Stronger Marriages

Faith-based marriage enrichment program Worldwide Marriage Encounter recently announced the 2019 longest married couple winners.

WME selected DW and Willie Williams of North Carolina who married August 17, 1937 in Newberry, South Carolina. They will celebrate their 82nd anniversary this year.

“We are truly honored and privileged to recognize the Williams’ for their long marriage,” said Tony & Sue Morris and Fr. Tom Ogg, the United States Ecclesial Team for WWME. “We are excited to be able to personally recognize them on June 15th in their hometown of Charlotte,” they added.

Nominations were received from February 14 to May 14 this year. During that time frame, over 250 nominations were entered.

The project was created to highlight marriage in America and to show young couples that marriage really can go the distance.

“What a true inspiration Mr. & Mrs. Williams are to all of us. They made a commitment to each other over 81 years ago and they have kept that commitment. They truly are a sign of hope to all of us,” the Morris’ and Fr. Ogg said.

State winners from across the country will be given certificates of achievement and other recognitions by Worldwide Marriage Encounter couples during the month of June, which is traditionally recognized as national marriage month.

family and friends

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Every Sunday, our family takes some time to have fun and relax. We call it Sunday Funday. This could be something as extravagant as staying in a hotel over the weekend and splurging on an adventure or something as simple as having a BBQ full of music, laughter, and great food. This past Sunday, we watched our kids have a successful outing in flag football and on the ride home decided Sunday Funday would be seeing the new Avengers movie at the drive-in. Yes, the drive-in still exists.

I loaded up the pick up truck with a gymnastics mat, blankets, chairs, and pillows. We arrived with about 30 minutes to spare; enough time to grab food from the snack shack, turn the bed of the truck into a cloud of marshmallows so all would be comfortable, and pray for the slight drizzle to stop before it turned into a full-on downpour. As the family unloaded to grab snacks, I stayed behind to set up the experience with all the blankets and pillows. Standing in the bed of the truck, I heard my name being yelled across the massive blacktop parking lot. It was my wife and all three of my boys yelling and pointing to something in the sky. As I tried to understand what they were pointing out, I followed the waving arms to my right and saw the biggest and brightest rainbow I have ever seen in my life. It was magnificent. You could see each color as clear as day, as it arched over the drive-in parking lot.

Once I waved back to let them know I saw it too, their excitement grew. Suddenly, the meaning of family pierced my heart like the vivid colors of the rainbow. Family and friends are an extension of self. We all know this and hopefully most of you feel it as well.
Family and friends are another set of eyes to point out the brilliance of the world or caution you to the dangers of the wild.

Family and friends are another set of ears to listen to the world around you. Family and friends are another set of mouths to praise your efforts, support you during tough times, and tell you when you’re putting yourself or others at risk.

Family and friends are additional hearts to love you, care for you, and warm your soul. When family and friends are aligned with the same purpose, one of love and compassion, life is ten times easier and a thousand times more beautiful.

It can often feel as though we walk this Earth alone, in fear of the impending dangers that lurk around every corner. When you have family and friends on your side, it’s like having a look out at the top of each intersection. If you aren’t lucky enough to have such alignment in your family, it’s time you create that alignment, start a family of your own, or take a look at your true friends.
Take the time to make right, any wrongs within the family. Take the time to check up on your friends. Take the time to love your partner and cherish the blessing of having children. Take the time. Take the time. Do it now, for you never know when it may be the last opportunity.

As this rush of insight hit me, I stood in the truck, and took a peek at everyone else in the parking lot. They were all preparing their family, loved ones, and friends for a joyous experience at the drive-in. I gained a sense of togetherness, not just with my family but with all families.
We are all trying our best in this world. Stack the deck in your favor by realizing what family and friends truly are: another heart, eyes, ears, and a voice to tell you to look up! When you do, you see the beauty of it all.


Guest post by Antonio M. Harrison. Antonio has a Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis and is stated board certified at the Doctorate level. He has also been a high varsity football coach for over a decade. A troubled youth with his Father dealing with addiction and incarceration has been the driving force behind his pursuit of service to others through his writing, professional work, and service. Antonio is a Father of three boys and husband to a supportive wife.

It’s commonly believed that men think about sex every seven seconds but a new study now says this is just a myth. Men are more likely to have football on their minds than sex.

The survey by Illicit Encounters showed that 64 percent of men think about football more than sex. Eight percent of those who completed the survey said they think about sex first.

The survey addressed other common sex myths including sex before sports decreasing your chances of playing well and oysters being a real aphrodisiac.

This survey isn’t to say that sex isn’t a priority for men.

