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Debunking the biggest marriage myth

September 29, 2014

Here’s a great idea …

In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Your Marriage Work, John Gottman says, “Perhaps the biggest myth of all is that communication—and more specifically, learning to resolve your conflicts—is the royal road to romance and an enduring, happy marriage.”  (p. 8)

In other words …

The most common advice given to couples is that communication is the key to a successful relationship. Research has shown that this isn’t true. The best way to have a strong relationship is to have a deep friendship with your partner. Friendship with your partner helps combat negative feelings when conflicts arise.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life …

Do something today to help build your friendship with your partner. Take time for just the two of you. The stronger your friendship the happier your relationship will be.

To find out more…

about couple relationships, check out The Marriage Garden or Getting Our Hearts Right program at, follow us at, or contact your local county Extension agent. You can also read The Seven Principles for Making Your Marriage Work.

Being careful with our words

September 26, 2014

Here’s a life changing idea…

In his book, Between Parent and Child, Dr. Haim Ginott says,
Parents need a special way of relating and talking with their children. How would any of us feel if a surgeon came into the operating room and before the anesthesiologist put us under, said,” I really don’t have much training in surgery but I love my patients and use common sense”? We would probably panic and run for our lives.”

In other words…

As parents we often think that because we love our children and have common sense that will be enough. But in reality just like surgeons and other professionals, parents desperately need to learn those special skills to ensure their child’s mental, physical and emotional development. They need these skills to be able to cope with the daily demands of parenting and child rearing.

As a surgeon is very careful with his incisions and how deep he cuts, parents need to be made aware of the importance of their words and how deeply they can affect a growing child. “Because words are like knives. They can inflict, if not physical, many painful emotional wounds.”

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

A useful way to start improving communication with children is to watch how you respond. Take a moment before automatically blurting out some form of ridicule; consciously think “What is my child really trying to say? Are my words going to be helpful or harmful?, Maybe they do not know better at this stage in their life, Have I explained this to my child?” All of these questions help parents to evaluate and use their words as guidance, not knives. Try responding to your child as a guest using words that are “protective of feelings, not critical of behavior.”

To find out more…

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey or See the World Through My Eyes programs at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Between parent and Child.

Building authentic happiness

September 24, 2014

Here’s a great idea…

In his book, Authentic Happiness, Martin E.P. Seligman says

“The belief that we can rely on shortcuts to gratification and bypass the exercise of personal strengths and virtues is folly. It leads…to legions of humanity who are depressed in the middle of great wealth and are starving to death spiritually” (p.120).

In other words…

There are lots of things people do for pleasure: television, drugs, shopping, spectator sports, etc. They think that these activities are shortcuts to happiness, but building authentic happiness requires effort. There are no shortcuts. Just as physical exercise builds our muscles, acting on our signature strengths and virtues builds our well-being. When we use our strengths and virtues regularly, we will be happier, more productive, and continue to grow.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

Look for opportunities to use your strengths and practice your virtues. Look around you. Do you see a task that could benefit from your unique strengths? Do you see challenges that might be overcome by the use of these virtues?

To learn more about what YOUR personal strengths and virtues are, go to, and take the free VIA Survey of Character Strengths. This 240-item survey will help you determine which of the 24 identified human strengths and virtues are most characteristic of you.

To Find Out More…

about personal well-being, check out Your Blueprint for Happiness or Getting Our Hearts Right at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Authentic Happiness.

Setting your college student on the road to financial success

September 19, 2014

Here’s a great idea…

Parents can help their college-age student on the road to financial success by encouraging good money management skills. A college education can be expensive with costs like a dorm room or apartment, transportation, textbooks, food, and clothing.   Many young adults are on their own for the first time when they go to college. Suddenly, they have to handle their own finances.

In Other Words…

Unfortunately, some college students set themselves up to start their financial lives in the hole. But, this doesn’t have to happen. Students who get a grip on money management can avoid the future financial stress of overdue bills and struggling to make ends meet.

How This Applies to You….

Give your college student the tools for financial success. Here are a few important basic concepts all consumers need to know: create a spending plan to match expenses to income, think about needs vs. wants to plan expenses carefully, comparison shop for the best price on big ticket items, and use credit cautiously. Guide your college student in learning these critical skills.

To Find Out More….

Learn about these basic financial management skills at

Students can take a free online course money management course, Love Your Money, at:

Click here for a copy of the college budget

Be disaster aware, take action to prepare

September 8, 2014

Here’s a great idea…

September is National Preparedness Month – a time when we are all reminded to be prepared for a natural disaster.  “As a nation we are seeing disasters increase in their size and complexity, and they are occurring with greater frequency,” (FEMA Region V acting regional administrator, Janet Odeshoo).

In Other Words…

Disasters don’t have to be the end of the world if we are prepared. We can protect ourselves and our financial stability by planning ahead. We can start now by putting a plan in place and securing important documents.

How This Applies to You…

Make a Grab and Go emergency evacuation box.  Include items such as emergency numbers, copies of prescriptions, copies of insurance policies and contact numbers for the agent or company, household inventory list, account information, etc.  Visit our website for a complete list.

To Find Out More…

Check out the Disaster Preparedness Handbook at

For more details about protecting your finances in case of disaster, we recommend the booklet “Emergency Financial First Aid Kit” by FEMA,

Grab and Go Emergency Box

September 8, 2014


Grab and Go Emergency Box

Step 1 – Gather items and place in a durable, sealed box.

Step 2 – Store at home in a secure location.

Step 3 – In case of emergency, keep the box with you.


Your “Grab and Go” Box Should Include:

  • Cash (small bills) for several days living expenses.
  • Rolls of quarters.
  • Emergency phone numbers: doctors, pharmacies, financial advisors, clergy, repair contractors, family
  • Copies of important prescriptions: medicines, eyeglasses
  • Copies of children’s immunization records.
  • Copies of health, dental, and/or prescription insurance cards or numbers.
  • Copies of auto, flood, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policies (at least policy numbers).
  • Insurance company telephone numbers, including local agent and company headquarters.
  • Copies of: deeds, titles, wills/trust documents, durable power of attorney, healthcare directives, stock/bond certificates, investment statements, home inventory, birth/death/adoption/marriage certificates, passports and other identification, employee benefits documents, previous years’ income tax returns.
  • Back-up copies of computerized financial records.
  • Keys to safe deposit box.
  • Combination to safe.
  • Negatives or electronic copies for irreplaceable personal photos.
  • Computer user names and passwords.
  • List of numbers: social security, credit cards, bank accounts, driver’s license, loans, investment accounts
  • List of debt obligations, due dates and contact information.Grab and Go evacuation box




Choose the positive view

April 9, 2014

Here’s a great idea…
In his book, Authentic Happiness, Martin E.P. Seligman says
“A negative mood activates a battle-stations mode of thinking. A positive mood, in contrast, buoys people into a way of thinking that is creative, tolerant, constructive, generous, undefensive” (p. 39).

In other words…
The way we choose to think has real consequences. Sober thinking is sometimes useful for problem-solving. But when we engage in extended brooding, we create a dark world that makes us sad, unproductive, and uninteresting. If we want to be happy and productive, we should generally chase away the darkness and seek the light in our way of thinking.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…
In almost every situation, we can choose to see the threat or the opportunity, the darkness or the light. The next time you’re tempted to feel swamped by a threat, look for the opportunity instead. Notice the rewards that come from choosing a positive mindset.

To Find Out More…
about personal well-being, check out Getting Our Hearts Right orThe Personal Journey programs at, follow us at contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Authentic Happiness.


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