Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday the (most lovely) 13th

Today is my 22nd wedding anniversary. Yes, it's Friday the 13th, and we chose a Friday (the 13th) in December 1991 to make public and official our happy-couple-status. So many people say "but why?" Because we knew what was ahead wasn't anything about luck. It was going to be all about focus and hard work.

And I've never been more in love.

My beloved and life-long partner (who reports that he should indeed receive 1.5 years of credit for each year of our marriage because his "marriage is a petrie dish; I'm married to a marriage researcher!") is still today my best pal, my confidant, my hero and my rock. That was actually his nickname in high school some 30 years ago: "Rock." I thought I understood why over the past 27 years of knowing him. Yet each day since, as I witness him sore in his profession, impress as a fully-engaged parent, light up a room of strangers and friends alike with his effervescent ways, and (the most impressive part of him) embrace and adore my quirky, emotional, highly-charged, on-the-go, sensitive, empathic (to a fault), often cranky self, I know more fully the depth of the moniker donned on him long ago. He IS a rock, in the most glorious sense of the word. Solid. Steady. Always. Forever.

And he's all mine. Which makes me the luckiest gal alive.
A page (literally) right out
of our wedding album,
the best Friday the 13th ever.
Nice puffy sleeves, I know.

May your Friday the 13th be as absolutely-mysteriously-perfect-and-lovely as mine and my honey's. XXOX to you all. We just returned from our ritual "anniversary day off" together (during which we made sure at least one of us was in seat 13, of course, at the theatre. We're now off to look for a bottle of wine to take to a holiday party, which has to cost exactly $13, and then to see if we can get from the store to the party in exactly 13 minutes. You get the silly picture ...).

P.S. ...

While I have and always will keep my promise to my dearest hubby to be true and faithful and forever quirky and emotional and cranky and stubborn in my love for him, I have NOT kept my promise to all of you to be a diligent, weekly blogger this fall during this absolutely lovely sabbatical! Oh my. Interesting how promises work: so easy to make, so hard to keep. If you enjoy this blog, I hope you'll forgive me. While I haven't been blogging much here, I have been studying, writing, researching and reading a TON and then some about couples and families in the digital age. Which means there is much to share in future blogs, and I pray you'll check back and see when I finally do so!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Happy to Brag ...

... ours has been named among top 10 blogs for couples, issued by! Whoop. Party! Yay us. While we're not talking Pulitzer, it's somethin', eh? And as such, I'm one happy little blogger.

Now truth be disclosed: as a member of a 2-decade plus married couple, I'm quite obviously not dating's best user. But tens of thousands of their readers are, and they are liking (literally, on Facebook) the 5+ years of good stuff filling up the WHCD blog. Another whoop! Check it out:

Ironically (or not), like positive affirmations are elixirs of couple happiness and love, positive and public blog affirmations seem to immediately motivate one to post better and more often. As always, come back soon readers! I'm currently crafting a post on couples and their much beloved (and/or bemoaned) communication technologies: are they for better or worse? I'll share what the current research suggests.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Natural Health Magazine + Happy Couples + Leslie Goldman + Cover Story!

Add all those things up and you have one really cool bit of news to share!

Fabulous and fantastic author (and I want to call "friend," although we've never actually met, but that's beside the point) Leslie Goldman has the lead cover story in this month's (sept/oct, 2013) Natural Health Magazine. "Get Closer" presents 12 smart, expert-endorsed explanations for boosting your health via boosting the closeness of your relationships. "Research shows strong relationships = better health. It's that simple," she writes. AMEN, I write. And guess who and what is featured in tip #8? Psssst ... maybe a little What Happy Couples Do, that's who. I know, right? FUN! Bravo, Leslie, for the fabulous information written in your ever-fresh, always-smart style.

Wanna know more? Of course you do or you wouldn't be subscribed to this blog. So get yourself to a newsstand pronto! Both the information in the story (and that cute orange dress on the cover - eh?) are must-haves. Credits reveal it's a Kate Spade dress and H&M cardigan. Die! I also happened to love the very last page in this issue about being a "qualitarian," which is kind of, all of a sudden, inspiring a future and possible happy couple post ... hmmm ... check back soon.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Wrangling (as in to round up; to take charge of). I've been doing that with an idea -- trying to articulate the point of this post -- in my mind the majority of this short but beautiful summer.

