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Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Marriage


Whether your marriage is in trouble or you're just dealing with the normal ups and downs of coupled life, it's easy to see what your partner is doing wrong. It takes two to create a problem, though, so looking at your own role in your marriage is key to getting back on track. You're the only component of your marriage you can control, and when your behavior changes, your spouse's actions may change for the better, too. 

Make Time for Physical Affection

Research has repeatedly shown that the simple act of kissing your partner every day can work wonders for a marriage. It's easy to get caught up in the daily grind, but physical affection outside of the bedroom can help solidify your connection. Kiss your partner every day, and reach out to touch him or her as much as possible. Offer massages and hugs, and maybe a gentle rear pat as your partner walks by.  

Apologize – and Mean It

After years of marriage, it's easy to hang on to resentment as if it's some sort of investment that will eventually pay out a massive yield. But hanging on to resentment only makes you both feel miserable. Apologizing doesn't mean giving up your power. Instead, apologizing when you're wrong is the first step toward rebalancing your relationship. Don't shy away from apologizing. Doing so not only makes your spouse feel more valued, but can help encourage him or her to take responsibility when you're the victim and they're in the wrong.  

Change Your Perspective

Years of conflict can make you totally intractable, but stubbornly clinging to your own viewpoint is the very worst way to improve your marriage. Instead, commit to taking your partner's perspective at least once a week. Sit down and actually contemplate what your partner's day is like, how your behavior appears to him or her, what stresses he or she is facing, and where your relationship is lacking from your partner's perspective. Doing so can make your partner more sympathetic while encouraging you to make healthy changes.

Do Something Nice

Sometimes years of marriage make it easy to forget the most obvious advice of all: do something nice for your partner. It doesn't have to be big or expensive, but a small act of love each day can steadily move you back toward happiness. Try sticking a sweet note in your wife's purse, straightening your hubby's tie, or offering a quick back massage. Kindness tends to breed more kindness, so don't be surprised if your acts of love encourage your spouse to begin taking positive steps of his or her own.  

Ask Your Partner Meaningful Questions

Some relationship experts believe that simply asking the right questions can lead to lasting love. By asking your partner to share more about himself or herself, you show your love and concern. And when you listen, your partner will feel more valued. Feel free to ask anything that's not accusatory, but this list of 36 questions for lasting love is a great start. 

Think You Want a Divorce? Five Signs You're Not Really Ready


You've probably heard the depressing statistics that 50% of marriages fail, but the truth is that divorce rates are falling, particularly among Millennials. Four decades of skyrocketing divorce rates have taught Americans that breaking free of a troubled marriage may not be all it's cracked up to be. Indeed, if you have children, you'll likely be stuck dealing with the same issues you once faced while married – but without the security that comes with a lifetime commitment. It's easy to convince yourself that divorce is the escape hatch to a better life, but more than half of divorced couples regret their decision. Here are five surefire signs that you're not yet ready to divorce. 

You Want to Teach Your Spouse a Lesson

If you think filing for divorce will be a wake-up call that encourages your spouse to finally do right by you, think again. Filing for divorce will likely activate your spouse's defenses, and may even permanently destroy your marriage. Divorce is not a bargaining chip, and using it as such is almost guaranteed to backfire.

 You're Jealous

If you can't stand the thought of your ex being with another person, ask yourself whether you're really ready to get divorced. Divorce is not a way to resolve disputes; it's a permanent separation that requires you to fully let go of your spouse. If you're not prepared to do that, then you still love your spouse. And that means there's still hope for your marriage.

 You Hope You'll Stay Friends

Sure, the prospect of completely losing touch with someone who's played such a valuable role in your life can feel scary. Divorce, though, means giving up control. If you're willing to do anything to stay in touch with your spouse, then put that energy toward saving your marriage instead. Once you're divorced, there are no guarantees that you'll stay in touch.

 You're Planning a Big Fight

If you're planning to milk your spouse for every penny he or she has, ruin your spouse's relationship with your kids, or otherwise engage in a massive legal brawl, consider your motivations. Fighting from a place of vengeance not only wreaks havoc on your marriage; it will also exponentially increase your stress levels. If you want to wage war on your spouse, this signals that your connection and your emotions are still strong. Put that energy into saving your marriage and you'll be happier a year from now than you will be if you accrue hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills trying to destroy your ex's life.

You Haven't worked On Your Marriage

If you're sick of being married, thought you'd have fewer conflicts, or have some other amorphous reason for divorcing, it's time to take a long, hard look at your motivations. Marriage takes work, to be sure, but that work pays off in the form of greater happiness and a lifelong connection. If you haven't spent some time in therapy, explored your own behavior, or dedicated yourself to better communication, you haven't given your marriage a chance to succeed. 

