The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

holidays put stress on most marriagesThe Holidays Add Stress to Most Relationships

Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s…It’s supposed to be the happiest, most wonderful time of the year. For some it is. Not everyone. For many, it’s a time filled with stress, and often leads to arguments between couples. Sometimes it results in bad things – from hurt feelings and silence to flying off the handle blowups and domestic violence.

“Divorce Month” follows the Holiday Stress

It wouldn’t surprise a lot of married people that January is (unofficially) called “divorce month.” After months of lockdowns, January 2021 could be a record-breaker!

With so many people out of work, working from home, and home schooling, this holiday season may be the most challenging for couples ever. It’s hard to be happy when you feel confined. It gets harder when you can’t visit your family, or can’t buy gifts because you aren’t even paying your bills on time, and you’re stuck in the house for what seems like forever.

Will this season go down as the worst in your life? Maybe. Unless…

If there’s one thing Covid confinement has given so many of us,  it’s a focus on what matters most in life. Many – maybe you – are surprised by how much family matters. Not that you didn’t know it before, but Covid brought those feelings home for so many of us – and in a whole new way. Yet, at the same time, in most households, tensions have been running high.

During this unique holiday season, if you’re home alone with your family and missing the usual parties and family gatherings, here are a few things you can do to make your holidays bright.

Have a Plan to Deal with Holiday Stress.

Do you want to be Santa or the Grinch. If it’s Grinch, no more work necessary. But if it’s Santa, then sit down with your sweetie and decide how you’re going to do the next two weeks. It’s going to take some mental and emotional effort, but the plan will be your guide.

While making a plan is mostly for you two, if you have kids, bring them into it and ask for their cooperation.

What to Include in Your Stress Management Plan:

  • Be nice. Covid confinement doesn’t feel good, and everyone knows it. It’s sucked the politeness and kindness out of many of us. And, of course, our loved ones are likely to be the most affected. We’re more likely to make an  effort with “outside” people, but let our guard down for those closest to us. That’s a recipe for disaster. So agree to make an extra effort to be nice. Start with saying please, thank-you, and excuse me.  And keep track. Make a point to notice at least five things each day and thank your sweetie. Just that tiny courtesy can soften stress and create a positive shift in energy – both in you and with them.
  • Make space for crabby. It’s hard to feel love, kindness, and tenderness when you are hurting – and you feel like nobody is listening or cares. You feel “crabby” and show it. So give your crabbiness an outlet in a short but acceptable way; it’s simpler to do than you might suspect. At the end of each day, you and your sweetie can take ten minutes (five minutes each) to express your anger, sadness, fear, or pain. No feedback necessary because this is for venting. Include your kids if you want. Note: this isn’t a “pointing fingers” time but judgment-free zone for expressing how you feel.
  • Say “I love you and I care about you” to each other daily. When was the last time you said it – honestly and deeply? When was it that you focused on each other, looked into each other’s eyes, and said the words with feeling? It’s really hard to be mean to each other when you know the person you’re being mean to really loves you…and vice versa.

What happens next: Assess if your Plan Worked

After the New Year rolls in, decide how the plan worked for you. Did it revive forgotten good feelings? Did it rekindle your love? If it worked well, you can make your plan part of a New Year’s resolutions.

Or, maybe working your plan helped you both recognize that you need some outside help. That might mean you need a simple tune-up or a reset. Or it could let you know you have a problem that needs third-party help. Marriage therapists have seen a huge uptick in business – and most are willing to do online visits. It could be a relationship-saver!

The Holiday Season of 2020 will be one for the books for sure – for lot of reasons. For you, let this Covid Christmas be one to remember…for the good, not the sad.

You can Fix a Relationship that is Off-Track!

Many couples find that their relationship got off-track over the past few years. Covid confinement brought  that realization to the forefront. You still love  each other, but with kids, carers, the house…and everything…you got off track. What you need is a reset…and I have it for you.  Learn more: Relationship Reset

My Five Year Marriage featured on

I’m excited to have my marriage story & The Five Year Marriage featured in this great article on! It was a fun interview with Vicki Larson back in February – pre-covid. Vicki is on the same page about marriage – can’t wait to turn the tables and interview her on my new podcast…coming soon!

