Is Your Marriage Dead? Or, Does it Just Appear That Way?

Is Your Marriage Dead? Or, does it just appear that way? Many people discover greater joy in their marriage after going through devastating hardship, as long as they don't make enemies of each other in the process. - #marriage #staymarried blog

“Girls, look ahead! The mountain is out, you can see it…”

This phrase, “the mountain is out,” is a very Pacific Northwest thing to say. Outside of the Seattle area, I’m not sure it would make much sense. But, for us locals, those four words beckon us to look up and notice a rare cloudless sky marked only by the beautiful face of Mount Rainier looking down happily on all of us. When the mountain is out, our collective spirits are lifted. We’ve made it through another storm and this beautiful view is our reward.

My three little daughters shifted their heads around from the backseat of our SUV as my husband, Tony, navigated down the 405. When Nora, our middle child, saw the mountain for herself, she began to shout, “I see it!” Then Claire called out, “Look, it’s so big! It looks closer.”

The freeway twisted and turned, and with a pleasant sigh Nora said, “That was beautiful.”

“It IS beautiful,” Claire corrected her, in true oldest sister fashion.

“Well,” Nora asserted, “It WAS beautiful when I could see it. But, I can’t see it anymore.”

I wondered then, from my vantage point in the front seat, if Nora really thought the mountain wasn’t beautiful anymore.

Do beautiful things cease to be beautiful when we can no longer see the beauty ourselves?

Emily's Orchid
It reminded me of something my friend Emily said at the beginning of the year. She shared this photo of an orchid on Instagram and with it she wrote:

“This is the orchid my husband bought me for our anniversary last July. The original blooms held on until sometime in November before falling into the kitchen sink (this window sill is just behind my faucet). For a stretch, I just let it be. Watered it every now and then, even though it looked like dead sticks pushed up out of the dirt. Then in December, I had a passing thought to look up how to care for it more intentionally, which consisted of carefully pruning two little branches. It didn’t seem like anything was happening for weeks, until buds started forming a week or two ago, and here you see a new delicate bloom about to emerge.

Because this orchid is symbolic of my marriage, I wanted to encourage those of you who might be in the ‘dead sticks’ season of your marriage. It is not easy to keep investing in a relationship that doesn’t feel like it is going well. I’ve been married 11.5 years to an incredible person, but we have hurt each other deeply at different times, and it has not been all roses…or orchids. But as we have taken tiny steps to tend to each other–to sacrifice what we can for the other’s benefit and communicate honestly about what we need–our love blooms again and again, for which I am grateful. I say a prayer for you who don’t feel like your partner knows your real heart, for those of you who don’t know how to bridge the distance or heal the hurt…May this year be one that you continue investing, continue tending the love you have committed yourself to, and may your marriage re-bloom in a beautiful and gentle way in 2017.”

It’s been a few months since Emily began tending to those dead sticks, and here is her orchid proudly displaying its beauty.

Emily's Orchid

Are you in a “dead sticks” season of your marriage? Are you staring at something that once was bright and beautiful and now looks dim and dying? How can you know if your marriage still has beauty in it, if it’s still worth tending to, or if it is actually already dead?

Research from the Institute for American Values asserts that couples who push through a hard season report being happier five years after the strain than they were before. Look at what Mona Charen says in her article “Happy Marriages and Unhappy Divorces”…

“According to the survey conducted by a team of family researchers, unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier five years after the divorce than were equally unhappy marrieds who remained together. And two-thirds of unhappily married people who remained married reported that their marriages were happy five years later. Even among those who had rated their marriages as “very unhappy,” nearly 80 percent said they were happily married five years later. These were not merely bored or dissatisfied whiners. They had endured serious problems, including alcoholism, infidelity, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, depression, illness, and work and money troubles.”

In our nearly 10 years of marriage, my husband and I have traveled roads together that did not appear to be leading us to anything beautiful. We lost sight of our hopes and plans, we lost sight of each other. Still, we kept traveling and neither of us left the other behind. Many times I thought we might take separate exits on this marriage journey, but instead we held hands and kept looking forward. Eventually we were able to see the beauty again, like turning the corner on the 405 to see that majestic face of Mount Rainier or witnessing a bloom begin to emerge from a once very dead looking orchid.

