A tender touch shows you care

2/26/1981 QUESTION: We have been married just over one year and there is something about my wife that I do not understand. Every once in a while she will want me to hold her in my arms for no apparent reason. I will ask her why and she will just say, “Hold me.” Not long ago I mentioned this to a friend of mine and he says his wife is the same way, particularly when she is irritable or upset. What is so great about a man holding his wife in his arms?

ANSWER: Such are the mysteries of life, my friend, and I am not sure I have the answer. But let’s see if we can probe it a bit.

As I have talked to various groups of married couples about love, I always ask the wives this question: “If you had to choose between being told you are loved and being shown you are loved, which would you choose?” Almost without exception, the answer is, “Show me” (Actually, they say they would prefer both, if possible) and holding your wife in your arms or just simply touching her, is a powerful way to show her that you love her.

It is apparently very difficult for the American male to be affectionate by touch without being sexual. Nor do we often see the need to do so. Yet in his book, “love-life,” Dr. Ed Wheat, marriage counselor and physician, has indicated the importance for husbands to ouch tier wives in nonsexual ways.

Dr. Wheat notes, “A tender touch tells us that we are cared for. It can calm our fears, soothe pain, bring us comfort, or give us the blessed satisfaction of emotional security. As adults, touching continues to be a primary means of communicating with those we love, whether we are conscious of it or not. Our need for a caring touch is normal and healthy and we will never outgrow it.”

Dr. Wheat continues, “But if touching is so valuable and pleasurable, why is it necessary to advise couples to do more of it? The answer lies in our culture. While our western civilization is highly sexual, it frowns on or ignores touching apart from sex. This is particularly true for men, for there are sonly three acceptable kinds of touching in today’s world: the superficial handshake, aggressive contact sports, and the sexual encounter. Men have been conditioned to turn to sex whenever they feel any need for loving closeness. No wonder experts believe that our extreme preoccupation with sex in this society is actually an expression of our deep unsatisfied need for the warmth, reassurance, and intimacy of non-sexual touching.”

Dr. Wheat concludes, “Physical contact is absolutely essential in building the emotion of love. Anything else you do will be of little avail unless you learn to touch each other often and joyfully in non-sexual ways. If you would like to kindle a flame in your own marriage, then begin to show your love through physical touching.”

In the popular Broadway musical, “My Fair Lady,” Eliza Doolittle sang the song “Show Me” to her lovelorn swain, Freddy Eynsford-Hill. The words were as follows:

Don’t talk of stars burning above,
If you’re in love, show me!

Tell me no dreams filled with desire,
If you’re on fire, show!

Here we are together in the middle of the night
Don’t talk of spring! Just hold me tight
Anyone who’s ever been in love, will tell you that
This is no time for a chat!

Haven’t’ your lips longed for my touch?
Don’t’ say how much, show me!

Don’t talk of love lasting through time,
Make me no undying vow
Show me. Now!

My advice to a husband is to frequently touch your wife and hold her in your arms when she wants you to. And don’t bother asking why. As the title of the old church hymn states. “Sometime We’ll Understand.”

10 basic differences between men, women

12/7/89 A few weeks after Susan and I were married, we had an experience that was mildly distracting. We were riding along the freeway in our Corvair and she nonchalantly reached over and turned on the car heater.

There was only one problem. I was sweating at the time. So I nonchalantly reached over a few seconds later and turned the car heater off. She gave me an icy look. Literally. She was cold and I was hot. And neither of us believed the other.

At the time we were newlyweds we discovered a basic difference between us. Susan liked warm temperatures and I liked cooler ones. At the time of our discovery we each thought the other was playing fames. Little did we realize that response to room or environmental temperature is a basic difference between males and females.

The late Paul Popenoe, founder of the American Institute for Family Relations in Los Angeles, wrote a brief article on the physiological differences between the sexes. Here are a few of his observations:

1.     Men and women differ in every cell of their bodies due to the basic difference in the chromosome combination that determines whether we are male or female.
2.     Women have greater constitutional vitality because they normally outlive men their same age by at least three to four years in the United States.
3.     The sexes differ in their basal metabolism – that of women being lower than that of men.
4.     Men and women differ in skeletal structure. Women have a shorter head, broader face, less protruding chin, shorter legs and a longer trunk. And for what it is worth, the first finger of a women’s hand is usually longer than the third finger. With men the reverse is true. And boy’s teeth seem to last longer than do those of girls.
5.     Women have larger stomachs, kidneys and livers but smaller lungs.
6.     A woman’s thyroid is larger and more active. It enlarges during pregnancy and also during menstruation. It makes her more prone to goiter, provides resistance to cold, is associated with smooth skin, and a relatively hairless body. There is also a thin layer of subcutaneous fat that is an important element in personal beauty. The active thyroid also, according to Popeoe, may be a contributing factor why most women laugh and cry more easily than do men.
7.     Women’s blood contains more water and 20 percent fewer red cells. Since these supply oxygen to the blood cells, she is more prone to faint.
8.     With a differing muscular structure, men and women differ in sheer strength. Men are 50 percent stronger than women.
9.     A woman’s heart beats more rapidly than does a man. (Eighty beats per minute for women: 72 for men). And her blood pressure is 10 points lower than her male counterpart and varies from minute to minute. But she has much less tendency to high blood pressure – at least until after menopause.
10. And finally, (Are you reading this, Susan?) women tolerate higher temperatures better, and consequently lower temperatures worse, than do men because of metabolic differences.

