Relationship Roundup: In the News

(Image: Nissa Miller)

The Health Benefits of Kissing

Chatelaine, January 16, 2013

Just because the mistletoe is tucked away for another year, doesn’t mean you should neglect the importance of kissing. A recent Polysporin study revealed that while 75 percent of Canadians believe kissing fosters deeper connections, half say they don’t kiss as often as they’d like. We asked relationships expert Dr. Karyn Gordon to address the importance of kissing and tips on how to do it more often.

Read the full article here.


That Loving Feeling Takes a Lot of Work

New York Times, January 14, 2013

When people fall in love and decide to marry, the expectation is nearly always that love and marriage and the happiness they bring will last; as the vows say, till death do us part. Only the most cynical among us would think, walking down the aisle, that if things don’t work out, “We can always split.” But the divorce rate in the United States is exactly half the marriage rate, and that does not bode well for this cherished institution. While some divorces are clearly justified by physical or emotional abuse, intolerable infidelity, addictive behavior or irreconcilable incompatibility, experts say many severed marriages seem to have just withered and died from a lack of effort to keep the embers of love alive.

Read the full article here.


16 Ways I Blew My Marriage

Single Dad Laughing, October 2012

The other night I was sitting with my family, most of whom are very successfully married. We were going in a circle giving our best marriage advice to my little sister on the eve of her wedding. It’s somewhat of a family tradition. But that’s not what blows. What really blows is that I realized I don’t have any good marriage advice to give. After all, I’ve never had a successful marriage out of the two marriages I did have. And so, when it was my turn, I just made a joke about divorce and how you should always remember why you loved your spouse when you first met her so that when times get tough, you can find someone new that is just like she was. There were a couple courtesy giggles, but overall my humor wasn’t welcome in such a beautifully building ring of profundity. They finished round one, and for some reason started into another round. And that’s when I realized. Hey. I don’t have marriage advice to give, but I have plenty of “keep your marriage from ending” advice (two equivocally different things), and that might be almost as good.

Read the full article here.


Six Tips to Keep Long-Term Relationships Exciting

Psychology Today, October 22, 2012

The truth is, over time, our feelings in our relationships do change. The sparkly and exhilarating rush of falling in love is not permanent. But that does not mean that this feeling disappears; it simply evolves. The idea that the excitement of a relationship is sentenced to only the first months or even years a couple is together is completely false. When it comes to a long-term relationship with a partner we ourselves chose, we can maintain the thrill of being in love, and deepen our feelings of passion and intimacy. However, to do this means avoiding certain behaviors, habits, and traps that couples commonly fall into the longer they stay together. Staying in love means taking the hard road and differentiating from negative past influences. It means challenging our own defenses and facing our, often subconscious, fears about intimacy. Fighting for a relationship means being stubborn about not getting in our own way of staying close to someone else. Here are six tips that I have found to help couples stand the test of time.

Read the full article here.


Love, Sex, Relationships and the Brain: Does neuroscience hold the key to a lifetime of passionate love?

Psychology Today, October 18, 2012

The qualities of true, romantic love have inspired playwrights, poets, and philosophers throughout the ages. Love is an ideal; an inspiration — a feeling of passion and commitment that adds richness and joy to life. A loving relationship provides a secure base from which to grow, expand and explore the world. Yet, until recently, we did not know for sure whether romantic love could last, or whether it inevitable transformed into companionate love — enduring friendship characterized more by shared interests, commitments and values than passion and excitement. Or, even more disappointing, perhaps love inevitably fades and couples stay together in miserable or passionless relationships because of social convention, convenience, and duty.

Read the full article here.


"Our wedding was many years ago. The celebration continues to this day." ~ Gene Perret

I’m very curious about other people’s lives and relationships. You might even say I’m nosy, but it comes from a genuine desire to learn and grow. I love reading memoirs and watching biographies or movies about relationships and usually walk away with at least one piece of advice or lesson that I try to apply to my own life. I also try to pinpoint what I see as strengths (or weaknesses) in other’s relationships (yes, I am watching you, I just can’t help it).

I recently celebrated my ninth wedding anniversary and I’ve since done a lot of reflecting on relationships. What makes them work? How can they be improved? How do you maintain your sense of self and individualism while deepening the bond with your partner? How do you keep daily annoyances (like the freshly laundered and pressed shirt that’s now in a crumpled pile on the floor) from turning you into a homicidal maniac?

Beware growing distant

I finished reading Shania Twain’s memoir, From This Moment On, a few weeks ago and found it absolutely fascinating. If you’re out of the Shania loop, I’ll fill you in a little. She collaborated on all of her albums, except her first, with her husband and music producer, Robert "Mutt" Lange. They weren’t only a married couple, but business partners, creative partners and parents to one son.

After 14 years of marriage, he left Shania for his secretary – a woman who was also Shania’s friend and closest confidante. Ouch. But Shania prevailed, after much grieving and soul-searching, and married the love of her life, a man that also happened to be the husband (at the time of the affair) of the woman who had the affair with Shania’s husband. It’s a very inspiring and captivating read and she made some great points about relationships.

One that stuck with me was the importance of not giving your relationship with your partner the opportunity to grow distant. When you let space develop between you and your spouse, it provides the opportunity for damage to occur – and for others to take advantage of the cracks. Communicate deeply and communicate often.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

I really enjoyed the hilarious movie Crazy, Stupid, Love with Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gossling and Emma Stone. Crazy, Stupid, Love is the story (and cautionary tale) of a married couple, Cal and Emily (played by Carell and Moore), who’ve lost their spark, and a playboy, Jacbob (played by Gosling), whose life is thrown off kilter when he falls in love with Hannah (played by Stone).