Things to Know Before You Divorce: How Divorce Affects Children

Marriage isn't easy, as anyone who's ever checked out divorce statistics – or been married – can attest. But when you promised “till death do us part,” you didn't mean “till inconvenience do us part.” Divorce has real consequences, and children can suffer immensely when their parents divorce. Often, the worst effects linger for years or even decades after the divorce. Unless you're being abused and until you've given your marriage every chance you can – including extensive and intensive therapy – it's time to critically evaluate the myriad ways divorce can harm your children. A near-avalanche of studies has shown that divorce carries, at minimum, the following costs for children:

  • Children of divorce are more likely to get divorced as adults.
  • Children whose parents divorced are more likely to smoke, drink, and abuse drugs.
  • Divorce increases the odds that a child will drop out of high school, lowers the probability that a child will attend college, and greatly affects children's ability to learn and get good grades.
  • Children of divorce have worse social skills than children whose parents stay together. Given that social support can help children weather the storm of divorce, this statistic is particularly startling.
  • Divorce affects children's ability to learn math. Unlike some other subjects, such as social studies, learning in math is cumulative. This means that, if your child doesn't do well in second-grade math, he'll probably continue to do poorly in third grade without additional help.
  • Children of divorce are almost twice as likely to develop health problems. Especially noteworthy is the fact that children whose parents divorced experience an elevated risk of stroke and heart attack for the rest of their lives.
  • Divorce greatly increases a child's vulnerability to depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • One in 10 children of divorce engage in criminal behavior.
  • One in eight children of divorce contemplate suicide.
  • Children whose parents divorce face a permanently disrupted childhood. They're forced to deal with custody fights, one parent badmouthing the other, and endlessly shuffling back and forth between their parents' homes. They may have to deal with different rules and friends at each house, in addition to feeling obligated to mediate parental disputes.
  • Children whose parents divorce die, on average, five years earlier than children whose parents opted to stay together; it may be that the cumulative effects of stress increase the likelihood of developing deadly health problems late in life.
  • Children of divorce are more likely to engage in aggressive and angry behavior. Boys whose parents divorce are more likely to abuse their partners and their children.
  • Divorce teaches children that problems cannot be solved, which makes dealing with a host of challenges feel more daunting and more overwhelming to these kids.
  • Children of divorce are more likely to develop self-esteem issues. These issues can, in turn, give way to serious health problems, such as self-mutilation and eating disorders.

With this being the case, it is worth being sure that you thoroughly evaluate whether you move forward with a divorce when you have children.  Although there is a time and a place for divorce, as long as there is not physical or emotional abuse it is always worth taking the time to meet with a marriage counselor before calling it quits.  For more information about how to avoid divorce, see


How To Date Your Spouse


If you're like most people involved in long-term relationships, you probably long for the romantic spark you once felt. Maybe you're not sure why the spark is gone. Or perhaps, like many people, you blame your spouse. The truth, though, is that your life was much different when you first met your spouse. And like most newly-dating couples, you probably did much to impress one another. With the changes of time, the challenges of a shared life, and the inevitable frustrations of living together, romantic love can steadily shrivel until there's nothing left. By dating your spouse as you did once upon a time, you can relive the early days of your relationship and get back that spark you thought was long since gone.

Romance Your Spouse

When was the last time you took flowers to your spouse? If you can't remember, you've got a serious problem on your hands. To have romance, you have to offer it, whether you're a man or a woman. Commit to three months of romance, and you may be surprised to see how happy you end up feeling in your relationship. Some things to try:

  • Dress in a way you know your spouse loves. And listen to your spouse's beauty and fashion advice (so long as the tips aren't mean-spirited or unreasonable, such as demands to lose weight). Is your wife begging you to get your hair cut? Do it. Hubby ready to see your hair long again? Put down the scissors.
  • Do something nice for your spouse every single day. No exceptions and no excuses.
  • Commit to a weekly date night, and put it on your calendar; we take our commitments more seriously when they're written down, and research suggest that date nights really do work.
  • Give your spouse small gifts, such as flowers or candy, once per week. Strapped for cash? Try picking flowers outside, giving your spouse a back rub, or even writing a weekly love letter.  

Get to Know One Another (Again)

In the early days of your relationship, you probably talked about everything imaginable – values, goals, sexual desires, plans for the future. As you've gotten to know one another, though, you've probably begun taking basic facts about your spouse for granted. Knowledge about one another is the cornerstone of intimacy. Want to get to know one another all over, reliving the mystique of those first intimate conversations? Try working your way down this list of questions.  

