Monthly Archives: December 2009

Is fidelity essential to a marriage?

In a recent interview with the German magazine Das Neue, Angelina Jolie shocked fans by saying “’I doubt that fidelity is absolutely essential for a relationship. It’s worse to leave your partner and talk badly about him afterwards.” She also stated “Neither Brad nor I have ever claimed that living together means to be chained together. We make sure that we never restrict each other.” Blogs have speculated exactly what she means by these statements, but it brings up a good question. Is fidelity essential for a healthy marriage?

On the webpage for the U.S. Dept. of Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (, it says that in 1996 Congress made the following findings: 1) Marriage is the foundation of a successful society; and 2) Marriage is an essential institution of a successful society which promotes the interests of children. Then they as a very interesting question. What is a “healthy marriage?” According to their definition:
* There are at least two characteristics that all healthy marriages have in common. First, they are mutually enriching, and second, both spouses have a deep respect for each other.
* It is a mutually satisfying relationship that is beneficial to the husband, wife and children (if present).
* It is a relationship that is committed to ongoing growth, the use of effective communication skills and the use of successful conflict management skills.

A government definition of a “healthy marriage” is not the most definitive, and most marriage experts would be even more precise, including such things as religious beliefs and societal mores. However, if we agree to even this broad-minded kind of definition, we can see that fidelity is essential to a marriage. Unfaithfulness does not benefit the loyal spouse, and study after study has indicated that the effect of a divorce on children being raised in a single-parent household is NOT beneficial–for example, see Wallerstein, Judith (1991). The Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children: A Review. The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Beyond this rather loose interpretation by the U.S. government, without getting into religious debate, marriage can also be considered as a legal contract. In a marriage, two people essentially reach an agreement together before witnesses and usually with a presiding official. The two people say their vows and make promises of certain things to each other. In western, Judeo-Christian civil vows, the couple often say things such as “I take you to be my wedded spouse. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, ’till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.” Taking out the emotion and passion of a fancy dress, a tuxedo and a big reception, essentially marriage contract states before witnesses that the couple will stay together through the itemized circumstances of life, will love each other until one dies, and will covenant their fidelity! Thus, fidelity is essential to the maintenance of the contract, and infidelity breaks, nullifies, and negates the marital contract.

What do you think? Is fidelity essential? If you have questions about affairs or have been affected by infidelity, come to my website at for answers and help!

A Christmas Story

Luke 2: 1-16

1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Her Christmas Wish List (gifts you can give for FREE!)

Are you on a very tight budget and still looking for that perfect gift for her–so that you’ll have a reaction like the picture? Here are the things on her wish list that you can give her for FREE…and they will help kindle the love in your relationship.

1. Intimacy
–And nope, I don’t mean sex. I mean opening up and being best friends and being emotionally close. I mean opening up and including her in your thoughts and feelings.

I actually read the other blogs on my blogroll, and yesterday I was reading The Generous Husband’s blog Relational intimacy vs sexual intimacy and he really hit the nail on the head. If you want to really strengthen your marriage and have a warm, loving, safe relationship with your bride, I would say give her the gift of intimacy. Share yourself, your life and your thoughts with her. Tell her how you feel. Be open to her and let her see the real you. One thing that extinguishes love quickly is being closed, not sharing your thoughts and feelings, and creating a life that excludes her. (And fellas, just so you know, when your gal is excluded she starts to feel less desired/desirable and sexual desire decreases). Sooo… #1 on her Christmas Wish List will definitely be: Give her YOU! She wants you.

2. Romance–UGH, I know the fellas hate to hear this, but one of the best free gifts you can give her is to romance her like when you were dating. Now, I do have pity on you guys–romance can be hard to do on a daily basis, but here’s some practical assistance:
Loving You: Romance Calendar. This little calendar changes every month and has one daily suggestion for an idea for your sweetheart. So if you are NOT the creative, Don Juan type but you are in your heart, use that as an idea and even if the suggestion doesn’t work for you, pick another day. It’s even clickable so that you can can click on the words and get details on “how to.” 😛 Yes, it takes a little effort every day. Yes, it’s worth it.

3. Conversation–Okay this one is a little easier, in a way. When you two wake up in the morning, when you’re back together after work, when you’re eating dinner, when you lay down to go to bed at night…take some time and talk to her with the TV off, no newspaper, and your PC turned off. Give 100% attention and act like as if you are interested in her and her day. It feels crummy when you talk to someone and they are halfway watching a show or reading something and you know that they aren’t really paying attention to you. Also, I’ll be honest–eventually she’ll feel like this: “Do I have to set myself on fire to get your attention?” Trust me–you don’t want to go there. So take the time for her and her alone. The benefits are BIG!

4. Cheerlead–Hey! The GUYS are supposed to be cheerleaders? Yes! Cheer on your bride. People will tell her how great she is, how well she did or how proud they are, so you be the one with the loudest voice telling her first. And I’m not talking about false compliments here. I mean see her for the amazing person she is and really make sure that she knows you see it. Create that environment that when something great happens to her at work or at home, the very *first* person she thinks of telling is YOU. If she does something you like or you’re proud of…tell her! If she really tries to make a hard new recipe and it turns out great…tell her! Be your wife’s biggest fan.

5. Sex–Hmmm…sort of a touchy, personal subject here and I do realize that different women react differently, but fellas, women like sex too. There have been tons of books written about the differences between men and women but looking again at The Generous Husband one thing that guys often “don’t get” is that we are hard-wired to want sex when we feel safe, loved, and close to a man…and if one of those three is lacking, what happens is that we might even TRY to respond but physically we can’t get there. Hey the fact is, our brain is our largest sexual organ! On the other hand, when the lady in your life does feel safe, loved, and close to you, then WOW please feel free to be Mr. Sexy with her because it kindles that desire! Again, part of feeling desire is to feel that you are desired…so on the occasion go with the rose petals and candles and at other times, be aggressive, make your move and take her like you can’t wait to get her clothes off!

6. Chores–This is another one that makes husbands roll their eyes but is actually a great gift! If your wife is a stay-at-home-mom, she likely is “on duty” 24hr./7 days a week for laundry, dishes, dinner, picking up the house, and actually cleaning (like with comet and mops). So while you may work 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday–she works midnight to 11:59pm Sunday to Saturday. If your wife is a career woman, then just like you, when she gets home from working all day, she has a list a mile long of chores she has to get done around the house just for cleaning and daily “wear and tear.” My point is that no one can feel lovely and sexy when there’s laundry to get done before tomorrow, the baby is crying and has a fever, and there’s a sink full of dishes. If you were to both work on all three together though, she would feel grateful for the help and like someone was on her side helping…and that leads to feeling close which leads to feeling loved and sexy. So yep–man up and change that diaper or scrub that sink, and give her a hug while ya do it.

7. Play–again, this one can be fairly easy. Play together. Remember when you first met how you used to chase her around and try to tickle her? Remember how you used to tell jokes and laugh at each other? Remember how she would go to ballgames with you, and you’d go to ballet with her (even though neither one of you really were fans of it)? People have fun together and enjoy each others’ company in a thousand ways, but this year for Christmas, give her that fun back. My dear hubby and I *LOVE* to play video games together, create RPG’s together, go camping together, watch football together, and watch movies together. What do you just LIKE to do with your bride?

8. Family–Oy “family” is a tricky one. Give your wife the gift this Christmas of firmly and devotedly defending her and picking her above all others, whether that means against your family or her family. One thing that REALLY extinguishes love (and quickly!) is the feeling that given the chance to back her or someone else, you pick someone else…and that includes your mother or your daughter! When it comes to family, you have the chance to really be a “knight in shining armor” and jump to her aide and defend her, but that sometimes means you have to stand up to other people you love. Here’s the thing. I think everyone would like to believe that our spouse would choose us over everyone else in the world. I know that women often fall in love with or feel love for someone who can periodically “rescue” them (and I don’t mean in an unhealthy way). But imagine the two scenarios: your wife makes a “family faux pas” and forgets to buy a gift for Uncle Jim; your mother criticizes her in front of everyone in less that glowing terms. #1–You agree with mom and can’t believe she forgot your relative. Your mom thinks you’re a good son but your wife feels like she’s fighting all alone and you have to go home with her. Where do you end up sleeping? #2–You stand up to your mom and say it could have happened to anyone or tell her to please speak to your wife more respectfully. Your mom is a little miffed that you called her on it but your wife thinks you jumped to her rescue and you have to go home with her. Where do you end up sleeping?

See what I mean?

9. Gussy up–Okay this one goes both ways a little. She used to look SO AMAZING in that sexy outfit with her hair done up…remember that? Well life may have intervened a little, children may have come, etc. and some of her physique may have changed a bit, but if she makes the effort to gussy up for you, look at her as if she was that beautiful bride that you could NOT take your eyes off of. Notice her hair cut, color, makeup and outfit every day. Say something about it. Did she offer to wear some lingerie for you? DROP EVERYTHING and act interested. And this goes for you too guys…you look like James Bond when you gussy up a little yourself. So take off the jeans and tee with the stain, and gussy up for your bride. Do your hair–add some cologne–wear a night shirt and pants that look GOOD on you.

10. Finances–When single men and women fight, they often go to this argument: (Woman) “All you want a woman for is a trophy wife!” (Man) “Yeah? Well all you want a man for is his wallet!” Fellas, this may seem like an odd gift to give your bride for Christmas, but again trust me, it’s on her wish list somewhere. This day and age many women are perfectly capable of “providing for themselves” and yet part of being a wife and mother is safety, and as a wife and mother it is a horribly unstable feeling if you’re worrying about becoming homeless or feeding your children. Now I do realize that not everyone can be in perfect financial condition, and that sometimes women can want a certain lifestyle that you just can’t attain! But one gift you can give your bride is that firm, safe feeling of knowing that you will work WITH her on the finances so that things are taken care of. If you two are in financial straits now, give her the gift of making movement toward straightening up the finances! Just as it would be a huge burden for you to have to “provide for” the family alone, show her that she’s safe and won’t be left alone to take care of herself and the kids.

And there you have it! Ten gifts that are sure to be on her Christmas Wish List and that you can her for free.

The Best Gift: Laughter!

When you’ve been married a year or two like I have you’ll start to realize that one of the most important things about your spouse is not always the romance or the steamy lovemaking…but that your spouse is your best friend, who knows you more intimately than anyone else on the planet and oddly they still decide to stay with you!

At this time of year, when so many people are talking about giving this gift and that gift to your spouse for the holidays–everything from this possession to that sexual act :0 –may I suggest one gift that will last you a lifetime, lower your blood pressure and be better than any medicine over the long run? LAUGH! Laugh together; laugh with each other; laugh AT each other (in a lighthearted way); and be silly! Come on people, life just is not all that serious.

This morning my dear hubby was just waking up and came over by me to give me a good morning kiss. He tried to pick up his coffee cup, but being half asleep, it leapt from his hands and clattered all over my desk. After two seconds of “that horrified face” we realized it was empty and no harm was done… and we feel into each other and burst out laughing. That has lead to a whole day of joking, kidding around, and sneaking up on each other–not to mention unending comments about “dropsy”! 😛

My point is that in life we are often faced with a moment that is a turning point. Maybe our spouse did something surprising, or made a mistake, or outright did something wrong–and we have the chance to choose to be a critic and make them feel worse -OR- to laugh, make life fun and easy, don’t be so serious, have a sense of humor, and let them know that they’re safe. Sometimes it’s not a mistake at all…they meant to surprise us or they said something really funny. LAUGH!! Don’t lightly giggle and blush–roll on the floor and double over, laughing until your sides hurt and your mouth aches.

Likewise, don’t be a stick in the mud. Be funny. Play little practical jokes that might make your spouse laugh. Tease each other. Run around the house chasing each other and squeeling with laughter–and yes even if you’re in your fifties RUN (in that slower William Shatner jog-run). Tickle each other or find a new ticklish spot…that’s always a fun hunt! Tell jokes. Be light hearted

Especially at this time, when there seems to be so much pressure to get to the mall, get the perfect gift, get to all the school plays, get the presents in the mail, get the tree up, get the house decorated, get the menu planned, get the family invitations, get to the Nutcracker or Messiah, and all those other holiday stresses…stop. Laugh. Smear your lipstick? Laugh about it. Mess up your hair? Mess his or hers back! It is the best gift you can give yourself and your spouse–a fun marriage.

The MOST IMPORTANT Gift to Give Your Spouse

I’ve noticed a lot of blogs in the marriage-blogosphere right now along this line: “Christmas Gifts for Your Spouse”, “Get a Gift for Your Marriage”, “How to Strengthen Your Marriage During the Holidays”, “How to Get More Holiday Spirit in Your Marriage” and many of the blogs are neat little romantic things you can do together as a couple–things to bring back the magic and joy of the season. But one MAJOR gift is always missing, and without this gift, the romantic gestures will not be accepted by your spouse and they will not rekindle the love in your marriage.

What is this MOST IMPORTANT gift?
You need to stop being the one who extinguishes love (brings pain to their life) before your spouse will be open to receiving your romantic gestures and loving gifts.

Let me explain a little further. Relationships are a little like a fire. You see each other or meet each other and something catches our interest–sometimes we’ll even say that “sparks flew!” But the relationship is started with a spark. Then there are things done that kindle the fire: she dresses up, wears makeup and perfume, compliments him, and spends all kinds of time with him…and he buys her affectionate little things or flowers, tells her she’s pretty, writes her poems, and spends hours talking with her and getting to know her. Those actions are Love Kindlers and they make the fire grow hotter and hotter. But as time goes by, bills pile up and kids arrive and they both stop doing the kindlers and starts doing things that hurt each other. He works more hours than he spends with her, and when he is home, he doesn’t talk or act interested. If she tries to talk, he yells at her to be quiet. She nags him about the bills and money so he works longer–then she yells about never being home! He plays on the computer and watches football with his buddies, and since she’s not into that, she hangs with her girlfriends and spends money. He tells her she “has to” be submissive and forces her to move and leave her family. She stops respecting him and withdraws, and when he wants sex, she thinks “Are you KIDDING?” Those behaviors are the Love Extinguishers. They are like dumping a bucket of water on the fire of love.

Too often we try to do Love Kindlers while we are still doing Love Extinguishers–and then we feel all justified and say to ourselves, “Well I tried and they just dismissed all my attempts!” But as Christians we are called to love our spouse as Christ loved the Church. We have made a covenant with our spouse to put them and their needs ahead of our own and in all things consider them. So we have a responsibility to look at ourselves and be honest: “What Love Extinguishers am I doing that dump cold water on the love in my marriage?” Until you stop the Love Extinguishers, trying to do Love Kindlers will be like putting water in a bucket with holes…they will just flow out and the bucket stays empty.

So if you really want to give your marriage a gift this Christmas, the little romantic things are nice and will bring back some of the fun and joy–but not if you are still the one causing your spouse pain. The MOST IMPORTANT gift you can give this season is to look at yourself or ask your spouse to tell you, take responsibility for those Love Extinguishers, and then stop them…and make a plan to change!

December is a great month to rekindle love!

It’s the Christmas season, and at this time of year it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of events, parties, presents, cards, and family that sometimes we forget that December is a GREAT month to rekindle love with your spouse. When we’re under stress it can be really a blessing to have a spouse that is like a safe haven, and nothing can make home seem warm and wonderful like slowing down and simplifying the holidays. So take the time this month do so some of these simple things with your spouse (just the two of you!) and rekindle the smoldering ember of love between you.

1) Put up Christmas lights together.
2) Drink some hot cocoa or eggnog together.
3) Watch silly Holiday movies together (like “The Santa Clause” or “Polar Express“)–it will bring out the childhood wonder.
4) Read a Christmas book or story together–even “T’was the Night Before Christmas” or Luke 2 can be very special!
5) Start or keep a Christmas scrapbook with the things you do, photos, etc.
6) Bake some holiday treats together that you keep and eat! My dear hubby and I make pumpkin pie and eat it with plenty of whipped cream.
7) Make a modern version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” and give your spouse little gifts for 12 days.
8) Put together a Gingerbread House. You can buy a kit, use graham crackers, or go crazy and bake the gingerbread!
9) Pick one charitable thing and do it together: volunteer at the local nursing home or homeless shelter, buy an extra toy for a less fortunate child, or send cards to soldiers who are far from home. You’ll feel GREAT!
10) Make one ornament…don’t care how! 😀
11) Remember strings of popcorn on the tree? Yeah, do that again..or construction paper chain. You’ll feel young.
12) Have one night where you light up your whole bedroom with CANDLES! Those beautiful Christmas ones are the best!
13) Have a “bubble bath night”–each one of you prepare a bubble bath for the other!
14) Do something adventurous that you’ve never done (or haven’t done for a long time) like sledding or ice skating.
15) Listen to some classic Christmas carols–sing along if you want!
16) Go hear Handel‘s Messiah or go to the Nutcracker.
17) Remember mistletoe? Use it.
18) Go for a drive and see the Christmas lights on the houses.
19) Plan a naughty holiday celebration. 😉
20) If your stuck for ideas go to Loving You at because they have literally thousands of romantic ideas and suggestions. You can borrow liberally!

It only takes a little time every day that you give to your spouse during this Christmas season to rekindle the love.

Tiger Woods, Brad & Angelina….Why do they do it?

Tiger Woods is all the gossip recently for admitting to “transgressions” while married, and he is hardly the first celebrity who seems to have it all and ends up having an affair. Before Tiger there was Charles and Camilla, Brad and Angelina…even the AMAZINGLY beautiful Halle Berry had infidelity in her marriage! To us it seems like these people had everything: Tiger is a world-class golfer and could marry anyone; Charles had Princess Diana for heaven’s sake; Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were the golden couple; and if Halle Berry couldn’t keep her husband it couldn’t possibly be about looks or sex. So the nagging question has to be this: “Why do they do it?”

Affairs are very rarely about looks or sex. I mean, look at Camilla and Princess Di–Prince Charles SURELY is not “trading up” in the looks department there so it couldn’t be about looks! Yet somehow Charles just could not give up Camilla. Why? In a nutshell, it’s because the Other Person (I call them OP) does things that KINDLE love at the same time that the loyal spouse (LS) is doing things to EXTINGUISH love. And we’re all human–we tend to all do that. We get used to each other, the kids come, then the bills… and pretty soon we forget to take the time to do the things we used to do when we were dating.

The first thing I would say about the whole Tiger Woods affair–John Q. Public should give Tiger a break. We are not there and we do not know the facts, so to keep it on the rumor mill like this shows our worst tendencies, not his. Second, it is between him and his wife and family and it’s none of our business! Third, we aren’t there and we don’t know the facts, so let’s not assume that Tiger’s the bad guy and his wife is somehow the victim. In my years of experience in this field what I’ve discovered is that this can happen to anyone if they don’t guard themselves and that usually there was some sort of major relationship breakdown before this that set things in motion to get to where they are today. I’d say we should look at it like Tiger’s hurting, his spouse is hurting, probably the other involved party is hurting, and now they have to go through all that in public too. In order to save their marriage, both parties will need to look at themselves, admit what they did to contribute to this mess, and then do the work necessary to change than and become a better person. If they both stop the actions that extinguish love and start again to do the things that kindle love–well honestly they could have a whole new, more intimate, more wonderful marriage!!