student love tip: steer clear of contempt

This is a Student Love Tip by Robyn Fink

Some couples get into arguments and think mean things about one another. For example, you might think “He's an idiot," or "She's so dumb” in your head, but you don’t say those hurtful thoughts out
loud. Sometimes, regrettably, our anger gets the best of us and we say these things out loud. When you insult your partner directly, many problems can occur in your relationship. This act is called contempt. Contempt is defined as the intention to insult and/or psychologically abuse your partner through insults, name calling, rolling of the eyes, and/or hostile humor. Many people roll their eyes from time to time, but when these acts turn into a daily occurrence that dominates your relationship, it is likely that your relationship will end. Contempt is different than playfully rolling your eyes or playfully teasing your mate. Contempt occurs when the abusive criticism becomes a habitual behavior. In order to avoid contempt from occurring in your relationship it is important that you and your partner make a conscious effort to not engage in insults or name calling. It is important that you also acknowledge your partner’s positive attributes rather than their negative ones. Whatever you do, remember to steer clear of contempt!

Click HERE to read more about the Student Love Tip series.

student love tip: define love

This is a Student Love Tip by Sam Martucci

You’ve probably already been told to use the L-word wisely. You also probably know that using the L-word can be romantic, special and heartwarming for both you and your partner. But what most people don’t like to admit is, many times saying the word “love” can be scary. In order to ease that fear you’ve got to ask yourself, “Why is this scaring me in the first place?” The answer may be revolving around a different concept that’s easily looked past.

Many people may define the fear by their inability to know if they REALLY love their romantic partner. Although this may be true, for many people the problem may lie in their definition of the word in the first place. What is love? There are so many definitions of that word and you could argue all of them are wrong for some reason or another. So it’s only logical to assume there’s a chance your partner might have a different definition than you. By communicating your definition of the word with your special someone and comparing your definitions with each other, saying the L-word could be a whole lot easier because you now know what it means to “love” in your unique relationship. I’ve heard some bad stories about what could happen when you don’t communicate your love definitions. For example, my friend learned this in his previous relationship with his ex-girlfriend. They both said “love” to each other with the assumption they both had the same definition. But when my friend told her later that he wanted to break up, she accused him of lying to her when he said “love” because that meant they would get married. Of course this shows how my friend had a drastically different definition of the word “love” then his ex-girlfriend, which ultimately led to much confusion and aggravation. If he discussed what the word meant with his ex-girlfriend, they could have found that although they both had strong feelings for each other, using the word love might not have been appropriate until they agreed on what it meant.

So talk to your special someone about what it means to love someone and maybe the decision to say the word won’t be so devastatingly hard. It may not be your inability to know if YOU love your romantic partner, but your inability to know SHE has the same meaning of the word itself!

Click HERE to read about the Student Love Tip series

student love tip: keep the spark alive

This is a Student Love Tip by Sarah Perrott

Many couples will date for long periods of time and begin to feel as though the spark is gone and that their love is dead. However, if you express your positive feelings for one another, you can keep the spark alive in your relationship. For example, saying simple things like, "I love you" and "You look beautiful" are encouraging, and make your significant other feel as though he or she is loved and beautiful. While these feelings might be obvious from the beginning, saying them out loud is key so your partner has full knowledge of how you feel. There are also wordless acts you can do to express positive feelings towards your partner. Taking your partner out on a romantic date that was well thought out and planned based on the things he or she loves is one way to show how well you knows your boyfriend/girlfriend, and how much you care for him/her. Another way to express positive feelings and spark romance and affection is to give each other gifts. The gifts don't have to be big; sometimes the smallest items mean the most. For example, my boyfriend bought a bar of Lindt chocolate when he knew I was having a bad day, and that gift not only cheered me up, but also let me know he still loved and cared about me. Whatever you choose to do, whether big or small, it's important to express positive feelings and romance towards your significant other to keep your spark going strong.

Click HERE to read about the Student Love Tip series.

giveaway: 100 postcards! is a great online resource for all of your printing essentials. From business cards to brochures, UPrinting has everything you need. UPrinting has been gracious enough to send me 100 post cards for Jen's Love Lessons! Thanks UPrinting! I'm using my post cards to promote Jen's Love Lessons!

