Tag Archives: husband

Show Love by Making Your Mate Feel Safer

Snow and ice blanked much of the U.S. last week, but I felt protected during an ice storm even when my husband was traveling across the country. He showed acts of love by making sure we had contingency plans in place in case the power went out, which it frequently does where we live. He made sure to review with me how to manually open the garage door, how to start the generator, which essentials to run, and where to plug them in. He even made a last-minute trip the grocery for extra supplies. These actions helped me to stay calm and know that I could care for my children and myself even in the worst scenarios.

Even if you live in a warm and cozy climate, there are ways you can make your spouse feel secure and protected. Many husbands don’t realize how unsafe their wives may feel when traveling alone or even when alone at home. Showing concern for her safety helps demonstrate your love.

Here are a few ideas:

*Buy her a glass-breaking tool for the car that allows you to break the window if the car becomes submerged under water.

*Install solid doors, deadbolts and/or an alarm system in the home.

*Offer to pick her up if she is arriving late at the airport.

*Make sure the car is filled with gas, has the oil changed and is in good working order.

*Check to make sure she reached her destination if she’s traveling a long way.

*Add an emergency supply kit to her car, along with bags of salt or sand.

*Put a GPS in the car if she frequently gets lost.

What wife wouldn’t swoon over a guy who checks her tires and oil before she has to take a trip? It’s the loving gesture as much as it is the act of ensuring her safety.

I think most men are more concerned with feeling safe in being themselves than they are with their physical safety. Some may be reluctant to share their feelings or experiences due to fear of criticism or feeling judged. A happy husband is one who can be honest about his feelings and knows his wife will be supportive and loving. A husband who walks on egg shells when he arrives home or tries to stay clear of the nagging and complaining is not one who will feel safe enough to share what is deep in his heart.

How are you making your mate feel safe today? What other ideas do you have for improving feelings of security—both physical and emotional?

Useful Links:

Are You Doing all the Heavy Lifting in Your Relationship? Alisa Bowman wrote a great post called How to Swallow Your Pride to respond to questions about whether it’s fair when one mate does most of the marriage improvement work.

Trends in Modern Manhood. Tom Matlock writes about porn addiction, the media and modern manhood in this Huffington Post article. Tom interviewed men from all walks of life–the rich and famous to the laborers–and found one thing again and again: the struggle to stay true to themselves as men.

Do You Not Relate to Sex Studies? Paul Byerly explains in this post that many sex-related studies are not about married couples like you, so take them with a grain of salt.

Deterioration of Traditional Marriage. Article written by David Blankenhorn, Sr., the father of the president of the Institute for American Values. His perspective on the generational shifts and trends in traditional marriage.

Photo credit: ©Andreys Pidjass/PhotoXpress.com

Choose Exciting over Pleasant Activities to Boost Marriage

Exciting activities improve marital satisfaction much more than pleasant activities. A new study by the Interpersonal Relationships Laboratory of New York State University showed that a group of couples who spent two hours each week engaging in a new, exciting activity gave a dramatic boost to their marital satisfaction. A second group who engaged in highly pleasant, but only moderately exciting, activities, showed no significant change in their perceived marriage quality.

I found the results interesting, because I would have expected at least some reported improvement in both groups. However, I’m not surprised the first group with their novel experiences created stronger results. This is because previous research has focused on the hormone oxytocin that is released when a couple falls in love, has sex, or shares novel, exciting experiences together. This hormone helps a couple bond and feel all lovey-dovey. In addition, if you are learning about or experiencing something new together, you are united in your goal of accomplishment. It can be exhilarating to enjoy a new experience or learn something challenging together.

As many married couples find it difficult to keep their passion alive, the study is a great reminder to focus at least some of our attention on how to keep things exciting. It can be a bit daunting, however, for those of us who don’t spend much time climbing mountains or exploring underwater caves. So, it’s important to find something you both would find enjoyable, new and exciting.

The study authors had couples make a list of things they would like to do that are exciting. This is a perfect starting point for you. Make a list, and rate each activity 1-10 for pleasantness and excitement. Find something that you both find moderately pleasant but high on the excitement scale.

