Tag Archives: marriage

Ten Big Truths for Every Committed Couple

As a licensed marriage and family therapist and marital researcher for almost 15 years, I’ve come to some big picture conclusions about relationships.  I call them “Big Truths” and penned them on Facebook for my friends and family.  I’ve decided to post them here as well, in case they might be of some support to you and your partner, or your future relationship.  All my best, Kelly Roberts, Editor ~ Red Dirt Chronicles

Big Truth #1:  No one ever really wins the “I did more than you” game. At best, it’s zero-sum…but not really. Because even in a stalemate, ill will can be generated. Continue reading Ten Big Truths for Every Committed Couple

Not-So-Newlyweds: The Life of a Commuter


As mentioned before in this series, my husband is a commuter. When we were both offered jobs the same week in towns an hour apart, we couldn’t pass up the opportunities before us. So, Luke said he was willing to drive, and we live in the town where my job is. I am extremely grateful he is willing to make this sacrifice. I like the comment one of my coworkers made when she learned about our arrangement: “That’s a real man.” Luke’s ten weekly hours on the road has become a chapter of our married life, and since the “Not-So-Newlywed” posts are usually from my perspective, I wanted to give Luke a chance to share some thoughts. I interviewed him on the way home from work one day that I had tagged along, and here are some of the little-known-facts of the road from the perspective of a commuter.

JB: Let’s start with something positive. What is the most enjoyable part of commuting?

LB: I would say it’s the drive home. I get to decompress from the day and sort out my thoughts. Having that hour before I get home allows me to be more involved at home when I get there instead of vegging out in front of the TV for an hour.

JB: So, what do you do to pass the time while you’re driving?

LB: I think a lot. I process what has happened at work and problem-solve customer issues I’ve seen during the day. I think about plans I have for that night and for the future and projects I want to work on.

JB: What’s the strangest thing you do while driving? Continue reading Not-So-Newlyweds: The Life of a Commuter

Not-So-Newlyweds: Resolutions Together

I don’t think there’s anything magical about turning the calendar to January 1 that makes us all run to our bathroom mirrors to post lists of resolutions. Instead, I think those ideas for positive change are born of actually having time away from our regular schedules to remember who we are and who we want to be. In our individual lives and in our relationships, these vacation days at Christmas have almost a healing power, allowing us space to restore the parts of ourselves we give up during the rest of the year. This is will be the fifth New Year’s Resolution season Luke and I have experienced together, and there are some things I’ve learned about setting goals as a married person. It has been interesting to see the way that New Year’s resolutions are different as married people than they were when we were single. It seems that any change either of us make affects the both of us, and the relationship can provide the support we need to make positive changes.


Marriage has been a great place for positive peer pressure. In 2010, we decided that we would run in the OKC Memorial Half Marathon. That spring, we treadmilled our way through snow days, pounded the pavement on injured knees, and spent hours going in circles at whatever running trails we could find to keep things interesting. I guarantee I would have given up if I hadn’t had Luke beside me in the process. For one thing, I didn’t want to be beaten…to spend the whole next year watching him get into his car with the “13.1” bumper sticker and knowing I didn’t have one? No way! Besides, how would I have felt if he’d given up and left me to train alone?


The big goal for 2011 was to stop drinking pop (or “soda” or “Coke” or whatever you call it). I’ve sure been tempted by that Dr. Pepper that looked sooooooo good in someone else’s glass, but when one of us is weak, the other is strong, and amazingly enough, we have managed to succeed at avoiding the lovely mix of carbonation and syrup all year. However, there have been some goals we’ve set together that we haven’t met. For example, every January, we decide we should eat better, so we start counting calories and measuring portions, but somehow it never fails that we have an off week early in the year and relapse on all the stuff we were trying to avoid. We’ve had to realize that we can’t blame each other (“Well, if you hadn’t suggested pizza for dinner, we would still be on track.), but instead, we have to take responsibility together and avoid giving up on goals for a healthy lifestyle.


At the same time, I have to remember that my individual resolutions affect Luke. If I decided that I wanted to run a marathon in 2012, I would have to consider how much time that would take and what the effect would be on our time together in the evenings and on weekends. Right now, I don’t want to make that tradeoff because we seem to have little time together. Plus, my poor knee hasn’t totally overcome that last half marathon, and have you seen the weather, and it’s so dark in the evenings, and, and, and…ok, maybe I just don’t want to do it this year.