Today, UPrinting is giving away 100 post cards to one lucky reader! Just think, you could have 100 custom post cards all for yourself! You can use your own graphics, pictures, or logo. Use these post cards to promote your business, to create adorable thank you post cards for all of your family and friends, or even to design unique post card party invitations.

Here are the giveaway prize details:

  • Giveaway Prize: 100 Postcards for One Lucky Winner
  • Size: 4x6
  • Paper: 14pt Cardstock Gloss
  • Printing: Full color both sides
  • Shipping: Winners have to pay for shipping
  • Eligibility: Limited to US Residents ONLY

You can learn more about UPrinting's post cards by going to their homepage or their post card page.

Want to win? Here's how to enter:
  1. Become a fan of Jen's Love Lessons on Facebook (Already a fan? Great! Not a member of Facebook? Skip to step #3.)
  2. Find the link to THIS GIVEAWAY on my Facebook fan page and make a comment answering the following question: how you would use the 100 post cards if you won them?
  3. Go back to this giveaway on Jen's Love Lessons and make a comment about the post cards (anything will do).

All entries (comments on Facebook and on Jen's Love Lessons) will be combined based on time of entry (so technically, if you comment on both, you're increasing your odds of winning). Then, the winner will be chosen using

You have until SUNDAY January 3, 2009 @ 5:00 p.m. EST to enter. The winner will be posted on the Jen's Love Lessons homepage that night. The winner will then have until 5:00 p.m. EST on MONDAY January 4 to email me at with his or her contact information.

*All entries received after the cutoff time will be deleted prior to choosing a winner.

Good Luck!

money, chores, & kids: 3 conversations to have with your partner before you tie the knot

Unfortunately, marriage these days still only has a 50% success rate. A lot (but certainly not all) of the problems associated with divorce tend to stem from a lack of communication about the inner-workings of marriage before those papers are signed. Many people get into marriage thinking that their love for each other will fix any and all problems they may encounter in the future. Well I'm sorry to say this, but love won't pay the bills, love won't do the dishes or cut the grass, and love won't change your partner's mind about children. Talking about these three important topics below before you get hitched has the potential to alleviate the intensity and/or amount of arguments you most definitely will experience as a married couple.

1. Money

Money problems have been linked to causing numerous divorces in America. While talking about money can't solve any problems associated with a small wallet, it can allow you and your partner to understand each other better when it comes to your piggy bank.

Before getting married, you and your mate should openly discuss any and all debts you each have (this includes student loans, car leans, mortgages, credit card debt, etc.), you and your partner's spending and saving habits (even if you don't have any), and each of your yearly incomes. Not only do you need to talk about how much money you make, spend, and save, but you should also discuss how you plan to pay off your debt. Will all of the debt go into one "debt pile" and then both of you will pay it off together? Or, will you each continue to pay off your own individual debts? Further, it's especially critical to consider your plans for sharing money. Will you have separate bank accounts or one joint account? Or, will you have two separate accounts and a shared account? How will the bills be paid? Who will be responsible for paying them? How will you determine what counts as a "necessary bill" and what counts as an "unnecessary bill"? What will you do with the "unnecessary bills"? For instance, is your mate's monthly subscription to his or her favorite magazine something you both want to continue paying after marriage? In addition, it's important to talk about the different values you each place on money. Do you need the latest and greatest gadgets or can you do without? Maybe even more important, do you think that your mate should do without? Do you think that it's perfectly acceptable to spend $100 on a pair of jeans or does that bother you? Figuring out all of this stuff before you say "I do" can really help you start your marriage on the right note. And, if you discover major problems during this discussion, problems that can't be solved or ignored, you may need to nip this relationship in the bud and call it quits. I know that sounds harsh, but money problems haveruined a significant number of marriages, so discussing this issue prior to sealing the deal could help you avoid some heartache.

To help get the conversation going, you and your partner could take the Money Ethic Scale to initially identify your attitudes about money. Then, you could each make a list of questions (p.s. you can include some of the questions mentioned above) that you'd like to go over.

