Posts Tagged ‘Characteristics of Marriage’

Sometimes It Is Nice To Be Bi-Polar!

July 10, 2016

Polar Bear Mother and 3 Cubs

We did it!! We did it!! We have now interviewed successfully married couples in both The Arctic and The Antarctic! We guess you might call us “Bi-Polar!”

When we planted our feet on the continent of Antarctica three years ago, we became the FIRST marriage researchers in the world to interview successfully married couples on ALL SEVEN CONTINENTS of the world. And we want you to know that we are very proud of that accomplishment!

As our loyal readers know, we have been engaged in our “labor of love” for over 34 years.   We began our journey with this simple idea in mind – “Do great marriages around the world share common and pervasive characteristics.“

And now, after 34 years of research in all 50 states of the Union, in 53 countries, on all seven continents on Earth, and in ten Canadian Provinces, our answer to the previous question is, YES! They do, even in the most isolated places on the planet! We have now discovered this to be true in The Arctic as well!

Let us now digress before we zero in on what we’ve learned on these trips to The Arctic and to Antarctica.

First, understand that Antarctica has the coldest, windiest, driest, and harshest climate on Earth. Living and working there, even for short periods of time, is not for the faint of heart. Very few people stay on the Continent for more than six months at a time. It is very rare for a person to “winter-over” and work for a full continuous year on The Ice.

In the Austral summer as many as four thousand people (mostly scientists and support staff) are there. Cruise ships bring about 30,000 people a year to the continent, but almost exclusively during the Antarctic summer season (November-February), and few get to actually set foot on the continent.

Considering that there can be six months of sunlight and six months of daylight, depending on the season, living here for even a short period of time can have its psychological and biorhythm challenges. The isolation and distance of Antarctica from the rest of the world can have deleterious effects on the marriages and relationships of people who work there or in the continent’s environs.

There are many misconceptions about Antarctica. For example, is it a country? The answer is NO! Nobody owns the 7th Continent. Nobody!

One person asked us if they have nice hotels and places to eat? The answer is a resounding NO. There are no hotels. There are no restaurants.

Another person who learned of our trip asked us if there is much poverty in Antarctica. Again, the answer is a big NO. A citizen of the USA can only get there if they are scientists funded by the National Science Foundation; members of the US Air Force who have been assigned there (most all who go to Antarctica volunteer to go); people who volunteer to work there in support roles (cooks, mechanics, etc.); tourists; and those arriving on a tourist ship that are conducting research. The latter category includes us. We are marriage researchers and this is the only way could get to Antarctica to complete our research on successful marriages around the world.

Some final notes about Antarctica. There are NO cities or towns and NO permanent residents. Moreover, by treaty agreement, NO country in the world owns Antarctica!  Antarctica is NOT a country; it is a Continent, and an isolated one at that.

And last but not least, there are no roads, bridges, Interstate-type highways, cars or gas stations. Antarctica is unique amongst the world’s seven continents. Understanding this is an important first step towards gaining a perspective of the adventuresome spirit of the people who work and travel there.

It is important to note the major distinctions between The Arctic and The Antarctic.

First, The North Pole in The Arctic is an ocean (The Arctic Ocean)   surrounded by continents. Antarctica in the South is a continent surrounded by oceans (Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian). Big difference!!

During our trips to Antarctica and the Arctic, we interviewed a number of married couples (mostly scientists and expedition team members) to ascertain if the long periods of separation and isolation create unique and specific challenges to their marital relationship.  The good news, of those dozen people we interviewed on this trip, the most important finding is this – their marriages survive and thrive for the most part because they recognize that communication is at the heart of their relationship. Keeping in frequent touch with their spouse during long periods of separation is critical to sustaining their marital relationship.

Relatedly, the “tourists” traveling the National Geographic Explorer (the ship we sailed on going and coming from Antarctica and The Arctic) are explorers. Every person we talked to and/or interviewed, are folks who have traveled the world extensively. They love being together and find that their many journeys can actually strengthen their marital relationship. Moreover, many volunteered to us that these travels kept their marriages vibrant, exciting, and alive.

