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I Just Want My Partner to Understand Me

In my practice and at our Marriage Prep 101 Workshops, I hear many couples say, ” I just want my partner to understand me." We all want to be seen and validated in that way. You share with your partner…

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Why We Choose To Get Married

By Jane Ganahl,

A hundred years ago, single men and women married each other for practical reasons. Women, with no hope of becoming educated or having a career, chose men who would be good providers. Men needed someone to take care of the home, cook and bear children to carry on the family name or even work in the family business. To paraphrase the lyrics of Tina Turner, what did love have to do with it? Not much; passionate love and major attraction were not even high on the list of reasons to consider marriage a few generations ago.

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Time, Sex and Money: The First Five Years of Marriage

A recent study by the Creighton University Center for Marriage and Family suggests that time, sex and money pose the three biggest obstacles to satisfaction in the lives of newly married couples. In its report, “Time, Sex and Money: The First Five Years of Marriage,” the center noted those three topics “were the three problematic issues reported most frequently and with the highest average intensity.” The study found that debt brought into marriage, the couples’ financial situation, balancing job and family, and frequency of sexual relations were of greatest concern to those ages 29 and under. Those age 30 and over shared with their younger cohorts the concerns of balancing job and family and frequency of sexual relations, but also added as problem areas constant bickering and expectations about household tasks.

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Sexuality Preference Quiz

Do you like the Myers-Briggs Personality Test? Take the Beiter Sexuality Preference Quiz- Free, online, confidential, 10 minutes...It might lead to some insights and interesting conversations. We encourage couples to talk about their sex lives with each other, and commit…

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Money Talks to Have Before Marriage

By Ron Lieber, New York Times

Divorce tends to be emotionally gut-wrenching for the people who go through it (not to mention those around them). But most couples don’t realize that divorce can also be among the most ruinous financial moves anyone can make.

Sure, you could bet big and lose on a single stock or money manager. Or your small business could go bankrupt, taking your life savings with it. But divorce and the costs that often come with it — from legal bills to the sudden need for an additional residence — affect far more people.

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Difference in Sexual Desire

By Jane Ganahl, San Francisco Chronicle

In the last year of my first marriage, our sex life had gone the way of the dodo. The passion we’d once felt for each other, romantically and sexually, had turned to passionate anger and disillusionment.

Our baby, his job, my writing — all had taken a toll on our quality time. We were so mad at each other all the time, in that pouty, noncommunicative way twentysomethings have of relating, that I could not even bear the idea of sex with him. I was so ashamed of what we, a torrid twosome since senior year in college, had become that I couldn’t even talk to friends about it.

Little did I know that had we gone through this 20 years later, we would have had the satisfaction of knowing we had the social illness du jour: sexless marriage. It would have been the topic of talk shows and magazine cover stories and cocktail parties, and I would not have felt so alone.

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Premarital Education Could Cut Divorce Rate

By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY

More couples are getting premarital education, perhaps thinking it may give their new marriages divorce protection. And new research suggests they may well be right.

Premarital education “is associated with higher levels of marital satisfaction, lower levels of destructive conflicts and higher levels of interpersonal commitment to spouses,” says the study, published this spring in the Journal of Family Psychology. Based on a random phone survey of 3,344 adults in four states, it says couples who received premarital education had a 31% lower chance of divorce. The number of hours spent in premarital programs ranged from as little as a few hours to 20 hours. The median was eight hours.

Most religious denominations suggest that their engaged couples participate in such programs; Catholicism requires it. But now, others also are giving them a try.

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Location, Catering, Flowers…Marriage Prep?

You’re in the home stretch leading up to your wedding day. Your checklist is nearly complete but you have a nagging sense that there is something you’ve forgotten. You have dreamed of this day your whole life and want nothing left to chance. You search your memory but can’t locate the thought.

Then you recall a suggestion from your wedding officiant. Or was it your friend? They surprised you by commenting that all this planning was for only one day while the marriage was for a lifetime. Then they asked what you were doing to prepare for marriage? You stopped to think but came up with nothing. All of your attention has been focused on the wedding preparations. Before you could explain, they made a suggestion you would never have considered: take a marriage preparation class or schedule some pre-marital counseling sessions. Your initial response was, “Why us? We are SO in love, he is such a wonderful man.” Later on, you asked yourself, “Do we really need this with all that we have going on?”

The short but emphatic answer is YES! If you think about it, marriage preparation just makes good sense–and it certainly can’t hurt! Couples are surprised how much there is to learn about creating a lifelong marriage. Long-time married couples will tell you “strong marriages don’t just happen, they are created!” The simple truth is that even with the best matches, all couples can benefit from learning how to build satisfying, committed marriages. But don’t take it on faith, let the facts explain the reasoning.

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Common Fights of Engaged Couples

Following are some typical conflicts that may arise for pre-marital couples as you plan the wedding, make decisions about family involvement in the ceremony, list items for your gift registry, decide on a wedding budget and/or plan to merge finances. Essentially, the time between an engagement and a wedding can be seen as one giant transition where many of the defining issues of who you are and how your relationship will partner on various decisions will emerge and demand to be resolved. All of the following questions and situations can evoke underlying or hidden issues that may yet to be worked out. What may begin as a conflict can end up being an opportunity–if (and that’s a BIG if) you and your partner can address both the specific issue as well as any underlying issue (if necessary) in a calm and mature fashion using particular skills to help you resolve the issue. Listening, asking clarifying questions, speaking clearly and non-defensively, and then working to calmly negotiate a “creative alternative” or compromise solution is a brief framework you can use to resolve the issue and have a productive discussion. Good luck!

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Marriage-Bound or Just living together?

Cohabitation–the official term for living together- is a hot topic these days in the marriage study field. In early July, researcher Scott Stanley reported that women who are living together with a man and expecting to get married are often disappointed by their partner. It turns out that men who choose to live with a woman first rather than marry her are far less committed to marriage in general and their cohabiting partners in particular than the group of men who commit to marriage without first “testing the relationship out”. This surprising finding, presented at the 2002 Smart Marriages conference in Washington, D.C., to some 1600 marriage educators, researchers and therapists is based on two recently released, nationwide surveys.

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Cohabitation Quiz


Sit down with your partner and share your responses to the following five questions. Take turns talking and listening. Try to be clear in your communication and curious rather than defensive in answering.

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Myths of Marriage and Divorce

1. Half of all marriages end in divorce.

That may have been the case several decades ago, but the divorce rate has been dropping since the early 1980s. If today’s divorce rate continues unchanged into the future, the chances that a marriage contracted this year will end in divorce before one partner dies has been estimated to be between 40 and 45 percent.

2. Because people learn from their bad experiences, second marriages tend to be more successful than first marriages.

Although many people who divorce have successful subsequent marriages, the divorce rate of remarriages is in fact higher than that of first marriages.

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Wedding Planning: Interesting Relationship Challenge

You’ve just become engaged and nothing could be more wonderful and exciting. You’re walking on air, imagining the perfect wedding, a celebration of love with your fiancé, family and friends beside you, a day unfolding exactly as you have always fantasized. What bride (and groom) doesn’t begin with grand visions for this special day?

And then comes the planning. Now you have to design this perfection. So you study the magazines, write the lists, talk with your partner about what kind of wedding day you two will share. The possibilities are endlessly thrilling. And endlessly detailed. And at some point, it hits you: Planning your perfect wedding is more complicated and confusing than it seems.

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