GUEST POST: 21st Century Marriage: Crisis or Opportunity?

By Marcia Naomi Berger
www.marriagemeetings.com

I believe in marriage. This might sound naïve, what with half of first marriages ending in divorce and even higher failure rates happening in second and third marriages, respectively.

But there is a reason for so many marriage unhappy endings. Huge cultural shifts have occurred in recent decades. These changes have bred new expectations for marriage, which are often unconscious so that people lack clarity about why they are marrying; what they hope to gain from the union.

Until recently, most women needed marriage for financial security and social status. People, in general, are no longer stigmatized for living together and bearing children outside of marriage, or for being divorced. Currently most women hold jobs and a third of married women out-earn their husbands.

Clearly, the rules have changed. The old reasons for marrying, by and large, no longer apply. What looks like a current marriage crisis is the result of a widespread lack of understanding for how to create a satisfying 21st century marriage.

What most of us now really want, whether we know it or not, is a relationship that fulfills us emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically. When these needs are not met, spouses tend to blame their partner. Some blame the institution of marriage, saying it is obsolete.

I don’t think so. I think marriage is evolving—and that’s a good thing!

The vast majority of us can create lasting, loving marriages. We just need to learn how.

I’d like to propose a solution that has worked beautifully not only for my clients, but in my own marriage of over 25 years. You and your spouse agree to hold a weekly thirty minute “marriage meeting” with a simple format that covers all of the important aspects of your relationship. (Any two people who live under the same roof can benefit from holding similar meetings.)

A marriage meeting has four parts: Appreciation, Chores, Planning for Good Times, and Problems and Challenges. During Appreciation each of you takes an uninterrupted turn to say what you liked that your spouse did during the past week. Chores is the business part of the meeting. You each bring in your to-do list. Together, you agree as to who will take care of what task(s). Planning for Good Times is when you schedule a date for just the two of you, and perhaps also an enjoyable activity to do on your own. During Problems and Challenges, you talk about issues or lingering concerns. Start with light matters during early meetings and make sure to use positive communication skills.

An easy-to-resolve challenge might be telling your spouse that you’re trying to lose weight, so could he or she please either not bring home the junk food you find tempting or keep it somewhere where you’re not likely to see it. Once you’ve gained confidence by holding five or six successful meetings, more challenging topics can be introduced, like in-law issues, money, sex, and parenting concerns.

Some people object to the idea of a formal meeting. The trade-off is worth it though, because without an ongoing system for addressing details of our lives that need attention, it is easy to ignore them for too long. You might want to talk about something when your partner is otherwise occupied or decide to wait for a right time that never seems to come. If you do bring up a sensitive matter when your spouse’s mind is elsewhere, you might feel like you’ve entered a mine field.

Similarly, it’s easy to forget to express appreciation or to plan dates and other enjoyable, restorative activities. Chores can pile up or get mishandled. By scheduling times for marriage meetings, you will get to reconnect and feel valued by your spouse every week.

You’ve probably heard people explain their failed marriage by saying, “We just grew apart.” Couples do not grow apart; they drift away because they stop making time for each other. Marriage meetings provide a weekly wake-up call for staying connected emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually.

Soon after our honeymoon, my husband and I took a class for couples that included a brief mention of the idea of holding a weekly marriage meeting. We’ve been holding meetings ever since then. I don’t know how we would have stayed happily married without them.

Every week we have a time to reconnect, feel appreciated, coordinate handling of business, plan dates together, and deal with whatever is on our minds. Because the meetings help to clear up misunderstandings promptly, we don’t accumulate grudges—which is enough of a reason by itself to hold marriage meetings. I give them major credit for our lasting happiness together.

Marriage meetings foster romance, intimacy, and teamwork, and smoother resolution of issues–a golden opportunity for your 21st century marriage!

You can buy Berger’s book Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love on Amazon!

Bio note: Psychotherapist and clinical social worker Marcia Naomi Berger, LCSW, is the author of Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted, where you will find detailed guidelines, step-by-step instructions for conducting each part of a Marriage Meeting agenda, and communication skills for successful meetings. www.marriagemeetings.com.