My point is a somewhat long-ish, but I hope thought-provoking-ish, story involving a wedding, a happy couple named Lindsay and Brad (right), some former gang-members (not pictured), a priest, a high school gymnasium, a few tattoos, fancy french fries, kindness, some donuts, gentleness ...  and ... well ... here goes.

In early June I attended the graduation ceremonies of one of my favorite organizations in the twin cities: Cristo Rey High School. I believe I've written about them before; they've touched my heart in a way that I won't even try again to articulate (always sounds trite). But, fact is: Cristo Rey is an innovative college-prep HS (it's a network of schools, actually, nation-wide - SO FAB!) serving some of our most under-served youth. Not at all trite, they have a very cool concept and are demonstrating very real results. As I have many other Junes since they opened, I showed up to cheer on this year's superstar set of seniors pass over the stage, and on into their next stage of life.

Their commencement speaker was Fr. Greg Boyle, author of Tattoos On The Heart and founder of Homeboy Industries. If either of the above are new to you, google them. As in now. Because you'll commence being wildly inspired. Homeboy and its social enterprises work with thousands of high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women, giving them a chance for job training, tattoo removal and a new life. (E.g., Homeboy Bakery. What a concept! I need a donut.) Fr. Boyle is the mastermind.

You didn't have to share the faith beliefs of Fr. Boyle to nod in agreement with his primary message that warm summer day in CR's large gymnasium in S. Minneapolis: "Cristo Rey is not a place you come to, but a place you go from." 

Indeed, the 100+ graduating students enrolled and worked incredibly hard. For four years. Learning more than 4 years worth of material and facts and social skills and college-readiness. Each is beating the odds society set up for him/her. But who cares, basically? (Of course we do). But Fr. Boyle was saying: it's now what you do with what you've been given, and where you go from here.

His point, made many times over with mind-blowing stories of gang members turned successful leaders, and of former prison inmates turned highly-competent parents, partners and community members, was clear: you are just beginning! And what a beginning you have. You will make good, if you choose. And now go on and show us. And while you do, be sure to give generously and with goodness to the world. And to yourselves. And always to others. (My interpretations, not his exact words.)

Not a single person in that large high school gymnasium (my husband and I among them) didn't walk out feeling ultra-inspired. 

In contrast (but not really): the very next week I found myself (lucky me!) at the wedding of the loveliest and most adorable couple. Set in a most gracious and historic of downtown St. Paul landmarks, Lindsay and Brad were married. And I was thrilled to be witness. They are two of the kindest people -- the most authentically and beautifully gentle and gracious couples -- I've met in a long-ish time.

Basically, in 10 words or less, their wow-worthy wedding was [don't count inside parentheses]: Simple, elegant, gentle, meaningful, understated, stylish, warm (in the loving sense) and (gosh darn it, it must be said), plain old FUN. Oh, and absolutely lovely. It's worth saying twice: pure lovely!

Their celebration had an authenticity - a beauty from within - that so many lack. And believe me, I've been to a LOT of weddings. Over my short 43 years. In many states. Wearing a lot of LBD's and/or taffeta (80's - cringe). Listening to a lot of hefty and holy hymns. And soloists. And trumpets. Plus a few organs (okay, a gaggle of organs if we could collect in one space). And generic vows. And chicken dances (not that there's anything wrong with that. Nor is there anything wrong with a cold Bud Light in a plastic cup. I'm just sayin').

Lindsay and Brad's celebration was signature Lindsay and Brad, who have an admirable, loving and gentle (also, perfectly stylish - without trying too hard) way of being in the world. And it instilled in me a sense that, no question, they didn't just plan their wedding as the big event to which they came. Rather, they seem to know exactly where they are going from that day forward and where they were going to: into a healthy, loving and kind life-long partnership.

From the perfectly appointed invitation to the contemporary and supra-fabulous french fry buffet, their celebration oozed simplicity and beauty ... a thoughtful but relaxed, classy, not-trying-to-impress sensibility ... one I felt deep in my happy-couple-core is going to serve them perfectly (and everyone they meet) as they go from that day, into the life of the hard-won, yet totally worth it, shared-existence of a happy, respectful, and uber-cool (in the "we are enough" sense) couple.  

