What’s So Special about Fifty Shades of Grey?

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read
Mao's Revenge

CEBImagery via Compfight


This is a modified version of a blog that we posted at the end of 2012 shortly after the publication of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. In light of the recent release of the film, we thought that it might be worthwhile to revisit this subject and offer an update of our thoughts on this book and film.

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Confessions of A Recovering Control Freak

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 5 min read


You know them. You may even live with them. You deal with them every day. You may be married to one. You may even be one. They are the dreaded…. Control Freaks!

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Yes, It Is Possible To Avoid Arguments. Part 2

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 3 min read

Paris 2.0: les nouveaux médias transforment nos façons d'interagir on line et off line. Photo by François LAFITE

Opening the possibility of avoiding arguments in the face of differing viewpoints has to do with whether the intention of either person is grounded in a commitment to control and dominate, or to create mutual understanding. Put another way, whether it is to connect or to protect. Arguments can be minimized or avoided even if only one of the partners is committed to connection and understanding. What such an outcome requires is a willingness on that partner’s part to:

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Yes, It Really Is Possible To Avoid Arguments – Part I

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 3 min read

Creative Commons License Michael Coghlan via Compfight

Lots of people have heard that differences are inevitable but conflict is optional. While in our opinion, that is true, the real question has to do with just exactly how we manage to avoid conflict when those differences in our views, beliefs, preferences, and sometimes even values, show up between ourselves and those with whom we are closely connected. Differences are not only certain to be present in our relationship, but they are a necessary factor in what is generally referred to as the “chemistry” that fuels the attraction to those to whom we find ourselves strongly drawn.

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Research Proves That Money Can’t Buy Happiness

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 3 min read
Tearing MoneyCreative Commons License

A recent study conducted by two Emory University economics professors provides more evidence, documented by formal research, that money can’t buy happiness, or to be more precise, that spending a lot of money on a lavish wedding doesn’t make a couple’s future prospects for happiness any more likely than spending less. In fact, according the findings of Professors Hugo Mialon and Andrew Francis, a couple that spends over $20,000 on their wedding is significantly less likely to have a happy future together than a couple who spends between $5000-$10,000 on their big day. What they found in their study of over 3000 individuals was that those couples that opted for the higher-cost weddings were 1.6 times more likely to divorce then those who paid under $10,000 for their weddings.

According to Mialon and Francis, theirs is the first academic study to examine the correlation between wedding expenses and the length of marriages. The wedding website TheKnot.com, stated that a recent survey of 13,000 couples in the United States revealed that the average amount spent per wedding in 2013 was $29,858. Nearly15% of couples spent more than $40,000 on their wedding and related events, not including the honeymoon. Other big-ticket items that contribute to the expense include engagement rings (at an average of $5,598), reception bands ($3,469), flowers and other decor ($2,069) and wedding photos ($2,440).

In offering an explanation for so many couples’ willingness to spend so muchd on weddings, Professor Francis stated, “The wedding industry has long associated lavish weddings with longer-lasting marriages. Industry advertising has fueled norms that create the impression that spending large amounts on the wedding is a signal of commitment or is necessary for a marriage to be successful.” He went on to claim that their findings “provide little evidence to support the validity of the wedding industry’s general message that connects expensive weddings with positive marital outcomes”.

The study did however, find a correlation between the number of people who attended the wedding and the divorce rate which indicated that the greater the number of attendees, the lower the rate of divorce.

Lest readers be too hasty to conclude that the way to divorce-proof your marriage is to spend as little as possible on your wedding and to invite as many people as possible to it, two seemingly contradictory suggestions, let us remind you that there are other ways to minimize the possibility of divorce and maximize the likelihood of a happy marriage. That, however, is a subject too extensive to justice to in one blog or newsletter. Check out our archives to find some useful ideas.

Here’s the abbreviated answer to the question of how that goal can be attained more effectively:

Start with the end that you have in mind and begin by focusing on the kind of marriage that you want your wedding to lead up to.

See if you can identify the kinds of qualities that you will want to strengthen and develop in yourself in order to be able to bring about the outcome that you desire. Give some thought to the kind of behaviors and practices that will support the development of these qualities.

For example, if generosity is something that you think would be something that you think would be nice to have more of in your relationship, you might want to look for opportunities to be more giving in your life. Don’t limit your gifts to material items, but be more willing to give your time, and attention to your partner in an effort to make his or her life easier, more enjoyable, or more fulfilling.If you’d like to have a high level of trust in your relationship, look for opportunities to make yourself more trustworthy by holding a higher standard to respectfulness and integrity.If you really value honesty, make a decision to be truthful and raise your standard of truthfulness in your life to a higher level. If you want to have the most trusting marriage you can have, become the most trustworthy person that you can be.

