Strengthening Your Marriage Commitment

I want to commitment is what makes a solid foundation in marriages. Since commitment is an ongoing process, it is important to think about and work on your relationship and commitment often. Here are three ways you can strengthen the personal commitment in your marriage: 

1) Plan and Try to Commit.

Cultivating a great marriage requires commitment (Goddard & Marshall, 2010). It is important to have commitment not only when you begin your marriage, but in the day-to-day tasks of marriage as well. Commitment is a choice and choosing to plan and commit to your marriage will help you and your spouse grow a committed relationship (Goddard & Marshall, 2010). One way you and your spouse can plan for commitment is goal setting (Temple, 2003). Setting goals for the future as a couple can join the two of you towards a common purpose and improve your commitment. If you and your spouse have a goal of buying a house, and strive to work towards that goal, you will have greater commitment and purpose together. Other goals may include getting out of debt, going on a vacation, remodeling a room in the house, or saving for your children’s college education.

2)  Think and Act to Strengthen Your Marital Commitment. 

Your behavior will reflect your marital commitment (Goddard & Marshall, 2010), so act in ways that will be positive towards your marriage and strengthen your commitment. Often couples will get married and think marriage will be much like dating: great conversation, good food, exciting times, and endless affection (Goddard & Marshall, 2010). These couples don’t understand strong marriages take work and commitment. You can strengthen your marital commitment by showing your spouse in actions and words. For example, be available to chat with your spouse when they have had a rough day. Support your partner by listening to and encouraging their dreams. Make room for quality time with your spouse. These are ways that let your spouse know you are committed to him/her. 

3)  Notice and Appreciate Your Spouse’s Commitment. 

Remind yourself of all the positive aspects of your partner (Temple, 2003). What do you love about your spouse? What are you thankful for? How have you grown from this marriage? Think of a time when your partner made a difficult decision in order to invest in you and your relationship (Goddard & Marshall, 2010), or a time when their commitment was specifically shown to you. Positivity is a powerful tool and when it is strong and consistent in relationships, they are much more likely to flourish, and commitment is increased. 

There are several ways you can strengthen your personal commitment to your marriage. It may be helpful to find time to sit down with your spouse and make a list of how the two of you will work on strengthening your marital commitment. Commitment is an important aspect of marital happiness and satisfaction. Making sure to continually work towards and check in on your commitment will help you to have a strong marriage. 


Temple, M. (2003). Strengthening Marital Commitment. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from marriage/commitment/strengthening-marital- commitment 

Goddard, H. W. & Marshall, J. (2010). The Marriage Garden: Commitment Make and Honor Promisest. University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension. family-well-being/couples/marriage- garden.aspx 

Research by: Dr. Dave Schramm and Jennifer Viveros


Benefits of Family Mealtime

Implementing regular family mealtimes may be difficult, but determining the best strategy for your family to be able to make shared meals possible will benefit your family in more ways than one!

Sharing a family meal provides an experience that touches all of our senses – sight, touch, taste, smell and listening to warm laughter or good conversation. Family meals help provide a regular, consistent opportunity to create a shared experience that is meaningful and offers a sense of belonging to all. Research has shown that regular and meaningful family meals offer a large variety of benefits to both children and parents.

Some of the benefits of family mealtime include:

1. Communication Skills

Family meals make a positive impact on young children’s language acquisition and literacy development. Having uninterrupted conversations at the dinner table can expand children’s vocabulary and reading abilities regardless of the family’s socioeconomic status!

2. Emotional Development

“Mealtime conversation brings the family together and promotes positive self-esteem in children” (Bligh, Garen, & Rosales, 2017). Having consistent family meals provides structure for children allowing them to feel more safe and secure within the family unit. Having meals together is a time when children can see how parents interact with each other, solve problems, express emotions, and communicate with their spouse. When this
interaction is positive, it models healthy relationships and helps children develop these

3. Promotes Health

Family meals furnish a meaningful opportunity to provide a role model for healthy eating. Parents and other adults can help model eating moderate portion sizes, tasting new foods or stopping when full. Also, they can use family mealtimes to encourage courtesy and other social manners.

