At Home With: Margaret Hoover and John Avlon on Their Post-Partisan Marriage

A great-granddaughter of Herbert Hoover and the new face of “Firing Line” is married to a centrist and CNN anchor. Can their union save the country?
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We Finally Combined Our Bank Accounts And Here’s What It Did For Our Marriage

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Bethenny Frankel and Fredik Eklund’s Real Estate Marriage Gets Rocky: “Is This Really Something I Want?”

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Chip and Joanna Gaines Feared Marriage Struggles If They Kept ‘Pushing This Envelope’

Chip and Joanna Gains shocked fans when they announced that the upcoming fifth season of their popular HGTV show Fixer Upper would be their last.

It was a decision motivated by the couple’s desire to spend more time with their four children (Drake, 12, Ella, 11, Duke, 9, and Emmie Kay, 7) and not by the unfounded rumors of marital problems and divorce that have followed — though during an appearance on Today Tuesday, Chip admitted he was nervous their relationship could go that way if they show continued.

“I give them a little credence,” the 42-year-old reality star said of the doubters. “For us, the most important thing in the world is Jo and I’s relationship followed very quickly by these four beautiful kids. We didn’t want to push it, redline it for so long that we woke up and realized we are at a point of no return. We wanted to take a step back and focus on the thing that was absolutely the most important thing to us in the world.”

“People in our inner circle, I tell them we’re as healthy as we’ve ever been, I just didn’t want to keep pushing this envelope to the fullest extent,” he continued. “We’re really thankful that we had the opportunity to step back and take a break.”

RELATED: Fixer Upper Is Ending: What to Expect from Chip and Joanna’s Final Season

For the last five years, the Gaineses have been working nonstop to build their home improvement empire.

Since Fixer Upper premiered in 2013, it quickly became the highest-rated show on HGTV, turning the couple into household names. The series also helped to launch their booming Waco, Texas-based Magnolia businesses, which includes a real estate company, the Silos (a retail store that draws 40,000 visitors a week), wallpaper and furniture lines, a quarterly magazine, luxury vacation rentals, an upcoming restaurant and a product line for Target.

They’ve also written a bestseller, The Magnolia Story, together and pursued solo book projects (Chip’s new book Capital Gaines is in stores now while Joanna has a design book in the works).

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But with all that success comes more work, responsibility and stress. Filming 11 months out of the year while juggling Magnolia and its 500 employees began to wear on them.

“Nobody knows when you get into something like this,” Chip told Today, looking back. “I’m an idiot, I thought this was like a get rich quick scheme. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy. The emotional and the amount of energy it takes to pour something like this together. Every day we showed up to work we wanted this to be the real deal. We wanted it to be authentic, sincere.”

RELATED VIDEO: Chip & Joanna Gaines Most Lovable Outtakes!

Joanna, 39, agreed and thanked the fans for standing by them throughout the years even during the news that the show would be ending.

“We’ve kind of all grown together,” she said. “With the audience, they’ve come alongside with us. On the other side, there’s so much encouragement. Even though it was sad, they get it. We have this young, growing family and I just think that was one of the biggest reasons why we wanted to end the show.”

As for whether they’d return to reality TV, the couple played coy.

“Who knows?” Chip said. “We’re so excited about this break. But would we go back and do this again? Absolutely. It was a joy it was a pleasure. All the things you know about. It introduced us to Kansas.”

The final season of Fixer Upper premieres in November.


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You’d Never Know By Looking At Me, But I’m In An Open Marriage

More and more, my husband likes the idea of us being with other couples, or me having other partners.
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Trisha Yearwood Shares Her And Garth Brooks’ Recipe For A Successful Marriage

Long before Trisha Yearwood was a lifestyle guru, she was on the top of the music charts, selling out concerts and performing for adoring fans. The “She’s in Love with the Boy” singer was, and still is, a critical success, and her working and personal partnership with Garth Brooks has something to do with it.

After two divorces, Yearwood realized that maybe the man of her dreams had been right in front of her for years. In the 2000s, after Brooks ended his marriage to his college sweetheart, he took time off from music and eventually romantically reconnected with Yearwood after nearly 15 years of friendship. A love blossomed and the pair became engaged in May 2005 and got married later that year. 

They recently celebrated their 11th anniversary. 

“We have been friends for such a long time. Our relationship is based on a very deep friendship that we’ve had, so we were in the position of knowing each other as friends before we ever went on a date,” Yearwood told HuffPost of their marriage during a recent Build Series interview. “I think a lot of times you are ― just speaking for myself ― down the road in your relationship before you really get to know the person well enough to get to know if you really like them or not, and liking someone is as important as loving someone. And so we laugh a lot. When we’re not all lovey-dovey and passionate, we’re still best friends, so it’s just the way it works.”

Yearwood, who stars on an Emmy-winning cooking show, “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” and has a new line of products with Williams Sonoma, says Brooks is not just her husband but a true partner in life. 

“He’s whatever I need him to be; He can be my best friend, he can be my lover, he can be my shopper ― if I need a dress for an event and I don’t have time to go shopping, this guy can buy a dress and it’s gorgeous and it fits ― he’s fantastic,” she said. “He’s all those things that you need him to be and I think at the center of it is a true respect and love for each other, and a friendship.” 

Something else that helps Brooks’ case is his coffee-making skills

“My husband doesn’t drink coffee ― which I don’t trust people who don’t drink coffee, but I do love him ― but he makes my coffee every morning and he makes really good coffee, so he can stay,” she joked. 

Watch the full interview with Trisha Yearwood below. 

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How To Handle It If Your Partner (Or You!) Want An Open Marriage

For BRIDES, by Gigi Engle.

Your partner just sat you down and asked for an open marriage. Or was it the other side of the coin and you are seeking an open relationship? Either way, what happens now?

First of all, many people are unclear about what it means to be in an open marriage. Wanting an open relationship does not mean you selfishly want to sleep with other people without losing the convenience of a primary relationship. This can be the case, but if you do an open marriage correctly, it doesn’t have to be.

Honestly, if it’s the right choice for you and your spouse, an open marriage can be pretty hot and exciting. It’s a new way to explore your limits both as a couple and as individuals. You can grow in ways you may never have known were possible — it can even make you closer to your spouse.

You can grow in ways you may never have known were possible — it can even make you closer to your spouse.

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The number one requirement: it has to be something you both want. The only way an open marriage can work is with total transparency, regular check-ins on emotions and feelings, and radical communication. Both partners need to commit to total honesty and cultivate a bond that allows for regular reassessment of the arrangement based on each person’s comfort levels. The option to walk away has to be omnipresent.

Whether this change is right for you or not, here is what to do if your partner (or you!) want an open marriage.

Find the root of the request

Ask yourself the following, depending on which side of the coin you’re on: Where is this coming from? What is the real reason I’m being asked to open our marriage? Why do I want an open relationship?

Here is the truth about the open marriage discussion: It could be indicative of larger problems within the marriage itself. Before you can delve into your personal feelings on the matter and decide how you’d like to proceed, you must figure out the why. There is nothing wrong with an alternative marriage style if it’s what both partners want, but before proceeding any further, you need to have total understanding. You owe that to each other as partners.

Underlying issues do not have to be the reason people seek an open relationship, but it is a possibility, and therefore this needs to be acknowledged and laid to rest. If you or your partner are asking to see other people due to unhappiness or dissatisfaction with the marriage itself, agreeing to an open marriage will not fix those problems. An open marriage is not a Band-Aid for intimacy issues

An open marriage is not a Band-Aid for intimacy issues.

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Approach your partner with empathy

Let’s be real here — your initial reaction to an open marriage may not be forthcoming and brimming with delight. Likewise, your partner may be caught off-guard should you approach him or her with such a request. It can be shocking to learn that your partner wants to change your relationship in such a fundamental way. Anger is a normal emotion. It’s OK.

Think about where your partner is coming from. Whoever is asking for this chat came forward in order to have an honest discussion, and that took some guts. The response: empathy.

No one cheated. Trust was not broken. Neither you nor your partner is required to be on board with this arrangement, but both of you do need to be flexible enough to listen. That’s what marriage is about.

Consider what this means for you as an individual

Take some time to yourself and figure out exactly how you feel about the prospect of opening your marriage. Don’t rush into a decision.

The fact is, in certain cases, open relationships are the byproduct of one partner wanting to sleep with other people and the other partner agreeing so as not to lose their spouse—guaranteed, this will end in disaster.

Remember: You can always change your mind. Relationship dynamics alter as you grow over time—the only way this kind of relationship can succeed is with a willingness to compromise and have honest discussions.

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Assess how this change will impact your relationship dynamic

If opening your marriage is going to make one or both of you a jealous, needy mess, it won’t work out. Above all, you need trust. You and your partner are the only people who can choose what is best for your marriage. You understand each other and your relationship in a way no one else can.

Sit down, hear each other out, and figure out what each of you want in the short and long term out of your partnership, and move from there.

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Gigi Engle is a sex educator and writer living in NYC. Her work has appeared in Elle, Teen Vogue, Glamour, Allure, Marie Claire, and Bustle.

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Even Tony Hawk Was Impressed By This Skateboarder’s Marriage Proposal

This skateboarder’s surprise proposal to his girlfriend so great, it even has Tony Hawk’s stamp of approval. 

Earlier this month at the annual Van’s Pool Party in Orange, California, skateboarder and activist Amelia Brodka was chatting about the future of women in skateboarding when interviewer Neal Hendrix subtly brought up Brodka’s boyfriend, Alec Beck, who was also in attendance. 

The pair met four and a half years ago at the Van’s Skatepark, Brodka said, so it holds a special place in their hearts. 

That’s when Hendrix motions to Beck to skate over and join them for the interview: With that, Beck launches himself down into the bowl, skates over and slides on his knees to pop the question.

Of course, Brodka says “yes.” 

The proposal, which made the front page of Reddit on Monday, came as a happy surprise to Brodka, who runs Exposure Skate, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women and girls through skateboarding.

“I was confused when I looked over to see Alec in his kneepads but I had no idea what was going on until he was on one knee in front of me,” the 27-year-old told HuffPost. “I fantasized about Alec proposing, but this was better than any scenario I could have ever imagined.” 

The “trick” may look effortless, but it took a lot of practice, said Beck, who works as the programs manager at the Tony Hawk Foundation, an organization that creates skate parks in low-income areas.

The day before the event, Beck did dry runs at Van’s Skatepark, attempting to figure out timing and positioning with the skatepark’s production team.

“I knew I needed to focus on only two things,” the 30-year-old said. “First, don’t fall dropping in and two: When I ask, make sure [Amelia] knows it’s just about the two of us and that no one else exists.”

Brodka’s pure gold, Reddit-worthy response definitely convinced Beck he pulled it off.

“That reaction is one of the things I love most about Amelia Brodka,” he said. “She’s not afraid to show excitement or enthusiasm and is incredibly genuine.”

Beck’s boss Tony Hawk was so impressed by the proposal, he shared a video of it on Instagram:

“Congrats @alec_beck & @ameliabrodka on winning the best trick at Van’s Pool Party,’ he captioned the clip.

Brodka, who lives in North County San Diego with her fiancée, told HuffPost the pair haven’t set a date for their wedding yet, but they are busy planning the perfect ceremony. After watching that engagement, we’re really hoping it includes some skate tricks. 

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8 Healthy Habits Of Couples Who Attend Marriage Therapy

Marriage therapy isn’t just for couples in dire straits. In fact, therapists say that going early on ― and continuing to go ― can help spouses stay happy and in love. 

What healthy habits do couples who attend therapy practice? Below, eight tips from married folks who swear by marriage therapy. 

1. Recognize when you’re telling a “story.”

“The first time we went to therapy as an engaged couple, I perched on the couch and eagerly told my side of events in one fell swoop. Then I sat back and waited for the therapist to respond, which basically just meant I wanted her to side with me. Sometimes we tell ourselves stories that may or may not be accurate because we want things to be or sound a certain way. We want to be viewed as the main character (aka the most important one). The thing is, in a healthy relationship, both people are equally important and both sides of a story matter. These days, I try really hard to notice when I’m building a narrative and make sure it aligns with what’s real. I recognize that my husband’s ‘story’ may be as legitimate as my own.” ― Julia Dellitt, a writer, editor and yoga teacher

2. Listen more than you talk. 

“I am a talker. Therapy has taught me and my husband to listen more than talk. Active listening helps us to feel heard and understood. This is a practice we use everyday. We strive to listen, be attentive and validate feelings. After we both settle down we are able to work on the root issues and make a plan. It builds more trust.” ―Mikki Bey Crawford, writer at Dope Elope

3. Create couple time, even if it means waking up earlier.

“Through [going to therapy with my wife], I’ve learned that date nights and scheduled time together creates structure and improves emotional engagement. More importantly, it builds a sense of togetherness. One of my favorites? Wake up ten minutes early in the morning to connect ― cuddle with each other. Whether it leads to sex or not, the morning sets an atmosphere for a loving day.” ― Moshe Ratson, a marriage and family therapist in New York City 

4. Don’t assume you know everything about your partner.

“My husband and I have been together five years now and sometimes it’s tempting to assume I know everything there is to know about him ― which isn’t true ― especially when it comes to conflict. I remember going to therapy once and thinking, ‘Oh, this is what he’s going to say and I bet he wants to handle it this way.’ Then the conversation started and I realized I was way off, because he is his own person with his own thoughts and feelings. Remember to be open minded and give your partner space to be a nuanced individual, for better or worse.” ― Julia Dellitt

5. Give up the right to be right. 

“I feel I am usually right, although I sometimes let my husband think he is. While the truth is probably somewhere in the middle of us, we have learned not to allow the need to assert our ‘rightness’ get in the way of loving each other. Who cares who is right?” ―Mikki Bey Crawford

6. Call a timeout if things are getting too intense. 

“This is a ground rule to avoid escalation. If for whatever reason a discussion or disagreement escalates to a high degree and you feel overwhelmed, you have the right to ask for a ‘timeout.’ Feel free to say, ‘this isn’t a good time, I feel overwhelmed and need a break.’ But be sure to reschedule time to talk about the subject within 24-48 hours.”  ― Moshe Ratson

7. You can be honest now or honest later but eventually, you have to tell the truth if you want to move on.

“I’m a people-pleaser at heart, so in relationships I frequently feel the need to hide information. Why? I want everyone to like me. I quickly learned in therapy there’s no other path forward but an honest one. You’re actually wasting time and money if you show up to a counseling session without being willing to share your truth. There’s no need to be bluntly honest 24/7, but when you’re having an issue with the person you love, it’s better to deal with it sooner or later. Addressing the problem immediately in a compassionate way, rather than procrastinating a conversation, is the fastest way to start getting back on track.”― Julia Dellitt

8. When all else fails, give each other hug or a kiss. 

“Therapy has emphasized the importance of physical touch our marriage. It is healing. When all else fails kiss. It works like a charm.” ― Mikki Bey Crawford

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How To Take Your Marriage From Sexless To Steamy, In 7 Steps

Don’t feel guilty if you can’t remember the last time you and your partner got it on; sexless marriages have become almost endemic in modern society. According to data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, the top-searched marriage complaint on Google is “sexless marriage” ― and it only takes a second to stumble upon advice forums, like the Dead Bedrooms board on Reddit. 

But couples in sexless marriages don’t have to go on quietly suffering. Below, psychologists and sex therapists share their best advice for revving up your sex life. 

1. Work out your marital issues first. 

Nothing kills your sex drive quite like unresolved relationship issues. If there’s emotional baggage between you and your partner, address it head-on, said Chris Maxwell Rose, a sex educator and the creator of the Pleasure Mechanics online courses. 

“Practice radical honesty and forgiveness outside the bedroom,” she said. “Take a walk or a drive together and share all of the emotional baggage that has been getting in your way. Then, make a joint commitment to move forward together.” 

2. Acknowledge that there’s a problem in the bedroom. 

The most effective intervention to a sexless relationship is surprisingly simple: Partners need to acknowledge the problem and express interest in reconnecting sexually, said Kimberly Resnick Anderson, a sex therapist in Los Angeles, California. 

“Just having an honest conversation can quickly shrink the elephant in the room,” she said. “Honoring the value of sex in a relationship is the first step toward reconnecting. Believe it or not, it’s not uncommon for couples who have avoided sexual contact for years to leave my office after just one session and go home and have sex.” 

3.  Spend a few hours every week getting touchy-feely.

Sex isn’t always going to be spontaneous. To get things started again, carve out two windows of time a week where all you do is touch. Think of it like a grownup makeout session, said Gracie Landes, a sex therapist and marriage and family therapist in New York City.

“Focus on your own sensations while you touch your partner, then gradually add in more mutual touch and slowly build up to intercourse,” Landes said. “But only pursue that last step when you’re both ready, comfortable and confident.” 

4. Use your memories to your advantage. 

It’s going to take some time to get in a sexy frame of mind. To get there, New York City sex therapist Megan Fleming recommends reminiscing about a really hot sex experience from your past. 

“Replay it in your mind’s eye, like watching a movie,” she suggested. “You have to really allow yourself to reconnect with how the experience felt, incorporating all five senses. It’s important to realize you have the power to turn yourself on long before your partner enters the room.” 

5. Read erotica or watch porn together. 

It helps to have an active imagination during sex, but if you’re struggling to imagine something that gets you or your partner off, outsource the job, advised Ian Kerner, a sex therapist and the author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman.

“Many of the couples I work with are surprised at how hot it can be to read erotica together,” he said. “Others enjoy watching porn and letting their fingers do the talking.” 

Kerner’s top erotica recommendations include old-school works like Emmanuelle by Emmanuelle Arsan, the Story of O by Pauline Reage or Delta of Venus by Anais Nin. If you’re more of a visual person, you may want to give ethical, women-friendly porn a chance. (Kerner recommends the films of Jackie St. James or Erika Lust.) 

6. Find out what your partner is craving sexually, and learn how to give it to them. 

Chances are, your turn-ons have changed over time. The same is probably true for your partner. Take the guesswork out of the equation by talking openly about your sexual interests, said Keeley Rankin, a sex therapist in San Francisco, California.

“Sexual needs can change over time and it’s important to ask every once and a while, ‘hey, what have you been craving sexually?’ Once you find out, learn how to give that to them,” she said. “If they want something you’re not familiar with, let them teach you.” 

7. Develop new “sex menus” together.

Try to picture your sex life this way: Just like there are different food groups that make up the food pyramid, there’s a limitless amount of sex positions and kinks to explore to keep your sex life vibrant and healthy. Read the Kama Sutra, search sex positions online ― do whatever it takes to get excited about sex again, Kerner said. 

“I often ask couples to come up with menus that emphasize different themes: emotional connection and love-making for instance, or fantasy-based menus that emphasize imagination,” he said. “And if you’re on the run, put the ‘quickie’ back on the menu ― whatever it takes!”

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Rumour Has It singer Adele confirms marriage

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Facing A Mixed Orientation Marriage With Gratitude And Hope

Many little girls, often daydream of walking down the aisle, on the most joyous day of their life – their wedding day. Heart racing, nervous smile plastered across her glowing face, never once thinking that the man she’s walking towards is hiding a secret that he’s too afraid to share.

Many young men envision meeting their soulmate, sharing their life with the person of their dreams, having a family, and living the life that’s expected of them – married to a beautiful woman and being a supportive husband and father. Yet some men are torn apart inside by the secret they keep that leads to heart wrenching guilt, shame, and fear of failing everyone they know.

Regardless of the scenario, whether it’s a man or a woman hiding their secret, at some point, the pain of pretending to be someone they’re not becomes greater than the transparent truth of living and being who they’re meant to be.

In that moment, all the years of love, parenting, and life building are diminished to a rubble of memories. Tortured wails of “How could you do this to me?” by an unsuspecting spouse, are just the tip of the betrayal iceberg that sinks the life once known by all concerned.

On the other hand, many couples in a mixed orientation marriage bravely join forces, standing tall in love, vowing to get support for overcoming the wicked temptation of same-sex attraction. Prayer, therapy, retreats, hard work, and tear-stained conversations litter the landscape of a marriage in defense mode, all in the name of “make it work, just make it work!” However, even the most resolute attempts to stay afloat in the life ring of “Until death do us part,” find many couples surrendering to the truth that fixing the same-sex attraction, or fixing it enough, as Matt the husband your about to meet said in his TEDx talk, isn’t going to happen. To quell the truth of a spouse embittered in their own internal tug of war with who they are vs. who the rest of the world expects them to be, is practically a death sentence in and of itself.

While both in-the-know spouses may give a mixed orientation marriage a fair shake, many are faced with the harsh reality, that denying the truth of the same-sex attraction only leads to deeper levels of guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, and more often than not ugly embittered relationships that lead to divorce. Matt and Luanne Nightingale are trying to walk the road less traveled, one of gratitude and hope, for unraveling their 25-year relationship.

Granted, it’s a common, and a completely acceptable, rationale human emotion to want to lash out, be angry, and desire the betrayer, pay, pay, pay for the lies they’ve laden into a 23-year marriage, that never really was the storybook version of the storybook marriage they thought they were living. However, by changing perspectives a little and dramatic shifts of thought, one begins to see the beauty of diversity, if one chooses to do so.

Even though the wounds are still freshly cut, and like many heterosexual spouses, Luanne is getting the raw end of the deal (a justifiable feeling that most heterosexual spouses feel) by having her little girl dreams of happily ever after shattered, the question remains, “Why me, why now, why to begin with?” As understanding, compassionate, and loving as she can be, it doesn’t take away the gut wrenching blow to the heart, self-esteem, and trust that Luann built in her marriage to the man that she loved.

When faced with the harsh truth, Luann and Matt faced eerily similar circumstances and questions that thousands of other same sex couples caught in this mixed-orientation marriage turmoil have faced. Heart-wrenching questions like, “Do we try to make this work?” or “How do we undo the damage, un-tell the lies?” and the ever so popular, “What does the future hold for either of us, our kids, our family?” Yet, they found a path.

Through open, honest, transparent communication, Matt and Luanne have chosen to accept the truth of Matt’s same-sex attraction – him a little more easily, her a little more painfully. Leaning into their relationship built on love, respect, support and brutal honesty, they’re now, in their own words, “Trying to do this well.” The “This well” being, creating an environment for themselves and their children where the family thrives rather than survives as their marriage unravels – she as a single, pained and saddened heterosexual mother, he as a single, excited yet sorrowful, gay father.

While brutal honesty and truth often slice deep into the jugular of life, transparency for being known for who you are is a blessing that eradicates guilt, shame, and self-loathing, opening one’s self, and hopefully others to the light of living truth for truths sake. In the light of Matt’s truth, his real truth, he and Luanne are building a new foundation that embraces the reality that who you are is who you are even though at times it hurts and brings up anger and confusion. However, both Matt and Luann have found that any attempt to fight your truth only compounds the darkness, hurt and pain which in turn, eventually manifests as a person living a pretend life having pretend relationships.

On Saturday, November 6, 2016 Matt and Luanne bravely, both in their own unique way, took the stage at TEDx Sonoma County to share their story, their journey, and their truth – a truth that demonstrates with respect, support, honesty, and a deep dive into forgiveness and understanding that both of them are trying to navigate the waters of unraveling a marriage of deception and lies, with dignity and love.

Selecting gratitude and hope as their guideposts, Matt and Luanne’s TEDx talk demonstrates their ability to find common ground in what could easily be a chaotic war of love gone wrong. Yes. This is their path of choice, but it does beg the question, “What’s possible when gratitude and hope are chosen over bitterness and you done me wrong thoughts?”

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28 Reasons It Pays To Have A Feminist Marriage

We’re calling it: A feminist marriage, where both partners respect and treat each other as equals, is the very best kind of marriage. (Also, studies suggest the sex is better, so there’s that, too.)

Below, 28 solid reasons to fall in love with someone who recognizes that feminism benefits both women and men.

1. There’s parity in your relationship. You push each other to reach your goals and full potential, because ultimately, you know you’re stronger as a team.  

2. You’re not wedded to outdated gender expectations. Want to be a stay-at-home dad while your wife brings home the bacon? Go for it.

3. There’s no place for “locker room talk” or “boys will be boys” excuses in your relationship. You hold each other to a much higher standard than that.

4. When it’s time to clean the house or do the laundry, you divide up the chores according to preference and workload, not gender. Also worth noting? A 2015 study from the University of Alberta suggested that people in more egalitarian relationships have higher relationship satisfaction and more sex than couples who leave it to one spouse. 

5. Another reason feminist couples have better sex? Feminist men recognize that a woman’s pleasure is just as important as theirs. There’s no rolling over and falling asleep prematurely. (How rude.)

6. While we’re on the subject of sex, your partner would never slut-shame you for your sexual past. Your “sex number” is no big deal.

7. You have the luxury of not having to explain the importance of Planned Parenthood to your S.O. (And if your partner is worried about a weird bump some place down south, you know just where to direct him or her. Thanks, PP!)

8. Mansplaining is not an issue you have to deal with in your own home, thank goodness. 

9. You both know a woman’s place is anywhere she damn well pleases ― and that if you both choose to work, it just means more income.

10. Ideologically, your partner believes that the world is a better place when women are empowered. As noted feminist (and our favorite ginger) Prince Harry once put it, “When women are empowered, they immeasurably improve the lives of everyone around them — their families, their communities, and their countries.”

11. Your partner loves your body but recognizes that the decisions you make regarding it are yours and yours alone. Sexual and reproductive rights matter to both of you.

12. You don’t fret about maintaining relationships with friends of the opposite sex. Your partner knows you can and should have relationships with other men and other women. 

13. If you’re a man, you could get proposed to ― men don’t always to be the one to pop the question!

14. Your wedding can be as heteronormative and traditional or as modern and unconventional as you want. (So feel free to forgo the garter belt toss if you find that awkward as hell.)

15. If your partner’s guy friends start badmouthing feminism, you know he’ll correct them. (Bonus points if he has Chimamanda Ngozi’s definition of feminism memorized because you blast Beyonce’s “Flawless” nonstop.)

16. Your complaints and concerns are never delegitimized because of your sex, and your partner sure as heck would never say, “sounds like someone’s on their period.”

17. You don’t look at each other as a project or someone to “fix.” Men don’t need to be anyone’s knight in shining armor and women shouldn’t feel like they can “love away” a man’s problems. You each take ownership for your own issues and go into the relationship as whole and independent people.

18. If you decide to marry, you can do whatever you want with your last names. Take his surname, have him take yours, hyphenate, create a hybrid/combo last name ― it’s your call. 

19. Your partner is proud ― not resentful ― of your career accomplishments. He or she pushes you to accomplish everything you want in life, on your own timeline ― be it your career, passion projects or having a family (or all three of them).

20. Phrases like “man up” or “don’t be a pussy” are off limits. The beauty of feminism is that it benefits men, too; your partner can be as vulnerable or as emotional as he wants and it doesn’t make him less of a man. 

21. It feels so good to be with someone who appreciates your brain just as much as your beauty. 

21. If you have kids, you can give them the talk about consent and the birds and the bees as a team. (Phew, what a relief.)

23. You both recognize that paid parental leave is good for everyone. (Hopefully, your work places recognize that too and offer paternity leave.)

24. Through your relationship, you get to model what a marriage of equals really looks like to your kids. 

25. But if you were to divorce, you recognize that both parents deserve to be in your kids’ lives. 

26. If your husband is out with the kids and someone says “looks like mom has the day off!” you can both roll your eyes about it later on.

27. Your marriage and definition of monogamy can be as traditional or unconventional as you want it to be. 

28. Your partner understands why you felt compelled to go to the Women’s March. Hell, they probably joined you and wore a “this is what a feminist looks like” shirt. It doesn’t get any sexier than that. 

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19 Places You Should Never, Ever Propose Marriage

There’s nothing more romantic than hearing the words “Will you marry me?” Unless, of course, those three words are uttered at McDonalds or some place similarly uninspired. Sorry, but no amount of Chicken McNuggets can redeem that situation. 

What other proposal locations should be avoided? Below, we’ve rounded up some of the funniest quips and real-life experiences from the trending Twitter hashtag #BadProposalLocations. 

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George H.W. Bush And Barbara Bush Celebrate 72 Years Of Marriage

Happy anniversary to George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush!

The former president, 92, and former first lady celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary on Friday. They are the longest-married couple in presidential history, followed by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, who married in 1946. 

The couple tied the knot on Jan. 6, 1945 in Rye, New York while George was home on leave from the Navy during World War II. They went on to have six children ― four sons including George, Jeb, Neil and Marvin and two daughters Dorothy and Robin, who died at age three of leukemia. 

The couple’s story first began in 1941 when they met at a Christmas dance in Greenwich, Connecticut. 

In a 1994 love letter, George wrote to his beloved wife, “I was very happy on that day in 1945, but I’m even happier today. You give me joy that few men know. I’ve climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband.”

May this year be the couple’s happiest one yet! 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that John and Abigail Adams had the second longest marriage in presidential history; that distinction goes to Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. 

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Wedding Planning: Dream Wedding Tips – A Guide with Wedding Checklists, Budgets, Calendars, and More (Wedding Planning, Checklists, Budgets, Calendars, Dream Wedding, Marriage, Dating)

How LSD ‘Microdosing’ Saved Ayelet Waldman’s Marriage

The novelist credits tiny hits of psychedelic acid with salvaging her marriage to Michael Chabon. And maybe her life.
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Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Best Quotes About Love, Marriage And Divorce

Zsa Zsa Gabor, who died Sunday at the age of 99, was arguably more famous for her many marriages and divorces than she was for her acting career. The wife of eight husbands (well, nine if you count the union that lasted only one day before it was annulled), Gabor unapologetically loved, lost and left throughout her lavish life. 

“Every girl should be married at least once in her life. It’s a must,” Gabor wrote in her 1970 book, “How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man.” 

Gabor would know. In her lifetime, she wed a Turkish diplomat, a hotelier, an English actor, a Mexican actor, a Beverly Hills investor, a Texas socialite, an inventor, a divorce lawyer and even the adopted son of German royalty, who finally gave Gabor the one title she seemed destined to have: princess.

