When Baby Makes Three, the 2011 State of Our Unions report from the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values, relies on nationally representative data to answer four important questions about contemporary family life: Continue reading
Long-time readers know of my fondness and appreciation for Bill Judge, a retired dairyman in Kissimmee, Florida, who has been my mentor and coach since the mid-1980’s. Now that my father has passed, Bill has become my second dad. In a 2010 blog, “Mentored by a Milker of Cows,” I told you the story about Bill’s loving mentoring of me. Now this story is being retold by Significant Living magazine: Continue reading
Today, Barb and I were interviewed on the Internet TV show, Your Family Live, about our book, His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage. Continue reading
Dr. Brad Wilcox, the Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, recently offered an analysis of federal research that confirms what many of us know through our religious faith and long-held traditions—that children do best when raised in a two-parent home with a married mom and dad. Continue reading
What if the traditional keys to a happy marriage, such as always share a bed, don’t go to bed angry, honesty is the best policy, the kids come first, and so on, are, at least sometimes, wrong? According to a recent report, sometimes, those rules for wedded bliss can actually be outdated, even damaging. Continue reading
It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years — Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America. But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely to remain wed. What’s the truth? The answer may surprise you. Continue reading
I must confess: this one surprised me. But, after reading the details, I wonder … After all, Brad Wilcox is one of my favorite researchers and writers. See what you think …
A surprising new study has reported that the idea of marrying your ‘soul mate’ may be a nice idea in theory and in chick flicks, but may not be such a good idea in real life. Here are the details from Cosmopolitan:
“Couples who believe in soul mates have such high expectations of marriage, and when those aren’t met they’re more likely to enter into conflict or even end up getting divorced,” explains Bradford Wilcox, PhD, Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.
He added that these types of couples expect an intense positive emotional connection all the time, which sets them up for disappointment.
On the other hand, couples with a slightly less fantasy-ish outlook aren’t as likely to fight and ultimately throw in the towel.
That may sound like bad news for the two-thirds of Americans who, it is reported, like the idea of soul mates. But if that’s you, there’s no need to change your beliefs. Instead, you can improve your chances of a happy relationship with these tips from Wilcox:
- Try to be as realistic as possible when it comes to the day-to-day stuff. It’s fine to believe that you’re with The One and Only, but don’t let that turn into bogus expectations (i.e., you must feel 100 percent happy with him All. The. Time.). Keeping things real will decrease the odds that you end up disappointed.
- Don’t drop your friends and family for your soul mate. “Those who have support from people besides the spouse are better at negotiating the challenges of married life and being successful in the relationship,” says Wilcox.
- Be willing to make sacrifices. Basically you shouldn’t expect everything to go smoothly without any effort on your part. He may be your soul mate, but that doesn’t mean the relationship won’t take work.
A new study finds that men are more likely to cheat if their income is much lower than what their wife or female partner makes, while women are more likely to fool around if they make more than their husband or male partner. The findings suggest that disparities in moneymaking play a significant role in infidelity, at least among the young couples they studied. Here are the details in a report from HealthDay News (don’t miss Barb’s comments below):
Study author Christin Munsch said, “… for men, the less money you make relative to your spouse, the more likely you are to engage in infidelity.”
Munsch, a graduate student at Cornell University, said she came up with the idea of studying the effects of income on infidelity after hearing from a friend who has cheated on his partner. He told Munsch that “she made all the money, she had all the friends, and he’d moved up there to be with her. He felt completely powerless.”
While there’s been previous research into infidelity, it didn’t look into differences in income among couples, Munsch said.
So she examined the results of a national survey that tracked 9,000 people beginning in 1997 when they were children. She focused on the results of the survey from 2001-2007, when the participants were between 17 and 27 years old.
The findings were released at the American Sociological Association annual meeting in Atlanta.
Two lifestyle factors, higher education and regular religious observance, seem to help keep infidelity at bay for both men and women, the study found.
But factors having to do with money – such as the man making more or less than his wife or female partner – did increase the risk of infidelity, Munsch said.
If you’re a woman and “you make more money than your partner, your partner isn’t 100 percent likely to cheat,” she stressed. Still, money appeared to be a significant factor.
Men who make less than their wives may lean toward infidelity because they feel a “gender identity threat,” Munsch speculated.
