Welcome to 2022! I hope your year is off to a great start. By now, many people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions and have settled into the same routine that ended 2021. Today, I want to share a behavior that could radically improve your marriage in 2022 and I am hoping that it might become a deliberate habit. It is a breakthrough habit that truly changes everything. Start doing this today and you will be amazed at what happens for your marriage. This post was inspired by one of my marriage coaching clients.
Betty has been married to her husband for seven years. She recently became a new coaching client of mine. She had scheduled a coaching session but only for herself. When Betty came into my office the first time, I noticed that she was carrying a journal. When I asked her about it, she shared that it was a journal of everything her husband has does wrong for the past three years. She had three years of documentation of every mistake her spouse had made. Betty wrote down everything. She didn’t miss a thing. She had gotten into the habit of recording every misdeed and every misstep. I asked Betty, why she had started the journal. Her answer was amazing. In her own words, “I found that I was forgetting all the things that he does wrong.” I asked her, “Since starting the journal is your husband functioning higher in the marriage and has it improved your relationship.” She said, “Absolutely not, things are worse than ever!” I am not surprised. I challenged her to put the old journal away and start a new journal. I asked her to start a new habit. This time she was to write about all the ways her husband was doing things right. I asked her to write about the moments she felt close to him. I asked her to record daily all the things she loves about her husband. She agreed. She came back to my office two weeks later. She said the change in her husband’s behavior was miraculous. She reported that they had the best two weeks of their marriage.
The moral of this true story is that you will find relationally what you look for and what you focus on. What you focus on you manifest. In 2022, try focusing on what your spouse is doing right. Focus on the many ways they enrich your life. Focus on the moments of connection. Start a journal about all the things your spouse does right and all the reasons that you love them. Just like Betty, we sometimes forget all the things are spouse does that are amazing. By writing them down you will remember them. As you begin to focus on these things, like my friend Betty, you are going to see them more. What we look for, we find. Please share this post with anyone you know who may benefit from being reminded of our need to be more positive. If you would like more information about my non-traditional approach to marriage counseling or would like to schedule a session, check out TheMarriageCoach.Com or call 314-606-4272. Until next time, keep falling more in love.
“I told her I loved her the day I married her. If anything changes, I will let her know.”
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a phrase that was first coined in 1830 by Alexander William Kinglake. Kinglake was an English travel writer and historian who traveled the world and wrote of his adventures in a book published in 1844 called Eothen. The phrase was later changed to “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”. The phrase has become the common response to verbal bullying in school playgrounds throughout the English-speaking world. Many of us remember this saying from our childhood days. The problem with both of these sayings is that neither one of them are true. Unkind name calling and unkind words do hurt. As a marriage coach, I can tell you that spoken and unspoken words can be a blessing or a curse in marriage. Spoken words matter and unspoken words matter. Words are one of the primary ways that we communicate our love and our feelings. There are only two other ways to express to our spouse that we love them. Our actions speak the loudest. Our body language speaks volumes. And our words bring it all home. All three are important. All relationships need all three. Take a quick survey and ask yourself these questions. Can my spouse tell that I love them by my actions? Can my spouse tell that I love them by my body language? Can my spouse tell that I love them by my words? If you answered no to any of these questions, it is time to step up your game. Words might not matter to you, but I can guarantee they matter to your spouse. A few well-timed words can make your spouse’s day. Words not spoken can ruin a day. Careless words can kill the relationship. If words are difficult for you or you are not quite sure what to say, the following list of phrases can help.
Here is a list of 25 phrases that you might begin to use to demonstrate love, appreciation, and encouragement to your spouse.
I appreciate you and everything you do
I am committed to you
I am committed to our marriage
Let’s spend more time together
I like you
You are a wonderful husband/wife
You are a wonderful father/mother
I love the way you provide for our family
I love the way you take care of our family
I am at my best when I am with you
You can always make me smile
You can always make me laugh
I am so proud of you
I am so glad that I married you
I love you
How are you?
