Do you want to Thrive in Your Marriage?

In today’s New York Times Article, married couples represent just 48 percent of American households in 2010, according to data being made public Thursday and analyzed by the Brookings Institution. This was slightly less than in 2000, but far below the 78 percent of households occupied by married couples in 1950.

With this latest trend, we more than ever have to work harder and find support to ensure our marriages succeed.

Successful couples realize that good, skill-based marriage education can reduce the risk of divorce by up to thirty percent and lead to a significantly happier marriage. It can also reduce the stress marriages endure over time due the daily grind of life. Just a little effort now can make your odds a whole lot better over the long run.  There are several assumptions and limiting beliefs out there in regard to involving a coach in my marriage. They are:

  • I can’t afford it.
  • Our issues will eventually improve on its own.
  • A Marriage Coach will only make things worse.

These kind of beliefs hold couples back from empowering themselves to get the help they need, until the marriage collapses under the weight of unresolved pain and/or resentment.

So how can you tell if you need help. Take this quiz. And be honest with yourself. I scored a 78.

On the scale of 1 to 10, rate each of the following statements (if not applicable, score the item a 5).

1     2        3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

Not at all agree           Somewhat agree                  Totally agree

  1. I/We have established concrete goals on the type of marriage we want?                                   ______
  2. I/We have established distinct roles on how we will manage our household?                           ______
  3.  I/We know what temperament type my future spouse is?                                                             ______
  4. I/We are aware of each other’s credit status and have a mutual financial plan?                        ______
  5. I/We have a clearly stated and understandable Family Vision statement?                                  ______
  6. I/We are clear on how many children we want and how we will raise them?                             ______
  7. I/We are clear on how spirituality will play a role in our marriage?                                              ______
  8. I/We are comfortable with  my/our wants and needs in regards to sex?                                      ______
  9. I/We understand each other’s communication style and how we handle conflict?                     ______
  10. I/We can benefit from having someone GPS’s out our plan and help us stay on track?             ______

SCORE                          ______

Here are results based on your scoresheet. Let me know how you scored!

Under 40 (Danger! You need a Marriage Coach)


You need a coach right now! You are willing to do whatever it takes to create the life and marriage you deserve and desire.  Set up an appointment immediately to receive one-on-one coaching by contacting Keith Dent, Certified Empowerment Coach at

41 to 80(You are in need of a Marriage Renovation)

Coaching could help you look at your marriage from a different viewpoint, as well as help you develop a plan how you would like it to look in the future. You should decide and commit to taking action for the
benefit, your spouse and your children or future children. Contact Keith Dent, Certified Empowerment Coach at Ask about one-on-one coaching or purchase Strive 2 Succeed in Marriage CD.

Over 80

Coaching is not for you right now, but could be important in the future to help solidify the solid foundation that you have developed in your relationship. Sign up as a subscriber to this blog.

Meet your Coach: For the past seven years Coach Keith has developed specific programs around improving relationships which include workshops, conferences and one-on-one sessions.

 He works with couples to help them achieve the kind of relationship they envisioned when they first made their commitment to each other. Strengthening communication and revitalizing their understanding and empathy for each other helps couples regain the romance and closeness they long for – even in their everyday “real” world.

Do you want to get Married Today? Let’s go to New York!

On a drizzle filled Friday, I decided to drive to the NYC Marriage Bureau, about 15 miles from West Orange, the town that Jumpstarts Love.  I was there to see if the city would be interested in providing my marital education program to the hundreds of couples that enter their doors every day to tie the knot.

As I entered the double doors, the hair on my arms started to stand up. I thought it was strange since I was already married, but I couldn’t help but reflect back on my wedding 14+ years ago and all the preparations that went into making the day special. I just couldn’t get over the frenzy and excitement and future possibilities they were about to experience. The couples were all shapes, sizes and colors. They ranged from the being traditionally dressed to looking like they had just rolled over to the spot after a night out on the town.

One guy was nervous that his marriage wasn’t going to happen because his witness hadn’t showed up yet on this rainy afternoon. He asked me if I had time.

One thought that came to mind was that even though each couple had to stand in line and wait for their number to be called, there was a sense of peace and joy. Maybe it’s because these couples were simply there to celebrate marriage.

