5 habits of truly happy marriages, according to a marriage expert

Positive psychology is the science of strengths and looking at what makes individuals and couples thrive.

Marriage takes work. Everyone knows this. But what many don’t realize is that they might be working on the wrong things. Or even working on the right things in the wrong way.

“In our culture, there’s so much focus on getting together rather than on being together and staying happy together,” says Suzann Pileggi, who, along with her husband, James Pawelski, director of education at the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, authored Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts. “Looking at positive psychology research and seeing what is it that can actually lead to a happier marriage.”

Positive psychology is the science of strengths and looking at what makes individuals and couples thrive. “The research shows that, if you’re focusing more on growing the nuggets of what’s good, you have a better chance of having a happy relationship.” In other words, know your strengths and spend time maintaining them. Here, then, are five tips that Suzann and James say will lead to better days for you and your spouse.

1. Cultivate a healthy passion

That idea of starry-eyed lovers who are forever on each other’s minds and obsess over each other daily? Total B.S. In fact, per Pileggi this thinking is detrimental, as it can give rise to the idea that obsessive passion is a healthy thing.

“In the beginning of a relationship, you can’t stop thinking about your partner, you might be distracted at work, you might cancel plans with friends to see your girlfriend or future spouse,” she explains. “But if that continues months or years into the relationship and you’re not seeing your friendsanymore, you’re not engaging in activities that you did before the relationship, and you can’t focus on anything else, that could be more of an obsessive passion.”

In order to create a healthy passion, Pileggi says to be sure to make room in your mind for your other interests and other people. Then, when you are with your partner, find ways to connect over things that you both enjoy. “It’s about forging a deeper bond, not trying to be competitive,” Pileggi says. “So don’t choose something that you really like and enjoy and your wife has no interest in. The idea is to connect, not to compete.”

2. Embrace the upside

At the beginning of a relationship, positive emotions are flowing with regularity. Excitement, joy, passion are all right at your fingertips. But, as the relationship progresses and you both get more comfortable with each other, some people expect that those positive emotions will just happen without any effort. Not so.

“The research shows that the happiest couples with the most sustainable marriages are the ones who actively cultivate them all the time and prioritize them as opposed to waiting around for them to happen,” she says. “Because, like with anything, the newness of something, those heightened positive emotions, the level and the frequency just naturally don’t occur as much as in the beginning of a relationship, the falling-in-love stage.”

So, couples in long-term relationships who are looking to cultivate positive emotions have to ask themselves what can they do each day, what activities or actions can they do in order to keep positive emotions flowing in a marriage.

“Imagine if you just bought a gym membership and went once and then said, ‘Okay, now I’m going to be fit,’” Pileggi says. “No, you work out regularly and throughout your lifetime.”

One activity that Pileggi and her husband discuss in Happy Together is a ‘Positive Relationship Portfolio,’ And yes, it is actually a portfolio: of pictures, mementos, and other such items that mean something in your relationship. If that’s your style or not, we get it. The point of the exercise is to devote time to thinking about the fond memories, which, per Pileggi, is extremely important. However you do it is up to you.

3. Savor experiences

Positive emotions and moments are fleeting. Pileggi says that it’s important to slow down and take time to enjoy them. “Research shows that if you spend at least 15 minutes savoring something you could increase your satisfaction,” she says. “One way to do that is sharing secrets with one another. Ask your spouse about a favorite childhood experience, or a secret they never told anyone or big idea or dream they always had for the future.” The point is this: The more you open up and talk about these sorts of things, the deeper a bond you’re able to create.

4. Locate and focus on character strengths

What are your partner’s strengths? Do you know? Positive Psychology researchers have identified 24 character traits that people possess in different measures. Things like creativity, curiosity, zest, love of learning, leadership. Pileggi recommends taking a Character Strengths test with your partner (one is available here). Then, once you’ve determined what your strengths are, you can have conversations with each other about them. From there, Pileggi says, you both can go on what she and her husband call a “strength date.”  Sounds weird right? But the idea is sound: each of you to pick a top strength and go on a date that plays to — and satisfies — both of them.

5. Emphasize gratitude

“If your partner feels taken advantage of and not acknowledged, they’re not going to be satisfied,” she says. And just saying “thanks” isn’t enough.

An example: If your spouse gives you a gift or does something kind for you, don’t just thank them, but also say something like, “You really know what I need and you’re such a good listener.” or “You’re so thoughtful, and I can see how thoughtful you are with our children and the way you are at work.”