You might consider:
• Travel to a new, exciting destination
• Learning a new language together
• An outdoor activity, such as zip lining, biking in a challenging terrain, training together for a mini marathon.
• Taking a cooking or dancing class
• Getting a couples massage
• Talking about, and experimenting with new techniques in the bedroom (or buying an enticing, sexy new garment)
• Going to a rock concert or venue you wouldn’t normally attend
• Surprise each other occasionally with a gift or a date night
• Go on a marriage retreat or a weekend getaway
• Brainstorm ideas that fit your interests and area of the world—scuba diving, hiking in the mountains, skiing, camping—but only activities that are NEW for you, not what you find yourself doing over and over again.
• Learning a new skill together—photography, pottery making (remember that scene in Ghost?!), a musical instrument, race car driving, flying an airplane

Married life doesn’t have to be dull. What makes affairs exciting is the notion of getting to know someone attractive and new, going to new places, trying new activities, and having new sexual experiences. Have an affair with your own spouse, and experience these exhilarating feelings in the safety of your own marriage. Maybe you do your hair differently, or put at attractive outfit together. Then, go do something really fun together, and enjoy the boost in your marriage. There’s no excuse for saying married life is boring.

What’s the most exciting thing you have done lately as a couple?

Interesting Links:

Bikinis or briefs? Read a new study that proves bad underwear can ruin your day. Really. So, choose your panties carefully, and it may improve your life and make you feel sexier and more confident. Your hubby may also appreciate this.

Divorce’s Impact on Teens. More than half of American teens (55%) do NOT live with their married mother and father. Using United States Census Bureau data from 2008, a study revealed that 62 percent of Asian-American teens live in two-parent households, compared to 54 percent of whites, 41 percent of multiracial background, 40 percent of Hispanics, 24 percent of American Indians or Alaskan Natives, and 17 percent of African-Americans.

Walk through effects of Divorce. A new program in Britain—the country with the highest divorce rates in Europe—suggests that couples on the brink of divorce confront the realities how divorce would impact their family before taking the next step. It’s based on an educational program in Norway that has been effective at keeping families together.

Do you believe in soul mates? This marital therapist at Psychology Today does not, and says the idea alone contributes to relationship failures. She says too many people leave their marriage then they decide they have finally met their “true” soul mate, who ends up not being so ideal in the end.

Photo credit: © Maxim Petrichuk/PhotoXpress.com

Three Steps to Great Sex

“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

 

Thanks to Julie Sibert for today’s fabulous Guest Post:

My husband and I learned early in our relationship two vital pieces of information – he doesn’t like to be hungry and I don’t like to be cold.

Armed with these tidbits of wisdom, we have dodged more discord than I can recount. I would never initiate a lengthy conversation 45 minutes before dinner, when insanity from low blood sugar has settled into my husband’s brain.  Likewise, my beloved knows full well that if we were ever to buy a new car, I would look at no other option beyond the seat warmer.  Literally, this is what the salesperson’s voice would sound like to me: “Blah, blah, blah. Seat warmer. Blah, blah, blah.”

Obviously, it wasn’t too hard for us to weave this information into our marital fabric.  But not all pertinent information comes so easy, does it? Like how to have great sex.

When we were first married, we were pretty clueless as to how to sexually satisfy each other (naked and in love, mind you, but clueless nonetheless). It’s not that we didn’t know what sex was.  We both had had sex before we met each other.  We just had never had sex with each other until our wedding night.

We weren’t naïve about this lack of knowledge.  On our wedding night, we closed the door of our hotel room well aware that we were about to embark on some awkwardness.  Not all couples, though, have such an “eyes wide open” approach.

I am convinced that one of the most perpetuated fallacies ever to befall married couples is that amazing sexual intimacy is natural – that it won’t take effort, time, communication, and lots of trial and error (with a fair amount of humor as well).

So many couples journey years (and even decades) of married life never really experiencing great sex.  Some of you reading this right now are well acquainted with that scenario. It drapes across your marriage bed with heaviness. For you, sexual intimacy has been boring at best, and mere obligation at worse. Maybe it’s even caused overwhelming tension in your marriage.

