Sunday, November 8, 2009

This blog has moved

The Anniversary Inn Reminder has moved to it's new permanent home:

Thank you for your interest in the Anniversary Inn. I hope you continue to enjoy the dialogue and other posts.


Spencer DeGraw

Sunday, September 20, 2009

20 Couples needed for a Focus Group this Friday!

Need a fun night out? Would you like to help us with a Focus Group as we get ready to launch our Marriage Relationship Seminar Series?

Join us this Friday night Sep. 25th from 7:00 to 9:30 at the Joseph Smith Memorial building in downtown Salt Lake City. There is no cost to attend this Focus Group, in fact we will be giving away some special prizes for those who come and help us out.

We are partnering up with the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and Franklin Covey to provide a fun and educational series of seminars to help couples re-energize their relationships and re-focus their commitment to each other presenting Covey's "8 Habits of a Successful Marriage" program.

Double date with some friends or just come alone with your spouse and have a fun night out.

If you can join us please respond here with your name, phone number, email, mailing address and how many will be attending:

We have limited space, so please ensure that you can attend before signing up.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Remember our children are watching...

The saying goes..."The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." (Theodore Hesburgh). I wonder how many times we as parents forget that part of our responsibility of keeping our marriage healthy and vibrant is not only for our own joy and happiness, but also for the benefit of our children who are watching us.

Another thought comes to mind... "Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you." Robert Fulghum

I found this video on YouTube by Erika Chambers called "All is right" and thought it was a very moving reminder of the importance of letting our children see us showing love and affection towards our husband or wife:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Utah supports strong and healthy marriages as a priority

In a previous post, The successful marriage - Can it be learned, the discussion revolved simply around whether one could learn how to have a happy marriage. With national statistics showing that 50% of first marriages will end in divorce, it begs the question whether couples can learn to strengthen their marriage, or if they must simply rely on luck and hope that they and their spouse can learn to get along on their own. The conclusion was that clearly happy marriages don’t just happen, couples can learn how to be more fulfilled and at peace in their marriages. They just sometimes need some guidance. The real trick over time is to change the culture within our society from one of discarding marriages simply because couples have “fallen out of love” to one of committing to marriage and learning how to make each one stronger even through difficult periods.

Many communities around the country are creating public initiatives as well as working with private businesses and local churches to try and provide education services. Here in Salt Lake City, the Utah Marriage Initiative has been launched specifically to help make marriages stronger.

The Utah Commission on Marriage was formed in 1998 by former Governor and First Lady, Mike and Jackie Leavitt,” explains Melanie Reese, Coordinator of the Utah Healthy Marriage Initiative. “The Commission is an advisory board to the Utah Healthy Marriage Initiative, now housed within the Department of Workforce Services’ Office of Work & Family Life. Its mission is to help people form and sustain a healthy and enduring marriage.”

According to Reese, the state of Utah spends upwards of $276 million per year on unwed childbirth and family fragmentation. As part of the effort to combat this problem, the Healthy Marriage Initiative strives to help couples better prepare themselves for marriage, or to strengthen their existing marriage.

One trend among national professional Marriage and Family Therapist organizations, like the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education (CMFCE), is an emphasis in the belief that people who better prepare themselves for marriage relationships through education programs are more likely to have successful, happy marriages. Utah’s Healthy Marriage Initiative is part of this national trend. Some of the key goals of the initiative include “maintaining two-parent families… (and) preventing family breakdown…” explains Reese.

Another significant new trend coming from the CMFCE, and something the Utah Marriage Initiative tries to emphasize on its website ( and in its promotional materials, is the use of researched information to backup and support its claims and educational programs. By providing clear substantiated data to support the idea that healthy marriages improve society, and that all couples can learn to have more satisfying and healthier marriages, the CMFCE, the State of Utah, and many other groups across the country are beginning to make a difference in our society by providing resources and information to help strengthen our world one couple at a time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The successful marriage: Can it be learned?

According to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri, “…50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce.” This means that half of our extended family, friends and neighbors are going to go through the turmoil of breaking apart a family unit. This is a sobering reality in our society that many are trying to remedy.

Diane Sollee, founder and Director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education (CMFCE), believes that part of the problem is a fundamental misunderstanding within our society of the importance of a complete, biological, intact family. “For too many years, the well-meaning experts, including myself, were saying all family forms are equal. We operated on the mentor model that if the child has at least one adult in his life with a strong connection, that is all he needs. Then a compelling body of research started coming that there is nothing you can measure for men, women and children where they do not do better in an intact biological family. That is a hard thing to say because that means they do not do as well in stepfamilies or any other family form. Just getting that information to couples is very valuable instead of saying, 'The kids will be fine. All family forms are equal. We will send you to divorce adjustment therapy and then everything will be okay.' It turns out that is not what the research is showing, and we have to correct that message,” Sollee said.