You are my best friend
Let’s work things out
We should work together to make this work
Is there something that I can do for you?
I believe in you
I know that you will make the right decision
You have my 100% support
I am sorry
If you would like 75 more phrases to encourage and express love to your spouse, email Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will get the report out to you asap. I frequently hear people in their 40’s, 50’s & 60’s lament that their fathers never told them that they loved them. Their dads were like the man who is quoted at the beginning of the article that says, “I told her I loved her the day I married her. If anything changes, I will let her know”. Don’t be that spouse. Tell your spouse today that you love them, you believe in them, and that you are never giving up on the marriage. Please share this post with anyone who might benefit from it. If I can ever be of any assistance to you as you strive to make your good marriage great or save your failing marriage, I am available to you. To learn more about my nontraditional approach to marriage counseling or to schedule an appointment, go to themarriagecoach.com or call me at 314-606-4272. Until next time keep falling more in love and remember to tell your spouse that you love them
One of the components of creating a loving connection with your spouse is communicating and talking on a regular basis. My mentor, Mort Fertel, calls these spontaneous love connections talk charges. A talk charge is a positive verbal interaction that is non-logistical, fun or frivolous, and potentially leads to connection. The purpose is to positively fuel the love connection with your spouse. When couples are in good to phenomenal relationships, these communications occur all day every day. They simply are part of the DNA of the marriage. I believe that when my wife Jennifer reaches out to me in the middle of the day with her words of love, they flow very naturally out of her heart that is overflowing with love for me. It is not hard duty for me to have conversations with her that have nothing to do with bills, kids, problems, the house, or other logistical things. Having said this, we do anywhere between 3 to 6 talk charges a day. These comments range anywhere from a random “I love you baby” to an extended conversation about politics or the St. Louis Cardinals.
When you are dealing with an obstinate spouse, talk charges are a little more difficult. Not only is it more difficult to come up with things to say, frequently the obstinate spouse will try to shut down the communication. Sometimes the obstinate spouse stops taking the calls all together. Sometimes the obstinate spouse will state, “Please only call me if it has something to do with the kids or if it is an emergency.” I frequently hear, “I don’t understand why you keep being nice, I have told you that we are done, I am getting a divorce. You are not listening.” When you are getting this kind of pushback, it makes reaching out with talk charges especially difficult. If this is where you are today, I want to encourage you. First, please understand that you are not alone. Many obstinate spouses who have gone on to reconcile said the very same things to their Marriage Fitness spouses. I joke all the time there is an obstinate spouse manual and all of the obstinate spouses have read it because they all say the same things. Secondly, I want to remind you why you are doing the talk charges to begin with. You are not doing the talk charges to manipulate your spouse back into the relationship. You are doing the talk charges because you should have been doing the talk charges the whole time you were married. You call your spouse with love because that’s what loving spouses do. You are not taking your behavior clues from your spouse. You are simply doing the right thing. And the right things is to reach out to your spouse with love. Perhaps limit the number of talk charges to one per day when your spouse is working. When they press back, simply let them know that you understand their position, but it does not change the reality that they are still your spouse and that you are still committed to the relationship. I still believe in you. I still believe in us. I am not giving up on this marriage. I can not make you love me, but you can not force me to stop loving you. The important thing is that you realize that with these talk charges you are planting seeds. You are like a farmer planting one seed at a time. Eventually, in due season the seeds will produce fruit. Remember you are simply doing what you promised you would do when you got married. You are simply loving your spouse unconditionally. Regardless of what you do, don’t quit. You are doing the right thing.
