Sunday, October 28, 2007

Family Matters

For a little peek into Carol's home and family life (the inspiration for her life's work) check out the fall catalogue/magazine of Minneapolis design company Room and Board (visit for an online glance). You will, no doubt, notice that Room and Board chose to feature one of Carol and Brian's favorite Sunday rituals!

Without question, family matters (more than anything else) to both of us!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Can You Hum The Tune ...

... for "Who Wrote the Book of Love"? We can (have been all day) after a singing telegram (yes, someone still does those!) was delivered at Carol's door this morning at 9 a.m. (yes, today is Saturday) by an adorable (okay, let's just call him VERY handsome) young man in a top hat and tails (yes, a full tuxedo and tall gorgeous top hat!) singing "Who Wrote the Book of Love .."

Why? Because he was holding the very first copies of What Happy Couples Do (Yes!!! A first glimpse at our new baby)!

Who else, but Steve Deger (our editor at Fairview Press), would craft such a thoughtful and creative introduction to our firstborn book? Who else would treat us, two first-time authors, with such loving attention? Yep -- that's Steve. Maybe it's the makings of a new ritual? (no pressure, Steve).

Oh, and our book? It's absolutely dreamy (can't wait to show you all)! Yes, we're living a dream. Please don't wake us up.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Will You Marry Me?

So many happy couples have told us, in interviews and surveys over the past 15 years, how the way they were engaged inspired one (or more) of their marriage rituals down the road! If the proposal happened over chinese food, all future anniversary celebrations include egg rolls and fried rice. Or if a proposal happened in a church, they recite the story each time they attend or drive by, paying homage to where "they" began (see story linked below, published last week in the Milwaukee Sentinel, about how Carol's husband proposed at a church in Athens, Ohio!)

The article in the Sentinel made us wonder how couples develop rituals out of the wildly creative (and expensive) proposals many couples currently experience? The story: Upsizing the Proposal: Popping The Question Means Engaging All of Your Resources, makes us even more curious about how proposals might predict (or inspire) marriage rituals.

check it out:

Then tell us your proposal story (whether it is sweet and simple or large and luxurious!) ... as well as if (& how) you celebrate those first beginnings in something you do currently as a family or couple?!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Picture This

Why is it that we are willing to spend so much energy, time (and money!) having our babies, toddlers, and graduating seniors captured in professional photographs yet we almost never (after our wedding day) have our coupleness -- our marriages -- documented in a similar way? All of us who have kids know that we have (countless) photographs of our kids on their first day of school, on their birthdays, of their special events (piano recitals) and of the mundane moments (rolling in the leaves). Why don't we, as couples, create a yearly ritual of having ourselves -- our loving culture of two -- documented in the same way?

One of my (Carol's) favorite photographers (and people!) of all time is Claire Kayser ( Her photography and spirit will inspire you -- if you're not already -- to go ahead and develop such a ritual. Invest in your marriage. Document its legacy. If you don't, who will?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What Loving Grandparents Do.

We've been noticing lately the truly tremendous way grandparents serve as models for loving little rituals that create bonds between the generations. Check this one out, a ritual of Anna's parents and their first (and only -- so far) grandson Jacob:

Every Sunday grandma and grandpa have an "appointment" with their grandson. They call him "the little professor" because he appears to be keeping "office hours" at the dinner table, where he sits in his high chair eating his dinner and chatting adoringly with the webcam his parents have set up nearby. Grandma and grandpa ask questions about his day in sheer delight as they visually (virtually) absorb his smiles, giggles, and wiggles. Jacob, in response, tells stories, asks questions, and often pretends to "feed Papa John," holding his fork up to the camera while grandpa opens wide.

What better way is there for grandparents to hangout with their one (and only) grandchild who lives states away?

Are you a happy grandparent? Do you have rituals of connection with your grandkids? If so, tell us about them!

Friday, October 19, 2007


That's exactly what Anna and I (Carol) said today when we saw the first round of designs for our second book (August, 2008, Fairview Press): What Happy Couples Do (After Becoming Parents Too). The colors, design, and layouts are stunning. Gorgeous. Vintage yet contemporary. Simple yet sophisticated. Playful yet powerful. OMG (Oh My Gosh)! Can't wait to show you all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ritual Recognition

Even though we study rituals, almost every day we recognize a ritual that we hadn't noticed before in our own marriages, families, or friendships.

This past weekend, I (Anna) was out to dinner with my husband Brent. One of my favorite loving little rituals is when he, after we both have placed our orders, will order up a little "surprise" ... a little appetizer ... a little something that I don't expect! Almost every time I forget that it's our "ritual" until I hear his sweet words to the waiter: "Oh, and we'll have ..." Even after seven years, it is still a delightful surprise.

If you are like a friend of ours who recently declared: "But my husband and I don't have any rituals!" ... it's actually that most of our rituals are so woven into the fabric of our days, lives, and relationships that we forget to notice them. That's what makes them so lovely and comfortable. See if you can recognize at least one comforting and repeated pattern in your marriage, family, or friendships ... then tell us about it!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ready, Set, Take Off ...

