wise love words: there's help for every relationship

I recently found this great article on MasterInCounceling.org about "30 exceptional Q&A sites on effective relationship counseling." There are so many awesome resources in this article.

Here are a few of my favs:

100 Premarital Questions: This page is filled with questions offered by SunniPath, the online Islamic Academy. In this culture, there is usually an imam who does 3 sessions or even more of premarital counseling in which the 2 individuals have to respond to a series of questions.

Marriage Counseling Questions To Strengthen Your Relationship: Marriage counseling questions designed to help a couple address problems and enhance their relationship. These questions are typical marriage counseling questions.

Just Answer — Relationship: Recommended by CNN.com, NBC.com, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Good morning America and the Today show, this site allows users to ask questions and obtain answers from relationship counselors.

Click HERE to read the full article!

making a list and checking it twice: 29 things to do before you tie the knot

  1. Talk about how many children you each want. And talk about why you feel the way you do.
  2. Go on one last vacation as an unmarried couple.
  3. Read a book about how or why marriages fail. Try THIS ONE. And talk to each other about how you plan to deal with any of the issues you read about.
  4. Write a love letter to give to your partner the night before your wedding.
  5. Figure out how you each prefer to spend and save money.
  6. Create a budget and make a plan about how you money is actually going to be spent.
  7. Talk about experiences from your past where you both had fun and laughed together. Interestingly, reminiscing about laughter from your shared past can significantly improve your relationship satisfaction.
  8. Write out a list of reasons why you want to marry your partner and keep it somewhere private for you to read to yourself whenever you are angry with your mate in the future.
  9. Take a long walk by yourselves; no cell phones allowed.
  10. Go on a date to a place you have never been together.
  11. Go for a drive and show your partner where you grew up. Talk about your fondest memories as a kid and maybe even go out to eat at a local restaurant that's still around.
  12. Go see where your partner grew up.
  13. Talk about three things you learned from your parents that you hope to use when parenting your own children.
  14. Make an agreement about marriage. For instance, Hus and I have always said that we would never go to bed angry and that we would never throw around threats of divorce in the heat of an argument. Try to find 5 to 10 marriage rules that you can agree upon.
  15. Read a book about saving your marriage. Try THIS ONE. It's ah-mazing.
  16. Discuss how you each would like to divide up holidays between your respective families.
  17. Tell your partner about things that typically stress you out or piss you off. And discuss how you like to be approached during those times (Do you like to be left alone, be hugged, talk about it, or something else?)
  18. Agree to disagree. You are not always going to agree on everything in marriage. The sooner you figure that out, the better.
  19. Do something fun together that makes you feel like kids again. You could go roller/ice skating, to a pumpkin patch, or a carnival.
  20. Write a happiness journal during the month prior to your wedding. Each day, write down one sentence about something that made you happy that day. It's nice to look back at this later and remember what made you happy in the days leading up to your wedding.
  21. Divide up the household chores. Play on each other's strengths and likes when choosing jobs.
  22. Find a hobby that fulfils you. And keep it up after marriage.
  23. Pay off as much of your debt as possible.
  24. Talk about your in-laws. How often do you want to see them? Are they going to be highly involved, moderately involved, or only mildly involved in your new life together? What does that mean?
  25. Have a wild night out on the town with your spouse-to-be.
  26. Talk about your 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year plans. When do you want to have kids? Where do you hope to live? What do you hope to be doing?
  27. Read a book about maintaining your marriage. Try MY BOOK.
  28. Make sure he or she is the one.
  29. Promise to always work your hardest to keep your marriage in tact. And to try everything if things start to go downhill. Don't just give up.

Don't forget!
  • Have a burning question for me? Here's your chance to ask it! Click HERE to read more about this new video project and how you can submit your question.

media love: tough love

Tough Love is coming back to VH1 and I can't wait! October 2nd at 8pm can't come soon enough!

