lead by example love by example what are your children learning from you

It’s probably common sense to say that children are watching what their parents do, and whatever behaviors their parents have are what will be “normal” to them.

But have we really thought about what our relationships, romantic and otherwise, are demonstrating to our children?

Every single relationship we have is a model to our children about what that relationship should look like. We teach our children how to talk to our friends, how to interact with our families, and what it looks like to be in a romantic relationship with someone. (Even in the case of parents who are separated, how we treat the other parent is a demonstration of how we think parents should be treated!) 

As parents, we often rely heavily on teaching our children verbally. We tell them what to do or not to do, when to do it, how to do it, etc. Sometimes the age-old saying  “Do as I say, not as I do” slips out of our mouths. But children learn better and more by modeling our behavior, so it’s especially important to show them what love looks like.

Our relationships teach our children how to show affection, how to spend quality time together, how to share responsibilities, and even how to fight. They will grow up and their expectations will be a mirror to what they observed in their youth. If we want our sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, and godchildren to have healthy families as adults we have to show them what that looks like now.

In all things in life, we should lead by example.But we definitely need to love by example! What are your children learning from you?


be nice

Although it seems simple, some of the best advice we have for couples is simply, “be nice to each other.”


Quite often, couples who end up at Great Marriages are nicer to strangers than they are the person they’re in a relationship with. We know it’s not always easy, and after fights and stress and all the other stuff, you might not like your partner right now. But we assure you, things won’t get better unless you remember to be nice. At times, you won’t like your significant other but being nice to them is the only way to break the cycle. Being nice is the only way you’ll be able to begin working through conflict.

If you want things to improve, remember you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. 

Being nice also demonstrates to your partner that you respect them. Respect is key in building and maintaining a marriage. You can’t be passive aggressive if you are being genuinely nice. You can’t ignore someone’s needs and wants if you are being nice. We know it can be difficult in the face of struggles, but we challenge you to think about all your interactions with your significant other and say to yourself, “Am I being nice?” See how things change.

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Why do we repeat negative relationship patterns?

  • They’re familiar. Even though we know it’s dysfunctional and not working well for us, we repeat behaviors because they feel familiar and we know what to expect from them.

  • We learned them as children. The beliefs, coping skills, and behavior patterns that we learned in childhood become deeply entrenched because we learned them when we were vulnerable, and our brains weren’t fully developed.

  • An unconscious effort to gain mastery over them. If you felt rejected, unloved, or powerless as a child, you may recreate experiences and relationships where you feel similarly in an unconscious effort to change the outcome – to heal yourself by gaining the acceptance or love of someone or to feel in control.

  • We think we deserve to suffer. Traumatized children are often told that they are bad and deserve to be abused or they are the reason dad drinks or the family has so many problems.

We repeat what we don’t repair…

Unfortunately, dysfunctional relationship patterns are learned and passed from one generation to the next. And we will probably repeat them until we heal the underlying trauma and feel lovable and worthy of being treated with respect and kindness.

We repeat dysfunctional relationship dynamics because they’re familiar. Even when you know something is “wrong” or unhealthy, it’s hard to change; it’s always easier to keep doing what you’ve always done than to learn and apply new skills.

Breaking dysfunctional relationship patterns

We can break old patterns, but the more you’ve done something, felt something or thought about something, the stronger those neural connections are – and the harder they are to break.

Here are some ways to begin changing your old relationship patterns:

  1. Become more aware of the relationship patterns in your family of origin. These were the models for all your future relationships. You might find it helpful to read about relationship dynamics, write or journal about your childhood experiences, or check out our “Family of Origin” event.

  2. Reflect on your own behavior. It’s also important to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and understand the part you play in your dysfunctional relationships. Ultimately, you’re responsible for your own actions and learning healthier ways to solve problems, get your needs met, and cope with stress. Check out our “Love & Respect” event!

  3. Heal the underlying trauma wounds. Dysfunctional relationships stem from abandonment, rejection, shame, and other painful and traumatic experiences. Until your emotional wounds and unmet needs are resolved, you will continue to seek healing from partners who are unable to make you feel loved or lovable. Check out our “Finding Forgiveness” event.

  4. Learn and practice new skills. To change our relationship patterns, we also must change our behavior. This might include learning more effective communication skills, how to better regulate our emotions, and consistently practicing self-care. Check out our “7 Principles for Making Marriage Work” event.

  5. Be kind to yourself. Making significant changes takes a lot out of you. Realistically, you’re not going to change long-standing patterns in a matter of weeks or months. So, be gentle with yourself as you slowly make changes, learn new skills, seek new insights, and learn and grow.