By “great” sex, I’m not just talking about orgasm, fun and passion.  All very nice elements, I might add.  I’m referring instead to really knowing each other sexually – knowing how to turn each other on and experience mysterious oneness. It’s about more than intercourse. It is instead about the little nuances, touches, techniques, intentions and words that add up to sacred sexual knowledge about each other.

Do you genuinely know what it takes to bring your spouse to the edge of intense pleasure, and then lovingly and powerfully push them right over that edge into unabashed ecstasy?   Do you know how to allow your spouse the privilege of doing this to you? Both are essential sides to the same coin.

While the reasons that thwart great sex are many (and some quite serious), for some couples it is more of a matter of indifference. Sex just fell by the wayside, lost beneath the responsibilities of paying the Visa bill, keeping milk in the fridge and washing soccer uniforms. Life happened, and sex disappeared faster than baby socks in a clothes dryer. Or maybe you never nurtured intimacy in the first place. Hot newlywed sex? Pure myth for many people.

If you can identify with any of this, you’re not alone. It’s not that you don’t love your spouse or value your marriage.  It’s not that you’re opposed to sex.  It’s just that sex falls way down on the list (somewhere between organize your 7,000 digital photos and clean the basement floor drain).  In other words, you never get to it. Or you make love so rarely that the likelihood of really knowing each other is…well… highly unlikely.

Are you ready to change those patterns in your sexual intimacy?

Here are three tips to move sex out of the “ho-hum” category and into the “wow!” category:

1. Call it like it is. If your intimacy has stalled or is non-existent (or is just plain boring), then get courageous and draw this into the light. A conversation starter can be as simple as this: “I know sex hasn’t been the greatest for us, and I am wondering what together we can do about that.”  If it causes you too much anxiety to start a verbal conversation, consider writing your spouse a note. At any rate, take a step to lovingly express that you want sex to be a priority.

2. Start with your hands.  For all the focus put on our genital regions, I think there is a lot to be said for the role our hands play.  Touch is powerful.  If you and your spouse have just been going through the motions – quickly getting to the main attraction of intercourse – you are missing out on a full-body experience.  Learn to caress each other. Vary the firmness of your touch, and take your time.  Some areas of particular arousal can be the neck, ears, head, upper arms, inner thighs, chest, behind the knees and across the lower back. Extreme sexual pleasure is built upon a foundation of being aroused.  Touch isn’t just the opening act; touch is the headliner, too.

3.  Try at least one new thing. I’ve never been a big fan of “variety for variety’s sake.” I am, though, a fervent champion of variety that endears a husband and wife to each other sexually.  A married couple is afforded tremendous freedom to pleasure each other sexually, so break out of routines and learn new ways to please each other.  Try at least one new thing (new position, oral sex, making love in a different room, etc.)  Sure, it will feel awkward at first, but together you can discover depths of pleasure you may have never known.

My last suggestion is this: resist the urge to give up too soon. Within sexual intimacy, we are at our most vulnerable emotionally, physically and spiritually. When we feel vulnerable, we are more likely to retreat if things start to feel difficult.  If you do that, though, you won’t break through to information that could significantly improve your marriage. You do want that kind of breakthrough, right?

Sure, my husband knows I don’t like to be cold. And I know he doesn’t like to be hungry. As beneficial as that information has been, it pales to what we know about each other sexually.

I’d love to write more.  But I need to go push a certain someone over an edge.  If you know what I mean.

Julie Sibert writes and speaks about sexual intimacy in marriage.  You can follow her blog at www.IntimacyInMarriage.com. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, their two boys and one rambunctious German Shorthair Pointer puppy. © 2011 by Julie Sibert. 

Photo Credit: @PhotoXpress.com

Can You Show Love with a Sticky Note?

I apologize if you received this post twice. The e-book was unavailable last week, but was just improved and re-released. If you add a comment, you will be qualified for a free e-book giveaway!