Secondly, we were interested in seeing if the “Seven Pervasive Characteristics of a Successful Marriage” that we have discovered in our worldwide search for great marriages around the world, apply to people who work in or travel to Antarctica and to The Arctic. While we expected to find some differences from the norm, we didn’t. Quite the contrary, our interviews reinforced the notion that great marriages around the world are driven by common themes.

In summary, here is what we have discovered on these trips to Antarctica and The Arctic. Successful marriage, love, and relationships all require simple acts. Simple gestures. Simple conversations. Success in love and marriage depends upon an accumulation of the doing the simple things to form the foundation for building a love that lasts.

The seven key ingredients that define a successful marriage are easy to understand, yet difficult for many couples to practice in their relationship.

  • Togetherness: Two become one without losing the individual identities of each other. In successful marriage it is not you and me, it is WE!
  • Truthfulness: Couples talk about anything and everything. In successful marriage there are no sacred cows and no secrets.
  • Respect: Couples understand that you do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Successful love and marriage is about mutual love and respect.
  • Fitness: Successfully married couples understand that taking care of only their only health is not sufficient. They must also promote the health of their spouse. To live until “death do us part” requires a mutual concern about good health.
  • Joint Finances: It is not YOUR money and MY money. In successful marriages, it is OUR money.
  • Tactile Communication: Touching each other multiple times per day is the norm. In successful marriage touching says, “I love you so much I simply must touch you.” Suprisingly, touch does not HAVE to include sex.
  • Surprise: Love is characterized by the notions of variety and spice. Successful marriage is exciting, never boring, and full of unpredictable things. Don’t always do that which is predictable. Upend expectancies. Variety is the spice of life!

It seems that successfully married couples around the world share much in common. After 34 years of wandering the Earth in search of great marriages we are more convinced of the truth of this notion than ever.

Whether it’s the top of the world, the bottom of the world, or all around the world, it is comforting to know that great marriages are possible.

Love well, whatever continent you live on, whatever country you call home, whatever Province or State you live in – love well even if you are “Bi-Polar.”

Those who are successfully married in the Arctic and the Antarctic share much in common.   Great marriages around the world are defined by common success variables even if they live at opposite ends of the world.

By Dr. Charles and Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts


On the verge of having been married for 50 years, the Doctors give advice that you know you can trust.

Discover what happily married women know about what makes a man marriage material and learn other revealing truths in How to Marry the Right Guy—the latest multiple award winning book by the Doctors.

Advertisements

Stop Thinking About Your Meaningful Life and Start Living It

January 12, 2016

Couple on bicycle in field

Live the lessons:  It matters how you live your life!

How you live your life matters! It matters to you and the ones you love.

Philosophers throughout history have provided guidance and theories about the importance of living worthwhile lives. But philosophers talk in vast generalities instead of providing helpful lessons that can be modeled.

After hearing yet another speaker philosophically expound about the importance of living a good life without providing any lessons, we were inspired to write this article about the “Ten Lessons of Life and Love.”  Always remember—inspiration often comes from those you disagree with.

We are pleased to share our “Ten Lessons About Life and Love” with you today. Here they are:

  1. Each day you wake up, remind yourself of your dreams and the dreams of the one you love. It is highly important to have dreams. Dreams remind you of what is important to you, what you value, and what you are motivated to strive for each and every day. A day without a dream is, for most people, a bad day.Charley’s life experience of growing up poor in a small rural farming community of central Missouri without, as his Mother used to say, “A pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of,” reminds us of the power of a dream! Frankly, we cannot imagine where our lives would be if we didn’t have dreams of achieving something far beyond what might have been imaginable to most kids growing up in small towns and in big cities.
  1. Seek happiness in your life. Make your happiness and the happiness of the one you love, a major life goal.As love and marriage researchers, we have interviewed thousands of successfully married couples in all 50 USA states, 50 countries, 9  Canadian Provinces, and on all Seven Continents of the world over these past 33+ years. All these marvelous couples want nothing more than to secure happiness.

    Happiness is, in fact, a goal for most people, as it should be. Being happy in life is the goal of rational people. Never forget that!