It’s about being deliberate and specific in how you express appreciation for your partner. “Express your thanks and express it well,” says Pileggi. “Which means focusing on your partner and her actions and her strengths rather than solely on the gift and the benefit to you.” The end result: Per Pileggi, couples who did this decreased their chances of breaking up six months later by 50 percent.

The USA’s 13 Coolest College Towns (Did Yours Make the List?)

Back to school is seriously cool in these scholarly destinations. With food, nightlife, and art scenes that are anything but elementary, these 13 spots are the best college towns in the U.S. to visit this fall.

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  1. Eugene, Oregon

Nike gives Eugene serious athletic cache—just look at the fashion-statement uniforms the Oregon Ducks unveil every season or the state-of-the-art sporting facilities on campus. It’s also where frat-bro favorite Animal House was filmed and home to New Max’s Tavern, the inspiration for Homer’s famed hangout Moe’s Tavern on The Simpsons. Willamette Street is lined with art galleries like White Lotus, which showcases Asian works, and Sattva Gallery, where local artists display handcrafted ceramics and jewelry. Bonus: Portland is only a two-hour drive away.

 

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2. Athens, Georgia

Athens is an incubator for artists and rock musicians—R.E.M and the B-52’s got their start here—and it oozes southern charm with its historic Georgian mansions in the Five Points neighborhood. Two music venues are the heart of the nightlife scene: 40 Watts Club, the legendary spot for big-name acts; and Georgia Theatre, which reopened in 2011 after a fire (the Grammy Award-winning and local group Zach Brown Band donated $250,000 to bring it back to life). Fun fact: Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia doubles as a pet cemetery; every English bulldog mascot since 1956 is entombed in wall mausoleum near Gate 9.

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3. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis may not have the distinct curb appeal of LA, NYC, or Boston, but the major city does have a pretty sick Frank Gehry-designed landmark that earns them major bragging rights. The Weisman Art Museum, a monolithic stainless steel page out of the famed architect’s book, sits on a bluff over the Mississippi, sprawling out on the U of M campus. Follow the college crowd and at some point or another, you’ll wind up in Dinkytown (yes, that’s its actual name) – a tiny neighborhood overflowing with restaurants (look past the chains for eclectic indies like the Kitty Cat Klub), bars, specialty stores and theaters.

 

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4. Santa Cruz, California

Massive swells, redwood-filled forests, an abundant haze of “medical” marijuana—it’s easy to see the appeal of Santa Cruz. Along with miles of misty beaches and endless bike trails that run through the nearby mountains, the city has killer microbrew and coffee scenes. Two standouts: the organic suds at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, in the Swift Street Courtyard, and single-origin promoter Verve Coffee Roasters, which has locations scattered around town.

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5. Madison, Wisconsin

Madison’s historic downtown is perfectly situated on an isthmus flanked by the Mendota and Monona lakes, with the 1,200-acre Arboretum and various biking trails nearby. But make no mistake, Madtown is a tailgaters paradise (game day favorite: fried cheese curds). Ask a Wisconsin grad about his alma matter and he’ll tell you the following: the Kollege Klubon Saturdays, Dotty’s for the Melting Pot burger, and the Terrace at Memorial Union for snapshot-worthy water views.

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6. Bozeman, Montana

Who would have guessed that one of America’s coolest college towns is the middle of cow-country Montana? Bozeman, home to Montana State University, has been drawing more and more visitors north. In summer, there’s world-class fishing at the nearby Madison and Yellowstone rivers; come winter, snow junkies flock to Bridger and Big Sky resorts. The town itself has a laid-back college vibe, with bistros, galleries and watering holes like Molly Brown bar, a note-perfect dive in the “bar-muda triangle.”

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7. Ithaca, NY

Ithaca may weed out a few (hundred) prospective students each year with the promise of a brutal winter and somewhat middle-of-nowhere locale (it’s 4+ hours from NYC), but the picturesque city is a hell of a lot more than blizzard country. First and foremost, Ithaca topples the scenic scale with rolling hillsides, more than 150 cascading waterfalls (hence all the “Ithaca is GORGES!” merch) and winding trails. Extremely walkable, and home to a generous handful of breweries and wineries, the town also maintains a young crowd, with a population that’s more than 50 percent college kiddos thanks to Ithaca College and a place you probably haven’t heard of–Cornell.

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8. Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Chapel Hill might have the strongest foodie cred of any college town in the country. Here, sports bar nachos and divey burger joints take a back seat to James Beard-nominated chefs like Andrea Reusing, whose Asian-inflected Lantern sources from local farms; and the Pig, a nose-to-tail Carolina-style barbecue joint that’s perennially packed. Beyond food, there are plenty more diversions, from the Carolina Basketball Museum to the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

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9. Charlottesville, Virginia

Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819 and his legacy lives on, from the grand 18th-century buildings to the secret societies like Seven and Z. In addition to a surprisingly cool art scene ⎯ check out art collective C’ville Arts⎯ lively restaurants (we love the rustic-chic C and O ) and the open-air pavilion on the Downtown Mall, one of the country’s emerging wine regions is right outside of town, shadowed by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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10. Burlington, Vermont

Burlington’s granola roots run deep. This is the place Ben and Jerry bestowed their psychedelic flavors on the world, and where a generation of LSD-charged roadies discovered Phish. These days an organic food movement and highly acclaimed craft beer scene have taken hold in and around UVM. See it firsthand at the City Market, where local purveyors hawk everything from freshly brewed kombucha to high-point ciders to pasture-raised pork.

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11. Oxford, Mississippi

Home to William Faulkner’s 19th-century estate Rowan Oak, the storied paperback palace Square Books, and chef John Currence’s destination Cajun spot City Grocery, Oxford is the quintessential Southern small town. The magnolia-lined streets have added luxury boutiques and new-wave restaurants in recent years, but original treasures remain ⎯ Neilson’s, for instance, is the oldest department store in the South. The hotel of choice: the Z, a classic B&B run by two twenty-something Ole Miss-alum sisters. Don’t miss their breakfast cheddar biscuits.

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12. Williamsburg, Virginia

Cheesy historical reenactments have long defined Williamsburg, but a growing arts district is giving the town of William & Mary College a polished new edge. Don’t miss the Sculpture Gallery, a public art initiative that features 21 pieces from East Coast artists, including terra cotta works by Barbara Kobylinska, and Century Art Gallery, a showcase for contemporary paintings inside a 1920 Sears Roebuck house. And if you do happen to enjoy colonial history, visit the Jamestown Settlement, eat at one of the many 18th-century-style taverns, or take a tour of the Berkeley Plantation.

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13. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Football season in Ann Arbor is no joke—just ask the University of Michigan team, who basically acquire star status every September. For non-collegiates and non-sportifs, life is still pretty swell with post-grad job prospects at big name companies like Google AdWords and Toyota making the town a comfy locale for former co-eds. Plus, pair all that with a bustling downtown–say hello to a multitude of late-night bites and plenty of beer at local faves like Ashley’s—and residential charm courtesy of tree-lined streets and Ann Arbor just about has it all.

 

The story behind Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ shows us how to make projects our own

Aretha Franklin, the great American singer who became a defining voice of the 20th century and the acclaimed Queen of Soul, died at her home in Detroit on Thursday from pancreatic cancer, her publicist said. She was 76.

“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on,” Franklin’s family said in a statement.

A preacher’s daughter, Franklin began her career as a teenager in the 1950s, and her inimitable voice allowed her to hop between gospel, R&B, classical and jazz genres with grace. She went on to win 18 Grammy Awards, sell more than 75 million records in her life, and become one of the best-selling selling artists of all time. But out of all the songs she recorded, “Respect,” her demand for dignity, became her signature song that is still played in living rooms and at political protests today. The story of how Franklin took a song originally written and released by Otis Redding and made it her own can be career inspiration for us all.

How Franklin made “Respect” her own

In Redding’s version, “Respect” is about a man pleading with a woman to give him respect in exchange for what he can provide for her. Redding sang: “Hey little girl, you’re sweeter than honey / And I’m about to give you all of my money / But all I want you to do / Is just give it, give it / Respect when I come home … ”

When Franklin recorded “Respect” on Valentine’s Day in 1967, she kept most of the original lyrics but transformed the meaning of the song with the addition of a bridge and the call-and-response of her sisters. Under Franklin’s version, “Respect” became more than a domestic dispute. It became an empowering feminist anthem for women to be treated equally at home and at work.

“Oooh, your kisses,” Franklin sang, “Sweeter than honey / And guess what? / So is my money.” In her most memorable addition, Franklin spelled out her demand for parity for emphasis in the bridge: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T/ Find out what it means to me /R-E-S-P-E-C-T / Take care, TCB [take of business].”

