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The best gift to give this holiday season is to genuinely forgive your spouse for the various offenses committed over the year that have been driving you crazy.

Forgiving sheds unwanted baggage and makes for a stronger marriage, says Dr. Noelle Nelson, relationship expert and author of Your Man is Wonderful (Free Press, 2009). 
 
Forgiving is not always easy. You may be sitting around the holiday dinner table, giving thanks for all the good things the year has brought. But after dinner, when Uncle Ned says “Great flat screen; let’s switch on the game,” you feel your gut twist. You remember vividly the fight with your spouse for buying something so extravagant. You scream, “it’ll take years to pay it off, what were you thinking?” and he screams that he has the right to get at least something for himself, considering that “99 percent of his paycheck goes to you and the kids.” You both end up exhausted and drop it. After all, you’re not going to divorce over a flat screen.

“Even though a topic is not longer discussed, doesn’t mean it goes away,” says Nelson. “Every time you see him surfing the channels, the bitterness churns inside you. It sours your relationship with him, because at some level, you don’t trust him not to do it again. And with the lack of trust between you, your intimacy suffers.  All because you never made it to true forgiveness.”

Forgiveness is hard, explains Nelson. Forgiveness often feels like accepting unacceptable behavior in order to preserve your relationship, or accepting an apology you’re not sure has substance to it. 
 
“Substance in an apology is composed of two things: accountability and responsibility. Accountability is your willingness to figure out which part of the problem belongs to you and which part to your mate,” says Nelson. “The wife in the above example may say ‘It wasn’t me who slapped down that credit card for a flat screen!” True, and if her and her spouse had agreed upon a budget and he blew the budget, his would indeed bear the larger share of accountability. But her accountability may have been in not setting aside any part of the budget for his–or her–personal wants and needs, instead focusing only on the family budget.”

Nelson says that responsibility portion of forgiveness is your ability to be appropriately responsible for your actions. Responsibility relies on understanding rather than judging or blaming. “Instead of coming to your partner with ‘How dare you!’ even if that’s what you are feeling, talk to him about helping you understand why he chose to do what he did. Listen with an open mind and an open heart. From understanding how each of you feel, you can look at your problems as issues to be worked out, not daggers in the heart–and forgiveness can begin.”

Your one-and-only isn’t behaving his one-and-only self lately. He’s distracted, spends more time at work, on the Internet, everywhere but with you. “The thought hits you–he must be having an affair!” says Dr. Noelle Nelson, relationship expert and author of Your Man is Wonderful.

“You’ve tried your best to stay in shape, but with kids, work, and day-today living there’s nothing you can do about the years going by even after gobbing on Oil of Olay or L’Oreal,” says Nelson. “Plus, how can you compete with all those ready, willing and available fresh-faced, pert-breasted, short skirted girls out there?”

The truth is, says Nelson, is you can’t compete. “It isn’t your skin tone, sexy lingerie or trim waistline that cheat-proofs your marriage, it’s the friendship you have with your spouse.”

Studies show that fully 70 percent of men’s satisfaction in the marriage comes from the quality of the couple’s friendship – not from the sex, romance or passion in the marriage. “Of course, sex, romance and passion are important, but the foundation of it all is the friendship – and that’s what we tend to overlook when we fear our men have strayed,” says Nelson.

“Why do you think so often a guy gets involved with someone at his work?” asks Nelson. “It’s not as if there aren’t lots of cuties who cross his path every day outside of work. The cutie at work openly expresses her appreciation for who your guy is and does, and–importantly–she’s someone he can talk about his work who doesn’t cut him off with ‘That’s nice dear, could you fix the toilet please’ just as he really gets going.”

What’s the fix? “Friendship with your spouse is different from that of your girlfriends or mother–where you pour out your emotional guts at every turn,” says Nelson. Instead, she suggests the following.

Look at your man with fresh eyes. Notice how lovable, generous, handsome, sexy or helpful he is, and tell him about it. Thank him for anything and everything he does that pleases you.

Be interested in and supportive of what is important to him. Listen to him talk about his work; remember names, situations or events that are relevant to him. Don’t discount his hobbies or friends – they matter to him, they should matter to you.

