Five Tips for a Better Marriage

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary. When I think back to those first years of marriage, it is amazing how much we have changed. We were high school sweethearts and dated five and one half years before we got married. Many changes have been witnessed over the last 31 years and we continue to work at making marriage better.

In counseling, I ask couples to rate their marriage in terms of satisfaction on a scale from one to ten. This exercise gives me a quick assessment of the marriage relationship. Sometimes, couples are surprised at each other’s answers. While one may rank the marriage a “7,” the other may rank the relationship a “3.” When this happens, usually the more satisfied mate is not working to meet the needs of the spouse because his needs are being met. The spouse, who rated the marriage as a “4” is not feeling much satisfaction and the marriage partner may not even be aware of the problems.

Relationships are complicated.

relationship counselingIn the beginning of a marriage, a couple is consumed with total bliss and longing for each other and may be totally caught off guard when those feelings begin to change over time. The emotional high experienced in the early years is transformed into a deeper, more fulfilling relationship if needs are satisfied. If not, trouble soon arises.

Many troubled marriages can be rescued with the right tools to strengthen relationships and the commitment to make marriage work.

Consider the five principles below to strengthen marriage:

1. Know the needs of your mate.

Men and women may not come from Mars or Venus, as the title of the book implies, but they certainly have different desires. Take time to share with each other your top five needs with your mate. Keep in mind what your mate requests and focus on meeting each other’s needs. When one person is satisfied in the marriage relationship, he will be more motivated to meet his mate’s needs. Most women, for example, need affection, meaningful conversation, honest communication, family support and commitment. Men, on the other hand, share a desire for sexual intimacy, admiration, a recreational companion, attractive spouse and a partner who makes home a pleasant place to live. Know the needs of your mate and work towards fulfilling those desires.

2. Effective communication is essential in building a healthy marriage relationship.

marital counselingUnless a couple participates in extensive pre-marital counseling or has the advantage of excellent role models, communication skills may not be adequately developed for a successful marriage relationship. Learn to know when to talk to your spouse about a problem. Ask when is a good time to talk (not when one is busy, stressed or exhausted). Plan a time to discuss issues. Often in counseling, I recommend couples discuss issues over dinner at a restaurant or a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop. A relaxed public venue provides an environment conducive to listening and conversing without anger. A mate is less likely to raise a voice in frustration while dining at a restaurant than in the privacy of the kitchen table at home. Knowing how to talk to a mate in an accepting manner is important in initiating change. How we talk to our mate has everything to do with the chances that grievances will be considered. Share thoughts without accusations and anger.

3. Money mismanagement is a major reason for divorce.

Agreement on spending is important for success in marriage. Success in money management means you must spend less than you earn. Live within your financial means. Debt creates problems in a relationship. Agree on how to spend money, who keeps up with bills, and make decisions together on large purchases. Each spouse should have a set to spend each month for personal use.

4. Capitalize on uniqueness.

Most people marry someone who is different from themselves. That is what attracts us to the other person. That person has special and unique qualities that are appealing. Instead of viewing differences as negative, think of them as positive attributes of a relationship. One spouse’s weakness is the other spouse’s strength. One may rise and shine in the morning and can get breakfast cooked, lunches packed and kids off to school easily. The other spouse who may be more alert at night can focus on homework, dinner and bedtime rituals. Use variation to enhance the relationship. Know strengths and weaknesses. Think of each other as complements of one another, balancing the relationship with each other’s strengths. You need each other to function as an effective married couple. Laugh at differences and quirks rather than grumble about them.

5. Honor the commitment to marriage.

marriage therapistsCommitment sustains the relationship when feelings of love are weak. That is why marriage vows say “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, until death do us part.” Life changes over time and circumstances and so do people. Learn to grow together as you mature and situations change. Stay committed to the family unit. Children need and deserve the security and love of both parents in the home. Think of marriage as a long-term investment in which you contribute and anticipate rewards from the relationship in the future. Statistics reveal that re-marriages after divorce have a lower rate of success than first marriages. Stick with the relationship and make it work.

Marriage is a rewarding relationship.

Like anything else in life worthwhile, it takes commitment and work to be appreciated and nourished. When focused on meeting each other’s needs, one will find fulfillment in marriage. How do you rate your marriage? Try these tips for a few months and watch the ratings increase.


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Trends In Retirement Living Communities

Retirement Living for Your Later Years

People are living longer and are healthier lives than ever before. It is essential that we make some good decisions about what we are going to be doing and where we are going to live while we can still be doing active participation in our futures.

Fortunately, the options are numerous but you need to think ahead. You can stay in your home and modify it to suit your changing needs (think wheelchairs and walkers), or you can stay in the same community but move to a different setting. If your house is too big and you would like something on one floor, or something newer and more efficient you can consider custom designing a new home, purchasing a manufactured home or using a modular or prefabricated designed to make things easier for you. adult retirement communitiesIf you are ready for a change in climate or want to move closer to your children in another region of the country you can also choose among several options, whether it be as retirement community, senior housing apartments or a retirement or an assisted living facility. Many people who retire chuck it all and purchase a luxury recreation vehicle and spend years traveling around the county. If you live alone you might want to investigate the idea of Shared Housing, Co-Housing, or Elder Cottage Housing Opportunities.