The beauty never left our marriage. We found the beauty again by taking on some new perspectives on our perpetual issues. We found it again by taking the time to nurture fondness and admiration in the middle of our frustration with each other. We found it again when we decided to lay down our preferences and sacrifice instead. The beauty in our marriage never left, it was just out of sight for a little while.

Share on Twitter

The beauty in our marriage never left, it was just out of sight for a little while. ~ Michelle Peterson

Every married couple experiences their share of pain, disconnection, betrayal, and extraordinary stress. Some discover that if they will push through together and not make enemies of each other in the process, the beauty they experience on the other side far surpasses anything they could have imagined for themselves.

If you’re in a tough season, I’m praying for you to have the strength to keep going, keep tending, keep nurturing, and keep investing in your relationship. I’m praying you’ll experience the beauty on the other side when you choose together to #staymarried.

Is Your Marriage Dead? Or, does it just appear that way? Many people discover greater joy in their marriage after going through devastating hardship, as long as they don't make enemies of each other in the process. - #staymarried


The #staymarried blog was created to offer hope, stories, and resources for couples who want to stay married.

If you found this post helpful, we would be honored if you would share it. Our big dream is to see more and more people living in happy and healthy marriages!

Interested in more posts like this? You might like…
10 Things to Try Before Giving Up on Your Marriage – The Gottman Institute
Does Marriage Really Have to be Hard Work? – #staymarried blog
♥ Your Baggage Doesn’t Have to Wreck Your Marriage – #staymarried Podcast

Emily AllenSpecial thanks to Emily Allen for allowing me to share her beautiful words and images here. Emily lives with her husband and six kids in Seattle, Washington. She is a contemplative, creative soul who celebrates the beauty of a humble, handmade life. Her days are full of laughs, epic messes, and lots of learning alongside her kids. She is the founder of Kindred Mom, a blog and an online community dedicated to helping women flourish in motherhood. Her personal blog is Light and Loveliness and she is on Instagram as @emily_sue_allen.

Tony and Michelle Peterson #staymarried

If you’re NEW HERE, check out our About Page and read a little more about my own background on our first post. You can also find us on the socials: PinterestTwitterFacebook, and Instagram. I’d love to connect on any of your favorite platforms.

Thank you ever so much for reading, sharing, and being a part of this #staymarried community!

~ Michelle


Get Your Free #staymarried Love Notes

Sign up to be the first to hear about new blog posts, podcasts, events, and giveaways! As a treat, we’ll send you a free set of printable love notes straight to your inbox.

Powered by ConvertKit




Is Your Marriage Dead? Or, does it just appear that way? Many people discover greater joy in their marriage after going through devastating hardship, as long as they don't make enemies of each other in the process. - #staymarried

What To Do When You Disagree About Parenting

4 Ways to Handle Parenting Disagreements - #staymarried - Photo credit: Stacy Jacobsen at http://www.stacyjacobsen.comAt last count, the internet has provided us with roughly eight million different parenting styles. You’ve probably noticed different parenting styles even among your own friends. Is it any wonder, with so many opinions and philosophies, that two people who share a home and children might also disagree on the best parenting approach?

Marriage is tricky enough without kids. As soon as you add little people to your family, the trickiness is off the charts. Now, not only are you figuring out how best to communicate with your partner and enjoy life, you also have to work together to raise these tiny utterly dependant humans! A lot of couples, including Tony and I, are unaware of the kinds of parents they will be until after the children have arrived. I always thought I’d be the strict enforcer and Tony would be the fun one. It turns out I’m the snuggler, Tony is the fun one, and we BOTH have to be the enforcers when it comes to discipline and handling behavior. Only, we don’t always agree on how to handle the kids.

What I want to share with you is less about the best way to parent and more about how your parenting affects your marriage. Let’s talk about the two of you! Because, above all, the way you treat each other and communicate about parenting can either have a positive or a negative effect on your relationship with each other. It’s your relationship with each other, not the way you parent, that will have the most profound effect on your children’s lives. These are the things Tony and I keep in mind when we disagree about parenting.

4 Ways to Handle Parenting Disagreements

1. Let your partner parent.

One of the hardest things to do when you disagree about parenting is to step back and let your partner BE a parent. But, unless something terribly unsafe or abusive is happening, that is exactly what we need to do. Think back to your own childhood. Did your mom and dad handle every situation in the exact same way? Probably not. And, look at you now, handling life EVEN THOUGH your parents parented differently.