Change is possible! Check out our Upcoming Events

or learn more about our Mentoring Program.


Content paraphrased from Sharon Martin, LCSW.

Couple-to-Couple Mentoring

Great Marriages makes extensive use of mentors who are trained and certified in marriage mentoring and provide couple-to-couple, face-to-face sessions educating and promoting communication and conflict resolution skills. We are mentors, not trained counselors or therapists. We experienced trials and tribulations in our marriages over the years and wish to share with you how we were able to work together through our problems and grow stronger both individually and as a couple.

Prepare and Enrich is our curriculum for the mentoring program. We use it for married, engaged, or seriously dating couples that want to strengthen and enrich their relationship. Couples meet individually with trained, certified marriage mentors (married 20+ years) to learn skills that will aid in overcoming any challenges to build a happy, healthy relationship and a strong, life-long marriage. This program is specifically tailored to each couple. There are 6-10 weekly sessions, depending on the need.

Fee: Relationship Inventory is $35* - Mentoring sessions are FREE.

*The mentoring program begins with an online inventory from Prepare and Enrich. This inventory costs $35. The results of the inventory are used by mentors to target the free sessions. Great Marriages receives no funds for mentoring. All mentors are trained and certified through the Prepare and Enrich program.

Call 920.783.6142 to inquire about signing up for our mentoring sessions. You must register by phone for this program.

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Over 1/3 of people who are divorced, or considering it, cite a lack of sex as a key problem in the relationship.

There’s a whole host of reasons that passion and intimacy fall by the wayside. Physical issues on the part of men and women can cause a lack of desire. Many people stop having sex once children are in the picture. And for some sex becomes routine and boring. But living in a sexless marriage is harmful to the relationship and both spouses will feel rejected and hurt. Once the physical intimacy starts to crumble the chances of everything else falling apart increase.

We know that chores, kids, finances and so on can put a damper on the romance. A bunch of little things add up to lackluster intimacy, or no intimacy at all. But sex is a key component of a healthy marriage! It is critical for a happy relationship to be both emotionally and physically intimate with each other.

Here’s a few tips on how to keep the fire alive:

1) Communicate

We know, you hear it all the time. But it really is important to all aspects of a relationship! You are more likely to desire your partner physically if you are connected to them emotionally. Make time to talk about your hopes and dreams and what you love about each other. It’s much easier to connect physically if you feel an emotional connection.

2) Talk about what you want

You’re adults. You have turn ons and turn offs. Tell your partner what they are! If you are enjoying something in the moment, then express that. If you don’t like something, just say it. Talk to your spouse later on about what you loved. You never know, bringing it up again may lead to more sex.

3) Expectations & Compromise

It’s important to tell your partner what your expectations for sex are. This isn’t a time to be critical, but a time to express what you want. So much rejection and hurt can come from unmet expectations, but if your spouse doesn’t know what you expect they probably won’t fulfill your needs. Also remember to compromise! If you have drastically different opinions (ex; one of you wants it 3 times a week and the other wants it 3 times a month) then you are going to see some unmet expectations. You both need to come to a compromise that works for everyone.

4) Make a plan

Life is busy with work, kids, and hectic schedules; you may feel like you don’t have time for sex. If that’s the case we encourage you to make a plan for it. Block off at least 30 minutes (we always encourage more!) on your schedule to be intimate with each other. Put it on your calendar, you may think it’s weird but there’s a good chance that just seeing it on your calendar will get you more excited.

5) Initiate

That means both of you. It’s not a job specifically for one spouse, but something that both of you should be doing. You don’t have to say yes every time but remember that rejection is painful for everyone.

Want more tips on a successful sex life?

Join us on January 19th for our event “The #1 Key to Incredible Sex”

average marriages

If you wanted your marriage to be average, you probably wouldn't have gotten married.


Are we right? Whether you got married 2 years, 10 years, or 50 years ago you probably had a picture of an idyllic partnership in your mind. And then, before you know it, things aren't quite what you pictured. For some things are "okay," just not as rosy as when you started. For some things are really tough. In either case, things aren't what you would describe as "great."

We get a few people every year who tell us they were intimidated to call or stop in because the name is Great Marriages, and their marriage is anything but. Fear is a common reason people don't seek help. But just as you wouldn't order from a restaurant advertising "a mediocre burger" (but you do order the "best burger in town"), you probably wouldn't seek relationship advice from a place called "Average Marriages"...  

The Great in our name is aspirational. It's also realistic. We aren't suggesting anything about "perfect" marriages. (As far as we know, no such thing exists!)

But with work and dedication your marriage truly can be great


Whether you are engaged, need a quick tune-up, or your marriage is in crisis, we can help!