Research suggest that couples that pray together tend to stay together! According to an article in the June 2017 Psychology Today, research is conclusive that prayer and spirituality enhances marital commitment, decreases the risk of infidelity and increases marital satisfaction. Couples who make faith a priority in their family tend to have a common unifier that is sometimes absent in relationships that are missing this component. A couple’s faith can also serve as a source of strength and guidance when challenges arise in the marriage. In my coaching practice, I work with people of all different faiths and backgrounds. I am respectful of people’s journey regardless of where they may be on their own faith journey, but most people who work with me are aware of my background. No one in twenty years has ever accused me of shoving my faith or religious views on them in a coaching session. But frequently couples do ask me how they can make spirituality more of a priority in their relationship. I love this question! I believe the number one key to making spirituality a priority in your marriage is being intentional. It starts with having a conversation with your spouse. If you both agree that this is important, make a commitment that you are going to be intentional about making spirituality a priority. The next step is to pull out a blank piece of paper. Ask the question, “What are seven things that we can do or focus on in 2019 that can help us keep our faith, front and center in our marriage?” I would recommend that you take turns coming up with answers and write them down. Then make a commitment that you are going to follow through with these seven commitments and check in on a weekly basis to see how you are doing in terms of keeping the spiritual commitments. My wife and I did this the first week of January, and I would like to share our list as an example of the types of things that you might do to keep spirituality a priority in your marriage.
Dave & Jennifer’s 7 Spiritual Commitments
Your list could be totally different the key is that you write the commitments down, you talk about them, and you meet on a weekly basis to assess how you are doing. In the January Digital Newsletter, I share a strategy to do this same exercise with several other areas of your marriage to complete a comprehensive 2019 Marriage Plan. Please share this post with anyone you may know who may benefit from it. If you would like more information about my non traditional approach to marriage counseling, or to subscribe to my free newsletter, or to schedule an appointment please go to themarriagecoach.com or call me at 314-606-4272. I would love to have the opportunity to help you make your good marriage great, or to help you save your marriage that may be failing. Until next time, keep falling more in love!
What if I told you there was one thing that you could do this week that would drastically improve the quality of your marriage, regardless of the current state of affairs? I have always been skeptical of “silver bullet” claims and I rarely make them myself. But this one thing is so powerful and effective, it really is the closest thing I have ever seen to a silver bullet. Not only is it powerful and effective, I have seen it work its magic in good marriages that transitioned to great marriages and broken marriages that were saved. I have seen this technique practiced by individuals in their marriages for seasons without their spouse, and it be the catalyst for reconciliation. I have seen couples practice this “silver bullet” as part of their marital DNA and they have the most beautiful marriages I have ever seen. On top of all of this, what I am about to share is extremely well researched and supported by academia. The research is conclusive. Would you like to know what this “silver bullet” that can drastically improve the quality of your marriage is?
Researchers from the University of Georgia conducted a telephone survey of hundreds of married individuals throughout the United States. The survey participants were asked a myriad of questions about their level of marital satisfaction as it related to sex, finances, child rearing, communication, and how they expressed gratitude to their spouse. The study found, expressions of spousal gratitude was the number one predictor of marital quality. Allen Barton, from the University of Georgia’s Center for Family Research, and the author of the study stated, “Even if a couple was experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship helped promote positive marital outcomes.” The study found that couples who showed higher levels of spousal gratitude were less prone to seek divorce. When couples expressed gratitude or showed appreciation for each other, it counteracted or buffered the negative effects of their conflicts. According to researchers, feeling appreciated and believing that your partner values you can have a great impact on how you feel about your marriage and your commitment to making it last. There is tremendous power in saying, “Thank You”.
This week, if you and your spouse are in a good marriage relationship, discuss how you are doing in terms of expressing gratitude and appreciation. Make a commitment that you will take some time on a daily basis this week to mutually express gratitude and appreciation. Talk about how you can make this part of the DNA of your marriage. (My Monday Marriage Moment Video this week is also about this topic). If you are in a broken marriage, don’t wait for your spouse to begin expressing gratitude and appreciation before you do. Take the lead. Try to find small things that you can be grateful for on a daily basis. I always recommend to all of my clients to start a gratitude journal when they are trying to save their marriages. Gratitude is not only attractive, it is highly contagious. The happiest people in the world, are also the most grateful. (I wonder why?) Please share this post with anyone who may benefit. If I can be of any service to you and your marriage, or if you would like to learn more about my non traditional approach to marriage counseling or to schedule an appointment go to themarriagecoach.com or call 314-606-4272. Until next time, keep falling more in love.