4 Ways to Handle Parenting Disagreements - #staymarried - Photo credit: Stacy Jacobsen at http://www.stacyjacobsen.comWhen our oldest was just a toddling two and a half year old, Tony brought home some small firecrackers from a little pop-up stand around the corner from our house. Fourth of July was coming up and, since he’s the fun parent, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when he showed me his loot. Of course I piped up just a little, “Honey, I don’t think this is a good idea. Claire is two. This really doesn’t seem safe.”

How did he respond? “Babe! It’s fine. I’ve got this.”

So, I was inside the house tending to our infant while Tony went out to the driveway to light off these little firecrackers. I could see a little bit from the front window, but I was really trying not to hover. I snuggled the baby and reminded myself, He’s a good dad. He’s a good dad. He’s a good dad. They’re fine.

The next thing I knew, the front door flung open and in came Tony carrying a screaming little Claire. My heart sank! She’d gotten too close and got a tiny burn on her hand. He rushed her to the bathroom. I grabbed an ice pack and followed him in where he was washing her hand and applying some cooling gel. He was handling it. She was fine. I nearly passed out from the stress, but I kept the I-told-ya-so’s to myself.

Letting your partner parent is not easy but it is vital. Practicing stepping back is about seeing parenting as a long game and not about just this one particular instance in which you would be doing things in a different way… the right way. The truth is that we need to see our differences in parenting simply as differences and not as wrong ways and right ways.

In the long game, the two of you need to be a team in all aspects of your marriage, and that includes parenting. Undermining your partner by stepping in and interrupting a parenting moment is not only disrespectful, it also communicates distrust. Nobody performs at their best when they feel that they aren’t trusted and will be undermined for their efforts anyway. So, if something is happening in a way that you don’t necessarily agree with, take a step back. Pause. Remind yourself that it’s better for the kids and for your relationship to let the situation play itself out. And if your husband burns your baby’s hand, that too will be a situation that you can handle together, hopefully without passing out.

[ctt_author author=”5873″ name=”Michelle Peterson” template=”1″ link=”_ba68″ via=”yes” ]We need to see differences in parenting simply as differences, not as wrong ways and right ways.[/ctt_author]

2. Practice the “Same Team Mentality” in front of the kids.

Smart parents know that kids will do what it takes to get their way. Pitting one parent against the other is a classic move. Kids don’t even need to be taught! They come out of the womb knowing that mom responds differently to a sweet snuggle and a smile before they ask for what they want than dad will. They know which is more likely to sneak some chocolate into their lunch (DAD!) and which is more likely to read one more little book even though it’s 20 minutes past bedtime (MOMMY!). Nobody told them. They just know.

Look, I may not like the extra sugar in her lunch and Tony may not like that bedtime should have been over by now, but in front of the kids we are on the same team. If dad says no, mom says no. So, in order to have the upper hand with these tiny master manipulators we’ve developed a new response…

“Have you already asked Daddy about that? What did Daddy say?” (and vice versa)

With the same team method, whichever parent gave the first response to the request is the parent that leads that situation. Sometimes the kids forget that their main objective is to divide and conquer, so they’ll ask one parent in front of the other. When that happens, we openly discuss in front of the kids what we each think about it and come to an agreement together.

“I really don’t like Claire to have chocolate at school.” – Mom, obviously

“I like the idea that she’s got a little treat with her lunch.” – Dad, the fun guy

“Sure, I get that. Let’s just not make it a daily lunch habit.”

“Great. Maybe once a week or so, she’ll get an extra little treat. Claire, what do you think?”

Not only does this method save a ton of arguments between the two of you, it’s a fantastic chance to model what teamwork looks like for your kids. They can see that we disagree and that we’re willing to talk it out and work toward a solution together.

3. Talk about differences away from the kids.

4 Ways to Handle Parenting Disagreements - #staymarried - Photo credit: Stacy Jacobsen at http://www.stacyjacobsen.comIf you’re letting your partner be a parent, and practicing the same team mentality in front of the kids, you may still find yourself frustrated over something your partner has done. The best thing to do is to wait until the kids aren’t around to bring it up. Then, when you bring it up, don’t forget all of the problem solving skills you already know:

Start kindly and respectfully.
♥ Name what specifically happened.
♥ Name how you feel about it.
♥ Present what you think would have been a better method.
♥ Remain open to their perspective.
♥ Remind yourselves that you’re on the same team.

