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5 Habits of the Happiest Couples I Know March 23, 2010

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‘m taking a cue from Shine staffer Sarah McColl’s post, “Five Habits of Happy People Even the Biggest Grump Can Borrow.”

When I looked at her tips and applied them to marriage, they seemed to ring pretty true. I thought I’d share some with you so you’ll be inspired also. Or not. I’m sure you’ll let me know.

1. Reach out. In the words of an old commercial, “Reach out and touch someone…” But not just anyone. Your spouse! They’ll be sure to thank you for it. And while you might not be having sex with the pool man or the cashier in the grocery store (or maybe you are, but that’s a different blog post) there’s no reason you can’t break through that wall we all put up with a friendly, “Thanks. Hey, how is your day going?” If you’re like me, you’ll find that when you let other people into your world, you don’t put so much pressure on your spouse to be Mr. Everything. Learn more ways to get out of a romance rut.

2. Be thankful. Yes, it’s a bit cliche, but it works. I wrote a poem recently expressing just how thankful I am for the little things Rex does to keep this household running. I have continued my journaling also. When I see on paper just how much Rex brings to the table, I’m far less cranky at the way he clicks his fork against his teeth while eating my pesto salad. Or the way he leaves shoes all over the floor just waiting for me to trip and break my neck. Or how the night time routines often involve me doing everything kid related while he gets caught up on a riveting episode of South Park. Okay, now I’m getting mad. So I’ll end it with a “Thank you, Rex, for trusting me to write about us and never once – not once – give me a hard time about talking about you getting hard… all the time. Moving on. Discover more surprising ways to feel happy every day.

3. Live your passion. This is a biggy for me and perhaps it is for you. In a nut shell, sexual passion is awesome, but after ten years of marriage, it can die down. I have found the more I feed my passion for things non-Rex related, the more I come back to him with a libido more buzzed than my brain after 3 cups of Yuban. Though I need to work on the stinky coffee breath thing. In time… in time.


4. Make do. The idea is to be happy with what you have, not what you don’t. I couldn’t agree more. For me, this applies to things as well as personality traits. So our kitchen looks like a 1950’s showroom on crack. Do we have electricity? Running water? Food in a fridge? Yes yes and yes? Well that just makes me want to say those words in the bedroom. Because I know I have such a wonderful home due to a husband who works his butt off for me. (And yes, I contribute to my home also…) Which leads me to #2 – I’m thankful!

Get a few ideas for your own romantic and budget-friendly date night

5. Enjoy the simple pleasures. This one is my favorite. For us, it’s not about fancy dinners out or new furniture. (Though we do go to dinner about once/month. It’s heavenly.) Cooking together in the kitchen and having a picnic lunch with our kids on the lawn with the laundry drying on the line? That’s pretty spectacular also. (It’s also another way of saying we’re cheap, but our anti-Midas tendencies have afforded us a cabin in the woods and some pretty remarkable friends who appreciate our hearts, not our wallets, so I’m not complaining.)

Discover 12 more tips for a happy marriage!

What are your secrets to a happy marriage? And, hard to believe, with me not being a perfect-looking specimen naked, I’m certainly happy that Rex subscribes to these 5 “how to be happy” tips also.


For Office Romance, the Secret’s Out March 18, 2010

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Like a growing number of young couples, Nathan Shaw and Maiko Sato met at the office, in a Cisco Systems training program for new recruits. They dated openly as fellow employees for a couple of years.

And when Mr. Shaw was looking for a novel way to propose marriage, he picked the office as the setting. He engaged his boss as a co-conspirator. During a date with Ms. Sato one evening, his boss phoned Mr. Shaw on the pretext of asking him to stop by the office to test some teleconferencing gear.

As Ms. Sato gamely tried to help with the “test,” Mr. Shaw guided her to the engagement ring he had hidden, then flipped a flashing slide onto her teleconferencing screen: “Say yes!” After a moment of stunned silence, she did. The two married in 2008 and remain happily co-employed at Cisco’s San Jose, Calif., campus.

Anne Sherwood for The Wall Street JournalCo-workers Cary Costello, left, and Stacie Taylor have been dating for 3½ years.



Office romance is coming out of the closet. More than any other time during my 19 years of writing this column, the workplace has become a place for courtship. Some 67% of employees say they see no need to hide their office relationships, up from 54% in 2005, says a CareerBuilder survey of 5,231 employees released Tuesday.

In the past, “the Baby Boomers kept office romance secret” amid fears of career damage or reprisal, says Helaine Olen, co-author with Stephanie Losee of “Office Mate,” a book on the topic. Now, amid growing openness about sexuality and greater equality between the sexes, she says, singles “are saying, ‘Why is anybody even bothering to keep this secret at all?”‘

That doesn’t mean all the old rules have changed. Affairs when one or both partners are married are still taboo. Nor is it OK to snuggle up behind the copier with your latest crush. Employers still expect even the most out-there workplace couples to behave professionally.

Dating your boss or subordinate is generally out of bounds, too. Court rulings in recent years have broadened employers’ exposure to sexual-harassment lawsuits, making this a more sensitive issue. A growing minority of employers have written policies requiring employees to disclose any romantic relationships to a superior and allowing the employer to separate the partners at work, says Manesh Rath, a Washington, D.C., employment lawyer.

But office romances can have a negative spillover effect on co-workers. At Slingshot, a Dallas interactive-advertising agency, one pair of co-workers who started dating were equals on the job and behaved appropriately in the office, says Owen Hannay, chief executive. Nevertheless, when they started going out to lunch with each other every day, co-workers on their seven-person team “felt excluded, and it created a lot of negativity.” The daters have left the company, Mr. Hannay says.