The star was adored by fans for her witty one-liners and her openness to dish on her wild romances, which apparently included the likes of Sean Connery and Richard Burton. When asked how many husbands she had, Gabor was quoted in the 1975 anthology, “I Wish I’d Said That” by Kenneth Edwards as responding with, “You mean apart from my own?” 

Here are some of Gabor’s most memorable quotes about love:

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Cherokee Nation Will Now Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

The Cherokee Nation will now recognize same-sex marriage, according to an opinion issued Friday by the tribe’s attorney general.

Todd Hembree, the tribe’s attorney general, wrote in his opinion:

The right to marry without the freedom to marry the person of one’s choice is no right at all. The history of perpetual partnerships and marriage among Cherokees supports the conclusion that Cherokee citizens have a fundamental right not only to choose a spouse but also, with mutual consent, to join together and form a household irrespective of sexual orientation.

The decision followed a request made by the tribe’s tax commissioner for an official opinion on the issue a few weeks ago.

“We were increasingly being contacted by departments in the Cherokee Nation on how to handle certain issues with same-sex marriage,” Chrissi Nimmo, assistant attorney general of the Cherokee Nation, told The Huffington Post on Friday.

Native American nations are governed by Congress, not the federal courts. So the 2015 Supreme Court decision to recognize gay marriage in all 50 states did not legally affect the Cherokee Nation, but Nimmo said the bulk of Friday’s decision was indeed informed by it.

Hembree’s decision was also influenced by historical Cherokee Nation sexuality narratives. He wrote in Friday’s decision:

Our oral history teaches us also that the Cherokee and Euro-American worldviews differed dramatically regarding appropriate gender roles, marriage, sexuality, and spiritual beliefs. Indeed, while the majority of Cherokees subscribed to the traditional gender roles, evidence suggests a tradition of homosexuality or alternative sexuality among a minority of Cherokees.

“It think it’s a really interesting part of the decision,” Nimmo told HuffPost. “Through historical research, we were able to identify research sources that indicate there was some type of historical recognition of homosexuality.”

Hembree’s opinion nullifies a law the tribe passed 12 years ago called the Cherokee Nation and Family Protection Act, which banned same-sex marriage among tribe members. 

Though same-sex marriage is still illegal in some Native American tribes, like the Navajo Nation, Nimmo believes most tribes don’t take a stance on it either way. 

“I think you will see a mixed reaction [to Friday’s decision] like you do in the American public at large,” Nimmo told HuffPost. “Without a doubt, there will be tribal members and officials who support this and are proud of this, and there will be others … who don’t like it.”

The Cherokee Nation’s legal recognition of same-sex marriage will take effect immediately. Nimmo said Hembree’s decision is “binding and considered legally valid,” though it can be challenged by other Cherokee officials at any time.

“I don’t really know who would challenge it,” Nimmo added.

Supporters of the decision shared their excitement on social media:

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7 ‘If We’re Not Married By…’ Pacts That Actually Ended In Marriage

In “How I Met Your Mother,” Ted and Robin make an agreement that if they’re still single at 40, they’ll just marry each other. 

Spoiler alert: They do eventually end up together (with a whole lot of ups and downs in between). But to our surprise, this kind of thing isn’t just a pop culture trope; it happens in real life too.

Read on for seven stories of real couples who made similar “if we’re not married by…” pacts and actually ended up together. Some didn’t wait until the agreed-upon age, but that doesn’t make their love stories any less sweet. 

1. We made the pact as a joke in high school. At 30, we tied the knot.

“Brittany and I were in each other’s lives longer than my memory will go back. We were always good friends, but got really close in middle school and high school. Sometime in high school we started joking that if we were both single at 30, then we would get married. At 24 we started hanging out a lot. By 25 we were in an official relationship. And on our 30th birthday (yes, we share that) we were married. We didn’t force anything because of the pact we made. It all happened as it was supposed to. We celebrated our first ‘birthiversary’ earlier this month, and we are still madly in love!” ― Byron 

2. After some heart break, we made the marriage pact in jest. Now we’re 30 and planning a wedding.

“Rey and I met online and became good friends when we were both 23, and since we lived 2000 miles apart, it was only a friendship. After each of us had a few bad relationships and shared mutual heartaches, we jokingly made our pact; If by 30, if we were still single, I’d take the leap of faith, move across country and we would date for a year or two before getting married. We both tried dating others, but by 28, we reconnected through social media. Our friendship grew and when the pact was mentioned again, we both embraced it. I moved to Texas in 2014, and now at 30, we are happily engaged and planning a wedding for the spring of 2018.” ― Heather W.

3. We decided on age 33, but destiny couldn’t wait that long.

“Jason and I met in high school in 1996 (we were 17) and ended up going to senior prom together since neither of us had dates. We decided that we were such good friends that if we weren’t married to other people in 2011 by the time we turned 33 (our birthdays are five days apart) that we’d marry each other. Fast forward to 1997 when we had our first child before getting married on Valentine’s Day in 2000. We were both so scared of finding ‘the one’ so young that we fought it, but fate had plans for us and they couldn’t wait until 2011! We now have two children, 16 years of marriage and are looking forward to old age together. Even when we are angry with each other, we can find a laugh because our friendship is so strong. It’s pretty damn awesome.” ― Dawn-Maia S.

4. We agreed that if we were single at 30, we’d get together. At 34, we were married.

“I first met Burnill in fourth grade and didn’t like him one bit. When we were 13 we met again at a skating rink while I was on a date with his friend and he was on a blind date with my friend. We eventually started spending time together, and we became a couple at 16. We broke up and lost touch for about a year after, and ran into each other again when we were 18. That’s when we made our pact that if we weren’t both married at 30 then we would get married. After this I didn’t see him for about nine years until he found me on Facebook. At the time I was married and had two kids. About six years later, I was single and he contacted me again via Facebook. We got married at 34 and have one beautiful little boy together, along with my two older children.” ― Rae M.

5. We started out as best friends with an “if we’re still single at 30…” agreement. Six months later, we were husband and wife. 

“My best friend of 10 years said to me one day in a group conversation that if we weren’t with anyone by the time she was 30 (she was 25 at the time) that we would have to be together. As beautiful as she was/is, I never made a move because I used to date her best friend, so I thought the ‘girl code’ would halt my advances. Sure enough, once she said that, I was like, ‘Hold up, she’s possibly into me?!’ So I made the move! Six months after that conversation, we got married. It was a fairly easy transition. Currently married for three years with two children. I’m loving every moment of it.”― Korderius D.

6. We made the pact in college. Two years later we were married ― long before age 40.

“Sarah and I became best friends after working as EMTs on our college ambulance service. We were never single at the same time, so when I was 20 and she was 22 we made a pact to get married when I was 40 if we were both single. I made it to age 22 before asking her to marry me. Our wedding was in 2013 and it was a ton of fun ― she’s a private pilot and I’m in the Air Force so we had a formation flight before exchanging vows on the taxiway at the small airport where she learned to fly.” ― Ahmed H.

7. We agreed to be each other’s backup spouse if we weren’t married by 30. Just a few years later, we got married. 

“I met Sam in 2010 during our freshman year of college. At the time we were both seeing other people, but we became very good friends very quickly mostly because of our mutual interest in self deprecation. Sometime that year we were talking about the inevitability of our current partners giving up on us and decided we should probably have some sort of contingency plan so we didn’t die miserable and alone. We decided if we were both single when we were 30, we would give up on love and resign ourselves to lives of senseless banter. She and I were 18 and 19, respectively. We decided we did actually love each other, so we moved our timetable up a bit and got married in April of 2013.” ― Ethan W.

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Eva Longoria Dishes on Her New Clothing Line and Marriage to Jose Antonio Baston

Eva LongoriaEva Longoria has been busy this summer.
The 41-year-old Telenovela actress not only married Jose Antonio Baston in May, but she’s about to launch her very own clothing line with The…

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Here’s Some Surprisingly Positive News About Marriage In The U.S.

Here’s some heartening news about marriage: The U.S. divorce rate fell for the third consecutive year in 2015, dropping to the lowest it’s been in 40 years, according to a report based on Census data released Thursday.

The divorce rate ― represented as the number of divorces per 1,000 married women aged 15 and older ― was 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women in 2015, a slight dip from the divorce rate of 17.6 in 2014. The rate is down 25 percent from 1980, according to the report, which was released by Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Marriage and Family Research.

“We may have reached the low point in the decline in marriage,” Susan L. Brown, a co-director at the center, told The Huffington Post. “Over the past few years, there has not been a further retreat from marriage among the US population.” 

What’s more, marriage rates remain stable, with 32.3 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women, up from 31.9 in 2014. 

Though divorce rates have fallen among young people (35 and under), they’ve increased for middle-aged and older people, Brown said. 

“Many of these Baby Boomers experienced the divorce revolution of the 1970s as young adults and then got remarried,” she told HuffPost. “The gray divorce rate for those in a remarriage is 2.5 times higher than for those in a first marriage.”

Meanwhile, younger generations are marrying later in life and being more selective in the process of finding a partner, she said. 

“Young adults who get married tend to do so at later ages and they enjoy greater economic resources and they’re more likely to be college educated than their counterparts a generation ago,” she said. “Both of these factors are protective against divorce.” 

Of course, the divorce rate varies by state: Washington, D.C. has the highest divorce rate, with nearly 30 marriages per 1,000 ending in divorce, followed by Wyoming (27.9), Nevada (25.7) and Arkansas (25.3)

Hawaii has the lowest divorce rate, with only 11 marriages per 1,000 ending in divorce, followed by Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Delaware, which were all under 13.

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Here’s Where Donald Trump Stands on Abortion, Gay Marriage, and More Vital Issues

Keep this handy.

Lifestyle – Esquire

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Purchase one of 1st World Library’s Classic Books and help support our free internet library of downloadable eBooks. Visit us online at www.1stWorldLibrary. ORG Monsieur de Manerville, the father, was a worthy Norman gentleman, well known to the Marechael de Richelieu, who married him to one of the richest heiresses of Bordeaux in the days when the old duke reigned in Guienne as governor. The Norman then sold the estate he owned in Bessin, and became a Gascon, allured by the beauty of the chateau de Lanstrac, a delightful residence owned by his wife. During the last days of the reign of Louis XV, he bought the post of major of the Gate Guards, and lived till 1813, having by great good luck escaped the dangers of the Revolution in the following manner. Toward the close of the year, 1790, he went to Martinque, where his wife had interests, leaving the management of his property in Gascogne to an honest man, a notary’s clerk, named Mathias, who was inclined to – or at any rate did – give into the new ideas. On his return the Comte de Manerville found his possessions intact and well-managed. This sound result was the fruit produced by grafting the Gascon on the Norman.

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Woody Allen Opens Up About His Marriage to Soon-Yi Previn: “I Provided Her With Enormous Opportunities”

Woody Allen, The Hollywood ReporterWoody Allen is done defending his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn.
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Hard Lessons I Learned From Repeatedly Faking Marriage

In which I pretend to tie the knot. Over and over again.

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Gisele Bündchen Opens Up About Marriage Issues With Tom Brady

Just because two people appear to have no physical imperfections does not mean their marriage is picture-perfect, too. 

Such is the case for Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady, who have had a bumpy year, to say the least — dealing with divorce rumors in the midst of the New England Patriots quarterback’s involvement in Deflategate.  

On Tuesday, the 35-year-old opened up to Charlie Rose on “CBS This Morning” about their six-year marriage, revealing they’ve “been through a few tough times together.”

The supermodel went on to quash split rumors, explaining that they’ve gotten through trying times by leaning on one another and their loved ones. 

 ”I think that’s when you know who are your friends and who loves you. My father always said, the quality of your life depends on the quality of your relationships, and I think, no matter how challenging it was, we’ve always been supportive of one another,” Bündchen told Rose. “I think that’s the most important thing you can have in life, you know? A support system and love.”

Of course, the couple has been dealing with trying times since they began dating nine years ago and soon discovered that Brady’s ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan was pregnant with his child. 

It’s a subject the model has rarely discussed, but she called the situation a “challenging thing.”

“Here I am, you know, thinking I’m dating this guy … everything is great, and then this happens. So I felt I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “It was one of the moments like, ‘Do I just run away?’”

Of course, Bündchen didn’t run. 

“Now, eight years later, I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter bonus child,” she said,  referring to Brady and Moynahan’s 8-year-old son, while she and the NFL player have two children of their own. 

A photo posted by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on

Meanwhile, Brady previously spoke out against the rumors the couple were headed for a split in September.

“We’re in a great place, I’ll just say that,” the NFL player told  Boston radio station WEEI 93.7 FM. “I’m a lucky man. I’ve been very blessed with support from my family and certainly her, and there’s no bigger supporter that I have than her and vice versa. I’ve been very blessed to have an incredible relationship with my life partner, and I don’t think anything will ever get in the way of that.”

 

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11 Small Things You Can Do In A Marriage That Make A Big Difference

Marriages are often thought of and celebrated in milestones – weddings, babies and new houses, to name a few. But it’s really the small, everyday moments of love, support and kindness between two people that define a lasting partnership.

We recently asked HuffPost readers to share the little, unexpected tips and tricks that make a big difference in their relationships. Find out what they had to say below: 

1. A good, long hug makes all the difference.
“At least once a day, especially after work, we just stand and give each other a long hug. No words or kissing or moving. I stand with my arms up and he stands with his arms out, then we fall into our hug. It’s a nice quiet moment in which we can decompress with each other.” – Michelle Gold

2. Go out of your way to do something silly and sweet to make your partner smile. 
“I hide things like his favorite snacks or a reminder of something fun we did recently in his shoes, pockets or cup holders in his car with little notes full of stupid puns to make him laugh.” – Lacey Marie

3. Never stop saying “thank you” — even for the simplest of tasks. 
“Even after 12 years, my guy always says to me after dinner, ‘Thank you for a great dinner’ — even if it’s a TV dinner. Makes me feel appreciated.” - Debbie Wagner

4. Create a quirky nighttime ritual that’s just about the two of you. 
“We snack in bed — a late-night ice cream or a chocolate bar that the kids know nothing about!” - Humi K. 

5. Don’t just say “I love you.” Tell each other why specifically. 
“Every night before we go to sleep we say to each other, ‘I love you today because…’ We do this no matter what happened that day. We even make sure to call or text it to each other when we are apart.” – Jae Russell

6. Kiss each other goodbye no matter what. 
“Every morning when I leave for work, he’s still in bed. And every day I say ‘I’m leaving’ and even in a dead sleep, he kisses me.” – Steffanie Anne

7. Inside jokes are a must. 
“My husband and I quote movies all the time, and even recently during sex.
Me: ‘You keep moving my hands.’
Him: ‘I don’t know what to do with my hands, quoting Ricky Bobby.
Instant humor.” - Lindsey Lipp

8. Think about how you can make your partner’s day easier, and then do that. 
“My husband warms my car up for me and scrapes the ice and snow off of it in the winter time, even though I go to work way earlier than him and am fully capable of warming up my own car. It really means a lot that he gets up early and freezes just so I don’t have to.” – Wendy Griffith

9. Spending some time apart can strengthen your bond. 
“It’s going to seem backwards but it’s important in my relationship for my husband and I to have our own interests and do our own thing. I’ll go to yoga or dinner with friends and he will play cards. The time apart gives us the opportunity to miss each other and gives us more stories to share.” – Sarah Goodier

10. Don’t underestimate the importance of touch.
“We always sleep naked and touch in bed, even if it’s just a toe against a leg or a hand on a thigh.” – Lauren East

11. Even when you’re busy, let your partner know that he or she is always top of mind. 
“I program ‘events’ in my husband’s phone calendar to alert him throughout the year. Sweet things like ‘Thinking of you xoxo’ and memories like the day we met.” – Kasey Christine St. John

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Good and Bad Surprises You Can Expect in the First Year of Marriage

Everyone tells you that things will change in your first year of marriage, but every couple's experience is a little bit different. That first year will be full of surprises—some good, some bad—and once…


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Couple Who Helped Win Marriage Equality Finally Ties The Knot

Two women who played an integral role in the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide have finally tied the knot, and Now This News has compiled a beautiful video documenting the occasion.

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, a Michigan couple who became plaintiffs in the recent historic legal battle for same-sex marriage rights, married one another in front of approximately 300 friends and family members last week, according to Detroit Free Press.

The pair, who have four kids, initially only pursued a legal case about adoption rights, since Michigan’s adoption code doesn’t allow for joint or second-parent adoption. However, Rowse and DeBoer became one of the couples to join other plaintiffs from Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky in a combined marriage equality case known as Obergefell v. Hodges, wherein the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay couples, thereby guaranteeing marriage equality across the nation.

“Little did I know that you would bring me four beautiful kids… and drag me into the Supreme Court,” DeBoer told Rowse during her vows. “I am honored to soon be your legal wife… You are my best friend. I promise to love you forever. I can’t imagine my life without you and without our kids. I promise to stand by you forever.”

Congrats, Jayne and April!

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Gabrielle Union Celebrates a Year of Marriage With Never-Before-Seen Wedding Photos

We knew Gabrielle Union looked drop-dead gorgeous when she said “I do” to Dwyane Wade almost a year ago. But she’s taken some time to remind us today, in the lead-up to their one-year anniversary,…


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A Year Into Marriage, Lauren Conrad Shares the Best Part—and the Hardest

Lauren Conrad got up close and personal with her fans yesterday, tackling 10 of her Instagram followers’ most pressing questions on her site, laurenconrad.com. Almost one year into her marriage with William Tell (the two…


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What Your First Year of Marriage Teaches You

While one year of marriage hardly seems like an accomplishment (my grandparents made it to 50, after all!), I do believe that my first 365 days of matrimony have been significant — at least in terms of what I’ve learned along the way.

I can’t speak for other couples, but I can share my own experiences and what this first year has taught me about my relationship, myself and marriage in general.

First, I’ve learned that being married is far less stressful than wedding planning — at least for me. While I absolutely loved planning our wedding (so much so that I even became a wedding planner!), the process of making decisions for this huge event was a little… much at times. I felt so much pressure to make sure every choice was special, personal, and, well, right. Looking back, I’ve realized that I didn’t need to work myself up over things so much and that while I loved all the DIY projects and special touches I worked so hard on, they aren’t what made the day as memorable as it was.

Being married, while full of decisions and tasks (because, life), is much more mundane than planning to get married ever was — and thank goodness for that.

Another key lesson I learned has to do with my perception of marriage and how that’s changed. Before I was indeed an ol’ married lady, I thought of the institution as the ultimate secure status, the pinnacle of relationship success. While being merely boyfriend and girlfriend was a fragile relationship state (always the chance of breaking up!), being husband and wife was a dignified, solidified existence. I figured I wouldn’t ever have another doubting thought about a relationship again once I had a ring on my finger.

Even though I am confident in my marriage, love my husband, and know that he loves me — and while being married does in many ways feel like the cozy nest I always hoped it would — there is far more at stake when you’re wed than when you’re simply dating.

Perhaps because I am anxious and overly worried by nature, rather than feeling carefree, I find myself thinking critically about my choices as a wife — how my actions affect my husband, how I can communicate better, talk more gently, be the person I want to be. (And I beat myself up more than I ever did while we were dating when I lose my temper or say something I don’t really mean.)

I’m not extra hard on myself out of fear of divorce or a worry of disappointing my husband, rather, I now feel a deeper responsibly to just be better. Showing up for my partner, and our marriage, as my best self matters far more now than it ever did before. Since, of course, we’re in this for life and all.

Finally, I’ve learned that while I do feel a sense of responsibility to myself and my husband to continue to be a better person, marriage hasn’t really changed our daily lives all that much. We still go out for drinks with friends, watch The Bachelor on Monday nights, spend lazy Saturday mornings in our pajamas, and take turns making each other coffee. Yet, even when we do these everyday things, we do them as husband and wife.

I love being able to call the man I’ve chosen by his new, shiny title, and likewise being his Mrs. Sometimes, hearing the still new-to-us labels spoken aloud (like, when we introduce each other now as husband and wife) takes me by surprises. In a good way, of course. When I hear those words, I feel grown up in a way I never have before.

I can only hope that, when we’re celebrating our own 50th anniversary, I still feel this joy and satisfaction, even after the word “wife” has been uttered my way hundreds of times. As it stands now, I can’t imagine ever getting tired of hearing it.

A version of the post originally appeared on Robbins’ Brothers Engaged blog

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The Real Donald: Excerpts From Trump’s Books On Women, Marriage, Sex And More

Before he jumped into the presidential race and the media frenzy that comes with it, real estate mogul Donald Trump preferred to communicate with the American people via a more intimate medium — the simple written word.

The Huffington Post has reviewed nearly a dozen books by and/or about Trump, including one by John O’Donnell, a former executive in Trump’s business empire, and one by Tim O’Brien, a longtime journalist and former HuffPost editor. Reading through these works, which go back a full 25 years, one gets a better sense of the businessman’s macho persona, his taste for extravagance, his views about women and his rise to the top of the New York City social scene. All quotes are Trump’s words except where noted otherwise.


On marriage

“A good marriage is like negotiating an important deal: You have to consider all the factors, thoughtfully and thoroughly. If you were investing a large part of yourself and your fortune into a venture, believe me, you’d make sure you thought about it for a long time first. That’s how I see marriage. It’s serious, and it’s important. I don’t approach it any more haphazardly than I do a very important deal. In fact, considering the amount of deals I’ve made compared to the number of marriages I’ve had, I’d say I’m quite cautious about marriage. You should be, too.” (Think Like A Billionaire, Donald Trump with Meredith McIver, 2005)

*

“For a man to be successful he needs support at home, just like my father had from my mother, not someone who is always griping and bitching. When a man has to endure a woman who is not supportive and complains constantly about his not being home enough or not being attentive enough, he will not be very successful unless he is unable to cut the cord.” (The Art of the Comeback, Donald Trump with Kate Bohner, 1997)

“If he doesn’t lose the ballbreaker, his career will go nowhere.” (The Art of the Comeback


On prenuptial agreements

“There are basically three types of women and reactions. One is the good woman who very much loves her future husband, solely for himself, but refuses to sign the agreement on principle. I fully understand this, but the man should take a pass anyway and find someone else.” (The Art of the Comeback)

On women

“I was always of the opinion that aggression, sex drive, and everything that goes along with it was on the man’s part of the table, not the woman’s. As I grew older and witnessed life firsthand from a front-row seat at the great clubs, social events, and parties of the world — I have seen just about everything — I began to realize that women are far stronger than men. Their sex drive makes us look like babies. Some women try to portray themselves as being of the weaker sex, but don’t believe it for a minute.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“I remember attending a magnificent dinner being given by one of the most admired people in the world. I was seated next to a lady of great social pedigree and wealth. Her husband was sitting on the other side of the table, and we were having a very nice but extremely straight conversation. All of a sudden I felt her hand on my knee, then on my leg. She started petting me in all different ways. I looked at her and asked, ‘Is everything alright?’ I didn’t want to make a scene in a ballroom full of five hundred VIPs. The amazing part about her was who she was — one of the biggest of the big. She then asked me to dance, and I accepted. While we were dancing she became very aggressive, and I said, ‘Look, we have a problem. Your husband is sitting at that table, and so is my wife.’

‘Donald,’ she said, ‘I don’t care. I just don’t care. I have to have you, and I have to have you now.’ I told her that I’d call her, but she had to stop the behavior immediately. She made me promise, and I did. When I called I just called to say hello, and that was the end of that. But the level of aggression was unbelievable.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“One woman, who was socially prominent, was getting married, and I had bumped into her on Fifth Avenue while she was exchanging wedding gifts. I had my limousine nearby, and she asked if I could give her a ride back to her apartment on Park Avenue. I said absolutely, not even suspecting that within five seconds after the door closed she would be jumping on top of me wanting to get screwed. I said, ‘You’re getting married next week, and I’m going to your wedding.’

‘I don’t really care,’ she said. ‘ I never liked him that much anyway, and you know that.’ I was really in a quandary, because she is a truly great-looking and sexy woman.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“There’s nothing I love more than women, but they’re really a lot different than portrayed. They are far worse than men, far more aggressive, and boy, can they be smart.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“I don’t know why, but I seem to bring out either the best or worst in women.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“I love women. They’ve come into my life. They’ve gone out of my life. Even those who have exited somewhat ungracefully still have a place in my heart.” (The Art of the Comeback)

*

“She’s just a woman. She can’t take the business.” (As quoted in Trumped!, John R. O’Donnell with James Rutherford, 1991)

*

“I don’t need this, some woman crying. I need somebody strong in here to take care of this place.” (Trumped!)

*

“She is really something else. God, what a body she has!… She’s a beautiful girl. Just a beautiful girl. Fucking gorgeous. An incredible body, just an incredible body. The girl is so physically fit. Beautiful face. A beautiful, beautiful girl.” (Trumped!)

*

“It’s all about the hunt and once you get it, it loses some of its energy. I think competitive, successful men feel that way about women.” (As quoted in TrumpNation, Timothy L. O’Brien, 2005)

“Sam Jackson should have gotten the Oscar for [‘Pulp Fiction’], not Travolta,” Donald mused. “My favorite part is when Sam has his gun out in the diner and he tells the guy to tell his girlfriend to shut up: ‘Tell that bitch to be cool! Say: “Bitch be cool!”’ I love those lines.” (O’Brien, writing in TrumpNation)

*

“I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing. There was a great softness to Ivana, and she still has that softness, but during this period of time, she became an executive, not a wife… You know, I don’t want to sound too much like a chauvinist, but when I come home and dinner’s not ready, I’ll go through the roof, okay?” (TrumpNation)

*

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” (TrumpNation)


On beauty pageants

“Nobody cares about the talent. There’s only one talent you care about, and that’s the look talent. You don’t give a shit if a girl can play a violin like the greatest violinist in the world. You want to know what does she look like.” (TrumpNation

On publicity

“Publicity is important because it creates interest in my hotels, residential buildings, and other projects. But sometimes it gets out of hand, and my every move is scrutinized by the press to the point of absurdity… The Trump Organization is in some ways like the Disney Company: Image means a great deal to me. If people don’t associate my name with quality and success, I’ve got serious problems.” (Surviving at the Top, Donald Trump with Charles Leerhsen, 1990)


On his youth

“I was especially carefree. I had a comfortable little studio apartment on Third Avenue in the city, and I maintained a lifestyle that was fairly commonplace then but that now, in an age when people are worried about dying from sex, is hard even to imagine. I didn’t drink or take drugs, as far as stimulants go, I’ve yet to have my first cup of coffee. But I was out four or five nights a week, usually with a different woman each time, and I was enjoying myself immensely.

Wild things happened all the time back then, and nobody thought very much of it. For instance, one day a friend called me at the office and said he needed to set up a date for a certain well-known married woman. This woman was visiting from out of town and was, he said — using a typical swinging-seventies expression — ‘really hot.’

I had a girlfriend at that time, and so did he, but I knew a guy named Ben who was very worldly-wise. Ben, I was sure, could serve as this woman’s escort and be discreet about it… She turned out to be the wife of a man who was then the prime minister of a major country. I’d heard stories about this lady, but I never thought much of them until that night. We met at the house of the friend who’d phoned me. After we’d all chatted for a while in the living room, the four of us who already knew each other drifted out to the kitchen, leaving Ben and Madame X in the living room to get better acquainted. Which they did. In fact, when we drifted back in, about ten minutes later, she and Ben were involved in an incredibly torrid scene on the couch. I remember standing there and thinking to myself, ‘Well, Donald, you’re not in Queens anymore.'” (Surviving at the Top)


On Michael Jackson’s sex life

“Somehow, Michael feels comfortable with me. I asked him how he was doing, and we started talking about his life, including his sex life. I was somewhat surprised when Michael told me he had a new girlfriend. I congratulated him and asked, ‘Who is it?’ He was very shy and looked down into his napkin, then put the napkin over his face and said, ‘Trump, Trump, I don’t want to talk about it, I’m so embarrassed.’ I chided him. ‘Come on, Michael,’ I said, ‘tell me who your new girlfriend is.’ When he finally looked up, he said that it was a girl named Lisa Marie.” (The Art of the Comeback)


On onerous litigation

“Litigation in the United States has gotten totally out of control. It has actually become an accepted business practice for people to use the court’s time, money, and energy in order to effect deals, break up deals, and receive money unjustly. I know people who virtually can’t function without starting a lawsuit, thinking that this will give them the upper hand in even the most simple of negotiations. Politicians ought to be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating this ridiculous situation. Court systems have become backlogged for years with superfluous cases.” (The Art of the Comeback)


On germaphobia

“I happen to be a clean-hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as often as possible. Recent medical reports have come out saying that colds and various other ailments are spread through the act of shaking hands. I have no doubt about this.

Almost nothing bothers me more than sitting down for dinner at a beautiful restaurant and having a man you’ve just seen leaving the men’s room, perhaps not even having washed his hands, spot you and run over to your table with a warm and friendly face, hand outstretched. You have a decision to make. Do you shake this total stranger’s hand, or do you insult him by saying that you would rather not? I have done both, and nothing works. If you shake his hand, you then get up to rewash your hands and inevitably somebody else comes over to you to shake hands. If you don’t shake his hand, he walks away with a long face, totally insulted, and bemoans for the rest of his life how that bastard Donald Trump would not shake his hand.” (The Art of the Comeback)

On his fear of AIDS

“It was painfully obvious how ill at ease he was in public situations. In part, I think it was really beyond his control. He was preoccupied by a fear of communicable disease, especially AIDS. Sometimes he’d joke about it, but he went so far as to warn a high-ranking Trump’s Castle publicist to avoid the Jacuzzi in the luxury health spa there because he considered it a potential breeding ground for the deadly virus.” (O’Donnell, writing in Trumped!)