Book Review: “Ruthless Ambition: The Rise and Fall of Chris Christie”

Ruthless Ambition: The Rise and Fall of Chris Christie by Louis Michael Manzo is a fast-paced, fact-laden story of one innocent man’s involvement with a power-hungry politician, a politician who still has his sights set on the White House.

Lou’s account of how he was arrested as part of the “Bid Rig III” sting operation under Christie, how he lost everything including his run for Mayor of Jersey City, and how he was finally exonerated of all charges, gives a chilling first-hand look at the extent of Christie’s ambition.

As the 2016 election approaches, this is an important story for the American people to know. Lou is a gifted author, and we recommend this book for people of any political party who have an interest in justice.

Book Review: “No Better Time” by Molly Knight Raskin

By Jessica Muto

I recently had the privilege of reading Molly Knight Raskin‘s well-researched and inspiring biography of an unsung hero: Danny Lewin.

Danny Lewin’s life, from American teen growing up in Israel to member of the elite Israeli counter-terrorism force to computer genius at MIT, is the stuff of fiction. But it’s not.

A young man whose stubborn will and refusal to give up kept his small tech company Akamai alive during the dot.com crash had a mind that would have ensured his place with such greats as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs if he had lived past age 31.

After transforming the internet and making it possible to have the high speed we take for granted today, Danny Lewin boarded Flight 11 on September 11, 2001. We believe his counter-terrorism training and fierce courage made him the first victim of those terrorist attacks, when he was stabbed in the first class cabin trying to stop the hijackers.

Raskin’s account of his life is detailed and vivid, and she handles his death with delicacy and the honor due a hero.

If you use the internet at all, and if you remember 9/11 – I highly recommend this book.

How to Make Your Book Event Stand Out!

By Peg Booth

If you’re an author on a book tour or just doing a regular book event, it’s important no matter where the book signing or talk is held that you ensure you contribute to the success of the signing. In other words, your job is to do more than show up! The critical word to remember is promote, promote, promote!

Marketing your book through events, talks and book signings is still an incredible way to reach new readers. As more and more people become creative about the events and where they are held, it still is important to remember that the audience wants you to be entertaining, energetic and inspiring. Keep in mind that no matter how many people show up, you need to enjoy the event and be accessible. As Mark Victor Hansen of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series® always says, “no matter if 10 people or 100 people show up, you’re there to entertain them!”

Here are TEN valuable tips for ensuring you’re part of a successful event:

1. If you are the person booking your own bookstore event, book at least 6-8 weeks out to assume the most time for you and the venue to promote your event. Research your event prior to attending it, and arrive early in order to get a feel for the store and its patrons.

2. Make sure you know what area is set up for your presentation and that you’re comfortable with the area and where the audience will be sitting.

3. Take some extra press kits about your book with you – just in case there is an opportunity to give those to a media person or someone else who requests them for follow-up. Also bring along at least one of your speaker press kit in case someone at the signing comes up to you after your talk and is interested in you giving a large speech for her or his organization or business. Always make sure to ask for his or her business card as well so you can follow up.

4. Remember book signings are held to benefit the store and help drive sales. The more people who come to listen to your talk – the more valuable your event will be. Make sure that you ask the store to post the event in their newsletter, online at all their social media networks and be certain to have the event listed in the local media’s calendar listing sections. List the event on your website and Facebook page too.

5. Make a poster (PDF’s look especially professional) announcing the event, make copies, and send them to the bookstore so they can distribute to their customers for several weeks before your event.

6. Send a press release to appropriate local media and appropriate targeted businesses and associations announcing your upcoming event or make certain your publicist is doing so, starting at least four weeks before the date of your event.

7. Make sure that you have a prepared presentation and talk, about 20-30 minutes. Try to have two or three different talks that work depending on the audience (discuss what topic would be appropriate with the event coordinator). Be interesting, fun and entertaining, not bland and just informative. Make sure to tell stories during your talk because it will keep your audience focused on what you are saying and listening attentively. Do not book events where you just sit behind a table and wait for people to walk by and sign books.