“The truth is, nothing can guarantee a cheat-proof marriage,” says Nelson, “but keeping the friendship aspect of your relationship front and center can go a long way towards ensuring a happily-ever-after relationship.”

For more marriage tips, go to Nelson’s blog, http://anotefromdrnoelle.blogspot.com/.

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Keeping up with the Kardashians returns for its fourth season with a special season premiere, Sunday, Dec. 13 at 10/9c, on E!
 
Watch as a tempest of siblings; business and fame engulf Olympic decathlete, Bruce Jenner; and paparazzi fave, Kim Kardashian; as their huge Hollywood families collide!

cheat proof your marriage 2Your one-and-only isn’t behaving his one-and-only self lately. He’s distracted, spends more time at work, on the Internet, everywhere but with you. “The thought hits you–he must be having an affair!” says Dr. Noelle Nelson, relationship expert and author of Your Man is Wonderful.

“You’ve tried your best to stay in shape, but with kids, work, and day-today living there’s nothing you can do about the years going by even after gobbing on Oil of Olay or L’Oreal,” says Nelson. “Plus, how can you compete with all those ready, willing and available fresh-faced, pert-breasted, short skirted girls out there?”

The truth is, says Nelson, is you can’t compete. “It isn’t your skin tone, sexy lingerie or trim waistline that cheat-proofs your marriage, it’s the friendship you have with your spouse.”

Studies show that fully 70 percent of men’s satisfaction in the marriage comes from the quality of the couple’s friendship – not from the sex, romance or passion in the marriage. “Of course, sex, romance and passion are important, but the foundation of it all is the friendship – and that’s what we tend to overlook when we fear our men have strayed,” says Nelson.

“Why do you think so often a guy gets involved with someone at his work?” asks Nelson. “It’s not as if there aren’t lots of cuties who cross his path every day outside of work. The cutie at work openly expresses her appreciation for who your guy is and does, and–importantly–she’s someone he can talk about his work who doesn’t cut him off with ‘That’s nice dear, could you fix the toilet please’ just as he really gets going.”

What’s the fix? “Friendship with your spouse is different from that of your girlfriends or mother–where you pour out your emotional guts at every turn,” says Nelson. Instead, she suggests the following.

Look at your man with fresh eyes. Notice how lovable, generous, handsome, sexy or helpful he is, and tell him about it. Thank him for anything and everything he does that pleases you.

Be interested in and supportive of what is important to him. Listen to him talk about his work; remember names, situations or events that are relevant to him. Don’t discount his hobbies or friends – they matter to him, they should matter to you.

“The truth is, nothing can guarantee a cheat-proof marriage,” says Nelson, “but keeping the friendship aspect of your relationship front and center can go a long way towards ensuring a happily-ever-after relationship.”

For more marriage tips, go to Nelson’s blog, http://anotefromdrnoelle.blogspot.com/ or follow her on Twitter, http://twitter.com/drnoellenelson.

tori dean marriage sham starA friend of Dean McDermott confessed to Star magazine that Dean’s marriage to Tori Spelling is a sham.  According to the friend, the couple’s off-camera life is far from that portrayed in their hit reality show, Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.

Dean’s friend Michael Olifiers adds, “There is no question Dean is with Tori for the money and the fame. Dean’s always been desperate to become famous. He craved being in the spotlight and Tori’s his ticket to that life.”

Dean’s pal claims that the charade will continue unitl the money stops rolling in, but once it stops, so will the marriage, as Dean doesn’t even find Tori physically attractive.  Michael says that Dean even once  joked that: “She looks like a horse!”

marriage businessOften the “business” of a relationship (who’s picking up the kids, what’s there to eat for dinner, how are we doing on our family budget?) can get in the way of the closeness that’s necessary in a marriage. “The intimacy can diminish from a couple’s love-life: not that they love each other any less, but that closeness, that feeling of true connection can fade. What usually happens next? Women complain about their plight but men leave,” says Dr. Noelle Nelson, relationship expert and author of Your Man is Wonderful.

“Men don’t necessarily leave physically,” notes Nelson, “but whereas women speak up loudly in relationships about what’s bothering them, men respond more often than not by simply leaving. First emotionally, then mentally, lastly physically.”