2. Division of Labor

Dirty dishes, cars that won't start, smelly laundry, and long grass. We've all encountered these things in our lives. And before you get hitched, you likely had to deal with these problems by yourself. And, it would make sense that your responsibilities would be cut in half when you get married, right? Regrettably, many couples have one person who does the majority of the chores. Before you wed, talk to your partner about who he or she expects to do the household chores. While the chores don't have to be perfectly divided down the middle (wouldn't that be great if they were though?), it's really important that you and your mate are on the same page about who should do each task. So, if you and your partner both agree that you should do everything, and you're both okay with that, then good. The purpose of this conversation is really meant to discuss expectations so that you can determine if you like what you hear and decide if you will be happy down the road.

Here are some tasks you and your mate could talk about divvying up: taking out the trash, doing the dishes, cutting the grass/gardening, loading and folding laundry, dusting/polishing, sweeping/vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, cleaning the fridge, mopping the floors, dealing with car troubles/appliance breakdowns/etc, organizing and paying the bills, scheduling things (like doctor appointments), making dinner, maintaining the sanity, and anything else you can think of. You will be much more satisfied in your relationship if and when you and your mate can come to a consensus or even a compromise about how to deal with dividing labor before the big day. Although I can't promise that you and your partner will always follow through with your decisions, at least you'll know what your mate expects of you and your mate will know what you expect of him or her.

For more information about sharing duties, check out this article about breaking free from gender role stereotypes. Oh yeah, and check out this one too.

3. Kids

Here's the big one. Kids. Talk about children with your partner. Do you want kids? How many do you want to have? If you're someone who really wants kids and your mate doesn't, this is a HUGE problem. Understand that you will not be able to change his or her mind in the future. If you stay together and never have kids, you will resent him or her. If you stay together and have kids without him/her being fully "on board," your partner will resent you. If this is an issue for you, break it off now. Additionally, talk about who is going to take care of the kids. Do you expect one person to stay home and not work, are you going to take the daycare route, or are the two of you going to split up the caregiving (like these people)? After you've got all of that squared away, it's important to discuss child-raising. Initially, you could discuss things related to infancy like who will wake up in the middle of the night or who will be responsible for changing diapers, feeding, bathing, etc? Then, you could discuss issues such as how are you going to deal with discipline problems? Who is going to do homework with the kids? Who will drive your kids to and from all of their functions (school, extra-curriculars, playdates, etc.)? Talking about kids before marriage and answering some of these questions will help you determine if your mate is the right person for you.

As you probably know, having kids takes a toll on your relationship. Take a look at this article and this article for some tips about keeping the peace in your relationship as a new parent.


I know, all of this may a BIT overwhelming. Don't worry, you don't need to talk about these important issues in one conversation- that would be ridiculous. And, these shouldn't be conversation topics for a first date (yikes!). Instead, begin these conversations when marriage has become a serious option for you and your partner and then spread these conversations out over the course of your serious pre-marriage relationship. Talking about money, division of labor, and kids prior to walking down the aisle can help you better navigate marital problems later on. Remember, love may conquer all, but it sure as hell doesn't clean the house, put your screaming kid to bed, or pay off those pesky student loans.

student love tip: be open

This is a Student Love Tip by Audrey Dewes

One of the most important tips for success in an intimate relationship is openness and routine talk. Talking and listening to one another is a significant part of any relationship and is a routine that brings couples closer together. Self-disclosing is one way to be open and talk with your mate. Once you are in a relationship, self-disclosing has less formal rules and is more about breaking down walls in your relationship. Being open with your mate shows your willingness to be vulnerable with him/her and your desire to know more about his/her life.

My boyfriend and I have been together for several years and we have been through different stages of self-disclosing. Early in our relationship, I told him about my mom’s struggle with Depression. This information sharing showed that I trusted him with that information and was comfortable enough to open myself up.

Metacommunication is another huge aspect of openness and routine talk. Metacommunication is talking about communication. Discussing effective ways of managing conflicting and communicating each other’s wants/needs helps to avoid problems. Saying something like, “Hunnie, it would be easier for me to talk to you about this problem if you could work on not raising your voice.” Talking about your relationship itself and checking in on how your partner is feeling shows that you have a concern for the relationship. Checking in on how the relationship is progressing shows that you both are concerned with your relationship's health and the future of your partnership. Saying something like, “How are you feeling about us? I’m happy with the way things are going, but what do you think?”