4. Improved Family Relationships

Family meals give a meaningful opportunity for family members to spend time together and enjoy one another’s company in a relaxed setting. The conversation around the dinner table allows give and take among family members and the chance to cultivate attitudes of patience and respect in communication.

There are many effective strategies that can help create a habit of eating family meals
together in order to reap the above-mentioned benefits:

  • Plan ahead
  • Choose a regular time
  • Involve all family members in preparation and cleanup
  • Turn off the TV
  • Leave electronic devices turned off or in another room
  • Eat around a table
  • Keep the conversation pleasant
  • Be flexible
  • Try family mealtime for breakfast or lunch
  • Avoid arguing and discipline
  • Create an atmosphere of happiness and togetherness

BUT most importantly – Do what works best for your individual family.

If eating meals together is new for your family, set a realistic goal that all family members agree on. Start small by eating one or two meals together per week, and then work up to at least four or five meals together each week. Working together as a family can help establish a regular family mealtime habit and potential positive benefits and outcomes.

Research and information provided by Cindy Nelson and Makendra Goff.





Supporting Others Coping with Infertility

It is likely that you know an individual or couple who is impacted by infertility. The natural human response is to want to comfort them, but it can be difficult to know what to say or do, especially if you have not experienced infertility yourself. This blog will help you better understand the experience that infertile couples go through and give you ideas for how to most effectively support them.

The American Pregnancy Association estimates that 10-15% of U.S. couples will be impacted by infertility. Not being able to get pregnant or having several miscarriages in a row is difficult to deal with. There are physical, social, and especially emotional repercussions.

One important element of helping those struggling with infertility is to try to see the situation from their perspective. Although they may not make sense to you, try to recognize the losses associated with infertility that they are experiencing.

What people experience:

Self-esteem: The ability to conceive is often seen as a mark of masculinity or femininity so being unable to conceive may make the infertile individuals question their identities.

StatusSociety places value on being a parent so interacting with others can result in daily reminders of the couple’s infertility.

Relationship: Infertility can potentially result in “lost” relationships as the infertility
creates distance between the partners, but also in relationships with others as they may
not see eye-to-eye with the couple on what path to pursue, are unaware of the situation,
do not meet expectations of support, or are uncomfortable with the sexual connotations
of the situation. The intense introspection and inner turmoil that results from infertility
may also lead to defensiveness, moodiness, etc.—reactions that add distance to relationships.

Control: Becoming pregnant is such a personal matter, but when it does not work,
the couple may feel helpless. There is a lack of definitive answers, as well as uncertainty
in deciding what treatments to pursue/not pursue. Becoming pregnant becomes the
main focus, causing everything else in life to take a back seat, disrupting the sense of
control that the couple felt over their lives before. Choosing to seek infertility treatments results in a lack of privacy and intrusive tests that seem to take away from the couple’s control over keeping their relationship private and personal.

But what is the best way to support friends and family members who are suffering as a result of infertility? Each couple, and even each individual will have their own unique experience, but here are some suggestions for how to help:

1. Prepare yourself

You will not be able to best help a couple or individual struggling
with infertility until you have prepared yourself. Acknowledge that there is a  problem and work through your own feelings, shattered expectations, etc., with
regards to infertility. In addition, become informed so that you do not unknowingly
make hurtful comments.

2. Acknowledge the struggle

It will not be helpful if, in your interactions with someone struggling with infertility, you pretend that there is nothing wrong. Do not shy away from talking about the infertility if the couple or individual wants to, but at the same time, recognize that the infertility may
affect his/her/their interactions with you. Although the sufferer(s) may seem irrational
in their struggle, recognize that what they are experiencing is very real to them, and
their reactions may be a surprise to them as well. Realize that you cannot take away their pain or solve the problem for them, but that the purpose of conversations is to
communicate concern. Ask for patience and guidance as you strive to understand and be
sensitive to their needs, feelings, and experience. Ask how they would like to be supported.