*

“What went on in Studio 54 will never, ever happen again. First of all, you didn’t have AIDS. You didn’t have the problems you have now. I saw things happening there that to this day I have never seen again. I would watch supermodels getting screwed, well-known supermodels getting screwed on a bench in the middle of the room. There were seven of them and each one was getting screwed by a different guy. This was in the middle of the room. Stuff that couldn’t happen today because of problems of death.” (TrumpNation)


On his “tremendous fear of baldness”

“For Donald, image and reality were always in conflict. The Windsor knot in his tie was always pulled tight to his throat. At the same time, he let his sand-colored hair dip down to his eyes and curl over his ears and collar, and he plastered it on the sides with a greasy gel that he believed fostered hair growth. He had a tremendous fear of baldness. He swept his hair across the front of his head like a man trying to hide a thinning patch. He once observed to Mark that he considered baldness a sign of weakness. He gave a tube of the gel he used to Mark, warning him, ‘The worst thing a man can do is go bald. Never let yourself go bald,’ as if nature could be circumvented through sheer force of will.” (O’Donnell, writing in Trumped!)


On boxer Mike Tyson

“Tyson sat down in Donald’s corner office hundreds of feet above Fifth Avenue and the two men chatted for about fifteen minutes before the boxer got to the point. Donald recalled their conversation in detail.

‘Mr. Trump, could I ask you a question?’ Tyson asked.

‘Whatever you want, Mike,’ Donald responded.

‘Are you fucking my wife?’

‘What?’

‘Are you fucking my wife? Everyone’s telling me that you’re fucking my wife.’

Tyson then pulled out a copy of a Vogue magazine that featured a picture of Ms. [Robin] Givens wearing a Trump Princess hat from Donald’s yacht.

‘Everyone’s telling me that you’re fucking my wife and I think you’re fucking my wife,’ Tyson said.

‘Mike, let me tell you something: I never ever even thought about it. And I heard those rumors and they’re disgusting. In fact, I called you a couple of times to tell you that I heard those rumors and it pisses me off. And I never, ever even thought about it. She’s your wife, she’s with you, she’s loyal to you, and it’s total bullshit.’” (O’Brien, writing in TrumpNation)


On dealing with setbacks

“Finally, the ceiling was installed. One Saturday, Donald went up to have a look, accompanied by Steve, some of our hotel executives and a group of contractors. Donald looked up at the ceiling as if it was the first time he had seen it; then he looked at Steve. ‘What the fuck is this?’ he said. ‘Who said to make this ceiling so low?’

‘You knew about this, Donald,’ Steve replied. ‘We talked about it, if you remember, and the plans –‘

Suddenly Donald leaped up and punched his fist through the tile. Then he turned on Steve in a rage. ‘You cocksucker! Motherfucker! Where the fuck were you? Where was your fucking head?'” (O’Donnell, writing in Trumped!)

*

“’Where’s my wife? Get Ivana down here,’ he said. When she arrived, Donald turned on her fiercely. ‘How could you close one of my tables on the busiest fucking night of the year!’ he shouted. ‘I can’t believe you could be so stupid. Do you know how much money I’m losing here? Stupid! You’re costing me a fortune! This is the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever seen!’” (O’Donnell, writing in Trumped!)

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Here’s How People Really Feel About Their Marriage Proposals

 

Read this before planning a flash mob or jumbotron marriage proposal.

 New research out of the The University of Texas at Austin suggests that most people want a private proposal. And while they usually get what they want in that regard, people’s dream proposal is significantly more romantic than their actual proposal in many cases.

 Ph.D. candidates Liz Keneski and Taylor Anne Morgan surveyed nearly 400 newly-engaged and newly-married individuals to understand how they feel about their proposals, engagements and weddings

“What we know from previous research is that relationship transitions, or big changes during relationships, affect how partners view the relationship, how they treat one another, how their friends and family members might view the relationship, and how happy they are in the relationship,” Keneski said. “So we knew that studying engagements and wedding planning…would give us a more complete picture of how relationships grow and change over time.” 

Check out some of their results below, and click over to The Science Of Relationships for more.

 

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Using a Pre-Nup to Improve Your Chances of Marriage Success

In my years of practice as a matrimonial lawyer, I have twice been called upon to review proposed pre-nuptial agreements prepared by the lawyer for the potential groom. In one case the groom’s father, having gone through a “disastrous” divorce, insisted on a pre-nup as a way of protecting the large and prosperous family business. In the other it was the groom himself, a new doctor bent on insuring that his chosen mate wouldn’t get any of the upside of his medical school investment. In both cases the potential brides were staggeringly beautiful, and saw the impending marriage as a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Both showed up in my office just weeks before the wedding, pre-nup in hand, wanting me to “look it over.”

The two documents prepared by attorneys in different states, were remarkably similar. They provided, clearly and unambiguously, that under no circumstance would the wife ever leave the husband, or be left by the husband, with anything other than what she came with or was gifted with during the marriage: not money, or property, or even custody of children. These terms applied regardless of circumstance, (“Honey, I found someone I like better, so pack your things.”). They applied regardless of the length of the marriage, e.g., there were no sunset provisions and no step-downs or fade-outs. I’m not a judge, so I can’t say whether either was enforceable in Court, but getting the input of an attorney increased the chances it would be upheld. There would never be an economic partnership in these marriages. When “the best years” of these women’s lives were gone; chances were good, they would be, too. The terms were “take it, or leave it.” My advice, in writing, was RUN, while you have the chance. Neither took it.

I don’t have a postscript. Neither has come to me for representation in a divorce…so far. I’m sharing this story because pre and post-nuptial contracts are becoming increasingly popular, not because more people have family fortunes, or the prospect of million dollar a year plus incomes to protect, but rather because increasingly, couples want to avoid the economic, social, and emotional ravages of divorce.

Unavoidably, legislatures and judges don’t know your circumstances. They make and apply rules that, at best, are geared to some theoretical standard of fairness. So instead, couples are using their constitutionally protected right to contract to make their own rules — about how they will treat each other in divorce, agreeing to avoid lawyers and the courts, and committing to protect their children. However, the great majority of these pre-nups don’t take full advantage of the opportunities available, and are limited, largely, if not solely, to economics, and apply only if there is an end to the marriage.

Couples are not limited to agreements about the terms of their divorce. They have the opportunity to make agreements about how their marriage will work, how important decisions will be made, and the terms of their marital partnership. Once these agreements are made they can, and should, be reviewed and updated as circumstances change and evolve. Even though these broader marriage agreements are new, couples don’t need to do this important work alone. There are collaboratively trained professionals across the United States and Canada, and beyond, who are prepared to assist couples in making plans and building strong, functional partnerships in a process called Collaborative Marriage Planning.

The process of generating a plan for the marriage (as opposed to just planning for the wedding) stimulates valuable early communication about each person’s essential needs, interests and concerns. Like a traditional pre-nup, a collaborative marriage partnership agreement can enable couples to avoid court in the event of divorce. In addition, by stimulating communication about what each person needs and expects from the marriage partnership early in the relationship, the collaborative marriage planning process can improve the chances of having a successful, durable and satisfying marriage partnership.

Further information about the process of collaborative marriage planning; its benefits, and how to get started, is available on the web.

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WATCH: The Best and Worst Parts of the Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

It’s been less than 50 years since the Stonewall riots and the foundation of the modern LGBT liberation movement. And here we are, with marriage equality newly-recognized from coast to coast. It’s amazing.

But June isn’t just the anniversary of Stonewall. It’s the anniversary of the ruling that overturned the federal marriage ban, and the ruling that ended the criminalization of homosexuality. And it’s close to the anniversary the ruling that for the first time extended equal protection to LGBTs.

All of those cases were written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. And now, he’s given us a decision that establishes the freedom to marry as a fundamental right. Five justices agreed with Kennedy, and four disagreed for various reasons that really do not hold up. Let’s take a look at how Kennedy’s decision works, and then talk about why the dissent is so wrong.

Kennedy’s ruling is based on four ideas: freedom includes the freedom to choose who you marry, marriage is vital for relationships, marriage protects kids and families and marriage is a cornerstone of American society.

Central to Kennedy’s ruling is this:

The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.

In other words, the Constitution’s set up so that as we become a more enlightened society, we can improve our own laws to reflect that enlightenment.

Ultimately, Kennedy wrote,

Marriage allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations. The Constitution grants … that right.

Five justices agreed, four didn’t.

Essentially, the dissenters believe that marriage isn’t a fundamental right, or that it is for everyone except same-sex couples, which is very convenient.

Roberts calls marriage bans a “decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history,” and an “unvarying social institution enduring over all of recorded history.”

Well, that’s just wrong. As we know, marriage has varied a lot. Virtually nothing about marriage has persisted throughout every culture. It is in a state of constant change and, though gradual, improvement.

Thomas has what may be the strangest dissent. He says that human dignity is innate and can’t be granted or taken away by the government. And here’s where he goes with that:

Human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity … because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity…

Did Thomas just mean to defend slavery? Probably not, but he also probably didn’t mean to suggest that banning marriage is similar to slavery and internment.

What he means, is that if you only acknowledge the personal, internal aspect of dignity, then yeah, no one can take that away. But dignity has external qualities as well. Slaves were definitely deprived of something, for example their freedom and very recognition of their humanity. And it seems like some amount of dignity would go along with that.

Roberts, meanwhile, admits that marriage changes, writing “the ‘history of marriage is one of both continuity and change,’ but the core meaning of marriage has endured.”

And there’s the fundamental disagreement. The core meaning of marriage. Is it, as Kennedy says, an embodiment of “the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family”?

Or, is it as Alito says, “the one thing that only an opposite-sex couple can do: procreate.”

I don’t know. Between those two — love fidelity devotion sacrifice and family, or procreate — which sounds more like a wedding vow to you?

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The Impact of Marriage Equality We’re Not Discussing, But Should

A quick scan of the cable news channels or the Twittersphere shows clearly that the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage has drawn sharp feelings from both sides of the issue. Most of these reactions were easily predictable. People across all media are exhibiting their feelings loudly, as the issue touches on so many potent areas of life: the political, the ethical, the moral, the religious.

But as I sift through my own feelings, I find I have a different reaction than those that seem to be most loudly expressed. I am a therapist, and I see this issue through the lens of emotion. And homosexuality and gay marriage are highly emotional issues. And we therapists possess the privilege of a unique perspective on the emotional elements of most any issue. And the emotional elements are crucial in understanding the issue overall.

For I have sat across from the young man fighting against his truth, his gay-ness, with every fiber of his being. Because it will disappoint his parents. Because he won’t be accepted or loved, but rejected. Because he has been taught that who he knows himself to be is wrong. So he fights. He fights against his very nature. The resulting anxiety and depression run so very deep.

I have sat across from the teenage girl who recognizes who she is, but loathes the fact of it, and loathes herself as a result. Because it makes her life so hard, so odd, so weird. It estranges from people she once considered safe. Thoughts of suicide hover in the shadows all around her. And yet in every conceivable way, she is better-than-fine: bright, driven, beautiful, athletic, funny. And gay.

And I have sat across from the man who has lived a lie his entire life, hiding beneath the trappings of ‘normalcy’: wife, children, house, couple of dogs. Family man. But he is tortured nonetheless. For he is gay as well, and he and those around him, he projects, would find this to be unacceptable. And now an entire family is drawn into the dark.

Unfortunately, I could share countless other stories, all sharing this theme: to be gay, to be attracted to someone, to love them organically, is not just unacceptable, but shameful.

Shameful.

With just a moment’s reflection, we all know that the forced constriction of anything authentic and genuine in ourselves will prove to be incalculably damaging. We should live in a place where one’s truth carries not a hint of shame, but joy. Only joy.

And everyone, every single one of us, deserves that feeling.

So this ruling suggests another wave in a sea change. For many people, many of my own clients in fact, can now comfort themselves with the fact that what they sense and know about themselves, this undeniable core essence of their being, is now lawful and allowable and acceptable by society’s standards. And sure, that’s good.

But it goes beyond just that, right? Because for the majority of us, our loves and attractions are actually celebrated, from crushes to dates to proms to weddings. And we don’t really need to give it a thought. There is a wild emotional divide between private shame and public celebration, and it is critical.

I like to think that a generation from now, if our sons or daughters are drawn to someone, male or female, and fall in love with that someone, that we will want to share in the joy that love will bring to their lives, and to our own.

Making ourselves unavailable to that joy ensures, and has ensured, the opposite: fear and judgment and ego, enough to keep therapists like me flush with clients for generations, treating toxic, wholly unnecessary feelings of shame and depression and relentless anxiety about something that is organic and authentic and actually quite simple.

This Supreme Court ruling is another step toward the openness we need as a society, openness that will undoubtedly have strong legs. Fewer pills will be popped to numb unnecessary pain. Fewer people will be compelled to live a lie their entire lives. Fewer people will feel a need to shield their deep reality in shame. Fewer lives will end tragically. This is no small deal.

So I celebrate today, for the emotional well-being of every gay person, man or woman,
who has suffered their love in lieu of celebration. I celebrate the deep breath they can finally draw, and the joyful, well-appointed weddings on the horizon.

Of course, upon sober reflection, we all know that legislation does not flip a switch on feelings, attitudes and emotions. These biases lag well behind.

So if you are the parent, brother, sister, teacher or friend of a gay man or woman and you find yourself bitter today, let me encourage you to turn a page. Allow yourself to open your heart and mind to them, for them and for yourself. Because the train has left the station, and you can continue to be a part of the pain and anxiety and costly emotional heartache, or serve as part of the joy.

Because love truly IS love. Simple as that.

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How Gay Marriage Could Improve Straight Marriage

SCOTUS’s decision to make gay marriage a constitutional right in all states is a landmark victory for the gay rights movement. But could it also be a victory for the institution of marriage in and of itself? Justice Ruth Ginsberg repeatedly argued that gay marriage is part of a civil rights continuum. But could it also be part of a continuum that improves what it means to be in a committed relationship?

“Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition,” said Ginsburg. “Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female that ended as a result of this court’s decision in 1982 when Louisiana’s Head and Master Rule was struck down.”

“Head and Master” laws permitted a husband to have final say regarding all household decisions and jointly owned property without his wife’s knowledge or consent, until 1979 when Louisiana became the final state to repeal them.

Ginsberg repeatedly rejected the notion that extending marriage rights would somehow weaken the institution or deprive straight couples. “All of the incentives, all of the benefits that marriage affords would still be available,” said Ginsburg. “So you’re not taking away anything from heterosexual couples.”



Ginsberg is a hero in the struggle for civil and sexual rights. But hearing her arguments my friends and I would quietly chuckle over what wasn’t being said — the possibility that gay marriage could have an positive effect on heterosexual unions. Marriage between straight people comes with a long list of rigid status quo rules and assumptions. Whereas the LGBT community have more personal equality and freedom in their partnerships but no legal equality and freedom. Heterosexual marriages have been entangled in laws that give males far more privilege and rights, with wives treated like property. Whereas gay unions historically been formed from a more equal standing.

What ultimately forced me to crawl out of my status quo, hetero marriage box was one of its primary tenets: monogamy. After 20 years of being happily married, I found myself in love with my husband and also another man. My gay friends were the only people in my life who offered empathy — and, more important, saluted my creativity when I opened my marriage. We created a newfangled Brady Bunch of chosen family — my husband, his new girlfriend, my new lover, and all our kids — my gay friends applauded my innovation and gumption. They weren’t terrified, judgmental or confused — as many of my straight married friends were — they were congratulatory.

Being creative in your relationship, having to set up your own “rules” and agreements, is somewhat banal among gay people. Not having the luxury of clear-cut rights mandated by the courts, many of my gay friends have sat down with lawyers to create legal documents to protect their property and loved ones. They wanted to have a definitive say in various what-if scenarios that hetero couples in traditional marriages are automatically awarded by the simple act of signing a piece of legal paper. That act in itself — having to secure your own liberties — raises your consciousness around your values and your relationships. Drawing up legal documents — or even just jotting down notes on a legal pad from your couch like I did — forces you to really define who you love and what your relationship philosophy is.

It took me several years before I sat down with my husband and asked him if we could open our marriage. When I finally did, I was startled by the fact that I had been following and even hypnotized by a societal set of rules that were not even a part of my authentic value system. I had been asleep, dutifully engaging in society’s presumption of what a “proper” marriage is, as if in a trance. Much of my identity, worldview, and lifestyle have origins in thinking outside of cultural norms and traditions. Why had the institution of marriage seemed so untouchable?

I guess you could say I’m bisexual, but I prefer to just think of myself as sexual. I love the ambiguity of being queer — a term which encompasses several aspects of sexuality — but I honestly don’t feel hip enough to sport the term. But when I created the above-mentioned situation in which I got to have both men in my life, I felt wholly aligned with my queer collective of friends.

They were the only group of people who really understood my decisions and thinking. Even after divorcing my first husband, they understood that he is still someone I dearly love and who will always be chosen family to me. Because homophobia is so wretched and life-threatening, many gay people remain family to former lovers. They don’t chuck them on the pile of what straight people call “failed relationships.” In the gay community, longevity is not the only measurement of a relationship’s success. And in gay culture (at least of my generation, and I’m in my 50s) there is a loyalty and understanding that love is enduring and supersedes a marriage license, or lack thereof.

Not every gay relationship exemplifies nirvana — they too are afflicted with conflicts, hurt, and even domestic violence. But, quite frankly, gay people have been thinking out of the marriage box for centuries. Although they lacked the heterosexual privileges, tax write-offs, basic rights of parenthood, and medical visits, they did have one advantage: an opportunity to create their own relationship doctrines. Ginsberg argued that gay marriage would not change straight marriage — but in my progressive enclave of friends, we all hope that it does.

“Wide Open” Gracie X’s memoir is available September, 2015. To e-mail Gracie X go to GracieX.com.

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Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Have Split After 10 Years of Marriage

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They Were Just Trying To Protect Their Kids, But This Couple Won Marriage Equality

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are one of the same-sex couples behind the Supreme Court’s historic ruling that all 50 states must allow gay marriage. But the two Michigan nurses barely thought about what they’re going to do for their own wedding.

“I do believe we have a wedding to plan and some kids to adopt,” DeBoer said, after learning of their victory Friday.

She and Rowse were at a live-streamed gathering in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with their lawyers and supporters, celebrating as other couples across the state headed to county clerks’ offices to obtain marriage licenses.

michigan marriage

Jayne Rowse (left) and April DeBoer celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26, 2015, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

The two women, who started their legal battle in 2011, ultimately joined plaintiffs from Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky in the combined case, now known as Obergefell v. Hodges, that the Supreme Court heard. Other couples were fighting to have their home states recognize marriages performed elsewhere. DeBoer and Rowse, however, were originally seeking changes to state adoption laws.

Four years ago, the couple met attorney Dana Nessel while trying to prepare wills that would protect their children. Michigan law doesn’t allow adoption by two same-sex parents, so each of DeBoer and Rowse’s four kids has only one legally recognized parent. Each woman has adopted two of their four children, who are all age 6 or younger.

When they filed their lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman encouraged them to expand the case to challenge the constitutionality of Michigan’s gay marriage ban. They did, and he ruled in their favor in 2014. Friedman, who had been appointed by President Ronald Reagan, reportedly cried as he told the Detroit News on Friday that he had been praying for the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We never could have in a million years anticipated that this case … would become a marriage case at all, let alone the seminal marriage case,” Nessel said.

The Supreme Court’s majority opinion notes that protecting children is a crucial element of the case for same-sex marriage. “April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse now ask whether Michigan may continue to deny them the certainty and stability all mothers desire to protect their children, and for them and their children the childhood years will pass all too soon,” it says.

Though their kids have always been the primary concern, that’s not to say that DeBoer and Rowse aren’t looking forward to the wedding. So are Ryanne, Rylee, Jacob and Nolan, who have been hearing about marriage for years. Ryanne, 5, is eager to dress up like a princess. Rylee, 2, wants to be the flower girl, though DeBoer jokingly worried that she will throw flowers at the guests.

deboer rowse family

April DeBoer (center), Jayne Rowse and their four children. (Photo courtesy of the family)

“To my beautiful children, we did this for you,” DeBoer said.

Polls show that public opinion has shifted in favor of marriage equality since the voters passed Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban in 2004. In a statement Friday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) urged the state to “focus on the values we share” and “respect the judicial process.”

“Our state government will follow the law and our state agencies will make the necessary changes to ensure that we will fully comply,” Snyder said. “As Michiganders we should move forward positively, embracing our state’s diversity and striving to treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

The victory for marriage equality does not end the debate over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in Michigan, though, where it is still legal to fire someone based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Earlier this month, the governor signed a law that allows publicly funded, faith-based adoption agencies to cite religious beliefs as a reason to deny services to gay couples and others. And last week, a Republican state legislator introduced a bill that would require a member of the clergy to sign off on all marriages — a potential hardship for same-sex couples.

But on Friday, county clerks in Michigan performed gay wedding ceremonies with gusto.

couple marries

Ann Sorrell (left), 78, and Marge Eide, 77, who have been a couple for 43 years, embrace after exchanging vows in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on June 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

DeBoer and Rowse hope their own wedding will take place before the end of the summer.

Nessel described her clients-turned-friends as “ordinary people who are all at once also extraordinary and who could not have represented this case or this cause with any more dignity — or any more humor, really — than anyone else that I know.”

The attorney not only scored a win for her clients, but also will benefit personally from the Supreme Court’s decision. Speaking Friday, she thanked her two sons for often going without her presence as she fought for other kids and she thanked fiancée Alanna Maguire. Nessel proposed in April, standing on a stepstool outside the court on the afternoon that the justices heard arguments in the marriage case.

“Meeting your future same-sex spouse during your fight for same-sex marriage is kind of the most awesome story ever,” Nessel said.

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Why Should We Support Same Sex Marriage?

2015-06-28-1435517022-4323939-samesexmarriageHP.gif

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Stephen Colbert Destroys Dissenting Justices In Same-Sex Marriage Decision

We have a feeling his monologues are going to be pretty great.

Not even into his “Late Show” tenure yet, new host Stephen Colbert can’t wait to dig into the current events and find the funny.

With the landmark 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday allowing same-sex couples to legally marry in all 50 states, Colbert justifiably tore into the four dissenting justices.

As for which of the judges wrote the dissenting opinion, Colbert said, “I’ll let you guess which ones.” He then broke into a Frankenstein monster impression with an “ARGH, GAY BAD!” thrown in for good measure.

The four judges voting against legalization were Justice Antonin Scalia (gasp!), Chief Justice John Roberts (no!), Justice Clarence Thomas (shock!) and Justice Samuel Alito (what?!).

But Colbert insists the ruling is not great for everyone: “My condolences to gays with commitment issues who are asking their partner IF WE CAN JUST PLEASE TALK ABOUT THIS WHEN I GET HOME FROM WORK TODAY.”

In the end though, it’s great news, even if it took longer than it should have.

“It’s hard to believe that gay Americans achieved full constitutional personhood just five years after corporations did,” said Colbert.

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Supreme Court’s Nod to Gay Marriage a Psychological Boost to Couples: Experts

5-4 decision should help bring acceptance, respect for these committed relationships
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Why Marriage Equality Is Great For The Economy

Thanks to marriage equality, this could be a big year for Sophie Pyle’s company.

The founder of Tweet The Bride — a service that posts live Instagram and Twitter updates during clients’ weddings — expects the Supreme Court’s Friday decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the country to be a major boon for business.

“It just makes the wedding industry and the number of people getting married that much bigger,” Pyle told The Huffington Post on Friday morning. “There are that many more customers and weddings. I’m very excited about it.”

Pyle’s year-old business is based in Virginia, which was one of 37 states (and Washington, D.C.) that recognized same-sex marriage prior to the Supreme Court’s new ruling. Her clients don’t always live or marry nearby, and she often travels to attend ceremonies in other places. She has worked only one same-sex wedding — all the way in Denmark! — but she expects more in the future.


Just married in Copenhagen! #hamiltondevoss

A photo posted by #HAMILTONDEVOSS (@hamiltondevoss) on


The #HamiltonDevoss wedding in February was the fist same-sex wedding Pyle worked at.

Aside from the obvious benefits to the wedding industry, marriage equality could have a positive impact on the economy overall.

In the first three years of nationwide marriage equality, spending on same-sex weddings could add $ 184.7 million in tax revenue and 13,058 jobs to states’ economies, according to a report from the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute. The U.S. economy could get a $ 2.6 billion boost over the next three years.

New York, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2011, has already benefited from same-sex weddings, as data-driven news site Vocativ points out. In the first year after New York passed its Marriage Equality Act, New York City alone received a $ 259 million economic boost as 8,200 marriage licenses were issued for same-sex weddings and more than 200,000 guests traveled in from out of town to attend the ceremonies.

For those in the industry who have already worked with gay couples, the value of same-sex marriages is apparent.

“Those who embraced it benefited from it,” Chris Jaeger, a wedding industry marketing consultant, told HuffPost. “It’s a real positive thing.”

He recalled struggling to convince one of his a clients, a wedding officiant in California, to preside over same-sex unions. But that was five years ago, when the legality of same-sex weddings in California was complicated.

Times have changed.

“She [has] embraced it,” Jaeger said of the officiant. “Now there are pictures of her doing ceremonies with men marrying men and women marrying women.”

In the 13 states that had not recognized marriage equality before the Supreme Court’s new ruling, some business owners are just happy to finally have the opportunity to work with gay couples.

Jackie McGrath, owner of Sweet Treets bakery in Texas — where, until Friday, gay marriage was banned — said she was “ecstatic” to hear the news.

“We have a gay wedding this weekend. It wasn’t going to be official, but now it could be,” McGrath said, adding that she and her staff began working on a rainbow wedding cake on Friday, just after the ruling was announced. “We’ll probably give it out to customers to celebrate.”

Jenny Che contributed to this report.

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All The Celebrities Who Are Thrilled About the Supreme Court’s Decision to Legalize Gay Marriage

Love wins! The Supreme Court handed down a decision that legalizes marriage for same-sex couples—and Hollywood is THRILLED. Here are all the celebs who are celebrating on social media. (Come back for updates as the…




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Why Marriage Equality Is Great For The Economy

Thanks to marriage equality, this could be a big year for Sophie Pyle’s company.

The founder of Tweet The Bride — a service that posts live Instagram and Twitter updates during clients’ weddings — expects the Supreme Court’s Friday decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the country to be a major boon for business.

“It just makes the wedding industry and the number of people getting married that much bigger,” Pyle told The Huffington Post on Friday morning. “There are that many more customers and weddings. I’m very excited about it.”

Pyle’s year-old business is based in Virginia, which was one of 37 states (and Washington, D.C.) that recognized same-sex marriage prior to the Supreme Court’s new ruling. Her clients don’t always live or marry nearby, and she often travels to attend ceremonies in other places. She has worked only one same-sex wedding — all the way in Denmark! — but she expects more in the future.


Just married in Copenhagen! #hamiltondevoss

A photo posted by #HAMILTONDEVOSS (@hamiltondevoss) on


The #HamiltonDevoss wedding in February was the fist same-sex wedding Pyle worked at.

Aside from the obvious benefits to the wedding industry, marriage equality could have a positive impact on the economy overall.

In the first three years of nationwide marriage equality, spending on same-sex weddings could add $ 184.7 million in tax revenue and 13,058 jobs to states’ economies, according to a report from the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute. The U.S. economy could get a $ 2.6 billion boost over the next three years.

New York, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2011, has already benefited from same-sex weddings, as data-driven news site Vocativ points out. In the first year after New York passed its Marriage Equality Act, New York City alone received a $ 259 million economic boost as 8,200 marriage licenses were issued for same-sex weddings and more than 200,000 guests traveled in from out of town to attend the ceremonies.

For those in the industry who have already worked with gay couples, the value of same-sex marriages is apparent.

“Those who embraced it benefited from it,” Chris Jaeger, a wedding industry marketing consultant, told HuffPost. “It’s a real positive thing.”

He recalled struggling to convince one of his a clients, a wedding officiant in California, to preside over same-sex unions. But that was five years ago, when the legality of same-sex weddings in California was complicated.

Times have changed.

“She [has] embraced it,” Jaeger said of the officiant. “Now there are pictures of her doing ceremonies with men marrying men and women marrying women.”

In the 13 states that had not recognized marriage equality before the Supreme Court’s new ruling, some business owners are just happy to finally have the opportunity to work with gay couples.

Jackie McGrath, owner of Sweet Treets bakery in Texas — where, until Friday, gay marriage was banned — said she was “ecstatic” to hear the news.

“We have a gay wedding this weekend. It wasn’t going to be official, but now it could be,” McGrath said, adding that she and her staff began working on a rainbow wedding cake on Friday, just after the ruling was announced. “We’ll probably give it out to customers to celebrate.”

Jenny Che contributed to this report.

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With Gay Marriage Legalized, Lena Dunham Tells Jack Antonoff to Propose: Get On It, Yo

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On the Brink of the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision, a Quick Reminder That #loveislove

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Marriage: What to Do When the Sex Stops

Ben Franklin (Yes, the Founding Father whose face is on the $ 100 bill) had lots to say about sexless marriages, including this bon mot, “Where there is marriage without love, there will be love without marriage.”

Scroll through comments on any piece on sexless marriage and you’ll find those who say they’re perfectly happy holding hands or sleeping in separate beds. But unless both parties are content with that arrangement, the scenario is far from ideal.

Still, work stress, technology, Netflix, kids, sheer exhaustion, and just plain ennui can get in the way of that nightly or even weekly romp in the hay. Are you resigned to foregoing sex and possibly opening that door to, as Ben would say, “love without marriage?”

Marriage and family therapist Dr. Jane Greer, author of What About Me? offers a variety of tools to help couples get back in the groove. The radio host and creator of SHRINK WRAP with Dr. Jane Greer and the weekly call in show Doctor on Call (at HealthyLife.net, Tuesday, 2-3 pm EST) says the first step is to acknowledge the issue. Let the other partner know how you’re feeling about the absence of sexual intimacy. If one of you is unhappy with the reduced amount of sex, Dr. Greer suggests broaching the topic without attaching blame.

“We aren’t having sex the way we used to. We aren’t connecting. You seem tired. Is that what’s going on?” goes much farther than “Why aren’t you initiating?” Enter with curiosity and an open mind to change rather than blame or attack, advises Greer. If you know you are dealing with a medical issue, figure out options, factoring in the partner’s sexual needs, and find other ways to please each other.