 

 

When Franklin’s version hit the airwaves, it became a massive hit, spending two weeks as the No. 1 song in America in 1967. It became a rallying cry for women’s rights and the civil rights movement. Today, it has been referenced and sampled in dozens of feature films. We all want R-E-S-P-E-C-T. “I think that hook line is something we all relate to,” Franklin told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s something we all appreciate and expect.”

It ranks No. 4 on “Songs of the Century,” a 1999 project by the National Endowment for the Arts. “Respect” is now remembered for being Franklin’s more than Redding’s. Even Redding acknowledges this. When he played it himself at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, he said, “This next song is a song that a girl took away from me!”

The 8 Most Underrated Cities in America

Are those sky-high rents, $10 beers, overhyped restaurants, and so-packed-you-can’t-move museums of America’s great cities starting to bring you down? It might be time to consider a trip (or even a move) to one of these eight overlooked gems, where you’ll find equally excellent food scenes, historic sites, and world-class art.

 

Trip Ideas Town urban area tree City street pedestrian Downtown neighbourhood recreation

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  1. Boulder, CO

Know someone headed to Colorado? They’re probably bound for Denver—CO’s urban playground of art, culture, and food—or any one of its premiere ski towns (Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge, Telluride, Steamboat Springs). But just north of the capital is a nature-lover’s paradise. Boulder’s location at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains means world-class hiking and skiing are literally at your doorstep. (Don’t miss the trails through the Flatirons in Chautauqua Park, known for their iconic sandstone slab rock formations.)

The area’s local farms are to thank for the top-notch food scene: hit up Emmerson Restaurant, a Pearl Street newcomer, for fresh pastas and cocktails from a former LA Weekly “Best Bartender.” If you happen to be in town in the warmer months, check out Boulder’s summer music series. At day’s end, retreat to Basecamp Hotel, a stylishly affordable boutique that capitalizes on its mountain town ethos: hanging canvas tapestries take the place of headboards and Coleman coolers stand in for mini-bars in the 50 rooms, and there’s an indoor rock-climbing wall as well as an outdoor deck and fire pit for roasting s’mores.

 

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2. Portland, ME

A charming waterfront, 19th-century brick architecture, cobbled streets, a surplus of seafood—Portland, Maine is every bit the New England stereotype, but with a true cosmopolitan edge. Stroll around the Old Port, past lauded restaurants like Eventide Oyster Co. (famous for its traditional clam bakes, brown-butter lobster rolls, and Maine oysters on the half shell) as well as less-expected gems like the vegetarian-focused Silly’s and Miyake, whose menu is influenced by washoku—the Japanese dietary practice that emphasizes vegetables and fish—and comes from a twice-James-Beard-nominated chef. For the best of both old and new, check into the Danforth Inn, a 1823 Federal mansion that contains quirky objets d’art and a Shanghai-inspired bar.

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3. Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis has quietly but confidently stepped up its style game with design-forward hotels and pioneering global restaurants. In the North Loop, a logging warehouse has been transformed into the Hewing Hotel, which takes “lodge-luxe” to a new level with its original pine timber beams, vibrant local art and photography, and rooftop Social Club. From here, it’s only a six-minute walk to The Bachelor Farmer, a cozy-chic Scandinavian restaurant that’s earned accolades for its Nordic-influenced toasts and the city’s first-ever rooftop garden. For great made-in-Minneapolis souvenirs, swing by The Foundry Home Goods shop for handcrafted wares like wool blankets and porcelain dish sets.

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4. Asheville, NC

Taking a drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway tops our road trip bucket list, but it’s worth extending your journey with a detour to Asheville. There’s a lot to love about this North Carolina gem. The culinary scene–an intoxicating mix of serious Southern recipes and playful global influences—is one of the best in the south. The drinking scene isn’t far behind: its 18+ craft breweries have earned Asheville the nickname “The Napa Valley of Beer.” And the live music, from impromptu street performances to the Bluegrass Festival and legendary music halls like The Orange Peel, is in a class all its own. Our perfect day in town might involve lunch at buzzy Spanish tapas joint Curate; dinner at The Admiral, a popular gastropub that churns out plates like glazed sweetbreads and shaved country ham; and a show at The Mothlight, which hosts both big-name bands and local up-and-comers.

