Category Archives: Commitment

The Importance of Generosity in a Marriage

I’ve written many books having to do with relationships, but each focused on different aspects of relationships.  The most important ones, I think, were The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands and The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage because I pointed out the real element that makes a marriage work is when each person gets up in the morning and thinks about what they can do to make the other person happy and happy they’re married to you.  In fact, that was so important, I put it on the back cover.  No surprise to me to see this show up in other forms.

In December, in the New York Times, they talked about the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project.  It studied the role of generosity.  Not in the sense of being generous with money or a lot of gifts, but about that moment where you think, “What can I do to make them happy at this moment, much less if they’re married to me?”

So generosity is about going above and beyond the ordinary expectations with small, little things, small acts of service — making an extra effort, such as being affectionate, bringing somebody coffee in the morning, or rubbing their feet.

It turns out men and women with the highest scores on generosity as a scale were far more likely to report they were very happy in their marriages. 

Now, you’ve got a lot of things going on in your mind, heart, body and day so it’s not always easy to be generous to your spouse.  One particular researcher suggested successful couples say or do at least 5 positive things for every negative interaction with their partner, so they make it 5 to 1…5 to 1.  That’s really important.  It’s important with your kids too.  If you’re going to give them holy hell about things all the time, you really have to balance it with generosity.  Children who see parents who are more engaged in this generosity tend to be more generous too (no kidding), which bodes well for their future relationships and their relationship with their parents.  So, make small acts of service and an extra effort to be affectionate.

The top 3 predictors of a happy marriage among parents (because having kids is a big stress):

1. Sexual intimacy
2. Commitment
3. Generosity

And they put sex first because the portion of 18 to 46 year-olds with below-average sexual satisfaction who are “very happy” in their marriages is about 6.5%.

In one particular study, couples who reported a high amount of generosity in their relationships were 5 times more likely to say the marriage was “very happy”.  However, the generosity was not as important as sex.  In this study, married men and women who reported above-average sexual satisfaction in their relationship were 10 to 13 times more likely to describe their marriage as “very happy”.  My assumption though, is this goes in a bit of a circle – i.e., the people who are more generous with each other probably are more turned on to each other because they’re so generous with each other and it keeps going in a circle.

Something to consider: 5 to 1 – 5 positive things you say or do for each negative thing you say or do.  Try it — you might like it.  You wonder why your marriage is not happy?  The fix is actually simple.  It’s the motivation to do those 5 positive things that seems to be the biggest problem.

Lying to Ourselves

Some callers to my radio program are amazed when I explain that their situation is entirely of their own making, and don’t allow them to complain about someone else as the architect of their situation.

Sadly, a typical scenario goes like this:  a young woman caller with one or two illegitimate children is shacking up for years and years with a guy who is now out on the dating scene.  (Well, why shouldn’t he date?  He’s a single man with a consort!).  When the young woman protests that they have a “commitment,” I ask “What is the commitment?  Where is it?”  There is no commitment involved in unmarried sex or procreation or cohabitation.  It’s all “free-flowing,” which is exactly what both paid for when they signed up to not sign up for any obligation past the feeling of the moment.

The truth about females is that we lie to ourselves when we say we can just “hang out” or have “hook-up level” sex and make babies with someone who says “I love you,” but ultimately doesn’t walk the talk. 

We want to nest, settle down, and have someone love us and protect us and provide for us, but we behave in ways that demonstrate massive denial, insecurity, and a kind of pathetic desperation or downright foolishness.

None of this makes a woman feel special, put on a pedestal, valued or really loved.  And none of this protects the needs of children.  More and more women of late are intentionally having babies without marriage because, in my opinion, they are not competent to provide love and affection and attention to anything outside themselves, and the feminista women around them applaud the “no men” clause.  This is atrocious, as it undermines society and puts children in the position of no daddy

None of you should show any support for any woman who makes this choice.  No support…..and lots of negative judgment.  Please.

The Amazing Spirit of Enlistees

Last week, I attended an event in the beautiful city of Huntington Beach, California.  It was the second annual “Battle Shark Challenge” hosted by the United States Army.  The Army invited new enlistees from southern California to come to the beach to compete in small groups in such activities as:  push ups, sit ups, tug of war, football, Frisbee, rock wall climbing, a 2 mile run, throwing grenades (fake ones, of course) and carrying a “wounded” soldier through a mine field (blindfolded).