3. Listen

Although you may feel powerless to help a struggling couple or individual,
being willing to listen can go a long way. Let the individual or couple know that you
are there to listen. They may or may not be ready to open up, but make sure that they
know that you are there for them whenever they are ready. It can be helpful for the
couple or individual to rehearse their “story” of what they have been through and the
dreams that have been shattered. Ask appropriate questions, such as how treatment is going or how they feel. That will give them an opportunity to confide in you if they choose to. However, if they choose not to, do not push. Listen without interjecting your thoughts and opinions. Accept that each person copes differently and that the needs of the same person may change throughout the experience.

4.  Keep the bigger picture in mind

While itis very important that you are there for the couple or individual in their struggle, do not limit your focus in your interactions with them only to the infertility. Affirm your love and respect for who they are, emphasizing that their infertility is only a part of them. This will help the couple disconnect their identity from the infertility. Invite them to do enjoyable activities with you, but be okay if they choose not to come. For example,
you could find a babysitter for your own children and go out on a double date with the struggling couple. This could be a much-needed distraction from the stresses of infertility.

As you strive to be genuinely concerned and figure out how they would like their needs to be met, you will not only help the struggling couple or individual, but you will also strengthen your relationship with them.


Research provided by Dr. David Schramm and Jennifer Viveros


  • American Pregnancy Association [APA]. (2017). What is infertility? Retrieved from
  • Boss, P. (2004). Ambiguous loss research, theory, and practice: Reflections after 9/11. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66(3), 551-566.
  • RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. (2017). Frequently asked questions about infertility. Retrieved from
  • RESOLVE. (2007). Coping with infertility: How family and friends can help. Retrieved from

I’m Not Stressed: 10 Effective Stress Coping Techniques

Everyone feels stress daily in multiple ways. Relationships, work, holidays, tragedy, special events, school, housework, and traffic are just some of the many stressors we experience at some point. Stressors may not always be easy to identify, but they are still present.

Luckily we have a choice in how we respond to stress and what responses we use to cope with the stress.

How Do We Cope?

Everyone copes with stress in their own way. While many turn to quick fixes that make the stress go away temporarily, such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, eating, etc., these temporary negative coping strategies can potentially create more stress and problems in the long run.

A more positive way to cope with stress includes:

a) identifying the stressor(s)

b) managing our thinking as we interpret the stressors

c) considering the consequences of our actions

d) changing our thinking to healthy ways of coping.

We can also practice healthy stress management techniques. How individuals apply these techniques may be very different for every person.

Consider implementing some of the following common research-based techniques that have been found helpful when coping and dealing with stress:

1. Breathe deeply

When people are stressed, they sometimes have a tendency to hold their breath or breathe quicker than normal causing their bodies to react and get tense. Taking deep breaths from the diaphragm, rather than the chest, can help calm nerves and anxiety.

2. Visualize calm

Go to a happy place or think of calming scenes such as a warm tropical beach or a cabin in the snowy mountains.

3. Exercise

Physical activity releases the happy positive chemicals that can help fight against illness and help individuals to feel better naturally. When stressed, take a walk, stretch, and focus on having straight posture. It can also be helpful to roll the shoulders backward and forward five to ten times slowly to relax the neck and shoulder muscles.

4. Take up a hobby

Spend some time doing something enjoyable such as knitting, playing a sport, or reading. Taking part in a hobby can help with thinking more clearly and feeling more energized in order to take on daily challenges.

5. Just say no

When individuals realize they can’t do everything, they often feel more at ease and capable to deal with the stress they can control and handle. Research suggests making a list of attainable goals for the week and working toward achieving one goal every day. Crossing off a completed goal on that list can boost self-confidence!

Hint: assign tasks to friends and family who are available to help. If no one is available, prioritize tasks and check each one off as it is completed.

6. Have fun!

Learning to laugh at ourselves and see the humor in any situation can reduce stress. Smiling (even when not feeling happy) and laughing are good for the body because they help generate the positive chemicals in the body and help it to physically relax.