My wife, Barb, and I co-wrote a book called His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage, so I’ve asked her to join me in commenting on this topic:
Walt: This study is just one of a number of recent studies showing that when a wife makes more money than her husband, the marriage is much more likely to have future difficulties.
Barb: In the movie Up in the Air, two women are discussing marriage. The mature woman says, “Please, let him earn more money than I do. You might not understand that now, but believe me, you will one day. Otherwise, that’s a recipe for disaster.”
Walt: A 2009 German study concluded the problems caused by a woman earning more money than her husband are no longer up for debate. They’re rooted in fact. In a study of German couples, researchers found that marriages featuring a wife as the chief breadwinner have a “substantially higher risk of divorce” than if the roles were reversed.
Barb: In contrast, the study found, “if the husband earns more than the wife, marital stability is even enhanced.”
Walt: A 2010 study in the U.S. found couples are nearly 40 percent more likely to divorce in any given year in marriages where the wife makes at least 60 percent of the family income. And that is regardless of how much total money the couple has.
Barb: Psychologist Willard Harley, PhD writes, “If (married women) choose a career, the money they earn should not have to be spent on basic support of the family. … I’ve been amazed by the number of women who feel much better toward their husbands when his income actually goes to pay for her needs and those of her children.”
Walt: In our book, His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage, we looked at a number of these studies and wrote, “… when a woman wants a career, she and her husband need to consider together whether or not to use the money she earns for basic living expenses.”
Barb: Why? A woman usually needs and wants her husband to earn the money for their basic necessities, and he is designed to do this. Most wives (including those with careers) not only expect their husbands to work, they also expect them to earn enough to provide for their families. When a husband can’t, or doesn’t choose to, provide the basics for his family, it often leads to conflict in the marriage.
Walt: Simply put, a husband who does not provide sufficient income for his family’s basic needs – housing, clothing, food, transportation, and other essential – has the probability of causing increased marital distress. When a married couple faces the situation in which the wife has a professional career with a salary that allows her to provide the majority of the family income (and some or all of the basic family needs), the couple needs to recognize the potential danger their marriage faces.
Barb: In this case, we recommend the couple pray about this and discuss with a professional or pastoral counselor. They need to consider the potential risks, benefits, and consequences to their marriage and their relationship,
Yesterday, Thursday, May 20, we trained to Rome and then checked into the Roman Residence (where we stayed earlier in the trip). Massimo, the owner, warmly welcomed us back and had our very large and comfortable room ready for us, including the wedding clothes he had kept for us.
After sprucing up a bit, we took the metro to a small trattoria not far from the Vatican and spent the afternoon with about 40 dear friends from Kissimmee and Orlando who were attending the wedding of the youngest daughter (Anne) of our dear friends, Dr. John and Cleta Hartman.
John and I practiced family medicine together in Kissimmee, from 1985 – 2001, when we left Florida to join the staff of Focus on the Family. Before that, in 1978-1979, John and I had been family medicine residents at Duke and we share the common bond of rooting together for the Duke Blue Devils. John and Cleta are two of our dearest friends. We’ve seen our kids grow up together, and John was our family’s family physician for those many years.
If was a wonderful and refreshing time for us to catch up with dear friends and enjoy a fabulous Italian meal outside on an ancient piazza in Rome. Magnifico.
We were there from 2 pm until 5 pm, and then walked around the old city a bit, stopping in at the Pantheon and a couple of amazing churches.
After a restful night’s sleep, we were up and off to the Vatican by 930 am today, Friday, May 21st. The wedding was scheduled to start at 1030 am and we thought we had given ourselves plenty of time.
And, indeed, we were in St. Peter’s square by 1000 am, but the line to get in the Basilica backed up as far as the eye could see. We tried to get in via an exit, and were turned down.
So, Mrs. Barb put her head down and just bypassed folks who had been standing in line for who-knows-how-long, saying again-and-again, “We’re attending a 1030 wedding.” To my amazement, no one complained or even grimaced. They just let us by.
We were in the Basilica by 1015 am, finally found the private chapel (mind you, this is the biggest church in the world), and were seated in a choir stall just and the main gates to the chapel were opened and in entered the wedding party.
Whew. We just made it … which is critical, for once the chapel gates were closed and the curtains pulled, no one else was allowed to enter.
The wedding mass, co-officiated by two priests who had been friends when we lived in Kissimmee, Father John McCormick and Father Brian (both Irish, by the way), and could not have been more lovely.