Finally, simple communication like asking about each other’s day is a necessary component of a successful intimate relationship. In a relationship, you should talk about nothing as though it were important. Showing that you care even for the minute, insignificant details of your partner’s life helps to increase intimacy and endearment for one another.

Here's is another great Student Love Tip about openness and routine talk (the author asked to remain anonymous).

Openness and routine talk is the tip that I think is the most important for romantic relationships. This can be like talking about your day or being able to talk about problems with your significant other. I think that one way to improve your openness and routine talk is to just ask your mate about his/her day and listen and respond to him/her about this. I know in my mom and dad’s relationship, my dad always asks her how her day was and if she was really happy or really sad then he would communicate with her about it. This is an example of routine talk.

Openness, on the other hand, takes more skill and time involvement to make it work. You have to be willing to take the time to talk to someone and have to be able to talk about emotions and feelings with someone. If one partner is open and the other isn't, it could create tension. In my own relationship, I have learned to be open with my girlfriend and talk about my feelings about things. I think in choosing a mate you have to figure out if you and your partner can talk this way or not. If you’re already in this relationship you just have to keep working on talking about your feelings together.

Click HERE to read more information about the Student Love Tip series.

student love tip: avoid stonewalling

This is a Student Love Tip by Courtney Zeloinka

Many people associate the silent treatment to their partner “holding a grudge,” shutting someone out, or just completely ignoring them. On one end, you may think that you're just remaining neutral, while your partner feels as if the relationship is becoming distant. This is known as stonewalling, which means that at least one of the relationship partners is remaining stony silent. If you begin to engage in silent treatment, you become nonresponsive in the relationship. You may believe that you are remaining neutral in order to avoid any creation of further conflict, but in reality, this tends to send a different message. Your partner may view the silence and non-responsiveness as having a negative impact on your relationship.

Many people do this in their relationships and do not even realize the impact is has on their partner. For example, I tend to ignore my boyfriend when I'm frustrated with him instead of responding back and saying something negative or hurtful. By being silent, I'm usually trying to avoid arguing or saying negative or hurtful things towards him that I would most likely not mean later. Basically, I am remaining “neutral” and not saying anything. Unfortunately, he's usually confused and frustrated because I'm not speaking to him or making any progress in the situation. This shows that the stonewalling can backfire. Instead of ignoring someone completely, take time to cool off and tell your partner that you need a moment alone before you wish to speak to him or her about the situation. Then, your partner will see that you're acknowledging him or her and are not blatantly ignoring him or her to the point of extreme frustration. At the same time, if your mate tries to reach out to you, don't shut him or her out completely and give your partner a chance before you dismiss him or her.

Here's is another great Student Love Tip about stonewalling (the author asked to remain anonymous).

I'm sure that many of you have experienced the silent treatment at some point in your relationship. Not surprisingly, repeated use of this act can lead to breaking up. The silent treatment is also known as stonewalling, which refers to at least one partner engaging in a habitual pattern of silence or emotional distance from the interaction and overall relationship. If you have ever seen the movie "The Break-Up" with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, you would see the act of stonewalling. There are many times where the couple is seen ignoring each other and not working out their problems. They emotionally distance themselves from each other and the problems that need to be discussed which eventually leads to the end of their relationship. In order to avoid stonewalling, it is important to discuss issues that arise in your relationship and make a conscious effort to replace your blank stares with the use of head nods, brief vocalizations such as “ok” and “yeah,” or other gestures to indicate that you are listening and have not withdrawn from the interaction.

Here's is another great Student Love Tip about stonewalling by Megan Weiss

In the beginning, relationships are fun, exciting, and usually trouble-free. Eventually, conflict and stress arises and relational maintenance becomes more important. One of the signs that your relationship is in danger is when stonewalling becomes habitual. Stonewalling is when one of the relationship partners starts habitually engaging in silence or emotionally distancing him or herself from interactions and/or the other relationship partner. The effects of actually being or just feeling ignored are extremely negative. Individuals who start stonewalling believe that they are being neutral by not responding negatively. Interestingly, research shows that males are more likely to stonewall than females. When males don’t respond to their female partner, her heart rate can drastically increase. On the other hand, research has revealed that when a female stonewalls her male partner, he doesn't experience negative responses. The reality is that when one of you frequently engages in stonewalling, your relationship may be in severe danger. A way to decrease stonewalling is to replace blank stares with back-channeling. This involves using head nods, words associated with listening (e.g. uh huh, okay, and yeah), and other gestures that show that you are listening and not withdrawn from the interaction. Of course, this will only help the relationship when both partners want to continue and are concerned with their relationship.

