Posts Tagged ‘improve marriage’

Hugging Closely

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

by David Banks, PhDCouple Hugging
Dr. Banks will be speaking at the Better Marriages Conference, July 9-12, 2015 in St. Louis
When was the last time you really hugged one another? Do you just wave or call out “goodbye” to each other when you part? Do you just pat each other on the back as you leave in the morning or do a sideways hug? Taking time regularly to give one another a great embrace will strengthen your marriage.
Stand close together and face one another. Adjust the actions as needed to match your mutual heights.
Husband: Wrap your arms around your wife’s waist.
Wife: Wrap your arms around your husband’s neck or waist. Put your head on his chest or shoulders or lean against him in a way that feels comfortable.
Husband: Rest your head on her shoulders or the top of her head or lean against her in a way that is comfortable.
Both: Close your eyes and feel yourselves being held in each other’s embrace.

Better Marriages Conference 2015

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

July 9-12, 2015 in St. Louis, MO
Save the Date
What do you want for your relationship?
More love?
More respect?
More relational skill?
More mutually satisfying JOY?
The shortest distance from where you are to where you want to be is the Better Marriages Conference July 9-12, 2015 in St. Louis, MO!
Meet and Learn from Dozens of Marriage Educators, Relationship Experts, and Authors.
Leave with “put into practice now” relationship tips.
Inspiring Keynotes
Thought-provoking Workshops
Informative Exhibits
Cutting-edge Resources
Up close and personal conversations with authors
Transforming experiences for couples
Networking opportunities and CEUs for professionals

“This marriage event is a no-brainer for our relationship. Every time we attend it brings us closer and strengthens our relationship in ways that nothing else can.”


4 Exotic Destinations For An Unforgettable Anniversary Celebration

Monday, July 28th, 2014

That day was like something out of a storybook. When I got married to my husband eight years ago, I was floating on cloud nine. All of the work that went into planning my dream wedding had finally come to life. The gown was stunning, the venue, impeccable; even the tablescapes were magnificent. Today we have two beautiful kids and a happy marriage, but it’s nearly a decade later the honeymoon stage has long-ago faded. We will be celebrating our wedding anniversary in a few months, and we both thought that this day was cause for a big celebration, you know, to rekindle the romance. We decided to take the trip of a lifetime together; no kids, no distractions, just the two of us.

Every year you celebrate the special day when you said your heartfelt vows to your partner. I think each anniversary should be celebrated in a memorable way if it’s your first or fiftieth. If you have a special anniversary coming up and you’d like to give her a gift she’ll never forget, there are few things better than taking a trip to an exotic location together. The tropical breeze, tasteful libations and intimate one-on-one time will set the tone for an unforgettable, romantic vacation filled with pleasure, passion and more. An escape to a new destination is not only exciting, it gives you time to reconnect and rekindle the passion that brought you together in the first place.
To give her the ultimate surprise, you might want to start your anniversary celebrations by doing some of the traditional thoughtful gestures you normally do each year, like buying her custom jewelry and sending flowers directly to her doorstep. Along with that beautiful bouquet, be sure to enclose a charming note inviting her to join you on a fabulous escape to (insert destination here). With an invite like this, she has no choice but to say yes!
Whether you prefer adventure travel or you and your honey are in need of some serious R&R, or you just want to indulge in the ultimate romantic trip, get your passports ready because these destinations are sure to fit the bill.
Adventure: Galapagos Islands
Forget the cookie cutter vacations that are bland, boring and simply overdone. Impress your special someone with a special excursion through the Galapagos Islands. The islands have become an increasing popular travel destination, going from just under 12,000 visitors in 1979 to over 200,000 in 2013, according to the outdoor experts at Galapagos Park, there are still relatively few people who get the chance to explore this microcosm of evolution. If snorkeling with turtles, sea lions, and dolphins, sea kayaking while spotting whales and bounding across desolate lava fields while watching the mating rituals of blue-footed boobies sounds like your ideal vacation, this is the anniversary getaway for you.