The point of this lenghty-ish, summer-long-conceived, but hopefully worth it post? If you haven't figured it out already:

We're all on a journey from what was or is to what is next. What will you choose to do and be (especially in your relationships)? Of course, I invite you to select, wherever you're headed, kindness and gentleness. And pure authenticity - whatever that looks like in your soul. Like Fr. Boyle. Like Lindsay and Brad. And like the gang members making donuts and fluffy iced cakes. The other choice is, well, not so attractive. I'm committing (not always succeeding, but at least trying) to choose as much. Join me?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New (Academic) Year Resolution!

Yes, yes, yes. It's that time of year for academics to make a clean start! We head into fall with great optimism, a renewed sense of "let's get on with the learnin'," clean desks, sharp pencils and a fresh perspective on the year ahead. A significant part of my "back to school" pledge to you, loyal happy couple readers (insert big HEART), is at least one post per week for the next 10 months.

I know - wow. That's a big promise. Especially after nearly abandoning you for the past 5 months. But, alas, I owe it to you followers and, well, to myself; your comments - both in person and via email/post/reply - make me a happier person! And, truth revealed, this year is looking quite sweet in the world of this happy academic: I'm on a one-year sabbatical from teaching to work on new books (stay tuned) and new research (all about happy relationships, of course). As such, I'm dedicated to a (re)newed focus on blogging about all the fabulous findings about relating I'm reviewing as I go about my projects. Let's get to it, eh? ...

And why not start with that oh-so-dreaded-emotion -- when it's coming at us -- anger.

I'm linking below to one of those "ah ... stinkin' smart!" explanations about basic communication between couples. A dear friend sent this along the other day. Her subject line: "Thought of you." My thought when I read the April 23rd post by Peter Bergman ("What to do when you've made someone angry"): "Must share with Happy Couple readers! Like pronto." 

Don't skip this one; it's a wicked smart and crazy simple (but brilliant) explanation and formula. I'm actually looking forward to my next argument so I can test drive the rock solid advice of Ken Hardy, marriage therapist featured in the piece.

And to all you readers, I hope you're happy I'm back in the WHCD saddle. Giddy up!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Marriage Trouble? Listen In ...

... to this podcast on (one of my favorite Minnesota-based resources with a national reach, developed by two really amazing women) featuring Dr. Bill Doherty (one of my favorite colleagues/researchers/therapists/all-around-awesome human beings, also here in Minnesota). You probably know Dr. Doherty's name if you read at all about healthy marriage and family; he's the author of many books which tell us exactly what to do if we want to keep things working well in our most important relationships. In fact, Doherty's research has inspired much of my own. Infinite thanks as always, Bill.

On this podcast, he tells us about what to do if your marriage is in trouble. Fascinating stuff here (e.g., he shares his research on the "divorce super highway" and "couples on the brink!"). No matter your status, you'll be glad you listened in: 

As always, great job Bill and co-host/mother-daughter team Erin and Marti! Minnesota HEARTs your efforts and, as always, your approach.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Happy February Happy Couple Readers! Yes, it's been a month or two (darn it - sorry) since the last post, but in the month of all-things-valentine-and-LOVEly, I'm re-committing to weekly posts as has been the "ritual" (you know what I'm talking about - oh yea) of the WHCD blog. The word re-committing is, of course, quite intentional, just like we all must be in our relationships if -- the big IF -- we want to keep them, yep, happy.

A local reporter and really intentional, cool wife and mom Angela Davis of WCCO/CBS Twin Cities stopped by the University of St. Thomas last week and we had a chance to chat about a loving little escape ritual that she and her husband of nearly 2 decades have been sustaining. She told me off camera that such escapes are indeed one of the secrets to her VERY happy marriage. I can't tell you more about those specifically; this is a G-rated Blog you know. But, very much on the record and on camera (link below), I told Angela that she's absolutely on to something that research shows is, indeed, really REALLY good for your relationship. Take a look (and then, darn it, commence booking your own little get away!):