7. Talk or write it out

For many, it helps to talk about what he/she is experiencing with a friend, loved one, or professional who can be trusted and is not involved in the stressful situation. People with little to no social support are more likely to engage in sedentary behavior, alcohol or drug use, and too little or too much sleep, which can often cause more stress. Others who don’t want to talk about issues also find that writing a description of the stressor and feelings in a journal is often helpful in venting intense feelings and thinking more

8. Get pampered

On occasion, some individuals find it can be helpful to do something nice for themselves that they normally wouldn’t do, such as getting a massage or buying a treat.

9. Take a time-out

Get away from the stressful situation and play a round of golf or go to a movie. While taking a break will not make the problem go away, having a positive temporary distraction can allow time to calm down and rethink the response to the stressor.

10. Learn to recognize the warning signs

Everyone responds differently to stress but recognizing common stress symptoms such
as headache, insomnia, digestive issues, and anxiety can help individuals to take action to cope with stress earlier rather than later.


Research provided by Naomi Brower and Kimberly Stanley


  • Chao, R. (2011). Managing stress and maintaining well-being: Social support, problem-focused coping, and avoidant coping. Journal of Counseling & Development, 89(3), 338-348.
  • Singer, T. (2010). Stress less. New York, NY: Hudson Street Press.
  • Weiss, B. L. (2003). Eliminating stress, finding inner peace. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc.
  • Wheeler, C. M. (2007). 10 Simple solutions to stress: How to tame tension and start enjoying your life. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

From Time to Quality Time: Making Every Moment Count

Couples and families often look for ways to find more time together and to make better use of that time. Most people struggle to find enough time in their day for everything. In fact, according to Dr. William Doherty, those that care about each other often feel starved for time together

When considering how to increase time together, individuals often reference two kinds of time: quantity of time and quality of time. While the quantity of time refers to the total amount of time spent together, quality time refers to giving someone his/her undivided attention. This generally implies doing something together rather than just sitting in the same room doing individual activities.

The following ideas are suggested ways to maximize time with loved ones through transforming moments together into quality time.

1.Create a Positive Atmosphere  

How individuals greet or say goodbye to loved ones sets the tone for what follows. Set aside other concerns and give full attention to greetings and farewells. Create a special phrase or way to greet each other that has special meaning in the relationship. Making hello’s and good-bye’s special shows that the relationship is a priority. Regardless of the challenges of the day, when individuals make an effort to smile, be positive, and give their best selves to those they love during their initial greeting, they can set a tone
for more positive interactions in the time they have together.

2. Connect with Conversation

Self-disclosure helps build emotional intimacy with others. Self-disclosing means that all participants involved are sharing their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and desires with each other. Quality conversations focus on taking turns listening and learning about the other person. Asking open-ended questions and listening can help participants to feel closer to each other and better support each other and cope with challenges that arise.

While sometimes it can be helpful to engage in lengthy discussions, conversations can also be as simple as asking about one important thing that happened that day or sharing one thing they appreciate or admire about each other. Establish a time each day to check in with each other, even if it is for 10 minutes.

3. Leave Work at Work

It can be difficult to come home from work and not think about work. Many people stress over tasks they need to do at work while they are spending time with their families. When this happens the time they are spending is not really quality time because their attention is still focused on work and not on connecting in relationships; and because of this, loved ones may not feel as important as the job. One way to relieve this stress and build relationships with others at the same time is to vent to a partner and let go of the stress before engaging in other activities together. Another approach is to focus on being in the moment, which may help to drown out thoughts of work.

4. Unplug

Technology can be a great way to stay connected with loved ones that are far away, but it can also be a distraction to quality time together. In order to better enjoy quality time together, decide together, as a couple or family, boundaries for electronic devices. For example, some families set time limits on the computer, video games or smartphones or turn them off entirely at dinner time.

5. Make the Everyday Tasks Count

Help each other with making dinner, folding laundry or cleaning up the yard. These opportunities may not be as exciting as a night on the town but they can give opportunities to connect with conversation and to lighten each other’s load.