5 things i learned about marriage while moving with Hus

Earlier this summer, I wrote a post about how Hus and I had decided to not move this past August. Well, I wrote wrong. We totally moved.
You see, I was told about this bigger, more affordable house that was only a couple of blocks from campus (where I work) and I had to see it. I did and it was amazing. So we jumped on it.

This was the fourth move for our family since 2004 (the third moving being just last summer- August 2010) and it wasn't any easier than the first move. You'd think that moving would be a breeze for us by now since we have so much practice. But somehow, this is not the case. Moving just sucks.

But the good news is that all of this moving has taught me a few things about my marriage (and about marriage in general).

Working as a team is key to getting anything done. Hus and I work pretty well as a team. We know one another's strengths and we play on them. Hus is good at packing the actual truck and I'm good at going back and forth from the house to the truck with boxes. Hus knows how to pack things so that nothing gets broken and we use all of the space (we once packed a 26-foot long and 8-foot high truck TO-THE-BRIM on our way from Indiana to our first house in Virginia). And, we both work well together when carrying large pieces of furniture. Hus will always accommodate our height difference (I'm 5ft 3in and Hus is 6ft), which definitely makes the day better. And, I try to keep things as organized as possible. The best part is that we both work very hard, and neither of us are slackers. Each of these personality traits bode well in our marriage as well.

Words of encouragement go a long way. I've always believed that encouragement has the power to elicit hard work. And hearing encouraging phrases during a difficult, seemingly never ending task (such as moving) is essential. We tend to literally sheer one another on while moving. "Go, Hus, Go!" and "You can do it, Jen!" are commonly heard on moving day at our house. At this point, it's mostly a fun little game we play more than it is actually encouraging, but it keeps us in good spirits, which help us power through and keep working until the job is done. Just as encouragement is important when moving, it's also important in our marriage. And Hus is really good at this. He always pushes me to pursue anything I'm interested in doing by telling me that I can achieve anything and reminding me why I wanted to do it in the first place. This motivates the hell out of me.

Avoid beating dead horses. We both always make the mistake of complaining about how we have TOO MUCH SHIT whenever we move. This does not help the morale of the day. It's already a really stressful event, and then we go ahead and bitch about our stuff (which isn't going to magically shrink or disappear in mid-move, by the way) for hours on end. And we get specific, too. Hus will ask, "Why do you still have every single one of your notebooks from college?" or I'll say, "When are you going to get rid of that f-ing fish tank? We have lugged that thing around for 7 years and haven't used it for the last 5!" We have the same conversation every time we move. It lasts for days leading up to the move, during the move itself, and for a days after the move. But every time we move, we have the same amount of shit we had the last time. Actually, we usually have a ton more stuff at the next move. As we do in our marriage, we both need to work harder at not arguing about the same f-ing thing over and over and over again.

Don't belittle your partner's feelings. I definitely do this way too often (In fact, I dedicated an entire chapter in my new book to it!). I'll tell Hus, "It'll be fine," "Get over it," or "You're okay" when he drops something on the floor or on himself. He's already pissed off about it and then I stifle his desire to yell and scream and curse, so it infuriates him even more. I talk about supporting your partner "during all of the times in between" in my book, but I still fail to take my own advice. What can I say? It's a work in progress. All marriage-related things are.

Don't sweat the small stuff. There are inevitably several dozen problems that spring up during a move; it's just the nature of the beast. For instance, this last move was ridiuclous. It took way too long and was way too expensive for only moving across town (poor planning on my part, I'm afraid). But, the worst part was all of the little things that went wrong during our 4-day moving extravaganza. First, we were required to have the carpets professionally shampooed in our old rental before we left. Well, I was under the assumption that we could pay the property management company and they would do it (I really thought I heard someone say that last summer). Um, apparently not. I got a call from the management company the day before we were scheduled to be out of dodge asking us if we already had the carpets cleaned. Shit. So I had to frantically scramble to find a carpet cleaning company who was willing to come out by the next day to clean. It took time away from what I was doing, was terribly frustrating, and cost way more than we had planned because the only company available just happened to be the most expensive. This could have ruined our day, week, or month. But, we learned a long time ago that worrying about all of the little things can make you crazy. The bottom line was that we were going to be out of that house (which we never really liked), into a new house (that we adore), and the carpets were getting cleaned. Was it really the end of the world. No, it wasn't. And neither are most other frustrations that we have to deal with on a daily basis.

