “other place” first, start sleeping in separate rooms every night, and throwing a wrench into your sex life, physical connection, and feelings of closeness.

So – the all-important question – what can you do about it?

First and foremost, talk about it! For some reason, many couples shy away from addressing the issue of snoring – perhaps because they don’t think anything can be done about it, or that they’re making a big deal out of a common problem. The reality, however, is that ANY issue that can put your relationship at risk is worth taking steps to resolve!

Let your spouse know what’s going on, and that you understand isn’t their fault. The next step, then, is to consult your doctor about what can be done about it. In Dr. Dana’s private practice, she has helped numerous couples get back on track by suspecting sleep apnea or other sleep problems as the culprit for snoring, and guiding couples to seek medical help. Many couples don’t even consider that treatment can reduce snoring, and thereby help a major (but often ignored) problem in the relationship.

If snoring is keeping you up at night, causing you sleep separately, and gradually creating a rift in your marriage, don’t stay silent! Talk about it with your spouse and encourage them to explore options for treatment or solutions. It may not seem like a big deal, but the damage it can cause should not be overlooked.

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

Check Out Our Video: How To Regain the Love, Rekindle Passion and Save Your Marriage


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

Stress… That powerful word that describes so many of the struggles we face each day. We all know the feeling: elevated heart rate, anxiety, tension – and we all know that it can come from many, many different sources. We get stressed out about our jobs, our finances, the ever-growing to do list… And of course, our relationships.

In many ways, it’s just a part of reality. Things aren’t going to be easy all the time, and the adrenaline, flushed feelings, and racing heart are (in part) our bodies’ ways of helping us rise to the challenge of solving problems. Even with that slight “upside” of stress, it still doesn’t feel good – and when we face multiple challenges at once, the feelings can compound and become overwhelming, often preventing us from taking action or tackling the problems causing stress in the first place.

Now, there are all kinds of ways to manage “normal” amounts of stress, but how much stress is too much? Ongoing, unmanaged stress – typically called “chronic stress” – actually does damage to our physical and mental health, and nearly 77% of Americans say they experience the physical symptoms of too much stress.

These symptoms, which we will dig into below, are signs that you may be experiencing too much stress, and your body is suffering because of it. Be on the lookout for these signs that chronic stress is reaching unhealthy levels.

Are you under too much stress?

Are you under too much stress?

1. You Get Sick Often

Excessive stress actually reduces immune system function, making it harder for your body to fight against illness. When under stress, the body produces a stress hormone called cortisol, and over time (and too much cortisol), we start to become immune to its effects. Unfortunately, immunity to cortisol can lead to increased inflammation, and with it, higher risk of cold, flu, strep throat, and so on.

If you’re feeling under the weather regularly, it could be the product of too much stress! Make sure you’re paying attention to nutrition, and explore your options for reducing stress – or at least managing it more productively.

2. Itchy Skin

In something of a vicious cycle, stress can make us unconsciously scratch at our arms, wring our hands, touch our faces, etc. This, in turn, can irritate that skin – making us more likely to scratch and mess with it. When we’re under stress, some of these physical sensations of itchiness and discomfort worsen, which only leads to more scratching, more irritation, more reaction… And so the cycle continues.

Managing stress is the best way to resolve this problem, of course, but even making a point to be aware of your physical habits when stressed can help break the cycle. Try to avoid unconsciously scratching at your arms or face in stressful situations.

3. Aches and Pains

Stress can put the body into a state of “fight or flight” – with a raised pulse, adrenaline production, etc. in preparation for reacting to a challenge or threat (or just a perceived challenge/threat). This also triggers the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to increased muscle tension.

When you’re tense for long periods of time, that leads to stiffness and soreness – and the more ongoing and chronic your stress, the more tension you experience. Stretching and exercise will help, but tackling the root causes of the stress is the only real solution.

4. Perspiration

Because of the adrenaline and elevated heart rate that comes with stress, you’re also more likely to sweat. It’s different than sweating from physical activity, and is caused by glands triggered by your stress-induced adrenaline. If you find yourself perspiring without much physical activity, it’s likely the product of too much stress.