I participated in everything except Frisbee and football.  My team of 6 won the push up and sit up contests, and we also won the activity where you had to carry a “wounded” soldier through a mine field.  Everyone was blindfolded except the leader who had to give instructions.  The first time I played the wounded soldier; the second time I was the leader and we beat the previous best time by over a minute.  We lost the tug of war, and I wasn’t able to throw my grenade further than the closest-in target.  I did the run, however, in less time than that required to qualify for enlisting in the Army, but they still wouldn’t take me!

It was an amazing experience to meet about 1500 young men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line for you and me.  I was impressed by their spirit, tenacity, good humor, self-respect, hard work, and commitment.  These are certainly NOT the types of kids who spend their days on Facebook or Twitter.  You have to be awed by how unique and special they are.

Families came out to show their support, although it was very sad to me when one young woman came up to ask me how to handle her parents, who won’t talk to her since she enlisted.  They didn’t show up for this event either.  Shame on them and shame for them.  They missed an opportunity to see their child elevated in her own spirit and in our eyes.  I told her that I’d be her surrogate mother, and that she now owed me a Mother’s Day card.  We hugged a lot.

Frankly, I just wanted to hug them all.  I AM the proud mother of an American combat infantryman…very proud.  I am saddened for any parent who chooses to shun their child because they’ve made the selfless choice to defend all Americans.

That’s why we have to support them all.  Whenever you see anybody in uniform, shake their hands, buy them lunch, and/or tell them you’re grateful.  It DOES mean a lot to them.

On Being A Good Friend

I have a very good friend (and I hope she thinks the same of me).  Her name is Sheridan.

We have a kind of magic together:  we have a lot of interests in common and do “day road trips” to bead fairs, fabric stores, yarn shops and such, because we share craft hobbies and help each other with our projects.  The other day, she just showed up when I was on the air to give me some buttons she’d bought for a tote project gift I was working on.  With the buttons came a card which showed an old photo of two women friends on a couch.  Underneath the photo, the caption read:  “A good friend will bail you out of jail.  A GREAT friend is one who sits beside you and says ‘Wow, that was fun!’”

I couldn’t stop laughing when I read that, and while you should not take that literally, it does suggest that friends really get into each other in a special way. Friends want to experience each other’s joys and heartaches as part of bonding with and mending each other.

I have watched Sheridan put herself out for me, stand up for me, and bend over backwards to make me happy.  I am one lucky woman to have such a blessing in my life.  Friends – really good friends – are a rare commodity:  you have to have just the right chemistry, attitude, understanding, forgiveness, openness, kindness, and thoughtfulness.  A good friend brings all that out in you.  A good friend makes you a better person.

I’m sure we’ve irritated each other from time to time, but we’ve never had a fight about it.  Why not?  Because good friends have each other’s best interests at heart and accept each other’s quirks with humor.

The best way to have a good friend is also the best way to have a good  marriage: choose wisely, and treat kindly.

And consider yourself very fortunate if you have someone who resonates with you in this lifetime.

Sheridan, I love ya girl!

Divorce, Recession-Style

A number of news sources recently reported that (sniff, sniff) people just can’t afford to get divorced anymore, what with mortgages upside down, and diminished family income.

Furthermore (more sniffs), in most cases, the couples have to stay together under the same roof just to make ends meet.  No longer can divorced spouses count on maintaining a lifestyle.  No longer are kids summarily thrown into visitation chaos and feelings of abandonment….and that, obviously, is a good thing.

One of the sadder aspects of my three decades plus on radio talking to people in some sort of crisis is the growing realization that many people see adversity as a motivation to turn on each other, rather than to turn to each other.  I understand husbands who feel depressed when they can’t adequately support their families, and I understand wives who feel desperate because they worry for the well-being of their home and children.  But I don’t understand turning away from each other at a time when both need support and hope.  Each spouse needs to (as Archie Bunker often said on “All In The Family”) “stifle themselves” and try to buoy up the other’s state of mind.

