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How 11,000 lattes have helped keep my marriage together

Nourish your relationship, value your partner’s needs, give more, take care of yourself and practice kindness.

How 11,000 lattes have helped keep my marriage together

By Linda Carroll

Every morning for 30 years, my husband has brought me a latte. Some mornings, he hands me the steaming mug with a smile and a kiss. Other mornings he’s in a hurry, so he simply sets the latte down on my bedside table. Then there are the mornings when he’s not happy with me, and he puts the mug down on his bedside table, so I have to lean over to reach it.


Still, whether our feelings are running hot or cold, that latte is there for me every morning. Over time, those cups have added up. He and I have banked on them, as well as on many other sweet nothings, to carry us through hard times.

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When times are tough:

When all is going well, most of us find it easy to be generous, appreciative, and kind with our partners. But what happens once things are less than perfect, and power struggles and differences in libido take over the relationship?

Our natural urge may be to punish (fight), evade (flee), or withhold (freeze). Yet our instinctual response is often the opposite of what our relationships really need.

These five pointers will help you act in a positive, constructive way and power through relationship hardships.

1. Nourish your relationship in little ways, especially when you don’t feel like it.

Think of this practice in the same way you keep money in the bank, only this is a love bank account — even though that may sound corny!

Try and first understand your partner’s love language. Some people like words and appreciate receiving cards, notes, flowers, and texts. Some enjoy being touched, whether with light tickles on the arm or big hugs and back massages.

Others like acts of service — my husband puts gas in the car and makes the bed because he knows I hate doing these things. These small displays of caring can really add up, and it’s important that you do them even when you’re having a bad day or exhausting week.

2. Remind yourself to always value your partner’s needs.

If I mail a package for you, go with you to a ballgame, or make your birthday special even when I’m annoyed with you, I’m funding the goodwill account of our relationship. If I can care for some of your needs, even though they’re different from mine, I can strike some of the gold in our connection: true recognition of you, someone other than me.

3. Unconditional giving may feel counter-instinctive. Do it anyway!

During the early stages of a relationship, unconditional giving is a pleasure and couples often believe that nothing will pop their love bubble. This isn’t the case when we are annoyed, sad or mad.

Still, we need to practice generosity throughout the relationship, not just on the good days. I am NOT saying that you should act like things are fine when they are not, or accept any abuse or damaging behaviors. Bad days are different than bad relationships.

4. Fill up your own self-care bank account.

When your self-care bank account is full, you can withstand, recover and repair a lot of inevitable relationship troubles. Don’t try to tackle these problems when you’re feeling exhausted, defensive or flooded with anger.

People react to hurt and distress more constructively when they’re able to appraise each other with cooler hearts and leveler heads.

So take care of yourself by spending quality time with friends, exercising and healthy eating, and maintaining those spiritual practices that keep you centered.

5. Practicing kindness does NOT mean accepting mistreatment.

Remember: Setting down boundaries gently in no way undermines their strength. There must be limits to our availability and generosity. It’s never okay for others to break their word, be inconsiderate, or repeatedly ignore our needs. If things are so hard that any caring gesture feels impossible, you should recruit someone — a therapist, a friend or a loved one — to help you talk about what’s going on and look for resolution together.

The greater our deposits of kind actions and generosity, the more our relationship can remain resilient and sustain the normal wear and tear of life.


Linda Carroll, MS, is a love/life coach and has worked as a couples therapist for over 30 years. She is also the author of Love Cycles: The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love. Linda lives in Corvallis, Oregon, with her veterinarian husband and their Jack Russell terrier. She has five children and ten grandchildren. Learn more at LindaACarroll.com, LoveCycles.org.

A version of this article was originally published on Mind Body Green.

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

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Detective set

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This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

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Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

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Sand play set

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Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

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Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

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Mini golf set

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Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

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Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

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Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

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The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

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Wooden digital camera

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Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

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Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

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Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

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We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

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