I think it’s important to think about what I’m like to live with and how my habits affect Luke. For example, when I had roommates in college, I didn’t even think about leaving my junk all over the living room for them to wade through. Somehow, though, I seem to find that acceptable with my lifelong roommate. He keeps his “area” in the living room spotless, but look to my side, and you’ll see my sewing box with a half-finished project, notebooks in which I jot everything from grocery lists to blog ideas, and depending on the day, probably my camera and computer and a few pieces of mail I haven’t look at yet. He never comments, but I know he can’t enjoy looking at my pileup when he is clearly interested in cleanliness.


On that note, I appreciate that he doesn’t make goals for me. If he recommended that I organize my project space, he might not get the positive results he expected from that conversation. I think we’ve both realized that while our stubbornness together is a very positive thing, we are not going to change each other. We have to wait until the other realizes a change is needed. Sometimes, that takes a lot of prayer, patience, and forbearance, but in the end, we have to trust each other to be constantly trying to become the best version of ourselves—both for ourselves and for each other.


One interesting aspect of marriage is the possibility of making goals for the marriage itself. I heard one time about a couple who had an annual business meeting to discuss their marriage. They talked about the status of the “merger” and what “assets” and “deficits” were present so that they could make improvements. I told Luke about this, and he just shook his head, but what a great concept—to be focused enough on the marriage as an important part of our lives that we would actually take a Saturday to talk about what is going well and what needs to be improved! Hopefully, we don’t need an annual business meeting for this to take place, and we can be in tune with each other enough to know when it’s time to talk about an issue. I have to remind myself not to just keep making plans of action for marriage improvement but to also highlight the strengths and to make sure Luke knows I think he’s had something to do with the good things being good things.


Making goals and then watching them succeed together is one of the ways our relationship has grown in these past few years, and it is always fun to discuss the plans we have for the upcoming year. Making a conscious decision to live every moment and to always improve what we have is what makes life an adventure. I think the main idea is to remember that no matter what our goals are this year, our marriage is our goal all the time. If my personal goals can positively affect that long-term goal, then they are worth working toward. If not, they may not be as helpful as I think they are.

N.U.T. # 1 – I am faithful to my wife.

This one was at the top of the list of examples I provided in my intro to this post and I have chosen to put it first on my list because of how important I think it is.

Obviously being faithful to my wife means not getting involved romantically with any other woman, but it means so much more than that. It means being faithful to her with my heart and mind as well as my body. It means not staring at other women. It means not flirting with other women. It means not thinking about other women. It means not putting myself into situations where there might even be an appearance of unfaithfulness. It means not looking at pornography. It means not betraying her confidence to other people. It means always taking her side when other people are involved. It means always sticking up for her and watching out for her best interests. And it means doing all of these things and so much more NO MATTER WHAT.

In many ways, this N.U.T. doesn’t have anything to do with my wife at all. Sure it affects her, but my being faithful to my wife is really about me. It’s about who I am as a man and the content of my character. It’s about me placing a high premium on the value of fidelity.

I’m confident that a lot (not all, but a lot) of the problems in our world today could be greatly minimized (if not eradicated entirely) if men would simply honor their commitments to be faithful to their wives. Think of how many divorces, broken homes, and kids growing up without a dad could be prevented if men everywhere made this one of their non-negotiable, unalterable terms.


To read more about N.U.T.s from Michael, please visit:

Introduction / N.U.T. #2

Seven Things You Should Expect From a Couples or Family Therapist

From Moonstruck

Rose: Do you love him, Loretta?
Loretta Castorini: No.
Rose: Good. When you love them they drive you crazy because they know they can.

Rose: Do you love him, Loretta?
Loretta Castorini: Aw, ma, I love him awful.
Rose: Oh, God, that’s too bad.


Early February serves as a reminder to consider those you love platonically, as well as those with whom you are in a romantic relationship.  National Marriage Week is celebrated during Valentine’s Day season, and we see lots of information on television and the internet about how people enjoy their special time together, all in the name of Love.  What also happens, however, is that Valentine’s Day sometimes brings to the front of our minds things that aren’t going so well.  This is because, for some, the thought or events surrounding the season inevitably point them back home…where the heart is….or, where the heart MIGHT be if it weren’t for the fact that they were arguing all the time.

For those of you who plan to go out and have a wonderful time during the upcoming “week of love,” we wish you the best.  But for those of you who might be considering the possibility of getting some positive change in an unhealthy relationship, I want to make sure you have this list.  I’ve practiced therapy for ten years now and have summarized a list of standards you should expect if you decide to get counseling for your relationship. The list is based upon discussions with my own clients, and also from cases I’ve supervised:

Continue reading Seven Things You Should Expect From a Couples or Family Therapist