Emily admits to an affair and as Cal is moving out of their home and about to drive away she says, “I don’t know when you and I stopped being us.” Perhaps there are couples who find that it takes no work to maintain a wonderful relationship, but I imagine that for most long term partners, myself included, it takes at least a little bit of work to stay “us”.

The stresses of every day, responsibilities at work, financial strain, and family life can take a front seat to the effort needed to keep your relationship special, especially as the years tick on and people settle into complacency and routine.

In the article “Crazy, Stupid, Love: Is this what divorce looks like?”, The Globe and Mail’s Dave McGinn asked divorce consultant Deborah Moskovitch: “Do you think that any middle-aged man who wears running shoes on a romantic date with his wife is headed straight to divorce city?” Her reply: “He’s not headed straight to a divorce, but he should head straight to Harry Rosen and work with a stylist.” Haha. Funny but, I think, true, and a sentiment that Jacob shared with Cal: “Your wife cheated on you because you lost sight of who you are as a man.”

This reminded me of a personal training client I worked with a few years ago who came to me because she wanted to lose weight. She said to me when I first met her, "you know how you gain about 20 pounds after you're married?" I was shocked by her attitude that it's okay to let yourself go after you've secured a mate "forever". I believe the opposite, that you should try to be your best self so that your partner is always reminded of what a great catch you are!

Celebrate the little things

When I was newly married I worked at a retirement home as the social director and fitness coordinator, and there were two couples living there who were great examples of enduring relationships that still had their spark. The first couple, in their late 80s, celebrated their “monthiversary” – once a month they would get dressed up and take a cab to a fancy restaurant for a romantic dinner.

The second couple (the wife 98 and the husband 102) often come to mind, as they were such an inspiration not only in their physical and mental health but in their complete adoration for each other after many, many years of marriage. Every day they walked to and from afternoon tea holding hands, and the husband once told me, with a chuckle, as they walked away that they were going off to “smooch”.

These two couples really had an impact on me and inspired me to make the extra effort to make my time with my husband special, as you never know when your time will come, and, as I often heard from the retirement home residents, life goes by too fast.

So unabashedly hold hands, celebrate your monthiversary, be slow to anger, quick to forgive, and always give each other the benefit of the doubt. Call me old fashioned but I love to have dinner ready when my husband gets home from work so we can talk about our day over a nice meal. But, I also love to get dressed up and go out for a date night (especially on our monthiversary), seated amongst the buzz of other couples at a cocktail bar with eyes only for each other.

"No road is long with good company" ~Turkish Proverb

Wedding season is upon us and, if you’re already married, nothing beats watching other people say their vows to remind you of what you once promised. The following excerpt from the Bishop of London's sermon at William and Kate’s wedding is brilliant and one of my favourite takeaways from the service:

“Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom.”


Hanging around other couples who shower each other with respect and adoration is another positive force for a relationship. Just as great friends elevate you to your best, inspiring couples rub off on your coupledom.

We just arrived home from four days in Las Vegas with some of our best friends, a beautiful couple who’ve just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. I love the way these two pepper each other with thoughtful compliments, are affectionate without being gross, and are quick to resolve disagreements. They are both also incredibly upbeat people who love to have fun and anyone in their company is bound to do the same.

Another way to inject more sparkle into your relationship is to glean advice from relationship books. I love self-help books and below are a few of my relationship faves.

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray

This is a classic for a reason – it’s an easy (and hilarious) read and has really great advice.

Here’s what the publishers have to say about the book:

“Based on years of successful counseling of couples and individuals, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus has helped millions of couples transform their relationships. Now viewed as a modern classic, this phenomenal book has helped men and women realize how different they really are and how to communicate their needs in such a way that conflict doesn't arise and intimacy is given every chance to grow.”

The First Years Of Forever by Ed Wheat

Even though this book is written from a Christian point of view, it doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not, it has wise advice for building and maintaining a strong marriage for anyone.

Here’s what the publishers have to say:

“It is written as a marriage handbook to be read and then referred to again and again. Dr. Ed Wheat, co-author of the best-selling Love Life for Every Married Couple, draws on his training and experiences as a family physician and certified sex therapist to prepare couples for their lifelong journey together. The First Years of Forever provides the practical wisdom most people have to learn the hard way – or not at all. It tells how to develop skills in communicating with each other and resolving conflicts.”

Hitched: The Go-Girl Guide to the First Year of Marriage by Julia Bourland

From the publisher:

“If you're like most brides, you've spent more time pondering wedding favors and exotic honeymoon destinations than considering all the ways marriage will change your relationship. In Hitched, Julia Bourland provides the ultimate insider's guide to the joys, hopes, challenges, conflicting emotions, and endless compromises of the year that follows the 'I dos'.

"Drawing on dozens of interviews with newly married women, plus her own real-life experience, Bourland offers wise answers to crucial post-knot questions about sex, finances, friends, in-laws, and everything beyond, including:

  • • What to do when your libido soars (yay!) or sinks (eek!)
  • • How to keep important friendships – and nourish new ones
  • • The pros and cons of name changing
  • • How to carve out personal space within marriage
  • • The best ways to divide household responsibilities
  • • How to start planning for your financial future

"Candid, witty, and wise, HITCHED will steer you through the ups and occasional downs of newlywed life and set you on the path to a loving, happy, and secure future together.”

As a personal trainer, I’ve worked with a lot of brides-to-be and newly married gals, and the one thing that always irks me to no end is the way that so many people focus on the wedding, and not the marriage. I’ve seen a lot of women dust off their hands, their work done, once the wedding is over, expecting the rest of their lives to sail on smoothly. A good marriage takes some work and attention, and this is a great book for reminding you to mind the little things.