6. Make the Moment Memorable

Quality time can sometimes be found in very small increments of time. Take advantage of 5 minutes and make a memorable experience happen! For example, stop to watch the sunset, swing at the park on the way home from running errands, or make a silly face on each other’s pancakes just for fun. Be silly and laugh together. Take a picture of the fun to make it even more memorable. Couples may also choose to go to bed at the same time in order to have a few moments together before bed.

7. Play Together

Couples and families can benefit from experiencing new activities together and spending time together having fun. Play can increase positive feelings that are associated with those who were also involved in the experience and helps individuals to create positive memories and build connections with each other.

While spending quality time as a family is important, couples can also benefit greatly by planning and going on regular date nights together. Having fun is a great way for couples to remember why they are together in the first place and to increase their feelings of love for one another.

8. Long Distance Connections

Even when couples or families don’t have much time together or live apart from one another, they can still spend time connecting in other ways. For example, individuals can leave a small note where a loved one can find it, or send a text or email of encouragement or appreciation. Online technology can also bridge the distance by utilizing tools such as SkypeTM or FaceTime.


While there never seems to be enough time for everything, regardless of the amount of time couples and families find to spend together, utilizing some of these techniques can help individuals ensure they are making the moments count by creating quality time together.


Research provided by Naomi Brower and Joe Wallace


  • Chapman, G. 2004. The 5 love languages. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.
  • Doherty, W. J. 2001. Take back your marriage. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  • Gottman, J., & Silver, N. 1999. The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Three Rivers Press.
  • Markman, H. J., Stanley, S. M., Blumberg, S. L., Jenkins, N. H., & Whiteley, C. 2004. 12 hours to a great marriage: A step-by-step guide for making love last. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Parrott, L., & Parrott, L. 2006. Your time-starved marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • Townsend, M. 2010. Starved stuff. Utah: Townsend Relationship Center.
  • Walker, E., Darrington, J., & Weeks, N. 2009. Honey I’m home: Strengthening your marriage ten minutes at a time. Logan, UT: Utah State University. FC/Marriage/2009-01pr.


Emotions and Illness—What’s the Connection?

People with good emotional health are aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They have learned healthy ways to cope with the stress and problems that are a normal part of life. They feel good about themselves and have healthy relationships.

However, many things that happen in life can disrupt emotional health and lead to strong feelings of sadness, stress or anxiety. Both “bad” and “good” life events can lead to strong emotions. Examples of some of these events may include:

  • Experiencing financial difficulties
  • Getting married or divorced
  • Suffering from an injury or illness
  • Having a child leave or return home
  • Changes in employment
  • Moving to a new home or having a baby

Mind-Body Connection

Our bodies tend to respond to the way that we think, feel and act. This interaction is often called the “mind/body connection.” When we are stressed, anxious or upset, our bodies often try to tell us that something isn’t right by having a physical symptom to get our attention. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Stomachache
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Extreme tiredness


In addition, when we are not feeling well emotionally we are often less likely to feel like exercising, eating nutritious foods or maintaining our other general health habits. All of these things may lead to a decrease in our body’s immune system, which in turn often leads to getting a cold or other infection.  

What Can You Do?

First, try to recognize your emotions and understand why you are experiencing them. Sorting out the root of negative emotions in your life can help you know what to do to improve the situation and manage your emotional health. Next, consider some of the following techniques to improve your emotional health:

1. Express your feelings in appropriate ways.

If feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety are causing physical problems, keeping these feelings inside can make you feel worse. It’s ok to let others know when something is bothering you in a respectful way. Keep in mind that your family and friends may not be able to help you deal with your feelings appropriately and it may be helpful to ask for a counselor, religious leader or friend for advice and support.


2. Take care of yourself.

 In order to feel your best it is important to take care of your body by having a regular routine for eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and exercising to relieve pent-up tension. Avoid overeating, using alcohol or drugs, or any other behaviors that assist in “running away” which could cause further problems or possible addiction.