5 things to tell your spouse every day!
In addition to my marriage coaching practice, I have also done a great deal of work in the area of hospice and grief. I facilitate and lead several grief groups throughout the year. During these groups, I am frequently confronted with spouses who lost their partners suddenly. One of the common themes in the face of sudden loss, is the regret and guilt of things that were left unsaid. In today’s post I want to share five things that you can share with your spouse every day. These are five things that will help you have a regret free marriage and an incredible connection. Change up the words, make it your own, but communicate them daily.
1) I am so glad that you are my husband/wife. Even when things are not perfect you can find some reason to affirm your decision to marry. Let your partner know on a regular basis that you are glad that you chose them and they chose you. When you share this, you will touch their heart, and your own heart will grow.
2) I appreciate you. Let your spouse know daily how much you appreciate what they do for you and what they do for the family. You might be surprised to learn when you begin to verbally express appreciation, how much more you find to appreciate in your spouse.
3) I want to be close to you. Express to your spouse your desire to have a close relationship and a deep connection. Sometime we can get so distracted by children, careers and other challenges that we give our spouses the impression that these issues are more important than our connection. Let your partner know on a daily basis that you want to be close to them.
4) I am excited about our future. Find things that you can get excited about in the future and begin to anticipate them with your spouse. Maybe it is an upcoming family milestone like birthdays, graduations or anniversary. Maybe it is as simple as this Friday’s date night. Let your spouse know on a daily basis that you are excited about your future.
5) I love you. Tell your spouse on a daily basis that you love them and demonstrate it with your actions.
Communicating these five relational realities on a daily basis will strengthen your relationship, deepen your connection and help you have a regret free marriage. Even if you have not communicated any of these in past, start today. Please feel free to leave your own suggestions about daily communications on today’s post. Share this post with anyone you feel may benefit. If you would like to learn more about my alternative approach to marriage counseling, more information about booking a day long intensive, an hourly coaching session or would like to receive my free monthly newsletter go to themarriagecoach.com or call me at 314-606-4272. Till next time, keep falling more in love!
Florence Chadwick is one of the most famous woman swimmers in American history. She was the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways. In 1952, she attempted to become the first woman to swim the 21 miles across the Catalina Channel from Catalina Island to the California coast. On the day she attempted this feat, the ocean was ice-cold and the fog was so thick she could barely see the support boats that followed her in the water. In addition to the cold water and fog, she was constantly surrounded by sharks. Hour after hour she swam. Americans were watching on television and members of her support crew fired rifles at the sharks to drive them away. After swimming for fifteen hours, she was so overcome by fatigue and stress she asked to be pulled from the water. Her mother who was in the boat beside her encouraged her to continue because she was so close to the shore. Finally, her team pulled her out of the water, less than a half mile from reaching her goal. At a news conference the next day Florence said, “All I could see was the fog. I think if I could have seen the shore I would have made it.” Florence Chadwick had lost hope and quit. She confessed that has she been able to see through the fog, she would have made it.
This story reminds me of the feedback I receive from my marriage coaching clients. “The number one thing that you did to help me save my marriage was, you gave me hope. You gave me hope when everyone else told me to quit. Thank you. We are reconciled and our marriage is better than ever. I am so glad I did not quit.” I have received more phone calls, emails and testimonies with these words than any other comments about my services. My number one marriage saving strategy is always the same. Regardless of the cause of the marital conflict, regardless of what has caused the couple to end up in my office, regardless of how bad things look in the moment, the number one marriage saving strategy is the strategy of hope. If I can convince someone not to give up on their spouse, they have a much higher chance at reconciling. It is hard to hold on to hope when everyone else is telling you to throw in the towel. It is hard to hold on to hope when you can’t see the shore. The problem with losing hope is that when we have lost hope we either quit or we sabotage. When we believe that our current situation is permanent or too pervasive we tend to lose hope. To fight this sense of hopelessness, I have my clients read testimonies of individuals who were in similar situations and who now have great marriages. Reading stories of people who have successfully saved their marriages gives people hope. I also point my clients towards their faith. Many of my clients are Christians. As a Christian we believe that our God is a supernatural God who performs miracles everyday. If God can raise Jesus from the dead, can he not certainly heal your broken marriage. I know that He can, because I see people holding on to hope and saving their marriage weekly.