In the end, I know that Hus and I have a stronger marriage because of the pressure and stress that is put on us during these moves. But, I sure as hell don't want to do it again any time soon.

Don't forget!

  • Enter my "this is love" photo contest and you could win a $100 Target gift card! The contest is ending on October 15, so get creative and start taking some pictures! Oh yeah, and then send your favorite one to me. (FYI: there is a NEW UPDATE about this contest at the bottom of the post- click HERE to read it)
  • Have a burning question for me? Here's your chance to ask it! Click HERE to read more about this new video project and how you can submit your question.

when "i'm sorry" just isn't good enough: 4 steps to getting forgiveness from your partner

Okay, so you fucked up (Note: I thought about using a symbol- like #, $, *, or %- for the "u," but it just didn't seem natural. And anyways, who doesn't love a blog post that begins with expletives? I know I do.).

Okay, so you fucked up. We all fuck up from time to time. Hell, even I fuck up. I know it's difficult to believe that last statement, but it's actually true.

You did something you said you wouldn't do, you didn't do something you said you would do, or you just flat out hurt your spouse's feelings and now you have to talk about it. Well many times, a simple "I'm sorry" just ain't gonna cut it. And then you're still in trouble. Below are four easy (well, mostly easy) steps that you can take to get out of the doghouse with the one you love.

1. Listen to your partner's concerns and feelings. Listening is one of the most powerful tools in your relationship toolkit. Really. Let your mate talk about anything related to the behavior in question and pay attention to everything your mate is saying. Try to understand where your partner is coming from. Put yourself in his or her shoes and begin to recognize how your actions impacted your partner. Let your partner elaborate as much as he or she wants and acknowledge his or her feelings. You can ask questions if you need clarification. But be careful, make sure that you phrase your questions so that they imply that you actually want to understand your partner, not as if you are trying to discredit your partner's emotions or point of view.

2. Admit your faults. Take responsibility for your actions, even if you think that your partner is wrong, exaggerating, or out-of-line in his or her accusations. The fact of the matter is that even if your intentions were not to purposely hurt your mate, you did. There was some miscommunication between what you meant to do or say and how your mate perceived what you did or said. In fact, miscommunication is one of the leading causes of conflict in relationships. So, if you hurt your partner, recognize that. You can still say that it wasn't your intention to upset him or her, but it's important to take ownership for how your partner is feeling.

3. Offer up a plan. Apologies are rather useless if you don't plan to change your behavior. And many times, the plan is clear- "Okay, I won't call you my little pudgy-wudgy anymore." But other times, the plan is not as clear. This is where the two of you need to work together to come up with a solution to this problem. You could ask your partner, "How can I fix this?" or "I really don't want you to be sad/angry with me anymore. What can I do?" Again, you need to listen to what your mate says and then decide what you are willing and able to do. And if the plan is to "not do _____" ever again or less often, think of a positive, more desirable behavior to put in it's place. Ending bad habits is so much easier when you replace it with a good habit. However you decide to do it, making a clear plan for the future is an excellent way to get through this tough time with your partner.

4. Don't do it again. This seems like a no-brainer, but I can't tell you how many times Hus or I will say that we're sorry about something and then go ahead and do the "offensive act" again; sometimes only days later. It's terrible, actually. If you make a plan to not do something and then you do it again, what kind of message does that send to your mate? I'll tell you. It says that you wee less-then-sincere in your original apology. It says that you don't have enough respect for the future plan your both made together. And it says that you do not value your relationship enough to stop doing whatever it is that hurt your partner in the first place. To put it another way (as if I haven't done that enough already), if you do it again, it makes it very difficult for your partner to forgive you and it may even make it difficult for your partner to stay with you.

Don't forget!