Greer says most people have different sexual appetites and preferences. Couples need to deal with who wants more or less, factoring in the mood. “Sometimes when you’re not hungry, you’ll keep your partner company at dinner,” she says. “Acknowledge the differences in appetite and try to address the differences by being open to sexual activity that allows the partner to get his or her needs met. Let your partner know you’re sensitive to his or her needs.”

Parenthood is a period of time when roles are changing. Know that the transformation doesn’t have to mean no sex if you’re creative and willing to try new things or times. Explore different options. When a husband only sees his wife as a mother, he might be reluctant to relate sexually. Prioritize time for date nights, not just sex in and around the baby’s schedule.

Laurie Handler, film producer, sex/intimacy coach, and author of Sex & Happiness: The Tantric Laws of Intimacy, says partners may worry pre-planning takes out the spontaneity but notes you can be spontaneous once you’ve set aside time to do spontaneous things. If time is an issue, block out two hours to let go of thoughts about job responsibilities and family. “Couples aren’t having sex because life creeps into every nook and cranny. If you have an agreed upon time structure, you can be spontaneous and find time to relax.”

Handler also suggests couples take a dance class together. “Tango, swing, salsa, there’s nothing sexier than two people who are great together on the dance floor. The man gets to lead and the woman gets to follow,” she says.

In and out of the bedroom, take turns being the initiator, even planning the date. Switch off who is responsible for planning the adventure or finding the new restaurant to keep the spark alive.

“Many women are turned off to the idea of sex because of their body image or self-esteem once they become mothers or gain a few pounds,” Handler shares. “There are so many things people can do. The simplest thing is to set aside a time to do it. It’s not rocket science.”

For more information on Dr. Jane Greer, SHRINK WRAP,and Doctor on Call, visit http://drjanegreer.com/.

For more information on Laurie Handler and her Butterfly Workshops, visit http://butterflyworkshops.com/.

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Esurance Backs Gay Marriage With ‘Equal Dreams’ Commercial And Social Campaign

Esurance is kicking off LGBT Pride Week with an all-inclusive commercial and social media campaign.

The auto insurance provider is releasing a video, #EqualDreams, in which children and gay teen guests at a June 13 wedding are asked to describe their own dream ceremonies. The responses are both inspiring and adorable.

“At my wedding day, all my friends and family and my doggies and my friends’ and family’s doggies and my cousin’s doggies…will be there, and it’s gonna be the best day of my life,” one tot proclaims. Another adds: “If my husband doesn’t like the cake, he will buy his own cake.”

The clip, which is being released ahead of what officials hope is a victory for same-sex marriage at the U.S. Supreme Court this month, takes a more bittersweet turn when one lesbian guest speaks about her own experience growing up.

Esurance Chief Marketing Officer Alan Gellman told The Huffington Post in an email that his company, which has supported LGBT Pride events since 2005, created the clip “to show, in an emotionally compelling way, our belief that all dreams should be equal.”

He added, “It’s not just a belief. As a modern company, we act on that belief through our products and insurance offerings.”

This page contains materials from The Huffington Post and/or other third party writers. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”) has not selected or reviewed such third party content and it does not necessarily reflect the views of PwC. PwC does not endorse and is not affiliated with any such third party. The materials are provided for general information purposes only, should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors, and PwC shall have no liability or responsibility in connection therewith.

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How to Have a Strong Marriage: 21 Pieces of Crowd-Sourced Advice

Twitter was taken over this morning with people around the globe weighing in on ways to make a marriage better, stronger, or more likely to go the distance. There were funny, but heartfelt opinions (like…




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Preparing Couples For Marriage: A Guide For Pastors For Premarital Counseling

Preparing Couples For Marriage: A Guide For Pastors For Premarital Counseling


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Patrick Stewart Defends Northern Irish Bakery That Rejected ‘Support Gay Marriage’ Cake

“Star Trek” icon Patrick Stewart has come to the defense of Northern Ireland’s Ashers Bakery, which was found guilty of discrimination last month after refusing to prepare a cake decorated with a same-sex marriage slogan.

The case made headlines in 2014 after Belfast-based activist Gareth Lee requested a cake featuring “Sesame Street” characters, along with the message, “Support Gay Marriage.” Although the bakery’s owners initially accepted the order, they called two days later to cancel it, citing their religious beliefs.

In response, Stewart called the Ashers case “a deliciously difficult” subject in an interview with BBC’s Newsnight, adding that he “found himself on the side of the bakers” because nobody should be forced to write politically-relevant text that they didn’t support.

“It was not because it was a gay couple that they objected. It was not because they were celebrating some sort of marriage or an agreement between them,” Stewart is quoted as saying. “It was the actual words on the cake that they objected to, because they found them offensive.”

He went on to note, “I would support their rights to say, ‘No, this is personally offensive to my beliefs, I will not do it.'”

The remarks may come as a surprise to some fans of Stewart, who has previously spoken out in defense of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. In January, the actor said his background in theater made him a natural LGBT advocate.

“I think this is where the theater is such an appealing world, because it embraces everything and always has. So there was never a moment where I made an intellectual choice that I would be a supporter of gay civil rights,” he said at the time. “It was always a natural and uncomplicated choice.”

H/T The Independent

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The Single Best Piece Of Marriage Advice Ever Given

Know someone saying ‘I do’ this month? Here’s what to tell them.

First, some numbers: I’ve been married (to the same person) for twenty-seven years. Those twenty-seven years have included six in which we were researching an anthology about marriage. That anthology (The Marriage Book: Centuries of Advice, Inspiration, and Cautionary Tales, from Adam & Eve to Zoloft) is 560 pages long. Those 560 pages include 529 entries that we arrived at after scanning—honestly—tens of thousands of books, poems, newspaper articles, letters, postcards, photographs, and songs.

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Is The Husband Supposed to Be the Leader In Marriage?

A few years ago, I attended the wedding of a dear friend of mine. Before the actual ceremony the minister took time to give a powerful bit of counsel to everyone who had gathered. His words affected me so deeply that they have prompted me to change not only how I approach my marriage, but also my relationships with family and friends.

From what I can remember, the minister said this:

In scripture, husbands have been called the head (or leader) of the household. The world scoffs at such an idea, but that is because the world has a perverted sense of leadership. The world thinks of a leader as the person in charge — a person who makes all of the decisions, forces everyone to do what he wants and then takes all of the glory for himself. But the world’s way of leadership is not God’s way of leadership. Leadership, the way God intended it, is a call to service. God’s leadership, simply put, is the rendering of humble service to those you love and giving the glory to God.

Too often, men seek solitude from or power over those they claim to love. This is perverted leadership. God calls men to a road that brings them in harmony with their wives and children. Yes, you will make decisions, but you will make them with the intent to serve your family — not yourself. Remember, the God who calls others to lead is the same God who washed the feet of His disciples. There is no unrighteous pride in God’s form of leadership — only perfect love.

Some may question the wisdom of this minister, but I have tested his words and found them be true. I have put his advice into practice in my own life, and I’ve realized that some of the most difficult times in my marriage have been the times when I myself have exercised a perverted sense of leadership — made demands, ignored my wife’s needs in favor of my own or withheld forgiveness. In contrast, the happiest times in my marriage have been those where I’ve “taken charge,” and more fully devoted myself to my wife — recommitting to serve her and see her needs as equal to my own.

That minister’s counsel has blessed not only my marriage, but nearly all of my relationships. As I’ve applied these principles to my life, I’ve come to realize that every relationship in life presents us with “leadership opportunities” — moments in which we are called to serve, guide, protect and love one another. Recognizing these calls to leadership (and acting on them) has made me a better husband, friend, brother and son.

I would like to extend this minister’s message to you: Start today and consider ways that you are being called to lead in love. While there are many types of relationships with different dynamics, I can promise you that as you sincerely recognize and meet the needs of those you care about, you will feel a greater sense of love and appreciation for those you serve.

This article was originally published on www.SethAdamSmith.com under the title “Is The Husband Supposed to Be The Leader?”

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Kendra Wilkinson Says Marriage To Hank Baskett Is ‘Amazing’

Sounds like the worst is behind them. Kendra Wilkinson’s marriage to Hank Baskett was in serious jeopardy as recently as seven months ago, but these days, the two are more loved up than ever.

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Jesse Tyler Fergusuon’s Genius Plan to Get the Supreme Court to Legalize Gay Marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court will likely rule next month on a case that could determine whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. In an effort to sway the nation’s top justices, Jesse Tyler Fergusuon has…




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Lessons From an Arranged Marriage

2015-05-27-1432754651-7609323-arrangedmarriage.jpgMy parents wed on a September morning in 1960 in a small farming village in Greece. My mother learned the news when the busses started to arrive delivering the guests. She was just two months past her seventeenth birthday. There was a rented white dress that was a few sizes too large, a severe brother who had brokered the deal, and a much older groom who wanted to bring a wife back to America. She had met him only once, and what she remembered from that encounter was that he’d told her to walk properly rather than skipping like a donkey. She was one of ten children, and normally the girls would be married off by order of age, oldest to youngest. It wasn’t her turn, but the family’s crushing poverty and crowded house allowed for an exception to the rules.

My father was born in a tiny mountain village surrounded by mountain ranges, where the earth glowed red and the wheat harvest produced a vibrant golden yellow grain. Bougainvillea, pomegranate, geraniums, fruiting trees abounded, but so did poverty, invading Germans, danger, and a suffocating feeling of entrapment. I imagine the idea of escape gnawed at him. He brought his baggage with him when he finally did run down the mountainside in the dark, hiding from soldiers, breath held. His baggage carried stories about his only meal being onions and bread, and the time his mother had one egg and split it between him and his cousin. He never forgave her for not giving him the whole egg. An uncle in America had offered to sponsor one brother, and my father lunged at the opportunity, leaving his family behind.

After several years in America, he returned to Greece for a wife. He needed someone to cook and clean for him and to take care of his needs. And so it began. A poor young girl in a rented dress too large, collarbones showing from hunger. A groom with a fancy wool suit and a cream-colored tie. It was the beginning of their arranged marriage, a marriage devoid of choice.

As a child, I came to understand that my parents would constantly be at each other’s throats. My mother was beautiful and fiery, like a caged animal pacing until it struck. My father gathered his suspicions like a bag of shrapnel until they would explode, striking anything in his path. He was often mistaken for her father, which only fueled his insecurity. He dropped me off at elementary school one morning, and before saying goodbye, he paused to ask me, “Do you think I’m handsome?”

Despite their constant fighting, distrust, and acrimony, they stayed together 50 years, until one morning, my father died in his bed at home after many years of illness. My mother had spent the previous 18 years caring for him after a debilitating stroke. She was the epitome of devotion and martyrdom.

These are the lessons I took away from my parents’ arranged marriage:

It’s better to pick your own spouse. When they were married, choosing who you married was unheard of. I remember a cousin in Greece “marrying for love” in the 1980s and it was high scandal in the family. I was always determined to pick my own partner, and vowed I would never marry a Greek man. When I came out as a lesbian, I realized that I would shatter all cultural expectations, and while I suffered some guilt, I knew that my happiness was at stake.

You can stay with someone for your whole life, even if you are completely mismatched. This was certainly the case with my parents, and for many years I carried this as a badge of honor. I took their commitment as proof of loyalty and stability. I was proud of my parents for never divorcing, even though they both suffered together for 50 long years.

Children do not benefit from unhappy parents. Despite being grateful that my parents never divorced, the truth is that my sister and I lived in a battle zone. We never witnessed a healthy, loving partner relationship. Neither of us had that model to refer to when picking our own partners. Our partnership model was one of strife, control, and distrust. It has taken me many years to learn how to be comfortable enough in my own skin to love someone enough to let them be comfortable in theirs.

It is okay to call it quits. I walked away from my childhood believing that staying together no matter what was the ultimate goal, a source of pride, and proof of honor. I still think there is honor in working extremely hard to stay together. But only if staying together supports you to feel whole as an individual. If, by being with someone, your soul and purpose are enhanced. Otherwise, it is much too easy to fall into stagnation, a forgetting of oneself for the sake of the staying together.

Children survive divorce. As a child, I often thought that the fighting would only stop if a family member died. I felt death would bring my family to their senses and help them to see what was important in life. Imaging death should not be a child’s coping strategy. I see now that divorce can be a healthy option. No one has to die! If parents are able to cushion and support their children, and manage to co-parent separately but cooperatively, children can thrive where they once withered.

Even though I have chosen my own partners, and luckily escaped the arranged marriages proposed in my youth, I still carry these lessons in my pocket. Always be true to yourself, and have the courage to ask, Is this marriage still working for me? If it is, great! If it isn’t, it is okay to begin anew. Don’t stay only because you once arranged it for yourself. Stay because you want to be there today. And remember, the world is a huge wonderful place full of unexpected surprises and people you have never met.

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Nikki Reed Shares a Wedding Video to Celebrate One Month of Marriage to Ian Somerhalder

Sure, they’ve shared wedding pictures and honeymoon photos, but this video is the most intimate look at Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder’s nuptials we’ve seen yet: A video posted by Nikki Reed (@iamnikkireed) on May…




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Crossing Continents: How to Move a Marriage

“Never take a damaged marriage overseas,” they told me at the spouse orientation the year my husband joined the Diplomatic Security Service.

Diplomatic Security, or DSS, is a little-known branch of the State Department that is responsible, as the name suggests, for keeping diplomats and other Americans safe overseas. DS agents like my husband are posted to Embassies overseas, sometimes alone, sometimes with their families. It’s a high-stress, high-stakes job (think Benghazi) involving long hours in strange cities, doing things you can’t necessarily tell your spouse about.

So this marriage advice, coming from a veteran DS spouse, made a lot of sense. Even way back then I knew that the constant moves required in the Foreign Service, the strange hours, the secrecy required of the job, would take a toll on the strongest marriage, so I could understand that a damaged marriage might not survive a Foreign Service career.

But that was back in the last century, before we’d had a baby. Before we’d had four babies, to be more exact. Before we’d suffered two miscarriages. Before we’d seen one baby through a serious illness. Before we’d been PNG’ed (that means “kicked out,” for all of you non-diplomats) from one country, and medically evacuated from another. Before I lost my hearing to a mysterious virus in China. Before he was selected for an unaccompanied tour in Iraq, leaving me and the four kids behind to fend for ourselves in Amman, Jordan.

Back then, a century ago, our marriage was as close to perfect as it is possible to get, with lots of hand holding and talk of “the future,” that shiny, happy unknown. Advice about damaged marriages had nothing to do with my reality, though I could certainly understand how it might apply to others. I nodded my head as she spoke, like everyone else in the room, but really, I was in a hurry to move on to more pertinent information, like how to host a dinner party, or how to ship a car overseas.

Now, though. Now, when I’m 16 years into the Foreign Service and 20 years into married life, I’ve had loads of time to contemplate that advice, and honestly, it’s the only advice I remember clearly from that day. Hosting a dinner party is the easiest part of the lifestyle. Staying married? Not so much.

In the end, it turns out that every Foreign Service marriage is damaged in some way. All of our marriages have places where they have been bent, bruised and maybe even broken over the passage of years and tours. The strain of the constant moves, the stress of constantly reinventing yourself, the feelings of inadequacy brought on in each new country, where you have to learn to talk and cook and drive anew – all of this weighs down our families, threatening at times to crush us.

Many of the broken bits I find in my relationship with my husband suffered their damage at the hands of the Foreign Service. My married life flashes before my eyes, and I see that time I was so very angry – over what, exactly, I can’t remember now – that I wanted to storm out of the house… but I had nowhere to go, no friends at all to run to, because we were brand new to the city. I remember the time I raged internally because I was stuck driving around our new middle eastern city, trying to find the emergency room, when he was nowhere to be found. I think back to the day they loaded me onto a tiny medevac plane, when I was soaked in blood from the waist down after a misdiagnosis led to a miscarriage – I’d only been in Central Asia for 13 days, and there was nothing he could do to help me except pray I didn’t bleed to death before we got to a country where they could operate on me. I remember when he was home from Baghdad for a brief visit, and I just sat sobbing on the bed, blubbering about how I couldn’t do it, and I wasn’t going to do it anymore, whatever “it” was. He looked on, scared and helpless, not quite even sure what was bothering me.

Yet here we still are.

All around me, I see friends giving up on crumbling marriages – not just in the Foreign Service, but in the regular world, too. Sometimes, when a friend or colleague announces her separation, I’m not surprised – from the outside, it was obvious that the relationship had moved irretrievably beyond the breaking point. Other times, though, I’m shocked – if it could happen to her, what’s to keep me safe?

Here’s the thing. Being sent to a new country with your same ole spouse can be a sort of living hell if you let it. Because you’re forced to rely solely on each other: no grandparents, no old friends, no aunts to rely on; nobody to come rescue you from each other. It’s just you and him, alone against the Foreign Affairs Manual. And at each new post, your relationship changes, in big ways and small. Sometimes I find work: an equal partner! Other times, there is no work to be had, and I have to rely on him to turn in the work orders, to cash the checks, to sign up for internet service. And he has to rely on me, too: to figure things out on my own without too much anxiety, to find the stores and make the friends and enroll in the schools. To be happy, no matter what craziness surrounds me. Because, like it or not, as the “trailing spouse,” I’m the backbone of the family. If that backbone snaps, well, it’s all over. And that’s a terrible, intimidating responsibility when you arrive in a new place, with not a word of the local language, a nasty case of jetlag and four lonely children. It’s hard to be the backbone when your husband is posted in a war zone and you have sick kids and a full-time job. It’s hard to not blame him for getting you in this mess.

I look back at the ravages wrought on my marriage by the Foreign Service, and yes, some of it will always seem awful. Some of it seems funny, or even ridiculous, in hindsight. But all of it – the whole collection of dents, the tarnished spots, everything ugly – all of it together has built this marriage, this crazy life of ours.

So yes, you could say that a decade and a half after that opening day lecture, I now recognize that my marriage is as banged-up as everyone else’s. It’s definitely not the same marriage I carried – carefully, hopefully – into the Foreign Service all those years ago.

But, you know what? We may have argued on that humid summer day about how exactly we should get to the top of the Great Wall of China, but we got there, and back again, together. I gripped the armrest and told him to slow down as he wound down that hill toward Tel Aviv, but he got us there safely in the end, and we held hands as we looked at the broad expanse of the Mediterranean, rolling our eyes as the kids argued about who was the first to touch the water. When I sat sobbing on the bed during his visit from Baghdad, he had no idea what the problem was. But he sat with me and let me finish, and then he kissed me and set about figuring out how to make it better. For me. For us.

We’re damaged, sure. But we’re damaged in the best possible way, together.

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Strength in Our 22 Years of Marriage

With today being my 22nd wedding anniversary, I am consumed with feeling nostalgic and hopeful; nostalgic for the wonderful years of memories we have had and hopeful for all of the new memories we have yet to create.

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Twenty-two years of happiness, of trying times, of struggling to make more money, of stress with our first jobs, of raising children, of stress with our second jobs, of building our first house, and of always loving each other… Those are the kind of years that make a marriage last.

I have learned a few essential lessons along this wonderful journey and I am fairly sure my husband has as well. One thing I know for absolute certain is that I wouldn’t trade those years for anything and I wouldn’t trade him for anyone. (Can I get a collective, “awwwww?”)

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Now and again, there is true strength in ignorance. We were the first of our friends to marry. Fortuitously or not, there was nobody to compare our situation to and nobody to guide or offer us advice. We did not realize if we were similar to our friends’ marriages and we did not have to listen to others tell us what we should or should not do for any given situation. We were undoubtedly on our own.

Our life together has spanned over two-plus decades. Upon reflection, I can say it is one sincerely filled with devotion, passion and a great deal of respect. Here is an abbreviated breakdown of what our history has (essentially) looked like.

1. Moving to a new city within 2 weeks of getting married.
2. Surviving an 8-year residency program.
3. Raising two babies (with me often as a single parent).
4. Coping with an unplanned autoimmune disease.
5. Struggling through several entrepreneurial endeavors.
6. Living in 4 different states together.
7. Losing grandparents.
8. Traveling to different countries (both together and apart).
9. Being scared with every hazard from the hospital.
10. Losing a parent.
11. Surviving our kids’ teenage years.
12. Building our dream home.

Life continues to get better and better as each year together passes. My husband and I have developed a special partnership and an extraordinary bond. He has become my truest friend, my confidant and my tower of strength. While those beginning years were certainly rough ones, our next phase is bound to be full of good health, countless laughter, fantastic travel and, most importantly, endless love.

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15 Essential Pieces Of Marriage Advice From Grandma And Grandpa

There’s a lot to be learned about love and marriage from the people who’ve been at it a long, long time — like grandma and grandpa.

We recently asked HuffPost readers to tell us the most important marriage lesson their grandparents taught them. Read their words of wisdom below.

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Obama Tweets Back To Girl’s Awesome Letter About World Peace, Marriage Equality

A 5-year-old has some suggestions for how to solve a couple of global issues, and the leader of the free world has responded.

Last week, Yasmeen, self described as “5 almost 6 years old,” took to writing a handwritten letter to President Obama advocating for world peace and marriage equality.

Please stop war for our world, instead have a meeting. Please give a speech to tell everyone they can marry who they want. Thank you,” her message read.

On Friday, Yasmeen’s aunt tweeted a photo of the note to the POTUS Twitter handle, and that same day, the President replied.

“Tell your niece I really like her letter. Couldn’t agree more!” his tweet read.

After launching his first Twitter account six years into his presidency, President Obama broke the Guinness world record on May 18 for the “fasted time to reach 1 million followers on Twitter.” As of Tuesday, he has racked up 2.44 million followers. However, he has just seven published tweets — among them, his encouraging reply to Yasmeen.

This just goes to show, “please” and “thank you” still go a very long way.

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7 Lessons on Love and Marriage From the Love & Hip Hop Wedding That Apply to Every Bride

Will your wedding feature $ 90,000 flowers (“with crystals—the good ones!”) or two $ 25,000 wedding dresses? Um, probably not. And those were only two of the outrageous expenses Mendeecees Harris and Yandy Smith accounted for in…




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Kim Kardashian Celebrates One Year of Marriage With Never-Before-Seen Wedding Pictures

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding unfolded one year ago today at Forte di Belvedere in Florence, Italy, following a rehearsal dinner at Chateau Versailles. To celebrate the one-year mark, Kim shared a bunch of…




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11 One-Liners That Accurately Sum Up The Whole Marriage Thing

Marriage means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Still, there are certain day-to-day similarities that couples can generally relate to.

We recently turned to Twitter to find some of the most hilariously accurate things said about marriage. The response was so great that we decided to do another roundup with witty commentary from our readers. See how they summed up marriage below:

1. “Marriage is basically like having a grown child who you’re constantly having to find things for — shoes, wallet, keys, contacts.”Ciara Hill

2. “Marriage is being pretty damn sure you could identify your husband in a pitch black room by his farts alone.” Laura Looch

3. “Marriage is when you eat food and ask, ‘Do you want some?’ but you’re hoping they’ll say no.” Gary Casper Muirhead

4.“Marriage is kissing your kid goodnight before your spouse and racing downstairs to get to the remote first.”Melissa Waldron

5. “Marriage is seeing who can pretend to be asleep longest when a kid or pet wants something.”Christine Wiedeman Summers

6. “Marriage is basically trying to remember when the other gets a haircut so you don’t forget to tell them it looks nice, even if it looks the same.” Paige Smith Radley

7. “Marriage is listening to your spouse tell the same joke to different people and trying to act amused every time.”Kathleen Snow

8. “Marriage is staying up late by yourself binge-watching Netflix while they snore loudly in the other room.”Mary Kathryn Elizabeth Drain

9. “Marriage is a partnership — she finds the bugs and I have to kill them.” Scott King

10. “Marriage is being able to say ‘go get your own ice cream’ and not really feeling bad about not sharing.” Whitney Van Zyl

11. “Marriage is basically stating very quickly all the things that you want or need done before the other person sits or lies down.” Jessica Kazakos

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What Would Life Look Like If Marriage Was a Maybe Thing?

Whom to marry, and when will it happen—these two questions define every woman’s existence, regardless of where she was raised or what religion she does or doesn’t practice.




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Mad Mike Huckabee: Gay Marriage Fury Road

In the future, Christian civilization will collapse. Bands of militant homosexuals, dressed in leather and face paint, will roam the cultural wastelands, gay marrying anyone and anything in their path. Only one man stands between them and the total destruction of traditional marriage–Mad Mike Huckabee!

But first he has to tie the knot himself.

MAD MIKE HUCKABEE (played by Tom Hardy): That’s where you come in.

IMPERATOR FURIOSA (played by Charlize Theron): That’s where I come in what? Take off that damn face mask–I can’t understand a word you’re saying. Who do you think you are–Bane in The Dark Knight Rises?

MAD MIKE (removing the face mask): There, that’s better. Like I was saying, that’s where you come in. If we get married in a big public ceremony, it will revive interest in the traditional institution. I know this great little pizzeria in Indiana that will cater. Pepperoni for everyone!

FURIOSA: Yes, but why me?

MAD MIKE: You’re a woman, aren’t you?

FURIOSA: So?

MAD MIKE (winking): I don’t want to get graphic, but I have a tallywacker and you have a vavajay.

FURIOSA: So?

MAD MIKE: That’s the way God intended it to be! One man and one woman–just like it says in the Bible. I’m willing to overlook your crew-cut, prosthetic arm, and general lack of femininity.

FURIOSA: Gee, thanks. Actually, they practiced polygamy in the Old Testament. King David had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.

MAD MIKE: Those were Jews, not Christians. You know how licentious they are. Talk to Mad Mel Gibson.

FURIOSA: Mormons practiced polygamy until the end of the nineteenth century. Some still do, in secret.

MAD MIKE: Mormons aren’t Christians either. Ask Mad Mitt Romney about that. And I thought you were against polygamy. You killed SPOILER ALERT Immortan Joe and liberated his five wives, didn’t you?

FURIOSA: My point is the definition of marriage has changed based on the needs of society. People used to get married at twelve or thirteen until they raised the age of consent.

MAD MIKE: It’s still sixteen in Arkansas, one of the lowest in the country–a fact I’m very proud of.

FURIOSA: Caucasians and African-Americans used to not be allowed to intermarry. The last anti-miscegenation law was repealed in 1967.

MAD MIKE: Obama was the product of race mixing. Need I say more?

FURIOSA: Catholic priests were allowed to marry until the twelfth century.

MAD MIKE: Again, not Christians. Those were Catholics. Talk to Mad Rick Santorum. Anyway, marriage was always between men and women, regardless of age, race, or number of individuals involved.

FURIOSA: Not true. The ancient Greeks had a form of gay marriage, and they invented democracy.

MAD MIKE: Democracy is overrated. Have you seen the Republican presidential candidates this primary season?

FURIOSA: You’ve got a point. Okay, Native Americans had Two-Spirit people.

MAD MIKE: You know what happened to the Native Americans. You want to run a casino in the desert and sell cigarettes, be my guest.

FURIOSA: Actually, a casino in the desert wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Maybe I can start my own Las Vegas.

MAD MIKE: You’ve been hanging out with Eve Ensler and her Vulvalini too much. Next you’ll be telling me women aren’t chattel. Speaking of Vulvalini, let’s discuss personal grooming. Does the carpet match the drapes?

FURIOSA: What?

MAD MIKE: Do you shave or wax?

FURIOSA: Neither. Although I’m thinking of getting a Brazilian to protest Jeb Bush.

Furiosa starts to climb back in her War Rig.

MAD MIKE: Hey, I thought all you female action/adventure heroines secretly suffered from baby hunger. Didn’t you see Avengers: Age of Ultron?

FURIOSA: I’m not the Black Widow and you’re certainly not the Hulk. He’s much larger…in every single way.

MAD MIKE: Now you’ve done it! You’ve insulted my manhood! You’re so mean!

Mad Mike starts crying,

FURIOSA: Stop! I can’t stand to see a grown man cry. Okay, I’ll do it–I’ll marry you.

MAD MIKE (slyly): You will?

FURIOSA: Yes.

Mad Mike immediately turns off the waterworks.

MAD MIKE: Terrific! Once we’re married, I’ll be head of the household, and you’ll be my submissive helpmate, just the way God intended it to be. Then we’ll go forth, be fruitful, and multiply. I want a big family–ten or twelve kids at least. Maybe we can even beat the Duggars’ record! Well, what do you say?

Furiosa hits him in the lug nuts with a tire iron. The last vestige of Christianity collapses. Oh, what day! What a lovely day!

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The Lies That Build a Marriage By Suchen Christine Lim (Paperback)

The Lies That Build a Marriage By Suchen Christine Lim (Paperback)


Overview With this collection of short stories, Lim delves beneath Singapore ‘s prosperity and coded decorum to reveal genuine people facing difficult issues that are normally strictly taboo in Asia, such as the mother who discovers her son is gay; the daughter who learns her two mothers are lesbians; and the niece who finds her dead uncle dressed in his wife ‘s clothes. Product details Isbn-13: 9789810587130, 978-9810587130 Author: Suchen Christine Lim Publisher: Monsoon Books Publication date: 2007-09-01 About Wordery Wordery is one of the UK’s largest online booksellers. With millions of satisfied customers who enjoy low prices on a huge range of books, we offer a reliable and trusted service and consistently receive excellent feedback. We offer a huge range of over 8 million books; bestsellers, children’s books, cheap paperbacks, baby books, special edition hardbacks and textbooks. All our books are dispatched from the UK. Wordery offers Free Delivery on all UK orders, and competitively priced international delivery. #HappyReading

Price: $
Sold by Rakuten.co.uk

Solange Celebrates Six Months of Marriage by Sharing an Intimate Wedding Photo

Happy six months, Solange! Beyonce’s baby sister just shared an intimate photo from her wedding with Alan Ferguson. The pic was captioned: “6 months to the date…but really…7 years to the date:)” A photo posted…




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It Took Getting Engaged For Me To Learn The Truth About Marriage Proposals

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Few people get to spend their workdays watching heartfelt proposal videos all day, and I count myself lucky to be one of them. As the Senior Editor of HuffPost Weddings, I also read tons of meet-cute stories, attend bridal fashion shows and scroll through hundreds of gorgeous wedding photos. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

When I first started doing this job two years ago, every flash mob, Jumbotron and writing-in-the-sky marriage proposal could bring me to tears. This is the best proposal ever, I thought again and again. How perfectly suited this Bruno Mars song is to marriage proposals! We featured flash mob after flash mob after flash mob. We — and our audience — couldn’t get enough.

