Can This Marriage Be Saved?

Yep, Your Marriage Can Be Saved

June 1, 2012 at 11:52 am , by

The Journal has a long history of helping women save their marriages. That’s why we’re excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with therapist, author, and Can This Marriage Be Saved? contributor Dr. Susan Heitler to bring you the Power of Two, a cool new online coaching tool that helps teach couples how to communicate and resolve conflicts. So many couples enter marriage in love, but lack some of the important communication skills that will help keep their bond strong after years — and the inevitable strains that come with kids, work, health issues, you name it. Dr. Heitler focuses on helping couples learn these crucial marriage skills to turn bickering couples into loving teams.

For instance, she recently worked with a couple who had been in traditional therapy for eight months and were on the brink of divorce. It might sound too good to be true, but by the end of the second session using Dr. Heitler’s techniques for tactful talking, attentive listening, and collaborative conflict resolution, they were recommitted to staying together—and making romantic gestures that would never have happened just months before. “They still have more learning to do,” says Dr. Heitler. “But their love returned because they can both recognize when they’re falling back into old, counter-productive habits now.”

Dr. Heitler has worked with hundreds of couples over the years, and she created Power of Two to share that expertise with all of us who can’t see her in person. Maybe you’re wary of professional counseling—of the time or money required, or of what people might think. Or maybe your relationship is just starting to show signs of strain and you want to prevent future problems. Check out Power of Two. It’s not traditional couples’ therapy: The whole process takes place online and on your own time—it’s accessible, affordable, and private.

“When couples don’t resolve their conflicts the right way, it creates anger, depression, and anxiety — but we can prevent that,” says Dr. Heitler. “These learning materials mean that more couples can have a great relationship and marriage.”

If your marriage is in need of a little TLC, check out Power of Two. And come back soon to read Dr. Heitler’s 5 favorite ways to keep your marriage strong.


Ladies’ Home Journal Goes to Pot!

March 13, 2012 at 10:43 am , by

Today, the April issue of LHJ hits newsstands, and with it comes reefer madness! In the “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” column, everyone’s favorite since it launched back in 1953, the problem in the marriage is that the wife, a successful working woman, gets high on pot every day. In the margin at the top of the page, we show the results of a poll that we did on attitudes toward medical marijuana: the majority of our readers (60 percent) approve.

We’ve just done a dramatic redesign to make Ladies’ Home Journal much more cutting-edge and fun. But have we gotten, uh, a little too groovy? In short, what were we smoking?

Actually, this is hardly the first time we’ve covered illegal drug use. Way back in 1963, we ran a feature in which Cary Grant talked about the amazing experiences he had on LSD. It was before all the risks were known and it was part of a medical experiment, but still! LHJ? Who’d a thunk it?

The reality is, Ladies’ Home Journal has a long history of covering the reality of women’s lives and current trends, even when it’s controversial. Back in 1906, we endorsed sex education as a way of preventing sexually transmitted disease—an idea that some people still disagree with. Since then we’ve covered everything from housewives struggling with drug addiction (1971) to moms struggling with raising gay teens (2010). Our readers have always been plugged-in, modern women, and we’ve always provided them with content that keeps them informed and up-to-date.

So, yeah, we’ve come a long way since the “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” of ’53 in which one husband’s quote was, “Nancy could learn a lot from some of the secretaries in my office. They know how to be sweet and feminine.” Yikes! Very Mad Men, while the “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” for April 2012 is admittedly closer to Weeds. Still, it’s very much in line with our editorial tradition.

Reactions to our March issue, the first of the current redesign, have been positive: “Looks fabulous and reinvigorated. Love it!” one reader tweeted. “Great job, y’all,” another reader wrote us via email. “Was thrilled to see my old favorites were still in there,” she said. We seemed hipper, yet still the LHJ she loves. The real story is that we were always pretty hip. Your grandma probably did subscribe to Ladies’ Home Journal, but we’ve never been a grandma magazine. We are up-to-the-minute and ahead of the curve—and have been, for a very long time.


Can This Marriage Be Saved? He’s So Needy, It’s Making Me Crazy

March 1, 2012 at 10:00 am , by

Marlene, 44, and Roy, 49, had a grass-is-always-greener problem with their marriage. Both divorced, they’d experienced bossy and distant spouses before, and were ready for a smoother, more romantic ride the second time around—and they got it. But before long, togetherness turned clingy (for Marlene) and concern turned critical (for Roy), and both wondered if they were actually better off before they remarried. Read on to find out how they reconnected, or find the full story here.

Marlene’s turn: On their honeymoon, Marlene couldn’t believe much she loved Roy. They wandered the streets of Paris hand-in-hand, and she couldn’t imagine a life apart from him again. That is, until the honeymoon was over (literally), and all she wanted was some quiet time for herself after a long day at work as a litigation attorney. Instead, Roy follows her around the house, craving her attention. That is, when he’s not leaving a mess in the kitchen, half-finishing chores, or missing important appointments. Plus, their sex life is just not good—Roy gets too nervous, and they’ve tried everything make it easier. Lingerie, videos, Viagra … everything. Marlene loves that Roy has become a father figure for her son Carl, but that seems to be the only item in her “pro” column. Should she have just stuck with her single, yet peaceful life?