It could look something like this…

“I love that you want to do fun things and make fun memories with our kids. But, when you took Claire out there to light fireworks, I felt scared and frustrated. I was afraid something bad would happen, and I was frustrated that it seemed like you ignored me when I mentioned it. I wish you would have listened to me, or that we could have waited until I didn’t have my hands full with the baby so I could be out there to keep Claire away from the flames while you lit things on fire.”

4. Get a third-party perspective.

So far, we’re just talking about parenting instances. But, if you feel like you are having disagreements about parenting overall and not just in one situation or another, it’s time to bring in some perspective. All of those eight million different parenting styles come with eight million different websites, books, and seminars. One of the best ways to stay on the same team is to grab one of these resources, read it (or watch it or listen to it) together, and then discuss how you each feel about it.

Having an article to consider together is a great buffer because it takes the discussion out of the “me vs. you” state and puts you in an “us + new information” state. Instead of feeling attacked and criticized for the way you do things, now you can explore someone else’s thoughts and methods on parenting and make some decisions together. It’s not about your way vs. my way. Instead it’s about discovering our way.

Just remember, if this is the method you choose, you’ll still want to introduce it in a way that is kind and respectful and doesn’t make your spouse feel accused of doing something wrong.

4 Ways to Handle Parenting Disagreements - #staymarried - Photo credit: Stacy Jacobsen at http://www.stacyjacobsen.comWhat I mean is… and I’ve said this on our Facebook page before… do not simply tag your spouse on an article you want them to read or send them a forward without any explanation. When you don’t include a comment to give context as to WHY you are tagging your partner or sending them an article, they could easily feel accused of having done something wrong. So, if you’re going to share something for your partner to read or listen to so that you can discuss it later, be thoughtful in how you share it with them.

Here are some quick options…

“Hey babe, let’s read this and talk about it later…”

“This article made me grateful for the way we do things in our marriage. I thought you might like it.”

“This article has some great ideas. I’d love to know what you think.”

Marriage and parenting really are a ton of work, as are most worthwhile endeavors. At the end of the day, whether you do everything exactly the same or not, the most important thing is to honor and respect each other and work out your solutions as a team. Stepping in, undermining, and rudely disagreeing with your partner in front of your kids can be really damaging to your kids and also to your own relationship. Be patient with each other, practice the same team mentality, present a united front with the kids, and #staymarried.

Special thanks to the Coleman family for letting us use their beautiful family photos to illustrate this post.
Photo credit: Stacy Jacobsen whose work can be found at

Now, for those parenting resources I promised you…

Brain Rules for Baby by Dr. John Medina and Zero to Five by Tracy Cutchlow are the two books I recommend most often. They both thoroughly changed the way I parent, giving me insight based on scientific research, and practical steps I could take right away. If I’ve been to your baby shower in the last 4 years, chances are I gave you one or both of these books. I love them!

I can’t even believe I waited until the end of this post to tell you that, for all of our email subscribers, I get to GIVE THESE BOOKS TO YOU! Both books! In audio book format, because who has time to read! Ordinarily that would be a $40 value, but the people at have generously offered #staymarried Subscribers FREE downloads of both!

#staymarried and Parenting Audio Book Giveaway

Enter your name and email address to receive both of these parenting resources, a $40 value, as our gift to you!

You'll also stay up to date with the latest from #staymarried, speaking events, meetups, and more giveaways!

Powered by ConvertKit

If you’re a current #staymarried email subscriber, you should have already received yours. If you didn’t, feel free to re-subscribe by entering your name and email above and we’ll be sure to get them to you.

The #staymarried blog was created to offer hope, stories, and resources for couples who want to stay married.

Tony and Michelle Peterson #staymarriedIf you’re NEW HERE, check out our About Page and read a little more about my own background on our first post.

Thank you for reading, sharing, and being a part of this #staymarried community!

~ Michelle

Cleaning Up Is Not My Destiny – How Your Marriage Benefits When You Share the Load

How Your Marriage Benefits When You Share the Load - #staymarriedClaire, our oldest, had only been in Kindergarten for two weeks when she sat on the floor of our living room picking up her toys and through gritted teeth she said to me, “Mom, you know what? Cleaning up is NOT my destiny.”