It is important to investigate all of these factors and weigh the pros and cons of each. Think through some of the problems that will be facing you as you reach retirement age and hopefully you can come to some decisions about whom you want to be and where you want to live now that you have finally grown up.

Trends in Retirement Communities

Senior services and senior living communities are forced to adapt with the times. On examination of the changing housing needs for retirees, they are finding that there is more of a demand for computer labs, weight rooms and lap pools than for the purely recreational focus of the past generation.

Moving beyond shuffleboard, the modern communities are incorporating elements of what modern seniors want (fancy media and computer rooms, better lighting, easy care amenities, tighter security and ergonomic designs that will make things easier as they think ahead to age related disabilities.

senior housing apartmentsToday’s retirees are completely different from the “older folks” of even one generation ago. The age of people living in adult retirement communities is coming down. The younger residents often stay in the work force as consultants or are using retirement as an opportunity to jump into a new career.

Folks enjoy living in senior living communities because of the recreational facilities, the socialization, and to enjoy the freedom of having someone else be responsible for maintenance and yard work.

Americans are living longer and are healthier than ever before. The possibility exists that you might spend as much of your adult life retired as you did working. This trend is profoundly affecting housing wants and needs. 85% of retirees do not want to move out of their current homes (according to AARP statistics), but the retirees who opt to stay put are more apt to be from the lower income group or those living in a rural area. The wealthier or younger retirees are looking for cushier and more stimulating lives in a new setting.

Communities for seniors-only are resorts packed with activities and are often centered around thriving activity centers. People are moving into these communities at an earlier age and staying until infirmities force them into a community with more support services.

A mild climate is an attraction, but many retirees are now opting to move north and are gravitating toward lower cost living areas in the Midwest and South East. College towns have their appeal too, for those who value intellectual stimulation and want to be somewhere where they can take classes or attend lectures and plays. AARP studies are finding that many Americans do not want to be segregated from the general population and enjoy remaining in the thick of things. The housing market it happy to accommodate these changing trends.


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Planned Senior Communities For Aging Adult Americans

Aging Americans: Senior Care is Changing

senior life servicesOn January 1st, the first of over 77 million baby boomers will turn 60, and senior care will never be the same. Seniors are healthier, wealthier and more innovated and their aim is to make aging more comfortable, convenient and rewarding than ever before.

It isn’t always about golf! Research shows that baby boomers are interested in more than just retirement from the workplace and they are looking forward to finding new ways to stay productive. A good 75% of the boomers plan to do volunteer work, keep working or even launch new careers.

An increasing number of single, divorced and widowed people are looking for a lifestyle that is more affordable, social and supportive than living alone and retreating into the woodwork. Some may settle in neighborhoods where everyone shares a common interest, some buy houses together or rent out rooms in their own homes. Co-housing developments, in which residents live in private homes but share a central common area, are becoming increasing popular as seniors recognize that social isolation and effects of loneliness are not a good thing. A lot of people talk about aging in place but it can be very isolating. Some folks opt for living in a huge apartment complex with friendly neighbors, a cruise ship, retirement communities or apartments that are adjacent to universities as they seek social and intellectual stimulation.

Universal design and a myriad of other personal technologies are cropping up every day to assist in their quest for productivity and independence.

Boomers are striving to find a new balance between satisfying work and enjoyable leisure. The focus is on a positive message and touts new choices and opportunities that are available after retirement. The emphasis is on friends, family, learning and fun.

The baby boomer generation has had a profound effect on how we think and how we do things. Professionals across the country have been tracking every aspect of their influences from gerontologists to marketers. Figuring out the boomers’ wants and needs as they move into their 60s is a whole new ball game. The sky is the limit!

About Planned Senior Communities

senior life servicePlanned Senior Communities are characterized by clusters of apartments, condominiums, manufactured homes, or other single-family units that are built around a core of services or amenities. Residents can own their homes and properties but must abide by certain codes and restrictions that are developed by a governing body or homeowners association.

These communities are ideal for singles as well as couples and are based on a built-in social system, activities and the sense of security that is reassuring to seniors. Moving to a senior planned community can be a good way to ease the transition from a large home to an environment with more services.

A typical community might be designed around a golf course or other recreational facility. Facilities built around golf courses, tennis courts, pools, hiking and biking trails etc. provide active and fun ways to spend retirement years (a perpetual summer camp for grown-ups).

Most communities of this sort have a minimum age but if you prefer to live in a place where there are people of all ages such resort communities do exist. If, on the other hand, crying babies and yards full of toys have lost their appeal, there are plenty of places where residents must be fifty plus.

People who move into resort communities are typically young (meaning sixty rather than eighty), healthy and active. They are not thinking twenty years ahead to a less active period but want to enjoy the here and now.

Resort communities are what they are, and they won’t change to meet your changing needs. If you become injured, ill, or have a change in circumstances, the only real option open to you is to sell and move on. Many residents who move away for these reasons move to be closer to their kids or Retirement Housing.


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