Nelson believes men are trained by our culture and society not to whine or complain, but to be stoic and put up with hardship. “They bring that attitude into their relationships as well,” says Nelson. “Which is why a wife is often surprised to find her mate has strayed. She assumed that since he wasn’t complaining, all was well.”

Nelson offers these suggestions to couples who want to keep (or rekindle) the closeness they felt when they were first married:

  • Pay as much attention to the connection side of your relationship as you do to the business side.
  • Openly express your appreciation to your mate every day, let him or her know how valuable they are–to you, to your family, to the world.
  • Purposefully join in those activities your spouse enjoys, be that the ballgame on Sunday afternoon, her new interest in tennis, or his fascination with a new software program.
  • If you can’t join in, be supportive, interested and enthusiastic.
  • Be engaged in his or her work, show interest in what makes up your spouse’s day, and engage your spouse in yours.

“Connection is automatic when we first fall in love,” says Nelson, “but it must be nurtured if it is to be maintained, and lovingly tended so you remain close, not apart, as the years go by.”

For more marriage tips, go to Nelson’s blog, http://anotefromdrnoelle.blogspot.com/ or follow her on Twitter, http://twitter.com/drnoellenelson.

Photo by lusi

Photo by lusi

Boredom is a like a stealth bomb–destroying the passion, the engagement and the closeness that makes for true happiness in a marriage–and it creeps up on you without you hardly noticing, says Dr. Noelle Nelson, author of Your Man is Wonderful.

A recent Psychological Science study published on April 6, 2009 followed 123 married couples seven years into their marriage, again at nine years and then at 16 years. It showed that boredom reduces closeness between the spouses, and this reduced satisfaction with the relationship.

“A lot of married couples begin to wonder if marriage is just one long series of chores, errands and kids to be picked up with work sandwiched somewhere in the middle,” says Nelson, a California relationship author and speaker. “Oh sure, you have some laughs and nice times together, but what happened to the excitement and the passion? It’s that kind of feeling that can make spouses drift to thoughts about other more ‘exciting’ people in their lives and the chances of an affair increase.”

How do you alleviate boredom? Nelson says by exploring new things together and by deliberately exploring each other–much as you did during courtship. Nelson offers five simple suggestions:

1. Turn “date night” into more than dinner and a movie – Just because you are married or in a long-term relationship doesn’t mean you should stop dating. “Many couples know how to make one night of the week a ‘date night,’ but they should take it one step further so it doesn’t become routine,” says Nelson. “Be innovative. Take turns surprising each other with where you go or what you do on your date. Deliberately come up with ideas that let you explore a new experience together: anything from learning about the night sky at a local observatory to hitting the state fair to trying foods from exotic lands.”

2. Take up a hobby together – Find something new you would like to do together. It could be attending cooking classes, taking up tennis or golf or learning a new dance step. “Make regular time every week to do your new hobby together,” explains Nelson. “Be excited and passionate about it, talk about it, look forward to it.”

3. Get a question book – You may think you know everything there is to know about your sweetheart after a few years. “Not true,” says Nelson. “People grow and change throughout their lives. When you lose interest in finding out what makes him or her tick, they may lose interest in you. Pick up a book filled with lists of questions from the bookstore and start asking your mate. Some questions are thought provoking, some silly, some just plain fun, but it’s a good way to discover what your spouse is really thinking.”

4. Play games together – Watching TV together is fun, but it isn’t exactly couple-interactive. “Make an effort to shut off the tube and dive into a word/board game, just the two of you,” suggests Nelson. “It could be scrabble, a computer game or putting a puzzle together. Playing together keeps your love young.”

5. Volunteer together – Volunteering has wonderful benefits. It gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and studies show it’s actually good for your health. “When you work side by side for the benefit of your community, church, neighborhood or favorite cause, you share that sense of purpose and accomplishment,” says Nelson. “It brings you closer.

“These five simple suggestions can banish boredom from marriage without a fatal plunge into an affair or other diversion (gambling, alcohol, excessive shopping) that are detrimental to your relationship. They garner the closeness that fulfillment is all about,” says Nelson.

For more on the subject, visit http://www.yourmaniswonderful.com/.


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