Connection and intimacy are so vital and is the lifeblood of your relationship. We all are emotional, sexual beings that need love, attention and affection, and we have to be intentional about nurturing and working to enhance intimacy with our partners. Time is definitely a constraint but it’s the quality of those moments that count.

As for sexual intimacy, lovemaking is naturally a variable and people have different drives and desires. Be mindful that more sex doesn’t mean more intimacy, and intimacy is more than just sex. As a couple, you need to set out time for sex and also make intimacy and sex goals.

It is crucial to think about the ways in which you would like to enhance your connection with sex and how to maximize pleasure and satisfaction for yourself and your partner. Include daily and weekly goals for kissing, hugging, affection and foreplay.

Couples in satisfying relationships more often than not are comfortable talking about sex.

It actually turns out the most important part of cultivating a healthy sex life is talking about a healthy sex life. When partners talk to each other about their sexual needs, their conversations are often indirect, vague and left unresolved.

Typically both partners are in a rush to finish the discussion, hoping their partner will understand their desires without saying much. The less direct you are about what you want, the less likely you are to get it.

Talking about sex is a powerful way to deepen intimacy and connect. Partners who are comfortable with each other know the key to a sexual satisfying relationship is being comfortable and talking about it openly. They have no issue discussing things before, during and after.

friends with benefits

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Have you spent time online dating or IRL dating recently? If so, you have no doubt encountered people saying/typing/texting that they are exclusively looking for “friends with benefits.” I can’t count how many Tindr and OkCupid bios I have swiped past that included something along the lines of: “I don’t want a relationship right now, I just want to be FWB.”

It’s time to call B.S. on the phrase friends with benefits ― or at least how modern daters use it.

Friends with benefits is a lie, perched on the back of more lies; it’s lies and miscommunications and denial and half-truths all the way down. I get a migraine just from trying to parse this weaselly phrasing.

I am not against hookups, one-night or one-week stands, or a part-time lover whom you bang twice a month when they are in town for work. I want you, me, all of us to have fulfilling and fun sex whenever we are able. You can have sex with no or very few attachments as long as both (or however many) partners are consenting, self-actualized adults who are going into the bone zone with their eyes, hearts and minds wide open.

But none of that is friends with benefits.

People who use FWB in their profiles ― or IRL ― are trying to convey that they are down for sex with some kind of intimacy, but most definitely NOT a full-bore relationship.

But you can’t have an FWB without having a friend, and friendship is a relationship ― for many of us our friend relationships are the strongest, safest, sweetest bonds we have. Relationships are what keep you going back to your favorite deli guy, your grumpy barber, your former boss who is kind of terrible but at least he’s the kind of terrible you understand and can work around.

What you are implying when you say you don’t want a relationship with the person whom you want to stick parts of yourself into (and vice versa) is that they are not as important to you as any of the other hundreds of people in your life. Is the bond you make with your sex friend while lying under the duvet (or smooshed in the back seat of your Hyundai) any less meaningful a bond than the one you have with that one receptionist at the gym who always remembers your love of the Phillies?

I don’t think 10,000 would-be romancers understand the huge neon DANGER sign they are sending up by using FWB in talking about their dating life. They are signifying that they want to make all the rules, all the time, including when, where and how often sex is had and, most insidiously, how their sex friend should feel about that.

The only acceptable feeling for them is total chill vibes ― don’t expect them to put any emotional energy into anything they aren’t comfortable with at all times. And for super sure the other person cannot impose any of their own desires on them, or make emotional overtures. And even if you have a deep feelings convo after you smoke more weed than usual, everyone still has to be super cool about it because you aren’t in a “real” relationship, remember?

Let me give you two recent FWB examples from my dating life. Neither of these gentlemen callers were American and neither of them lived full-time in my city. This setup doesn’t lend itself to a traditional, full-on, monogamous relationship which works for me as long as we are both on the same wavelength and communicating our needs.

Pretty quickly in the first relationship, the dude (The Euro) let me know all he wanted was an FWB-type scenario. He also let me know I was not a priority to him. We would go out to drinks, sloppily make out (or just as often not), then he would disappear off to the parts of his life that he refused to discuss with me.

The Euro loved to come to my house in the middle of the afternoon, have a couple of gin and tonics and some sort of fooling around, and take a nap. And then leave unceremoniously, which isn’t what friends do. A friend doesn’t indulge in a week of sexy texting before he flies into your city from far away to then tell you he can’t hang out for the next four days with no further explanation. He made, changed and broke plans with ease ― I was traveling frequently for work at that time and more than once had scheduled everything out for him to join me only to have him cancel at the last minute.

