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State of the Union


The New England Confectionary Company, better known as Necco, has been the major producer of those tiny, pastel-colored candy conversation hearts since 1902. In one year they make about 8 billion sweet hearts—and sell most of them around Valentine's Day. The St. Paul Pioneer Press explains that the language of love has been continually changing. For example, "Solid" from the 40s and "Dig Me" from the 60s have been deemed obsolete. But on the brink of the 21st century, it's still a sweet way to tell the one you love how you really feel: Honey Bun. All Mine. Be True. Be Mine.

The Kissing Disease

What's in a kiss? Bacteria, that's what. And according to Health magazine, spouses could be sharing gum disease, via saliva, while they're sharing a satisfying lip lock. Periodontists at the University of Southern California discovered that disease-free spouses of those with gum-disease were much more likely to become infected themselves.

Not that you should give up kissing. Vigilant brushing and flossing and dental check-ups twice a year can keep your smooching bacteria-resistant. So brush, floss and pucker up!

Spring Fever

It's a long, wintry haul from the crazed-but-wonderful holidays to the first signs of spring. No wonder February and March find many of us deep in the gloomies. Here are some ways you can spark up the seasonal slump.

Find something to celebrate. Make a really big deal of Valentine's Day. If you don't have an anniversary coming up, find one--like the anniversary of your first date, or of your first kiss.

Bring in spring. Go buy some potted tulips and put them where you'll see them every day.

Laugh your head off. Create a Favorite Comedy Weekend. Each of you pick your favorite funny movie; then rent them both. Watch one on Friday night, the other on Saturday night.

Invite the neighbors over. Winter prevents the impromptu neighborhood fellowship that comes with yard work and kids playing outside. So make it potluck at your house and rediscover what your neighbors look like underneath their scarves and hats.

The Facts of Married Life

Lisa Welchel grew up on national TV. For nine years on "The Facts of Life," she portrayed Blair Warner, a rich, pampered, boarding-school student maturing past a childish self-centeredness. But Lisa has moved on to what she calls her "ultimate calling." Ten years ago she married Steve Cauble, a pastor at her church in Van Nuys, California, and today she's busily home-schooling their son, Tucker (age nine), and daughters, Haven and Clancey (seven and six).

Does she regret leaving acting behind? "To me it wasn't walking away from a great thing to a lesser thing," says Lisa. "It was walking away from a great thing to a better thing. So it wasn't hard. I was thankful that I could experience a wonderful career and then go from that to marrying a wonderful husband and having great children and raising a family."

Sounds like the facts of her life are pretty good.

Interviewed by John W. Kennedy

Get a little closer

Did you ever wish your spouse found you a bit more, well, sexy? Turns out that both men and women say that getting a little more attention from their spouse would make them more sexy. Yep, it's as easy as that. A shared cup of coffee, a good hug after work, sitting close on the couch. According to New Woman, those little "sparks" can ignite a bigger fire.

Roger Gibson wishes every married couple would have discussed and planned their finances before they got married. But he knows many couples—including himself and his wife, Kari—entered marriage without ever discussing money.

Talking about finances is important because money issues are cited as the cause of most marital conflicts. Gibson hopes his book First Comes Love, Then Comes Money (New Leaf Press) will help couples resolve those conflicts—and even have some fun doing it. Here is some of his financial wisdom.

If they've never discussed finances, how should a couple get started?
They'd begin by planning. You need to develop a vision statement for your marriage. What do you want your marriage to stand for? Where do you want your family to be in the future? Planning finances can be fun because spouses get to share their dreams and goals with each other before agreeing on a common financial destination.

Planning can also smooth out personality differences. A spending wife may think, "I can't wait to get in our new apartment and buy this and that to decorate it." And the saver husband is thinking, "Wow! I can't wait to save enough money to buy our own house." If these spouses never share their goals, they're not going to reach a common destination—and they'll frustrate the crud out of each other.

What are the financial problems that most often hit newlyweds?
First, I'd say, is debt. It's a monster that can ruin marriages. Even "honeymoon debt," student loans or car payments that are brought into the marriage, can add pressure. And conflict can spark from that.

