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Our partners deserve more than leftovers

October 20, 2014

Here’s an idea…

In their book, The Marriage Garden, H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall say, “With many demands on our time, sometimes our marriages only get cold leftovers from last night’s dinner. Marriage may get only small fragments of spare time and energy. This is likely to leave the relationship feeling starved and empty” (p. 30).

In other words…

We need to make time with our spouse a priority. Before we take on new tasks and hobbies that may take up our time, we need to consider how these may affect our relationship with our partners. Time together doesn’t have to be elaborate dates or expensive trips. Doing simple things at home together consistently are much more important than the “romantic getaways.”

How this applies to you…

Make time for your partner, it doesn’t have to be expensive or a huge effort, just do little things together and they will have a big influence on your relationship. Find something to do together that you both enjoy.

To Find Out More…

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden or Getting Our Hearts Right at

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.With many demands on our time marriage gets cold leftovers

Refocusing on commitment

October 18, 2014

A great idea…

In his book, Meanings of Life, R. F. Baumeister wrote, “Survey researchers in the 1950’s found that people tended to judge the self by its ability to make and maintain a marriage. By the 1970’s this was reversed: marriages were judged by the contribution to the self, including increases in self-expression, happiness, and well-being. In fact, if a relationship does not bring pleasure, insight, satisfaction, and fulfillment to the self, then it is regarded as wrong, and the individual is justified—perhaps even obligated—to end the relationship and find a new, more fulfilling one.”  

In other words…

We live in a world where marriage is constantly judged by what it can do for us. The philosophy that marriage should meet all of our needs and desires does nothing but put a terrible burden on our relationship. While marriage can be very rewarding when we steadily care for it, it is not designed to be the fountain from which our happiness springs.

How can you apply this…

The next time your partner irritates you, instead of dwelling on their flaws or what you aren’t getting out of the relationship, focus on what you can do to help your relationship grow. As you shift your focus back to what you can do to nurture your relationship versus what you should receive from it, you will find personal growth and the fruits of a strong, happy marriage.

To Find Out More…

about couple relationships, check out our FREE resources: The Marriage Garden or the Getting Our Hearts Right programs at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also like to read The Marriage Garden book.

Exercise and eat healthy as a family

October 17, 2014

Here’s a great idea:

Ellyn Satter says, “Parents and caregivers need to learn the facts about early weight gain…too-fast weight gain increases the risk of adult diseases such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.”  (“Early Infant Weight Gain, Obesity and Adult Disease” September 2011 Family Meals Focus Newsletter)

In other words:

What is the best way to prevent weight gain and the increased chance of our children to develop disease? It is by making healthy lifestyle changes from the top down. Parents have a big influence on their kid’s health habits.  We can help ensure a healthy future for our children by setting a good example.  We can work to involve the whole family in planning meals and making physical activity fun.

How this applies to you:

Healthy parents make for healthy kids.  Set a healthy example.  Prepare healthy, low-fat meals at home. Include lots of fruits and vegetables. Eat out less often.  Take time for exercise and ask your children to be physically active with you.  Try different activities until you find something the whole family will enjoy. Set healthy goals as a family. For example, “We will only eat out twice a week” or “We will go on a family bike ride three times this month.”

To find out more…

about ways to be more physically active, visit or contact your local county Extension agent.


Parents have a big influence on their kids health habits

Teaching life skills through 4-H

October 16, 2014

Here’s a great idea

“I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world”—from the 4-H pledge. October is National 4-H Month.

In other words

For 100+ years, 4-H, the nation’s largest youth development program, has used a framework based on this pledge to target life skills that support the growth and development of youth. 4-H provides many experiences that teach and reinforce these skills through hands on experience.

How this applies to you

4-H can help your child develop critical life skills.  For example, one life skill taught is Managing Resources. For Managing Resources, children and youth get involved with  4-H Consumer Economics projects and activities, such as personal finance simulations, consumer judging, and entrepreneur camp. These activities guide them in learning responsible money management. Good money management skills lay a foundation for future financial success.  4-H strives to help young people become competent in skills to prepare them for adulthood.

To find out more

Visit the 4-H website at  or contact your local County Extension Office to find out about 4-H in your local area.  For a directory of county offices go to:

For more in-depth reading about the 4-H model for teaching life skills, go to

Learning when to say no

October 15, 2014

Here’s a great idea…

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says, “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage…to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside” (pp.156-157).

In other words…

If we find ourselves too busy to take time out for important priorities, like taking care of our health by exercising, it may be time to reassess our “yes.” We say “yes” or “no” many times a day. Sometimes, when we agree to other’s requests, we say “no” to ourselves and our important personal priorities suffer.

How this applies to you…

Sometimes it is the “no” that enables us to say “yes” to things that really matter. Before agreeing to take on new responsibilities, take time to think about whether you are agreeing to something important and worthwhile. If you are prone to an automatic “yes,” try answering requests with, “Let me get back to you on that.” For someone who insists on an immediate answer, then you can politely decline the request.

To find out more…

about ways to be more physically active, visit or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey or The Power of a Positive No by William Ury.

Priming your brain for learning

October 15, 2014

Here’s an idea….

In her book, Positivity, Barbara L. Frederickson, states “Scientists have shown that positive and open mindsets produce more-accurate mental maps of the world. This means that, relative to times when you feel negative and rejecting (or even neutral),  you learn more when you feel upbeat and interested and are acting on your curiosity” (p. 23).

In other words…

Positivity not only helps us to be happier, but it primes our brains for learning. When we have a positive frame of mind, we learn more about the world around us, we are more creative, and we are better problem-solvers. When we are negative, we tend to shut down our brains and are not able to retain as much information. This can really hinder our knowledge of ourselves and the world around us. Thus, if we want to be smarter, we need to be more positive!

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

When tackling daily challenges, let your curiosity take the lead. Don’t worry about what is “right” or “wrong.” Explore many options. When choosing a course of action, identify and use your strengths and the strengths of others. The more positive and open-minded you are, the better learner and problem-solver you will become.

To Find Out More…

about personal well-being, check out our free programs: Your Blueprint for Happiness, Getting Our Hearts Right, or Managing Stress programs at, like us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Positivity.

The effects of money on love

October 6, 2014

Here’s a great idea

In their article, Financial Smart Start for Newlyweds: Introduction, James P. Marshall and Laura Connerly say, “Solving financial disagreements is an excellent avenue to alter the dynamics of even troubled relationships. Some major obstacles for couples regarding finances, if solved, would invite a better way of relating to each other.”

In other words

Solving financial disagreements reduces stress and alters the relationship dynamics of couples. When we come together as a team on financial issues by creating and carrying out a financial plan of action, we feel empowered, and we build security and trust within our relationship.

How this applies to you

Improve your marriage by working on your finances together. Work as a team to create a budget that lists all of your income, as well as all of your expenses. View your partner as an ally instead of an enemy. Come up with solutions that both of you feel comfortable with and can agree to. There may only be one person who handles the actual paying of the bills and balancing the bank accounts, but decisions about how the money is spent should be made by both of you. Plan a time each month to get together and go over how the last month’s budget went and what changes need to be made for the next month’s budget.

To find out more

check out the Financial Smart Start for Newlyweds fact sheet series at also recommend the Cooperative Extension Service’s Marriage Garden or Getting Our Hearts Right: Three Keys to Better Relationships curriculum, available at


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