According to, some of the reasons why people elope is because it eases the stress of money and time it takes to plan a traditional wedding. Other reasons include:

  • It’s more intimate.
  • Easy.
  • Less stress from family.
  • Reduces opposition in your partner for religious/cultural reasons.
  • Want a quickie wedding.
  • Want a small wedding.
  • Dislike attention.

My wife of 14 years would have preferred this type of matrimonial service than all the pomp and circumstance of our wedding. I didn’t listen. I wasn’t a coach back then so my listening skills weren’t as good as they are now.

So if you wanted to get married today, would you take a number?

Keith is a certified relationship coach and President of Strive 2 Succeed Coaching Services. He has over a decade of experience in the field, counseling and  individuals, couples, teens and their parents to help them improve their relationships and their ability to achieve their personal goals.  He works with couples to help them achieve the kind of relationship they envisioned when they first made their commitment to each other. Strengthening communication and  revitalizing their understanding and empathy for each other helps couples regain the romance and closeness they long for – even in their everyday “real” world.

Having a coach is like having a GPS for life. Keith can help you get a realistic picture of where you are and focus on the best path toward your goals.  Think you need a jumpstart and a plan to get back on track, call for an initial consultation at or call 201-486-4467.

Marriage Music Monday (Shania Twain) – 10 Ways to Survive the Marriage Seasons

When things get tough in our marriage we sometimes retreat to our neutral corners for solace and support. As we turn to our close friends and, or our family members, they will usually give us bias advice based on our point of view. Their advice may be so tainted against your spouse, you begin to question if you choose the right person at all.

Don’t feel guilty that a thought like that has come into you’re head. It is understandable to question your choices, especially when you feel your marriage is going south. Keep in mind that it’s just a thought. It’s acting on that thought that is the most damaging. Also acknowledge  the winter season of sadness and despair in your marriage signals that the spring season of repair and happiness is just around the corner.

There are some actions that you can take to minimize the harsh winters of marriage that are inevitable. Here are 10 ways to ensure your marriage lasts through every season of your journey.

  1. You can only change yourself.
  2. Make the choice to invest in the marriage.
  3. Realize your spouse is your best friend.
  4. Commit to praying together or participating in couples meditation.
  5. Laugh together often, forgive one another always.
  6. Create a mutual support system.
  7. Commit to do ing things together.
  8. Communicate effectively.
  9. Create a mutual support system.
  10. Find a coach that can give you non-judgemental advice. (Keith Dent of Strive 2 Succeed Coaching Services is that kind of coach that will take the challenges and obstacles in your marriage and turn them into positive results that allow you to move forward.) You can contact him at

In the end, the lyrics to Shania Twain’s song Still the One says it best.

Ain’t nothin’ better
We beat the odds together
I’m glad we didn’t listen
Look at what we would be missin’

They said, “I bet they’ll never make it”
But just look at us holding on
We’re still together still going strong.

She Said/He Said – (Part 2)

Now it’s my Dad’s turn.

My parents today..After 44 years they are still smiling.

1.       What was the initial thing that attracted you to your wife/husband?

She was very attractive and was someone who I hadn’t met before. I considered this a challenge.

2.       When was the moment that you can remember she was the one you wanted to marry?

We met in October and were engaged Christmas Eve the same year. It was sometime in November after we met that I told my roommate and friends, I was going to propose.

3.       In your 44 years of marriage what has surprised you the most about marriage?

That it takes hard work and you have to change your thinking and attitude about many things. It takes more give and take than I thought. Initially I thought man was head of household but I learned that it takes two to have a strong household and responsibilities. Over the course of the years our relationship and love evolved and continues to grow.

4.       What are the three things that have helped you maintain your marriage longevity?

My commitment to my wife and God when we were married.

Our love, friendship, values, and compatibility.

Keith (the bloggist), Alison and the grandchildren that followed.

5.       Knowing what you know now, would you have approached marriage in a different way early on? How?

Yes, I would have waited a year before I got married so we could have had a better chance to grow and know each other. I thought I was ready but I wasn’t completely. There’s more to marriage then being a provider.

I would have saved a little more money. When we decided to get married, I had $10 in the bank. My mother told me to wait, but I was in love and didn’t listen. SO, when we started we had no money, no decent wedding, or honeymoon. I should have waited until we had at least $100 in the bank.

The upside though was we learn to deal with financial crisis early in our marriage. So, there’s a purpose and blessing that GOD makes you go through.