Just think. It has taken me 25 years of marriage and a Ph.D. to finally figure out why Susan and I have the battle of the thermostat. And all this time I thought she was just being obstinate.

14 minutes that can bring you closer

12/27/1979 By now the Christmas presents have probably been put on the shelves or back into the boxes for storage. As you sit there trying to recover from the seasonal celebration may I ask what you gave your spouse for Christmas? Was it the usual shirt, tie and socks or nightgown and perfume?

When it comes to gift giving we frequently think of material things and such have their appropriate place during the Christmas season. But there is one gift we all desire but relatively few give or get. It is the gift of time.

It is unusual how a husband and wife can live in the same house, sleep in the same house, sleep in the same bed, share the same meals, travel is the same family car and yet spend so little time together on a person to person basis. In fact, Dr. Stephen Glenn of the Family Development Institute in Washington, D.C., has reported that on the average, a husband and wife in the United States spend approximately 13 minutes a day talking to each other on a personal basis. You are probably  thinking right now that you and your spouse spend more than 12 minutes a day talking to each other. But do you? According to the Dr. Glenn, meal times do not count because “conversations” such as “please pass the butter” or “is there any more casserole?” are less than helpful to strengthen marital relationships. Most table-talk is nothing more than simultaneous monologues, and with children present, it is also difficult to carry on an on-going conversation about where the marriage is or is not going.

Other types of time together might be classified as “duty time” or going places a couple are supposed to go. These may include PTA meetings, special engagements and even church meetings depending on one’s religious orientation. At such functions there is little time for personal interaction.

Watching movies and television doesn’t count either unless you have acquired the knack of intimate conversation over popcorn or conversing regularly every 13 minutes during commercials. And much of the so-called conversation that does occur between husband and wife often deals with the mechanics of day-to-day routines of running the home and rearing children.

How much time do you and your spouse really spend each day talking together about your relationship, about personal concerns or how you feel about each other? Do you attain the national average of 13 minutes or do you fall short? When the children were in bed, the television off, and all other distractions minimized so you could simply could talk about each other to each other?

If you could start out with just a few minutes a day you could soon be average. Then if you want to be above average you could add one more minute a day, for a total of 14 minutes.

15 tips for a better marriage

10/4/1990 I came across an interesting book the other day titled, “The Book of Inside Information.” It is a compilation of tips and comments sent out in a biweekly newsletter called “Bottom Line” The newsletter deals with such topics as money, health, success, retirement, cars, taxes, fitness, education, shopping, home and marriage.

As I thumbed through the book I was interested in an article titled, “Fifteen Tips for a Better Marriage.” I thought you might be interested. Here, supposedly, is the “Bottom Line” on how to have a good marriage. See if you agree.

1.     Keep marriage realistic. Honeymoons may recur, but marriage is a day-by-day relationship between changing humans. Sacrifices and heartache are challenges you must expect.
2.     Don’t be afraid to say something nice. Compliment one another on appearance, considerations and so on.
3.     Show affection. Hold hands, touch, kiss – even in public.
4.     Don’t let the children divide you. Keep your shared responsibility to the children separate from your responsibility, and loyalty, to your mate.
5.     Don’t let in-laws make inroads. Good relations with relatives are an advantage, but don’t let them influence you against your spouse. Talk about the problems that in-laws create – and solutions to those problems.
6.     Grow together intellectually. It won’t work 20 years later if one partner has progressed while the other has slipped backward. Openly discuss shared goals and the intellectual expectations of one another.
7.     Fight when necessary, then forget. Bring things that disturb into the open – even if it means conflict. Seek solutions. Ultimately, there are no winners or losers. Compromise as much as possible, and then downplay the conflict. The next, far better state, is making up.
8.     Don’t confuse honesty and cruelty. Honesty that has no purpose except to hurt the other is a false virtue. Protect your mate’s feelings.
9.     Be forthright financially. Set realistic expectations about money and its problems. Work toward shared financial goals.
10.   Don’t let careers diminish the marriage. Overachievers can let careers shut out the spouse. Ironically, bad marriages often diminish the career. Together work out the right balance. Point: It’s easier to get a decent job than a good spouse.
11.   Do things together. Couples that work and play together, also stay together. (Allow your spouse enough independence, too.)
12.   Cooperate sexually. Everyone is vulnerable sexually. Talk, explore, experiment. Communicate with one another and protect one another’s feelings.
13.   Keep talking – even when it’s tough. Barriers of silence and non-meaningful communication only grow and become more impenetrable. The more difficult it seems, the more important it is to keep communicating – especially about communicating.
14.   Don’t get self-righteous. Each of us has flaws and inhibitions. A good marriage takes these into consideration. Overlook the petty irritants. If your spouse forgets to screw on the toothpaste cap, just do it yourself, and forget it.
15.   Keep positive. Keep the relationship upbeat. Turn problems into opportunities for greater understanding, and work toward creative solutions and projects.

20 ‘Thou shalts and shalt nots’ for marriages

1/12/1990  Many of us still remember the late Elder LeGrande Richards, as esteemed leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Not long ago someone sent me Elder Richards’ Ten Commandments of Marriage, written in 1972. I thought you might enjoy them as much as I have.

