Thursday, September 27, 2007

Consent to Share Your Stories

At communication researchers, we follow a number of guidelines at our universities for ensuring all research is ethical, fair, and does not cause harm. As such, the process we have followed for gathering stories for books in the What Happy Couples Do series has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of St. Thomas (where Carol is a full-time faculty member; where Anna serves as an adjunct faculty member part-time). Below is a consent form which explains, to all individuals who submit stories to our website, exactly how their information will be used and handled. Because there is not a great way to link to this form from our home-page, we are including it here. Please contact us with questions. As always, thanks for participating!


What Happy Couples, Families, and Friends Do: A Study of Rituals
IRB log number: A-07-032-1X

We are conducting a study about the way married couples, families, and adult friends use rituals to enhance, maintain, or simply manage their relationships. We invite you to participate in this research. You were selected as a possible participant because you have been identified as a person who has either a marriage, family, or friendship in which rituals are likely created. Please read this form and call with any questions you may have before agreeing to be in the study.

This study is being conducted by: Carol Bruess, Ph.D., University of St. Thomas and Anna Kudak, M.A, North Dakota State University. Please contact Carol Bruess (651-962-5820 or with any questions about this study.

Background Information:

The purpose of this study is to explore the types of rituals people create and use in their many significant relationships. Rituals are defined as those repeated interactions or events that have meaning or significance to members of that relationship. Rituals have been shown to make many important contributions to healthy relationships. Our study hopes to extend that knowledge, understanding the many diverse ways that people ritualize in their relationships.


If you agree to be in this study, I will ask you to do the following things: Log onto our website ( and submit examples of rituals in any of the relevant categories (rituals in marriage, rituals with family members, and/or rituals with friends). It should take no longer than 5-20 minutes to submit your examples, depending on how many you choose to share. You can submit as many ritual examples as you choose. You can visit the website and submit ritual examples at any time, as many times as you wish. You are free to skip any questions you choose not to answer.

Risks and Benefits of Being in the Study:

Although all submissions are anonymous and any names or identifying information included will be removed, the risk of participating in this study is observing and sharing something that is personal to you.

If you are asked to encourage others to participate in this study by encouraging them to submit their ritual stories on the website, you might be eligible for class extra credit points as detailed by your instructor.


The records of this study will be kept private. In any sort of report we publish, we will not include information that will make it possible to identify you in any way. Research records will be kept in a locked file; we are the only people who will have access to the records. When submitting information via the website, no identifying information of the sender is sent without their knowledge (if you wish to submit your e-mail address so that you can be notified when the studies are published, you have the option, but are not required, to do so).

Voluntary Nature of the Study:

Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary. Your decision whether or not to participate will not affect your current or future relations with the University of St. Thomas or any other institution with which you might be affiliated. If you decide to participate, you are free to withdraw at any time without penalty.

Contacts and Questions

The primary researcher is Carol Bruess, Associate Professor Communication Studies at the University of St. Thomas. As stated above, you may ask any questions you have at anytime (office phone: 651-962-5820). You may also contact the University of St. Thomas Institutional Review Board at 651-962-5341 with any questions or concerns.

Statement of Consent:

I have read the above information and all questions have been answered to my satisfaction (either in this statement or by contacting the primary researchers). By submitting information at, I am consenting to participate in the study.

Our Book is in China ... and on Oprah (we hope)

Right now, as we type this blog entry, What Happy Couples Do is being printed (in China!) Yea! And, as we type, Oprah's producers have received a "pitch" to do a story or segment on What Happy Couples Do. Doesn't everyone (married and otherwise) want to know what happy couples are doing to stay satisfied, connected, and happily connected for life? We, of course, think so. Let's hope Oprah and her producers agree. We're looking forward to sharing what we think is incredibly important information with billions of amazing women and men around the world ... making a difference in state of marriage, one couple at a time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Few Notes on Marriage and Housework

... A very interesting study, just out, found that for every $7500 increase in a women's salary, she reduces her household chores by 1 hour per week. And did you know that research suggests that women find men who do housework more sexually attractive than men who don't? And that, on average, in the dual-career couple, women do approximately 80% of all housework and childcare? The good news: In happy marriages, both partners can learn, over time, to share the chores (or at least perceive they are sharing). Grab a broom, honey.

For the latest news-worthy research on family and marriage issues, log onto one of our favorite sites where the BEST of the best family researchers in the country have formed a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the national conversation about what contemporary families need and how these needs can best be met: The Council on Contemporary Families (

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

We're Live ... With Thanks ... And First Stories ...

We're Live with our new site! What do you think? We invite your stories of rituals, your observations of couples, marriages, friendships, and families. Your reflections. Your Thoughts. Your ideas. We'll share the same ... as well as the latest (and what we think are the greatest) readings, insights, research news, tips, and findings/notes/advice from other marriage/family/relationship experts. 

For instance, here's a great ritual story overheard at a gathering of friends the other night. (And, as is almost always the case, the couple who shared the story didn't think of it as a ritual ... but it surely is the beginning of a very fun one!) The details:  A friend and her husband are doing a pretty major construction project. It's messy. They're getting crabby. Things are taking longer (don't they always?) than expected. Then there was the big mold discovery. Yikes. To lighten the mood, Mandy (we'll call her) initiated "The Construction Bounce."  Here's how it works: When tensions are rising, she simply says, "Hey, Larry (we'll call him), does this cheer you up?" ... while promptly lifting up her shirt and doing a little bouncing up and down.  

No question: Mood immediately lightened. And the birth of a great new ritual! Why not start a little construction project at YOUR house sometime soon?

One last thing: Now that we're finally up and running with our new and improved website, we'd like to extend a huge thank you to Tony Bruess (Carol's 11 year old son) for all of his tech support, ideas, patience, and help. What a brilliant and creative young guy! He is the genius behind most of this new site (that and ... a VERY cool company). Additionally, many thanks to Anna's great friend, Cory Hollenhorst, for his support, advice, and expertise.