Call our office at (920)783.6142 or email


The Importance of Planning for Your Future


Equip yourselves with the tools you will need to overcome any challenge that comes your way by mentoring at Great Marriages. We pair you up with a couple who has been married a minimum of 20 years and they will educate you on how to have a successful, life-long marriage. 

Expert mentoring can guide couples during this stressful time to:

  • Listen and learn about one another’s needs and fears

  • Provide a haven from stress and anxiety

  • Practice loving negotiation and compromise

  • Truly understand one another’s values

  • Maintain respect, appreciation and admiration

  • Reality check what you can change, and what you cannot change

Achieving these relationship skills will serve you well on your lifelong journey together. Be prepared for the journey ahead as a strong team. This will be the wisest time spent during your wedding planning!



Great Marriages does not advocate for staying in abusive relationships.
If you are in an abusive relationship please contact Safe Harbor at (920) 452-8611.

Some of the best advice I ever heard for a relationship was to compliment your significant other during a fight. This has a two fold effect: first - you will stop saying angry things and fueling the fire of the fight, second - you will remember what you love about that person and begin to soften your heart to what is making you upset. In this moment, you are choosing love. You may not feel like you love the person at that moment, but you can remember the things you love about them. Love is a choice.

When a couple gets married they promise for better or for worse, they promise to love each other forever. Eventually, the stress of day to day life combined with getting comfortable in your relationship will lessen the feeling of love. It is at this point that we must decide to choose love. Don't forget what made you fall in love with that person, don't forget your plans and dreams, don't forget the promise you made of forever. 

When you are fighting because your spouse forgot to take out the trash again or they said some unkind words, remember your promise of forever. If it feels like forever is over, remember why you fell in love and focus on those feelings. Choose love, every single day.

If you need help getting through a difficult time, call Great Marriages at (920)783.6142.

Ways to choose love every day:

Let go of the little things. (More of life is "little things" than you may think.)


Pay attention to your partner. 

Learn your significant other's Love Language.

Accept and celebrate your spouse's differences and uniqueness. 

Be flexible with your partner. While agreement is the goal, sometimes you need to concede to the other’s wishes.

Send love notes—a card, text, voicemail, email, post-it note. Tell them why you love them!


Say “yes” more often than “no.”

Schedule time alone together, don't ever stop dating your spouse!

The Importance of Planning for Your Future

Planning for your future (both the good and the bad) is critical!

Whether you are planning for your wedding and the future of your relationship, planning for a potential health crisis, or planning to take over the care of an elderly parent you need to PLAN! Great Marriages has programs, resources, and events to help you do just that.


Advanced Care Planning

Planning now for your future health care is one of the most important acts you will ever do for yourself and your family!  Advance Care Planning is a process of communication between you, your loved ones and care providers about your health care wishes.  An Advance Directive is a legal document that explains to others the kind of medical care you want or don’t want.  It is used when you are unable to communicate this information yourself.  Advance directives must be prepared ahead of time, when you are able to make your own decision.



Caregiving can be very rewarding but the stress that comes with it cannot be denied. Some spouses, adult children and family members are providing care 24 hours a day. Adult children are especially challenged as they care for elderly parents, meet the demands of their young family and manage career responsibilities. 

You can plan the perfect wedding, but have you thought about what your marriage will look like?

Equip yourselves with the tools you will need to overcome any challenge that comes your way by mentoring at Great Marriages. We pair you up with a couple who has been married a minimum of 20 years and they will educate you on how to have a successful, life-long marriage. 

Expert mentoring can guide couples during this stressful time to:

  • Listen and learn about one another’s needs and fears
  • Provide a haven from stress and anxiety
  • Practice loving negotiation and compromise
  • Truly understand one another’s values
  • Maintain respect, appreciation and admiration
  • Reality check what you can change, and what you cannot change

Achieving these relationship skills will serve you well on your lifelong journey together. Be prepared for the journey ahead as a strong team. This will be the wisest time spent during your wedding planning!

Enjoy your wedding, and plan for your future!

flirting and dating banner.jpg

Never Stop Dating Your Wife & Never Stop Flirting with Your Husband


Often, when a couple has been in a committed relationship for awhile (even if they aren't married yet!) they can become complacent. You settle into a routine, things become "normal", and you stop feeling butterflies every time you see your significant other. But it's important to keep the spark alive, and there is no better way to do that then by continuing to flirt with and date your significant other!