Do Something Adventurous

In the early days of your relationship, that “spark” you felt was actually a pang of anxiety. As your certainty about your relationship has grown, though, the spark has likely waned. Studies suggest you can get it back by experiencing the anxiety of adventure together. Capitalize on the gorgeous year-round climate in South Florida and go water skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, or hiking. When you face – and surmount – unfamiliar challenges together, the challenges of marriage suddenly seem less daunting – and perhaps even a little fun. 

Four Free and Low-Cost Ways to Have Your Best Valentine's Day Yet

For couples who've been together for years or decades, it's easy for Valentine's Day to lose the sense of magic it once offered. And if you've gotten in trouble for “failing” at Valentine's Day before, you might see the day as little more than a manufactured holiday designed to make you feel terrible about your relationship. But step back and pause before you go casting too much judgment on this unassuming holiday. Romantic days are what you make them, and a good relationship centers around taking time to celebrate one another, indulge in a little romance, and depart from the humdrum boredom of everyday life. Even if you're strapped for cash, you can enjoy this most romantic of holidays. Even better, you can recycle some of these ideas when your anniversary rolls around.

Write a Love Letter

In an era of text messages and emails, it's probably been years since you've sat down, put pen to paper, and explained why you love your spouse. And if your relationship came of age in the digital era, you might never have written him or her a love letter. Take some time to do it, now. Not only will the love letter leave your partner feeling deeply loved; it can also remind you of why you're together, improving your own attitude about your relationship.

Chronicle Your Relationship

Research suggests that reliving the good times in your relationship can help you get through the tough times. Try chronicling your relationship in the form of a scrapbook, illustrated story, or even a song. The time you spend thinking about the past may give you insight into the present, and the thought that goes into such an undertaking can leave even the most unromantic of partners breathless.

Create a Picture-Perfect Homecoming

When asked about their biggest sources of stress, both adult men and women overwhelmingly respond that housework, cooking, childcare, and similar undertakings figure prominently. Give your partner a stress-free night where you've taken care of everything. Clean the house till it's immaculate. Send the kids to their grandparents. Cook a gorgeous and tasty meal, and then cover the bed or the bath tub with rose petals. Even the most harried and exhausted of spouses will appreciate your efforts, and the relaxation offers the sort of marriage reset that can help even troubled relationships improve.

Recreate Your First Date

If you both need a reminder of why you first fell in love, consider recreating your first date. Focus on the small details – where you went, where you sat, even what you wore. Not only does this show that the memory matters to you all these years later. Such an approach can also help stoke the passion you once felt. And if you play your cards right, you may just find that your spouse is as enamored of you as he or she was the day you first laid eyes on one another.



Overcoming an Affair: Yes, You Really Can Survive Infidelity

Learning that your spouse has had an affair can feel like your entire life, your entire history, perhaps your very world has crashed in over you. Maybe you're so hurt that you're ready to run for the hills, but so in love with your spouse that, no matter how angry you are, yo can't envision your life with this person. You are not alone. Affairs are exceedingly common, with more than half of spouses cheating at least once. The good news is that about 40% of couples not only survive an affair, but go on to report a happy relationship after recovering. You can be among this group, but you have to be willing to put in the work.

Why Spouses Stray

In a world where both men and women face intense pressure to conform to a mythical and unreasonable norm, it should come as no surprise that women believe that men cheat because they are dissatisfied with their partners' appearance or weight. Men, by contrast, attribute women's unfaithfulness to factors such as financial success, romance, and adventure. The truth, though, is that people cheat because of two conditions: first, they're not getting what they need out of their relationship, and second, a cheating partner is available. It's no more complicated than that. Spend enough time in an unhappy marriage, and someone is bound to cheat.

Of course, some partners swear up and down that they were happy when they cheated. But lurking below the surface is often boredom, dissatisfaction, and a lifetime of resentment. This doesn't mean the victim of the affair is to blame, but it takes two people to create a climate where cheating can occur, and two to fix it.

 Can You Work It Out?

If you went six months without sex, would you declare your marriage over? IF you're like most people, the answer is a resounding no. Marriage isn't just about sex, so sex with another person does not have to mean that everything your marriage stands for counts for nothing. If you're ready to work past the affair, a couple of things need to happen:

  • The cheater needs to be fully contrite, committed to honesty about the affair, and willing to completely end all contact with the affair partner.
  • The victim of cheating needs to be committed to understanding what went wrong.
  • The cheater needs to work to rebuild the victim's self-esteem.
  • Both parties have to want to work out the relationship; sometimes it takes time to be sure you want to fix things, but you can't get back on track till you're both ready to commit to your relationship. 