The islands are located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, offering a unique chance for adventure junkies to experience one of the most unspoiled places on our planet. There are few things more romantic than capping off a day filled with thrilling activities by relaxing together on a pristine stretch of white sandy beaches dotted with sea lions and iguanas while watching a dramatic sunset across the dazzling Pacific Ocean.
Intimacy: Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Paper yourselves in luxury. Bathe in soothing geothermal Icelandic waters, enriched with powerful healing ingredients like algae, minerals and silica for the ultimate relaxing experience. Named one of National Geographic’s “25 Wonders of the World,” Blue Lagoon is home to some of the best natural outdoor saunas, and refreshing geothermal saltwater and fresh water hot tubs.
VIP guests can experience the luxurious amenities of the Blue Lagoon Exclusive Lounge. During a three-hour stay, visitors can enjoy access to a private area equipped with an outdoor deck overlooking the lagoon, fireplace, and admittance to exclusive shower rooms including light refreshments, and a package of the top skin care products.
Blue Lagoon hosts its own team of seasoned specialists. With help from some of the worlds top scientists, these on-site specialists have seamlessly blended science and nature to create a powerful skin care line and a variety of other health treatment products like facial scrubs, wraps and exfoliates that have been said to decrease signs of aging and soothe psoriasis. Indulge in a side by side custom massage in the peaceful waters to relieve your body of muscle tension and stress. Leave your vacation refreshed, rejuvenated and even feeling younger.

Romance: Scotland’s Isle of Skye
Win over your princess, Prince Charming, with a stay against a landscape that feels as if you may have walked directly into a painting, including majestic heather covered mountains, splashing waterfalls, and spectacular ancient castles. The Isle of Skye sets the perfect stage for a picturesque, romantic, fairy tale vacation.
Located just off the west coast of Scotland, connected by the Skye Bridge, the isle provides the opportunity to explore a fantastical world known as the Fairy Glen. Enjoy daytime picnics at the edge of scenic lochs, and saddle-up for horseback riding along the beach. Dunvegan Castle offers visitor tours of the extraordinary 18th century Highland estate which includes five acres of thriving formal gardens, a hidden oasis filled with shimmering waterfall-fed pools and streams that gently flow into the sea.
As you depart from the gardens, take a privately chartered cruise in traditional clinker boat across the waters of Loch Dunvegan at sunset. To up the romance factor, stay in a cozy and quaint cottage overlooking the sea. Spend your evenings cuddled up next to the fireplace while reflecting on your day in this treasured utopia.
R&R: Los Roques, Venezuela
Pack up your suitcases with sandals and easy-breezy light-weight linens. For those looking for the ultimate in rest and relaxation in a tropical setting, Los Roques, an Archipelago National Park set about 80 miles off Venezuelas coast in the Caribbean, offers an ideal tropical escape. You’ll find no high rises here, only limitless stretches of perfect sands surrounding by glistening crystal clear waters that feel as if you’re on your very own cast away island. Here, the sands of time seem to pass very slowly, providing couples with a chance to halt their busy and stressful lives for a moment and reconnect without distraction.
Escape the headache and strain of city life and let your mind be at peace. Unwind from your fast paced lifestyle with activities like fishing, sailing through the crystalline waters, diving, and snorkeling amidst stunning coral reefs. You can spend your days together enjoying your time lounging on the soft sands, taking leisurely walks into the warm waters, and spend your evenings watching the sun go down across the Caribbean with delectable mojitos in hand.

Happiness Tip: Cultivate Love

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

by Christine Carter, PhD

A buddy recently stopped by for tea and was telling me in a sweet moment how much he loves his wife. This is someone who has written books about relationships, a guy who has actually figured out how to make a marriage great. He said something that really struck me.
“I text her three things every day:

“I love you.

“You are beautiful.

“And thank you.”

(A side confession: After I heard this, my go-to reaction was an envious wish that my guy would send me texts like this throughout the day, NOT that I could start texting him. So much easier to wish others would change than to take action ourselves.)


Anyhoo, here’s the happiness tip: We can increase our own feelings of being in love by expressing gratitude for our partners. Or even just by THINKING about what we are grateful for.


When my friend texts his wife, he is cultivating his own feelings of gratitude, as well as expressing them. Research suggests that when we cultivate feelings of gratitude towards our sweethearts, we feel more satisfied with our relationship, and our partners feel more connected to us and more satisfied with the relationship, too.


Expressing gratitude (rather than just fostering the feeling) to a romantic partner can also make us feel more satisfied with the relationship and increase our sense of responsibility for our partner’s well-being.

Take Action: Reflect on what you are grateful for in your honey right now. (And maybe even send a text!)

On Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

by Val McKinley
Val is a professional member of Better Marriages
On Valentine’s Day two years ago, my husband surprised me by taking me to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) here in Scottsdale, AZ. Romancing Arizona was the theme of the evening and it was a treat from start to finish. Towards the end of the evening, as we sat and enjoyed watching couples dancing to the wonderful band that was playing, I was struck by all of the sizes and shapes of love! The dance floor was a study in happiness and affection.
Those couples in motion seemed to embody the qualities of what happy long-term couples do. In unions that thrive, couples are positive towards one another, are affectionate, and have sex.
Since then, I have been drawn to several articles depicting happy couples. The same trend I observed at the MIM was also reflected in famous couples as well! I’d like to share a few quick quotes that have grabbed my attention.
(The late British prime minister) Margaret Thatcher: (“I was a better politician because of Denis.”) “If you’ve got security and certainty behind you, if you come home to total loyalty and affection, then your basic worries in life are gone.”
(Decathlete) Dan O’Brien: “…I’m a good husband, a good uncle. I once thought those were things that just happen. Now, I understand that you make them happen.”
(Debilitated wrestling coach) Mike Powell: “You can be a macho man and love your wife. You can be a macho man and be sensitive.” Mike tells wrestlers that he loves them and then, when they blush, he says there’s no shame in expression. (Sports Illustrated, Feb. 13, 2012) “You don’t have to say it back,” he says. “Just know it’s OK to say it.”
(Astronaut) John Glenn and his wife Annie: Asked in a People February 20, 2012 article: What’s the secret of staying together for so long? They answered:

JG: “On April 6 it will be 69 years! We’ve never known a time when we didn’t know each other. Our parents were good friends and visited back and forth. They used to kid us after we were married that they had us together in the playpen. And they did.

AG: “You know, growing up together as we did, all I can say is that we just enjoyed each other. And even now we like to be together. Every now and then we’ll have an argument – everybody has arguments. But never in 69 years have we had a fight.”
(Businessman and author) Harvey Mackay: “As I like to say, little things don’t mean a lot – they mean everything.”
So while our relationships may look different, whether you are an astronaut or a schoolteacher, loving healthy relationships have the same foundation of everyday love, respect, and affection. May those of us in committed, happy relationships pay attention to the shared wisdom noted above and continue to show our significant other our love as if every day was Valentine’s Day!
Small Things Often
What You Do and Say Every Day Matters
Respect always; Repair Often
Remember to keep the happy in your ever-afters!

Replay of Virtual Marriage Enrichment Groups (MEGs) – Audio and Slides

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Creative Conflict Resolution Part 1 – September 17, 2014 – Facilitators, Michael and Suanne Yarbrough
Dealing with Finances – September 2, 2014 – Facilitators, Bill and Linda McConahey
Similarities and Differences – August 20, 2014 – Facilitators, Michael and Suanne Yarbrough
Trust – August 5, 2014 – Facilitators, Bill and Linda McConahey
Our Family of Origin – July 16, 2014 – Facilitators: Michael and Suanne Yarbrough

Forgiveness – July 1, 2014 – Facilitators: McConahey

Communication (Speaking) – June 18, 2014 – Facilitators: Yarbrough

Intimacy and Boundaries – June 3, 2014 – Facilitators: McConahey

Communication (Listening) – May 21, 2014 – Facilitators: Robertson

Values and Goals – May 6, 2014 – Facilitators: McConahey

Love Languages – April 16, 2014 – Facilitators: Yarbrough

Our Sexual Relationship Part 2 – April 2, 2014 – Facilitators: McConahey

Caring Behaviors – March 19, 2014 – Facilitators: Yarbrough

Our Sexual Relationship Part 1 – March 4, 2014 – Facilitators: McConahey

Commitment – February 19, 2014 – Facilitators: Yarbrough

Stress in Marriage – February 4, 2014 – Facilitators: McConahey

Our Relationship Beginnings – January 15, 2014 – Facilitators: Yarbrough

Conflict Resolution Part 2 – January 7, 2014 – Facilitators: McConahey

Conflict Resolution Part 1 – December 3, 2013 – Facilitators: McConahey

Differences and Similarities – November 5, 2013 – Facilitators: McConahey

Family of Origin – October 1, 2013 – Facilitators: McConahey

Communication (Listening Skills) – September 3, 2013 – Facilitators: McConahey

Communication (Talking Skills) – August 6, 2013 – Facilitators: McConahey

Love Languages – July 2, 2013 – Facilitators: McConahey

Commitment – May 7, 2013 – Facilitators: McConahey

Life is Short, But I’m Not!