First, the Ten Commandments of Marriage for Husbands:

1.     Remember that thy wife is thy partner not thy property.
2.     Do not expect thy wife to be thy wife and wage earner at the same time.
3.     Think not that thy business is none of thy wife’s business.
4.     Thou shalt hold thy wife’s love by the same means that thou won it.
5.     Thou shalt make the building of thy home thy first business.
6.     Thou shalt cooperate with thy wife in establishing.
7.     Thou shalt enter into thy home with cheerfulness.
8.     Thou shalt not let anyone criticize thy wife to thy face and get away with it, neither thy father             nor thy mother nor thy brethren nor thy sister nor any of thy relatives.
9.     Thou shalt not take thy wife for granted.
10.    Remember thy home and keep it holy.

And here are Elder Richards’ Ten Commandments of Marriages for Wives:

1.     Honor thine own womanhood that thy days may be long and happy in the house which thy                   husband provideth for thee.
2.     Expect not thy husband to give thee as many luxuries as thy father hath will he give for a                     woman’s smile.
3.     Forget not thy virtue of good humor, for verily, all that a man hath will he give for a woman’s             smile.
4.     Thou shalt not bet.
5.     Thou shalt coddle thy husband, for verily every man loveth to be fussed over.
6.     Remember the frank approval of thy husband meaneth more to thy happiness than the sidelong           glances of many strangers.
7.     Forget not the grace of cleanliness and good grooming.
8.     Permit no one to assure thee that thou art having a hard time of it, neither thy mother nor thy               sister nor thy maiden aunt nor any of thy kinfolk.
9.     Keep thy home with all diligence, for out of it will come the joys of thine old age.
10.   Commit thy ways unto the Lord thy God and thy children.

40s usually bring a time to refocus – with bifocals

There comes a time for most married couples that usually occurs during their 40s. It is sort of a moment in time, a transition, a season when they know something has happened, is happening or will happen in the near future.

It came for Susan and me one evening a few years ago. She was sewing in her sewing room and I happened to walk by. We were talking about some minor trivia when Susan picked up a needle and started to thread it. I say started because she kept trying . . . and trying. She couldn’t get the needle threaded, a task she has been doing for years.

I jokingly asked her if her sight was failing, which miffed her a bit. She tried one more time, unsuccessfully, and wondered out loud if the lights were getting a bit dim. I said no, the lights were the same as usual and volunteered to thread the needle for her. She vehemently protested but after one more unsuccessful attempt she called me something like a “smart aleck” and handed me the needle and thread.

With my usual skill, charm and adeptness, I held the needle up to the light and made my first pass with the thread. I missed. Susan smiled that all-knowing smile. I licked the thread and assured her I could do it on the next try. I didn’t. I, too, found the lights were a little dim and suggested next time we put in larger and brighter light bulbs.

Much to Susan’s delight and my chagrin, I was not able to thread the needle. Tammy, our teenage daughter was in her room next door so I walked in and asked her to thread it “for mother.”

Tammy did it on the first try.

I took the threaded needle back to Susan (who knew I hadn’t threaded it) and she commenced sewing. “Could it be,” I asked, “that we are both having a difficult time seeing small things up close? Susan assured me that her eyes were just tired but I should see my optometrist as soon as possible for an eye exam.

A few weeks later I made an appointment. After the eye exam the optometrist suggested it may be time for me to get. . . are you ready for this . . . BIFOCALS! I suggested the time had not yet come, my eyes were fatigued after a previous day of continual writing, and besides, his testing machine might be a little off. Because of my insistence and perhaps a little vanity, we went with the single-lens prescription one more time.

It was just a month later that I had my moment of truth. I was in California and scheduled to give a speech one evening. I had been given a map of where to go. As the sun was setting, I left the motel and headed for the location. Along the way I became lost and got out the map. The light was dim and I couldn’t read the small letters and numbers on the road map. I stopped at a nearby 7-Eleven and asked a teenager to show me where I was on the map and then to draw a line with my pen to the desired destination. She did, and I arrived on time.

I finally realized the time had come. The transition had arrived. A rite of passage had occurred. I need bifocals! A second trip to my optometrist solved my problem and, yes, I now have bifocals. That was two years ago and now I can find my own way on maps for speaking engagements.

Susan was less compelled. She held out for two more years until this summer, when her need to see small things up close overcame her vanity, her admission, her refusal of transition, her renunciation of the rite of passage, to of all things . . . to get bifocals!

So now we both have them. Mine are obvious. They are the kind with the visible line across the lens. But Susan doesn’t want anyone to know she has new glasses. So she got the kind without lines. So don’t bother to ask her about her new bifocals. She’ll deny she has them. The last words Susan likely will utter in this life will be something like, “I never wore bifocals.”

But now, with our new glasses, both of us can do important things in life . . . like thread needles in dimly lighted rooms.

6 important factors in marriage today

3/6/1986 A few weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised when a newspaper syndication company from California called me. They wanted to know if I would be interested in syndicating my newspaper column. I stated I was honored that they called and would be interested. They asked that I send some samples of my writing, which I did.

Nothing more happened until a week later they called back and said they would like to do a press-release pocket on my column They asked for a resume, a photo, and one more unusual request.

They wanted six summary statements for what I thought were important matters in marriage today. I replied that I probably could write some statements and wondered when they had to have them. April or May?