Our beloved editor, Steve Deger, delivered some very exciting news this morning: What Happy Couples Do will be featured in airport bookstores all around the country! I (Anna) nearly drove off the road when I heard.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Think about it.

Okay, so this might sound obvious, but something I read today served as one of those eye-opener-moments. Author John Gottman, in his book The Relationship Cure, observed how our complex and satisfying relationships don't just suddenly appear in our lives. WE build them: Moment by moment; interaction by interaction; connection by connection; one conversation after another.

We build relationships ritual by ritual. Think about it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Seeking Your Holiday Ritual Stories.

What is your favorite memory of holiday time with your family? Do you have a holiday ritual that is particularly unique or special? We're talking about any and all holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Years, Christmas, Easter, Labor Day ... you name it.

If you have one (or two!), share it here (or at

As the weather turns chillier and the leaves turn more colorful, recognize the ways your family, friends, neighbors, and loved ones connect through ritual. And then appreciate those rituals for the many wonderful ways they bring you and those other important people in your life comfort, predictability, and -- quite simply -- something to look forward to.

On a Boat, In a Crate ...

No, it's not a Dr. Seuss story ... it's where our first shipment of books is right now. On a boat, in a crate, on their way from China to bookstores everywhere (well, maybe not technically everywhere ... but in lots of stores, bookshelves, and bedside tables!) According to our publisher (Fairview Press), they expect the first books to arrive in mid-November (ahead of schedule)! Can't wait to get a first glimpse of those beautiful little things. Can you?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Fish Are Biting ....

A first bite: An editor at Cosmo e-mailed yesterday after seeing What Happy Couples Do on They are doing a story on a related topic (top secret) and wanted to interview us! We'll keep you posted ...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Benefits of Father Involvement (and how to make that happen)

On this steamy fall sunday in Minnesota, when both of us had a chance to interact with our own wonderful and loving fathers, we wanted to share the latest research on why fathers matter:

You've seen the shows: Everybody Loves Raymond, According to Jim, The Simpsons, and Home Improvement. Did you ever think about what two things these four shows have in common? They've each been a popular show in the last 10 years, and they each depict fathers as incompetent parents. In each of these shows, moms are portyrayed as the responsible, competent figure in the family, while fathers are often portrayed as an additional child--someone who hinders mothers' parenting styles. Fathers are seen as voluntary parents while mothers are seen as primary parents. What do researchers have to say about this? And how does it relate to your own family?

Research shows that fathers often see themselves as incompetent to handle the regular activities of family life (i.e. changing diapers or dealing with kids' teachers). When issues arise, fathers frequently retreat, resulting in what researchers have begun to call the "rescue phenomenon." The advice to dads: Stay involved. Stay confident. Stay connected.


Because father involvement is a key component in raising healthy, happy children. Did you know that children whose fathers are involved in school activities have improved verbal and mathematical abilities, are less likely to repeat a grade or be expelled, and earn better grades in general? And that, according to at least one study, father involvement in child care was the most important factor in children growing up to be compassionate adults? Here's the secret researchers have found: The stronger a marriage, the more involved the father.

For more on this topic take a look at the book: "Why Fathers Count," by Dr. Sean Brotherson.

We also explore this topic in our forthcoming (second in the series) book, "What Happy Couples Do (After Becoming Parents too)" (for release in August, 2008, Fairview Press)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

We Love Our Editor

Okay, we just have to say this out loud: We love Steve Deger (and his wife, of course, the one who first told him he "had to" publish our book). Steve is our editor at Fairview Press. He's the best. Do other authors say the same of their editors? Not in any blogs we've found ... nor in person ... nor in e-mail ... nor nearly ever. But we can say it. Because it's so true. Thanks, Steve, for all the care, creativity, and attention you've brought to WHCD!

No more gushing today (check back tomorrow).

Is Marriage "Breaking" Your Heart?

Did you read the fascinating article in the New York Times on Tuesday about how expressing your feelings in marriage is as important for your health as quitting smoking or reducing your cholesterol?! The research, based on a comprehensive study of over 4,000 men and women, reports a most stunning finding: Wives who keep quiet during arguments with their husbands are 4 times more likely to die than women who speak their minds.

Although the study and article is worth reading in full, what do we think? Being "silent" too often in your marriage takes a toll not only on your immune system, but will eventually take a nasty toll on your marriage, too. What happy couples do, on the contrary, is develop safe and productive ways to express their gripes, complaints, and/or irritations with each other. Frequently. Routinely. Warmly. And in a way that actually invites the complaint instead of avoids it. Does that give your a free pass to bicker and criticize? Not exactly. What it does suggest is that if you aren't currently doing so, you might want to develop a ritual (or two) that will encourage each person in your relationship to share what they really think (the good, bad, and ... yes ... the ugly too). It seems a complaint or two a day can keep the Dr. away!