Now, as Associate Editor Kelsey Borresen and I joke, it takes a lot to impress us. Run-of-the-mill flash mobs usually result in eye rolls. And don’t even get me started on the latest wave of fake arrest marriage proposals (who wants to be scared to death before one of the happiest moments of your life? No one).

When a staff writer from another department pitches a proposal video, they’ll often tell me it’s the “best marriage proposal ever.” Their copy exudes a lovely naiveté, the writing filled with over-the-top adjectives and pronouncements. I’m not really a fan of calling anything “the best ever.” Certainly there is something out there that is even bigger, better, more meaningful and over the top. Why put all our eggs in one Tiffany blue box — err, basket?

But after my boyfriend of 10 years (hey, I edit HuffPost Divorce too) popped the question recently, it became clear that, in fact, my proposal was the best proposal. He did it in a completely surprising way — on a Friday morning before I had left for the office, during a routine workday task. It was the last story idea in Kelsey’s morning pitch e-mail: High school sweetheart proposes to long-time girlfriend. I clicked and found out that the proposal was mine.

What followed (after the initial crying, tackling him to the floor and calling everyone I know) was a full day of surprises including lunch at our first date spot, dinner with our families (with a surprise visit from my sister, who flew in from Arizona), and a surprise party at my parents’ house with all my closest friends. It was perfect. And everyone I told about my proposal agreed.

In the week after we got engaged, I joked with colleagues that I was going to write a story called “10 Signs My Marriage Proposal Was The Best Proposal Ever” (that, or “Proof That My Marriage Proposal Was The Best Proposal”). What I realized in recounting the story again and again was that my proposal was the best proposal because it was just that — my proposal. My boyfriend — err, fiancé (still getting used to that!) — could have asked me to marry him in any number of ways and all of those ways would have been perfect because he is the perfect person for me, and me for him.

So go ahead — plan an elaborate flash mob, a scavenger hunt or simply roll over in bed and say, “Hey, wanna make this official?” Your marriage proposal will be the best proposal ever because it’s yours. And I promise, no more eye-rolling from me.

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Cheesing big time after the best marriage proposal ever.

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I’m In An Open Marriage And You Would Never Know It

By Gwen & Lark for YourTango

Everyone has a secret. Things we don’t want people to know because we are embarrassed, too proud or too private. We keep secrets because some things are too intimate and special for anyone else to know. But sometimes we keep secrets because we may feel like we will be harshly judged and don’t want to invite the criticism that may follow. Often, we just simply don’t know who we can trust with sensitive information because it might illicit unwanted gossip.

For example, you would never know I have an “open” marriage. I’m not the lady in the 4-inch heels at school pick up that wears skin-tight jeans or has DD implants. I don’t have wild parties where people stagger home with someone else’s spouse because they picked their car keys from a bowl on the coffee table. I’m just another mom who drives a sensible car, does the grocery shopping, wears clothes from Ann Taylor, goes jogging to stay fit — and occasionally has sex with men who are not my husband.

If I ever told you about this part of my life — which I probably wouldn’t unless you were an extremely close friend — your first reaction might be “What? How? But what about your kids?”

Surely, you already have an image in your mind about what an open marriage is.

It’s often mistaken for polygamy, where a man lives together with multiple women like the show Sister Wives or Big Love. Or you might think that it’s a convenient excuse for a husband to have sex with other women without losing the security of having a wife or the social complexities of having a mistress.

What most people who have never experienced an open marriage might not understand is that every open marriage is different. And it’s probably not what you think, unless you know someone personally who has one. (And you probably do, you just don’t know it yet!).

Not everyone in an open marriage is some kind of sex-addicted freak show. Between household duties, raising children and having a meaningful relationship with my husband, I do not have a lot of time to dedicate to having sex with other people, even if I wanted to.

I do not have sex with every man I meet. I do not want to steal your husband. I do not even want to have sex with your husband. I do not have sex at the grocery store or soccer practice or bring strange men into our home.

My open marriage did not start out as such. It was very much closed with a big, iron door and the thought of that ever changing never once crossed my mind in the first 13 years of our marriage. My husband, on the other hand, had been making threesome jokes for at least 10 of those 13 years and often wondered out loud about all the sex he missed out on in his youth.

He grew up in a very conservative family where sex before marriage was considered a sin. I had a similar upbringing but had secretly given in to my desires and had been with someone before I met my husband. I felt incredibly guilty about it because that’s not what “good” girls do.

But eventually the reasons against experimenting sexually with other people were overshadowed by the curiosity — and the exhausting requests by my husband.

We didn’t know exactly how this kind of thing worked, so we took a risk and asked some friends who we thought might know. It’s a delicate subject to broach, but we felt like a few conversations we had in the past left us with some clues that they were, if not in an open marriage, at least open-minded people when it came to sex.

Our hunch was right, and they told us about a place in town where we could go — what you might call a “Swingers Club”. After talking about it for so long, I was ready to at least go and have a look and was excited and nervous to see what it was like. The club itself was dark with a lot of scantily-clad women and sharply dressed men dancing or milling around the bar sipping drinks while lights flashed and stage smoke puffed up from the floor. Some people were sitting on the vinyl couches in a separate area behind the dance floor, chatting and caressing each other.

The beat of the music was pounding as hard as my heart was pumping in my chest. What am I doing here? Am I weird for wanting to know what happens here? Am I depraved? While most people hired a babysitter to go to dinner and a movie, we had left our children at home so we could watch come here and … what?

Pretty much anything goes in a club of that nature, but it’s different for everyone.

For our first foray, we stayed together and only exchanged touches with other couples. We had agreed in advance this was more of a reconnaissance mission than a full-blown invasion into open marriage. But that night things happened — I won’t go into detail out of respect for my husband — that sparked a change in what the both of us wanted and needed in our marriage. Our curiosity (and the subsequent desire to satisfy it) came from a place of safety and security in the relationship we had fostered over the last decade.

It has been a few years since our first visit to that club and our relationship has changed and grown with time, as all relationships tend to do. The rules of our open marriage have evolved and developed over time, where we now both understand what the other person needs ,and we feel comfortable with that.

The key for us is communication and respect. It also means that our relationship comes first. We spend quality time together, we date each other, we clean the house on Saturdays and take the kids to dance and soccer. And occasionally, if one of us is on a solo business trip or a night on the town with friends, that big iron door is flung open and we let ourselves have fun. We’re young(ish), good-looking and in good shape. And we enjoy it when it feels right and safe.

None of our outside experiences are kept private from each other.

We both know what the other spouse is doing, and sometimes we do it together. I’m happy to share with my spouse the details of any sexual adventure I might have, just as he would do for me if I asked (although we don’t always want to know). An open marriage for me means having new sexual experiences without guilt or shame.

As “open” as we are with each other about this aspect in our relationship, we are not open about it with our kids. Just like we don’t talk to them about the complexities of getting a mortgage, why and how we invest our money or what kind of birth control we use, we don’t talk to our kids about this small but delicate aspect to our marriage.

They’re too young to understand that if mom sleeps with the mailman (just kidding — he’s not my type) that that doesn’t mean Mom and Dad are getting a divorce. They don’t understand about commitment, unity or loyalty on the level required when discussing an open marriage. They’re kids — and they need to stay that way.

So they play with Barbies, Legos and fight with each other and don’t ever have to worry about whether Mom and Dad love each other. Because we show them every day when we eat breakfast together or dance around the kitchen or cheer them on that we’re a family and that’s never going to change.

But if the day comes when one of them says to me, “You know, Mom, this one time I heard a rumor… ” I’m not going to lie.

I will sit down with my child and answer any questions they might have and explain that for us, this lifestyle works. Maybe then they will be ready to grasp the idea that you can love someone, spend your life devoted to them emotionally, be best friends, lovers… and have sex with someone else on the side. But until that day comes, I’ll keep the secret between me, my husband and, well, you.

Unomum is our space to explore the many million issues of single motherhood, but it’s also for all the ladies — women stuck in shitty marriages, unfulfilled broads wishing for divorce, and happily coupled former single moms with a shit-ton of wisdom to share.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

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My Business Almost Cost Me My Marriage

One Saturday afternoon while driving to the mall, I expressed concern to my husband over our relationship. Nothing was really wrong, we weren’t arguing or fighting. In fact, we weren’t really talking much at all — that was the problem. More and more, I felt as though I were living with a roommate, not a lover.

We’d sit side-by-side on our recliners each night, but never said more than five or six words to one another. There was no connection.

On this drive I looked over and said, “Babe, I’m worried that if we don’t get on the same page

“I’ve thought the same thing,” he replied.

I was stunned. I felt like someone had sucker-punched me in the stomach. He’d thought the same thing? He’d considered divorce? What? When? Why hadn’t he said anything? If I hadn’t said anything, would he have?

I swallowed hard and said, “You have? OK, then it’s a good thing we’re talking now. What are you feeling?”

My husband isn’t one to share his feelings or emotions, so I knew that I was making a tall request. And in a split-second, it was as if a dam had burst. He began telling me, firmly and deliberately, his perspective on our marriage.

Many of his concerns were valid. I’m not the best housewife. I’ve never enjoyed cleaning, which is why we have a housekeeper come twice a month. I do let my daughters dress themselves, which means that at times they walk out of the house looking a little crazy. I let dishes sit overnight and I’m ok with a pile of books and papers stacked at the bottom of the staircase.

And then he hit me with, “I resent your business.”

“I know this could blow up for you, I can see that. But I don’t see what your business is doing for our family,” he continued on. As he spoke, I heard his words in slow motion.

How could he be saying this to me? I thought we were making progress? Just this past year we had been accepted into a couple’s mastermind program and I thought he was finally starting to climb on board with the business — our – business.

But I said nothing. I listened. I validated. And then I shared my own concerns about our marriage.

I felt lonely. I felt like I was a single mom who happened to live with the father of her children. I wanted a partnership. I wanted to know that we were equally sharing the load of maintaining a household and raising our children.

He wanted us to establish roles. I wanted him to be more present. He wanted to see the financial impact of my business. I wanted to talk to him about the numbers. He wanted to see the numbers, but wanted nothing to do with business talk.

In talking for nearly two hours, we realized we both wanted the same things, we just wanted them in different ways.

My story isn’t unique. In fact, in speaking with many of my entrepreneurial colleagues, this story is the norm and the exceptions are those rare, unicorn-like partners who are completely supportive, 100% on board and who are interested in helping the business in any possible way.

The rest of us have to battle with a variety of scenarios ranging from not-at-all supportive to kind-of-supportive when it’s convenient and everything in between.

So how do we divorce-proof our marriages while also following our passion and confidently building the business of our dreams?

The truth is, you really can’t “divorce-proof” a marriage. There’s no set it and forget it system. It takes intentional action every single day.

Notice I used the word action and not work. Too many people say marriage is work. And that’s part of the problem. We’re treating our relationships like business transactions — scheduling, planning, creating to-do lists — rather than treating them as opportunities for loving acts of kindness.

Here are three steps you can take to ‘divorce-proof’ your marriage and keep your business:

1. Establish Roles

When my husband looked at me and said, “There are certain roles men and women have,” I literally rolled my eyes and considered slapping him in the face. What, are we back in the 1950’s? I immediately made assumptions about what “roles” he believed I should fill.

But as we began talking, I realized he didn’t necessarily mean that my role had to be the “traditional stay-at-home mom.” More so, he meant that we each needed to identify what position we were playing on our marital team.

Who was the dishwasher? Who was the checkbook balancer? Who cooked and on what days? Who made the bed? Who made the coffee? Who took the kids to school and who picked them up? Who gave them baths and who read the bedtime stories?

Once we sat down and went through our list of responsibilities and divided up the workload there was an immediate shift in our energy. We both breathed a sigh of relief.

As you consider your own relationship, ask yourself, “Do we have our roles and responsibilities defined or are we just leaving it up to chance, assuming one of us will get it done?”

If you’re each thinking the other should do it, but it’s never been clearly defined, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and resentment. Make the change right now.

2. Have a Monthly Money Date

As an entrepreneur, you should already be having a monthly money date with yourself to make sure you know exactly how much you’re bringing in and where it’s all going. But if you’re married, then you should definitely consider sequestering your love for a desert night out with your financial statement and look over the numbers together.

Not only does this keep you accountable as the CEO of your business, but it also helps your partner see how your business is (or can) impact your financial future.

A quick note: If you’re not making money in your business yet, that’s okay. Have your money date anyway and let your spouse know your projections for the following month or explain why you invested where you did and the return you expect to get. Transparency is key.

3. Make an Excuse

The most important of all, make an excuse to spend time with your spouse and to meet their needs! The chief complaint most partners make of their entrepreneurial mates is, “She’s always on the phone or computer working.”

Your partner only feels this way because his or her needs are not being met. If your spouse has ever said to you, “You work too much,” it’s their way of saying, “You’re not giving me what I need.”

Make an excuse every single day to do something for your partner. Shutting down your laptop an hour earlier, preparing a favorite meal or just sitting next to each other, holding hands while watching some mindless show. Think of your partner and do something that would make them feel thought of, loved and more important than your business.

Take action right now: Grab a sheet of paper and make a list of 30 simple things you could do for your partner. That’s your action plan for this month! Remember, your time and attention are the most valuable gifts you can give the person you love. Be sure and add that in a few extra times.

I almost lost my marriage because I wasn’t doing these 3 simple things. Ever since we’ve made these steps common practice in Casa de Luna, it’s as though a new relationship has sprung. My husband and I are working together as a team, he’s amazing with the kids – especially the few evenings each month when I have coaching calls – and overall, our house feels like a loving, supportive, encouraging home.

The key is infusing LOVE into each step. Because after all, isn’t that what we all want most – to love and be loved?

Now over to you. Which of these steps will you implement first? Do you have your own story of how your business has threatened your relationship? Let’s chat in the comments.

And if you’re looking for more tips on how to confidently build your business and still have fulfilling relationships, be sure to sign up for my FREE Confident Entrepreneur Webinar Series. We’re covering everything from time management, leadership, decision-making and more! Click HERE to sign up.

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Rachel Luna is the best selling author of the book: “Successful People are Full of C.R.A.P. (Courage. Resilience. Authenticity. Perseverance): A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Together & Achieving Your Dreams” available on Amazon and the Chief Confidence Creator at RachelLuna.Biz Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

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Effective Marriage Counseling: A Unique Approach

Many people believe that successful marriage counseling is a “hit and miss” proposition. However, as a practicing psychotherapist with over 35 years of clinical experience, specializing in the area of couples therapy, I believe the majority of couples I have treated have had successful outcomes, largely because of the methodological techniques I have used.

There is a false belief among patients and therapists alike who think that resolving a couple’s communication and problem-solving skills will alone improve and mend a broken relationship. Although effective communication and conflict resolution skills is a prerequisite to having a happy relationship, I have found that that there are two other steps that need to take place before one is able to focus on a couple’s communication skills.

First, a thorough assessment of the relationship has to happen. This assessment cannot be done in 45 minutes or an hour. I have found that long sessions — lasting anywhere from 3-5 consecutive hours in the beginning of a couple’s therapy — gives the couple and the therapist the necessary information and momentum to be able to grasp what the issues are (past and present) that need to be acknowledged, addressed and resolved.

I begin at the beginning when both people had stars in their eyes and when each could do no wrong. Despite the fact that we can’t change history, it is very important for the couple and the therapist to identify, understand and discuss what went wrong and what events and /or behavior caused the couple to get off track. Was it the birth of the first or second child? Was the couple experiencing financial or job related difficulties? Did one or both have physical, emotional, or psychiatric problems that changed the dynamics of the relationship? Was there a death or illness in the family? Did sex become a problem? Or did the couple simply grow apart?

Secondly, I see the partners individually, in order to discover who they are as individuals. I need to know about each person’s family history, their skeletons in the closet, including possible depression, anxiety and other psychiatric problems, early child sexual abuse, substance abuse and sexual or sexual orientation or gender issues. I also need to find out whether one or both are involved in extramarital affairs. And if that is the case, I would never begin couple’s counseling until that issue was resolved. Namely, the affair would have to end before couples counseling could begin.

And third, if one or both people have significant psychological or psychiatric problems, these need to be dealt with first on an individual basis. It is simply not possible to treat the couple’s communication and sexual problems, his affair, her depression, his addiction to pornography and cocaine all at the same time. And yes, I do both the individual and couples therapy, since virtually every couple that I have treated who needed some individual work preferred not to be referred to another therapist. Naturally, if one or both did want to work with another therapist individually, the marriage counseling would then be put on hold.

My patients understand this methodology and embrace it. When the couple and I are finally ready to meet together as a threesome, we are ready to focus on the “we” issues. I ask each person to make an agenda of issues that need to be discussed and worked through. The agenda items are then prioritized by the individuals and then and only then are they ready to learn the art of emotional communication and problem-solving. They then begin to tackle the issues one by one.

Couples are taught how to discuss and make compromises and trade-offs. They learn that the win/lose model is a disaster for marriages and are committed to learning how to reach win/win resolutions. I teach them ”how to say it,” ‘”if to say it,” “where to say it,” “when to say it” and how to do this respectfully. Role play is used extensively throughout. This is very hard and painful work. And as a therapist, I am very active and directive. My model has proven to be so successful that I will not accept new patients who do not agree to this process at the outset.

There have been a small percentage of couples who I have treated who have decided to divorce. In making this decision they are aware of what went wrong. Each person is clear about what they did or didn’t do that contributed to the end of their marriage. And most are then able to divorce without the rage and wrath that so frequently comes with the demise of a marriage, knowing that they at least tried to resolve their difficulties.

BUT WHAT ABOUT CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND CONFIDENTIALITY?

CASE STUDY– MEET THE JOHNSONS

Joe, 45, and Jane, 40, have been married for five years. This is a second marriage for both. The Johnsons were referred to me by Joe’s urologist for couple’s counseling. When I spoke to Joe’s doctor in order to rule out any medical problems, he told me that Joe’s testosterone level was normal and that he could find no medical reason for Joe’s lack of interest in sex. The couple had not had sex in over two years and Jane was becoming more and more depressed. Up to this point, Joe would simply not discuss this issue with his wife. When we all finally met, we were clear about their sexless relationship. The real question was why did Joe have no interest in sex and more importantly, could this marriage be saved. I intuitively knew that I would discover a wealth of information when I met with the couple individually.

JANE
Jane was convinced that Joe no longer found her attractive and was concerned that he was having an extra-marital affair. Her symptoms of depression were clearly understandable under the circumstances. However, she did not meet the criteria for clinical depression. Other than the sexual issue, Jane was a very happy woman and loved her life and her husband.

JOE
When I met with Joe alone the first thing that he asked me was whether everything that he told me would be confidential. I explained to him that I was legally and ethically bound to honor his privacy. Joe proceeded to tell me that he was gay and that he did not want his wife to ever know this. Although he was not sexually permissive, he did on occasion see a man who he had known for many years. Joe also told me that he loved his wife and did not want a divorce. However, he also said that he had no desire to have a sexual relationship with her. Although Joe would have one too many beers on occasion, he too seemed basically contented with his life.

THE DILEMMA
If Joe had seen his own individual therapist after our initial couple’s evaluation, I would never have known about his sexual orientation. I would have spent time trying to help the couple improve their sex life. I would have used the Master’s and Johnson techniques and would have encouraged them to experiment with sex toys, pornography and schedule dates for sex. This would have been a complete waste of time, money and energy for everyone. Knowing what I knew, I needed to help Jane accept the fact that her husband loves her dearly, does not want a divorce, but no longer has any interest in having a sexual relationship with her. She would then have to decide whether she would continue to live in a sexless marriage or not.

THE JOHNSONS TOGETHER

Joe and Jane met together for one session after the initial visit. Joe was kind but firm. He told her that he loved her, found her very attractive physically and intellectually and hoped to spend the rest of his life with her. He also told her that the problem was his and that he would understand if she wanted a divorce. Jane told him that she needed more time to think about the situation. I never heard from either Jane or Joe again. A few years later I bumped into Jane at an event. She whispered in my ear that she had divorced Joe and was now engaged to a wonderful man. “Our sex life is great,” she said.

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3 Rights Gay Couples Will Get If Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage

In Washington, D.C., today, the U.S. Supreme Court started hearing arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that could determine whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. While the court likely won't rule until June,…




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All These Celebrities Support Same-Sex Marriage Rights

The Supreme Court started hearing arguments yesterday in a landmark case that could decide same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Meaning some time very soon—as soon as next month—gay marriage could be legal across the…




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What You’ll Never Fix About Your Marriage (and Why You Don’t Have to)

I planned to tell my now-husband that it wasn’t going to work out on our third date. He was very sweet, respectful and handsome but my internal voice suggested we weren’t compatible enough.

He was in sales; I was studying to be a therapist. We had different views on religion. With his short hair and clean-shaven face he was more clean-cut than my previous boyfriends. And our first kiss had just been so-so. I had my doubts about where this might go.

On that date, however, as we shot pool and munched peanuts I ended up having such a great time that I decided to give him a chance, and that evening the kiss was delicious.

Over twelve years of marriage and parenting, our differences have, at times, been the source of conflict. But what I’ve learned to hold onto is that, it’s the doubt, judgment and criticism of our differences, that are toxic — not the number of ways we differ.

Of course, we all want to share some fundamental things — and to have a successful relationship we’ve got to have the basics — safety, love, trust and commitment. But compatibility is more about the ways we draw on one another’s strengths to build a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

More than, “Do we have enough in common?” or “Can he finish my sentences?” I think the important question is: “Am I open and willing to work towards finding the gifts in our similarities and differences?”

There are red flag issues like abuse or dishonesty, and then there’s the other stuff: I’m outdoorsy and he’s not, I’m neat and he’s messy, I’m a meat-eater and he’s vegetarian. These differences aren’t deal-breakers. In fact, our fixation on the ways that our husband is “too different” from us is the actual thing that keeps us from being compatible.

But what do we do when we find ourselves focusing on, and judging our marriage, for the qualities we don’t share?

Here are some tips for nurturing true compatibility:

  • Watch out for unrealistic expectations. Soul mates can be found, but more often they are co-created.
  • Pay attention to your focus. We invest our energy where we choose to focus. Choose gratitude instead of criticism as often as possible.
  • Cut your circular thinking. Train your mind instead of having it rule you. Practices like meditation are invaluable for this skill.
  • Choose curiosity over criticalness. What are the differences about? What do they add to the relationship? (Embrace those things.)
  • Get into your body: breathe, stretch, notice. Criticism is often more about fear than about true incompatibility.

Twelve years later, my husband and I are going strong with 2 kids, 2 dogs, 5 chickens and a guinea pig. Our differences have, at times, been the source of conflict, but in working through that conflict our love and commitment have grown.
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Another Chance At Love: Why My Second Marriage Totally Rocks

Your divorce diploma is still fresh.

The anger and bitterness rip through you like a terrible case of food poising.

The last thing on your mind is getting married again.

A few years go by. You start to date. Maybe you’re serious about someone. And maybe you’re a little gun shy about tying the knot again. I get it. I’ve been there, too.

After the implosion of my first marriage, which I thought would last forever, I never in a million years imagined that I would ever get married again. If my 19 year marriage could end in massive failure, what chance did a second marriage have? Three years after my divorce I was perfectly happy being the yoga teaching, empty-nested, crazy dog lady. 

Just as I was making plans to sell my house and move, I received an email from someone I hadn’t heard from or seen in 25 years. He wrote that it had been a long time and that he’d love to see me. My first boyfriend from high school, a blast from my past… of course I wrote back and gave him my phone number.

He called the next night and we met for coffee at 9 PM. We stayed up all night, traveling back and forth through time, remembering who broke up with whom. I fell crazy upside down in love all over again. He proposed two months later and we were married three months after that.

Nearly nine years ago we joined our families together, his four kids, my two kids (and my two dogs), and we embraced the extended families that accompany second marriages. 

We came together not has broken halves looking for our other half but as two complete and whole people. Our marriage is stronger than either of our first marriages because we respect each other and see each other as individuals.

That night in the coffee shop nine years ago, my husband said to me, “you are the same bold and brazen girl I knew in high school.” In that moment I knew I never had to be anyone other than me with him.

There is truth and authenticity in my second marriage which was never in my first marriage. My husband and I can be raw and real and vulnerable without the fear that our marriage is in danger or that our vulnerability will be used against us when we least expect it. 

A few nights ago we opened up a bottle of wine. It’s so easy to fall into conversation with my husband and talk about this and that. I watched as he poured me a glass of red warmth. A Merlot with a hint of smoke. We listened to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven.

“Did we ever go to a school dance together?” he asked. Maybe we did. I don’t remember. Neither does he. He took my hand and led me around in a slow circle.

I remembered making out in the hallway in high school, my back up against the lockers, his body pressed hard into mine. My psychology teacher interrupted us and pulled me into his class room, admonishing me, “young ladies don’t behave this way in public.”

I remembered when I was 16 and my husband was 17. Damn… he could make my toes curl. At 51, he still can.

Sometimes love has a way of sneaking in through the back door when you’re busy making other plans. If you’re still on the fence about giving marriage another shot, take your time and trust your gut.

I had no desire to get married again and then BAM, there I was in the middle of a park with over 100 people watching me say “I do” to the man who once was the boy I first fell in love with.

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***

Writer. Sacred Bad-ass Warrior. Vanquisher of Fear. Slayer of Doubt. Peggy Nolan is an International Bestselling author of Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness.

If you liked this article, you can download Peggy’s FREE eBook, “30 Ways to Boost Your Positivity and Increase Your Happiness” today.
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Baby-proofing Your Marriage

Baby-proofing Your Marriage


The no-holds-barred truth about what having a baby can do to your marriage – and what you can do about it. In the months after a first child is born, all hell breaks loose. A crying newborn can reduce a grown man to tears, turn a sane woman into a bottle-wielding shrew, and otherwise test the strongest of marriages. It sometimes seems that a baby’s mission is to destroy everything it comes in contact with: your furniture, your clothes, your car. and your marriage. This funny, compassionate, opinionated guide addresses how the early parenting years impact marriage, using real-life stories from both men and women to tell the whole truth. It discusses in detail couples’ frustrations over the division of labour, changing roles and expectations, sex (or lack thereof), and dealing with parents and in-laws. With real quotes from real people, and the authors own combined experiences, it offers a positive, humorous and solution-oriented approach. * Addresses the impact of parenthood on marriage, detailing the insights of and lessons learned by both men and women. * Provides common sense, tried-and-tested strategies to address the negative impact young children can have on a relationship. * Helps you understand why this challenge occurs, exploring both the male and female perspective, and how you can address it. Written by three feisty women, who have been there and can vouch for the fact that complaining gets you nowhere, Baby-proofing your Marriage answers those nagging doubts in the back of the married person’s mind: ‘Are we the only ones bartering over who will do what and arguing about who has more free time?’ And offers you easy, realistic solutions to keep you sane and your relationship healthy.

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Marriage and Cancer: 10 Ways to Maintain Your Relationship After a Diagnosis

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Marriage is hard work. It requires a level of effort, dedication and commitment unparalleled to other relationships. One of the first pieces of marital wisdom I received from my parents was exactly that — “Marriage takes work. It’s not a stroll in the park.”

Marriage captures the ability of two people to rely on one another through both the good and bad times. It measures one’s character and integrity through the act of caring for another. As with any relationship, most marriages experience high peaks and low valleys. A diagnosis will bring out the best and worst of you and your partner. It has the potential to tear your relationship apart or bring you closer together more intimately than you could have imagined. As the saying goes, it’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you respond. Upon receiving the news of a diagnosis, you must make the choice to not only fight the disease, but also fight for your relationship. Below are 10 ways to help your marriage after a diagnosis.

Commit: Above anything else, you must make the conscious decision to commit — both to your spouse and to the process. Commitment doesn’t automatically happen when you speak your vows. It is a choice that must be repeated over the course of your relationship. Your journey through cancer requires steadfastness and faithfulness to one another. You need to assume that life is going to get extremely bumpy and uncomfortable. Nearly everything you have encountered thus far has been butterflies, fairy dust, and roses and you’re about to endure some of the most difficult moments in your life. Both of you will be pulled in different directions and be influenced in many ways. When things get ugly, complications arise, and grief pours over you both, you need to hold tight to each other. Commit yourself to be there for one another no matter what happens.

Communicate: Continue to talk. Grief is expressed in a variety of ways and for some, it shows itself in silence. Though there will be times when you need to process on your own, don’t build a wall between you and your loved one. In an atmosphere of silence, assumptions are birthed and hurt will grow. Communicating can bring healing to your relationship. You will both experience different emotions from the moment you hear the news of the diagnosis, and being on the exact same emotional page will be a rarity. Keeping the lines of communication open will benefit your marriage by drawing you closer to one another and preventing hurt feelings in the future. It’s OK to express your fears and anxieties. And equally so, it’s OK to share your faith and hope. Be vulnerable and loving in your communication, and understand that talking things through will only benefit the bond you have with your spouse.

Prioritize: Life moves quickly upon receiving a diagnosis. Medical decisions will need to be made. You’ll need to find a team of doctors that you feel comfortable with. Treatment will be discussed, and you will need to choose which option is best for you. Eventually you’ll feel in over your head as the chaos circles around you. Keeping a list of priorities will help establish balance. Be aware of what tasks are at hand and stay on the same page as your spouse. Communicate what is most important to your relationship. Is it more important to preserve your fertility before beginning harsh treatments? Do you want to establish a medical banking account to manage expenses? Put yourselves first and be OK saying “no” to those around you. Your health and your marriage are number one.

Be flexible: Plans change… that’s life. When cancer rears it’s ugly head into your relationship, you need to start stretching. Many of your dreams, goals, and desires for your life and family will abruptly come to a halt. Keep a tight grip on your non-negotiables and let insignificant matters go. Change is difficult, but being flexible is more valuable than gold. Go with the flow. Some plans will fizzle and new dreams will come forth. Flexibility allows room for growth.

