Two Simple Suggestions to Help Love and Marriage Last 50 Years… and Counting!

Golden Anniversary

Ed and Loretta

I’ve been married a long time. This summer my husband and I celebrated 50 years together. Yep, you read that right – FIFTY. People have been asking me “What advice do you have for someone who is still at the beginning of the journey?”

What to say? How to describe what works and what doesn’t work in a marriage, or in any relationship, for that matter? There are certain days when some things work out fine. There are other days when the same interaction just fizzles.

I’ve narrowed it down to 2 Simple Suggestions:

1. communication

Not just talking, but really communicating means looking at one another, actively listening, speaking up and being honest.  Did you get that? – LOOK, LISTEN,  SPEAK UP, BE HONEST.

LOOK. This sounds obvious, but how many times have you tried to have a conversation with someone who is not only not looking at you but is often either tapping on a cell phone or has their eyes closed? Pay attention to your interactions and you will both get more out of the conversation.

LISTEN. To listen means to not simply hear something but to actively focus on what is being said and to understand it. If something is not understood, it is up to you to ask for clarification. Don’t assume you “got it” when there is still something about the exchange that was vague.

SPEAK UP. Say what you want to say. If you hold back and walk away feeling that there was more to be discussed, the fault is yours. Remember that there is nothing wrong with expressing yourself. Just make sure your delivery is considerate. Very few points are well made when shouted.

BE HONEST. You know the difference between the truth and the non-truth. If you leave things out or purposely turn an explanation around to suit the moment, it will come back to haunt you. Get it right the first time. Do that by simply being honest.

Love and Marriage 50 Years

(not us)

2. Keep Trying

Relationships are not easy. It makes sense that two people coming from different backgrounds with different needs and sometimes even different values have to work to sustain their love and friendship through the long-term. When times are tough and you know you have a relationship worth saving, putting in the effort is totally worth it.

HOW VALUABLE IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP ? I’ve had clients ask me how long they should KEEP TRYING. They ask “How do I know if it  is really worth saving?”  I can’t answer that – only you can. The question you need to ask yourself is whether YOU really think it is ‘worth it.’

Consider basic questions like:

  • Am I being respected?
  • Am I being considered?
  • Am I getting as much as I am giving?

Coming up with honest answers to these questions is a good place to start your evaluation.

DON’T GIVE UP EASILY. The road is full of bumps and frustrations (as well as  joy and satisfaction), and it is up to you to do what you can to smooth things out when that road gets rough. But some things you can control and some you can’t. You have control over YOURSELF and your actions. Relationships require a ‘team’ effort, and this means that each person is giving their best towards the common goal.

So, find your voice and be heard; listen when your partner is the one doing the talking, and always keep trying to live the life of your dreams. I wish you happiness and good health, love and laughter, and a strong and cherished team that lasts at least 50 years!


Photo Credit: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Antonio_Diaz

Parenting in the Digital World

I’ve written two Handbooks for parents, grandparents and other caretakers to support their efforts in dealing with kids. I hope these small books help build confidence and inspire people as they face the challenges and awesome responsibility of caring for children.

10-Great-Tips-for-PARENTING      10-Great-Tips-for-Grandparenting-by-Loretta-Saff

In today’s world the responsibility of caring for children has a new and more complicated distraction:

With the ever-present devices that hold us hostage, how do we raise kids in the digital world?

Sure, we all like our phones and tablets and readers and computers and Fit Bits and, and, and.  Sure, they can serve a real purpose in our daily lives. At the same time they can be a real distraction.  The challenge is finding the right balance.

Is your child addicted to his/her device? I know, that’s a scary word. But what happens when you try to take the device away? Tantrums? Attempts to hide the device? Insults hurled your way?  Refusing to interact with others? Those are signs of addiction.

I am a big believer in ‘Training to avoid Treatment.’ This means that if you train your kids in the use of electronics early on, you – and they – will be in a better position to deal with the pervasive presence of digital devices and not need ‘withdrawal treatment’ when they get older.

Here are a few ideas of how you can help guide your child along the digital path – while guiding yourself at the same time.

First of all, let me emphasize that I understand that parenting is hard. There are so many unpredictable situations that you find both yourself and your kids in where the frustrations mount and sometimes you start to doubt yourself.  Don’t allow that to happen.


When you find yourself in the heat of the moment and are ready to shout, STOP. Walk away for a few minutes, and slowly take five deep breaths. Regain your focus and your confidence to remember that your job is to protect and guide your kids to grow into caring, responsible adults. Kids need to learn how to do this, and you are the teacher.

Teaching your kids that spending too much time on devices is not good for them will help them make better choices as they grow up.  In the meantime, right now they need exercise and time outdoors playing.

