11 Best Premarital Counseling Books To Read Before Tying the Knot

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Couple reading the bible together

So you’re looking for premarital counseling books to brush up on before the big day?

It’s no surprise that most couples spend more time planning for their wedding than for their marriage. Marriage talk between an engaged couple might include topics of flowers, cake flavors, and honeymoon plans when the conversation should be on children, responsibilities, finances, and living arrangements. ... Read more »

The Power Of Hugs

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You may have heard the phrase “It’s the small and simple things in marriage that make it last”. It can be as easy as making dinner, complimenting your spouse’s clothes, or giving a hug. The small act of a hug can have a big impact. Understanding the power of something as simple as a hug will help you remember to do the little things, even when you think it does not matter.

Hugging is not only enjoyable in the moment, it has lasting effects on both your relationship with your spouse as well as your attitude. Some say that it is not really a hug unless it lasts 10 seconds. That might be because hugging someone for an extended period of time creates a positive chemical reaction in your mind, body, and spirit.  Hugs increase your serotonin levels (also known as one of the happy hormones). This creates a soothing effect in your body, helping you feel less stressed and more connected. Bottom line, hugs literally cause a chemical reaction in your body that ... Read more »

What Are Good Marriage Values? Happiness Is Not One of Them!

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To Be Successful In Any Relationship, Certain Values Should Be Practiced Daily By All Those Involved.


To get a better understanding of the theme for this blog, first read my previous blog, You Get What You Tolerate.

What Makes You Happy

This generation has been misled since they were born with the common phrase of, “go and do what makes you happy.” I know many students who arrive to their first day of work with the mindset of, “here I am! Now, make me happy.” The world just does not work that way, and, frighteningly so, neither does marriage.

I think a lot of newlywed’s approach marriage the very same way. “Okay, [spouse], here I am. Now make me happy.” Marriage is a lot of work. Unless you love never-ending selfless work with little praise, you may find yourself in a place you did not expect. While happiness can be the result of good things happening to us, it is more often the result of ourselves being in a good place. That is, we are happy with our character, our integrity, and our ... Read more »

You Get What You Tolerate

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We Often Hear We Need to Be Tolerant People, But Does That Necessarily Make Sense in a Marriage?


We hear a lot of people talk about tolerance. So, what does tolerance mean by definition?

Tol · er · ance (n): The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

To have tolerance, then, should be a good thing, right? Someone who can tolerate a lot of disagreeable behavior might be a great partner, but there is a catch!

Band-Aids Don’t Fix Bullet Holes

A popular quote says, “In life, you get what you tolerate.” You might ask yourself, “If I’m not supposed to be tolerant, then what?” Tolerance focuses the conversation around how to deal with the bad; but it does not talk about how to eliminate the bad.

In the book Boundaries in Marriage, Dr. Henry Cloud states, “In an imperfect world, imperfection will always seek you out, and if you tolerate it, you will certainly find all of it that you can handle. Unpleasant things seek the level they are ... Read more »

3.1 Rules to Marriage Fights

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There is No One-Size-Fits-All Regimen to Marriage Arguments, but These Are a Few Recommendations.


Some of the most challenging parts of a young marriage are the biases and preconceived notions that a partner will bring to a relationship from his or her parents. Yes, we come into a relationship very biased on how it needs to function; and that prejudice usually comes from our experience and observations with our parents.

If partners come from families with very different marriages, undoing the 20 plus years of indoctrination from the parents is not easy. Many young couples struggle to realize and understand that healthy relationships do not have a one-size-fits-all regimen for success.

Early on in our marriage, my wife and I sat down and talked about behaviors we did not want to see in our marriage based on observations of our parents.I  cannot say that we have it perfectly figured out, but we have developed 3.1 key rules that seem to work well for us:

1. Always and never

Open verbal fights were a part of my parents’ marriage, and I did not agree with ... Read more »

Careful Confiders and Caring Confidants

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Close friends and family are often the first line of support people go to when experiencing relationship difficulties. When things get hard in a marriage or with a girl/boy-friend, it is really nice to have someone to talk to about it. While there may be limits on how much information is too much information, usually confidants are happy to be help. Whether you would like to confide in someone, or whether you have become a confidant, here are some helpful tips to keep things on track.