The man from California laughed. “You people in academia have been spoiled with the luxury of time. I need them tomorrow!” He suggested I write them and give them to an overnight delivery company. Or, I could phone him and give them over the phone.

I joked with him for a minute or two. Meeting overnight deadlines is something university professors are not accustomed to doing. But the reality of the business world hit and I assured him he would have the six statements within 24 hours.

I went home that evening and here is what I wrote:

Statement 1: “ I have come to believe that successful marriages are not determined by how much spouses are originally alike. Rather, they are attained by how many differences husbands and wives can tolerate in each other.”

Statement 2: “All too often we demand of marriage what we seldom demand of any other aspect of life – perfection. As students, few of us expect 100 percent on all our assignments. No adult always expects 100 percent return on an investment. Few cooks are able tot make a perfect cake 100 percent of the time, no matter how experienced. And a baseball player who gets a hit only 33 percent of time is pretty well satisfied. Why, then, do we always expect perfection in our marriage and marriage partner?”

Statement 3: “With the hectic pact of contemporary living, most married couples will roller-coaster through life experiencing times of exuberance and other times of discouragement. During stressful times, however, husbands and wives can and should recall some pleasant times they have shared together during the past. They could also review some of the present marital strengths. When determining our “Marital Net Worth” there is danger in dwelling only on our liabilities without also considering our assets.”

Statement 4: “I am constantly asked why men – husbands and fathers – should learn about marriage today. Some suggest it is an interest just for women. I then quote a study recently completed at the cost of several thousand dollars. One very interesting and significant trend was discovered. Approximately 50 percent of those involved in marriage at the present time are mates.”

Statement 5: “In the past, successful marriages have been determined solely by stability – the absence of divorce. In contemporary marriage, however, we must add one more dimension when trying to define marital success – that of satisfaction.”

Statement 6: “Relatively few people, I believe, are aware of the fundamental changes that have occurred in marriage during the past few decades. It is little wonder that so many marital relationships are in a constant state of chaos. As such, it would seem that a serious study of marriage today would be appropriate for committed husbands and wives.”

Do you agree with what I wrote? What would you have written if you had to write six summary statements about marriage within 24 hours?

81 years together in marriage – can’t recall a single argument

2/26/1987 A few days ago the Associated Press carried an interesting article. Calvin and Mina Dunmire of West Kitanning, Pa. have been married 81 years. After buying a marriage license for 50 cents, they were married in 1904. Because of their many years of matrimony, they were recently recognized and honored by the Worldwide Marriage Encounter, an organization promoting better marriages in America.

The Dunmires may be moving in on a world record. According to the 1987 Guinness Book of World Records, a couple in India were married in 1853. It lasted for 86 years. But you should also know that the Indian couple were married as children, when they were both 5. (So be careful when your 5 year old comes home and announces he or she is in love!)

An interesting part of the Associated Press interview with Mr. and Mrs. Dunmire, ages 105 and 100 respectively, is “To the best of Mr. Dunmire’s recollection, he and his wife have never had an argument.”

Maybe the key phrase is Dunmire can’t remember having an argument. I wonder about Mina. Is it possible she might recall having a word or two?

Whatever the situation or circumstances of the Dunmire’s past, it is possible that Mr. Dunmire, the interviewer, and all the media who noted their 81st wedding anniversary on April 24th have unintentionally suggested something misleading. Are successful marriages in America, ones that last a long time, those which are free from any conflict, confrontations, or disagreements? Such an insinuation would not be the intent of Worldwide Marriage Encounter organization.

Dr. Joshua Golden, a psychiatrist from Santa Monica, Calif., recently wrote of the supposed conflict-free marriage and called it “The Deadly Marriage Myth.” He wrote:

“We have been led to believe, by all myths that we are raised with, that if only we find the right person, we are going to live happily ever after. We have no understanding that the infatuation,’ the initial passion, is over within a matter of months. Many of us see this as if something is wrong. We become disappointed and feel fearful, because we have no understanding of the natural process.

“When trouble arises, when we find out that it is not all ‘happily-ever-after’ and that we have many more problems now than we ever dreamed of, we have the feeling that we have made a mistake. We start to think, I have chosen the wrong person. I have married a lemon instead of a peach. “

Golden continues, “I think the ‘happily-ever-after’ myth is a dreadful misrepresentation of the facts and it causes a lot of misery. People are disappointed when they needn’t be. If they had a more realistic concept of the problems that do arise, they would do better. They think a successful marriage is a marriage where you don’t have problems. A successful marriage is one in which you learn to solve the problems which you inevitably have.”

The California psychiatrist concludes, “Problems are inevitable, because you are trying to bring two very different individuals, and sometimes many more, into some kind of intimacy, which means different values and all kinds of compromises. The test of success is not being without problems but rather how well you can solve the problems and reconcile the differences.”

Perhaps more important than trying at all costs to avoid confrontations, or even arguments when they arise, is learning how to deal with differences once they occur.

Someone who obviously understood human relationships made the simple observation hundreds of years ago: “It is impossible but that offenses will come . . .” (Luke 17:1)

A 60 percent divorce rate? Statistics say yes

5/1/1986 If you are a married woman between the ages of 30 and 39, pay attention. Better still, have your husband pay attention. The projections are that 60 percent of you will be divorced before age 40.