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Self Perception

by Priscilla Hunt

Sometimes when I see a photo of Greg and me, I exclaim “You look so tall!”
He chuckles at one of his ongoing amusements. . . that I seem to be the only one among my family and friends that doesn’t notice that I generally am the shortest one in photos.
One of my favorite cards from Greg is one that has a tiny kitten looking into a mirror. Looking back is the reflection of a full-grown lion, King of the Jungle. That’s me.
Imagine my surprise over the holidays to discover that I actually have some vulnerabilities. I’ve always taken for granted my good health, my physical strength (I am, after all King of the Jungle), and my ability to bounce back from any challenge.
On Christmas Day I experienced a pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in my lung – that landed me in the hospital for 3 days. When I received the diagnosis, I felt like a tiny kitten, in need of protection, nurture and care.
For the first time in our 37 years of marriage, I experienced my need for Greg at a new depth. I needed his strength and his steadiness. I needed his wisdom and encouragement. I needed his concern and care. He readily gave all those things, before I could ask.
With his tender care, I’ve bounced back and am feeling great! But now I think twice before climbing up on the kitchen counter to reach the highest shelf. Or dashing across an icy street to check the mail. Or not-quite-running a red light when the yellow light is almost past.
Somewhere between a tiny kitten and the King of the Jungle am I. I don’t want to lose my lionesque attitude. But I am now faced with accepting the fact that I have limitations. I always have had, but I’ve been loath to acknowledge that reality.
Life is short. Life is a journey. And I’m more than thankful to be living it hand-in-hand with my sweetheart, in sickness and in health.

St. Louis (Better Marriages Conference 2015) Receives Awards

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Looking for a good reason to “Meet Me in St. Louis” for the Better Marriages Conference July 9-12, 2015? Look no further!
St. Louis has received several awards from AAA Midwest Traveler Magazine. It has been named the “Best Large City for a Weekend Getaway” in the Midwest! Come early and stay late to experience all St. Louis and the Midwest have to offer!
This is What was Written:
Readers have named St. Louis as the best large city in the Midwest, followed by Kansas City and Chicago.
Visitors to St. Louis can enjoy many attractions and activities that are either free or have reasonable fees. While the city is a year-round destination, it especially shines in summer. The city’s jewel – Forest Park – and its many cultural attractions buzz with activity. The St. Louis Art Museum just added 30% more exhibit space. In addition, a free outdoor film series will be on Friday nights in front of the museum on Art Hill Plaza.
Add into summer’s mix the big Fair St. Louis over July 4th weekend, the summer concerts at Soldiers Memorial downtown baseball action at Busch Stadium, festivals, restaurants, nightlife that includes several area casinos – wait a minute; you’re going to need more than a weekend!

Other Noteworthy Awards
Best Small City: #1 Branson, MO – #2 St. Charles, MO – #3 Hermann, MO
Best City for Live Music: #1 Kansas City, MO – #2 St. Louis, MO
Best City for Romance: #1 Eureka Springs, AK – #2 St. Charles, MO – #3 French Lick, IN
Best Day Trip from St. Louis: St. Charles, MO
Here’s What Was Written:
St. Charles, MO! Proof that everything old is new again, this lovely city on the Missouri River, located an hour from St. Louis, has all the makings for a great day tour. Shop or dine along Main Street near the river, Missouri’s largest and oldest historical district. See the state’s first capitol. Bike or hike the popular Katy Trail State Park. Immerse yourself in Lewis and Clark history. Summer and fall bring plentiful festivals and outdoor concerts or events.
Distances from St. Louis
St. Charles, MO: 1/2 hour
Hermann, MO: 1 1/2 hours
Kansas City, MO: 4 hours
Branson, MO: 4 hours
French Lick, IN: 4 hours
Chicago, IL: 5 hours
Eureka Springs, AK: 5 hours

Where Did Our Love Go?

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

by Linda A. Marshall
Courtesy of Partners in Life

  • Do you question if your partner loves you anymore?
  • Have you started to take each other for granted?
  • Is the zing you felt when you first fell in love gone?
  • Do your attempts to care for your partner go unnoticed?
  • Are you asking yourself, “What’s wrong with us?”
  • Are you longing for the pleasure you felt in each other’s company when you first fell in love?