Other couples take great pains to prevent fallout from their romance. Shortly after Erica Toth and Brian Carnevale started dating, colleagues in their open, 18-person office figured it out. But the couple bent over backward to keep their relationship from affecting others at the Rochester, N.Y., office of Text 100, a technology public-relations firm. They asked to be assigned to different projects, says Mr. Carnevale, 31, an account director.

When new employees joined the firm, Ms. Toth, 28, an account manager, would tell them about their dating relationship, she says, adding, “if for some reason you are concerned, let your manager know.” And if she slipped up and called Mr. Carnevale “Honey” over lunch, he quickly corrected her. The couple also limit their conversation based on “what would my co-workers want to hear?” Ms. Toth (now Ms. Carnevale) says. After dating for three years as co-workers, they married and are now expecting their first child.

The best vaccination against a bad ending is “a long corporate courtship,” says GMR’s Mr. Scholz. He adds, “Keep it light and fun at first,” getting to know each other at lunch or group outings, a strategy that enabled him and Ms. Walters to learn a lot about each other before they started dating. Then if it doesn’t work out, “you have basically just broken up with your lunch buddy.”


Happy Couples Kiss and Tell Sharon and Ozzy, Rosalynn and Jimmy, and Bill and Marlene on How to Make a Marriage Last

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“We learned that it was important to our marriage for each of us to always have our own work, our own projects,” said Mrs. Carter, 82.

I asked my parents, who just celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary, why their marriage lasted so long. My dad said he had no idea. “Your mother did all the hard work,” he admitted. Mom agreed, and divulged her marital secret: “forgiveness.”

Compromise, they say, got them through the good and bad times. Mr. Critch, 75, says he compromised by quitting the Air Force early in their marriage, because it bothered her that he was away from home so much. (Press him for more concessions, and he says, “Miso soup.”)

Ms. Critch, 74, says she made her own compromise by agreeing to retire to Arizona, where her husband preferred the climate. (She wanted to stay in Seattle to be close to their daughters.)

“If each person can give 75 percent, you’ve got 150 percent,” says Ms. Critch. Her husband agrees. “Many men would call that wussy,” he says. “But I don’t because I value her more than anything else in the world.”

Similarly, Jan and Len Konkel, who have been married for 62 years, long ago made a pact to never argue over anything that wasn’t very important, saving their battles for things like how to raise their three children. “Everything else is minor and can be settled in a discussion,” says Ms. Konkel, 84.

Her husband agrees. “I say ‘Yes ma’am’ and ‘No ma’am’ a lot,” says Mr. Konkel, 88.

Be funny. On the night in 1967 that Jackie and Ken Egan met at a dance club in Boston, he asked her for a kiss. She declined: “I don’t know you,” she told him. “And my kisses are like Lay’s potato chips—you wouldn’t be happy with just one.”

“You have to go forward, you can’t go back,” says Mr. Brunson, 76. Even so, the Brunsons don’t share everything. He does not discuss his business with her. “I have won and lost millions of dollars without her knowing,” he says. Ms. Brunson says that’s just fine with her. “I have my own bank account,” she says.


Tips to Help Keep A Temper in Check March 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 10:21 pm
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Most anger-management programs use techniques borrowed from cognitive-behavioral therapy to help people deal with anger. Here are some strategies to help keep negative emotions in check.

• Reframe the situation. Instead of seeing every inconvenience or frustration as a personal affront, imagine a benign explanation.

• Find a constructive solution to the issue at hand. “Ask yourself: What do I need to be okay right now?,” suggests Rich Pfeiffer, a psychologist and board president of the National Anger Management Association, a group of about 300 practitioners. “That shifts the focus from how the other person needs to be punished to how I need to respond in a healthy way.”

• Keep an “anger log” to monitor what makes you angry. Learn to identify and avoid your triggers.

• Be aware that anger tends to rise in increments. Learn to evaluate yours from 1 (frustration) to 10 (rage). If you can catch yourself at 3 or 4, you can think more rationally about the situation.

• If you feel a blowup coming on, give yourself a time-out before acting on it. “Wait 15 minutes before you say something, or an hour before you send an email. Keep your options open,” says Pauline Wallin, a psychologist in Camp Hill, Pa., and author of “Taming Your Inner Brat.” “If it’s not going to be important in an hour, then let it go. It’s not worth getting angry about.”

• Get a health checkup. Medical problems such as diabetes, chronic pain, low testosterone and low estrogen, can make people very irritable. Anger, either repressed or unleashed, can cause medical problems too. Some 30,000 heart attacks each year are triggered by momentary anger, according to a 2004 Harvard study.

• Be aware of how you talk to yourself. “If you keep saying how awful this is and making yourself feel alike a victim, you will get more angry,” says Dr. Wallin.

• Don’t ruminate on past affronts or injustices.

• Recognize patterns. “So often, people will say, ‘I’m just like my father—my father got angry’,” says Dr. Pfeiffer. “You don’t have to go back into their childhoods and deal with that. You just have to work on how to respond effectively now.”

• Calculate what your anger is costing you. Many people with anger problems think anger gives them an edge, and establishes superiority. “Instead, you just look like an idiot,” says Leon Ingram, founder of Chicago-based

• Don’t use alcohol to “calm” yourself. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions so you are more likely to do or say something you’ll regret later.

• Get physical, without fists. When your primitive brain senses a threat, it sets off the “fight or flight” cascade of hormones. Opt for flight instead of fight and burn off the extra adrenaline and cortisol with exercise. Even a brisk walk will help calm you down.

• The ultimate lesson: Pay more attention to the important things in life and recognize that most frustrations, inconveniences and indignities are trivial and temporary.