The Population Association of America met in San Francisco not long ago, and, from a U.S. Census Bureau report, it was suggested that if recent trends continue, six out of 10 women in their 30s will have their first marriages end in divorce. The bureau’s forecast, as was reported, is a significant jump from the already-high 50 percent rate of marriage failure in some geographical areas.

During the marriage seminars I have conducted, I have consistently quoted the overall 40 percent of divorce in the United States. It has only been during the past year that I suggested vocally, and in this column that in some parts of the United States divorce is now the norm. More people divorce than stay married.

Now we have the projection by the Population Association of America that certain segments of our society will experience an even higher divorce rate. And that one segment is women now in their 30s.

Suppose the projection eventually proves to be correct? What implications does this have for society in general in the United States? What impact will the trend have on marriages in our own intermountain area?

As a marriage educator and counselor I am prepared to deal with the projected trend. And I have committed a major portion of my profession to prevention of marital disruption. What might be done individually and collectively, to decrease or even prevent the projected divorce trend?

First, we must ask ourselves why women between the ages of 30-39 are so divorce prone? I have some ideas. See what you think of them.

For what it’s worth, these women are the famed Baby Boomers and were born beginning in 1945, right after World War II. Because they, along with their male counterparts, are so numerous, they have instigated many changes in the United Sates that are political, economic and social in nature.

In addition, these women would have married between 1966 and 1976, which were years of change in the United States. There was the Vietnam War. In addition, there was the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement, which reexamined the roles of women and their relationships with men, also gained momentum during this time.

We also know that women in their 30s are the ones most prone to extra-marital affairs, which often lead to divorce. During their 20s, most married women are highly involved in motherhood and rearing their children. It is during the ages of 30-40 that the mothering roles are less physically demanding. Women are then able to focus once again on their own needs and wants. If they have been ignored or neglected by their husbands during the years of mothering, and many have, they are more susceptible to the attention of other men, which can and often does lead to extra-marital sex.

Perhaps most significant of all, marriage as an institution in the United States has undergone dramatic changes during the past two decades. It has moved from the traditional male-centered relationship to the more companionships-oriented relationship based on equality. Few men are aware, or seem to care about this most significant change in structure in American marriages.

A boy who was sandwiched between sisters

1/15/1987 Like most other families, ours got together over the holidays to do a little celebrating. My older sister, Jane (Mrs Lee) Sorenson from Bennion, and my younger sister, Karen (Mrs. Lance) Schneider of Sandy, complained of the way I portrayed them in recent columns.

Once I stated that they picked up my wife Susan and went shopping at the local mall. When they returned, I saw smoke emerging from their purses from smoldering credit cards.

What is wrong with a statement like that? Apparently they got a little kidding from friends and neighbors. I admit, however, that it is not true they formed a “Shop ‘Till You Drop” club. Perhaps they should.

I have often tried to explain to Jane and Karen what it was like being the only boy with an older and younger sister. Did the many times they made me “play house” and dress up in Mom’s old clothes significantly affect my personality development? I sometimes wonder.

I’ve often tried, with limited success, to convince them that brothers and sisters do make a difference in each other’s growth and maturation. Furthermore, I believe that birth order does make a difference in character development. But my efforts around the dinner table to convince my two sisters of this have largely failed. They want proof.

Well, Jane and Karen, the time has come. In a recent “Marriage Encounter” magazine is an interesting article by Kathy Kelly, “Birth Order: Does It Matter?” She describes some of the characteristics of various children. I’m sitting here reading it now and trying to decide if these characteristics apply to my family.

According to the article, these are characteristics of the first child:

  1.  Tends to try to dominate and control others (Hmmmm..)
  2.  Needs to be “right” most of the time (Interesting..)
  3. Feels powerful, yet burdened with the responsibility for younger children. (Really..)
  4. Tends to develop a feeling of being a rather important individual.
  5.  Is active, purposeful organized.

The article cites the following characteristics of the third child:

1.     Once a decision has been made, it cannot be changed (that means stubborn)
2.     Has trouble making choices.
3.     Can identify and assess issues, but rarely takes a stand.
4.     Has high tolerance of ambiguity.
5.     Overlooks details.

You are probably wondering about the characteristics of the second child. Let’s see, where did the article go? It was here just a minute ago. Now I can’t find it. Maybe I can repeat them from memory.

As I remember, the second child was: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. That’s not exact, but they were something like that.

Help solve our family argument.

A dangerous myth about marriage

3/28/1985 In two months, Susan and I will have been married twenty years. We spent the first three months of our marriage living in Centerfield, Utah (population then was 600), where I ran my Dad’s service station. It was there we met Grant and Marge Mogle, who had been married just a few years, and we became good friends with them.

The first three weeks of our marriage were total bliss. Just like in the movies. That was how we thought marriage should be. Then, toward the end of the first month of marriage we had a disagreement. Nothing of major significance. Right now I can’t even remember what it was about.

After we settled down, we were thoroughly dejected. Happily married couples, so we thought, didn’t have disagreements. We both entered marriage with that belief. So after we had our "encounter of the first kind" we thought there was little hope for our marriage.

And what hopes we had were asked the following Sunday when an elderly gentleman stood up in church. He had lived fifty years without so much as a cross word. Susan and I had made it for only three weeks and thought we had now failed at marriage. While walking home from church we wondered out loud if Marge and Grant ever had any kind of confrontations. We didn’t dare ask.

