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I planned on beach sewing. I packed all the things necessary to have a little creative fun in the sun. Well, actually, not all the things. I left the sewing machine pedal at home. This was very unfortunate on lots of levels. The most minor was that I have some nicely cut headbands that will have to be sewn at home. The most distressing is a costume malfunciton that might just haunt me for years:-(.

But there was plenty of costume handsewing. I've gotten to be expert at repairing fishnet tights while they are being worn (they snag on everything) and I can whipstitch a bodice to a tutu like nobody's business. Psst: I'm really looking forward to sewing with good fabric and making some real clothes in August.

And just in time for that, Fat Quarter Shop is having a Moda sale. 25% off. But hurry. I didn't check my mail until today, so Friday July 18 is the last day. I have a Fat Quarter Shop gift card that my kids gave me for Christmas sitting on my desk at home. I can't reach it until July 19th. So you all buy some Moda and let me live vicariously, okay? 

The morning walk routine is going nuts. I've had some pretty horrible insomnia here at the beach. I'd imagined long walks on the beach or along the golf cart path or down the trail that leads to the marina. Those places are very, very dark at 4 AM. So, I've been logging 8,000-10,000 steps around the well-lit parking lot. It's something, right? And it's a great way to get lots of books read. I'm listening to The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. I highly recommend the book. It's excellent. I don't recommend the audio version, though. There are lots of checklists and it just doesn't convey very practically on Audible. I poked around the website a bit to see if those lists are available there for audio "readers," and only found one of them online. You can take the quiz to see how well you know your partner here, but that's the only one I see online. If you find something, let me know. I'm happy to be corrected.

Gottman says that his research proves that marriage counseling most often doesn't work because most conflicts aren't solvable in the first place. After just 5 minutes of watching a couple converse, he can predict divorce (or not) with a 91% accuracy rate. That's mighty impressive. What's more impressive is the way he does it. He's nailed down marriages biggest demons. If he sees one of the "four horsemen," he knows the couple is in trouble. Those "horsemen" that escort the demise of relationship? Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

The book is a worthy investment, and not just for newlyweds. There's a great deal to think about there. Here's a little sample, from the website. The top seven ways to improve your marriage:

1. Seek help early.

The average couple waits 6 years before seeking help for relationship problems. (And keep in mind, half of all marriages that end do so in the first 7 years). This means the average couple lives with unhappiness for far too long.

2. Edit yourself.

The happiest couples avoid saying every critical thought when discussing touchy topics.

3. Soften your “start up.”

Arguments often “start up” because one partner escalates the conflict by making a critical or contemptuous remark. Bringing up problems gently and without blame works much better.

4. Accept influence from your partner.

Gottman and his colleagues found that a relationship succeeds to the extent that the husband can accept influence from his wife. For instance, a woman says, “Do you have to work Thursday night? My mother is coming that weekend, and I need your help getting ready.” Her husband then replies, “My plans are set, and I’m not changing them.” As you might guess, this guy is in a shaky marriage. A husband’s ability to be influenced by his wife (rather than vice-versa) is crucial – because research shows that women are already well practiced at accepting influence from men. A true partnership only occurs when a husband can do the same thing.

5. Have high standards.

Happy couples have high standards for each other. The most successful couples are those who, even as newlyweds, refused to accept hurtful behavior from one another. Low levels of tolerance for bad behavior in the beginning of a relationship equals a happier couple down the road.

6. Learn to repair and exit the argument.

Happy couples have learned how to exit an argument, or how to repair the situation before an argument gets completely out of control. Examples of repair attempts: using humor; stroking your partner with a caring remark (“I understand that this is hard for you”); making it clear you’re on common ground (“We’ll tackle this problem together”); backing down (in marriage, as in the martial art Aikido, you often have to yield to win); and, in general, offering signs of appreciation for your partner and his or her feelings along the way. If an argument gets too heated, take a 20-minute break, and agree to approach the topic again when you are both calm.

7. Focus on the positives.

In a happy marriage, while discussing problems, couples make at least five times as many positive statements to and about each other and their relationship as negative ones. For example, “We laugh a lot” as opposed to “We never have any fun.” A good marriage must have a rich climate of positivity. Make regular deposits to your emotional bank accounts!

What would you put in yourTop 7 Ways to Nurture a Happy Marriage?

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