  1. Success in life and love has almost nothing to do with luck. Our love and marriage work together over these past three-plus decades suggests that there is no such thing as luck! Is education luck? Is the development of good moral character luck? Is working three jobs to provide for your family luck? Is marrying the right person luck? Is having a steady job that pays a livable wage luck?Our answer to these questions is a resounding, NO! To suggest that life is all about luck is to minimize all of the hard work done by folks day in and day out to secure a better future. We have a lot of faith in human beings to work hard to achieve the success they desire. Success has little to do with luck.
  1. Who you love and want to spend your life with defines who you are as a person. Making decisions about whom you want to love, marry, and spend your life with, speaks volumes about your personhood. Do not make these decisions lightly. People are always defined by what they love. Love well. Love the right person.Analyze very carefully your decision before you make it, but understand this—loving and marrying the right person might very well be the most important decision you will make in your life. Do not make this decision lightly.
  1. Good health is, for most people, the secret to a happy life. Let’s be clear, doing the things that are required for a healthy mind and body are prerequisites to healthy life and love.As we have written in several books, articles, and blogs over the years, one of the Seven Secrets of a Successful Marriage is this, “long-time successfully married couples care about each other’s health and do their best to promote good health in each other. They know that the way you emote, your level of anxiety, your productivity, and your ability to engage in a loving relationship, are all affected by what you put into your mouth (or do not!) and how you maintain the health of your body—both mentally and physically. Successfully married couples long ago recognized that you must manage your mind and mood through food, exercise, and healthy living.”
  1. Every day of your life engage in an act of kindness! Be nice to those you meet. Give a compliment or two. Over-tip the waitress or waiter. Wave a person at the supermarket through the cross walk in front of you. Let someone with a smaller cart of groceries go ahead of you in line. Return ugliness from someone with a smile and a “Have a nice day!”The simple truth is this—people are measured by how they react to adversity, how they react to those who are unkind. It is easy to engage in “road rage.” It is far harder to control yourself when offended, chastised, belittled, and treated unfairly. As the British might say, “Stiffen that upper-lip!” Or as our mother’s used to say, “It’s okay to turn the other cheek.”

    Life is full of confrontations between nice people and ugly people. Make it your goal to be a good person—a decent person—a nice person. Your life and the lives of those you love will be happier because of it.

  1. Always be open to diverse points of view. Always be willing to listen to and consider a point of view different from your own. Let’s face it, it’s easy to get angry when someone doesn’t agree with us. In modern America, it is increasingly difficult to have civil conversations.  Too many people’s mantra is, “My way or the highway.” Compromise is seemingly a thing of the past.As Charley’s mother used to say, “Life is too short!” What she meant should be clear—if you spend your life arguing about everything—if you spend your life rejecting outright the points of views of others—you will be a miserable human being. Try your best to talk less and listen more to others. It is impossible to hear the messages of others if you do all the talking.
  1. Don’t be a bully! The intimidation of others is a bad thing. Respecting those who have less power than you is a good thing. Don’t ever be guilty of shouting down another human being.  It should be clear—life and love is a lot more fun when you treat others with respect.Here’s the truth—if you don’t respect the opinions of the one you purport to love—if you shout down the opinions of others—if you try to bully others into submission—you will ultimately lose in the game of life. Trust us—nobody likes a bully!!
  1. Live your life as an inspiration to others. Be a positive role model—be a teacher. Great teachers inspire, they offer insights, they make us laugh and cry, they change our lives in meaningful and measurable ways, and they make us better people. We have spent over four decades each in our respective lives, being teachers.At the start of each day of your life dedicate yourself to being a person who wants to inspire others, who offers insights into life, who wants to help others, and who wants to share the knowledge they possess with others. Teachers care. You should care! Share your love, share your knowledge, share “things that matter” in life.
  1. Life is a journey—be engaged. Charley’s mother used to say, “If you woke up this morning you knew it was the start of a good day!” In many ways, life is like a baseball game. There is no clock. The game of life for the most part has no seasons.One inning of life leads to another and sometimes you win the game, sometimes you lose, sometimes you go into “extra innings.” No matter what the outcome, you play the game—for better or worse. In life and love it is important that you play the game—get involved—take advantage of each day of your life. Be engaged in life. Be engaged in love. There is nothing like it.