6.       What are 3 things modern day couples should do in order to achieve longevity in their marriage

 Worship together a couple that worships and prays together stays together.

Get the money thing straight.

Set yearly goals.

Communicate, communicate, and communicate.

Do things together on a monthly basis if possible.

         Don’t be afraid to show and demonstrate your love.

She Said/He Said (Part – 1)

Update: Since my parents just had their 45th Wedding Anniversary, I decided to re-run my version of She Said/He Said. Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad.

Welcome to a new segment I call She Said/He Said. It’s an attempt to empower newly married couples by reading stories of couples that have persevered to remain married 20+ years. According to Divorce Magazine, first marriages on average last 7.9 years. If you have the opportunity to stay married to the same woman/man for over 20 years it should be celebrated. And if you want to reach this milestone, why not receive information from some of the masters.

So I am going to start with a couple that gave me my first ideas of marriage, my parents.

My parents in the early years.

Their relationship was one of the reasons I wanted to get married. I always admired the fact they enjoyed each other’s company and never had a shouting match around us. My mom was skilled at getting her point across and still kept a smile on her face.

I asked them a series of questions about marriage. Because it’s She Said/He Said, my mom goes first.

1. What was the initial thing that attracted you to your wife/husband?

I am a quiet and not really shy but a more introverted person,  my husband is the opposite of that, it is his outgoing personality and the way he is able to connect with people and make people laugh that attracted me.

2. When was the moment that you can remember that she/he was the one you wanted to marry?

I don’t really remember having a moment.  I had only known my husband 2 months before that Christmas Eve that he asked me to marry him.  We had a connection and he showered me with attention.  He wined and dined me, But it was a shock when he asked me to marry him.  I paused a bit because I knew that Marriage was a serious thing and did he really know what he was asking. But after about a 30 minuets discussion I said yes.

3. In your 45 years of marriage what has surprised you the most about marriage?

The love comes and goes; it takes on a different form.  So that cloud nine feeling comes down to earth after a while so you try not to dwell on all of the things you don’t necessary like about your husband, recognizing that he has to do the same about me.  No one is perfect.  However in the blink of an eye you are back on cloud nine with that feeling of a new bride.

4. What are the three things that have helped you maintain your marriage longevity?

Trust, forgive and forget, and try to be understanding.

Compromise No one is always right. Working through our problems.

Trust in the Lord, I do strongly believe that my husband was handpicked for me by God.  He placed him in front of me, and I had a choice.

5. Knowing what you know now, would you have approached marriage in a different way early on? How?

I don’t know that I would have approached it any differently.  We tried to work together and work through all of the baggage that each person brings to a marriage from their own family upbringing.  We had an unplanned roadblock that pushed us to move quicker, but we still kept it together and did what we had to do. All in All Life has been good.

6. What tips can you give modern day couples in order to achieve longevity in their marriage?

I would tell them to understand that it is a person they are marrying, no one is perfect and beauty fades.  So you have to recognize that it is the love you have for that person that can keep it together and if you truly love them you can accept those little things that get under your skin.  Marriage is work and you have to work at it.

Be willing to compromise, listen, try to be understanding, and get the money issues straight.

There is only one head of the house but there are 2 people creating a home so you must work together to make it work, recognizing that you won’t always agree but you can work through it.

When you marry someone you are gaining another family and that family should become just as important to you as they are to your spouse.  Not all family members are liked, even in your own family, so you must learn to tolerate your spouse’s family as well.  This can cut down on a lot of friction that I have seen in marriages.

What I would say to Arnold & Maria (Part 2) – It’s ok to have privacy,but secrets hurt your marriage.

Today Maria’s worst fears were realized. Arnold’s womanizing ways extended far beyond a few groping moments. He actually had inappropriate encounter with a woman who cared for his home which resulted in him fathering a child.

I guess when he uttered his famous phrase from the Terminator “You’re clothes, give them to me,” took on a whole new meaning.

I know as the former governor of California and a movie star, he was prone to keep things private in order to skirt scandal and humiliation with the public, and not have every thought end up on the front page of the LA Times. What is different with the latest scandal is that he deliberately withheld information from his wife in order to protect himself.

Secrets are information that we deliberately withhold in order to allow others to believe something that isn’t true. Maria believed his behavior only extended as far as a little groping on movie sets and an overseas TV show. While we may think that we are keeping secrets in order to benefit other’s i.e. our wife, our children, the State of California. Our motivation is to protect our own I’ll be Backsides.