Walt and Father Brian
The Vatican provided the organist and soloist, who were both amazing. Imagine Ave Maria being sung in St. Peter’s, with the perfect acoustics. Heavenly.
During the wedding, the Old Testament reading was from Genesis, chapter 2 (the two shall become one); the New Testament reading from Ephesians, chapter 5 (wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives as Christ loves the church); and the Gospel reading from John, chapter 2 (the miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding feast).
It was during the reading of this last section of Scripture that something amazing happened to me. I was listening to the words of the Gospel, and looking up at this amazing and ornate chapel, when Jesus’ mother’s words to the servants rang out to me as if she was speaking, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)
What more simple or profound advice could any of us be given to follow. Simply, “do whatever He tells you.” It was a special moment for me.
At the end of the wedding, Father John read a Papal letter that had been sent from his office to Sean and Anne and signed by him. Pretty cool. That wouldn’t happen at your average American wedding, eh?
Sean and Anne leaving the chapel at St. Peter’s as husband and wife
Then, the guards opened the curtain and the gates to let us out of the private chapel, to walk through the Basilica, across St. Peter’s square, to awaiting buses.
Walt and Barb outside St. Peter’s Basilica
Hundreds and hundreds of tourists snapped thousands of photos of Sean, Anne, and the wedding party. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to a paparizi feel.
From St. Peter’s, we were whisked up to the Villa Borghese and a private reception at a private villa on the grounds named Casina Valadier. For the next five hours we enjoyed an amazing view of Rome, fabulous food, a stunningly good jazz band, and the delicious fellowship that can only be had with the dearest of old friends – and the joy of seeing dear, dear friends enjoying the wedding fiest of their daugher.
Dr. John Hartman and daughter, Anne
John, Anne, and the Jazz Band — oh, and an Italian wedding cake!
During the reception dinner, we were each given a gold coin that had been minted for the wedding by friends of the family. On one side of the coin, was the Vatican Seal and the date of the wedding. On the other side were Anne & Sean’s names, two doves holding two wedding rings, and at the bottom was the quote, “Be kind to each other.”
Dr. Hartman explained that our good friend, Bill Prather, had always given this advice to couples and this was the advice that he and Cleta wanted to give Anne and Sean … always, always, always, “be kind to each other.”
Barb and I were sitting at a table with Bill and his wife, Polly. Bill explained that that advice did NOT originate with him, but rather with Polly’s mother, Edna Thacker, who had given it to them when they first were married.
Edna and her husband lived across the street from us when we first moved to Kissimmee. The Thackers loved us and our kids. In fact, our first small-group Bible study was in the Thacker home with the Prathers and Hartmans — and was lead by Father Brian. Small world, eh?
Anyway, it’s great advice for us all to remember, not only in our marriages, but in our relationships. “Be kind to each other.”
Finally, at 6 pm, the bride and groom were off. We shared some tearful hugs and good-byes with wonderful friends and then wistfully walked down the hill as the sun set and took the metro back to our hotel.
The last two days have been magical for us and we are grateful to the Lord for giving us this privilege.
So, we’ll rest up tonight and then hit the ancient streets of Rome for two more days of action-packed sightseeing, before we head home Monday.
Here’s the entire series:
Dr. Walt and Barb’s Italian Adventure — May 8-25, 2010
If you’ve ever wanted to go to Italy (or even if you have in the past), you’ll want to come along with us and enjoy the sites, sounds, food, and art.
Hopefully, this blog will stimulate you to put visiting these amazing cities on your to-do list. Just click on any of the days or cities you want to visit with us.
- Days #1 and 2 – Flight Nightmares
- Okay, so you think you don’t know anyone whose plane to Europe was canceled due to the volcanic ash … or who were on another plane that blew two tires on take off and had to make an emergency landing … well now you do!
- Day #3 – Rome
- Rome and the Vatican Museum. Come visit the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Michelangelo’s Pieta.
- Day #4 – Venice
- The tourists call it ‘Venice,’ the Italians call it ‘Venezia,’ while the Venetians call it ‘Venexia.’ Barb and I call it romantic and captivating. Come on an afternoon and evening stroll and be quickly drawn into her whimsical wonderment … right to the Rialto Bridge.