In trying to make the other person still feel valued, competent and loved; in telling your spouse that you know that, ultimately, you can count on him/her; in letting your once “dearly beloved” feel your support, makes not only them feel better, it makes YOU feel better.

I’m sure everyone reading this has some sort of strain or stress in their marriage.  Generally, it’s something that can be overcome if you both pull together and put aside your individual resentments and fears long enough to follow through on your marital vows to love, honor and cherish.

The Bonds of Marriage

Last weekend, I went to Kimberly’s wedding (she screens your calls every weekday on my radio program). This is what I experienced:

* A room full of loving people from two families, and lots of friends, all happy and excited for and about the bride and groom.
* A lovely ceremony outdoors in the sun, overlooking a beautiful mountain terrain.
* A groom whose tear ducts flowed uncontrollably the second he saw the  bride walking down the aisle in her beautiful white gown and veil.
* A bride glowing with joy and giggling with pleasure.
* A man who verbalized his promise to lay down his life for his wife; stating out loud his commitment to listen, understand, support, protect, provide,  and love her for the rest of his life.
* A woman who verbalized her promise to respect, support, understand, listen, and love her man for the rest of her life.
* The feeling that they both meant it.
* A lovely kiss.
* Guests blowing bubbles as they walked back up the aisle while they held onto each other (both just glowing).
* Photographs of them that their families put together which showed them from their respective births to their wedding day.
* A father/daughter dance; a mother/son dance with the parents moved to tears.
* A father singing to his daughter about being her “first love,” and shaking the hand of the man who would protect her and love her from this day  forward.
* The happy couple leaving for their honeymoon – to take time out to just be together in their new roles as husband and wife, and to celebrate their public and personal vows.

They will come back from their honeymoon and move into the home they both took the time to (individually) save up for before they married, and he will settle into the job that he took the time to train for and establish before he proposed marriage.  They took the time to really get to know one another and their families.  They took their time individually to be ready to take care of each other and their marriage in emotional and practical ways.

Do you still want to try to convince me or yourself that SHACKING UP is the same as marriage?

Hollywood Hookups

I basically don’t care about the musical chairs relationships of Hollywood types, but I thought the following story was indicative of our culture in general…and that is not a good thing.
This headline was important enough to show up in the Top 20 stories of Google News recently:  “Alex Rodriguez and Cameron Diaz Get Cozy in Miami.”  The piece started out:  “Don’t tell Madonna, but New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was spotted getting cozy with Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz at a pre-Super Bowl party in Miami last weekend.”  According to this inane report, she was tipsy, flirty, and began “grinding on ‘A-Rod’, who had just broken up with Kate Hudson.  Clearly, sports is not the only thing for which you need a score card!
Generally, women who have nothing going on in their lives become groupies, because attachment to a star (even in their imaginations, much less their beds) brings them a feeling of importance.  Madonna, Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz are all successful in their own right, so “groupie-ness” is not the issue.  Then what is?  What makes women “give it up” so easily for a guy who is good-looking, successful and has lots of money?  I guess it’s the looks and success, and the feeling that even more money is always good.
There is so little dignity left in Hollywood’s elite, and many political marriages are also aflame with betrayals.  Our young girls grow up next to young boys who have both misguided values and expectations.  The boys realize that respect and courtship are irrelevant when it comes to getting sex and companionship; the girls think that explosive beginnings mean something deeper.
I had one female caller who was just amazed at my admonition not to have sex as a flirtation, rite of dating, way to get to know someone, or stress releaser.  She actually was surprised when I suggested to her (and her 21 year-old “reality”) that scarcity brings value.  While that is an economic issue, it also works for interpersonal relationships.  If the act of sexual intercourse is to mean anything, it has to have a context of love and commitment, and that is a scarce resource.
People wonder why they’re depressed, anxious, unhappy, unfulfilled, lost, or compulsive about hookups.  There is an inherent knowledge that meaning and purpose are everything to their psychological well-being, but they are surrounded by the likes of an A-Rod and Madonna world which tells them there isn’t any, except for notoriety and sexual flamboyance.
It’s sad, really, because there is more to morality than just being a “rule system of the constipated,” which, unfortunately, is what too many people believe.  Morality is a means by which we make human beings rise above the rest of the animal kingdom with symbols and actions:  like marriage and commitment, for example.