I recently read an e-book called Sticky-Note Love by Matthew French-Holt. In it, Matthew shares advice about how to please women, after realizing he needed to be regularly reminded about simple ways to please his wife. (I don’t know if any guys out there can relate, or if you have us women figured out.) Because Matthew says he tends to forget how to keep the romantic streak alive in his own marriage, he  created a simple system to help. He believes other men have similar tendencies and can benefit from the same model. (You can find Matthew encouraging all kinds of adventure at Adventure-Some.com.)

The gist of his advice is to write your wife a love note every single day. While that can seem daunting, Matthew gives tons of simple suggestions, and even says a one-sentence love message on a sticky note will surely do the trick. The key is to write from your heart and to be consistent. As in every single day. I was surprised how easy and doable Matthew’s idea is; the hard part is in keeping it up.

The e-book isn’t quite as simple as that one piece of advice, as he gives you some of the reasonings behind why it works, as well as many tips and suggestions so you don’t have to sit holding that piece of paper wondering what to say each day. The three pages of ideas for your love notes is one good reason guys should consider getting the e-book! Of course, you want to be honest with your feelings, but it’s a great start.

In essence, the goal is to create a virtuous cycle rather than a vicious cycle. In the vicious cycle, your wife may be seeking acknowledgement that she is loved. When she doesn’t receive affirmation and hear what you love in her, she may question that love and be slow to give affection. This cycle can slowly make you feel out of touch. The virtuous cycle means that as you regularly express love, she becomes more secure and confident in your love. She then becomes increasingly affectionate toward you, which causes you to share your affection and feelings of love even more. In this cycle, you feel ever more bonded to one another.

One of my blogging pals, marital therapist Dr. Michelle Gannon, shares a story in an article for Hitched Media that seems to support Matthew’s theory.  She explains how to have more gratitude and positivity in your life and marriage. Then, she shared this story:

My husband and I were presenting at a conference, and I met a lovely 70-year-old gentleman who told me that he had been happily married for 50 years. I asked him what was his secret to success? He immediately answered that when he was married for one week, his new wife came to him and asked, “What are three things that you love about me?” He answered, “You are beautiful, smart and a great cook.” The next week, she asked the same question. He gave the same answer, and she responded, “You already told me those three things. Tell me three new things.” So he did–week after week, year after year. He claimed that every week for 50 years he has given her three new compliments or expressions of appreciation and gratitude.

So whether you want to be put on the spot by your wife, or whether you want to think in advance and make one grateful comment or write something you love about her every day, it seems clear that this kind of activity makes a wife feel more loved and appreciated. Interestingly, the act of sharing your love and gratitude will also help you as a husband. (See my past post about the benefits of gratitude.)

The e-book is available for $19.99 at: http://snl.adventure-some.com/.

Decide how you plan to express your love and gratitude today. Then figure out a way to be consistent. Whether it’s a sticky note on the mirror, a daily verbal expression, a text sent every day at the same time, or a love note under the pillow each night, you’ll find these expressions go a long way to strengthening a marriage bond.  What are you waiting for?

Photo credit: ©Chad McDermott/PhotoXpress.com

Do Happier Husbands Lead to Divorce? Yes, if the Wife is Much Less Happy.

A new study called “You Can’t Be Happier than Your Wife: Happiness Gaps and Divorce” suggests that too large of a happiness gap between husbands and wives can be very problematic. It concluded when the husband is much happier than his wife, she is more apt to leave; whereas, when a wife is much happier than her husband, they are much less likely to divorce.

The study, published in Germany, used data from tens of thousands of relationships in Germany, Australia and Great Britain. The researchers (who were experts in economics and wellbeing) measured happiness indicators having to do with lifestyle satisfaction.

Since wives are much more likely to file for divorce than are husbands (two-thirds of divorces are filed by women), perhaps the result shouldn’t be surprising than when women were very unhappy they were more likely to divorce. I wanted to dig deeper to see if women were being unfair or if there seemed to be valid reasons for this discrepancy.

Researchers found the happiness gap increased when the wife handled most of the housework, if her income was higher than average, or if the husband and wife had different social backgrounds. The gap was smaller in couples where the husband and wife had similar backgrounds, shared chores, or if the wife was a housewife, student or was retired. The strongest couples had similar happiness measurements.