- Day #5 – Venice
- We were awakened by the sound of an accordion and an operatic voice, singing to a couple taking a romantic ride in a gondola in the canal just outside our hotel window. Then off to Piazza San Marco, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs, and an amazing discovery.
- Day #6 – Venice to Cinque Terre
- We spent the day traveling to the Cinque Terre. If you’ve never heard of it, you’ll want to visit the next two days with us.
- Day #7 – Cinque Terre Day #1
- We awoke this morning to throw open our shutters and let in the fresh sea air and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. The music of small children laughing in the square, and the smell of fresh-baked bread from the bar below us wafted up and in our window. Today we explored Riomaggiore, the ‘Via dell’Amore,’ Manarola, and Corniglia. Come along with us.
- Day #8 – Cinque Terre Day #2
- Cinque Terre is a remote mountainous chunk of the Italian riveria that is called “the traffic-free, lowbrow, underappreciated alternative to the French Riveria … just sun, sea, sand (pebbles), wine, and pure, unadulterated Italy … exploring, hiking, shopping, and evening romance in one of God’s great gifts to tourism.” Join us as we visit Monterossa.
- Day #9 – Florence Day #1
- A trip by Carrara (home of the world famous marble), Pisa (home of the world famous tower), and then to Florence for quick visits to the Duomo and the Baptistery to see Ghiberti’s bronze doors. And, it was a hot night in Florence.
- Day #10 – Florence Day #2
- Come visit the Oltrarno area, to the south of the Arno River, to get a sense of rustic, old Florence. Then, off to the Santa Croce Basilica and the amazing tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Dante, and Machiavelli.
- Day #11 – Florence Day #3
- The Uffizi Museum, the greatest collection of Italian art anywhere, was our morning adventure. Then join us at Piazzale Michelangelo, where we saw a second copy of Michelangelo’s David, and relived our memories of romance 30 years ago … followed by an evening at the Palazzo Vecchio and a wonderful meal at the Fescobaldi Wine Bar.
- Day #12 – Florence Day #4
- Join us at the underappreciated Duomo Museum and then the Academy, to meet the real David. Our afternoon was Fra Angelica and the Santa Maria Novalle Church. For our Florentine finale, the Lord was pleased to provide us a riverside, bridge-view table near the Ponte Vecchio for sunset.
- Days #13-14 – Rome Days #1-2 – The Wedding
- We’ve been to a lot of weddings in our lives, but a wedding at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican comes right at the top. We had a magnificent time with dear friends, accompanied by fantastic fellowship and food.
- Day #15 – Rome Day #3
- Join us for a journey through the Trastevere area of Rome, and then to devotions at the Church of St. Cecilia, followed by our amazing trip to the Villa Borghese Gallery. Our evening was capped off at the magnificent Trevi Fountain and the the world-famous Spanish Steps.
- Day #16 – Our Last Day – Rome Day #4
- We’ll start at the Roman coliseum, an tour by the Arch of Constantine, the ostentatious Victor Emmanuel Monument, and Bernini’s Four Rivers fountain in the Piazza Novona. As well as a visit with an amazing young man.
We’ve hoped you’ve had fun accompanying us on this trip to Italy, and that one day you’ll be blessed to experience and enjoy her yourself.
Tara Parker-Pope, of the New York Times, recently did an excellent analysis on the topic of the effects of marriage on health. Parker-Pope reports, “Contemporary studies … have shown that married people are less likely to get pneumonia, have surgery, develop cancer, or have heart attacks.”
I wrote quite a bit about this phenomena in my book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. Now, a group of Swedish researchers has found that being married at midlife is also associated with a lower risk for dementia.
Indeed, Parker-Pope writes, “for many years, studies like these have influenced both politics and policy, fueling national marriage-promotion efforts, like the Healthy Marriage Initiative of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
From 2006 to 2010, the program received $150 million annually to spend on projects like ‘divorce reduction’ efforts and often cited the health benefits of marrying and staying married.”
Yet, “while it’s clear that marriage is profoundly connected to health and well-being, new research is increasingly presenting a more nuanced view of the so-called marriage advantage.”
She concludes her comprehensive column sayhing, “… (the) research shows that some level of relationship stress is inevitable in even the happiest marriages. The important thing … is to use those moments of stress as an opportunity to repair the relationship rather than to damage it.”