Click HERE for more information about the Student Love Tip series.

student love tip: spice things up

This is a Student Love Tip by Laura Green

Do you feel like your relationship is in a rut? We all know that feeling; you’re past the honeymoon stage and now everything seems structured and dull. You spend your days apart either at work or school and you spend every evening together. Well, why not switch up the routine a little bit? Instead of coming home every evening, having dinner, and watching tv for the rest of the night, plan activities that normally wouldn’t be in your schedule. For example, you could go to the gym together one night, try a new recipe for dinner and cook the meal together, or go on a spontaneous weekend trip together. Get the picture? Planning to spend more time together makes a relationship stronger! But time together doesn't need to equal boring time. Keep things interesting; keep your eyes peeled for new and exciting things you might like to try together. Spending time together can also involve other people. Go on double dates or attend or host parties with a big group of friends. Relationships are meant to be fun, so let’s keep them that way!

Click HERE to read more about the Student Love Tip series.

student love tip: communicate about the relationship

This is a Student Love Tip by Juan Fabrega

I think that all long-lasting healthy relationships have one important element in common, and that is that the people involved communicate their views on the relationship exceptionally well. By this I mean that they are open and honest about what they want out of the relationship and what they are willing to give for it. It seems obvious that communication is essential for every relationship, but I believe that not all forms of communication carry the same degree of importance.

To me, when a couple communicates their feelings toward the relationship openly, it provides an opportunity for the couple to figure out if they are on the same page regarding their future. This could in fact be the most important factor in determining the level of commitment of each person and with that, the overall level of happiness with that relationship.

Couples that don’t spend enough time talking about their relationship in an attempt to define it usually experience doubt about the future of that relationship and can become unmotivated in their commitment to the other person. This slowly degrades the fabric of the original friendship, and can cause frequent arguments, fighting, and mistrust that can ultimately force two people to stop seeing each other.

To make sure that this does not happen, be open about you intentions and feelings. If you feel that you want to commit yourself to this person, let him or her know, and find out if he or she feels the same way. Also if you feel that you want a more casual relationship, you should be honest about it and not play with another person’s feelings; it's never good to burn bridges by trying to deceive someone for your own benefit.

Click HERE to read about the Student Love Tip Series

student love tip: date

This is a Student Love Tip by Matthew Sumpter

I have two sisters, one just got married 3 weeks ago and the other has been married for 7 years. It's nice to see real world examples in real life and watch and learn through the good and the bad.
And, I think for every relationship wether you're married, engaged, or have been dating somebody for a long time it's important to continue dating. I think the important thing is to realized you're with the person you are now because of what happened on those dates. Even my relatives who have been married for 65 years have said the best piece of advice they could give to my sister when she got married was to continue dating. THINK ABOUT IT! You chose the person you're with because of the special time you set aside for each other. During this time, you would go out and interact and have fun together. If you don't go on dates anymore, where is the fun? And, it doesn't have to be a fancy-schmancy candle-lit date, it can be a trip to an arcade or a simple bike ride. But, the most important thing of al,l is that it's something special the two of you can do together, while laughing and having fun.

Click HERE to read about the Student Love Tip Series

student love tip: work towards equality

Many of the romantic relationships that couples have today are unequally driven. In these cases, this inequality can lead to unnecessarily short relationships. It's important when trying to build a healthy romantic relationship that both people put in equal amounts of effort, time, love, etc. For example, a lot of romantic relationships that I’ve seen are as follows: the girl dates the "bad boy" and puts a lot of time into the relationship. She selflessly does things for her guy all of the time and tries to be close him a lot. The guy, in opposition to the girl, only thinks about what he wants, his needs, and puts the relationship on the back burner. He hardly gives the relationship a second thought and doesn’t realize things are going bad until the girl gets upset and ends the relationship. This example illustrates the one-sided relationship that many people unfortunately experience. For relationships to succeed, couples have to come to some sort of balance. Working towards more balance will help make relationships more stable and give them strength.