If you want to confide in someone: Choose someone who cares about you and your partner. Doing this will make it possible for you to share what is going on without skewing the confidant’s perception too much. Then, when things are better, you don’t have to “fix” things between your partner and the confidant. Confidants who know and care about both of you will also be more likely to help you see a perspective you haven’t understood yet. Choose someone whose opinions seem sound. It might feel good to spout off to a superficial supporter, but ... Read more »

When the ONES We Love Don’t Love the ONE We Love

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We’ve all hoped that we strike a good in-law deal, that our parents accept our fiancé/e, and that our life-long friends will be excited about our newest love interest. From the 16th century tale of Romeo and Juliet to the modern theme of the Spice Girls (“If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends”), it seems that there is a universal awareness that relationships require approval. But why is the approval of others so important to our romantic relationships?

Relationship research has shown that “perceived network support” (i.e.: believing that your family and friends approve of your boyfriend/ girlfriend/ husband/ wife/ partner) is associated with increased love, commitment, relationship quality, and stability over time. Simply stated: the social support we receive from others makes our relationships better and can actually change the trajectory of our romance. It’s easier to develop love when that love is approved of by those we respect and hold close. But let’s face it: not all are lucky enough to live in the ideal world where everyone loves everyone and lives happily ... Read more »

Having Faith in Your Inter-Faith Marriage

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Times are changing, this is nothing new. One particular area of change has been marriage trends, especially who is marrying whom. Before the 1960s, only 20% of married couples were interfaith – with each spouse having their own faith different from the other – currently around 39% of marriages are.

Interfaith marriages bring with them a unique set of questions. How will God and spirituality be discussed in the home? Whose church will the children attend? Where will the marriage take place? Some worry that interfaith marriages dilute the faith of each spouse, leaving two people less strong in their convictions and beliefs. However, there are also significant upsides to interfaith marriage. Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell in their book American Grace, found that the more Americans got to know people of another faith, the more they liked them. Likewise, research by Naomi Schaefer Riley showed that marrying someone of another faith tended to improve one’s view of that faith.

For that 39% of couples, how can they best navigate this aspect of their relationship to get the most ... Read more »

Why Marriage Education

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When I tell people I am getting a Master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development they immediately jump to the conclusion that I want to do therapy. Like them, when I began my degree in Family Studies my intention was to go into therapy because that was what I knew.  I believed couples were either happy or needed therapy.  I only knew of one line of defense against divorce, and one that is often not effective.

However, since then I have found a third option.  I found the real first line of defense: Marriage and Relationship Education (MRE).   However, in discovering MRE, I also began to wonder why so few people take advantage of such a wonderful opportunity.

Why Marriage and Relationship Education is For You

As I began to explore a career in MRE, I also began to explore why such a helpful option is so unused.  What I found were some common barriers to MRE that people encounter.  So what are these barriers and how can you break them down?

Barrier 1: My marriage is happy.

One of the most ... Read more »

Butting Out of Your Relationship

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“I love you, but you’re being ridiculous right now.”

“I’m sorry you’re hurt, but what I said was true.”

“I shouldn’t have done that, but you shouldn’t have said what you did.”

All three of these statements are ones you may have said or heard in your own relationship, and as well intended as they may be, they are completely useless. The first part of the statement – the apology or admission of love – is retracted as soon as it is followed up with a contradicting “but.”

The word “but” is: “used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned,” and therefore is the last thing you want to hear following a compliment or an apology. Yet so many of us seem to rely on that double edged tactic.

I hear statements like these a lot in session with couples in distress. As they try to communicate with one another, they struggle to allow themselves to be left defenseless. Years, months, or even weeks of feeling like enemies rather than teammates has left each partner feeling ... Read more »