Do children have too much screen time and does it matter how much time they spend on iPads, smartphones and laptops?

Help them understand that it is important to have social time with real people.  


In my 10 Great Tips for Parenting Handbook, one of my important guidelines is BE A ROLE MODEL. We all know the positives of electronic devices. They help with research, contacts, taking pictures, recording moments, offering entertainment, and so much more. But you must remember that you are being watched. It’s what kids do.

Consider the amount of time you spend on your devices. Take a day and write down how much of your time is spent texting, googling, searching, and scrolling. This includes talking on the phone. Notice how often your focus is taken from NOW by that ringing, dinging, flashing little electronic rectangle that is on your lap or on the table during a meal or a conversation. Find out what percentage of your day actually is spent with technology.  Then cut it in half.


Be sure you know what your kids are watching and doing while they are using electronics. As I said, taking control when kids are young is a lot easier and it creates a habit. There are ‘kids safe’ apps out there so children don’t accidentally come across something inappropriate.

Monitor what your kids are looking at and how long they are having ‘screen time.’ Check on them periodically to see what and how they are doing. Set the limits for both time and subject and stick to them.

But wait a minute!

Ok, so now you say, “Come on, get with the program.  It’s 2016 and the reality is that it’s all about electronics.” I’ll simply leave you with this article: (Hint: it’s about new research that shows how excessive screen time may inhibit a child’s ability to recognize emotions.)

Kids And Screen Time: What Does The Research Say?

Don’t let that happen to your kids! Be the teacher and the role model for how to balance time spent using technology.  Now, go outside and play with them.


3 Mental Mindsets to Banish Valentine Disappointment and Have a Great Day


It’s in the air and in the stores; it’s out there screaming to us: “Buy Something!” A sweater or chocolates?  Flowers or jewelry?  A new briefcase or wallet?   Here’s a test:  Which would you rather have:

A new watch or Unlimited time with your special someone
A box of chocolates or Fun in the kitchen making chocolate cookies
A Hallmark card or A few personal, handwritten lines that make you feel special

This Valentine’s Day, I urge you to consider and cherish your relationships.  Be careful that the media and the merchandising do not sweep you away to the point that you find yourself feeling disappointed.

Companies look at the calendar for ways to make more money.  You know it; you’ve experienced it.  Remember how Christmas crept into the stores right after Halloween and even before Thanksgiving turkeys had a chance to gobble?

Here are are 3 Valentine’s Day Mental MINDSETS to banish disappointment and make the day great!

AVOID COMPARISONS  – Just because Janet got a new wedding band for Valentine’s Day or Anne Marie received an expensive nightie, it does not mean that their relationship is better or stronger than yours. Gift-envy has been the downfall of many couples but if you look closely, you might find that the relationship you admire has it’s own issues.  Relationships are not measured in the cost of gifts.

BEWARE EXPECTATIONS – It’s true that we are bombarded daily by merchants/social media/television and from just about every other direction to remember our Valentine in special (and mostly expensive) ways.  So, … you start to think, and then wish, and then … EXPECT.

If you don’t fill yourself with expectations, you won’t be disappointed.  If it means a lot to you to celebrate Valentine’s Day, talk about it with your husband/partner. Don’t test him to see whether or not he responds.


Plan an “I Love You” dinner date on an unexpected day! Be sure to fill it full of surprises!  How about your own special progressive dinner:  an appetizer at one restaurant, main dish at another, and dessert somewhere else!   Each of you can come up with two surprises during the evening.  Often the element of surprise adds fun – and spice! – to a dinner out. (And, anyway, do you really want to spend all that extra money on a ‘”Special Valentine’s Day Menu?”)

Focus Valentine’s Day celebrations on your kids – or any kids.  Children always appreciate the extra attention, so share the day with them.  And be sure it includes special hugs and at least one “I love you!”

Make Valentine’s Day a day of gratitude.  Have each family member make a list of three things for which he/she is grateful. Why should Thanksgiving Day be the only time we go around the table and say what we are thankful for?

In a famous experiment,  Drs. John and Julie Gottman, researchers in creating stronger relationships, observed interactions between 130 newlyweds during a day at a bed and breakfast retreat. They saw that throughout the day, one or both partners would try to make connections with the other by bidding for their loved one’s attention. In some cases the wife or husband would “turn toward” their significant other and in other cases he or she would “turn away.” Those who chose to pay attention to and engage with their significant other were more than two times as likely to be together six years later. Through observing these interactions, the Gottmans can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples will stay together or break up in the future.

Notice that it doesn’t say anything in there about whether he/she got a gift for Valentine’s Day. However you choose to spend February 14th, consider that over your morning coffee!


Photo Credit: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Gitusik