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 3 Worst Couples You’ll Ever Meet

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When I was 4 years old someone told me I had to get married someday. I cried for hours on my mother’s lap while she tried to comfort me by saying I never had to get married if I didn’t want to. This fear of marriage stayed with me for most of my life, and I justified it by pointing out all the terrible couples I saw around me. Why on earth would I get married just to end up like them? I eventually realized that many couples have perfectly happy and healthy marriages.  I also realized that many of these “terrible” couples were simply like most of us, experiencing the ups and downs of a normal relationship.  

Who are these couples and is everything about them really that terrible? Let me summarize some of the more common types of marriages we see.  You’ll likely see yourself and your relationship in some of these descriptions.    

Overly Reactive Who?

This couple is like the high school sweethearts who dominated the halls with their screaming matches or passionate kissing; everything is at 100% ... Read more »


The 100% Relationship Guarantee

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We have all seen some television ad claiming that if you try some product the company is willing to give a “100% Satisfaction Guarantee!”  If you buy their product and aren’t completely satisfied, you can return it, get your money back, and pretend the purchase never happened.  

As this tactic is so extremely prevalent in our modern culture, you would have to live in the middle of the wilderness somewhere to avoid seeing it used. In fact, this method seems to have become part of how we treat other aspects of life as well.

Especially relationships.

However, I would like to share with you the harsh reality revealed across relationship studies: there is no 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, and trying to find one is 99% sure to fail. (Like 53% of statistics, the 99% is made up on the spot).  Here are three reasons why we want a guarantee in our relationships and why such thinking may cause more problems than we think.

No Need to Commit

Companies often use the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee tactic to build a new customer base.  It provides ... Read more »


Are You Afraid of Marriage?

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As a student and marriage scholar, I have been fascinated by the attitudes so many young adults hold about marriage.  In fact, my Thesis is on that very topic.  I have taken particular interest in the increasing delay of marriage we see among young adults today.  According to the US Census Bureau, the average age at first marriage for men is 29 and 27 for women, and it appears this continues to increase.  So what is behind this increase in age?  Some might say young adults are just being smart because they are more mature at those ages. There appears to be some fears about marriage that suggest that many young adults believe that marrying at younger ages is simply irresponsible.

While the fears we have about marriage are often different and come from different places, research has revealed some common fears about marriage that are prevalent among young adults today.  While these fears are often based on valid concerns, they also drive many relationships to a less than satisfying end and a delay in one of the most rewarding ... Read more »


How to Have a Terrible Breakup

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Every relationship you get into in life appears to be unique. Even if you have a certain type of person you always seem to date, one boyfriend or girlfriend is rarely exactly the same as the other. The same can be said for the breakup. At the close of one particular romantic relationship during my undergrad, I was shocked to find myself devastated not by the breakup that had just happened, but instead by a relationship that had ended 6 months before. The older relationship seemed significant enough for me to mourn twice, while the newer one I shrugged off with ease. This left me with a lot of questions, the most important two being: Has this happened to anyone else? and Am I simply a terrible person?

It turns out, there are different ways to manage (and perceive) a breakup. Some lead to devastating mourning periods mixed with pain that lasts for years, while others make the pain a little easier to take.

How to Have a Terrible Breakup.

“I am unloveable”

There are usually a few reasons behind a ... Read more »


3 Secrets for Living a Happy Life

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Almost anyone would tell you that happiness is a crucial part of life, but unfortunately, it’s a concept that is hard to accurately study and measure. Luckily, researchers at Harvard have been trying to tackle that challenge, by exploring data in the Harvard Study of Adult Development for the past 75 years. Last year, Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the director of the study, discussed three crucial findings to the secret of happiness in a new TED talk.

Waldinger begins his presentation by asking, “If you were going to invest now in your future best self, where would you put your time and your energy?” Although many common goals are to obtain money or fame, according to the study – the longest ever study on human development to date, it is good relationships that keep us happier and healthier.

Overall, the study found three big lessons about relationships.  

Connections are healing, while loneliness is toxic.

People who are connected to family, friends, and their communities lead longer and more healthy lives. In contrast, people who are more isolated than they want to ... Read more »


The Least Helpful Phrases of Your Marriage

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“You’re not doing it right.”  “These dishes go here.”  “Did you grow up in a barn?”

These phrases, or similar, may be familiar to you if you have ever lived with a romantic partner.  You probably heard them when you were trying to be helpful and ended up causing a fight because you weren’t “doing something right.”  If so, then you have experienced what scholars call Gatekeeping.

The purpose of a fence is to either a)protect something or some area or b)establish an area as someone’s property.  The gate, however, is the way for another to enter that area.  If we open the gate, then we are welcoming that person into our personal space and showing that we want them there.

Likewise, most of us have specific ways we do things, especially household tasks.  One person may sort their laundry by color while others sort it by fabric type.  Some may like to have all the dirty dishes cleaned and put away before going to bed at night while others like to do it in the morning.  But whatever our preference, we ... Read more »


Is Your Partner the Right Age For You?

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Have you ever been told about the formula for calculating how young of a woman a man can date and marry?  It is simple.  For the man: divide your current age by two and add 7.  If I were 30 years old then this calculation might look something like this: 30/2 = 15 +7 = 22.  That means I should not date or marry any woman younger than 22 years old. But is there anything scientific about this formula?  Does it really matter how old our partner is?

In some ways perhaps it does, although it might have more to do with preferences and less to do with happy relationships.  According to Jane Conway and a team of scholars in The Netherlands, the age of the person we date or marry may have a long history from the days of evolution.  In a recent study, they found evidence for one theory about why we prefer certain ages in our romantic partners.

Men

Men generally prefer women younger than themselves.  Based on Evolutionary Theory, this may be because younger women are more fertile ... Read more »


Playing the Love Game

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If you were to do a Google search on “love is a game,” you would find a large number of quotes from authors, philosophers, musicians, and everyday people who have felt like love is just a game.

“Love is a losing game.”  

“Love is a game in which one always cheats.”

“Love is a game that two can play and both win.”

So is love really just a game?  How is it possible that some believe it is always a losing game while others believe two can win?  What strategies can we use to make sure we are winners?

According to a recent study by Mons Bendixen and Leif Kennair from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, there are two main strategies we often use to find love and attract potential partners.  What do these two strategies look like and do they both work?  If not, which one will make you a winner?

Competitor Derogation

Competitor derogation is the strategy of making others look less attractive than ourselves.  Name calling, spreading rumors, or pointing out a rivals more negative qualities are all examples of ... Read more »


The Ripe Age for Marriage

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Have you ever been given the advice that you should wait to marry until after 25, or maybe even as late as 30? Would you give that same advice to someone else?

Chances are, most of us have heard at some point in our lives that getting married too young is a recipe for disaster. And when it comes to basic divorce statistics, such wisdom seems to be supported. But what is too young? Is there really something magical about 25 years old?

According to Norval Glenn at the University of Texas at Austin, 25 years does make a significant difference in the success of marriage, but it may not be in the direction you think.

The Best Age

In his study, Glenn argues that one of the main reasons we are seeing a large incline in the average at at first marriage, approaching 30 for men and 28 for women, is consistent findings in research that the risk of divorce continues to drop with age. Teen weddings are clearly not supported. And since 30 year olds show a lower risk of divorce ... Read more »