These are the lessons of life and love. Get engaged today. You won’t regret it.

By Dr. Charles and Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts


On the verge of having been married for 50 years, the Doctors give advice that you know you can trust.

Discover what happily married women know about what makes a man marriage material and learn other revealing truths in How to Marry the Right Guy—the latest multiple award winning book by the Doctors.

Do Opposites Really Attract?

November 15, 2015

200279932-001

Can You Be Happy With Someone Whose Views Are Opposite Of Yours?

In our marriage interview protocol we ask each couple about their political beliefs and affiliations. And one of our major conclusions based on 33 years of interviews is that the age-old adage “opposites attract” is FALSE! Rarely have we interviewed a successfully married couple that had political, religious, and other heartfelt beliefs that were diametrically in opposition to each other. In the real world, that rarely happens.

Imagine this—a happily married couple who roots for the Cardinals and the Cubs or the Yankees and the Red Sox or the Black Hawks and the Blues. These may be very RARE exceptions, but are hardly the norm. Forget about it! Opposites rarely attract in sports or in politics. This notion is an urban myth. Opposites have fundamentally opposite values. And for the most part, rarely the twain shall meet.

Here is another example of why opposites don’t attract in a political sense. We have only very rarely met a couple whose political views were diametrically opposed on issues of abortion, the death penalty, stem cell research, man-made climate change, gun control, immigration, same-sex marriage, taxes, welfare, etc., who had a successful marriage or long-term relationship. Almost never happens!

Let’s face it, married couples and those in successful couple relationships, have enormous influence over each other. When those considering a love relationship fundamentally disagree on most issues of importance, they are HIGHLY unlikely to match up.

Over the years, we have heard some pundits refer to the “marriage gap.” The “marriage gap” suggests that there are those married couples and people in love who do not share common political beliefs and hence; their relationship usually doesn’t survive. We share this belief.

While there are, indeed, successful couples that do NOT have common political beliefs that have a marriage or relationship that survives, this is rarely the case. Make no mistake about it, your mate selection is directly related to your belief system—be it political, sports related, religious, or otherwise. Feelings about these issues are intense and are not to be dismissed casually. Who you select as your mate is intertwined with your belief system and theirs.

Dare to be different when it comes to selecting someone to love, but remember your chances of having a successful and long-term love affair with someone whose belief system is very different from yours is low, very low! As you are making that all important decision about who to marry and spend the rest of your life with, you need to consider the consequences of choosing a mate who is different from you versus someone who shares your likes, loves, views, positions, and passions.

In fact, those who are in love and stay in love for a lifetime are NOT opposites. They are, for the most part, soul mates. We would offer this advice to those who believe the urban myth that “opposites attract” in love and marriage. Don’t believe it. Don’t take the chance.

Over your lifetime, the most important influence in your life will be the one you truly love. Choose wisely! Select someone compatible with you. Being avant-garde with your choice will only come back to haunt you in the future. Making a positive life choice will mean more to you in the long run than your attempts to be politically correct (PC) or trendy. Your choice in a mate is, after all, about your happiness and theirs in the long run. Compatibility is a virtue. Don’t spoil your chance of finding true love for a lifetime by taking a position that important issue differences in a relationship do not matter. They do!

By Dr. Charles and Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
On the verge of having been married for 50 years, the Doctors give advice that you know you can trust.

Discover what happily married women know about what makes a man marriage material and learn other revealing truths in How to Marry the Right Guy—the latest multiple award winning book by the Doctors.

Status of Marriage and Family in Canada

September 6, 2014

Love and Marriage Experts Canada Marriage

Currently, we are in British Columbia interviewing happily and successfully married couples for our next book. Canada is a great place to fall in love! Canada is a great place to be in love! Canada is a great place to be married and have a family. Make no mistake about it, Canada is a great place for lovers.