4. Calm your body and mind.

Finding activities that help you relax such as deep breathing, meditation, taking a bath or taking a walk in nature. They can help you find a healthy release and bring your emotions into balance.

5. Live a balanced life.

While it is important to deal with these negative feelings rather than just “stuffing them,” it is also important to focus on the positive things in life and make time for things that you enjoy! Consider keeping a journal of things you are grateful for or things that help you feel peaceful or happy. You may also need to find ways to let go of some things in your life that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed.


Research provided by Naomi Brower

Tips to Encourage a Healthy Body Image in Your Child

Parents have an important role in helping their child develop a healthy body-image. From as young as age three, children begin modeling their parents’ behaviors, thoughts, and lifestyle choices. Research is finding that a child’s dieting choices are heavily influenced by their environment, especially in those first few years of life. For example, children who are surrounded by family who frequently speak negative about their weight, are at higher risk for having poor body-image later in life.

This blog will explore a variety of ways to encourage a healthy body-image in both you and your child.

It Starts With You

There are many ways to help promote a healthy body-image in your child. Most importantly, it starts with establishing a healthy body-image within yourself. Children tend to model health-related behaviors exhibited by their parents, even those behaviors parents don’t want children to model. As a result, modeling healthy behaviors is an important way to encourage your child to make healthy lifestyle choices. There are many behaviors you can model during mealtime—or ‘at the table’—that may seem insignificant but are actually simple ways to increase your child’s body satisfaction and help establish long-term healthy eating habits.

“At the Table” Tips:

  1. Eat the foods you give your child to eat. This may seem silly, but if you don’t eat the same foods that you put on their plate, then they won’t eat them either. It may take a while for a child to try a new food, but if you are eating that food with them, eventually they will be willing to try it.
  2. Don’t restrict your child’s food intake. Children will naturally eat when they are hungry and stop eating when they are full—they are very intuitive eaters. Children
    who experience food restrictions tend to weigh more and experience greater body-image issues as they age. One study found that over 50% of children, both male and female, who experienced consistent food restrictions grew up to be overweight and/or obese.
  3. Present a wide variety of food options for your child and let them decide what they want to eat. This gives them some control over what they get to eat and also shows them you won’t restrict their intake.

“Away from the Table” Tips:

  1. Refrain from labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” This can prevent the guilt that often comes along with eating “bad” foods. Instead, discuss foods as “most of the time” and “some of the time” foods. That way your child feels that no foods are off limits and feel less pressure to eat a certain way.
  2. Stop talking about and practicing dieting as a means to control your own weight—instead, focus on well-balanced eating. Research has consistently found that children are two times more likely to diet before adolescence when they grow up in a home where weight is a major concern.
  3. Do not obsess about weight and focus more on how you feel. This promotes a focus on health without letting a number define yourself.
  4. Avoid over-emphasizing appearance, whether through direct or offhand remarks, comments, or behaviors. Do not make negative comments about anyone’s appearance, size, or shape—this includes your own appearance, size, and shape. Try to focus on positive attributes that come from the “inside,” and discuss how beauty can be found at all shapes and sizes.
  5. Participate in exercise and other activities that you enjoy, not just for weight control. Being active can be fun and can also be a great bonding experience for your family. Exercise does not have to take the formal approach of gym memberships and running clubs—do whatever gets you moving without keeping you counting down the minutes to the end. Examples of this are: going to a playground, playing sports in your yard or at a park, playing tag or hide-and-go-seek outside, going on bike rides around your neighborhood, etc.

Developing a positive body-image in your child has the potential to change the way they look at themselves and their body for the rest of their lives. Although these ideas are not exhaustive lists of ways to promote a positive body-image, this process requires a lot of patience and conscious thought that will help both you and your child in the long run. In the end, the goal is for a child to be both their happiest and healthiest selves.

Research provided by Megan Jensen, Student Dietitian, Mateja R. Savoie-Roskos PhD, MPH, RDN, Jaqueline Neid-Avila MDA, RDN, Brittany Bingeman MS, RDN.


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