It seems with limited time and plenty of chores and responsibilities to go around, when one person’s lifestyle is easier, the other spouse has more on his or her plate. Sharing the load becomes important if lifestyle satisfaction is to be spread out.

Not all the couples in the study were married, and researchers found the happiness gap was “several times wider” when couples cohabited instead of married.

Team researcher Dr. Cahit Guven said the study showed that “unlike other benefits in a marriage, happiness isn’t able to be redistributed between the husband and the wife for those couples whose relationship ended with divorce.”

While I understand the conclusions, I think we should be careful about thinking we can equally divide all the responsibilities of a household to both spouses’ complete satisfaction. Keeping score can lead to resentment for one or both partners. On the other hand, particularly when both spouses are working parents, negotiation and communication about what needs to be done is critical. Asking for help in a nice way is much better than complaining about how your partner “never helps out.”

The study caused me to wonder whether the couples who ended up divorcing were less skilled at negotiating and communicating about their lifestyle needs, or whether one spouse was just unwilling to budge on contributing to the household.

What do you think about the study? And how do you think your happiness level compares with your spouses’? Does a significant gap in happiness signal signs of discontent?

Don’t Take Your Spouse for Granted

“Hug your child every day,” is the often-repeated command of heartbroken parents who have lost a child—wishing they could have just one more opportunity to share their affection. My heart goes out to them when I see them on TV after their tragic loss. It’s a painful reminder that we should not take for granted each day with our loved ones.

Those who have lost something valuable often have important, yet simple, wisdom to share. A widowed neighbor of mine says she advised all her friends after her husband died, “to be sure to tell your spouse every day that you love them.”

Yes, tell them. Then, show them with your attitude, kindness and support. Don’t take them for granted. Don’t argue about petty, unimportant stuff that won’t matter in a week. If you want to go further in demonstrating your love, check out these ideas to show your love.

What would your life be like without your partner? Tell him or her what you appreciate and love about being married to them.

Is There a Case for Settling in Marriage?

Single women say finding a man with 80% of what they want would be “settling,” but single men say finding a woman with 80% of what they seek would be “a catch.” I’ve heard these statements before, but author Lori Gottlieb backed them up with a scientific survey. Her controversial book, Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough is not really about settling at all. It’s about women needing to have more realistic expectations of Mr. Right.

Gottlieb was a woman with ultra-high standards. She thought women should have it all and shouldn’t settle for anything less; compromise was not a part of her vocabulary. She had many prospects in her 20s and 30s, but none was good enough. Then, she found herself single and 40, the mother of a donor-conceived baby, when she realized she would have made very different choices about marriage and family if she had know what truly would make her happy. She realized the loneliness she felt was not assuaged with a child. “It was different and perhaps even compounded. It’s both single-person loneliness and the loneliness of not sharing the little moments of my son’s life with someone who cares about him as profoundly as I do.”

She realizes she hadn’t been picky about the important stuff, but rather about the trivial stuff that doesn’t matter a decade or two into marriage “when you’re more concerned about child care and contented companionship than you are about height or hairlines.”

For those of us who are married, Gottlieb seems to make a lot of sense. But when you see her interviewed on national TV, they always pair her with a young professional woman who still believes there is one perfect man out there who will make her every dream come true, or with a woman who believes a marital partner is not necessary to make a woman happy. They get hung up on the word “settle” and feel doing so would be compromising their integrity. Gottlieb has been called “an affront to the entire woman’s movement.” She’s been called desperate, but she says she is only wiser. She has a better picture of who Mr. Right is, and his name is Mr. Good Enough.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not as perfect a wife as I thought I’d be, and my dear husband has one or two flaws as well. If we looked for perfection, we wouldn’t find it. I agreed with the wife in a Washington Post article about Gottlieb’s book who said “if I had made a list of what I wanted in a husband, I would not have had the wisdom, creativity and self-awareness to create a husband as wonderfully quirky and perfect for me as my husband is.”