In her work with the CMFCE, Sollee has helped promote grass roots initiatives to create educational tools and programs that will help couples better understand what to expect going into a marriage.

The problem is one of education, says Sollee, “…We give people very good instructions about how to court, how to get engaged, how to do weddings, how to do a honeymoon, and what to expect when you are expecting a child. But then there is a black screen on how to be married. We need to educate the public about what to expect in a normal, good marriage. If you ask an educated couple about what event in marriage precipitates more separation and divorce, they answer infidelity, job loss, illness, or the death of a child. No one gets it right that it is the birth of a first baby and the three months before and three months after. If you ask, ‘When do marriages have the highest divorce rate?’ everyone says seven years. In reality, it is the first two years and in years 14 to 16. The average length of marriage is seven years,” explains Sollee.

Another key obstacle to educating our society has been a lack of understanding as to what makes a successful marriage work. Too often, it’s simply a matter of two people having unrealistic expectations. They think that because they are disagreeing, the marriage must be failing. According to Sollee, prior to the 1980’s most marriage relationship data that therapists and family counselors were using had been gathered by using couples that were already in failing marriages. Finally, the industry modified their data gathering approach and began watching "in love" couples and following them forward for ten years.

Sollee explains, “They found out there is no compatible couple. All couples disagree the same amount. And the difference was not what they disagree about or their ethnicity or age. Couples have to manage money, children, sex, others and time, and they will disagree about those. Those who divorced are the ones who do not understand that this is what marriage is…The experts also learned there are much better ways to manage – (we never use the word resolve) - conflict or disagreement in marriage. Even the happily married couples have irreconcilable differences; they just know how to manage them.”

Because of this new trend in family therapy, there has been a groundswell of support and interest in developing and providing new ways to educate and prepare people for long, happy, and successful marriage relationships.

Diane Sollee, and the CMFCE, has played a key part in organizing and encouraging a change in our culture to better prepare for long-term marriage relationships. As explained on the CMFCE website, “…The good news is that anyone can learn to do it better and smarter. Couples can unlearn the behaviors that destroy love and replace them with the behaviors that keep love alive.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A cheap date is better than no date at all!

When was the last time you and your spouse had a night out just the two of you? There are tons of things to do that don't cost lots of money. Even dinner for two at Wendy's is better than no date at all. Make the committment to take your spouse out within the next couple of weeks. Go see a movie, drive up the canyons, watch the sunset, just go out for an ice cream cone. It doesn't have to cost lots of money, it just needs to happen.

We attended the Smart Marriages Conference in Orlando a couple of weeks ago and learned some very sobering facts about marriage in the United States. Over 50% of marriages will end in divorce if the current trends continue.

Statistics also show that financial stress is one of the key factors in divorce. With the current economy, it may seem like you can't afford to spend time going out on dates with your husband or wife, but these are the times when that is most important.

Go to your city's official visitor website, if it's got one, and see what events are coming up. Many of them are free!

Here are a few places to look:

Salt Lake City Visitor's Bureau:
Boise Visitor's Bureau:
Logan Visitor's Bureau:

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Anniversary Inn at the annual Smart Marriages Conference

The Anniversary Inn is excited to be a part of the annual Smart Marriages conference being held in Orlando this next week. As part of the conference, we will be meeting with Dr. John Covey who has designed a special seminar series called The 8 Habits of a Successful Marriage. We will also have a chance to mingle with dozens of marriage and couples communications experts to compare notes and learn about the latest ideas and programs to help couples strengthen and nurture their marriage relationships.

As I've posted in an earlier blog, the mission of the Anniversary Inn is:

" provide a place where couples can escape from the pressures of everyday life and share a time of peace and relaxation together, thereby creating positive memories which will strengthen their relationship."

As part of this mission statement, the Anniversary Inn Reminder can become a resource to provide information, inspirational stories, and programs that will help strengthen our communities and neighborhoods by strengthening our marriage relationships. Please help us to promote strong marriages and relationships by submitting any ideas, programs, or events in your communities that we can share with the rest of the Anniversary Inn community. Send all feedback to

I will report back on our experiences at the conference in later posts. In the meantime, you can see what the conference provides by going to their website at:

Have a great 4th of July!!