« May 2007 | Main | July 2007 »

Entries from June 2007

Before You Marry...

Think of June and June weddings often come to mind. A time of joy, it can also be a time of trepidation for many. After all, the U.S. divorce rate is at an all-time high. Many people cite the microwave & disposable mentality as a major cause. Commitment just isn't what it used to be--people change jobs more than ever (averaging more than 5-7 careers in a lifetime), people move more frequently, and divorce rates are high (more than 50% for first marriages and over 60% for second marriages). There's even an expression about "starter marriages" and now a TV show called The Starter Wife. So, why not feel hesitant and nervous about committing in marriage?? Still, there are some methods for predicting your marriage success. The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists has issued a consumer update for marriage preparation describing measurable criteria for determining you and your partner’s compatibility. Actually, it describes the analytical process along with questionnaires that are given in premarital counseling. In my experience, few people that are "in love" and engaged are really willing to explore their passion through such analytical means. Fear of learning that there may be real evidence that a marriage is doomed to fail also keeps people from exploring compatibility issues. Why should they when the media, friends and society reminds them of their odds anyway?? With that in mind, here are some things to consider before you marry.

Get your finances in order. Make sure both partners are taking equal responsibility for the finances and that no one is left in the dark. Remember, when one overfunctions the other underfunctions. Keep balance in all the aspects of your life--especially money. To learn more, check out the many self-help books on money basics. One good source is Suze Orman.

Treat each other with respect. We teach people how to treat us. Be worthy of respect and give respect. John Gottman, renowned as the leading expert in divorce prediction, describes four killers of relationships (he dubs them the "four horseman of the Apocalypse") and they are all examples of disrespect--criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. Think being mean, insulting, not taking responsibility and giving one the silent treatment.

Plan for disaster. This will seem counterintuitive and is highly debatable. However, since there is some legitimate fear about the longevity of today's marriages, why not consider a prenuptial? Think of it in terms of dealing with the worst-case scenario up front...while you both are in love and respect each other. It could even keep your marriage together because you've addressed the unknown and already demonstrated mutual caring and support even if the relationship transforms.

Perhaps my favorite piece of advice purported by Native American wisdom and other cultures and spiritual beliefs is to honor the mystery of love and to honor each other. Love is a gift, not something that can be demanded or even earned. It just is, so cherish and nurture it like a gardener tending to his beloved and delicate flowers. Good luck and best wishes to all the couples getting married, engaged, reunited, and recommitted!

In Honor of Fathers on Father's Day

I am a mother, so I confess that I'm a little biased about the importance of a mother in a child's life. ;) Nonetheless, fathers play a critical role as well...

For instance, did you know that a father's raucous horseplay with children has a powerful influence on child development? It teaches a child to regulate emotions as they learn to cue in to another's emotional state and when/how to calm down after intense experiences. Of course, there is a healthy and unhealthy way of fathering. A healthy father is in in tune with their child's emotions and limits. A healthy father is also aware of the details in a child's life, such as knowing their friend's names, favorite hobby or toy, etc., which in turn helps him to offer better emotional support and guidance. Here are some other examples from John Gottman, et al's "Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child."

Effects of a healthy father in a boy's life:

> Boys develop better social skills and peer relationships

> Boys are better able to find balance between masculine assertiveness & self-restraint

Effects of a healthy father in a girl's life:

> Girls will less likely become sexually promiscuous at a younger age

> Girls will more likely develop healthy relationships with men as adults

What kids develop from a healthy fathers' presence in their lives:

> Increased empathy and compassion

> Better social relationships

> Longer, happier marriages

> Having their own kids

> Engaging in healthy recreational activities with nonfamily members

> Better academic success

> Better career satisfaction