At that point Susan and I believed what Dr. Joshua Golden, a psychiatrist from Santa Monica, California, has recently termed “The Deadly Marriage Myth.” In a recent Marriage Enrichment Newsletter he wrote, "We have been led to believe, by all the myths that we are raised with, that if only we find the right person, we are going to live happily ever after. We had no understanding that ‘infatuation,’ the initial passion, is over within a matter of months. Many of us see this as if something is wrong. We become disappointed and feel fearful, because we have no understanding of the natural process."

"When trouble arises, when we find out that it is not all ‘happily-ever-after’ and that we have many more problems now than we ever dreamed of, we have the feeling that we have made a mistake. We start to think, "I have chosen the wrong person. I have married a lemon instead of a peach."

Dr. Golden continues "I think the ‘happily-ever-after-myth’ is a dreadful misrepresentation of the facts and it causes a lot of misery. People are disappointed when they needn’t be. If they had a more realistic concept of the problems that do arise, they would do better. They think a successful marriage is a marriage where you don’t have problems. A successful marriage is one in which you learn to solve the problems which you inevitably have."

"Problems are inevitable, because you are trying to bring two very different individuals, and sometimes many more, into some kind of intimacy, which means differing values and all kinds of compromises. The test of success is not being without problems, but rather how well you can solve the problems and reconcile the difference."

Susan and I now appreciate the statement of C.G. Jung, who observed “All those for whom marriage contains no problems are not living in the present.”

And come to think of it, I do faintly remember hearing Marge raise her voice at Grant one morning.

A discreet guide to getting a date

4/24/1980 QUESTION: I am an 18-year-old female and have been reading your column on marriage. Like most other young women. I anticipate marrying someday. The only problem is I rarely date. I judge myself to be better than average in looks and have a fairly trim figure. How important is dating in regards to marriage and what can I do to increase my dating experiences?

ANSWER: Dating in our contemporary society serves several important functions. Some of them are social and recreational activities, conferral of status and self-esteem, and sex role development or learning how to relate with the opposite sex. But most important of all, dating is the means by which most Americans choose a husband or wife.

In his book, “The Individual Marriage and the Family.” Professor Lloyd Saxton of the College of San Mateo has noted “the person who rarely dates is seriously handicapped in the marriage market. He may have a very unrealistic, highly romanticized notion of what the person he marries is really like as well, as only a very limited idea of his own needs. He may put too much or too little emphasis upon sex. Ultimately, with increasing pressure untempered by contact with reality, he may make a disastrous choice of mate.”

At most colleges where I have taught, there has been a lot of group dating. Three fellows may go with four girls to an activity and initially there is no attempt to pair off. All have an opportunity to interact.

You may or may not feel comfortable initiating dating relationships outright as is presently being done by some women. Allow me, however, to suggest how this may be done . . . discreetly.

Remember the formula ACT-DATE.’ The “A” stands for animation, the “C” for closeness, and the “T” represents touch.

ANIMATION:  Simply put, most guys do not want to date a deadhead. To animate means to act alive or put life in your behavior and mannerisms. This is often done with a smile posture, hand gestures, facial expressions, voice inflection, and eye contact. While many think a spontaneous wink is flirtatious, the eyes are highly revealing. Don’t just stand inert when in a crowd or desiring attention.

CLOSENESS: Social space is often measured in geographical space. How close we stand or sit to another person frequently represents how we feel toward them. To indicate interest, stand or sit closer to the individual than you ordinarily would.

By clinging to the door opposite the driver’s side of an automobile, you often convey disinterest.

TOUCH. We live in a largely non-tactual society. Touch however, can be a high form of communication and by learning appropriate touch, you can communicate interest. Here is something I share with the young women in my classes and they claim it works a high percentage of the time. You may want to try it.

Assume that the typical American male is a simplistic organism, much like an amoeba, who responds readily to stimuli and response. The next time you are talking to a fellow you like, smile and use eye to eye contact while conversing. At the same time, stand a little closer to him than you ordinarily would. As you conclude the conversation, reach over and touch his arm or elbow and tell him you appreciated talking to him. Then leave. Do this three times in one week to the same fellow and you should soon have a date. If not, check your deodorant.

A father’s wish as he ‘builds’ a son

4/2/1987 During the past week I was pleased when we received a small package from our son, Doug, serving an LDS mission in Guatemala.

I was the first one home that afternoon and, opening the package, found a tape recording. Doug recorded a few of his thoughts on audio-cassette and sent them to us.

While looking for a tape recorder/player I was anxious to hear what he would have to say. How was he feeling? Was he well? How was the work progressing? He had been gone from home now 10 months, and since he’s our first to leave, it has been an adjustment for us as well as him.

I was please to hear that he is happy, and he has struggled, as do all others, who have to learn a new language in a relatively short period of time. Adapting to another culture and climate has also required some adjustments for him.

While listening to the tape I wondered if he has changed much – what will he be like in a little more than a year, when he returns? I recalled his birth in Bountiful. Then I remembered the years we lived in Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin and finally, once again, Utah. I well understand the sentiments of Tevye and Golde in “Fiddler on the Roof” when they sing the touching song, “Sunset, Sunrise” with the lyrics “Where is the little girl (or boy) I cared for?”

What is it a father and mother wish for their children as they leave home? Many options are before them. Work. School. Marriage. And for some, missions.

One parent recently remarked that taking a son or daughter to the missionary center in Provo is one of the most difficult things parents will ever do. But leaving them there is also one of the easiest.