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5. St. Louis, MO

Chicago gets the lion’s share of Midwest love, but this second-tier city to the south deserves a closer look. This year marks the completion of an ambitious five-year, $380 million revitalization of St. Louis’s famed Eero Saarinen-designed Gateway Arch and surrounding parklands, which now includes a subterranean museum and a land bridge that creates a much-needed link between the grounds and the city itself (which was formerly separated by a highway). Not to be outdone, the 105-acre Laumeier Sculpture Park in Sunset Hills was one of the country’s first of its kind and makes for a perfect springtime picnic and stroll. No visit is complete without a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery (now a National Historic Landmark) before a hearty American dinner at Olive + Oak, whose chef Jesse Mendica was a James Beard semifinalist last year. Afterwards, rest your head at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, whose highlights include dead-on arch views and a rooftop pool.

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Trip Ideas tree waterway outdoor water Canal water transportation Rowing plant leisure Boat boating watercourse River watercraft rowing vehicle recreation tourism vegetable landscape City pond several

6. San Antonio, TX

Were it not for the sheer size of Texas (which lays claim to not one but three top-tier cities including Dallas, Houston, and Austin), San Antonio might have landed itself a top spot on first-time visitors’ to-do lists. The notion isn’t so far-fetched when you consider the city’s trifecta of history, culture, and food. After checking off the Alamo, head to the UNESCO-listed San Antonio Missions, which protects four other 18th-century Spanish Colonial mission churches built along the San Antonio River. For stellar barbecue, shops, and people-watching, The Pearl District is a pedestrian-friendly pocket home to the River Walk, a waterway lined with old-world taverns and riverfront restaurants that’s become known as “The American Venice.” Lately, the city has even added stylish hotels to the mix. Our favorite: Hotel Emma, a historic 1800s brewhouse turned boutique with a notable restaurant and taproom called Southerleigh.

 

Budget Trip Ideas Weekend Getaways outdoor tree grass building house Architecture estate neighbourhood Courtyard home facade residential area real estate tourist attraction professional campus plaza signTrip Ideas indoor property room Lobby ceiling floor estate home living room interior design tourist attraction wood art galleryTrip Ideas floor indoor wall art gallery museum art tourist attraction ceiling exhibition modern art art exhibition interior design wood Design gallery room several

7. Baltimore, MD

This all-American seaport has been likened to a more affordable D.C. Sure, some industrial areas are still rough around the edges (You’ve seen The Wire, right?) but you’ll hardly notice what with all that’s going on in regards to culture and food. Its past life as an immigration portal means Baltimore has built a community that prizes diversity and creativity, best seen at prized institutions like the Baltimore Museum of Art, Walters Art Museum, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. Not to mention the micro-breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, and trendy cocktail dens that have taken hold of the dining scene in just the last few years. After stopping by James Beard Award-winning Spike Gjerde’s Woodberry Kitchen for dishes that spotlight Chesapeake-sourced ingredients, check into the new Sagamore Pendry Baltimore hotel, whose pool overlooks the harbor.

Trip Ideas Winter Town landmark building City snow medieval architecture sky château facade stately home tree listed building window estate house universityTrip Ideas indoor floor room wall window chair hotel interior design Living Suite bed frame ceiling furniture Bedroom interior designer living room bed flooring decoratedTrip Ideas indoor sofa Living table room floor interior design living room Lobby furniture Suite couch decorated seat leather several

Trip Ideas metropolitan area City urban area metropolis building skyscraper landmark neighbourhood Downtown infrastructure car daytime street Town road sky cityscape Architecture mixed use plaza lane condominium town square tower block skyline facade window tree pedestrian

8. Buffalo, NY

Some 70 years after the Great Depression delivered a mighty blow to this once wealthy industrial boomtown, Buffalo is finally on the upswing. Forward-thinking creatives are beginning to repurpose the gritty grain silos and Frank Lloyd Wright architecture that once defined the city landscape, while the arrival of younger residents seeking out Buffalo’s still-affordable housing options has reenergized the city’s social scene. You won’t go wrong at corner taverns like Arty’s Grill and Gene McCarthy’s, which keep the fun going until 4 a.m., or getting a taste of what Buffalo does best (yes, we’re talking wings!). Don’t miss the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, a bastion for 20th-century American art, or Hotel Henry, a stylish 88-room sleep built inside an abandoned 1870s asylum designed by lauded American architect Henry Hobson Richardson.