  • Enter my "this is love" photo contest and you could win a $100 Target gift card! The contest is ending on October 15, so get creative and start taking some pictures! Oh yeah, and then send your favorite one to me. (FYI: there is a NEW UPDATE about this contest at the bottom of the post- click HERE to read it)
  • Have a burning question for me? Here's your chance to ask it! Click HERE to read more about this new video project and how you can submit your question.

Book Reviews

I've been getting some GREAT reviews of my new book, Make Love, Not Scrapbooks, since it's release and I thought I'd share a few of my favs with you (Don't you feel special? I totally would.).

"The first thing that struck me about Jen's book is that it reads just like a conversation you'd have with a good friend... you know, over coffee as you spill your guts and admit how badly your husband pissed you off the other day, while she nods her head in agreement and says, 'You're preaching to the choir, sister.'"
(*Click HERE to read the entire book review)
-Helene, Mommy Blogger (www.TwoSetsofTwins.com) and Stay-at-Home Mom to TWO sets of twins

"It is rare to find a book that depicts relationships so honestly, provides so much in the way of valid and useful information, and yet is fluid, conversational and engaging throughout.  Dr. Jennie Gill Rosier has done a fantastic job with this book, and I hope that people who are interested in trustworthy advice about relationships buy it!"
(*Click HERE to read the entire review)
- Dr. Steve McCornack, Ph.D., author of Reflect & Relate and Associate Professor of Communication at Michigan State University

"One of the things I love about this book is that it's not only jam packed with well-researched information, but it's also full of personal stories to make it all real."
(*Click HERE to read the entire review)
-Sean Marshall, co-creator of The Family Rocketship

"Make Love, Not Scrapbooks is like an insurance policy for a happy marriage. Do everything suggested in this book and neither of you will ever need the services of a divorce lawyer."
-Alisa Bowman, author of Project Happily Ever After

"I literally read the whole book cover to cover last night- wow! I love the way you wrote it because it feels so personal like you're talking right to me but you also have all this data and research to back it all up. LOVE it! Looking forward to any other books you put out in the future!"
-Paige, loyal Jen's Love Lessons reader & dating Brian since 2009

Thanks everyone for the kind words! 

Do you have a blog and want to review my new book for your readers? Send me an email at jenslovelessons {at} gmail {dot} com so we can work something out (i.e. a free reviewer copy for you and a copy for one of your lucky readers).

Don't have a blog, but you still want to let me know what you think? You can either send me an email at jenslovelessons {at} gmail {dot} com or post your review on my Facebook fan page. I'll post your email/wall post review on the website for my book and on my Facebook fan page!

this is love... photo contest!

Again, I'm stealing ideas from another blogger. Okay, well it's a mix of ideas from a couple of bloggers.

First, I was recently reading one of my fav blogs, Better After, and loved voting for her "Ugly Lamp" contest. People emailed Lindsay (the blogger for that site) photos of their ugly lamps, she picked her top 10 or so ugly lamps, and then readers voted on the lamps to find one winner

Second, Shell, over at Things I Can't Say, is currently doing a "Magic Moments" photo contest where readers can link up photos of their magic moments to her blog. The winning prizes are insane, with one person winning a Canon Power Shot s95 (SRV $399.99)! Holy shit! By the way, there's still time to enter her giveaway (it ends on the 19th). Click HERE to enter her contest.

So, while I don't have a fancy linky tool thing or a $400 grand prize, I can definitely accept photo submissions via email and I think that a $100 gift card is good enough, right?

I know what you're thinking: HOW CAN I ENTER THIS AMAZING CONTEST, JENNIE?

Here are the details:
  1. Take a photo (or send me a photo you already have) of something that you think IS LOVE. It can be anything. Maybe your cup of Starbuck's coffee screams "love" to you or you have a favorite book that you think epitomizes "love" (It's my book, isn't it? It's okay, you can tell me.). It really can be anything (see my examples below). 
  2. Email it to me at jenslovelessons {at} gmail {dot} com-- put "Love Photo Contest" in the subject line
  3. I'll post my favorite 5 photos on my blog.
  4. Readers will get to vote on their favorite photo. (Read the UPDATE below)
  5. The winner will receive a $100 TARGET gift card!!!
The deadline for this contest is October 15, 2011 at 5pm.