Two months after Florence Chadwick lost hope and quit, she tried again. This time she did not lose hope and became the first woman ever to complete the swim. Her time was 13 hours and 47 minutes breaking a 27-year-old record by more than two hours. She is now remembered as one of the greatest female swimmers of all time. Today, regardless of where you are in the marital journey, I want to encourage you to get your hopes up. Don’t give up. You may be closer to your breakthrough than you ever imagined. Maybe it is time that you try again. Please share this post with anyone who may need a little hope today! If I can ever be of any assistance to you as you strive to heal your broken marriage, please know that I am available to you. If you want to learn more about my non traditional approach to marriage counseling, go to themarriagecoach.com or call 314-606-4272. Until next time, keep falling more in love and don’t lose hope.
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." This scripture is often recited at weddings. It deals with our need to leave our families of origin and to become one with our spouse. Through the years I have worked with many couples who have challenges with this aspect of marriage. Sometimes it is the spouse who is having a hard time doing the leaving, sometimes it is the father or mother who is having a hard time letting their adult child go. Regardless the end result is the same, havoc on the marriage. There is a reason scripture admonishes us to leave father and mother and to hold fast to our spouse. We live with our family of origin for a season, but we are to marry for life. This does not mean that we don’t honor, respect and spend time with our family. Leaving your parents does not mean ignoring them or not spending any time with them. Leaving your parents means recognizing that your marriage created a new family and that this new family must be a higher priority than your previous family. There are three areas that I frequently see couples get in trouble relationally with their parents. First, when one spouse shares too many details of marital conflict with his or her parents. This creates a situation where spouses feel betrayed and parents are forced to take sides. Secondly, when one spouse looks to their parent, not their spouse, to get his or her emotional needs met. And finally, when one spouse relies too heavily on the parents to help in decision-making. If these boundaries are skewed, it creates conflict in the marriage. Both husband and wife must leave home in numerous ways. They must leave home physically, relationally, emotionally and financially. When there is good news at work it should be shared with your spouse first, and not your parent. If you need to process a major decision, it should be discussed with your spouse before calling a parent. Newlyweds do not need to call or text home every day to debrief the day’s happenings. If you have gotten sideways on this marital principle, make the decision today that you are going to begin to work on healthier boundaries for your marriage. Have a discussion with your spouse about the need to make your marriage a higher priority. You may have to have a difficult discussion with your parents or in-laws. Have the discussion together and have it in love. Please share this post with anyone who may benefit from it. If you would like more information about my non traditional approach to marriage counseling or would like to schedule a session or a day long intensive, go to www.themarriagecoach or call 314-606-4272. Until next time, keep falling more in love and continue to make your spouse your number one priority.
Affairs seldom start in the bedroom. Most affairs start out as emotional affairs. Emotional affair is the term used to describe a relationship that has crossed the line from friendship to a connection level that should be reserved for your spouse. An "emotional affair" is an affair which excludes physical intimacy, and is usually based on emotional intimacy I have found in working with hundreds of couples through the years, that emotional affairs can be just as damaging as sexual affairs. The challenge with emotional affairs is that they can be so easily rationalized and even spouses who were not looking to be unfaithful can find themselves caught in these types of relationships. Emotional affairs are the result of a significant connection that usually starts out at the friend or colleague level. The truth is your relationship with your spouse most likely started in a similar way. The two major problems with emotional affairs is that while you are connecting with this individual you are not connecting and becoming more disconnected from your spouse. The spouse who is having the emotional affair ends ups spending the relational energy on their emotional affair partner as opposed to their spouse. The second problem with emotional affairs is that when they continue they frequently end up becoming physical. To affair proof your marriage be certain that you are not crossing the “friendship” line with anyone other than your spouse. How do you know if you have crossed the line? Here are six signs that you may have crossed the line:
1) You share personal information about your marriage and particularly your dissatisfaction with your spouse. It is easy to fall into the “I was just looking for the opposite sexes perspective” or “We were merely supporting each other”, but this is never healthy for your marriage and can definitely lead to an emotional affair.