8. Don’t be stand-offish to the audience or to the bookstore event managers – they are there to support and help your event be successful. You are really there to smooze the staff so they will remember your book and hand-sell it for months after you have left the store!

9. Leave plenty of time at the end of your talk for audience questions, at least 15-20 minutes.

10. Always give out your website, your blog address, your Twitter ID and your Facebook address at least a couple times during the event.

After the event—-always follow up:

1. Send a personalized hand written thank you note to the event coordinator.

2. Ask for her or his honest feedback on your event, including a self-addressed stamped envelope to return the feedback comments (or wonderfully written testimonial that you can use to pitch more events!)

3. Ask to schedule another event in a few months or to be part of an event that the store may be sponsoring or in which it may be involved (a community event or even another author event.)

4. Keep in contact with the event coordinator or assistant manager or store manager by visiting in person once every 6-8 weeks or so or by calling or emailing. This keeps your name and the name of your book in front of these salespeople often.

5. And lastly, send a complimentary note to the store’s district manager or corporate home office about the event and how wonderfully you were taken care of by their staff. This is rarely done and they will remember you and again, your book!

An extra gesture that the events will remember long after you’ve gone is to bring a little gift for the event coordinator as a special thank you for hosting you. Little things make a big difference for authors at book signings and events.

Keep your humor intact and remember to relax and enjoy the evening!

Why Even NYTimes Bestselling Authors Blog About News As It’s Happening and How You Can Too!

By Peg Booth

It’s very important in these days of 24/7 news stories that an author stand ready and able at any given time to speak as an expert on a breaking news story in his or her area of expertise.

A good publicist should be constantly pitching you to news media and their associated producers. Pitching you means not just trying to get them to feature your book (in fact, if that’s all they’re doing for you – then you might want to encourage them to do more); the best pitching really involves making immediate and exciting connections between you and your expertise and anything going on in the news in the moment.

If you don’t have a PR firm representing you, keep in mind that you do have the power of the Web and your keyboard. You can actively track the news with Google alerts – www.google.com/alerts , and those are delivered right to your inbox. These days, there are many apps and sites that track mentions of you in social media, as well. If you have a blog, then you can immediately post a response to a certain news story and help set yourself up as an expert. Make sure you link to the original story in your post. You can also forward those to your publicist and make sure she’s pitching to that journalist.

Working in collaboration with your PR firm will bring you even better results. For instance, if you’re a novelist and your book was a thinly veiled expose’ on how the big department stores were failing (as one of our clients’ books did) and you’ve done your research, then you could speak on some of the bigger economic challenges the department stores are facing because of the online shopping surge in the past ten years.

If you think as an author that you shouldn’t have to be working this hard to promote yourself and your book if you already have a PR firm – think again!

Even New York Times bestselling book authors like our client John Perkins – http://www.johnperkins.org , pro-actively responds to breaking news on an almost daily basis through his Twitter – @economic_hitman and his Facebook page. When these posts are created, we use links to them in pitching John to news media offline and online.

Keep in mind that no matter what, you have the opportunity to be an expert in your field! Timing can be everything, so keep an eye on the news.

Here are 3 tips for taking your media savvy to the next level:

1. Make yourself known to reporters in your home region – email them to let them know about your expertise and let them know you would be happy to be called upon if there was an urgent breaking story that pertains to your expertise and/or topics in your book.

2. Follow the news through Google alerts and use Twitter as another form of gathering daily news. Follow and then look through the Breaking news on Twitter – http://twitter.com/BREAKINGNEWS and use it to keep on top of the latest news.

3. Rejuvenate your media pitches and areas of expertise constantly. Get the latest statistics on your topics! For instance, did you know that in 2014, just under 70% of Americans get their news through online sources instead of print? Statistics aid in keeping your expertise at the top of your game!

Here’s to your ongoing media success!!