Flirting with your spouse will remind you why you like them (even when the mystery is gone and they go to the bathroom with the door open). We so often get stuck in the monotony of day to day life, of our schedules and to-do lists, that we forget what is so special about our partners. Taking the time to compliment them or to touch them will rekindle that passion in yourself, and in them. More importantly, it will make them feel desired and appreciated!


Going on a date with your spouse, even if it's just once a month, will give you two time to connect and talk to each other about topics outside of "did you run the dishwasher?" It's extremely important to continue learning about your significant other and one of the best ways to do that is through conversation. There's no better time to forget the routine of life and enjoy intimate conversation then on a date!

Beyond just talking while you're on a date, dating actually creates things to talk about later. You'll have a shared experience (and hopefully a few laughs) that you can talk about when you are settled back into your daily routine. Maybe it'll be an inside joke, a memory of the delicious dessert you had, or even how great your partner looked in their date night outfit. 

Need some date night ideas? Check out our EVENTS page for some great date nights!



With Christmas coming up, many of us are focused on the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Between trying to get all the presents wrapped and make sure that the Christmas dinner is planned and perfectly prepared, we often forget one of the biggest gifts we have in our lives... our spouse.

Your marriage and your spouse are a gift to you, just as you are a gift to them.

This holiday season try to remember that marriage is a commitment to your spouse to love, respect, and cherish each other. Just as your appreciate a gift and give thanks, you should appreciate your spouse and express gratitude. Marriage is a chance to open up completely to another person, an opportunity to create emotional intimacy by opening up to each other. Just as we unwrap gifts with excitement, we should feel the same eagerness to "unwrap" our spouse and create that emotional intimacy. 

Put aside the busy schedules and pressures of the holiday season and make time to connect with your spouse. Don't forget that their love, companionship, and commitment is a wonderful gift!

Marry Christmas!


At Great Marriages, we are thankful for:

  • Volunteers who give of their talents to help others in our community
  • Donors who make what we do possible
  • Passionate people who want to see our community thrive by strengthening and keeping families together
  • Resources we have to offer the community to grow in their relationships
  • Love
  • Family
  • Faith

Thankfulness and gratitude are key to happy relationships!

When we appreciate our partners, we develop trust and respect. When we feel appreciated, we feel needed and encouraged. Gratitude is an integral part of healthy relationships. The key to sparking healthy relationships with gratitude is to take the initiative: “Instead of just waiting for the other person to make you feel good, you can jumpstart that cycle and take it into your own hands by focusing on what’s good in your relationship,” says Dr. Gordon. Start with small and easily achievable goals, such as giving your spouse five compliments a day, or simply smiling at them more often.

Gratitude is a skill that you cultivate—nurture it in yourself, and soon your will see positivity radiate back at you.

Source: Susan Heitler


Source: Andrew Merle

Need ideas to get you started in practicing gratitude?

  • Wake up every day and express to yourself what you are grateful for
  • Tell whoever you are with at the end of the day the 3 things you are most grateful for
  • Tell whoever you are with right now (significant other, friend, family member, etc.) the 3 things that you are most grateful for in this moment
  • Start a gratitude journal - Express gratitude in this journal every night by noting the things that you are grateful for, proud of, and excited about
  • Acknowledge other people and thank them for inspiring/helping/supporting you - oftentimes people wait their whole lives to be acknowledged (and yet it happens far too infrequently)!


Have you and your significant other ever found something to be funny and you reach a point where you feed off each other? Laughter is contagious. It’s also beneficial to life and marriage.


Benefits of Laughter

  • Reduction of stress and tension
  • Stimulation of the immune system
  • An increase of natural painkillers in the blood
  • A decrease in systemic inflammation
  • Reduction of blood pressure
  • Lifts your spirits
  • Brings couples closer together
  • Can help keep a relationship fresh.

There are other medical benefits than the ones listed above. Through laughter, muscles release tension and neurochemicals are released into the bloodstream, creating the same feelings the long-distance joggers experience as “runner’s high.”

Humor brings more than just physiological benefits to a husband and wife. Humor helps us cope.

Humor relieves the tension that can build up between people. It also will bond you with those you laugh with. Research has found that laughter produces Oxytocin, a chemical in the brain also referred to as the bonding chemical.

Learning to laugh a little more just may save your life, not to mention your marriage. To paraphrase Henry Ward Beecher, “A marriage without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.”

From Simple Marriage


Have you ever felt like your and your significant other are just not connecting? Are you trying to show love but they just aren't feeling it? According to Dr. Chapman, there are five universal ways that all people express and interpret love. Through his more than 30 years of couples counseling, Dr. Chapman has noticed specific patterns in the way partners communicate — and it turns out that most of the population express and interpret love in the same five ways, according to his observations. The 5 Love Languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch