May 6, 2016

Softer, Safer Wedding Rings

Metal wedding rings can be uncomfortable, and sometimes even dangerous.

Some people have allergies or sensitive skin that is irritated by the presence of metal. Using sports equipment or tools may squeeze the fingers together, creating a lot of pain when the metal ring is pushed into the flesh. A ring can be very painful and difficult to remove when it cuts into a swollen finger. Sometimes it is just irritating to feel a metal ring rubbing against the skin.

Worse yet, for people working with power tools, there are occasionally some real dangers in wearing rings. My father-in-law nearly lost his finger when his wedding ring caught on a piece of equipment. A number or people, including talk show host Jimmy Fallon, have experienced similar injuries.
An interesting alternative to traditional metal rings is the silicone ring.

These inexpensive rings are hypoallergenic, flexible, and durable. Most are designed to break away under pressure, so they are safe to wear during work and sports.

Silicone rings are available in many colors and styles, for both men and women. They are so affordable, you can buy an assortment in different colors to match different outfits and activities. I was surprised by all the choices, including some that have a metallic look, and others that include sparkly stones.

This is a wonderful solution for people who want to wear a wedding ring, but need to be concerned about safety.

May 2, 2016

Qualities of a Happy Marriage?

In one of the ESL classes I taught last week, the book included a section on friends and family. The students were learning some basic words and phrases related to friendship, family, and marriage. Part of the lesson included a group discussion about various kinds of relationships.

One of the questions they had to answer was, "What do you think is necessary for a happy marriage?"

These students were mostly in their late teens or early twenties, and none of them were married, so I wasn't sure what kind of experience or ideas they might bring to this question. I suggested that they think about the married people they had known throughout their lives. What qualities had they observed in happily married couples?

The top answer was respect. After that came communication, honesty, and love.

Smart kids.

April 25, 2016

Interviewed at Modern Married

One of my favorite blogs is Modern Married, the creation of Maggie Reyes, a life coach and writer whose slogan is, "Create a life you love with the love of your life."

Maggie's loving wisdom is evident in everything she writes, and her approach to happier, healthier relationships is truly inspiring.

So I was very excited and honored to be interviewed for Modern Married. Interviews make me nervous, but Maggie's gentle approach put me completely at ease.

If you haven't yet had the pleasure of visiting Modern Married, this is a great time to start.
Image courtesy of Nongkran_ch at

April 21, 2016

What Does Love Mean to You?

I don't think the definition of love has changed since this song was released in the 1960s.


April 18, 2016

Sooner or Later, We Need to Talk

My work friend "Nina" told me about the night she decided to leave her husband.

There were a lot of problems in the marriage. Individually, most of the problems weren't serious, but some were, and except for the occasional pointless argument, nothing was being discussed.

Nina had decided that it was time to resolve some of the ongoing issues.

She waited until the kids were in bed. It was after 11:00 pm. Her husband was downstairs.

Nina went down to the TV room, where her husband was leaning back in the recliner, sipping a beer and chuckling a little at a sitcom. She said that she wanted to talk to him about something important. He said, probably with a touch of annoyance, that he would talk to her in fifteen minutes, as soon as the show was over.

At that moment, Nina realized how outrageous it was to be in a relationship where she was less important than an old rerun of a trivial TV program.

This wasn't an isolated incident. There was a long history of words and actions that had left Nina feeling ignored and devalued. She was tired of being pushed aside while everyone and everything else got her husband's attention. Their relationship didn't seem to be a high priority for him. The situation wasn't getting any better, and she had had enough.

I sympathized with Nina. At the same time, I knew how demanding and impatient she could be. She had once nearly gotten us thrown out of a deli during a very hectic lunch hour when she tracked down our busy waitress and tapped her on the shoulder, complaining that the mustard she wanted hadn't yet been delivered to our table. Nina was hypersensitive to disrespect and would often take offense at offhand remarks that were intended to be lighthearted, not insulting.

It was easy to imagine her husband's point of view. He worked hard all day, and just wanted to relax a little bit with some harmless TV. It didn't seem too much to ask for just a few more minutes to see how the show ended. Especially since the upcoming conversation wouldn't be pleasant.

And still I understood Nina's point of view. There were so many things that needed attention, and her husband always had an excuse to put her off. It didn't seem too much to ask for an acknowledgement that her concerns were important, along with an opportunity to talk things over at a more reasonable hour.

I don't know whether Nina's marriage could have been saved. She and her husband never tried to solve their problems, never even talked about what those problems were. After the divorce was final, the only issue that was discussed by anyone was child support, an ongoing court battle that dragged on for over ten years.

A lot of marriages end this way. While some of them really are irreconcilable, in many cases the relationship is dying of neglect because one or both partners are reluctant to talk honestly about their difficulties.

If you're ready but your spouse is reluctant to talk, there are some things you can try to get a discussion going.

  • Consider the timing. In general, it's usually not a good idea to insist on talking about problems when your spouse is in the midst of an activity. Avoid choosing a moment when one or both of you need to get to work or rush off to an appointment. Late at night when you both need sleep is usually a bad time, too. Try to find a moment when you have some free time and can talk without being overheard by the kids. If it's difficult to find the right time spontaneously, then try making an appointment.
  • Don't overwhelm yourselves by trying to talk about everything all at once. It may be tempting to present your spouse with a long checklist of problems, but this approach usually means that nothing gets solved. It's much easier to solve problems when they are handled one at a time.
  • Be gentle and calm. If you start by blaming and criticizing, your spouse will probably become defensive, or may simply shut you out completely. Talk about the problem without making it an attack on your partner's character. ("The garbage is piling up in the kitchen" rather than "You are too lazy to take out the garbage.")

Are you the one who always avoids the conversation? Here are some thoughts on that.
  • Ignoring a problem won't make it go away, but it might make your spouse go away.
  • Ten years from now, you won't regret missing that Gilligan's Island rerun, but you will regret the loss of your marriage, the emotional and financial misery of divorce, and how it affects your kids and your relationship with them.
  • Most problems are solvable, and many are much easier to deal with than you think. The right kind of conversation will define the problem and then come up with a plan to handle it.

Talking about a problem is the first step toward solving it. Conversation often reveals that problems are more manageable than they seem; the only way to find out is to start the dialogue. For detailed help on managing conflict and building a more harmonious marriage, the Gottman Relationship Blog has some great advice.