Still, one can argue that a woman should know what she wants in a husband. I’ve known several women who have listed out their priorities and found great men to match them. The key is to know what your deal breakers are, and to know that they are not superficial. Physical attributes can’t be counted on. Job status is not permanent. However, certain character traits, common values and goals, and similarities in faith may be important to your long-term happiness.

Gottlieb says that recognizing both she and a potential Mr. Good Enough have less-than-ideal qualities is not settling—it’s maturity. It’s the kind of maturity that admits companionship and compatibility are as important as passion. “Nothing about good enough implies that you haven’t found a true love—or in fact, a much deeper kind of love.”

If you’re married, did you have a list of must-haves before you wed? If so, were they met? Do you think women are too picky in dating? Or do you think women shouldn’t feel pressure to “settle” in such an important relationship?

Who’s Marrying for Money?

In previous generations, marriage was the path for women to find financial security. In 2010, it may be men who are receiving the economic boost for marriage.

  • American women have outpaced men in education and income growth during the last 40 years.
  • Compared to the 1970s, many of today’s husbands are married to women with earnings and education that surpass theirs.
  • More women today are married to men with incomes and education below theirs.

A Pew Research Center report focused on U.S. couples aged 30 to 44. It was the first age group in which more women than men have college degrees. It’s considered a gender reversal, because in 1970, men were generally more educated than their wives, and now the opposite is true. About half have similar education levels. Only 4% of wives in 1970 out-earned their husbands, while in 2007, 22% of wives earned more.

From 1970 to 2007, women’s incomes have increased 44%, and men’s incomes have risen just 6%. However, a gap in earnings still exists. While women in the 70s earned only 52% of what men earned, they still earn about 78% of men’s salaries. Women made further inroads in earnings due the recession, with men losing more jobs than women. Details were reported by the Associated Press.

Do you think it’s important in a marriage who has more education or who earns more money?

Little Touches Make Big Impact in Relationships

 What can NBA players teach us about relationships? More than we think.  Benedict Carey of the New York Times wrote in February about research in Mind magazine in an article called “Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much.” Researchers studied touch–everything from high-fives to warm touches on the shoulder.

One research team tracked every “bump, hug and high five in a single game played by each team in the National Basketball Association early last season.” The journal Emotion is to publish the results this year, but the results are telling:

  • Good teams tended to have more touches than bad ones.
  • The league’s top two teams were the most touch-bonded teams—the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • The least touchy teams were the Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Bobcats, neither of which had good seasons.

Guys, if this doesn’t get your attention about the importance of touch, what will? There is even a scientific basis for why we need touch. “A warm touch seems to set off the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a sensation of trust, and to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisole.” Women who may have high levels of stress hormones may especially crave this touch to help feel bonded. Once the stress hormones are reduced, the brain’s prefrontal areas (regulating emotion) can relax and proceed to solve problems.

“In effect, the body interprets a supportive touch as,‘I’ll share the load,’” says James A. Coan, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “We are wired to literally share the processing load, and this is the signal we’re getting when we receive support through touch.”

Researchers also studies romantic partners, and preliminary results show the ones who touched more during interviews reported highest relationship satisfaction. While it’s unclear whether the touching or the satisfaction came first, there is certainly a correlation. For some people whose primary love language is touch, positive contact is even more important.

So, if you’re a man who feels you are sharing the load, but your wife doesn’t always respond in the way you expect, ramp up the amount of (non-sexual) touch in your home. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, here are suggestions. These are also good opportunities to increase your ratio of positive comments to negative, but even a touch alone is beneficial.

  • Give a hug before getting out of bed or starting your day.
  • Give a longer-than-usual kiss when you leave or arrive home.
  • Put your hands on her waist as she is cooking or doing dishes and kiss her cheek.
  • Touch her cheek, or stroke her hair at the end of the day.
  • Rub her shoulders when she seems tired or stressed.
  • Touch her arm when you ask about her day.
  • Sit close enough to touch or snuggle when watching TV.
  • Reach over when driving to momentarily touch her hand or shoulder.

Wives who are moms often turn to their children for positive touch. This can be helpful in releasing stress hormones, but if men are not part of this positive-touch pattern they are missing out on an important part of daily bonding. A bonded team is a successful team. Just ask the Lakers.