Over the years of Arnold Schwarzenegger concealing the truth, slowly burned away anything they had left of their relationship. It was clear in his actions in their marriage as I talked about in a previous post. (See 5-11-2011)

So what would I say to Arnold this time:

  1. Remove yourself from the public eye and establish what is really important in your life. You have lost your way. Between your love for power and staying in the limelight has gone to both your head (s).
  2. Apologize to your children face-to-face. They will be bombarded with many emotions, questions and pain. Don’t leave it up to Maria to do it. In fact, she doesn’t even need to be present to help you talk your way through it.
  3. Apologize to the woman who fell under you spell. I am not sure how much contact you had with her, or how much hush money you gave her. It’s clear that she couldn’t live an authentic life.

What I would say to Maria:

  1. Nothing really changes from my post from last week. You will still need to move forward and determine what will be the next chapter in your journey.
  2. If there is ever a ripple that something isn’t right, it’s probably a wave. Have the courage to explore it, no matter what might be the end result. At least you can say that you followed your intuition.

Marriage Music Monday – Contentment

Today’s Marriage Music Monday selection is Contentment by Kindred.

I selected this song because Contentment is one of main principles of what marriage that can be so elusive if we aren’t careful. You have to put yourself into a position to be content daily.  As the lyrics say below:

Ohhh when you came into the world

You stole that show

And it’s been a pleasure to watch you grow

When I look to your eyes I know I done good

And I wouldn’t change one moment if I could

Our family is growing nicely

And our waistlines ate growing slightly

But I take everyday as it comes to me

Waiting on God to fulfill my destiny

Usually when we get married at a young age it was based on the fact he/she was the most beautiful person we had ever met. You were drawn together by an instant chemistry that was unshakeable.

As you grow in your marriage, your chemistry can be tested by outside elements; children, temptation and change. If you take every day as it comes to you as the lyrics describe, it’s truly a blessing.

So how do I become content in marriage?

1. Give what you want to receive. Trying to get what you want from your partner by using controlling and manipulating tactics often doesn’t produce the desired outcomes. If it does, the cost will be resentment from your partner.

If you give your partner what you value rather than in the previous approach it can produce a better outcomeprovided you have trust and patience.

2. Contentment is not a one- time event; it’s an ongoing process. It’s easy to be content at the wedding. It’s a party. Everyone loves parties. There is a series of moments where you must choose to be content. The hurts, stress, disappointments and dark times in the marriage are events that can threaten the essence of your vows. When you get through these periods, you can truly celebrate for sticking it out.

3. The joy and fulfillment you receive from marriage is greater than you can imagine. – When we marry a particular person it’s because deep down we felt that person would see our beauty, talent and our potential that we don’t always see ourselves. They would cultivate our good qualities and confront us on qualities that aren’t as strong.  Being able to grow together to see the transformation is better in the trenches than seeing the growth at a distance.

Have a great Marriage Monday!

Coach Keith

Husband not pulling his weight? Blame the commercials.

I was watching TV show that is primarily geared towards women last night. I won’t tell you what it is, so I don’t lose my MAN Card. The interesting thing was a Target commercial scrolled across the screen. I usually am a channel surfer, this commercial caught my eye. It involved a husband and wife in bed and since I am a relationship coach, I had to stop and watch.

The man was trying to explain his actions, so he could get some love, but she wasn’t havin’ it.  All I could do was shake my head, another “idiot man” commerical

Now, I turned to my wife and I asked her, “Can you give me at least one commercial where they have a woman look dumb in front of her spouse, or have to beg for anything?” Of course she couldn’t even give me one and that is the point of this blog today.

Commercials are messing our marriages. The reason any product today, that involves relationships, has the man looking dumb, weak and incompetent. McDonald’s, Bud Light, Dairy Queen just to name a few portray men are incapable of doing simple tasks from cooking, cleaning and just plain taking care of the kids. And these attitudes transfer to our real life relationships.

See the enclosed add whereby her husband which is her best friend is Mr. Jack Donkey. He has no domestic skills at all. He just messes up the house along with her kids, who are pigs.

So as a husband, why would I initially attempt to do any of these things if that’s how I am going to be made to feel by my wife?