Click HERE to read about the Student Love Tip Series

wise love words: 10 communication strategies for strong marriages

Showing respect, sharing companionship, and behaving with integrity. These are three of the ten communication strategies for strong marriages identified by Deborah Ballard-Reisch (a Professor and the Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Chair in Strategic Communication at Witchita State University in Kansas) and Daniel J. Weigel (a faculty member in Cooperative Extension, the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and the Social Psychology doctoral program at the University of Nevada in Reno) in their two decades of research on intimate relationships. Check out their wise Communication Currents article that lists and describes all ten strategies that you should begin implementing in your relationship today!

student love tip: comfort one another

Comforting your partner in his or her time of need is very important to maintain your relationship. To have a healthy relationship, showing your partner that he or she is loved is necessary. Imagine that you're sick, failed a test, or any kind of bad situation that could happen. If your partner, the closest person to you, does not comfort you, how would you feel about the relationship or even about yourself? One time, I was sick in bed because of the stomach flu; I couldn't even go to school. So my boyfriend was so afraid to see me because of his germ-phobia and so he waited to see me until I recovered. I was really disappointed that he didn't even come visit me once to ask how I was doing. I still think I could’ve got better faster if he was there with me and taking care of me. It's sometimes necessary to sacrifice yourself for your partner. When it becomes too much or too little, the relationship can no longer be maintained. So if your partner is having hard time, you should be the first one to comfort him or her. That way, your partner will feel that he or she is still loved and cared for by you.

Click HERE to read about the Student Love Tip Series

student love tip: optimism is key

This is a Student Love Tip by Sara Wagner

As we all know, there are many tips for romantic relationships in order to achieve success and avoid failure, or termination of that relationship. Personally, I feel as though every “tip” is important in it’s own right and has something valuable to offer to the success to the relationship. However, if I had to pick the MOST important one, I’d have to say that I think optimism and positivity is the key component to any relationship. I’ve always been a naturally positive person and thus, it makes sense why this tip would hold the most weight in my mind. Life is meant to be challenging and full of obstacles, but rewarding nonetheless. Therefore, I think it only makes sense that we try to look for the good and stay positive in whatever we encounter in life. In a romantic relationship, it can be very easy to become negative and look for things that annoy or upset you. However, in order to make that relationship work and be worth it, you must look for the good and compliment your partner on various qualities and characteristics you value within that person. Tell your mate what makes him or her important to you and the reasons you love- or at least strongly like- your significant other. For example, if your partner always says a certain phrase or does a certain action like kiss you goodbye every morning, make sure you remind him or her of how special that makes you feel. Not only will this reaffirm the positive power of your relationship, but it will also make you and your partner feel loved and appreciated. I’ve been very fortunate to witness this love tip throughout my life in my parents. My parents just recently celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary and while every relationship has its ups and downs, my parents have really made the best of their time together. There is not a day that goes by that the phrase “I love you” isn’t stated after a phone conversation or a goodbye kiss isn’t given before departure for the day. They always make sure these two things are done on a daily basis, regardless if one of them is in a bad mood or has negative feelings toward the other. They know that above all, their love for one another can stand any obstacle or challenge and no bad mood or negative feeling is worth compromising the positivity or optimism that is carried out through the daily reminders of love. Being optimistic and positive about your relationship is crucial. If you are positive and truly seek the good in your relationship, everything else will fall into place and silly issues will become just that- silly. So, continue to look for the good in your partner and in life and let your heart wear a smile each and every day!

Click HERE to read about the Student Love Tip Series

student love tip: support each other

I think supportiveness is one “tip” that is very important in a relationship. Offering support and encouragement is very important because it shows that you do in fact care for your partner. When you sacrifice your time and commit to your partner it makes them feel like they are worth something to you. It shows them how much you are committed to the relationship. For example, if your partner is starting a new career path you will want to make sure you can help him or her in any way possible. Starting a new career can be very stressful and offering help will allow the process to go smoother. Support is a way to maintain a healthy relationship because it involves working together. Being supportive doesn’t single out one of you and make you go through the tough things in life on your own; you do it together.

Click HERE to read about the Student Love Tip Series
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