What I wanted to do was pull out my white handkerchief and wave it at her shouting “Preach, Girl! Ain’t that the truth!”

But, I’m the mom, so I sat on the floor with her and told her she was right, but that cleaning up still needed to be done and I would help her.

Every year The Gates Foundation writes their Annual Letter addressing the issues around the world that the foundation will focus on. This year’s letter caught my attention in a really personal way. One of the issues they addressed is the global inequity between genders of who performs unpaid work. In Chapter 3 of The Annual Letter, Melinda Gates writes:

“Unless things change, girls today will spend hundreds of thousands more hours than boys doing unpaid work simply because society assumes it’s their responsibility. Continue reading “Cleaning Up Is Not My Destiny – How Your Marriage Benefits When You Share the Load”

Six Conversations Every Couple Must Have

Is “Happily ever after…”6 Conversations Every Couple Must Have - #staymarried even a thing?

That’s the question that’s given me insomnia over the last three years. Sometimes I lose sleep for a week, tossing and turning going over the stats and stories of divorce over and over again in my mind. Is it possible for anyone to actually stay married? And, if they manage to stay together, can they also be happy and not just suffering through life together? Who even came up with this phrase “Happily ever after…”? Had they experienced it themselves?

Then I discovered that most couples who divorce do so within the first three years after the wedding. Newlyweds become divorcees. Isn’t it called the honeymoon phase for a reason? Why aren’t the newlyweds blissfully carrying on? Continue reading “Six Conversations Every Couple Must Have”

Some Problems In Your Marriage Are Here To Stay

Some Problems In Your Marriage Are Here To Stay - Michelle Peterson on #staymarriedEvery couple has their perpetual problems. These are the problems that you fight and argue about, but nothing seems to change. You plead your case, you hear their side of it, you may even reach some kind of agreement or compromise, and then, before too long, you are arguing about it all over again. Perpetual.

Early in your marriage, you may argue and disagree about a number of things. I mean, you should. You’re still figuring each other out and navigating what it’s like to live together. Your expectations and dreams are confronted with reality and those things never line up completely.

In our first year, we argued about Tony leaving wet towels on the bed or which of my piles of clothes were clean and which were dirty and why I never put the dirty ones in the hamper… What if I can get one more wear out of those jeans before I do laundry? Little things, no biggie… That is what that first year is about – discovery. We didn’t know then that some of the things we argued and disagreed about, some of the things that hurt, would become the things that we still can’t come to terms with eight years into our marriage.

On our 8th Anniversary date, over tapas, we discussed our perpetual problem. Continue reading “Some Problems In Your Marriage Are Here To Stay”

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Divorced

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Divorced - #staymarried guest post by Lindsay HellerWhen my husband and I were dating, we went to one of the most lavish weddings I can remember. It was before brides were pinning their dream days on Pinterest, and looking back, I’ll bet Pinterest probably sent a correspondent to this same wedding just to take a look at all of the details.

The bride, Lindsay, was perfectly polished in every way. Her groom was tall and handsome. They were both friends of mine, so I’d witnessed their rocky and passionate relationship from a distance, but none of us questioned that they would get married some day. And, on that day, everything seemed just as it should be… at least it did from the pew I sat in.

Sadly, their dream wedding did not result in a dream marriage and they divorced. I later learned that Lindsay, like 30% of other brides who end up divorcing, had serious doubts on the day of her wedding.

Henry Ford said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” I have watched and learned so much from Lindsay over the years. She is wise and resilient, creative and determined. She and I talk from time to time about what it looks like to move on and today we get to share her perspective with you. Wherever you are on your relationship journey, I hope you’ll take in her story and glean from her the way I’ve had the opportunity to…

Irrevocably Broken

by Lindsay Heller

There surely comes a time in every marriage when we question if the grass is greener on the other side. When marriage is not easy and doesn’t look or feel like we thought it would. When the voids within ourselves become so dark and heavy that we can’t help but blame our spouse for not filling them, not meeting our needs, not coming to our rescue and pulling us out of the slump. So we question the decision to have made those vows, wondering if we should throw in the towel or trust that a dire situation could ever be redeemed.