So if your husband is not pulling his weight around the house or with the kids ask him, “Is it because of the commercials?”

What Coach Keith would say to Maria and Arnold!

Well it’s over!  Arnold Schwarzenegger echoed his famous lines, but in the opposite direction. He said, ” I won’t be back!” The audience, Maria Shriver was ok with that.

After 25 years of marriage, two polar opposites Arnold and his wife, Maria Shriver, couldn’t hold it together. The political arena that  was so prevalent in their marriage couldn’t hold their marriage together and left a huge void that they couldn’t overcome.

One of the dynamics that I stress so deeply in my Strive 2 Succeed Workbook is the need for a family mission statement and maintaining a social inventory. Having these things in place are vital in marriage and it’s something you have to review periodically.

As evidence in today’s New York Times article, with Arnold losing the governorship, they were in a transition. Arnold was driven by work, and the limelight evidenced by the fact that he immediately needed to return to acting and jet-setting around the world in order to maintain his image. Maria, successful in her own right felt that it was now her turn to redefine herself with the support from her husband. It never came, so she felt it’s better to find my way on my own.

Maria’s not alone. After 10 plus years of marriage, you may find yourself thinking  is this it? Yesterday, I was donating blood and the lovely volunteer told me, she had to bolt from her 35 year marriage because she didn’t want to just be a grandmother watching kids all day, and going back to Florida to take advantage of the early bird specials and play golf.  SHE WANTED TO LIVE ON HER TERMS. That’s understandable. If you feel that way, don’t wait to have that conversation when the transition comes, periodically discuss those dreams when they arise.

If you are unsure as Maria is, what it is you want to do. I would do these three things before you decide you want to do them alone:

  1. Breath – once you’re mind is in a quiet place, you will think more clearly.
  2. What are the things in your life that has given you the most joy? Can we incorprate them in our marriage?
  3. What’s the first thing you would like to do to enjoy your life?

I wouldn’t let Arnold of the hook either. I would tell him to tell his wife:

  1. Thank You for the political backing your name gave me, otherwise I’d just be a movie star.
  2. Thank you sticking by me and supporting me, when I had no political experience, and disrespecting you in public.
  3. Thank you for allowing me to blossom while you took a back seat in  your career. I wish I was strong enough to put my ego on hold so you could pursue your passions.

Who knows, if he had said those things, and they reviewed their lives together, he just might  be back!

Welcome to Marriage Music Monday’s

If anyone knows me, they know I love music. Music is very instrumental in my life. Since I am the designated chef during the week, you can often catch me at Shoprite with my Beats Headphones. In the afternoons, I often turn on my Sirius Radio when my lovely children start taking me there. You can take Edward Dent Jr. and his exceptional wife, my mom Sandra for that. They exposed me to such artists from Earth Wind and Fire to Minnie Riperton and from Wes Montgomery to John Klemmer. When MTV came on the scene, to my dad’s dismay, I had to add such 80’s bands like Culture Club and Duran Duran to the mix.

What I love about music is the type of mood it can put you into or bring you out of depending on the circumstances. Most of the songs we listen to deal with having fun, partying, love and romance. What about songs that can help you in your marriage? 

There are some good marriage songs that can help boost and maintain your marriage. Marriage can often take a back seat on Monday’s since you are back on that work treadmill, the kids go back to school and you just don’t get a chance to breath. Today, that is going to change.  WELCOME to MARRIAGE MONDAY’S.   Each week, I will select  a song that will help you stay in tune with your spouse.  If you listen throughout the week, and look at the lyrics posted, it will provide a little perspective on why you married your husband/wife and help infuse more positive energy into your relationship. 

 If it doesn’t work..send me a note immediately because there are some obstacles that is blocking your way and Coach Keith needs to remove them.

This week’s song is Phil Collins – Two Hearts. (Click link here for the video)

It’s a catchy tune and with Spring in the air, it will really get you going on that commute home. I picked this song because no matter where I am, my wife has my back and I have hers. Our hearts are joined together as one.

Cos there’s no easy way to, to understand it
There’s so much of my life in her, and it’s like I’m blinded
And it teaches you to never let go
There’s so much love you’ll never know
She can reach you no matter how far
Wherever you are

Leave me a comment, and let me know what thoughts came to mind when you listened to it, or if there is a song you would like me to feature. Drop me a line.

Coach Keith