During the early days of World War II, another father was concerned about his son in the Philippines. The man was General Douglas MacArthur, who wrote the following prayer in behalf of his son:

“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to face himself when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

“Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee – and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

“Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; and let him learn compassion for those who fail.

“Build me a son who's heart will be clear, who's goal will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men, one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

“And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious yet never take himself too seriously.

“Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the meekness of true strength.

"Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, "I have not lived in vain."

A lip-smacking diet

5/6/1982 Trying to lose a few pounds? (And who isn’t nowadays?) In your struggle with the Battle of the Bulge? You may want to try something new in the weight loss area. What is it, you ask? Kissing! Yes, kissing.

Not only will you shed a few pounds but you might spice up your marriage as well.

A team of Italian scientists has determined that the average kiss consumes somewhere between six and 12 calories depending on intensity and length. (Susan and I went to a movie not long ago and we thought the young couple in front of us were going to evaporate before the film ended. We were so offended, we moved away from them three times.)

Now you may not think that six to 12 calories is much of a calorie consumption until you start doing some arithmetic. Two kisses a day – one in the morning and one in the evening – over a year’s time and you’ve kissed away 2 ½ pounds. Sneak in additional smooches along the way and you are talking about 3-5 pounds a year. Add in a few amorous evenings and who know the potential of the smackers diet. The next time you are hungry, just reach for your mate instead of a plate.

But before you get carried away in your marital display of affection, you’d better have your heart checked. While kissing may be good for physical and emotional well-being, erotic kissing and that which follows can be detrimental to health if one has recently had a heart attack or has one coming on. If your heart is in good shape, kiss away and don't worry.

In their book “Fifty Ways to Stay Fit”  the editors of Executive Fitness Newsletter report “Studies have shown that sex is about as strenuous as briskly “climbing a flight of stairs.”

The newsletter notes the work of Joseph A. Alpert, MD., author of “The Heart Attack Hand Book.” Following a heart attack, Dr. Alpert recommends that a married person avoids having sexual relationships:

-       immediately after a large meal
-       for three hours after drinking alcohol
-       in extremely hot or cold temperatures
-       before or after strenuous activity
-       if feeling anger or resentment
-       if one is fatigued

In most cases, Dr. Alpert observed that relations with a spouse may be resumed usually within three to eight weeks after a heart attack. And by way of encouragement he notes “the rate of total sexual recovery from most heart attacks is very good.”

The Bible teaches “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” (Ecclesiastes 3:15) Now, hundreds of years later, medical science confirms this observation.

A little interfaith busing

3/26/1981 I attended a convention not long ago that could have a positive influence on family life in Utah. It was the second Utah Interfaith consultation held at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Dr. Horace M. McMullen of Westminster was the director of the convention.

About 100 people attended the two-day conference held on the Westminster campus and the participants were representative of various Christian denominations around the state. We all met with one primary goal to promote better understanding and cooperation within the Christian communities in Utah.

The State of Utah was settled mostly by the Mormon Pioneers in 1847 but it was gently brought to our attention that Father Escalante and the Catholics practice one specific dimension of Christianity. It is simply stated in Matthew 22:39 “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Family life in Utah would likely be enhanced if we could all cross our religious lines and be a little more neighborly. If you would like to participate in a Community Interfaith Convention in your own area, drop Dr McMullen a note. His address is Dr. Horace M McMullen, Westminster College, 1840 S. 13th East, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84105. Or, you might want to phone him and thank him and his staff for their efforts in promoting interfaith cooperation. His number is 801-484-7651, ext. 227.

Utah is richly blessed with a diversity of religious, racial, cultural and ethnic groups. And it would be to the advantage of all if we could live in harmony as neighbors. Differences obviously do exist, but we can learn to have unity without uniformity.

A long wait for marriage

8/20/1979 According to a 1977 report of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the median age at first marriage in the United States is 23.8 for men and 21.3 for women.

These statistics could be viewed in one of two perspectives. The first is that many marry before these ages and at least 50 percent have done so by the time indicated. It has been generally acknowledged, for instance, that approximately 40 percent of the female population nationwide married before the end of the 19th year. Preparation for marriage therefore, for a significant proportion of the female population must be made during the teen years.

But a second perspective on these same statistics suggests something seldom considered in our youth-oriented culture: half the women marry after their 21st birthday and half the men marry after turning 24. While it is true that the most marry before turning 30 years of age, some will not marry until their 40s or 50s. Over the total life cycle, the vast majority (93 percent according to the same census report) will marry at some time during their life. The friends suggest, however that marriage will occur at differing times for individual men and women.

Consider the situation, for example, of Alice Jacklin of American Fork, Utah. At the age of 21, a time when most young women’s interests focus on marriage, Alice was looking over the available young men in her community.

On Nov. 16, six months after her 21st birthday, tragedy struck the Jacklin family, Alice’s parents, John and Martha Jacklin, had arisen early and gone to Salt Lake City. Alice had stayed at home with her younger brothers and sisters. Two other sisters, Kilen ad Matilda, were away teaching school and an older brother, Raymond, was married. Late that evening the Jacklin children received word that their parents had been in an automobile accident. Alice and Raymond left immediately to investigate and found their father had been critically injured. They also learned that their mother, Martha had been killed.