A soldier I interviewed said missing positive touch from his family was the most difficult part of his deployment. Do you take positive touch for granted? Do you wish you had more touch during the day? Are you surprised about the NBA study?

10 Tips for Strong Marriages

I am excited to have a guest post today at a web site dedicated to newlyweds and couples in the midst of wedding planning. I’m excited that the blog offers not only great wedding information, but marriage advice as well. After all, it’s not about one day of happiness, right? I’d love to see a trend of couples spending as much time on developing their relationship as on planning the big day.

So check out my post: 10 Tips to Help You Build a Strong Marriage. You can find it below or scroll down at shejustgotmarried.com. Consider sending it to an engaged or newly married couple you know. The ideas offer life lessons that speak to the heart of marriage, commitment and love. The web site also offers some green solutions to buy/sell gently used wedding merchandise, because how many times do you plan to use that crystal tiara anyway? Leave a comment, share your best advice to these newlyweds and wish them a lifetime of happiness! Here’s the post:

10 Tips for Strong Marriages

The dreams or memories of your big wedding day are new and bright. When you close your eyes, you can smell the roses, feel the silk and taffeta, and see the flash of the camera. But all the work of planning and investing in a successful wedding day is far less important than planning your lifelong marriage.

I’ve spent the last two years studying research about marriage and interviewing couples who have experienced some incredible highs and some devastating lows in marriage—and came out on top. I’ll share with you 10 tips to help you protect and build a strong marriage.

1. In today’s fast-paced, two-career families, traditional roles may not apply in your home. However, it’s important to continue to value your masculinity and femininity. He needs to be respected and treated as your hero; she needs to be romanced and to feel loved. Understanding the Five Love Languages can help you convey love in a way your partner can truly appreciate.

2. Spend less money than you earn. Save for emergencies. Debt will eat away at your marriage. Enough said.

3. Believe in each other. Lift each other up. Be on your spouse’s side. Encourage their dreams. Be the one your spouse can’t wait to come home to. Create a vision for your relationship for five, ten, fifteen years down the road.

4. Give your spouse five positive comments for every one negative. This 5:1 ratio has been proven in successful relationships. Frequent nagging or bickering will tear down your relationship and will probably cause him to withdraw. If you can’t find something nice to say about your spouse, he or she will probably start listening to others who offer praise or attention.

5. In our culture, individualism and freedom are paramount, but when you chose marriage you chose a different route—a route of companionship and caring, of sacrifice and loving. There will be days when you feel you are giving more than you are getting. That’s OK. On that same day, your spouse may feel like he is giving more than he is getting. Keep giving. Keep loving. That’s agape love. By focusing on your own happiness, you miss out on the chance for deeper love and deeper joy.

In his book, Take Back Your Marriage, William J. Doherty, PhD, one of the nation’s most prominent pro-marriage counselors, describes today’s “consumer marriage” in which spouses are constantly focused on “what’s in it for me” as the root cause of most marital failures. He explains how this mentality can eventually cause you to work yourselves into a divorce, even when the issue isn’t a deal-breaker.

6. Learn to better listen to one another.

7. Don’t let your arguments get out of hand. Create boundaries for fighting fair.

8. Make time for sex. I know that seems odd to say to newlyweds who are madly in love, but there will be times when passion does not rule the day. Pregnancies, careers, exhaustion, illness, job loss, hormonal issues, children—these can stand in the way of lovemaking. Sharing the intimacy of sex protects the marriage in many ways and communicates love. Happier couples have more sex.

9. Be careful with social media to ensure temptation doesn’t divide your relationship.

10. Remember your promise. Life will not be perfect with your spouse. Every relationship has strengths and weaknesses, and some problems will never be fully resolved. Focus on the positive and not the negative. Have fun. Laugh. Celebrate even small successes. Surround yourself with great influences and good role models.

Sign up at www.LifeGems4Marriage.com to receive biweekly tips to enhance your relationship. Lori Lowe has been happily married to her real-life hero for 14 years. They live in Indianapolis with their two children, a crazy cat and two aquatic frogs.