2) You spend a great deal of time with this person, and this time is extremely important to you. Your time with this person is more important to you than spending time with your spouse. When you would rather be with this person than your spouse, you have crossed the line.
3) When you share good news or bad news with this person before you share the same information with your spouse or when you have the need to share personal intimate details of your life with this person, you have crossed the line.
4) You change your dress or your appearance for this person when you are going to see them. If you are concerned about your image with this person, chances are you have crossed the line.
5) You keep secret the amount of time you are spending with this person. You minimize or would be embarrassed if your spouse knew how much time you were putting into this relationship. If you have conversations that you would not repeat in front of your spouse you have crossed the line.
6) You start to contact this person at hours of the day that are different than normal “Friend” hours.
If you are having an emotional affair, do yourself and your marriage a huge favor and stop it immediately. Create healthy boundaries and distance between yourself and this person. Stop moving towards this person and begin to actively work on strengthening your own marriage. You may need the help of a relationship coach to end the inappropriate relationship and save your marriage, but the good news is that emotional affairs do end and marriages can survive them. If you would like to learn more about my alternative approach to marriage counseling, more information about booking a day long intensive, or to schedule a coaching session go to themarriagecoach.com or call me at 314-606-4272. Until next time, keep falling more in love!
My favorite holiday of the year is Easter. I love it because the day represents the Resurrection of Jesus and the greatest day in history. But I also love it because of its potential for marriages. It is a day that we remember how dim things looked on Good Friday, but on Easter morning, mourning was turned into joy. I see this happen all of the time in my coaching business. Couples come to me in crisis thinking that all is loss, and then they experience the joy of new life in their marriage. As much as I love the day, I also know that Easter can be a very stressful day for families. Many times the expectations of extended family, travel, Easter gifts, big family dinners and the rush of the day can cause significant strain on the marriage. To this end, I would like to offer four strategies to help make this Easter a little easier for you and your spouse. 1) This Easter make your marriage your highest priority. In the midst of trying to make the holiday special for children or pleasing extended family, it is easy to lose the connection with your partner. Make connecting with your spouse your number one priority this Easter. Make sure they know how much you love them and how special they are to you. Modeling this connection is the greatest gift you can give your children and it sets the standard for other people’s expectations of your time and your priorities. 2) Develop an agreed upon Easter plan. Take some time now to discuss expectations of the day. What are your priorities in terms of the day? Is it spending time with family? Attending a worship service? Doing activities as a family? Agree upon the priorities and activities before the day arrives. This will eliminate stress and disappointments the day of Easter and especially the day after Easter. 3) Be comfortable saying “No”. Give yourself permission to say no for the sake of your marriage and your family. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, your spouse and your kids is the gift of not getting sucked into unhealthy family rhythms that do not serve your marriage. I know of some families who have routinely made three to four “mandatory” dinner/party stops every Easter. They hate it, but just can’t say no. Consider saying no this Easter. Chose one and tell the other three that their turn is coming. 4) Consider starting a new Easter tradition as a family. Find one activity that you might add to your day that could enhance your marriage connection and bring your family closer together this Easter. Please share these four tips with anyone who might benefit from them this Easter. I want to wish you and your family the most Blessed Easter ever! If I can ever be of any assistance to you as you strive to bring new life to your broken marriage, or make your good marriage great, please visit my site at themarriagecoach.com or call me at 314-606-4272. Until next time, keep falling more in love!
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