Monday, August 31, 2009

Living Together - The good and the bad

WOW! Clearly this is a hot topic with lots of emotion attached to it.

A few weeks ago I attended an international conference on marriage and family. One of the plenary sessions featured a conservative, religious, older guy, Dr. Scott Stanley, and a young, feminist, liberal woman, Dr. Galena Rhoades, discussing the latest research on living together. While some of their findings probably won't surprise you, there were several things that were thought-provoking.

Just in case you are wondering: Four to five percent of US households are cohabiting and sixty to seventy percent of couples live together before marriage.

When couples were asked why they chose to live together before getting married, the most popular answer was so they could spend more time together. I thought it was very interesting that most of the couples said they believed in the institution of marriage. BUT many of them are really questioning whether or not they can actually make marriage work over the long haul.

One of the most eye-opening findings was the fact that most people who live together don't realize that once you start living together it makes it much more difficult to break up. Things like signing a lease together, getting a dog, and/or having a child together are all things that anchor the relationship and make breaking up much more complicated. It is harder to walk away even though you may be over the relationship and ready to move on. So, some people marry the person they are living with knowing this really isn't the person I would choose to marry.

The other thing that struck me was the differences in how men and women view cohabitation. When researchers asked couples to talk about how they decided to live together, one couple responded like this - she said, "He was moving to my city and we were already engaged so it made financial sense for us to move in together." He said, "To give the relationship a chance to become very serious. To see if we can live together." Hummmmm. Seems like if you are engaged your relationship is already serious. Clearly they were not on the same page.

Studies indicate that men actually value marriage more than women, but when asked about living with someone prior to marriage, men are more likely to say they feel trapped or that they are living with this woman while they are still waiting for their soulmate to come along.

Bottomline, whether you are religious or not, living together before marriage doesn't appear to have great outcomes. While there are definitely exceptions to this rule, overarchingly living with someone before you marry them does not seem to build a strong foundation for a great marriage. The only exception is if you are engaged and have a date set for your wedding. Even then, research shows that it isn't the best way to get your marriage off to a great start.

Many people think that it is only conservative, religious, narrow minded people who think cohabiting is a bad idea. Actually, if you look at the credible research on cohabitation from the University of Denver, Bowling Green State University and The University of Texas to name a few, you would be hard pressed to make that case.

Dr. Stanley wrapped up the plenary session by asking this question: Is cohabitation a pathway that will get you what you are hoping for - love that lasts with one person?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Living Together

What are your thoughts about living together before marriage? Do you think it helps or hurts the relationship? Do you think it makes a difference if the couple is engaged before they live together?

Tell me what you think.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What Does Success Look Like?

Not long ago I heard a fantastic talk given by a guy named Andy Andrews. I had never heard of him before, but he said he had written a book called The Traveler's Gift so I decided to read it.

WOW!!!!!! Once I started reading, I could not put the book down, which was scary because I was traveling on a plane to give a presentation and really needed to be focused on my talk.

When I finished, my head was swimming with all kinds of thoughts about my life and the impact I am having on others.

Do yourself a favor and take the time to read this book. I think it has the potential to be transformational.

In the book, Mr. Andrews takes David Ponder back in time to meet with historical characters to consider seven decisions that determine personal success. Responsibility, seeking wisdom, serving others, being a person of action and having a decided heart are just a few of the things Ponder is given to think about.

Whether you are single, married, a parent, boss, employee, friend, etc. this book addresses things we all should be thinking about.

Check out Andy Andrews' website

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to School Already????

I cannot believe the summer is over. It seems like just yesterday the kids were getting out of school. So here we are at the time when I think most people believe the new year really begins.

Not long ago I had a conversation with some teachers asking them what they wished parents knew about making the school year great. I thought you might be interested in some of the things they shared with me.

Be informed - read information sent home by teachers. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If your school has a website, check it out frequently. You are the best advocate for your child.

Be responsible - stay on top of permission slips that need to be signed. Attend parent/teacher/student conferences, even when your child is in high school this is important.

Be a good role model - your child is watching your every move. Show respect for school rules - even if you don't agree with them.

Be reasonable - if you want to meet with a teacher, schedule a time to do so instead of trying to catch them in the hall between classes.

If your child is sick keep him/her home from school - enough said.

Encourage good homework habits - help your child learn how to manage his/her homework. Resist the temptation to do it for him/her.

Keep your teacher informed - talk to your child's teacher about anything that may impact your child's performance or behavior at school. If your child is dealing with grief, divorce, nervousness over an upcoming event, this is helpful and important information to share with the teacher.

Express appreciation - teachers work to inspire their students to be lifelong learners. They often spend long hours preparing and planning to make the classroom environment conducive to learning and a great experience for our children. Saying "thank you" would be a good thing!

Here's to a terrific school year!!!