Sorry, but you can only submit ONE photo to this contest.

Pretty sweet, huh? I think so.

I'll leave you will a couple photos that I would submit if I were in your position...


I've been getting a lot of great photos and I already know that I'm not going to be able to decide on the top five. So, instead of picking the top five and then you picking the winner, I'm going to put ALL of the photo entries in an album on my Facebook fan page and then everyone can vote on the photo that they like the most by "liking" it.

project announcement: help me, help you

Lately, I've been getting a lot of emails from loyal Jen's Love Lesson readers like you with questions about love, sex, and marriage, my new book, and even questions about my own personal life. As I've been struggling to email everyone back in a timely manner, I realized that I could do this in a much more efficient way.

Let me explain. One of my favorite blogs right now is Young House Love. It's a do-it-yourself home improvement blog, written by a dynamic husband and wife duo, that I've become mildly obsessed with in recent weeks. And, they have a a TON of readers. Seriously, a TON. Which also means that they get a TON of questions from readers about anything and everything. Anywho, one of the things that they do to answer all of these pressing questions in an organized fashion is to make video responses (You can see two of those videos HERE and HERE). After I watched them, I thought to myself, "I could do that!" Not only can I do it, but I also think it would be WAY more fun that emailing all of you back individually.

Interested yet? Here's how it's gonna work:

Between now and September 30th, I'll be collecting questions from you via my Facebook fan page, through email (jenslovelessons@gmail.com), or by commenting on this post. You can ask me ANYTHING. Really, I'm pretty much an open book. Then, I'll categorize your submissions into 3 groups: 

(1) questions about love, sex, & relationships, 

(2) questions about my new book (Make Love, Not Scrapbooks), and 

(3) questions about my own personal life (including questions about Hus and my twins).

Lastly, I'll make a few videos for your viewing pleasure. Have you thought of your question yet? Good! Now all you need to do is decide if you want to privately email it to me (jenslovelessons@gmail.com), write it on the wall of my Facebook fan page (click on the link, "like" my page, and then ask your question by "writing something" on my wall), or comment at the bottom of this post (by clicking on the comment button below).

I'm super pumped about this project and I hope that you are too!

Ready, set, go!

what were we thinking?: 4 reasons having a baby will seriously test your relationship

Having children is one of the biggest decisions that you will have to make with your partner. Can we afford a baby? Do we have enough room in our house? What will we name this new person? What should the nursery look like? Do we really want to give up our fun night life? Which childcare route are we going to take?

All of these questions, and several hundred others, may cross your mind in those months leading up to your final decision on the matter. But one question that many people overlook is whether the relationship that they have with their spouse is strong enough for all of the stress that comes with bringing a new human into the world.

In addition, some people have this cockamamy idea that having a baby can save their failing relationship, increase feelings of intimacy in their distant relationship, or make them happier than they ever could imagine with their current unhappy relationship. And for some of you, having a baby will make you feel closer and happier with your spouse and relationship. But the key here is to begin this journey with a ridiculously strong bond. Those of you who are hoping to fix something, fill a void, or rekindle feelings in your relationship should probably steer away from baby-making as a solution to your problems. Having a child will not fix anything. In fact, it will likely create several new problems in your partnership.

Before you start thinking that all I'm anti-baby, let me explain (in case you didn't already know) that Hus and I are probably two of the most pro-baby people you will ever meet. We love kids. If we could afford them, we would probably have 6 or 8 or 10 (Okay, maybe not 10)! We have twins and we've highly considered having more (no Mom, I'm not pregnant), which if you have twins or know anyone who has twins, you know that wanting more after two at once is a pretty big deal.