In the grief-filled days that followed, the Jacklin family regrouped their resources as is often the case in times of crisis. And as time went by it seemed that more and more of the responsibility of “mother” fell on young Alice. Her father, John, was bedridden for several moths and the youngest child, Mary Jane was only 2 years old. But Alice and the children helped care for their injured father and the toddler, Mary Jane, as best they could.

So at age 21, Alice became a single parent mother to her six younger brothers and sisters. And one by one her closest friends began to marry and later have children. But what of her own marriage. . . and children? She somehow believed they both would come . . . in due time.

Alice’s younger brothers and sisters also began to grow up as the months and then the years went by. They too, began to marry and have children of their own and Alice became “grandmother” to may of the youngsters. Little Mary Jane was growing too. Could it be that Alice’s youngest sister, 19 years her junior, would marry before she would?

The years did pass by and Mary Jane grew to womanhood and married. By this time Alice was 37 years old and still anticipating the opportunity to marry and have children. It was 16 years since her mother had died, leaving the responsibility of rearing the family to Alice. Still, she waited for marriage. In due time.

We sometimes believe that love, romance and marriage only occur in the late teens or early 20s. Bt as the recent census report indicates, such is not always the case, as was evidenced in the life of Alice Jacklin. At the age of 38 she met and later married Cecil O. Day, age 42, from San Luis Obispo, Calif., where they made their home. They both learned, as have numerous others, that marriage can be meaningful no matter when it happens in life.

Even though Alice had already reared her younger brothers and sisters to maturity, she and Cecil eagerly awaited the arrival of their own children. They waited as the months passed by. The months turned to years. Still no children. It was a difficult moment for both when they were advised by their doctor that they probably would not be able to have children on their own. She not only had to wait for marriage, but would she be deprived of motherhood? Somehow, sometime, she still believed this too, would occur.

Now in their forties, Cecil and Alice Day tried to be cheerful and helpful to others to help conceal some of their disappointment in not having a child. They opened their home to college students for boarding in the San Luis Obispo area. They also gave lodging and often assistance to others in need and thereby became “Dad” and “Skipper” to numerous young people over the years. While they did not have children of their own, they learned to enjoy the children of others. Then, they wait finally ended.

Cecil and Alice learned of an infant girl in a nearby hospital who was available for adoption. They applied to be the adoptive parents and endured several more months of waiting. Finally they were informed that the child could be theirs, and in her 40s Alice again became a mother, now to her own child.

Many people are grateful to the late Cecil O. Day and to Alice Jacklin Day, who again resides in American Fork. Both are remembered for their selflessness, their patience, and the kindness they have shown to so many during their lifetime. I, too, am among those many admirers. I was fortunate enough to meet and later marry their only child, Susan.

A look at flowers and marriage: Does the analogy really hold up?

6/26/1986 A few weeks ago I was talking to another faculty member at BYU. During the course of our conversation he asked what I taught at BYU. I replied I taught a course about marriage.

You should understand that some of my colleagues in the “pure” sciences – chemistry, physics and math, the exact sciences – are suspicious of “family science.” The person with whom I was conversing was of the “pure” science persuasion.

“Why do we need classes about marriage?” he asked. “Particularly here at Brigham Young University.” He went on to say that we are a very family-oriented society. The university and church with which we were both affiliated, he suggested, were already highly committed to family life. Then came his stunning statement:

“If you just take care of the family, you will take care of the marriage.”

I told him I disagreed with his observation but I understood his logic. Marriage could be viewed as a subset of a family. It is one of the important ongoing relationships within the family unit. So, in his way of thinking, if you take care of and nurture all the relationships within the family you would automatically take care of the marriage.

But there is another way of comparing the relationship between marriage and family. Rather than viewing the former as a subset of the latter, I suggested that a solid marriage was the very foundation of a stable family life. And if such is true, the family strengthened by enhancing the marriage.

The bell rang and my friend picked up his lecture notes. He said, partly in jest, he still didn’t understand the need for courses about marriage at a university.

After he had gone I recalled our conversation. Perhaps he thought I thought we should give less time and attention to the family. But that was absurd. How could such a concept be taught at BYU? I was not advocating that less time and attention be devoted to the family. I merely suggested that more time and attention be devoted to marriage. I was, and still am, ready to defend that position.

While thinking about our discussion, I recalled the many husbands and wives I had met during the past few years who had put their marriage on the back burner while they reared their children. Family, they told me, must take priority to marriage.

One wife even told me of the analogy of marriage to a flower.

The purpose of a flower, she said, was to convey beauty and then produce seeds by which it may reproduce itself. The only trouble with that analogy, I replied, was after the flower produces its seeds, it withers and dies.

After thinking it over, however, perhaps her comparison of a flower and marriage was an apt description of many contemporary martial relationships. Some literally wither and die after the children are gone.

I picked up one of my books on the table before me. It was titled, “You and Your Marriage” by Hugh B. Brown, published in 1960. On page 107, I read the following:

“This program of enjoying things together, which begins in courtship, should not lapse, but continue through the early, middle and later years. The couple should not wait until the days of their active parenthood are past before undertaking their joint project of enriching life. If they have not learned along the way to be delightful, lively, interesting and inquisitive then when their active parenthood days are past, there is danger of their seeking the chimney corner, where as querulous old people, they may huddle and commiserate.”

How I wished my colleague in the “exact” sciences could understand that. I gathered up the rest of my lecture notes and headed for my marriage seminar.