Roy’s turn: Roy is terrified that Marlene is going to leave him, but he doesn’t understand what he’s doing wrong. So what if he leaves a spices out on the counter? He’s made his wife a delicious gourmet meal! Big deal if he’s not a handyman. He’ll gladly pay to have someone come work on their house! And why does Marlene avoid him when he tries to start a conversation? Husbands and wives are supposed to talk! Their sex life is just the icing on the cake. Roy feels horrible about not being able to please Marlene, but the more pressure-packed the situation becomes, the harder a time he has.

The counselor’s turn: When asked to rank their biggest marital complaints, Marlene and Roy laughed to see that they’d listed the same problems—but from opposing viewpoints. Marlene yearned for alone time, but Roy felt like she never wanted together time. Marlene hated that Roy never cleaned up after himself, but Roy felt like she was overreacting and didn’t appreciate the nice meals he made for their family. And finally, Marlene didn’t understand why Roy couldn’t do some household chores, but Roy preferred to pay someone else to play handyman. Out loud, this all seemed pretty trivial, so the counselor urged them to remember to pick their battles, and promise to make compromises. Soon enough, Marlene and Roy were able to enjoy married life again—outside and inside the bedroom.

Did you find love after your first marriage? Tell us in the comments or tweet us at @MarriageBeSaved with the hashtag #CTMBS.


Can This Marriage Be Saved? He Told Our Secrets Online!

February 3, 2012 at 11:17 am , by

Newlyweds Isabella and Ryan assumed that married life would be blissful and easy. Kids, right? Read on to find out how they learned to communicate (and keep their problems off the internet!), and find the full story here.

Isabella’s turn: Isabella comes from a very close-knit, traditional family. Her mother’s home was always immaculate, Isabella is very close to her sister, and everyone in her family knew they had responsibilities. Then she married scruffy, free-spirited Ryan, and found that their home life was, well, different. To Isabella, Ryan is a slob stuck in a dead-end job. He never helps around the house and resents the fact that she makes more money than he does (even though she knows he could be a successful comic-book writer if he put his mind to it). Tensions were rising, and then Isabella stumbled upon the real kicker. Ryan had been keeping a blog (which had garnered a bunch of readers!) complaining about life with Isabella. She feels betrayed and wonders how well she knows him at all.

Ryan’s turn: Isabella is overreacting—he’s only using a the blog as a way to express his feelings, and likes the advice he gets from his readers. He says it’s like anonymous group therapy, that’s all. Ryan’s life has always been a bit difficult. His parents had him at a very young age, his dad was an alcoholic, and recently they got a divorce, which Ryan took pretty hard. For awhile, Isabella made his life better—she was romantic and caring, and he loved spending time with her. But now, she just nags him as soon as she gets home from work. He feels like nothing in his life is working right now (including his dull job), so he took to the internet to sort things out. It’s not a big deal. Why can’t Isabella just drop it?

The counselor’s turn: Like many couples, Ryan and Isabella didn’t think it was important to discuss how they would handle everyday tasks once they got married. They seem trivial, but responsibilities like managing housework can quickly cause fighting and marital disappointment. Ryan’s blog was definitely hurtful, but it helped the couple finally get their feelings and problems out in the open. After working with the counselor, each agreed to try harder. They created a chore schedule to organize their household management in way that worked for both of them, and Isabella curbed her constant nagging, trading her resentment for better communication. Ryan apologized for hurting Isabella and minimizing her concerns, and admitted that it bothered him that Isabella was the family breadwinner. The counselor recognized that Ryan had a tough childhood, but told him it was time to change the outcome of his story and earn some self-worth. The couple decided that Ryan would enroll in art school to kick-off his new career, and before long their closeness returned.

Did you and your husband get off to a rough start when you first married? Tell us in the comments or tweet us at @MarriageBeSaved with the hashtag #CTMBS.


Can This Marriage Be Saved? I’m a Churchgoing Mom … But I Almost Cheated

January 13, 2012 at 10:10 am , by

Oh, love in the time of Facebook. Such innovation. Such connectivity. Such possibility … that your high school flame will friend you and want to reconnect in a more-than-friendly way. (We’re onto what that “poke” button is for, Mark Zuckerberg. How sly of you.)  That’s what happened to Jenny, 38, wife of Tom, 36. Her old sweetheart Grant came-a-clicking and before she new it, she was in a hotel room with him. Read on to find out what transpired, or check out the full story in our February issue, on newsstands now.

Jenny’s turn: Jenny was feeling trapped—Tom is a workaholic, and all the couple ever talks about these days is how to homeschool their kids. All the parents at their church do it, and the couple was supposed to take it on together, but now Jenny basically does all of the work, and occasionally Tom makes a bossy suggestion. With all of this on her plate—and all of the housework—Jenny doesn’t have time for the gym, Bible class or coffee with friends, so she started spending hours on Facebook to feel less lonely. That’s when Grant sent her a message. They started talking and texting, and Grant made Jenny feel like herself again, which she really missed. Eventually, they decided to meet up and spend the day together. Jenny lied to Tom and had dinner with Grant. Every step of the way, she knew it was wrong, but couldn’t help it—until her kissed her in their room at an inn. Jenny immediately felt awful and told him to leave, and she went home the next morning and told Tom everything, sobbing. Will she be able to convince him that he’s the only one she truly loves?

Tom’s turn: First of all, there’s no way he believes that Grant didn’t spend the night with Jenny. Does she take him for an idiot? He was shocked when Jenny confessed, but looking back on everything he can’t believe he missed the warning signs. Their cell phone log shows 300 pages of calls between Jenny and Grant, and Tom always thought she was just excited to reconnect with her friends on Facebook—not her ex-boyfriend! He knew the homeschooling was hard on her, but he didn’t think it had gotten this bad. If he ever cut Jenny off when they were talking about the kids, it was only because he hates arguing. He can’t believe she’s done this to him—and he’s not sure he can move past it.

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Can This Marriage Be Saved? He Cheats On Me During Business Trips

January 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm , by

Did you read that headline and immediately say, “Whoa!”  So did I. Let’s dive right in and find out what was really going on with this couple, Pam, 40, and Jack, 42. And be sure to read the full story for even more details.

Her turn: Pam’s adult life was a challenge from the start. After growing up with an alcoholic mother, Pam found out she was pregnant at 17. She decided to keep the baby, Zoe, and marry the father, but that quickly turned disastrous—he was abusive and Pam eventually left him. But then things started to look up—she got her GED and met Jack in class. She thought he was charming and fun, and after two years they were happily married. Jack even adopted Zoe, and a few years later twin boys Sam and Max were born. At about that time, Pam took motherhood on by storm and Jack threw himself deeper into his work. Over time this caused tension—Pam appreciates that Jack provides for the family but he never spends time with them or helps out with parenting. And now she’s discovered the kicker. After answering his cell phone one day, she heard the voice of another woman. She confronted Jack and it all came pouring out—he’s been having one-night stands when he travels for business. He says they mean nothing, but can she ever trust him again?

Jack’s turn: Jack, too, had a rough childhood and an alcoholic mother, so when he met Pam and fell in love, he was delighted. He and Zoe hit it off, he was finally doing well in school, and before he knew it, they were married, he was a new dad, and he’d earned himself a great (though intense) job. He doesn’t know how he came to start cheating on his wife—it’s just something that happened. After working long days on his many business trips, he’d meet up with colleagues, have a little too much wine and well, one thing would lead to another. He’s filled with regret, but he’s not totally giving Pam a pass. He thinks she treats him like an outsider when it comes to raising the kids and criticizes him all the time. He feels like he comes in last, and he’d prefers to retreat into his work than argue. Still, he hopes Pam can find a way to forgive him so they can try working harder on their marriage.

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Can This Marriage Be Saved? He Used To Be A Hunk. Now He’s A Whiner.

December 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm , by

Here’s a couple with a head-scratching dilemma: Glenn, 47, has never wanted anything more than to be a stay-at-home dad. And when his wife, Sheila, 45, had twins three years ago, he got his wish. Glenn quit his job to raise his kids, and Sheila spends her days as a business executive, but still dedicates time to cooking wonderful gourmet meals for her family. And Glenn is quite ticked off about that. Huh? Read on; it’s more complicated than it seems. And pick up our December/January issue for the full story, on newsstands now.

Sheila’s turn: All Sheila wants to do after a long day at the office is come home, hug her kids and cook her family a healthy and tasty meal. She wishes that Glenn would appreciate her efforts, but no. He complains that they’re spending too much money on food; Sheila thinks they’d be eating PB&J’s for dinner if it were up to her husband. When they got married, Glenn was intelligent, rugged and ambitious, but now he just whines all the time. Sheila isn’t sure he realized how overwhelming parenting would be, and it shows. The house is a pigsty, he makes lame excuses to avoid doing things he once loved (like mountain biking), and he’s constantly negative. Maybe he’s jealous that Sheila gets to be out doing fulfilling work everyday? Whatever it is, the tension is at an all-time high, and Sheila is losing her patience.

Glenn’s turn: Glenn really hates Sheila’s gourmet cooking habit, but not because he dislikes good food (duh). He’d rather she come home to chat and unwind with him, not spend two hours over the stove while he’s stuck parenting alone. He has long days too—kids aren’t a cakewalk!—and also knows they need to curb their spending on non-essential fancy meals and hobbies like his mountain biking. Now he just avoids his wife to avoid a fight, so Sheila thinks he’s always off sulking somewhere alone. Glenn’s glad Sheila’s given him the opportunity to watch his kids grow up, and is actually happy with his new job as dad, but still feels short-changed. He’s constantly making sure everyone’s needs are met, but Sheila only blows up at him when he mentions what’s bothering him.

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