Stay on the same team: Cancer can bring out the worst in us. Anger is one of the most common emotions that patients and their families deal with. Remember that each of you process things differently, and that no way is better than the other. Allow each other space to grieve and be sympathetic towards one another. Remember that you are fighting cancer, not your loved one. Direct your anger towards the root of the issue, and don’t let your emotions erupt in an attack on your spouse. Though at times you’ll feel your partner doesn’t understand what you are going through, don’t alienate them and turn them into the enemy. You’re on the same team, and you each play a vital position. Work together at working through it.

Pursue: We’ve all heard that we should continue to date our spouse after our wedding day. Whether to keep things interesting or to continue to nurture the bond, pursuing each other is important to your relationship. This shouldn’t stop after a diagnosis. Though it will require a deeper level of intent, consistently seeking each other out will be rewarded. Make time for one another. Go out of your way to make your spouse feel special. Pursue your partner’s heart. Ask questions about how they are doing and be a good listener when they respond. Treatments and the subsequent side effects may get in the way of your typical dinner and a movie date night, but if you are creative you can cultivate new ways to deepen your bond. Remember that dates don’t have to be fancy or extravagant, and most likely won’t be for a while.

Be grateful: Have you ever met someone so full of gratitude that it made you reflect on what you’re thankful for? Having an attitude of gratitude in all circumstances will change your view of the most difficult times. Though you’ll have a large list of things you are angry, upset, and resentful over, make an effort to think of things that you are thankful for. Thanksgiving is one of the quickest ways to heal a hardened heart. Make a list. Whether in your mind or on paper, write down specific items you are grateful for. Be thankful for the details. Be thankful for all things big and little. Be thankful for the life and love you share with one another. An attitude of gratitude will transform your perspective and will strengthen your spirit throughout your battle.

Remain intimate: Intimacy isn’t always about sex. Though sex is one of the fundamental ways to be intimate with your partner, there are other means to stay connected. Unfortunately, cancer robs many people of their sexual function, yet marriages continue to blossom even without intercourse. When biology is thrown off, creativity is born. Adapting to your current situation will benefit you both. Be gentle with one another. Discover new ways to develop a more profound connection. Hold hands. Share secrets. Kiss. Being affectionate will remind your partner that you are invested in them. If you allow it, the intimacy in your relationship can reach new heights after a diagnosis. Vulnerability will welcome intimacy.

Remember your vows: Think back to the day you stood in front of your friends and family and made lifelong promises to your spouse. What did you say? More than likely, you vowed to stay by your partner in sickness and in health. While you probably had no idea that sickness meant cancer, you promised your partner you would not leave them when things got rough. You vowed to stand with each other no matter what. You vowed to love one another and cherish one another. There will be moments in your journey after your diagnosis that all you have left is the man or woman standing beside you. Think back to your wedding day. If you knew then what you know now, would your decision be different? True, authentic, raw love knows no bounds. You loved them then… love them now.
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The Little Things in Marriage – Pink Daisy Anniversary Card Greeting Card

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The Marriage Secret No One Wants To Admit

By Lyz Lenz for YourTango

When one of my friends got engaged, he was over the moon. At dinner one night, he told my husband how much he was in love.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before!” he said so sweetly that it was easy to forgive him the cliche.

“I know,” my husband said smiling at me. “It’s great being in love.”

“No,” our friend said shaking his head. “This is different than what you have. We never fight, ever.”

I winced, but my husband maintained his gracious smile. “That’s great! We can’t wait to be at that wedding.”

Six months after their wedding, I got a call from our friend. I could tell something was bothering him. “Are you alright?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “It’s just that we fought and it was really bad.”

After talking with him some more, I learned that a “really bad” fight meant that she walked out of the room on him only to return a half-hour later to apologize.

I told him about our fights. I told him how we had both slammed doors, said really horrible things, stomped, and not only left the room but left the house for hours on end, returning to fight again instead of make up. I told him how I, in a fit of anger, had thrown away an entirely good batch of cookies just so my husband couldn’t eat them. I had also hidden cookies, turned up the thermostat and left every single light on in the house (including flashlights and closet lights), just to irk my husband. Also, once, I air-conditioned the outside. I still haven’t apologized for that.

When I finished, we were both laughing and my friend was breathing easier.

When love is newly minted, it’s easy to be insular and believe that you and your partner have everything figured out, that nothing can ever shake you, you will never fight, and nothing so stupid as socks on the floor could ever make you raise your voice at that adorable face. I don’t mean to be condescending. It’s a great time. Every couple has it and it is my sincere wish that it lasts as long as possible.

But it doesn’t.

At some point in every marriage, you will find yourself sobbing into your pillow over toothpaste caps and if you don’t, you’re a Stepford Wife.

When Dave and I got married, no one told us about these ugly moments — when something as simple as sweeping the floor can cause you to question whether you’ve committed to the right “forever after.” A friend once told me that she felt horrible for questioning her choice of spouse until she told her mom, who has been married for 50 years. “Oh honey,” her mom said, “I ask that question at least once a week.”

In the early days of our marriage, I felt ashamed about coming clean about our arguments. Wasn’t I being disloyal? Wouldn’t people think horrible things about us? But the truth is, the more I talked to married couples, the more I realized how normal it is to occasionally slam a door, or hide a cookie, or lay in bed and wonder if you just committed to the same old remote control fight for as long as you both shall live.

I am forever indebted to a couple who told my husband and me a story about their epic battle over putting together a bookshelf. During the heat of the fight, the husband walked out of their apartment. The wife then decided the best way to make him sorry was to eat an entire pie his mother had made for him. When he came back, he found his wife, in the middle of the kitchen floor, her face covered in blueberry pie, crying. He grabbed a fork and joined her. They’ve been married for 20 years.

At the time, I remember feeling shocked. How could they say they had a good marriage when they were both that ridiculous?

That, of course, was before I stooped low and hid the cookies. Now, I cling to that blueberry pie story like a talisman. On my worst days, it reminds me, we can be both dumb and happily married. I’m not condoning acts of childishness or silly fights. It’s good to always keep perspective, but the truth is you can’t always keep perspective. In those moments, when you’ve lost all dignity and you are covered in blueberry pie and crying on the floor, just know, it’s OK. We’ve all been there, whether we admit it or not.

Recently, during a fight, I told my husband, “You know what? I’m OK with this fight. I know I have the rest of my life to spend making you learn how to do the laundry.”

“That’s right,” he said, “and I have the rest of my life to train you to turn the lights out in the house.” Then, we went to bed, still a little angry, but very much committed to figuring it out as long as we both shall live.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

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The Fairytale Wedding-Invitation, Invite, Wedding, Marriage, Fairytale, Greeting Card

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Oklahoma Lawmaker Wants To Test Everybody For Syphilis Before Marriage

If one Oklahoma lawmaker has his way, people with sexually transmitted diseases will not just be getting married in his state.

Senate Bill 733, introduced by state Sen. Anthony Sykes (R), would require both partners to take a blood test within 30 days of applying for a marriage license. A license would be granted only if “in the opinion of the physician, the persons named therein are not infected with syphilis or other communicable or infectious diseases or, if infected, that such diseases are not in a stage which may be communicable to the marriage partner,” the bill says.

Problem number one: the potential public release of private medical information. The full text of the bill implies that the office that grants marriage licenses would also keep copies of the blood tests, according to Oklahoma’s News 9. This might violate the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which is designed to protect the confidentiality of Americans’ medical records.

Problem number two: Oklahoma used to require a premarital blood test for syphilis but eliminated it in 2004 — for good reason. At that time, NewsOK.com reported, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said that some 300,000 blood tests in the past five years had turned up just five new cases of syphilis.

As recently as 1980, there were 34 states that demanded a premarital blood test, but virtually every state has repealed that requirement since. Today, only Montana still has it on the books.

Blood test requirements “were enacted in the first half of the twentieth century as part of public health campaigns to reduce the spread of communicable diseases and prevent birth defects. The laws required couples applying for a marriage license to be screened for certain conditions, commonly rubella or syphilis,” explains a 2009 study led by Kasey Buckles at the University of Notre Dame. “However, after penicillin proved to be a cheap and effective treatment for syphilis and vaccines were developed for rubella, these screenings were no longer considered cost-effective.”

In other words, Sykes is trying to revive an old and largely discredited idea. An attorney, he has served in the state Senate since 2006, two years after the Oklahoma repeal.

So far, his proposed legislation has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, which Sykes chairs. There are currently no co-sponsors.

h/t Salon
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Wedding Planning: A Practical, on a Budget Guide to an Affordable and Memorable Wedding Celebration (Wedding Planning, Wedding Speeches, Marriage)

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

One of the most frequently asked questions that Linda and I have been receiving lately is “How do you know when to call it quits?” A lot of people, it seems are more concerned about getting out of a bad relationship than creating a great one. It could very well be that this focus may actually contribute to the creation of the conditions that make relationship break-downs (and break-ups) more likely. While it’s certainly understandable that some couples require pre-nuptial agreements in their marriage, when a couple’s primary focus is on the possible break-up of their relationship is more dominant than a focus on the deepening of their connection, they may be inadvertently contributing to the very outcome that they fear may occur.

And yet to deny that every marriage is vulnerable to the many possible pitfalls that can threaten relationships is naïve and potentially dangerous. One of the things that we’ve discovered over the years is that no marriage is absolutely divorce-proof. That doesn’t mean, of course that divorce just comes out of nowhere and occurs arbitrarily, but rather that any relationship, no matter how solid it is, can, if neglected, slip into a state in which it becomes vulnerable to conditions that can cause serious harm.

While it is important to be mindful of what steps can be taken to preserve an endangered relationship, it is of course, preferable to create a sustained reciprocal connection that makes such an outcome unlikely. Strengthening the shared commitment and practicing mutual generosity, compassion, honesty, kindness, and respect are all ways of maximizing the likelihood of not only staying together, but of experiencing greater fulfillment over time. Yet for a variety of reasons, many of us are unable to practice these skills and embody these qualities consistently. And even when we make our best efforts, there still may be factors that make it difficult or even impossible for us to continue in our attempts to salvage the relationship.

The truth is that not all relationships can or should be saved. There are such things as ‘deal breakers,’ those conditions that one or both partners find themselves unable to continue to tolerate in the relationship. Examples can include chronic dishonesty, untreated addictions in which there is denial and an unwillingness to get help, a change or revelation of a difference in one’s sexual preference, repeated violations of trust without a willingness to repair the damage, physical or emotionally abusive behavior without any motivation to change, or violations of a commitment to monogamy.

These are some examples of conditions that can be deal-breakers for couples but don’t necessarily spell the kiss of death if they occur. The key variable has to do with whether or not there is willingness on the part of the both partners to work on the issue and acknowledge the problem. A willingness to address a potentially relationship-busting condition doesn’t guarantee that the marriage will be saved, only that there is at least a chance that it might be. When destructive patterns are repeatedly played out without a committed effort on both partners’ parts to address them, the prognosis becomes very poor.

So, how do you know “when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em?” There is no generic answer to this question. Every situation must be considered on the basis of it’s own set of circumstances and the unique aspects of each individual and of the couple itself.
There are, however, a few guidelines that may be useful to consider when it comes to recognizing whether or not to keep on keepin’ on.

While some people may hang on to an impossibly broken-down relationship beyond the point where there is any possibility of its rejuvenation, many others make the mistake of giving up too soon. They choose to cut their losses and get out (or try to manipulate their partner into ending the relationship) before they have done all that they can do to keep it alive. While it’s easy to give someone the advice to hang in there and keep trying, this is easier said than done. One of the things that motivates us to leave a relationship is that the process of working through the difficulties can be painful, sometimes unbearably so, and if we haven’t developed a heightened capacity to tolerate this type of pain, the impulse to cut and run is very strong.

The time to strengthen our resilience and our ability to endure the emotional pain that these efforts often require is during the times when things aren’t horribly broken down. If we avoid dealing with upsets, disappointments, and differences during the better times, feelings tend to accumulate and when they inevitably break through our patterns of denial, they are much more intense than they were when the differences first manifested themselves.

The more practiced we are in dealing with differences, the more skilled we are likely to be in our efforts to resolve them. Still, even the most experienced and skilled among us sometimes need assistance in freeing ourselves from entrenched patterns. Recognizing when we’ve reached our limit in handling things is a critically important skill that allows us to know when we’ve got to call in the cavalry or in this case, professional helpers. A large percentage of the couples that we interviewed for our second book, at one time or another acknowledged their need for some form of help and got it. Several of them told us that without that help they doubt that they would have made it. So knowing when you need the help and getting it when you do is a vital aspect of the process of getting a marriage off of the rocks when it’s on them. Refusing to do this can be costly.

We encourage each partner to focus on doing his or her own work; that is, what each needs to do in order to develop the inner qualities that will promote the development of greater health, well-being and loving connection in the relationship. It can be difficult to resist the temptation to “confess your partner’s sins.” but doing so generally only generates more defensiveness and resentment in the relationship. It’s a far better practice to identify what your own work is in order to become a more loving, honest, courageous, compassionate, responsible, and committed partner and to get on with it. Knowing yourself well enough to know when you’ve given something your best effort and knowing when pushing yourself to do more is destructive to yourself is the most important thing that you can know at this stage of the game.

If you get to a point where you can’t give any more without burning out, it’s time to at least temporarily take a self-care break and get the restoration that you need. Reengage when you’re more replenished and keep hanging in there until one of two things happens:

  1. Your partner joins you in a commitment to do deepen the quality of your relationship by doing their own work. They will be more likely to be open to this if you are not focused on fixing or changing them and you continue to focus on yourself rather than them.
  2. The other possibility is that one or both of you may reach a point where you feel that you can’t continue the effort without compromising your own integrity, health, well-being or sanity. It’s possible to reach a point where you have lost the motivation, will, or even the desire to keep trying. The longer you wait to do your work, the more likely it is that you will reach this point because of a build-up of resentment, hurt, or despair.

There is always a risk in giving something your best shot. What you are at the risk of losing is the hope that everything will somehow turn out fine, because one way or another, things will become clearer to you. What you have the possibility of gaining is a relationship that has a foundation that can sustain you both for the rest of your lives, and the tools and wisdom that can grow your connection into ever-deepening love and devotion. The choice is yours.
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Jon Stewart Says Mike Huckabee’s Gay Marriage Stance ‘Makes No F**king Sense’

Daily Show” host Jon Stewart appears to have a new hobby: tearing apart Mike Huckabee’s hypocrisy.

When the former Arkansas governor and possible 2016 presidential candidate was on the show last month, Stewart went after him for attacking Beyonce’s music but performing with Ted Nugent.

Now Stewart’s tearing apart Huckabee for the bizarre explanation he gave for opposing gay marriage. On Sunday, Huckabee said he can’t evolve on the issue because it’s a biblical matter.

“I can’t just ‘change’ with the ‘times’ if it means deviating from ‘biblical law,'” Stewart said (complete with the air quotes) in summing up Huckabee’s opposition to same-sex marriage. Then he pointed out a few other pieces of “biblical law,” at least two of which might not be as important to Huckabee.

“It’s why Huckabee never mixes fabric in his clothes or trims his beard or sleeps with another man’s slave,” Stewart said. “It would be wrong.”

Huckabee also declared that asking him to accept gay marriage would be like “asking somebody who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.”

Stewart said that analogy “makes no fucking sense.”

“No one is forcing you to get metaphorically married to the biblical abomination that is this bacon-wrapped shrimp,” Stewart said.

And that led to one of the most unforgettable “Daily Show” interviews yet.

Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Patrick Dempsey’s Wife Files for Divorce After 15 Years of Marriage

Today in sad news, Patrick Dempsey and his wife, Jillian Fink, are divorcing after 15 years, the couple’s rep confirms. “It is with careful consideration and mutual respect that we have decided to end our…




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Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams Have Split After Almost 6 Years of Marriage

Oh man, you guys, this news really bums me out more than usual: Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams are getting a divorce. "Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams have mutually decided to end their marriage of…




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Watch Centenarians Discuss Their 80-Year Marriage And Be Charmed

Armed with centuries of experience and wit between them, 101-year-old Helen and 102-year-old Maurice Kaye will make you forget you’re watching branded content for an insurance company.

They’ve been married 80 years and have stories to tell. Like when they first met at Helen’s mother’s shop and chatted for hours, interrupting business. Or the diamond engagement ring Maurice sprung on Helen years after they tied the knot.

The couple is joined by two other long-marrieds who describe their happiest moments for British insurer Beagle Street. One woman’s recollection of her husband, now 100, returning from World War II will bring a lump to your throat.

H/T AdWeek
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A Question of Marriage

A Question of Marriage


What happens when a corporate attorney who also happens to have a reputation for being a notorious playboy gets backed into a corner? Jordan Cain’s father threatens to not only replace him as managing director of the family’s law firm but disinherit him as well unless he changes his playboy ways and gets married giving him ninety days! In Jordan’s mind desperation calls for desperate measures. When he approaches his best friend and magazine editor Payton Hollister with a proposition: become his wife in name only to help him secure his future and he’ll give her the money to start her own magazine. Having been in love with Jordan since the day he stormed in her office demanding she print a retraction of an article the magazine ran that featured him and a starlet skinny dipping in a fountain Payton agrees. When Jordan’s father gets wind of his son’s plans to marry the reporter he resorts to bribery in order to stop the wedding from happening. needless to say the couple encounter more than a few obstacles on their way to what eventually becomes their happily ever after.

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Giada De Laurentiis And Her Husband, Todd Thompson, Divorcing After 11 Years of Marriage

In a season typically rife with news of engagements, one couple has sadly called it quits: Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis and her husband, Todd Thompson, are divorcing after 11 years together, according to…




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We Have a Marriage Crisis

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Coming of Faith brings the voices of Muslim American women to the world through multidimensional storytelling and empowerment initiatives. This post was originally published on Coming of Faith.

There is a marriage crisis amongst Muslims and I think that is putting it lightly. I am even having trouble trying to put my feelings on this matter into words because I am at a loss of where to start. I am not really sure how this happened, nor do I know how to fix things, but I do know that change has to occur.

Once we hit puberty, we are instructed by the community to not interact with the other gender. The boys you once raced around the masjid with are now covered in cooties, and “Circle, circle, dot, dot” is not a good enough vaccine in Islam. However, it seems to work outside of the mosque, because the Muslim boys you go to school with have no trouble talking to non-Muslim girls. What’s up with that?

In high school, which is already a precarious time, this pattern continued and I found that I was much more comfortable with non-Muslim boys than with the group of boys I once used to play with. Once upon a time, we could spend hours playing board games together at family parties, but now we can’t even manage to get two sentences out to each other without feeling all sorts of awkward.

Enter college, where MSAs can provide an excellent space to forge friendships, make connections, and build a community in your new home. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the greatest experience with my MSA. I was judged for not being a hijabi by one group of people, but also judged for not drinking by another group of people. This was my first introduction to the idea of being “good enough,” and because I couldn’t find comfort with the majority of Muslims on campus, I found my niche amongst my non-Muslim friends who respected and valued all of my characteristics and idiosyncrasies.

After graduation, I moved back home and rejoined the community at my local mosque. At this point, aunties began to ask intrusively when I was getting married. They would make comments to my mother: “Shame, she has such nice features, but her color…she is too dark. Have you looked into bleaching creams?” and, “I don’t think she would be able to find someone from America, you’re better of finding someone from back home. You know if you find a doctor, there is still a chance she can have a good life.”

To me, they would say: “Oh, you’re going to graduate school? Why? What are you going to do with that degree? Don’t you want to get married? You don’t want to be smarter than your husband.” “You can’t be too independent, no man will want to marry you if he feels that he can’t take care of you.” “You shouldn’t be too strong. Lower your voice and walk softly. Be a lady.” “Have you learned to cook? What do you make?”

With every comment and remark, I stifled my desire to rudely retort with a sassy answer. “Of course I can cook, do you think I starved all those years I lived by myself in college?” “When am I getting married? Good question, why don’t you ask Allah. Let me know what He says.”

It was as though my life was now dependent on my ability to get married. But once again, the community I should have found comfort in was diminishing my worth; they were finding ways to tell me I was not good enough.

I did want to get married though, so I tried to go about finding a partner the “halal” way. I went to matrimonial/speed-dating events. Once, when I stated that I did not like a particular Indian dish, this one guy did not know what to say to me for the next two minutes. Another guy barely listened to a thing I said, and after a minute and half, asked to just sit in silence because he was exhausted from talking. Not everyone was like that though. I did meet some nice guys, but there was just was no chemistry. I couldn’t figure out was missing, but I just was not clicking with anyone. It was as if we were all back in high school again, overcome with bouts of awkwardness. In general, although there were a variety of guys at these events, it became clear that most were looking for a specific type of look…a tall, fair-skinned, non-hijabi who was well educated but wanted to stay at home with the kids. I’m short, dark-skinned and I am determined to use my education to help save lives, while also making time for my children. I don’t care if I marry someone who makes enough money to support the family: I am passionate about what I do, and I am not ready to give that up just yet.

I’ve tried Muslim matrimonial websites, and although I have heard of a few success stories, I just met guys from abroad who barely spoke English and wanted to know if I was an American citizen. When I called one guy out on all of his lies, he told me that I was an ungrateful woman who will never get married. Wait, what?! Just because I asked why he switched careers from medicine to owning a clothing store in Pakistan?

I wish I could tell you that I just have the worst luck possible, but I know of women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s with similar stories and experiences. What is going on? We teach children to not interact with the other gender and yet, when they become of marriageable age, we automatically expect them to woo one another and marry quickly. But how can that be possible when men are taught to value superficial things, such as beauty? Even a degree is just for the name of it. This is not acceptable.

I just want a decent guy, with whom I have chemistry and an undeniable connection. I want someone who will be my partner; I want someone who respects me, all of me. And it’s a shame that I find that respect amongst non-Muslim men, while I struggle to find it with Muslim men. Why is it that I am bombarded with messages about not being good enough for Muslim men, yet non-Muslim men value my education, strength, voice, independence, and just about every characteristic that makes me who I am. I want someone who will be my spiritual partner, someone who values Islam the same way I do. But I am not sure where I am supposed to find him and I’m not the only one looking.

We have to change our standards, system, and community. We have to find a way to cut through all of these cultural traditions and values so that we can begin putting an emphasis on the right things that make a marriage strong. Something has to give, because I am tired of hearing that I am not good enough when I know that I am more than good enough. I am worthy of love, of a partner, of a good person, and that’s more than what is on a biodata.

Yasmine Shaikh is a spunky, loud-mouthed individual with an opinion for everything. 2014-12-26-silhouette150x150.jpgShe has a hard time hearing “No” and does not like to let things stop her. That said, she is devoted to her friends and family and is passionate about helping people. She grew up in a small New England town and is keen on experiencing life.
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Two Christmas Marriage Proposals, to Make the Magic Last Just a Little Bit Longer

After all the buildup, it’s hard to believe that Christmas is over. In an effort to keep the love going just a little bit longer, I tracked down pics from two Christmassy proposal stories. PROPOSAL…




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Should We Bring Marriage Into Our Love Lives?

I once wrote an article about how love fits into marriage but after co-writing, The New I Do, Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels, with Vicki Larson, I realize that a better question to ask is how our outdated paradigm applies to the way people in love couple these days.

For the first time in literally thousands of years, marriage in our Western culture has viable, socially acceptable, competition and the pressures (and necessitation) of marriage have diminished greatly.

In the past 50 years, the marriage rate in the U.S. has fallen dramatically. In 2008, a mere 26 percent (one quarter) of people in their 20s were married as compared to 68 percent (two thirds) in 1960.

We have not stopped coupling in our culture (although staying single is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle choice for younger adults). Rather, increasing numbers of up-and-comers have rejected tradition not legalizing their unions; even when they go on to have children.

Having lived with two serious boyfriends at different points in my life, I understand this choice and in many ways, I think it makes sense. There are things you learn about togetherness in general and your partner in particular that you might not learn any other way. There is also a stronger sense of commitment (albeit unspoken in most cases) in a relationship when you live together.

What’s the advantage to shacking up over marriage? You can have a lovely relationship, be very committed in the moment, and yet, if or when you break up, you can simply go your separate ways back out into your single worlds. It’s certainly easier and cleaner to split when you don’t have all the legalities to contend with: Maybe just a few dishes, airline points or pieces of furniture to split, but nothing small claims court can’t handle.

But here’s the rub: Big problems emerge when couples make other kinds of long term commitments that do bind them legally — like buying property together or worse, having children together — without having protections in place. As outdated as marriage can be, one thing it does do is provide important protections to both parties if a breakup occurs.

No one knows that better than the one who got the raw end of a real estate deal (with no recourse) or the one who got booted out on the street with a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old. While there are laws that protect children in those situations, there are not the same protections for partners as there are for spouses.

As we watch the pendulum swing toward a less structured paradigm, I think we’ll start seeing and hearing more about this kind of fallout. And it won’t be pretty.

Why can’t we have more options than risking so much by coupling but avoiding marriage or opting for security by marrying someone we may not want to be with forever? It’s not as if it’s never been done before.

The Romans had three different levels of marriage: Confarreatio, the most formal option had more religious overtones; Coemptio, was a less formal and more business-like union; and Usus, was an informal marriage that occurred by default when a couple lived together for more than a year. (Confarreatio and Coemptio required ceremonies but Usus did not have a marriage ceremony).

Throughout history, people have married for all kinds of reasons that had nothing to do with love–primarily for business and monetary gain, for political gain and to procreate. Love was even seen as an impractical emotion in these relationships. The Greeks, seeing the insanity caused by those in love, coined the phrase “lovesick.” Indeed, some cultures even described love as dangerous when it came to setting up stable family structures.

Having spent the past two years (and more) researching the subject of marriage for my book, I can tell you that informal changes are actually happening to the institution behind closed doors.

Unbeknownst to family, friends, and clergy, young couples tying the knot are agreeing to themselves the conditions they want to see in place. Ryan and Lisa is one such example: These twenty-somethings are marrying with a purpose and an end date (rather than out of love “because it’s what you do.”). They agreed to have children together but they also agreed that their marriage would end when the kids are out of the house (the option to stay married was there, but not the expectation).

At the other end of the age spectrum, unapologetic third-time marriers (many of whom are Baby Boomers) are stating unequivocally that they want only the best parts of marriage. How are they doing this? Many are vehement about maintaining their autonomy. Some are choosing to live in separate houses, others are asking for open marriages, and still others are quite frank about needing practical things like someone to grow old with, someone with insurance benefits or someone who has financial security.

Far from breaking from traditional marriage, these seeming rebels are reverting back to ways of old. Yet, because they fear being judged, many of these couples keep these arrangements secret. But why? Are they really doing anything wrong? Are these couples harming themselves? Are they harming anyone else? Are they taking anything away from anyone?

If you think about it, marriages based on love often have the most fallout because love is fragile. Love can easily turn to dashed expectations (especially since expectations are so much higher for lovers than they are for friends), jealousy, betrayal and even hatred. These are the things that crimes of passion are borne out of.

Now, I’m not saying that love has absolutely no place in marriage, but perhaps love shouldn’t be in the number one spot. Perhaps we should rethink purpose-driven marriages rather than emotion-driven ones. Perhaps we should give individual couples the right to pick and choose aspects of relationship that they want rather than assuming that monogamy and forever are right for everyone. As things stand now, those who don’t play by the current rules are told they are doing something wrong, or they are looked at as odd, damaged or unlucky.

Whether you agree with this article or not, I hope this topic will get you talking with others about the shame-based all-or-nothing paradigm we have set up now.

We received a terrific compliment recently from a TV talk-show producer. He said that before he read the book, he was against the concept. He fully expected to disagree with us. But, when he read the book, he realized that what we said made good sense and he thanked us for writing it.

If you’d like to open your mind and read more about these ideas, pick up a copy of The New I Do, Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels. If you know someone who’s just about to get married or re-married, do them a favor and get them a copy of The New I Do. And, finally, if you or someone you know is considering ending their marriage, tell them to read this book first. There may be a creative solution to their problem in its pages.


A previous version of this article appeared in Susan’s Contemplating Divorce Column on PsychologyToday.com

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A College Education Might Be The Thing Standing Between You And Marriage

Blame the drop in marriage rates on declining American values, and you may be ignoring what often provides the push for couples to walk down the aisle: education.

That’s what Andrew Cherlin, a Johns Hopkins sociologist, argues in his new book Labor’s Love Lost. Cherlin told The Huffington Post that the move away from marriage has to do with the fact that those without a four-year college education face fewer job options and less financial stability, which causes them to delay marriage or eschew it altogether. A disregard of morals isn’t the culprit here.

And it’s not a subconscious choice: 34 percent of young adults cited financial security as the reason they weren’t currently married, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll.

Young adults with only a high school diploma aren’t earning as much as their parents and grandparents.

Between 1979 and 2007, young male high school graduates saw their real earnings fall by about 30 percent. Unlike their mid-century predecessors, men in this moderately educated group can’t expect to be as financially stable as their parents or grandparents, so they end up putting off marriage or avoiding it completely.

In 2013, marriage rates hit an unprecedented low, bottoming out at 50.3 percent. Compare that to 1950, when 82 percent of non-widowed women between the ages of 18 and 64 were married, and it’s hard to ignore the shift.

Cherlin ties this change to the “slow-motion collapse” of what we used to call the “working class” or “blue collar” family. Forty or 50 years ago, these families took on mid-level jobs that didn’t require higher schooling, so men were able to make enough to support a wife and kids. Many of those jobs have been lost with modern technology. (It’s worth noting that mid-century women weren’t given opportunities to be household breadwinners and often relied on husbands for economic stability.)

Without financial security, couples are taking increasingly complex relationship paths in lieu of marriage.

Nowadays, young men and women without college degrees are facing dimmer job prospects than ever, so they’re avoiding marriage. Without a stable income, it’s not advantageous for either partner — man or woman — to enter into a seemingly permanent union.

“More and more of the moderately educated young adults, those without college degrees, are having kids in living-together relationships, often ending those relationships after a couple of years, starting another one, perhaps having a kid in another relationship and building unstable, complex families,” he said.