In other words, “It can be so uncomfortable, even in the best marriages, to have an ongoing disagreement … but when your marital relationship is the key relationship in your life, a disagreement is really a signal to try to fix something.”
If you’re interested in improving your health, consider reading 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. You can get a signed copy here.
Also, if you’re interested in improving the health of your marriage, consider reading, with your spouse, my and Barb’s book, His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage. You can get a copy, autographed by us both, here.
Barb and I have just learned that an interview we did with Dr. James Dobson for his daily international Focus on the Family radio broadcast has been selected among “The Best of 2009.”
The broadcast was titled, “Differences That Strengthen a Marriage” and will be broadcast on Wednesday, December 16, 2009.
This is from the FOTF website:
Dr. Walt Larimore and his wife, Barbara, offer insight to couples in a discussion based on their book His Brain, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen a Marriage.
On or after December 16, 2009, you can listen to a replay of the broadcast here.
Or, you can find a local station on which to listen to the broadcast here.
If you would like to order an autographed (and personalized) copies of the book for family and friends, just click here. But, order quickly so that we can get them to you before Christmas.
The group used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to look at marriage and the role it plays in raising healthy children.
Christine Kim, policy analyst for The Heritage Foundation, said healthy marriage role models affect kids’ future married life and family formation. “If they come from a family with divorced parents,” she said, “that might impact their likelihood of getting divorced in the future as well.”
The study, called “A Portrait of Family and Religion in America,” found families with a high level of conflict had an impact on children later in life. “Their marriage may be less functional” Kim said. “There might be more tension, so there is an inter-generational effect that carries through as well.”
So, if you are a married parent, with kids, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is to work steadfastly to continually improve your marriage. It’s the gift, that to your kids, keeps on giving.
I have tips that can help you in several of my books:
In my newest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, teach what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine. Here’s the fourth installment of this ten-part series. Continue reading
It’s common to know someone whose marriage is in trouble and to be unsure how to help. These 10 practical tips will help you get started helping others.
More Information: Continue reading
In my new book (to be released in a couple of weeks), 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I have a chapter on “Avoid Loneliness Like the Plague.” Now, another expert and author on loneliness told a session Thursday on the opening day of the American Psychological Association annual meeting in Toronto that “being lonely isn’t bad for you, but staying lonely is!”
More Information: Continue reading
Barb and I are scheduled to be featured on the Focus on the Family Radio Broadcast on Monday, July 6. We are to be interviewed on our book His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage.
More Information: Continue reading
When I wrote my book, 10 Essentials of Highly Healthy People, I included information on how people can make decisions that will affect the quantity and quality of their lives. Here’s a redux of a number of studies on longevity (adapted from an article from Fox News).
More Information: Continue reading
In 2008 I was honored to be asked to present this topic to the 36th Annual Conference of the American Academy of Physician Assistants in San Antonio, TX. The talk and the handout were prepared from my and Barb’s book His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage. I thought you might be interested in seeing a copy of the handout I prepared for the meeting. Feel free to share it with others.
More Information: Continue reading
Angelina Jolie says her children are asking why she and Brad Pitt aren’t married. According to CitizenLink, the 33-year-old actress told Italian Vanity Fair the kids want to know why Shrek and Fiona, characters from the movie Shrek, got married and she and Pitt haven’t.
More Information: Continue reading
About 88 percent of married Americans say they are happy or reasonably content in their marriages. And three-quarters report that their sex lives are reasonably fulfilling. That’s according to a new national poll of 1,001 married Americans commissioned by Parade magazine.
My Take: Continue reading
At a time when the majority of marriages end in divorce, the makers of the popular “Facing the Giants” movie are bringing to select theatres a film that has already inspired numerous couples to strengthen, and, in many cases, to rescue, their marriages.
My Take? Continue reading
MedPage is reporting that the give and take of marriage may be enough to stave off Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairment – based upon a prospective population-based study which found that people living alone from midlife on were almost three times as likely to develop some level of cognitive impairment as those who were living with a spouse.
My Take? Continue reading
A good marriage is a great way to avoid loneliness and cultivate a warm and supportive relationship. Two news stories this week report that good marriages impact physical health.
These stories confirm much previous research that shows that people who are happily married not only tend to live longer than those who are unmarried, but also appear to live more highly healthy lives; they have increased quantity and quality of life. Continue reading