This is our seventh trip to Canada to interview successfully married couples. To date, we have interviewed couples in nine of Canada’s ten Provinces, all 50 states in the USA, in 49 countries, and on all seven of the world’s continents. After spending several days in British Columbia around Vancouver and Victoria, we are struck with the beauty of Canada and the warmth of its people. We are also struck with the strength and quality of Canadian marriages and families!

First – the beauty of Vancouver. We sat in a wonderful restaurant for dinner today in Vancouver with a terrific view of Coal Harbor. The view of the water and mountains are undeniably beautiful! Seeing the mountains and the beautiful water, watching the sleek sailing boats, witnessing the many single engine planes taking off to give tours of the harbor, and all the while contemplating the awesomeness of it all, is humbling, to say the least. The mist on the mountains is, in many ways, more surreal than real. It has a mystical and magical look to it and almost felt dreamlike today as we admired it over a glass of a delightful Canadian Chardonnay from the Okanagan Valley.

The Seagulls were graceful and splendiferous as they squawked their way from outcropping to outcropping, from tree to tree, from boat to boat, and from dock to dock. These beautiful birds are wonderful creatures. Can you imagine an ocean without seagulls?   We can’t! Their squawking accentuates the beauty of the water. Ocean water and Seagulls – they go together like a hand and a glove. The Ocean and the Seagulls seem to particularly complement each other in Vancouver.

Secondly, the warmth and friendliness of the people of Vancouver is simply awesome. Everywhere we have gone so far – our hotel, the local restaurant we visited today, the airport, the rental car kiosk, a local wine store, the gas station – we are greeted by people who are polite, relaxed, good natured, humorous, and in love with life. We have been smitten by the Canadians of Vancouver! They are delightful and wonderful! 

Today we interviewed several delightful couples in Vancouver. Tomorrow we head to Victoria. Thursday, back to Vancouver, West Vancouver and Whistler. We finish our interviews on Friday near Squamish Valley, north of Vancouver. Here is what we have discovered so far – marriage is alive and well in Canada!

Recently, we reviewed a report written by the Department of Justice of the Government of Canada entitled Portraits of Families and Living Arrangements in Canada. We were particularly interested in the section of that report labeled “Family Demographics.”

The Canadian couples with successful marriages we have interviewed so far on this trip mirror the results of our interviews in the USA and around the world that we have conducted over the past 32+ years. Canadians still are engaging in traditional marriage in overwhelming numbers.

Here are pertinent “family” facts – in 2001 a little over 70% of Canadian “families” were headed by married couples. In 2006, that figure still hovered near 69%. In 2011 the number was 67%. While there has been a slight downward trend in families headed by married couples over the past decade, it is clear that married couples remain the dominant family structure in Canada. 

In addition, “common law couples” represented 14% of “families” in 2001 and a little over 15% in 2006. In 2011 – the most recent date for which trustworthy data are available – 67% of Canadian “families” were headed by married couples and “common law couples” who represented 16.7% of all census families.

Overall, nearly 85% of Canadian families are headed by couples – married (opposite and same sex) and common law. It is important to note that some 10-15% of Canadian children are living in single parent families.

Canadians should celebrate the fact that a couple-marriage is still something that some 85% of “family structures” in their country mirror. To suggest otherwise is to mislead the public into believing something that is not true. Marriage is alive and well in Canada and no “playing around with the data” is going to change that.

And, oh, yeah, romance is definitely in the air in Vancouver and the surrounding areas!

For more tips to enhance your relationship visit SimpleThingsMatter.com and get the best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts. Available wherever books are sold.

By Dr. Charles and Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts

Discover what happily married women know about what makes a man marriage material and learn other revealing truths in How to Marry the Right Guy – the latest multiple award winning book by the Doctors.

Positive Examples of Marriage Abound

December 1, 2009

Positive examples of marriage and long-term relationships abound — they are everywhere! Successful and long-term relationships are the single greatest contributors to social order in the world today. And it is our profound belief that a focus on marriage, morality and values is a good thing.

Our 26 years of research on six continents of the world with thousands of successfully married couples, demonstrates that the same definable characteristics for marital success hold true across religions, cultures and continents. Through our blog, we look forward to exchanging ideas with you about love, marriage, and relationships.

By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For more marriage advice visit their website Simple Things Matter