The few times I called him on his behavior, telling him that I needed a bit more of the “friend” part of our relationship ― the part that was close, intimate and loving, the part where my priorities were as important as his ― he would always say he didn’t have any emotional room for me at the moment and maybe never would. I stayed tangled up in this shitty pattern for a few years because I liked him, I wanted to be closer to him despite every single way he showed me he was not my friend.

It ended, as all great relationships do, with us yelling at each other in a crappy bar in Williamsburg and then me crying in the gross bathroom before crying in a Lyft all the way home, alone.

The second case was a real FWB whirlwind. I had one unforgettable date with this man (The Expat). We had an immediate connection, banged it out and the same thing happened the next time he was in town. Then he sent me a WhatsApp message saying he really liked me but he just wanted to be “friends.”

So I told him sure, next time he came to town maybe we could get a chummy drink. Before his next trip, he asked if we could have a good old sex session when he arrived. All without asking me what I wanted, what being a friend meant to me, anything like that. (That hasn’t stopped me from hitting it with him. I’m garbage and he’s hot.)

Real, healthy, sacred and sublime FWB relationships can exist. You and your old roommate get a little tipsy at a local pub trivia night and go back to yours ― then decide you want to do that same thing every Wednesday night for the foreseeable future. Or maybe you never noticed that the pitcher on your softball team was sooo cute until you really noticed by making out in your car after practice one day. Those people are your Friends and you are giving them the Benefit of seeing your naughty parts up close.

The Euro and The Expat weren’t my friends just because they said that’s what they wanted from me. We aren’t friends if we have drinks and apps together once or if we go for a long walk in the park and talk about our therapists the first time we hang out. We still aren’t friends if we go home together the first time we meet because we’re extra-horny on a Tuesday night. We remain not friends though we may hook up each and every time we see each other ― in that case we are lovers or fuck-buddies.

We are friends when we have shared experiences and feelings, when I know you hate Perky Purple nail polish because of that one mean manager who always wore it; when we almost get kicked out of a comedy club because you can’t resist showing me an unsolicited dick pic and I scream; when you call me at 3 a.m. to cry over your long-dead cat because you know I will listen and cry with you. Friend relationships grow, morph and change, and maybe we end up in a more-than-friends relationship or maybe I end up dancing to “Halo” with your gay uncle at your wedding, happier than I ever thought I could be.

But that’s not what you are asking for, stranger looking for an FWB on the internet, so I declare that you get nothing until you expand your relationship horizons. No more dating FWB folks until they are fully realized enough emotionally to tell the difference between sex, friendship and all the other shades of relationship gray.


By Jennifer Abbots, as originally seen on The Huffington Post.

Despite there being a small army of dating websites and apps, finding a happily ever after is not easy these days. In fact, more than half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34, prime dating age, do not have a romantic partner according to the General Social Survey. This is a record high.

There are a number of theories about why dating seems to have died among young people. One of the first culprits looked at is usually the smartphone. Dating apps on smartphones make it so that there seem to be an infinite number of choices for potential dates. As such, if the current date does not inspire rainbows, butterflies and visions of wedding bells within the first 10 minutes of a date, people are already deciding which of their matches is going to be their next date. This mentality, however, fails completely to take into account the fact that first dates are awkward. First dates involve spending one on one time in a relatively small space with a complete stranger. Few people are going to be perfectly smooth in that situation. Those that are immediately suave should actually be looked at with more suspicion than the person who fumbles a bit while trying to fill an awkward silence.

In addition to creating the illusion of an infinite number of dates just sitting around waiting for the person to choose them, smartphones and their assorted apps have done enormous damage to the ability of young people to communicate face to face with each other. People are used to dealing with social media soundbites and clever one liners that may have taken an hour to craft. They are also used to multitasking and being able to immediately leave a conversation. On social media, a person can take as long as they want to come up with the perfect wording to someone’s comment. If the conversation gets awkward, they simply do not respond. When they are done talking, they can just walk away. None of these things happen in real encounters with actual people. People look askance when someone takes longer than a few seconds to respond to their question, and there is no backspace key that lets someone modify their response to sound more intelligent or witty. On a date, people also cannot simply stop talking or walk away. Well, they can, but they are certainly not getting a second date. This means, however, that many young adults have no idea how to revive a conversation following the inevitable long pauses that come during a first date.

The growth of singlehood is not necessarily a bad thing in its own right. Plenty of young adults are not looking for a serious relationship and are perfectly happy being single. The lack of dating among those who are looking for love, however, does suggest that all the dating apps in the world will not help someone who cannot interact with another human being without the filter of a screen and keyboard in the way.