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The following are two samples of the Healthy Marriage Tips Columns:

Sample One

If you really want to damage your relationship and increase the pain and misery in your marriage, then be selfish. If you look at the root causes of the majority of reasons people give for divorce, you will find that one or both of the spouses were being selfish. If what you really want out of life is an unhealthy and unhappy marriage, then be selfish. We can guarantee you will find what you are looking for.

Selfishness in one degree or another is a universal part of the human experience. It is part of our nature to be selfish. When we are selfish, we are usually rewarded with pleasure. However, the pleasure is fleeting while the consequences are not.

Most of us realize selfishness tends to drive other people away. This is why we hid our selfish tendencies from our spouse when we were dating. The security of marriage makes us feel comfortable in letting our selfish tendencies loose. On the other hand, this dating experience we each go through gives us hope that each and every one of us can restrain our selfish tendencies.

No matter how strong of a relationship you have been able to develop while keeping your selfish nature under control, you will begin to poison it as soon as you exhibit selfish behaviors.

How can you learn to control your selfish tendencies so that it doesn’t destroy your most treasured relationship? The antidote to selfishness is service. It’s difficult to be selfish when you are serving your spouse. Service forces you to put the needs of your spouse in front of your own needs. The key to a strong marriage is the mindset of thinking of your spouse’s needs before your own. When you use this key a spirit of service will soon begin to permeate your relationship.

The spirit of service is contagious.  On average, your spouse will begin to reciprocate within 3 weeks. They might first regard your service with suspicion, wondering what you want from them. However, as you are consistent in demonstrating your love through service for at least 3 weeks, then they will begin to reciprocate. As you both serve each other by eliminating selfish behaviors, then the strength of your marriage will grow stronger. You will begin experiencing the joy and happiness that accompanies service and less of the empty pleasure followed by pain and misery that accompanies selfishness.

Make a list right now of five things you will do every day to serve your spouse and then do them.

Copyright 2004 This column may not be reproduced in any manner without the express written permission of The National Healthy Marriage Institute LLC

Sample 2

Gardening can teach us many valuable lessons that also apply to marriage. Imagine yourself learning how to garden. First you prepare the soil so it will be rich with nutrients. As you till the soil, you feel great satisfaction in the dark brown earth. You then decide what to plant. You may plant watermelons, beans, cucumbers, or tomatoes. After planting your garden, you faithfully water the seeds. Imagine the excitement of seeing plants shoot up from the seeds you planted and watered. After months of watering your seeds and diagnosing any pest problems, you reap your first harvest.

The law of the harvest can also teach us about finances. Just as your plants didn’t produce fruit immediately, your bank account won’t produce money immediately. We cannot get rich overnight. We cannot fulfill all of our wants overnight. Yet, our society is telling us to buy everything we want on credit. Buy now and pay later. This contradicts the law of the harvest. We cannot reap now and sow the seeds later if we ever want to have long term success.

When we fulfill our wants with our credit cards or installment payments, we are loading ourselves up with too much debt. According to the Federal Reserve board, consumer debt is on the rise. In October 2003, consumer debt hit $1.98 trillion. This means that the average household consumer debt, which excludes mortgage payments, is $18,700.

Interest has become our master instead of our servant. J. Reuben Clark once said, “Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you”.

Why are we talking about debt in a marriage column? Studies have consistently shown financial problems to be one of the top conflicts in marriage.

Have you ever felt the crushing weight of debt on your marriage? When money problems arise, your spouse may become an easy target to blame. The stress of debt becomes your constant companion. Where will the money come from to pay off your debts? Tight finances and debt can crush the life out of a healthy marriage.

Now is the time to sit down with your spouse and set financial goals. An important goal is to get out of debt. Decide together how to reduce your expenditures and put the extra money towards the debt with the highest interest rate. After that debt is paid off, put all of the money you were putting towards the previous debt onto the debt with the next highest interest rate. It may take months or years to pay off your debts, but remember the law of the harvest. It takes time to get out of debt and to build wealth.

You will be protecting your marriage by working together towards your financial goals. Your marriage will be happier, and you will feel less stress. Once you are out of debt and investing in your future, you will feel liberated.

Copyright 2004 This column may not be reproduced in any manner without the express written permission of The National Healthy Marriage Institute LLC