Never fear … you are normal human beings. Our brain and nervous system are designed in such a way that this is our predictable, almost certain future. We want the stimulation and pleasure we felt during the time we were falling in love and the endorphins were coursing through our bodies to last forever. We crave reliable comfort and pleasure. However, for all of us, reliability eventually loses its allure.
At first when we get the love we want, we experience exhilaration. After a period of regularly getting what we want, we come to expect it and that initial high begins to even out and plateau. Our challenge is to trick our neural system so that the sensation of getting the love we want is stimulated and kept alive in our partnership! Valentine’s Day was probably created to provide such stimulation, but as several of our coaches have pointed out, it takes more than one “expected” day of the year to keep our love spiking. Love needs to be tended regularly. So, how do we do that?
See section three for Suggestions to Keep Your Love Alive. Be creative and make these suggestions fit the two of you. Learn your partner’s love language. Your predictable, almost certain future does not have to be your inevitable, unavoidable future! Have fun!!

Authentic Happiness

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

by Alice Vliestra, Ph.D.
Over the last 30 years, a big change impacting relationships, has been a need to be ‘happy.’ With this, has come a new positive psychology that focuses on positive emotion, strengths, and virtue. But how does this lead to relationship success? Does it really lead to a good life?
When one is going on a trip, one needs a map. A map gives a picture of where one is going and helps keep track of the progress that has been made. It provides a vision for the journey.
In the same way, it is hard to experience relationship success without a vision to guide it. One way to envision success is to look at what you might do on one ‘ideal’ happy day.
On an ‘Ideal’ happy day what would you and your partner most enjoy? Would it include buying things to feel happy, pampering yourself, and eating chocolates?
Or, would it include moments of appreciating beauty, generosity, humor, teamwork, and participating with something bigger than yourselves?
What about the obstacles? Would they be experienced as frustration or moments to use strengths and rise to the occasion?
In the search for contentment, researchers have found that once basic needs are met, further health, wealth, good looks, and status contribute little to ‘subjective well being.’
In contrast, Martin Seligman (2002) argues in his new book, ‘Authentic Happiness,’ that to be truly and authentically happy, one has to move beyond simple pleasure. In a truly happy day, life also needs to be productive, have meaning, and utilize our strengths.
He explains, positive emotion without character leads to emptiness and depression. We want to feel we deserve the positive feelings.
Beyond pleasure and how we feel lies ‘gratification’ — the enduring fulfillment that comes from developing our strengths and putting them to use.
According to Seligman, we are gratified when we have opportunities to be our ‘ideal self,’ that is, the best of us, in small ways, in our daily life. Then we feel we are living up to the ideals that we hold most dear. Continuing to exercise strengths produces a deep inner satisfaction. When others see this as well, we feel validated and work harder not to disappoint others’ faith in us (Seligman, 2002).
He cites how this principle underlies one of the most astonishing discoveries in the research literature on romance. New couples frequently have ‘romantic illusions.’ They fixate on strengths and ignore obvious faults. These perceptions, however, often change over time. For example, what originally was seen as ‘strong beliefs’ can later be seen as stubbornness.
It is often thought that the happiest couples avoid the romantic illusions, sparing them from false expectations.
Dr. Sandra Murray found the opposite result. She had volunteers rate their romantic partners on various strengths and failings. Once the partner rated the person, Murray invited the person’s friends to do the same ratings. Then Murray compared the discrepancy between what the partner believed as strengths and what the friends believed as strengths. The greater the discrepancy, the greater the illusion.
In Murray’s studies, the happiest couples were not the most realistic. Instead, the happiest couples were those that were the most positive. The larger the romantic illusion, the better the odds. Why?
Seligman argues that the positive illusions challenged the couples to live up to their ideals and became self-fulfilling. They provided buffers against hassles and allowed for more forgiveness of small transgressions.
While dramatically evidenced in couples, there is an underlying principle that applies to other relationships as well. We experience more happiness and joy by rising to the occasion, using our strengths, and bringing out the best of ourselves and others, than by continuing to focus on correcting weaknesses.
So what makes for a truly great day? I’d say enough of life’s pleasures to meet basic needs spiced with opportunities and support to bring out best of us.
Reference: Seligman, M. Authentic Happiness:
New York: Free Press, 2002