Divorce was never part of my plan, yet I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have doubts before walking down the aisle. In the back of my mind, Continue reading “10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Divorced”

“My goal is to not die…” – Postpartum Depression and Our Marriage

"My Goal is To Not Die" Postpartum Depression and Our Marriage - #staymarriedI’ve been in a slump. I can tell because most mornings when I wake up, I already want to go back to bed. I spend a lot of my thought life trying to figure out how I might be able to get out of my next social engagement. I practically count my own words because talking out loud and trying to express myself can be excruciating. I want to be alone. I want everything to be quiet.

If this is your first time to #staymarried, welcome to our bright and shiny corner of the internet! Oh, wait… that bright and shiny corner might be elsewhere today. Our mission is to offer hope, stories, and resources for couples who want to stay married. But, sometimes, in order to get to hope, we need to tell our own stories of pain and apathy and how we work through it. Right now, I am working my way through it.

At eighteen I was diagnosed with Dysthymia. I can’t stand the labels of things, but I also value that they help make murky ideas a little bit more clear. Dysthymia is a mild form of depression, mostly manageable without medication. It is very real, but not necessarily incapacitating. The trouble with this kind of depression is that, because I am used to being just a little less joyful than the average person who does not deal with it, a true season of deeper depression can sneak up on me pretty easily.

Because of the Dysthymia, I have been more prone to severe postpartum depression. Now, I didn’t know that, so rather than being snuck up on by a depressive season, I was tackled by a huge linebacker of darkness and self-loathing after the birth of my first daughter. Continue reading ““My goal is to not die…” – Postpartum Depression and Our Marriage”

Don’t You Trust Me? – The 5 Characteristics of Trust

The 5 Characteristics of Trust - #staymarried, photo copyright Jake GravbrotWe have seen a lot of comments and emails from you all lately, and I keep coming back to the same theme over and over again. It’s a word, really, but such a loaded word that I can’t escape it. The word is trust.

“Don’t you trust me?”

“How can I trust him?”

“I can’t get a hold of my temper. But, it keeps coming back to whether or not he will be faithful now that he has cheated on me.”

“I’m not sure what to do. I cheated in the past and he has forgiven me, but now he wants me to keep my distance from other men. Is it unreasonable?”

Over and over again: trust.

Trust is foundational for all relationships, but especially for our marriages. We’ve found that trust is not so easy to cultivate and, once broken, can be excruciatingly difficult to repair. Continue reading “Don’t You Trust Me? – The 5 Characteristics of Trust”

The Art & Science of Love – 15 Favorite Moments from Our Gottman Workshop Weekend

The Art & Science of Love - 15 Favorite Moments from our Gottman Workshop Weekend - #staymarriedTony and I are just getting back to reality after a glorious time away at The Art and Science of Love weekend workshop by The Gottman Institute. We have featured the wisdom of Drs. John and Julie Gottman essentially since we started writing this blog two years ago. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of their work, their extensive research, and the accessible way they are helping therapists and couples understand how to create healthy relationships. I’ve been really excited to hear them teach live and the workshop was even better than I had hoped.

The entire workshop is centered around The Sound Relationship House. Using this as the framework, the teaching was meant to encourage us to change three things:

♥ Become better friends, increasing our positive feelings for one another
♥ Change the way we handle conflict
♥ Build a sense of shared meaning

Dr. John Gottman, who I will just refer to as Dr. John from here on out since we’re basically best friends now, opened the workshop by simply saying, “Good morning. I know some of you are here voluntarily…” Right away we had the sense it wasn’t going to be all business. I’m excited to share with you my favorite moments from this weekend’s workshop.

15 Favorite Moments from Our Gottman Workshop Weekend

1. Couples who laugh together last together.

The Art & Science of Love - 15 Favorite Moments from our Gottman Workshop Weekend - #staymarried“Couples who can laugh together, even during disagreements, have long happy marriages,” Dr. Gottman told us. I’ll admit that when he said it, I couldn’t imagine how that would work, but it became a truth I leaned on during the second day of the workshop when we dove deeply into conflict. Continue reading “The Art & Science of Love – 15 Favorite Moments from Our Gottman Workshop Weekend”

51 Little Ways to Build Your Marriage

51 Little Ways to Build Your Marriage - #staymarriedSometimes being the #staymarried lady is rough. I get heartbreaking emails and read devastating stories, and I feel sick and broken every time. My heart is tender toward marriage. I long to see people thrive in their relationships. It’s irrational, but I take it a little personally when any marriage fails.