But, we also realize that having children puts a serious strain on our amazingly strong marriage. Having a baby is tough. You have to really love, and maybe more importantly really LIKE, the person who you have a baby with because even the most secure relationships are tested when a child is thrown into the picture. Still don't believe me? Here are four reasons why having a baby will make you ask, "What were we thinking?"

  1. Crying and whining are two of the most annoying sounds on earth. I'm serious. A recent study published in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology has shown that toddler whining and infant crying are two of the most effective ways to distract adults when they are trying to perform an elementary task. In this study, adults were less able to concentrate when listening to these two sounds than when listening to other seemingly annoying sounds such as the screeching sound of sawing wood, fingernails on a chalkboard, and loud machine noise. In the beginning days of parenthood, the incessant crying can make even the most calm and patient individuals feel as though they are losing their mind. And then as the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years, the incessant whining kicks into high gear. And all kids whine. There is no avoiding this phase of childhood. You and your partner are going to need to learn to deal with two of the most annoying sounds on this planet living in your house.
  2. Sleep is necessary for sanity. Again, I'm serious here. If you don't sleep, you will literally go insane; which is why sleep deprivation has been a popular torture method in times of war for several centuries. The lack of sleep you experience in the beginning of parenthood is a shock to your system and it can make you act like a crazy person; a crazy bitchy person. A lack of sleep can cause you to say things that you don't mean, lash out on your partner because you can't lash out on your adorably stressful little baby, cry for no apparent reason, and start arguments with anyone around you. I would even venture to say that missing out on sleep will be the foundation of the large majority of your spats, disagreements, and blow-out arguments during that first year. Just believe me when I say that sleep deprivation is one of the worst "side effects" of caring for small children. I think I've slept with any interruptions only a handful of nights in the last TWO YEARS!
  3. "Going out" has a completely new meaning. Before you have kids, you can basically go anywhere you want and do anything you want without worrying about much of anything. And then you have a baby. And everything that you thought you knew about leaving the house changes. For instance, your plans to "just run down to the store" turn into a huge production. You suddenly have to bring this huge bag with you where ever you go that's full of all kinds of junk for your baby's well-being and your sanity. And your ideas about a romantic date night change from dinner and dancing to falling asleep on the couch while watching a movie together. I'm not saying that romance is automatically thrown out the window when you have a kiddo. Not at all. But, you will likely be so tired that you won't want to do anything else for a good while. And forget about going out to eat. If you're going to bring the little tike, you can't go anywhere too loud (you don't want to damage the little one's precious eardrums) or too quiet (you wouldn't want to offend anyone when your child begins screaming uncontrollably). And if you're leaving your bambino behind, get ready to pay your sitter a pretty penny (only the best for your baby, right?). I think Hus and I spend more on babysitting (remember, we have two kiddos) than we do on the actual meal when we go out (which isn't very often). The bottom line is that your freedom to come and go as you please is seriously stifled by your new addition.
  4. Not being able to communicate with your little peanut is incredibly frustrating. I used to watch parents of toddlers in the grocery store get overwhelmed. I would look at them and think, "That will never happen to me. Children are so amazing. I mean, I get that it's difficult when you don't know what they want, but think about it from their perspective! It must be terrible to try and communicate your thoughts and feelings to your parent only to encounter misunderstanding... yadda yadda yadda." Let me first apologize to all of those parents who I judged. I had NO IDEA how frustrating the lack of communication was going to be until I experienced it firsthand. And boy, is it frustrating. Now, I'm the first to admit that I'm not immune to these feelings of irritation, annoyance, and actual anger when trying to figure out what my kiddos want from me. Dealing with your child's inability to communicate with you about anything and everything is rough. Implementing some relaxation and calming techniques into your everyday life is key to getting past this frustrating phase (which takes a lot longer than I thought it would).

So unless you have a great starting-off point, having a child does not help your relationship. Instead, it actually has the potential to seriously damage it. Make sure that your relationship is STRONG before you make that important decision because there is no way that you can deal with the endless crying and whining, lack of sleep, change in your lifestyle, and misunderstanding with someone who you only kinda-sorta like.

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