Keep all of your agreements. Don’t make excuses to justify any lapses that occur and accept responsibility for your actions.

If you think that your relationships can’t possibly be any better than it currently is, check in with your partner to see what he or she thinks either or both of you could do that could might further enhance the quality of your partnership.

Many couples make the decision to marry while they are still in the throes of infatuation, which can be a time in which it seems literally inconceivable that either one of us could ever feel anything but love and adoration to the other. In the long run, this turns out to be rarely the case, very rarely.

If you think that the idea of embodying practices that will make you a better, more loving, and trustworthy person, is easier said than done, you’re probably right. But putting your attention on becoming the person of your dreams rather than hoping that a financial investment in your wedding will produce the real payoff that you desire is far more likely to bring about your desired outcome.

The Emory University study didn’t offer any definitive reasons as to exactly why well-attended weddings correlated to fewer divorces, or why more expensive weddings did not correlate with more successful marriages. They simply noted the outcomes without asserting any definitive causality. Feel free to draw your own conclusions. We’re in the relationship-enhancement business, not the wedding business and we don’t see them as being mutually exclusive. But as the saying goes, the most important factor in determining what develops in your life has more to do with what you most value and where you put your attention and energies. Weddings are a one-day event. Marriage is a life-long process. Hopefully.

The Real Deal about Deal Breakers

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read

And How to Avoid Them.

couple in train

Theo Mertens via Compfight

One of the most frequently asked questions that we get from our readers and students is “What are the deal-breakers in relationships?”  “Deal-breakers” are those behaviors or conditions that one partner is unable or unwilling to tolerate in a relationship. Because “tolerance” is a relative term and subject to everyone’s unique capacity to accept varying degrees of distress or discomfort, there is no generic, one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Because of this, there is no higher authority that we can defer to that legitimatizes our right to refuse to tolerate a specific practice or behavior on the part of our partner, or to sanction our right to continue behaviors that are unacceptable to him or her.

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Don’t Underestimate The Value Of Failure

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read

Just ask anyone who’s ever succeeded.

Nepal - Sagamartha Trek - 206 - Nupste and Everest from Kala Pattar

McKay Savage via Compfight

As a boy in New Zealand, Edmund Hillary dreamed of becoming a mountain climber and as a young man, he set his sights on Mount Everest, at 29,029 feet, the world’s highest peak, and one that no one had ever successfully summited. His first attempt to conquer Everest in 1951 ended in failure. Defeated, he faced his investors, the London Explorers Club, who had lost all their money.  He stood at the podium in front of a projected picture of Everest and said, “I will defeat you, Everest, because you cannot get any bigger–but I can.” Two years later, on his second attempt to defeat Everest, Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit of Everest at 11:30 AM on May 29, 1953. The conquest of Everest was announced on the eve of Elizabeth II’s coronation, and the new queen knighted Hillary when he returned to Britain. 

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Got Happiness? If Not, Try What Slough Did.

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 3 min read

FlowerIn 2005, psychologist Richard Stevens initiated an experiment in the town of Slough, (rhymes with cow) in the Berkshire section of England. The purpose of his project was to determine whether it might be possible to intentionally raise the happiness level of an entire community by promoting certain practices among the population. Fifty Sloughians volunteered to participate in the program that was three months in length. They agreed to live in accordance with these ten guidelines:

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Looking For Approval In All The Wrong Places?

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read

Chuck grew up in an extremely abusive family environment. His mother was the primary abuser of the children. From a very early age, Chuck was subjected to extremely vicious and violent beatings, which often came completely unprovoked. He never knew when the next attack would come and consequently, he lived in a state of constant anxiety and fear. 

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Consider These Terms of Engagement Before Having Your Next Argument

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read

Alba Soler via Compfight

 With most couples, it’s not a matter of “if” there is another argument, but “when”. Whether you call it an argument, a difference of opinion, a conflict, a quarrel, a row, a misunderstanding, a squabble, a spat, or any one of a number of other synonyms or euphemisms, almost all couples have them. And those that say they don’t are either in denial, lying, or exceptionally evolved. There are some couples who are each so emotionally intelligent and mature, that they rarely, if ever experience conflict with each other. The other 99.9% of us at least occasionally have to contend with differences in our preferences, personalities, sexual desire levels, taste in movies, food, or politics, as well as in numerous other aspects of life in which we do not share common values or predispositions.

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Linda & Charlie Bloom are authors of 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married & Secrets of Great Marriages.
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