Steps Towards Happiness

If you're ready to move beyond infidelity, marriage counseling is an absolute must. Through therapy, you can explore what went wrong in a safe and supportive environment. Some other things you can do include:

Bringing adventure back into your relationship by trying new things – including new sexual goals -- together.

Working to show appreciation to one another every day. 

  • Bringing adventure back into your relationship by trying new things – including new sexual goals -- together.
  • Working to show appreciation to one another every day.
  • Nurturing honesty, intimacy, and trust by being honest and open, working to explore your partner's feelings, and spending some time together each day. 


The Benefits of Marriage Counseling: What to Expect from Relationship Counseling

It's easy to conceive of marriage counseling as something only couples on the verge of divorce do. And if you are one of those couples on the verge of divorce, you might be even more opposed to marriage counseling, believing that it can't possibly fix your problems. But marriage counseling is incredibly effective. In fact, one recent study by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists found that 98% of participants were pleased with the results of marriage counseling. The right counselor can pull your marriage back from the brink, helping you recover the love you might think you've lost forever.


How Marriage Counseling Helps

Think back to the day you got married. Either the problems you have now didn't exist then, or seemed trivial. Either way, this suggests that these problems can be solved – or that, if the problems aren't solvable, they can at least be managed. For example, spouses with different spending styles can set rules and limits or create separate bank accounts. So how exactly dos counseling help you get back on track? That depends on what you're facing, but generally, a good therapist will:

  • Help you clearly define the problems that you're facing.
  • Work to help each of you see the role you're playing in those problems.
  • Help you discern the difference between problems that can be solved (such as a spouse's gambling addiction) and problems that must be managed instead (such as a child with a developmental disability).
  • Work to help you improve communication skills.
  • Give you the tools you need to improve one another's well-being and self-esteem.
  • Give you “assignments” designed to help you improve your marriage.

What Happens in Marriage Counseling?

The structure and feel of marriage counseling is primarily dependent on the counselor you choose. The single biggest predictor of success, though, is a strong and trusting relationship, so be sure you feel comfortable with your therapist – even if he or she pushes you a bit. In general, you can expect that most of your sessions will be joint sessions, though you may have a few individual sessions. You'll also get plenty of homework and suggestions for what to do outside the walls of therapy; fail to follow these suggestions, and you'll miss out on some of the most significant therapy benefits.

Choosing a Counselor

As with everything in life, there are good, bad, and great therapists. To get the most out of therapy, be sure to:

  • Check the status of your therapist's license; unlicensed therapists should not be practicing
  • Ask how long therapy will take and how you'll know you're succeeding.
  • Ask about your therapist's philosophy regarding therapy; for instance, if you're an atheist and your therapist intends to incorporate Christian themes, it may not be the best fit for you and your spouse.

Explore whether going to therapy on your own is an option; many couples report that, even when one spouse is unwilling to attend therapy, marriage counseling with just one partner can. 

Dr. Maureen Condon's How to Move Forward After a Divorce

Palm Beach Divorce lawyer Christopher R. Bruce recently interviewed Juno Beach marriage counselor, Dr. Maureen Condon on how to move forward after a divorce. Dr. Condon"s interview is accessible below and will be available in the next 24-36 hours for free download at the iTunes store: Click here to download from iTunes. 

Editor's Note: Dr. Maureen Condon is a Marriage Counselor in Juno Beach, Florida.  Maureen's StayMarriedFlorida profile can be viewed by clicking here.  Dr. Maureen Condon can also be contacted at (561) 693-3891, or through her  website


Wynne Stalling's How to Deal with Addiction in a Relationship

Palm Beach Divorce lawyer Christopher R. Bruce recently interviewed North Palm Beach Marriage Counselor Wynne Stallings  on how to deal with addiction in a relationship . Wynne's interview is accessible below and will be available in the next 24-36 hours for free download at the iTunes store: Click here to download from iTunes. 

Editor's Note: Wynne Stallings is a Marriage Counselor in , Florida.  Wynne's StayMarriedFlorida profile can be viewed by clicking here.  Wynne can also be contacted at (561) 463-3078, or through her  website

Debra Goldman's How to Keep Things Fresh in Your Relationship Podcast

Palm Beach Divorce lawyer Christopher R. Bruce recently interviewed North Palm Beach Marriage Counselor Debra Goldman  on how to keep things fresh in your relationship. Debra's interview is accessible below and will be available in the next 24-36 hours for free download at the iTunes store: Click here to download from iTunes. 

Editor's Note: Debra Goldman is a Marriage Counselor in North Palm Beach, Florida.  Debra's StayMarriedFlorida profile can be viewed by clicking here.  Debra can also be contacted at (561) 602-8041, or through her  website