Second is understanding what money means to your spouse. For some people, money means control. "I have lots of money, that means I have control." Some people think money gives them power, freedom and independence. "If I make enough money, I won't need anyone else. If this marriage doesn't work, I'll be fine." Once spouses understand how they both think about money, they can work through their differences.

Interviewed by Caryn D. Rivadeneira

Who's Happy at Home?

Guys, actually. Researchers at the University of Illinois studied men's and women's feelings of happiness at random times of day and discovered, to their surprise, that men were happier while at home, even while doing chores. In contrast, women reported more positive feelings away from home.

Glamour magazine speculates that perhaps men feel more in control over their time and activities at home than they do at work. Women, no doubt, feel a greater obligation to be doing chores while at home; they're surrounded by never-ending reminders of housework waiting to be tackled.

2.5 Percentage per decade that a woman's brain shrinks
5 Percentage per decade that a man's brain shrinks
60 Percentage of women who say their relationships affect their moods
5 Percentage of men who say relationships affect their moods

his & hers

"Romance comes and goes, but if you're married to your best friend, it'll always come back. A best friend helps you through the tough times and makes the good times that much better."

Actor Vicki Lawrence, married 23 years

"You have to care for your spouse and do a lot of forgiving and forgetting. It's a two-way street. … It was difficult for me to make the [marriage] commitment; but when I make [commitments], I stick with them."

Actor James Garner, married 41 years

The Best Positions

What position is best for communicating with your spouse—face-to-face or side-by-side? Bottom Line Personal says that depends on whether you're a man or a woman. Women love to talk face-to-face, while men usually prefer side-by-side. No wonder guys like to talk about important stuff while driving. And no wonder women hate it when their men tend to move away when discussions get personal. Watch your own body language and comfort zone—and your spouse's—and try to incorporate both approaches. More variety in your positions will spice up your communication life.

Reader to Reader

"if you wait until you're ready, you'll never have kids." Heard that one before?
Marriage Partnership readers Sharon and Pete asked how they could be sure they were ready to start a family. Here's what you had to say.

Adventures in Baby-Bearing

Don't let family and friends pressure you into making a decision. Becoming parents is a major life change, but don't let worry and anxiety decide the issue either. It's good to be realistic, but life with kids will also be richer. Instead of always thinking of parenting as a major responsibility (which it is, of course), ask, "Are we ready for this great adventure?"

Kathryn Dudley
Hickory, North Carolina

Risk and Reward

Having a child definitely upsets the balance of power, convenience and routine in a marriage. Kids exhaust your own personal resources and force you to access the Lord's. They complicate life on many levels, but children also have a way of moving you toward your shared life goals. When you're willing to sacrifice a comfortable life for a challenging adventure, go for it.

Greg Asimakoupoulos
Naperville, Illinois

Down-Payment for the Future

My husband and I just had our first child. Everyone tells you having a baby will completely change your life. They were right: our son has completely changed our lives and I could never have been fully ready. My advice is to find joy in your marriage and don't put pressure on yourselves. Invest in your relationship now, so it'll be a solid "down payment" when you're ready for kids.

Shyla L. Lee
Beaverton, Oregon

The Father Knows Best

The Lord will bless you with children when he knows you're ready. If you use some form of birth control, discontinue it and let the Lord take control. He knows when the time is right.

Jodi Baker
Sebring, Florida

You Decide

People offered all sorts of opinions, but we found we had to decide for ourselves. Once we could say, "We want to have children and we think we can do it," then everything seemed to fall into place. No one can ever be completely ready for that life-changing event. However, wanting to have kids is a big first step.

Heidi Strybos
Prince George, British Columbia

The next reader to reader question:
"My wife makes much more money than i do. So since our daughter came along, I've stayed home to raise her full-time. We thought this was a great solution, but some family members have given us grief over this, saying my wife is the natural nurturer and should stay home regardless of money. Is the mom always the best parent to stay home with the kids?"


Send your advice (200 words or less) to Reader to Reader, Marriage Partnership, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188; FAX us at 630-260-0114; or e-mail us at
mp@marriagepartnership.com. We'll publish readers' advice in a future Reader to Reader column.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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Children; Communication; Marriage
Today's Christian Woman, Spring, 1999
Posted September 30, 2008

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