The Science of Happy Marriages

5 tips for a good marriage

I got this from Parade Magazine under a headline – the science of happy marriages. Which means, there was probably some research cited for these tips – but since I no longer have the magazine and failed to write down what the research was – I’m going to ask you to trust me, that these tips have apparently been vetted by actual scientists somewhere.

With that caveat out of the way – here is the list.

1) Remember  you are on a team. This isn't about you – it’s about you all. Work together and help each other out. You will get through life easier if you do.

2) Try a little tenderness ( even when arguing). Your affect matters. Don’t be physically intimidating. Try a soft body posture. Perhaps even cuddle when discussing things. Soften your tone and try to argue nicely.

3) Soften conflict with humor – I do this a ton

4) Support – but don’t smother – this is apparently the #1 predictor of marital happiness – basically if you don’t know what kind of support your partner needs – ask them. You can tell the support you are providing is wrong if they get upset.  Also – when asking your spouse for help – help them out by telling them what they can do to help that would be helpful. Don’t make them guess.

5) Celebrate each other. Remember to express gratitude that the other person is in your life and helping you out. And when something cool happens, be excited for them.

What is your tip for a successful marriage?

What am I thankful for?

What I am thankful and grateful for Thanksgiving 2014

This has been a tough year for me. Sure, lots of good things happened, but lots of terrifying things did too.  I was hospitalized. My husband had health problems. We struggled financially and have come through it alive and in fairly good shape.

So – what am I thankful for.

My husband for being my rock and helping me when I need it. He picks up my slack when I can’t do things as I pick up the slack for him. Ours is a true partnership in the best sense of the word. I don’t know what I would do without him.

I’m also grateful for my son. We almost didn't have a child, so it’s still a big deal we have him. And despite all the difficulties of being a parent, I really do enjoy it. There are no other people I want to spend time with as much as I want to spend time with my husband and son.

My family and my inlaws. I am really lucky to have wonderful people in my life. People I can discuss politics with and personal problems with and get great advice. I have some REALLY smart people in my family and I am glad that technology lets me talk to them regularly.

I am glad that I live when I do so that our health problems didn't kill us. Technology, doctors, nurses, etc – everything that goes into modern health care is wonderful and lifesaving. I would not be here if someone hadn't figured out how to do a cat scan or laproscopic surgery.

Television and the internet. I am addicted to Bollywood movies and thanks to things like Netflix and my TV – I can see a world full of movies in my living room with my feet up nursing a broken toe while writing this blog. And this makes me very happy.

I love my crockpot and the fact my mother in law gifted it to me. It has made cooking for my family so much easier.

I love Pinterest. Tonight’s dinner was a crockpot recipe I found on Pinterest and – again, there’s the internet and crowd intelligence working well for my personal benefit. So to the people who post recipes etc – thank you. Thank you to the geeks who created the site and the people who created and maintain an open internet for me to use.

Science. At the moment, my son and his friends are raising tadpoles in a tank on my porch. It’s a porch I like sitting on when it rains. I like looking out in my yard at night under the moonlight – with the frogs chirping. As I sit and enjoy nature, I am reminded about all we know about nature because we figured out a way to objectively search for the truth through a methodology known as science.  And it is this search for knowledge that has created all the things that make my current life so wonderful – and of course science helped enable the technology that saved my life.

Mostly, I’m just thankful that I am alive to experience life. The good and the bad. And I’m thankful that you, who are reading this, find value enough in my writing to stick with me and continue reading my thoughts and ideas as crazy as they sometimes are.

I hope you are as grateful and thankful to be alive as I am.

How to win an argument

How to win an argument by not arguing.


Consider this a lesson in socratic jujitsu.  Business Insider had an article recently on how to win an argument. See: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-win-an-argument-2014-5

Their answer. Don’t argue or debate. If  you want people to agree with you,  instead of telling them why their ideas are stupid, ask them to discuss how their proposed solution would work – step by step – give them the benefit of the doubt.

What this does is changes what is happening from a debate to be won to a problem to be solved. And you have engaged them in the problem solving process.  As you ask questions about how exactly their proposal would work, you can help them find out their proposals weak points in a way that isn't threatening. Again, this is you trying to help them make a solution that will work – starting where they are – with their proposal.
As they work through the details, it will be obvious where the weak points are and how to shore them up and to fix them so that the proposal works. All without actually arguing.


So if you want to win an argument, stop arguing. Stop debating. Foster inquiry instead. 

Sneeze Responses

What to say if someone sneezes instead of God Bless You.

Humanists, atheists and other assorted non-religious people have a problem with sneezes. We sneeze just like everyone else. That’s not the problem.  The problem is what to say when someone sneezes that doesn't invoke a god we don’t believe in.

Bless you or God bless you is the idiomatic expression most often used in American English to respond to a sneeze. But since we don’t believe in gods or godly blessings, we don’t really want to say it. But saying, “gosh, I hope you aren't coming down with a cold and if you do, I hope you get over it quickly and in the meantime, please cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze to minimize disease transmission” is a bit wordy.

So what is a good heathen to do?  What can we say instead when someone sneezes? Have no fear, Wikipedia is here – to rescue you and provide some alternatives from around the world. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responses_to_sneezing)  Now the problem with this list is that a distressing number of languages and places around the world use some variant of “god bless you” as the standard response to a sneeze.

The good news is that there are some really good options available.  Here are 8 of my favorites in no particular order. Feel free to choose one – either in English or in the original language – like the Persian one. You are welcome for solving this problem.

  • Albanian Shëndet (shuhn-det) "Health!"
  • Afrikaans Gesondheid "Health!" (note this is from the German of the same – and has many variations)
  • Bangla Jeebo "Live or live long."
  • Hawaiian Kihe, a mauli ola, or simply Ola "Sneeze, and you shall live", or simply "live"
  • Khmer ស្បើយ (S'baoi) "Fast recovery."
  • Ladino Vivas, or Crescas after a second sneeze. "May you live," or "May you grow" after a second sneeze
  • Luganda Bbuka "Recover."
  • Persian عافیت باشه (Afiat Bahsheh). "May Cleanliness/Purity be bestowed upon you or may it be for your health."


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