Read it here:

Are Single Women Happier?

Beautiful woman with confidence

Wedding season is in full bloom. Thousands of single women are changing their status on FB, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. When they do, will they be happier? According to research by Mintel, a leading market intelligence company, maybe not.  And their traditional marriage might be the reason.

I’ll explain…

For years I saw so many of my girlfriends trade in their carefree and girlish lifestyle to become disappointed or disgruntled wives.  Of course, that wasn’t what they expected on their wedding day. Their intention was to get the “happily ever after” they thought was the implied promise of marriage.  However, after the kids came and especially if they were still working outside the home, they experienced a new and very different reality.

The matter of happiness was one of my “problems” with traditional marriage. By the time I met Joseph, I’d seen enough of thorny marriages. So, while I really wanted to have a partner in life, and Joseph was the right person, I wasn’t ready to trade-in my hard-won independence for something less.

How could I prevent the disillusioning shift in my marriage, and subsequently my life, that I saw in so many others?

The first step I took was creating a “deciding question” that would be my guide. It was my way of checking in with myself and my feelings.  The question I chose then (and still ask myself today) was: “Am I happier now than when I was single?”

When I ask that question, and I answer honestly, I either affirm that I’m on the right track, or if I’m not, I give myself permission to figure out why. Once I do, and because it’s how The Five-Year Marriage® works, I bring it up at a family meeting. Joseph and I have a conversation about it. We make adjustments as needed.

Family Meetings are the highway both Joseph and I travel to insure we are getting what we need. They are a two-way street.

Give it a try.

Get quiet and ask yourself: Am I happier now than when I was single? WAIT for the answer. It might come fast or slow. It could surface as a word, or as a feeling, or maybe even an impulse. Pay attention, make some notes, have a family meeting

#FiveYearMarriage, #PartnershipMarriage, #ContractMarriage, #VictoriousWoman, #AreYouHappy

Does Sheldon Have it Right?

Relationship Advice from The Big Bang Theory‎

Are Relationship Contracts Better for Marriage?

The Big Bang Theory makes me laugh out loud, especially when Sheldon starts talking roommate and relationship contracts. More and more, viewers are thinking it’s a good idea. And last night’s episode (Season 11, Episode 10) was right up the Five-Year Marriage® alley!

Storyline Summary: Like many “real life” couples, Big Bang’s Penny and Leonard hit a wall in their marriage. Not unusual – marriage can be a minefield. Unable to solve their problem, Penny decided she needs a time out, time away from Leonard, to think. She and Amy go to a spa leaving an upset and depressed Leonard wondering what went wrong. He follows Penny to the spa, Sheldon in tow. After Penny and Leonard talk about it, they make a decision. Even though Leonard always hated Sheldon’s “roommate agreement” and scoffed at Sheldon and Amy’s “relationship agreement,” they realized they need exactly the same thing. They ask Sheldon help them. Exuberantly, Sheldon says “let’s get this party of the first part started.” He creates a relationship agreement for his friends.

Here’s the real-life story: Though everyone loves the idea of “wedded bliss,” it’s something that’s only the stuff of novels and advertising. Marriage isn’t bliss. It’s everyday life. It comes with the good and the bad.

The difference between being married and being single is that, in marriage, you aren’t out there in the world alone. You have a partner to, as the old adage says, divide the sorrows and multiply the joys.

Of course, that only works if you and your partner are on the same page – if you, “the party of the first part” is working off the same set of rules and expectations as your “party of the second part” partner. If you aren’t, there’s a conflict.

The Five-Year Marriage® enables you and your partner get on the same page. It focuses your relationship agreement (Sheldon would be so excited for you!). Every Five-Year Marriage® contract is unique to the couple involved.

Here’s how to get your own Five-Year Marriage® agreement started:

  • Decide what you both want
    • DO NOT let your “Sheldon” friend do it for you – it won’t work
  • Talk about what you want (this usually take multiple conversations)
  • Decide how you can both make that happen
  • Make an agreement that reflects your decision AND is fair to both of you
  • Put it in writing – this is important!
  • Keep track of and refreshed by your agreements using the Family Meeting

For more detailed information, read The Five-Year Marriage®: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm –
See chapters 3, 4, and 5: the “Five-Year Marriage Basics