Of course, this marriage gap wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t shift our norms since mid-century America. It’s now more acceptable and common for couples to cohabit and have children before marriage. But the big difference between college grads and those without a degree is that cohabiting college grads tend to be more economically stable and make it to the altar before they have children, while the less educated are having children before marriage and then breaking up.

Closing the marriage gap may involve putting more folks without college degrees on the path to stable, mid-level jobs.

It’s this “interaction effect between a changing economy and changing attitudes,” as Cherlin put it, that he argues has led to the marriage gap.

The remedies? Cherlin said that more education is needed — not in the form of four-year college degrees, but vocational education at community colleges that can put young adults on the path to entering the few mid-level jobs that are left. He also said that labor market interventions, like strengthening unions and increasing the minimum wage, might bring the moderately-educated closer to their college graduate counterparts when it comes to marriage.

“As far as I can tell, a college degree is really the closest thing we have to a class boundary in the US,” Cherlin said. “Certainly in terms of family life.”

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Making Marriage Work

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In honor of the fact that JoAnn and I are celebrating our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary this week, I thought I’d reflect a little on what I think has allowed our relationship to survive.

People express their understandings of a marriage in many different ways, but my friends Andrew and Claudia put it like this:

Each person takes turns being either a watering can or a flower. Sometimes we need to be watered, and sometimes we need to do the watering.

2014-12-17-WateringCan2.jpg I know. It’s a simple metaphor, but it works. Sure, sometimes I don’t feel like doing the watering, or I feel as though I’m completely out of water. I’m sure there are times when JoAnn feels the same way. But after thirty seven years, I’ve learned it’s worth finding the emotional resources necessary to nurture my mate — even if it means having to change my own focus or ignoring something that has irked me. In the end, making that effort comes back to me as a peaceful life, a calm environment, and a mate who digs deep for me when I need her. Being generous to someone I love seems a small price to pay.

I’ve known from the start that individual egos are the biggest enemy of a good relationship. Once someone begins to take umbrage, there’s a problem. Once the resentment begins to pile up, and both people become unwilling to water, the flower begins to wither. The key is making a conscious decision to break the cycle – essentially deciding that peace is more valuable than whatever is hanging up the conversation. I think JoAnn and I have done this (subconsciously) by creating an “ego” for our relationship, and considering how things feel (for each of us) before blowing into the china shop.

2014-12-17-WeddingWPic.jpgWhen we started out, we were just kids — seriously, we were 24 years old. In fact, now three of our four kids are older than we were when we got married. For whatever reason, on that day and for many days before it, we had a sense that we were right for each other.

For me, marriage wasn’t an emotional deal. I knew I “loved” JoAnn, but as I try to do with most things, I applied a little logic to my situation. My marriage theory was based on this thought: although I could probably approach any woman at a bar, introduce myself, have a fun conversation and end up having a “successful” evening, the fact is that I never approach that woman and I probably never would. Also, I knew that as a world-class procrastinator who never wrote a paper until the day before it was due, I figured marriage would create a series of deadlines to help me achieve my goals in life.

Both of those theories held true.

I also entered marriage with open eyes. When I told my father that I intended to marry JoAnn he said, “Son, you are going to meet three or four more women in your life whom you might find really attractive.” I said, “What? Are you telling me you don’t like JoAnn?” And he replied, “No, I love JoAnn, I’m just telling you what’s what.”

There will always be opportunities that we believe might make us happier, but trying to catch every ball may cause us to drop the one that is most appropriate for us. By letting me know that there would be understandable and common temptation, my father was trying to prepare me to acknowledge those possibilities and move on. Like an addict, I resolved to live my marriage “one day at a time” so that a lifetime of fidelity wouldn’t seem so daunting — and when the temptation to consider others arose, I made it through those days. On Wednesday I’m getting my 37 year chip.

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The hallmark of our marriage is that we’re kind to each other. We don’t yell. We don’t call each other names. We don’t keep score. This doesn’t mean that we don’t get angry, or leave each other space when one is feeling tapped out. It means that our kindness is defined by the swallowing of pride, of understanding and generosity. One of us will do the dishes when neither of us feels like it, because the dishes aren’t going to wash themselves. We take care of each other, and consider each other’s needs as equal to our own. It’s our agreement, and we both know we’re better for it.

People will object, “That’s easy for you to say, you married the right person.” But, the fact is we’ve spent years training each other. No one comes out of the box designed to co-habitate perfectly. We’ve learned to pick our battles. We’ve learned what isn’t going to change, and we’ve managed to get over it. We all have our nuances, things that can drive others crazy… or not. Our choice is to see those things as part of the process and move beyond them. Learning to trust and communicate about them, rather than suffering in silence, is one of the keys to moving forward.

2014-12-17-REGJEGLaguna_2013.jpgThere’s an old expression — “Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?” I like being both, and my wife knows it — so she humors me (until I admit that I was wrong).

Marriage is not 50/50 – it’s 90/90. Give more than half and it’ll make 37 years go by in the wink of an eye.
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12 Things No One Tells You About the First Year of Marriage

There are plenty of surprises waiting for you on the other side of “I do.”




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Kidman talks impulsive marriage to Keith

Nicole Kidman”s marriage was a “natural process” and she still wants more children.
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What ‘Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce’ Taught Newlywed Lisa Edelstein About Marriage

Earlier this year, Lisa Edelstein found herself in a unique scenario: On May 25, she was marrying artist Robert Russell, and the next day she was driving to Vancouver to play a newly single woman in Bravo’s “Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce.”

Luckily for Edelstein, portraying a divorcee taught her a lot about being a newlywed, she told HuffPost Live’s Josh Zepps on Thursday.

“It really planted a seed to remind myself on a daily basis not to take my husband for granted, not to take our relationship for granted, to really remember that anything can end,” she said.

That reminder is important because divorce is becoming more and more common in American life, Edelstein added. And she has been touched by it too.

“My husband was in the middle of a divorce when I met him, so I have walked through divorce from that point of view. I have stepchildren, so learning how to have an alternative family is something you’re really not trained for,” she said.

Watch Lisa Edelstein discuss divorce in the video above, and click here for her full HuffPost Live conversation.

Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!
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The Most Romantic Marriage Proposals | Oprah: Where Are They Now? | Oprah Winfrey Network

Tune in Sundays at 9pm/8c

Oprah looks back at some of the most romantic proposals in ‘Oprah Show’ history.

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Their stories made headlines across America. “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” features updates on some of the biggest newsmakers and most memorable “Oprah Show” guests of all time. Find out where they are now, plus see what happened to the biggest newsmakers of all time and how their lives changed after sudden fame and notoriety turned their worlds upside down.

Oprah Winfrey Network is the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah Winfrey’s heart and creative instincts inform the brand — and the magnetism of the channel.

Winfrey provides leadership in programming and attracts superstar talent to join her in primetime, building a global community of like-minded viewers and leading that community to connect on social media and beyond. OWN is a singular destination on cable. Depth with edge. Heart. Star power. Connection. And endless possibilities.

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Opening wedding cake sterling silver charm .925 x 1 Marriage charms EC161

Opening wedding cake sterling silver charm .925 x 1 Marriage charms EC161


Opening wedding cake sterling silver charm .925 x 1 Marriage charms Approximate weight 2.7 Grams. This item is made in England. It will not bear ANY marking unless over 7.78 grams silver or 1 gram for gold. Please note we do NOT supply gift boxes so your item will NOT come in a gift box. Please note that ONLY sterling silver items weighing more than 7.78 grams and gold items weighing more than 1.00 grams are required to carry a UK hallmark, as per UK law. For more information about the UK hallmarking laws please visit one of the assay office websites or the British Hallmarking Council website. Please note most connecting rings will NOT be soldered and for your peace of mind we recommend you have them soldered by your local jeweller. If you have purchased a converter or clip or fitting and would like it connected or attached to another item you have also purchased from us in this transaction, please advise us immediately after or before the transaction. The pictures may show multiple items so that you can see the product in more detail, but please be aware you are purchasing 1 item only unless this description states otherwise.

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Megan Mullally And Nick Offerman’s Marriage Is Just As Good As We Imagined

Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman play less-than-amicable exes on “Parks and Rec,” but in real life they are one of Hollywood’s most beloved couples.

Mullally sat down with HuffPost Live’s Ricky Camilleri on Thursday to talk about her enviable 11-year marriage.

“We have an especially good relationship and we really get a kick out of each other,” she said. “I really like him. I like being around him, I like talking to him, I like looking at him. I think he’s funny, I think he’s cute, he’s really nice. And I think he thinks all those things about me.”

Although Mullally says that her relationship with Offerman has taken on “mythic proportions” among their fans and in the media, it turns out, it really is pretty damn great.

“I think sometimes we can see other couples and we’ll get in the car afterward and be like, ‘I don’t think they like each other that much.'” She continued, “We have a little bit of superiority complex at times. We don’t mean to.”

The actress also said that she and Offerman have been joking recently that if they ever got into a fight in public, the world would probably come crashing down.

“It’s going to be the headline of The New York Times because people have idealized our relationship to the point where it’s like — yeah, occasionally we argue. We’re just like any other couple in that regard. But we don’t argue that much. I think we really like each other, is the thing.”

You can watch her the full HuffPost Live conversation here.

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Can This Marriage Survive…?

When I was growing up there was a magazine that featured a column, “Can This Marriage Survive?” Divorce was pretty uncommon in those days and I was fascinated by the monthly column and the predicaments the men and women who were featured in the article got themselves into. At some level a lot of the advice in that column must have stayed with me, because I’ve been married a long, long time. Our long-time marriage is kind of a dinosaur in this day and age where starter marriages have become the norm.

So saying, this may be the year that I need to remember all the advice that was in the columns. I wrote a post a couple of months ago about the Family Reunion. Four days of being together with the family can be a bit stressful. Just look at how people dread the holiday season — and it’s not always about gaining the ten pounds from eating well.

Then my husband and I had to deal with the death of our beloved boxer, Rebel. Anyone who’s ever had a pet knows what it’s like to return home and not have your little friend there to greet you. And then the decision about whether to get another pet — and if we got the same breed would we always compare the new one to Rebel? The jury’s still out on that one.

The next major survival was a 10-day road trip that my husband and I just returned from. Actually, it was a wonderful trip. We took a couple of things off of our bucket list by visiting Zion and Bryce National Parks. We relaxed in Sedona, played golf in Scottsdale, and visited one of the best national history museums I’ve ever seen. My husband had noticed it on the Internet. There was no advertising leading up to it; it was just plunked down in the desert between the two National Parks. Animals, arrowheads, birds, etc. were all displayed in authentic settings along with over 500 butterflies. If you decide to do the parks, this is a “don’t miss” place to put on your agenda. We even survived me driving at times, him navigating, and me missing the washed-out golf cart path and almost upending the cart. However, all that pales with what’s coming next.

Tomorrow begins the demolition of the kitchen. Yup, a complete redo. When you live in a house for a number of years, you overlook sagging cupboards, water stains on interior cabinets where coffee cups have been put away before they were completely dry, dated pulls, and drawers that squeak every time they’re opened. Actually, you don’t even notice them, at least we didn’t. It took a visit from our son to tell us the time had come. The kitchen was definitely dated!

In about eight weeks we’ll be the happy owners of a new kitchen including appliances, charging station (evidently a necessity as our lives revolve around our iPhones, iPads, and other electronic goodies), countertops, cabinets, and …

I have the feeling the domino effect will set in soon. I remember looking at the kitchen tile many years ago and thinking it needed to be re-grouted. What I had difficulty explaining to my husband was why the upstairs had to be re-carpeted. He really didn’t think that had much to do with the tile being re-grouted. The domino effect had come into play.

As I took a final look around the kitchen this morning, I began to wonder just how creative I was going to be with an electric fry pan, a barbecue, a toaster, a coffeepot, and a slow cooker. There will be no oven or microwave for the next eight weeks. And have you ever known a remodel to be finished in exactly the projected time frame? I haven’t. It’s a good thing we had the Family Reunion this summer because Thanksgiving will definitely be out and possibly Christmas. Everyone I’ve talked to who has gone through a remodel says it was one of the most stressful times in their lives. Swell. And why did we decide to do it? Well, if and when we sell our house, the first thing a realtor will tell us to do is upgrade the kitchen and they’d probably be right. When we made the decision to upgrade, it seemed logical to do it now and enjoy it while we’re living here. At the moment, I’m having serious doubts whether that was a wise decision. Then as soon as the upgrade is finished, time for a new puppy! You don’t think that will be stressful, do you? Stay tuned!!!!!

Earlier on Huff/Post50:


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Big Questions You Have To Ask Your Partner Before Marriage (If You Want To Avoid Divorce)

You don’t often hear newly engaged couples asking divorcés for marriage advice — but maybe they should.

Who better to school you on what doesn’t work in a marriage than someone who’s been there, done that, and got the t-shirt? Given that, we had to hand it to this marriage-bound Redditor who had the good sense to ask married folks and divorcés to weigh in with the conversations they wished they would have broached with their partners before tying the knot.

“Tell me your horror stories,” the Redditor bravely asked in her call-out. “Specific questions, not just money, children, sex but things that wouldn’t cross your mind until you’ve actually been married.”

Below, 11 of the most interesting responses.

1. “How does he try to make you feel loved and validated? Does it work? How do you try to make him feel loved and validated? Does it work?”

2. “Prenup or not to prenup?

3. “Do we have more than just love? I would step back from your relationship and look at the components besides love. We all like to believe ‘love will conquer all,’ but it doesn’t. It’s 100 percent necessary, but you also need trust, honesty, respect and forgiveness. Marriage is really freaking hard, especially when it has to withstand outside hardships, but if you have all four of the above, you can not only survive those things, but thrive in them.”

4. “Asking the hard questions about children is really important. Not just how many, but questions about education and religion and basic child-rearing philosophies. For school, are you thinking private, public or homeschooling? What about discipline? How do you feel about time outs, spankings and grounding?”

5. “Is your S.O. your absolute best friend? The person you respect most in the universe? If not, don’t marry them.”

6. “Are you sure you’re not just getting caught up in the hype of getting married? I’m divorced and mainly I wish I hadn’t ignored the red flags, which in my opinion, become harder and harder to recognize the closer you get to the wedding. Once you announce your engagement, your mindset turns more to the excitement of the wedding and you tend to turn a blind eye to the warning signs. Plus, the thought of canceling the wedding can be enough to convince anyone that they can somehow make it work. But trust me, divorce is harder than calling off a wedding.”

7. “Are you both completely satisfied with your sex lives? Is there anything either party wants but isn’t getting?”

8. “Ask yourselves all of these questions to make sure you’re prepared: 1. Accidental pregnancy, what do we do? 2. Fired/laid off from job, what do we do? 3. Financial crunch (car problems, medical bills, leaking water pipes, etc.), what do we do? 4. Our parents are getting old, what do we do?”

9. “I borrowed this more or less from Dan Savage: If one of us cheats, what is the outcome?

10. “One thing I wish I would have discussed with my husband is extended family dynamics. The one major problem we’ve ever had in 32 years of marriage is his family. They didn’t like me. I bent over backwards for these people and eventually won over his dad and won over his mom for the most part. His siblings and their spouses? Not so much. It caused many, many uncomfortable times for me and because my husband is super non-confrontational, he never stood up for me.”

11. “Define ‘marriage’ for yourselves. What exactly are you committing to?”

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3 Pieces Of Marriage Advice From ‘Marry Me’s’ Casey Wilson And David Caspe

Actress Casey Wilson and her writer-producer husband David Caspe don’t adhere to any kind of “no romance in the workplace” policy. The pair first met in 2010 when Wilson auditioned for (and landed) a role on Caspe’s sitcom “Happy Endings.”

The lovebirds tied the knot in Ojai, California in May 2014. Now they’re working together once again on the new comedy “Marry Me” — created and produced by Caspe and starring Wilson — which is loosely based on their relationship.

In an interview with Glamour, the couple shared some of their best marriage advice so far (like avoid hanger at all costs).

“My dad always said that 90 percent of marital problems could be solved by getting your blood sugar up, and he’s right!” Wilson told Glamour. “So I would say pick a partner who’s forgiving when you have low blood sugar and threaten to drive your car through your shared home.”

Even though they’ve been together for years, it’s clear that Wilson and Caspe are still figuring each other out.

“David’s a doer—he wants to give advice or fix things,” she said. “My girlfriends [let me] turn over every emotional detail for hours. I see them at least twice a week.”

“I’ve had to realize that if she shares a problem, I’m not supposed to fix it,” Caspe added.

And the cutest takeaway from Caspe? If you pick the right person, you can have a BFF and a romantic partner in one super awesome package.

“As a kid, you weirdly picture a girlfriend as separate than a friend,” he said. “But being with Casey, I realized a wife is the ultimate friend, and you also get to make sweet, sweet love together.”

Head over to Glamour to read the rest of the adorable interview.

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Marriage Proposal Featuring 1001 Hot Dogs Is A Real Wiener

Using hot dogs to propose to the love of your life might not seem romantic, but wait until you hear this story.

Twenty-eight-year-old Wang, from Chengdu China, popped the question to his girlfriend Chen on August 16 with the help of exactly 1001 hot dogs, which he used to spell out the word “Love” surrounded by a masterful hot dog border.

hot dog

Turns out, there was a method to Wang’s wiener madness. According to Chengdu Evening News, who first reported the story, the couple met three years ago in Thailand at a bakery that sells hot dogs.

The future love birds quickly discovered they were from the same province in China and the rest is history. They’ve now been together for — wait for it — 1001 days. D’aww!

hot dog proposal

Chen must have appreciated the romantic sentiment; she said “yes” and then ate a hot dog in celebration.

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‘Ring Cam’ Lets You Record A Marriage Proposal Without Lifting A Finger

In an age when marriage proposals frequently go viral, there’s a lot of pressure to capture the big moment in just the right way.

But what if you don’t have a four-man camera crew or Hollywood-worthy film editing skills? That’s where Ring Cam comes in.

The Ring Cam, which was launched in October 2013, is basically a ring box with a tiny camera inside. So when it’s time to pop the question, the bride- or groom-to-be’s reaction is instantly captured.

ring cam

Ring Cam is the brainchild of four college students from Michigan. One of its creators, Scott Brandonisio, sat down with Good Morning America to discuss the perks of the new device.

“Only the person proposing actually knows its there,” he explained. “So you’re able to capture that genuine element of surprise.”

Indeed, most viral proposal videos involve elaborate schemes in which camera men are clearly visible. As you can see from Ring Cam’s past proposals, the shocked reactions are the best part of the videos.

The gadget can be purchased for $ 149.00 to $ 249.00 from the company’s website, or you can rent the box for just $ 99.

Be sure to watch the Good Morning America segment above for more info.

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10-Year-Old’s Marriage Advice Is So Spot On, You’ll Wish You Came Up With It

When it comes to marriage advice, it seems like everyone and their mom has something to offer up.

Well forget ’em!

We finally have all the marriage advice we’ll ever need, thanks to one very wise 10-year-old named Ethan who took it upon himself to write out (and laminate) key pieces of advice for his soon-to-be-wed teacher.

Marriage advice from a 5th grader

The note was posted to Reddit earlier this week, titled “My friend who is a teacher was married over the weekend to a cop. This is one of her students marriage advice.

All we know is penguins should definitely be on everyone’s registry from now on. Look how fun they are!

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Not Interfaith Marriage, Two-Faith Marriage

It might sound strange, but growing up in Israel makes one’s Judaism pretty obvious. You don’t need to practice Judaism to know that you are Jewish. You know that you are Jewish because you are not something else. The last three years have made me confront my Judaism like never before. Just to put things in context, I grew up in a secular family in Tel Aviv, I do not eat Kosher, do not keep the Sabbath, and the last time I was in synagogue was only because someone down the street asked me to complete the “Minyan,” the requirement of ten males for a prayer to begin. Three years ago, while volunteering in Haiti, I started dating an American girl named Sarah. As an Abraham, I saw this relationship as an obvious continuation of my heritage, fulfilling the promise of my name, except for the fact that Sarah is Lutheran. I was never “worried” that by dating a Christian I would convert, but the opposite happened, it made me confront my Judaism. All of a sudden I had to explain holidays and answer questions Sarah asked me about my beliefs, including rationalizing why I don’t follow some of the Jewish traditions. Religion was a big part of our relationship from day one.

When I moved to the States to be with Sarah, I also started building a new community for myself. Of course, as you might expect, I searched for my own. I went to the Hillel in my school, took a fellowship with a Jewish organization in New York, and celebrated Jewish holidays with my aunt who lives in Manhattan. My first year in New York was probably the period of my life that I was the most active with my Judaism, although more as a community and less as a religion. I heard for the first time the term “peoplehood.” Judaism is not only a religion or an ethnicity, it’s a peoplehood. I like that term. I might not be religiously Jewish, but I felt like part of the family, a part of the peoplehood.

Everything changed for me when Sarah and I started to plan our wedding.

Many American Jewish leaders fear that interfaith relationships will be the downfall of the Jewish community, an inevitable final step in complete integration to become American and not Jewish-American. According to a Pew Research Study from 2013, 58 percent of all marriages in the Jewish community from 2005 are “intermarriages” or “interfaith marriages.” Many in the Jewish community wonder why this phenomenon happens and how to change the trend, but from the perspective of a Jewish guy that fell in love with a Christian girl, my marriage is not the problem. The Jewish community is.

Sarah and I wanted to have a wedding that would reflect both of our traditions and religions. We planned for the wedding to be in Philadelphia and I thought that finding a rabbi to join a pastor in officiating would be an extremely easy task. There is a large Jewish community in the tri-state area, and armed with the term ‘peoplehood’ I assumed that different rabbis would respect my religious choices. That in America the peoplehood mattered, staying a part of the family. I was wrong. The quest to find the rabbi was the hardest part of planning the wedding.

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The irony was that every rabbi I spoke with (and there were a lot of them) started the conversation sounding genuinely happy for us and then started the list of demands. One would marry me to a Christian, but only if a pastor was not present. Another wouldn’t stand under the chuppa. One rabbi told me that Jesus could be mentioned, but only as a historical figure and not as a divinity. He went so far as to give me a list of words that could not be said in proximity to the name Jesus, and when the list hit the world “lamb,” I told him that I would have to verify our dinner menu with the caterer just in case. One rabbi seemed to be content to co-officiate; we even set a date for a meeting to start working on the ceremony itself, but then in one of our phone calls she told me that she wanted to be honest and to remind me that according to Jewish law I wouldn’t be “married for real.” She was willing to do the show for us, to pretend, and she thought we would be grateful. And that was the message that the Jewish community gave us. We don’t believe your marriage is legitimate, even if you find someone who will pretend it is. At this point, a few months into the search, how many couples out of the 58 percent that marry a non-Jewish partner choose to not have a rabbi in their ceremony at all?

Eventually we found a rabbi, and we were lucky. Our ceremony was beautiful, but it wasn’t an interfaith ceremony. The term interfaith marriage always reminds me of the term international water, neither here nor there. As if it is some spiritual limbo where no one is in charge. I am not in an interfaith marriage; I am in a two-faith marriage. A few weeks before the wedding, the pastor, who is a close friend of Sarah’s family, asked to show me the ceremony and said he could “de-Jesus” it a bit if I felt it was necessary. I was in awe. There is an Israeli pop song that was very popular a few years back that goes, “the one that believes isn’t afraid to lose his faith.” This was true about our pastor. I admired his level of belief, and I remembered the rabbi who told me that the word “lamb” couldn’t be in the ceremony. In contrast, the Pastor didn’t think that by not mentioning Jesus it took away from the union between Sarah, God, and myself, or from his own Christianity. Our ceremony was a two-faith ceremony. We are married in the Christian tradition, and we are married by the Jewish tradition. Not somewhere in the middle.

I’m not sure what the next step is for me and the American Jewish community. If I find a synagogue where my Christian wife and I can go and sit together with respect for both religions, who knows, maybe I will start going. But from my experience over the past year, despite the Jewish community’s use of the term “peoplehood,” it still has a long way to go to understand that there are many kinds of Jews in that peoplehood, and some of them have a thing for shiksas.
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Tony Dungy on Uncommon Marriage and Life After Coaching

On February 4, 2007, long-time NFL head coach (and current NBC Sunday Night Football analyst) Tony Dungy etched his name into the history books by becoming the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl; his Indianapolis Colts overcoming the Chicago Bears 29-17. It was a triumph that was revered — and will continue to be revered — by many.

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As Dungy clutched the championship trophy in the post-game celebration and highlighted his faith in a humble interview with legendary broadcaster Jim Nantz, the world watched as a man realized a dream that so few will ever be able to accomplish.

But there’s much more to the narrative on Tony Dungy than that Super Bowl victory. For one layer, I would like to take you back to June 19, 1982.

This was the day that Tony married his wife, Lauren. It was the beginning of a union that would stand the test of time. If you look back at the video of Tony’s Super Bowl speech, you’ll see that Lauren was standing right there, right by his side. That visual representation was a reminder that, even as we marvel at the prowess of today’s athletes and laud the intellect of championship coaches — family comes first.

Indeed there is a story here, a marvelous one that continues to this day, as Tony and Lauren prepare to celebrate their 32nd anniversary. It is a story that they have encapsulated in their recently released book, Uncommon Marriage: Learning about Lasting Love and Overcoming Life’s Obstacles Together.

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Chronicling Tony and Lauren’s journey from courtship to present day, Uncommon Marriage is a book that anyone who is even considering marriage would appreciate. The Dungy’s share their experience — the thrills of life, and the disappointments as well — in a heart-felt (and sometimes playful) “he-said/she-said” pattern that is as relatable as it is inspirational.

I had a chance to catch up with Tony Dungy to get some insight on the motivation behind Uncommon Marriage, the keys to the endurance of his own marriage, and how life has been after coaching in the NFL.

Marcus: What inspired you and your wife Lauren to write Uncommon Marriage?
Dungy: Lauren and I had done several children’s books together. Tyndale Publishers approached us about doing a marriage book. At first, we were very hesitant, not thinking we would have much to share. But we were involved in a couple’s Bible study and we had a lot of conversation about marriage in that study. In the past, it always seemed we were one of the younger couples, asking for advice in our Bible studies. But suddenly, we looked around and we were one of the older couples. So we felt we might have some things to share from our experiences, from lessons we’d learned from other couples, and especially from what we had read in the Bible. We also felt that society was not holding marriage in the high esteem that it needed to be held, so we wanted to address that as well.

Marcus: What message do you hope readers — newlyweds, long-timers, even singles — get from Uncommon Marriage?

Dungy: We hope there is something in it for everyone, even singles looking to get married. The basic message that we talk about is focusing on the three C’s — Christ, commitment, and communication. We believe that to enjoy a rich and satisfying marriage you really need Christ in the center of your marriage. That way, when you find yourself taking divergent paths, you can always look to Christ and let Him bring things back into focus. We also want couples to see that God’s design for marriage is permanent. Couples must have a commitment to stay together no matter what. And the third major point is one of communication. Talking, listening, and understanding each other is crucial for a marriage.

Marcus: You have been together with your wife for more than three decades. What are some of the keys to the endurance of your marriage?

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Dungy: Marriage is like a football game. There is a huge adrenaline rush at the opening kickoff, but that rush eventually wears off and you have to settle in to play the full four quarters. You are going to have to stick to your game plan, rely on your fundamentals, and be ready for some ups and downs to succeed over the long haul. In marriage, that means continuing to look out for the best interests of the other person, keeping the lines of communication open and not letting external elements and pressures distract you from your commitment to each other. And those external elements don’t have to be bad things. They can be positive things like children, or job promotions. We just have to be careful that nothing comes between our relationship with our spouse because that is the most important personal relationship that God has ordained. And when circumstances arise that put pressure on the marriage relationship, we have to remember to turn to God in those times and not run away from Him. Probably the best advice we could give, though, is to remember that your relationship can’t be based on your feelings. Love is not a feeling, it’s a commitment to the other person. There will be times you don’t feel like loving your spouse, but those are the times you have to let Christ help you honor that commitment.

Marcus: Were there things you learned from marriage that influenced your coaching on the football field, and vice versa?
Dungy: The job of a coaching staff is to help your team play its best. You have to put aside your individual goals and objectives to make that happen. In a marriage, both individuals have to do the same thing — put aside their individual desires and concentrate on making the marriage and the family the best they can be. Goal setting, teamwork, and sacrifice become the major themes, so in many ways I did take things from my coaching to our marriage. The one thing I knew as a head coach was that I couldn’t do it all myself. My assistant coaches had so much to offer and I had to empower them to utilize their talents. Married couples need to do the same thing and utilize the strengths of each spouse.

From my family, I learned that each child was a little different in their emotional makeup. I couldn’t treat them exactly the same, and that helped me as a coach. Realizing that people all respond differently to instruction, correction, encouragement and criticism was so helpful to me. As a coach, I never subscribed to the “my way or the highway” thinking. Because of my experiences with our children, I tried to find different ways to communicate with, and get the most out of, my players.

Marcus: You have made a tremendous transition from coaching. What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment (or accomplishments) since retiring from the field?
Dungy: Since retiring from coaching I’ve had time to do many of the things I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time with my wife and my family. Helping Lauren more in raising the younger children has probably been the most meaningful thing I’ve been able to do. I’ve also been able to get more involved in church and take a bigger role there. I love my job with NBC Sunday Night Football, and being a part of the number 1 rated show on prime-time TV has been a thrill. It has also allowed me to highlight some of the great off-the-field projects of our NFL players. As part of our Dungy Family Foundation, Lauren and I, along with our relatives, have been able to support some very worthwhile causes. We’ve been able to help out with some children’s programs, women’s shelters and academic support for students. Lauren and I read and promote literacy during the school year in Tampa elementary schools, and that has been rewarding and fun.

Marcus: What advice would you give to someone that wants to have the type of positive influence you have been able to have?