But, sometimes being the #staymarried lady is pretty great! I get giddy when I see our hashtag on a photo of a date night selfie. I love seeing a tweet or status update where one spouse is watching a show they normally wouldn’t just to hang on the couch with their love… #staymarried. It really is the little things that make such a difference. You guys get it and it makes me so so so silly with joy! Continue reading “51 Little Ways to Build Your Marriage”

The Best Apology – How to Say Sorry Like You Mean It

The Best Apology - How to say sorry like you mean it #staymarriedForgiveness is an essential part of a growing relationship. Without a consistent practice of forgiveness, relationships are repressed. Forgiveness is not something that comes naturally to most of us, certainly not to me, but it can be learned.

Forgiveness doesn’t always involve reconciliation. The sad reality is that sometimes forgiveness may need to happen for the offended party to move on and begin to heal, but restoring a relationship with the offender would actually be an unhealthy and unwise thing to do. For instance, I do not have a relationship with the man who sexually abused me as a child. For my own sake, I do work on forgiveness over that situation regularly. I don’t need to have contact with him or work through Continue reading “The Best Apology – How to Say Sorry Like You Mean It”

What I Wish Everyone At 20 (& 30…) Understood About Marriage

What I Wish Everyone at 20 (& 30...) Understood About Marriage - Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers on #staymarriedI knew of Dr. Sellers long before I met her. Last year at about this time, I hosted a #staymarried Group with my dear friend Meagan, who told me all about Dr. Sellers’ work on a project called Thank God for Sex. I’ve been following along as they tear back the curtain of shame built up by generations and reveal to people the beautiful benefits of a healthy view of sex. It is fascinating work.

Then, one day I noticed something strange on our family calendar: “Meet with Tina Sellers.” What the? Tony has a meeting with THE Dr. Tina Sellers? Is this real? I asked my husband about it and sure enough, through some mutual connections from Tony’s freelance clients, he did indeed have a meeting with her to discuss some web and graphic design needs. I insisted he let me be a part of the meeting!

Then, she came! She came into my home and was as delightful in person as I’d imagined. She is a gracious visionary with a passion to help people discover what culture has failed to teach them about their bodies, their hearts, their capacity for intimacy, and their erotic potential. Can you imagine what would happen if we all had better understandings of these things?

Today, I’m thrilled to share her with you! The following piece originally appeared on her blog and she has graciously given permission for me to share her insights with you…

What I Wish Everyone at 20 (& 30…) Understood About Marriage

by Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers

The goal of our life is… to bring more love and truth into the world. We marry to assist each other in this process.
-Leo Tolstoy

A dear friend of mine said on the eve of his oldest daughter’s thirteenth birthday, “Today is my last day to be an expert on adolescents!”  I giggled when I heard him say this, thinking of the myriad of times I have had to learn this lesson.  It is so easy to think we know something before we are knee deep in the complexity of what it is REALLY LIKE!  That is certainly true of marriage.  Continue reading “What I Wish Everyone At 20 (& 30…) Understood About Marriage”

How Being Defensive is Hurting Your Marriage

How Being Defensive is Hurting Your Marriage - #staymarried“It’s so hard to be around them sometimes. They get so defensive if I say anything at all.”

I was complaining to Tony, my new boyfriend at the time, about a couple of people I was working with.

“Yeah,” he said innocently, “You can be pretty defensive, too.”

Cue internal outrage… What!?!? Did he just tell me that I’m defensive? I AM NOT DEFENSIVE! Wait… am I? Wow, I am falling in love with this guy and I think he feels the same way about me AND he thinks I’m defensive… Maybe I am. How did I not know this about myself?…

The subject died. I had nothing to say after he made his very nonchalant observation. I mean, I wasn’t going to try to get into a fight with him about me being defensive… that would have only proven him right.

I swallowed his words and tried to be much more thoughtful about the way I responded to situations and comments that frustrated me. I think he’s right; I am naturally defensive. But, I mean, who isn’t? Doesn’t everyone want the chance to defend themselves when they feel like they are being insulted, misunderstood, or attacked? It seems so automatic that there isn’t anything I can do about it.

What is your ADS?

It seems automatic because defensiveness in some ways is automatic. In fact, Dr. Steven Stosny, an expert in anger and relationship problems, refers to defensiveness in relationships as a hypersensitive Automatic Defense System (ADS). He says that it is much more reactionary than Continue reading “How Being Defensive is Hurting Your Marriage”