5. Headaches

Related to the body aches mentioned above, too much stress leads to particularly severe tension in the neck and shoulders, as well as frequent jaw clenching. This can happen even while you sleep!

These subconscious actions compound into frequent headaches, which make you feel even more uncomfortable… Which can contribute to feeling even more stressed… Making the whole thing worse and worse over time.

Like the symptom of itchy skin, this can partly be combatted with conscious effort to relax your neck and shoulders, even when facing stress, and even going as far as finding devices that help you stop clenching your teeth in your sleep.

All of these symptoms show the kind of damage and discomfort that stress can cause – and these are only some of the problems! If these are familiar to you, you’re likely among the many people today who face too much stress. Because it’s so common, you may also be one of the millions of stress sufferers who just assume it’s normal!

We don’t have to be victims to stress, though, at least not in such a severe way. There are actions we can take to both reduce the stress we experience, and change the way we react to it when it happens.

Nutrition and exercise go a long way in bolstering your body against these symptoms, engaging in calming practices like yoga, meditation, or just moments of mindful relaxation can help us let go of stressors from the day, and perhaps most remarkably, even changing the way we think about stress can reduce the negative effects.

Instead of letting the problems pile up, allowing yourself to be overwhelmed, getting worked up about things you can’t control – or assume you can’t control – there’s tremendous value in changing your mindset. Look at your stressors as challenges to conquer, things to get excited about, and opportunities to improve your life.

Even just this mental shift will help you use adrenaline and your body’s physical response to your advantage. It takes practice, but it can help!

Additionally – and this will likely apply more to your work and relationship - it’s a good idea to evaluate what’s causing you the most stress, and take steps toward improving the situation. If it’s your workload, then seek ways to increase efficiency, talk to coworkers and managers to find the help you need, and try to improve your environment to make the work less stressful.

In your marriage, reducing stress is often about improving the relationship itself. That could mean developing a budget so you stop arguing about money, working on your sex life so you both feel more satisfied, learning to communicate more effectively so arguments happen less often, and so on. You likely know where your marital stress is coming from, so focus on those issues first.

Stress can take a serious toll on your health and happiness, but it doesn’t have to. Take steps to reduce the stress you face, recognize the symptoms of being overstressed, and change the way you think about challenges – you can beat stress if you try!

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

This past November, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary. The couple married in 1947, when Elizabeth was 21 and Philip was 26. They met when Elizabeth was just 13, and when they reconnected as young adults, they fell quickly in love.

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh.

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh.

Their marriage has, of course, been in the public eye since its first moments, and that often comes with scrutiny. Elizabeth and Philip have had their lives documented at every turn, and that’s just a small example of the pressures they must face – not just as royalty, but also just as a married couple.

Over the years, they’ve certainly had their ups and downs, and as any public figures would, they’ve also received plenty of criticism. They’re known to argue loudly, even decades into their marriage, and have had some publicized problems with their 4 children. Because of their positions, they also have to spend time apart to keep up with their responsibilities.

How, after 69 years of the highest profile marriage in Britain, is the couple still happily married?

It would seem that their secret is quality time spent together, and keeping their public and private lives as separate as possible. All through Queen Elizabeth’s reign, they’ve traveled together, enjoyed a busy social life, and sleep in the same bed (despite the English tradition of upper class couples having separate bedrooms). After nearly 70 years of marriage, they are said to still take afternoon tea together every day.

Through numerous interviews and observations, it’s clear that the couple shares a great sense of humor as well, and makes a point to laugh with each other as often as possible. Philip has also said that having separate interests, and being able to pursue them, helps strengthen their relationship.

From the Queen’s perspective, Philip is a tremendous source of strength, and she says that he does much more for their family – and their country – than many people realize.

Their marriage is built on mutual respect and a longstanding love that began when they were nearly teenagers! They recognize that they each have a public role to play, and make a point to be supportive of one another’s responsibilities, but at the end of the day, they are also a playful couple that enjoys small pleasures and commits to spending time together every day.

This is a great lesson on what it takes to keep a marriage intact: respect, support, humor, and quality time spent together. These things keep couples together for decade after decade – royalty or not!

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