Dungy: The best work-related advice I ever received was from Chuck Noll, my first boss with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He told me to never make a career decision based on salary or job title. Instead, look at who you’re going to work for and work with, what you can learn from them, and how you can grow in the job. That advice served me well over the years and I would add one thing to that. I always tell people to look for significance over success. There are many things in life you can do to make money, and earning a living is important. But I would recommend looking at how you can help people as well as make money. You will definitely feel more energized and more fulfilled doing something you feel is benefiting others.

Marcus: What’s next for you?

Dungy: I don’t have anything concrete planned for the future. Lauren and I have been asked about doing another book but we don’t have one in the works yet. I’m leading a couple of Bible studies during the week and I’d like to get more involved with discipling young men, especially. However, I don’t see a return to full time coaching on the horizon. We still have six children at home so we have more than enough to keep us busy.

***
Photos provided by Tyndale House Publishers. Used with Permission.
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Brilliant Gym Ad Says What We’re All Thinking About Kimye’s Marriage

New York Sports Club released an ad Wednesday that even Don Draper would be proud of.

Following Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s over-the-top Italian wedding, the NYC-based gym took out a full page ad in the New York Post that poked fun at Kardashian’s relationship history as a ploy to get people to work out.

It’s no surprise that the ad blew up on the Internet and was picked up and posted by every media outlet known to man. Bravo NYSC.

But just in case you need a follow-up ad for your campaign, we came up with one for you:

Kanye, stay in shape. You’ve got to last at least 41 minutes.

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A State-By-State Look At Marriage Numbers Across America

If you want to live in a state where you’ll be surrounded by lots of married folks, then head to Utah where 57 percent of the population is hitched. (No surprise there!)

Find The Best — a website that collects and presents data sets on a variety of topics — used marriage data from the Census’s American Community Survey to calculate the percentage of married people in states across the U.S.

The percentages were calculated by taking the number of people over the age of 15 (“Seems young, but this is how the Census collects the information,” a Find The Best product associate told HuffPost) who are currently married in a given state and dividing it by the total population of people 15 and older in that state. The numbers were pulled from the ACS’s 2007 to 2012 surveys.

To find out how your home state stacks up, hover over the area on the map.

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The Way Couples Divide Household Chores Can Make Or Break A Marriage

Taking out the trash, washing the dishes, or doing laundry may not seem like make-it-or-break it moments for marriages — but according to a new study, how household chores are divided greatly affects relationship satisfaction.

In the study, recently published in Sex Roles, researchers examined 220 newlywed couples who had married within the last 24 months.

Participants were given an online questionnaire that measured two things: cognitive egalitarianism (meaning how couples perceive male and female household responsibilities) and behavioral egalitarianism (how couples actually divide household responsibilities). The participants were asked not to discuss the answers with their spouses.

After examining the results, researchers found that an uneven division of household chores negatively affected wives’ marital satisfaction, especially when wives felt the roles should be more equal. The same was not true for husbands.

“These results were interesting because usually marital satisfaction is studied in only one spouse. Here we were able to see what happens when there’s a discrepancy in spouses’ attitudes on this issue,” Brian G. Ogolsky, a lead author of the study, said in a press release. “If a woman believes that household chores should be divided equally, what happens if they adopt a traditional approach to the matter? The most satisfied couples have similar expectations and follow through on them.”

“For husbands, sharing household tasks isn’t as directly related to their satisfaction. Either they don’t perceive that there is a discrepancy or they have bought into the idea that the [housework] belongs to women,” he said.

The takeaway? Ogolsky notes that since expectations play such a large role in marital happiness, couples should discuss these matters early on. “Newlyweds need to thoughtfully plan how they can make their expectations about sharing chores work out in real life, especially if the new spouses strongly value gender equality in household labor. This issue will only matter more after children start arriving,” he advised.

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Wedding Bell Blues: 100 Years of Our Great Romance with Marriage

Wedding Bell Blues: 100 Years of Our Great Romance with Marriage


Bargain Books are non-returnable.Love and marriage, horse and carriage, they may go together in that old classic croon… But in twentieth-century America-hang on tight-the horses have run wild and it's one bumpy ride! Welcome to the world of Wedding Bell Blues, a romp through our endless fascination with that most august of domestic institutions: marriage. Celebrated (and bemoaned) in every medium imaginable, weddings and marriage are as much a part of life as birth, death, and taxes. Hundreds of nostalgic images, from advertisements to magazine covers to movie posters, display the full range of romance and allure of real and fictional brides and grooms. Seasoned advice from the likes of Archie Bunker to turn-of-the-century marriage manuals lend a note of unsolicited, and often absurd, guidance to the uninitiated. Whether you're already hitched, have been, or vow never to be, tying the knot will hardly look the same again.
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Wounds of Love: The Mystical Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima

Wounds of Love: The Mystical Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima


The Peruvian mystic St. Rose of Lima (Isabel Flores y Oliva, 1586-1617) was canonized in 1671 as the first saint of the New World and remains the object of widespread devotion today. In this engrossing new study, Frank Graziano uses the example of St. Rose to explore the meaning of female
mysticism and the way in which saints are products of their cultures.
Virginity, austerity, eucharistic devotion, incessant mortification, and mystical marriage to Christ characterized the devotional regimen that structured St. Rose''s entire life. Many of her mystical practices echo the symptoms of such modern psychological disorders as masochism, depression,
hysteria, and anorexia nervosa. Graziano offers a sophisticated argument not only for the origins and meaning of these behaviors in Rose''s case, but also for the reason her culture venerated them as signs of sanctity. In the process he explores a wide range of themes, from the idea of suffering as
an expression of love to the assimilation of childhood trauma through religious repetition.
Graziano also offers a penetrating analysis of the politics of Rose''s canonization. He finds that her mystical union with God–bypassing the institutional channels of sacrament and priestly mediation–was inherently subversive to the bureaucratized Church. Canonization was a cooptation by which
Rose''s competing claim to Christ was integrated into the Catholic canon.
The book concludes with a fascinating exploration of mystical eroticism, with its intense experiences of vision and ecstasy. The eroticized suffering of many mystics is shown to be very human in origin: the mystic''s wounded love is projected onto a God conceived to accommodate it.
Wounds of Love is based on a decade of research in archives, rare books, and an extraordinary range of secondary sources. Introducing an innovative method that integrates history, cultural studies, psychoanalysis, and clinical psychology, this compelling work offers a bold new interpretation of
female mysticism.
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The Gay Man Who Sought a Straight Woman for Marriage

I often get asked where the inspiration for my latest book, Legally Wed, came from. It’s a romantic comedy about a gay man’s journey to finding real love. My first response is that as a resident of the state of Washington, and as a gay man who married his husband on the first day that same-sex was legal here, it was that historic event that inspired me.

But the truth — and this didn’t even come to me until after I’d finished the book — is that it mirrors my own life. The whole time I was writing, I thought I was creating a lighthearted tale about a gay man who, disappointed in love and hungering for the commitment he sees in his own family, gets drunk one night and places an ad on Craigslist: “Gay Man Seeks Straight Woman for Marriage.” It took me a while to realize that my inspiration was really my own personal journey. See, I was that man.

Unlike my main character in Legally Wed, though, I did not come up with the idea one drunken night. For a young man growing up in the 1970s, the road to fulfillment was through marriage to a woman. Thirty-some years ago, when I married the female love of my life (let’s call her “Alison”), there was no other road open.

So I met Alison and fell in love. Unlike my main character in Legally Wed, I was not drunk when I proposed. No, I was filled with hope and with the dreamer’s belief that if someone really wanted something bad enough, he could have it.

But like Duncan in Legally Wed, I discovered that a gay/straight marriage was destined for disaster. It took seven years, the birth of our son, and the intervention of a very compassionate therapist to help me see that I was not some damaged thing, needing to hide my true self away. Like Duncan in my book, I realized that I could love women, maybe even prefer them, but ultimately needed to be who I am.

It was hard to say goodbye to Alison, to no longer live under the same roof with our then-6-year-old son Nicholas. There were tears, recriminations, court battles, bitterness, and pain, but all three of us came out the other side still loving one another.

My Duncan and his intended, Marilyn, go through the same struggle, in a more compressed time frame, and came out understanding that even though they weren’t meant to be married, they were meant to be great friends. Their friendship and love is a bedrock message of my book. And, to this day, my love for Alison, even though we’re separated by many miles, continues to be a bedrock for me.

In Legally Wed, Duncan finds his true love when he’s essentially stopped looking. The same was true for me. I thought that after I divorced, I would find a parallel relationship with a special guy. Let’s just say I tried on many, many pairs of shoes, but none fit.

Like Duncan, I gave up. And two months after giving up and deciding that I would be just fine living alone, I met him. That was almost 12 years ago now, and he completely spoiled my plans. And I couldn’t be happier. Bruce is the man I stood in line with at City Hall on the morning of Dec. 6, 2012, to be one of the first couples in Washington to obtain our marriage license. We had a small wedding three days later. Even though Bruce and I had been together for more than a decade, we both realized, when we woke the next day as a married couple, that we felt different. More committed. More like a family.

I mentioned earlier that Alison and I have a son, Nicholas. The irony is that he too turned out to be gay. When Nicholas met the love of his life and told me they were going to marry, I was ecstatic. By then, he had moved to Montreal, where marriage was already legal for all adult couples in love, and they would be able to make it official.

Would I officiate? One of my many happy endings that I am thankful for is that I got to preside over the wedding of my son and his husband. Bruce was among the happy assembled that day in August when Nicholas and Tarik said their vows. Our own marriage was still a few years off, still something hoped for, but not something we were at all certain we would ever have, which made the day bittersweet.

Alison was also there. We celebrated together and couldn’t have been happier for our son. That day my mind strayed to two other weddings, one in my past and another — hoped for — in my future. The thought came to me then that these marriages shared one thing: They were about love.

I realized that it’s not about what’s between our legs but about what’s between our ears… and in our hearts.

Love is love.

Why on Earth, or in God’s name, would anyone want to deny that to his or her fellow man or woman? We can only be strengthened, as families, as a society, by encouraging and celebrating love and commitment.
Weddings – The Huffington Post
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Wounds of Love: The Mystical Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima

Wounds of Love: The Mystical Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima


The Peruvian mystic St. Rose of Lima (Isabel Flores y Oliva, 1586-1617) was canonized in 1671 as the first saint of the New World and remains the object of widespread devotion today. In this engrossing new study, Frank Graziano uses the example of St. Rose to explore the meaning of female mysticism and the way in which saints are products of their cultures. Virginity, austerity, eucharistic devotion, incessant mortification, and mystical marriage to Christ characterized the devotional regimen that structured St. Rose’s entire life. Many of her mystical practices echo the symptoms of such modern psychological disorders as masochism, depression, hysteria, and anorexia nervosa. Graziano offers a sophisticated argument not only for the origins and meaning of these behaviors in Rose’s case, but also for the reason her culture venerated them as signs of sanctity. In the process he explores a wide range of themes, from the idea of suffering as an expression of love to the assimilation of childhood trauma through religious repetition. Graziano also offers a penetrating analysis of the politics of Rose’s canonization. He finds that her mystical union with God–bypassing the institutional channels of sacrament and priestly mediation–was inherently subversive to the bureaucratized Church. Canonization was a cooptation by which Rose’s competing claim to Christ was integrated into the Catholic canon. The book concludes with a fascinating exploration of mystical eroticism, with its intense experiences of vision and ecstasy. The eroticized suffering of many mystics is shown to be very human in origin: the mystic’s wounded love is projected onto a God conceived to accommodate it. Wounds of Love is based on a decade of research in archives, rare books, and an extraordinary range of secondary sources. Introducing an innovative method that integrates history, cultural studies, psychoanalysis, and clinical psychology, this compelling work offers a bold new interpretation of female mysticism.
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How A Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis Put My Marriage In Perspective

By Diana Frustaci for YourTango.com

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2012. I was 27, turning 28 a few weeks later at the time, and engaged to be married the following year. One minute I was an excited, expectant bride obsessing over mermaid vs. princess-cut gowns, and the next I was strapped to an IV with steroids pumping though my body to calm the inflammation in my optic nerve.

After that, the changes happened almost over night. My eye, a victim of optic neuritis, went dark and blind. My body, strong from the steroids but weak once they wore off, became a stranger to me. I suddenly noticed the tremors in my hand and the way my leg would suddenly become numb in the morning. It all meant one thing: I would have to take better care of myself if I wanted to survive.

And I did. I started going to yoga to improve my balance. I started taking vitamins (hello, Vitamin D) and began eating healthier. I said goodbye to processed foods and embraced fruits and vegetables. I also dusted life’s petty nuances off my shoulders — those minor irritants that used to cause me extreme panic were now put into perspective. Traffic? Who cares? I’m in no hurry. Annoying Facebook post by a frenemy who could afford to be more modest? Not my problem.
Fight with the husband? Well, that took more time to let go. But I did. And ultimately, I feel the changes I made have helped not only my physical health, but my marriage as well.

The first thing I did was learn how to stop reacting. Whenever I would feel angry or overly passionate, I’d have a physical reaction. Literally. My right eye would twitch and what looked like gray film would envelop my cornea. I could feel the energy drain from my body, and soon enough my legs would go numb. My hands would prickle with tension.

And so I worked hard to stop reacting — not because it was bad for my marriage but because it was bad for my body. I did not want to let my body succumb to weakness or pain because of something I perceived to be “right” or “wrong”. It simply wasn’t worth it — not for me or my marriage.

But my attitude adjustment didn’t happen over night. It was a gradual process, but eventually I was able to regulate my reactions. First, I had to kill my darlings: Just because I had something clever to say didn’t mean I should say it, especially if it was going to cause a fight or hurt his feelings. So when I would get upset, I would try to understand the real issue. Instead of involving my husband, I finally listened to my therapist and involved my pen and paper. And thus, my love of journaling to resolve issues was born.

When an issue would arise, I would work through the process on paper. Was I being irrational? Was I being petty? Did this really matter in the long run? And if it did, was now the time to fix it? Before long, I was able to just be — without having to comment and pick on everything, even if I saw and noticed everything (and trust me, I did).

For instance, once my husband and I were hanging out in the living room when he said something that upset me. It was a reoccurring issue, and one I wasn’t even sure I was right about, but I did not respond to him. Instead, I left the room. Once away from the pressure and tension, I took to my journal and started transcribing my feelings. I was mean and clever in my writing, and by the time I was done scribbling my passionate points about what a poo-poo head I thought my husband was being, I felt better. When he came to see why I had left the room, I told him I was writing notes about him and that it was my way of dealing with my feelings. “Better than fighting, right?” He couldn’t argue with that, and we moved on with our evening, fight-free.

Aside from my MS flare-ups helping me tune out life’s ugly messes, just about every article about healthy relationships notes that the best course of action is to pick your battles. Those articles are spot on. What I’ve learned from having a physical reaction to stress is that most things don’t really matter, and that it’s better to live a peaceful life than a petty one. I picked that road and it has made all the difference.

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Virginia AG Mark Herring To Fight Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Reports Suggest

Virginia’s new attorney general Mark Herring is making a major reversal on his state’s same-sex marriage stance, according to The Washington Post and NPR.

Herring will announce on Thursday that he finds Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, The Washington Post reported.

The move would be going against the position of Herring’s predecessor Ken Cuccinelli (R), who once stated, “I cannot support something that I believe brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul.”

As the Post points out, Herring, a Democrat, will also be reversing his own stance from eight years ago, when he voted against same-sex marriage.

“As attorney general, I cannot and will not defend laws that violate Virginians’ rights,” Herring told “Morning Edition.”

After a review of a case challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban, Herring concluded, “The commonwealth will be siding with the plaintiffs in this case and with every other Virginia couple whose right to marry is being denied.”
Weddings – The Huffington Post
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‘The Case Against 8,’ Which Debuted As Sundance, Recalls California’s Gay Marriage Battle

Two gay couples who waged a five-year court battle to restore same-sex marriage in California are back in the spotlight, in a new film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, and lesbian couple Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, finally achieved their goal last June. But “The Case against 8” recounts the long and often dispiriting judicial battle they fought to get there.

The documentary, by filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White, is in official competition at the independent film festival, which wraps up next weekend in the Utah ski resort of Park City.

The story begins on November 4, 2008 — the day Barack Obama became the first ever African American US president, but also the day Californians voted in a referendum on so-called Proposition 8 to outlaw same sex marriages.

The “Prop 8” decision came only a few months after the western US state’s top court had legalized gay marriage, and some 18,000 same-sex couples had already tied the knot before the referendum blow.

Gay rights campaigners acted immediately, creating the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) to take the case to court, where they filed a first lawsuit in May 2009.

“We heard about the case very early on, before it was filed and we asked them about the possibility of making a documentary about it, without knowing that someday it would become a bigger case,” Cotner told AFP.

“At the time, we had no idea that it would go all the way to the Supreme Court,” he added.

As well as the roller-coaster legal fight — from the plaintiffs’ first court victory in San Francisco to the US Supreme Court in Washington — the film also focuses on the two couples at the heart of it.

The four became the face of gay marriage in California, putting huge pressures on them.

“I’ve never been so nervous in my life. Even though we’re ready, there is the weight of ‘I can’t mess this up. I have to represent so many people,'” Katami says in the film.

The two couples “never knew that the case would become so big and they didn’t know that they would become the cement of the story,” co-director White told AFP.

“But on top of that, the idea of having a documentary crew following them probably was not the thing that they wanted most at the beginning,” he added.

A third duo also plays a central role in the film: lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies, nicknamed “The Odd Couple” by the media.

The pair, who had been on opposing sides in the infamous legal battle which resulted in George W. Bush’s 2000 election win over Al Gore, united “to fight for LGBT rights together,” White said.

“That was the heart of the case and probably the heart of the film too,” he added.

Olson, a fervent Republican, drew harsh criticism for supporting gay marriage, even though, as he says in the documentary, “marriage is a conservative value.”

“It’s two people who love one another and want to live together in a stable relationship, to become part of a family and part of a neighborhood and part of our economy,” he said.

The filmmakers said they were careful not to get carried away by the strong emotions on both sides, over the five years.

But their objectivity was seriously challenged when the US Supreme Court restored the right of gays to marry in California, on June 26 last year.

“Two days later, we were at the weddings and that day was the hardest day to film because it was so hard for me to concentrate on the film,” said Cotner.

“I just wanted to be a part of the wedding with them. “I didn’t want to be a filmmaker at that moment. I wished I was just a participant at the wedding,” he said.


Weddings – The Huffington Post
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British Floods Blamed On Gay Marriage Law By UKIP Councillor David Silvester

A local councillor for the anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP) has blamed recent storms and floods across Britain on the government’s decision to legalise gay marriage, it emerged on Saturday.

David Silvester, who defected from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party in protest at the move to allow same-sex couples to marry, made the claim in a letter to his local newspaper.

“I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill,” wrote Silvester, an elected member of the town council in Henley-on-Thames, west of London.

He added: “It is his (Cameron’s) fault that large swathes of the nation have been afflicted by storms and floods.

“He has arrogantly acted against the Gospel that once made Britain ‘great’ and the lesson surely to be learned is that no man or men, however powerful, can mess with Almighty God with impunity and get away with it, for everything a nation does is weighed on the scale of divine approval or disapproval.”

The Conservative member of parliament for Henley, John Howell, said the comments were “not the sort of thing that he should have written in today’s age” and said Silvester needed to “consider his position”.

A UKIP spokeswoman said Silvester’s views were “not the party’s belief” but said he was entitled to state his opinions.

Cameron pushed through the gay marriage law last year against fierce opposition within his Conservative party, and the first weddings are expected to take place in March.

In a concession to opposition from the established Churches of England and Wales, however, those institutions are banned from conducting ceremonies.

UKIP prides itself on not bowing to what it terms “political correctness” on social issues and is steadily building support with its anti-immigration and anti-EU message.

It has no MPs but is the third largest party in the opinion polls, with about 12 percent of support, and is expected to do well in May’s European Parliament elections.


Weddings – The Huffington Post
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First Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony Held At Fort Bragg Chapel

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina home of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and the Green Berets is opening the base chapel to same-sex ceremonies.

Fort Bragg saw Maj. Daniel Toven and Johnathan Taylor exchanged vows on Saturday. The pair married in Washington, D.C., in August. The Fort Bragg ceremony wasn’t a wedding, which is barred by state law. But the event drawing together more than 100 people to bless the pair’s marriage is believed to be the first for a same-sex couple at Fort Bragg.

Attendees at the Episcopal service included a one-star general and a command sergeant major.

Also attending were Lt. Col. Heather Mack and her wife, who initially was barred from membership in the Fort Bragg Officers’ Spouses Club before the group relented earlier this year.
Weddings – The Huffington Post
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Taye Diggs And Idina Menzel Separate After 10 Years Of Marriage

Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel have called it quits after 10 years of marriage, People confirms.

Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs have jointly decided to separate at this time,” reps for the couple tell People. “Their primary focus and concern is for their son. We ask that you respect their privacy during this time.”

The pair, who met while co-starring in the original Broadway production of “Rent” in the mid 1990s, tied the knot on Jan. 2003. They welcomed their son, Walker, in 2009.

Diggs and Menzel, both 42, have been open about their marriage, with Menzel telling People earlier this year, “We work at it. I’m not going to glamorize it or glorify it — we go through tough times like everybody else, but we love each other very much. We try not to be away from each other for more than two weeks at a time, and we try to find new ways to communicate.”

Diggs also spoke about their relationship, admitting to Good Housekeeping that the best thing about being married is “having your best friend by your side constantly [and] knowing that someone has your back.”
Arts – The Huffington Post
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The Key To A Successful Marriage Is Make-Up Sex, Experts Say

“Kiss and make-up” are four words that may be the key to marital happiness, or so say two relationship experts who believe make-up sex is vital to helping couples work out their problems.

In a recent HuffPost Live segment, Trisha and Justin Davis, the authors of “Beyond Ordinary: When A Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enough,” told host Mike Sacks that a romp between the sheets can help spouses move beyond marital spats.

“The term make-up sex, people think it’s just a term. Make-up sex is an actual physiological thing,” Trisha said. “When you feel known, where you feel like you’re on the same page, it makes that moment when you’re together all the more special.”

Her husband agreed, adding, “You’re never gonna agree with someone one-hundred percent of the time, but you can be for that person one-hundred percent of the time.”

Watch the clip for even more advice on keeping a marriage strong and check out the entire segment here.

Weddings – The Huffington Post
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Illinois Prisons Prepare For Changes To Behind-Bars Nuptials In Wake Of Gay Marriage Law

With Illinois now the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriage, prisons in the Prairie State are studying up on what the law means for gay inmates who want to wed behind bars.

“The Illinois Department of Corrections will be prepared to implement a policy regarding this law when it goes into effect,” Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer said according to Pantagraph. Currently, the IDOC has no formal policy for gay inmates who wish to get married.

Under marriage laws already on the books in Illinois, prisoners are prohibited from marrying another inmate and the approval (or denial) of each request is up to individual prison wardens who consider “the best interest of the offender, or other legitimate penological interests.”

In California, where same-sex marriage is legal, inmates can marry a same-sex partner so long as the partner is not also incarcerated (due to unspecified “safety concerns”).

In Minnesota, which legalized same-sex marriage in August, the new law posed a dilemma in a small number of specific cases. According to the Associated Press, Minnesota had three instances where inmates who had served their time but remained in correctional custody due to previous sex offenses wished to marry a same-sex partner also in the program.

Minnesota’s Department of Human Services policies prohibit offenders in the program from going to the courthouse, making it impossible for either party to secure the marriage license.

On the heels of same-sex marriage in Illinois being signed into law this month and set to go into effect on June 1, 2014, Cook County issued the state’s first marriage license to gay couple more than six months ahead of schedule on Monday. The move was made after a federal court ruling expedited the license for a terminally ill woman and her partner.
Weddings – The Huffington Post
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A Decade After Massachusetts’ Landmark Gay Marriage Ruling, The Gains Are Clear

BOSTON (AP) — In the decade since the highest court in Massachusetts issued its landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, 14 other states and the District of Columbia have legalized it, with Illinois poised to become the 16th in a few days.

Such gains were considered almost impossible before Massachusetts opened the door on Nov. 18, 2003, with a Supreme Judicial Court ruling that declared a ban on gay marriages unconstitutional. Opponents made doomsday predictions about how gay marriage would damage traditional marriage and lead to problems with children raised in same-sex households. But as the years have passed, public opinion has shifted. Supporters have won in the courts, in state legislatures and on state ballots amid intense lobbying, activism and advertising campaigns filled with gay couples’ personal stories.

“With more same-sex marriages, you saw more people changing their minds,” said Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director at Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and the lead attorney on the lawsuit that resulted in the gay marriage ruling in Massachusetts.

“Seeing gay people with their extended families, seeing the commitment, that’s what has turned this around.”

Opponents have shifted tactics as more and more states have legalized gay marriage. Initially, opposition focused on the predicted erosion of traditional marriage, but in recent years have pushed concerns about school curriculums and religious objections.

In New Mexico, the state Supreme Court ruled in August that an Albuquerque business owned by gay marriage opponents violated a state anti-discrimination law when it refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s commitment ceremony. A law firm representing the business has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal.

Opponents say they plan to do a better job of telling similar stories of people who believe their religious freedoms have been infringed upon by the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“I think we still have to do litigation, we still have to do legislation, but we also have to do education as well,” said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel.

Since same-sex marriages began in Massachusetts in 2004, approximately 100,000 gay couples have gotten married across the U.S., said Lee Badgett, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. At least 16,000 of the marriages have taken place in Massachusetts.

Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, said 38 percent of Americans will live in states where same-sex marriage is legal once Illinois’s governor signs the bill on Wednesday. The group has a goal of bringing that up to more than 50 percent by the end of 2016.

“What we have to do — like other civil rights movements and social justice causes — is win a critical mass of states and a critical mass of public support, which together creates the climate for the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution,” Wolfson said.

Wolfson said Oregon is expected to be a key battleground in 2014 as supporters hope to repeal a constitutional ban on gay marriage passed in 2004 during a rush of similar amendments in other states after the Massachusetts’ ruling.

But Staver said he believes the momentum of the gay marriage movement will slow.

“Same-sex marriage represents a classic conflict with religious freedom,” he said. “I think there will come a tipping point where the pendulum will swing the other way as people begin to see the impact of same-sex marriage.”
Weddings – The Huffington Post
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Weeklings!: Let’s Harass the Remaining 35 States Into Gay Marriage (VIDEO)

Congrats to my home state of Illinois for becoming the 15th state to legalize gay marriage! Thanks to your kickass House and Senate, you’ve narrowly dodged this list.

Today we’re harassing the 35 states without official gay marriage legalization into changing their tune. From Virginia to Hawaii, Oregon to Michigan, we’re snarling at them all. Come on, states. Let’s finish this up.

WATCH:

You can find previous Weeklings! episodes here.
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Young Singles, Seth Adam Smith’s Marriage Advice Isn’t for You

Dear nieces and nephews (biological and metaphorical),

There’s a marriage advice post spreading across the Internet like low-fat mayo over Wonder Bread. It’s called “Marriage Isn’t for You,” and it’s full of sweet-sounding ideas handed out by Seth Adam Smith, a guy who resembles the male half of the the straight couple that tops every wedding cake. In addition to being handsome, Smith has an inspiring and sad story, so we find ourselves nodding and sharing before we realize what he’s really saying.

You’ll probably run across his post at some point, and it will probably make an impression, since you are “at that age” and some of you are dating, but I want you to take a closer look and really give some thought to the ideas he feels entitled to share as gospel after a year and a half of marriage.

Marry your best friend: Good advice if you can swing it, and advice that I’d love to see you follow. Of course, my best friend and I are both male. In fact, many people find that their best friend shares their gender. Alas, in 36 states marriage is indeed not for us, often thanks to the intervention of Smith’s church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But that probably doesn’t bother Smith, since he thinks that…

Marriage is for your future children: Your great-uncles are too old to have kids, but some of them have recently married. You have cousins who can’t have children, but they got married. One day my partner and I will get married. Do our marriages still count if they’re not about children? They certainly do. You can have a wonderful marriage without having babies. So if you do decide to have children, let it be your choice. Don’t let family or friends or anyone tell you that your marriage is less than theirs if it doesn’t produce babies.

Marriage is for the other person’s happiness: If you love someone, you want them to be happy. And it’s very nice to think that you can make another person happy, but it’s also very arrogant. What really makes a person happy? Lots of things: family, friends, hobbies, work, and more. It will be your job to add to their lives and help them be even happier. The way to do that is to be happy yourself, with hobbies, friends, and work of your own. And when those things aren’t going so well in your lives, you can each help the other through the bad times. Together, two happy people can create an even happier couple, but if you make someone else’s happiness your mission in life, you give them the power to make your life a failure. Which brings me to the last point he makes:

A woman’s selfless love cures everything (but a man’s love can come and go): Smith went through a time when he was being very selfish, and his wife forgave him. That’s great for him, but I want you, especially my nieces, to know that you are under no obligation to be the saint in your relationship. If a relationship depends completely on one partner doing all of the forgiving, all of the loving, all of the sacrificing, then it is not a fair relationship, and you deserve a fair relationship. Don’t let anyone tell you that real men misbehave and real women forgive. Find someone who is prepared to be just as loving and devoted as you are.

See, “marriage is for others” is exactly what women have been told for centuries, and it’s done a lot of harm. “Marriage is for the family” kept women ashamed of their marriage problems and too scared to divorce their husbands. “Marriage is for children” has kept multitudes of women locked in abusive marriages “until the kids are grown.”

Cody and I have been together for almost 20 years now, without state sanction, families pushing us together, or children at our feet. Maybe we’ve managed this long because we didn’t have the “benefit” of very much family advice, so we remain reluctant to give much advice ourselves.

But you know what? Since we were never allowed to be the idealized couple atop the wedding cake, we’ve had to find our own way, and we’ve learned an awful lot. We have advice for what to do when marriage isn’t an option, when kids aren’t in the future, when bromides about selflessness give way to realities about careers, priorities, health, and aging. I may not always put that advice on the Internet, but it will always be here for you. And even if we’re not the first people you think of, I hope you come to us before you put much stock in some of the popular advice floating around out there.

Love,
Uncle Wayne
Weddings – The Huffington Post
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