Couple fighting on plane, emotional attitude

All about the right equipment.

Resolving conflict and handling contentious issues are just two of a host of potentially inflammatory issues which couples have to navigate to stay successful.  To do so requires a certain amount of skill and relational dexterity. For example sitting next to me on my flight yesterday were a good looking couple, probably mid thirties who were on the verge of rowing throughout the 70 minute flight, all I can say is “God help us if it had been longer”.  He had the skills to assuage her anger, but clearly no ability to begin to deal with them as a couple.  I just sat quietly and played “grumpy traveller” a game I’m good at.  It was sad really because they were clearly fond of each other, but their fondness was frustrated by their lack of dexterity as they chatted over contentious topics (Yes, I heard everything – grumpy travellers hear it all).

So, what’s to be done, well two things have to happen for couples to build love; firstly they must reduce the pain, and in tandem increase the love.  Sounds too complex maybe, well it isn’t really.  In fact your probably doing most of it already.  Just do more of the stuff that he/she really likes, and do less of the stuff they dislike.  I know there is more to it than that, but basically that’s the gist.  It’s about having the right equipment or what I call emotional attitude to deal with hassle when it comes along.

So, my skiing buddy Rich, has injured his big toe horribly because his boots fitted badly, his tools were poor and so he has been injured, so get good tools (emotional attitude tools) and your ready for that long flight because you know how to reduce the pain and increase the love.

Just popping the jabbing snow chains on the grinding sick dripping wheels.

So as I prepare for home, with tomorrow the last day, more than anything it’s the juveniles language which has caught me by surprise; popping, dropping, dipping, jabbing to name but a few.  It’s my pen ultimate day on the Snow Vole courtesy bloggers ski and board trip.

I had a great day today in Les Arcs hanging out with G Man and FionaOutdoors . We left the juveniles to play on Burn’s super new product.  Sort of a fat snow blade that acts like a snowboard, but is fixed to each foot singly, unlike a board which fixes both feet.

We hacked around Les Arcs today.  Just perfect slippy soft snow, empty runs.  We were kings of the mountain, except for the 800 Bristol University students who were on every lift and in every bar.  They were strategically placed, sort of 10 at a time on each slope helping enormously with contrast.  I didn’t really mind them at all.

For those of you who know what I’m on about it was like, super fast on piste, super powdery of piste and super exciting in the forest, no queues and nothing to pay for thanks to Phil from Snow Vole, and our super courtesy chalet at snowchateaux Our transport a gift from Holiday Autos was slightly weird; the juxtaposition of big time hard core skiers and boarders being driven around in Skoda Octavia’s was as they say not quite “bang on trend”.

Riding the powder with the young dudes.

Unbelievably I am the resident “old dude” in a group of about 20 bloggers most of whom seem to be about the same age as my kids!  In fact yesterday out on the piste in Les Arcs, someone referred to me for the first time in my entire life as “the old dude”.  This will take a bit of getting used to.

Free 5 Star ski week did sound just a tad unbelievable.  “What do I have to do?” I asked, “Oh just come along, enjoy the ride and blog about it”.  Where’s the catch then? There must be a time share sales guy waiting to pounce or another similar financial purpose.  Well actually, now that I am here, the only catch is on the bathroom door of my luxurious en suite bathroom.

Phil from Snow Vole who invited me along on the trip picked me up from the bus stop somewhere out here, quite late on Sunday night.  As I waited standing on the kerb side with just my backpack, ski boots and phone, I did wonder if this virtual Facebook friend actually did exist and was going to arrive, and was this actually an epic prank.  Glad to report, that yes he does, and he did!  On reflection, you have to be fairly adventurous to be me.  I’m always arriving at some distant place expecting to be met by just an email or Face book contact.

Val Disere day one, Les Arcs yesterday, Le Plagne today, Tignes tomorrow, its all too exciting for me!  The chalet is run and owned by Dan through his company Snowchateaux It’s really nice, relaxed, not too stuffy, hot tub, great gourmet tuck, nice staff, hot water, boot room – it’s also ski in ski out.  Les Coches is really well connected since the massive Vanoise Express, double decker cable car opened. I have stayed before at Plagne 1800 and also Nancroix (so cold that Christmas, it warmed up to -17 day time) and this place is the sweetest!

Phil fixed up with some real nice skis and my pass.  I’m not used to this level of “jolly” to be honest.  The powder yesterday in Les Arcs was the best I have ever ridden (young people don’t ski or board – they “ride”).  I ended up having like a Narnia moment, all alone in a forest of hip high powder, trees looking like Christmas, laden with snow and the silence, or lack of noise was deafening, and enchanting in equal measure.  Those of us who have ventured into such a wonderland are indeed privileged.  Hacked down under the chair lift just for fun, at one point it was unspeakably steep, but you know there are times when those thirty six weeks of lifetime skiing do come in handy.  A quick jump, spin – oh yes, no real problem to me!

One of the guys on the trip John Moy of is an awesome film maker, he literally has am amazing amount of gear with him, like a waistcoat harness thing, with a counterbalanced device for his Canon 5D – awesome.  He is where my son wants to be in a couple of years.  So, today no skiing, I’m sitting here working away at my lap top, tomorrow the sun is out, so I’ll see if I can get some pictures.

Is what I’ve got healthy or unhealthy?

Following on from my recent post on healthy marriage, so many of you liked it, I thought I’d do a bit more.

Ok, so when I dislocated my shoulder and broke the bone in three places, I felt pretty unhealthy.  Bouncing down the mountain on my way to First Aid in one of those orange “blood wagons” had not quite been my most desirable ending to a week in the Alps.   It was a physical catastrophe.  Once the two burly medics had popped the shoulder back in “voila”! My body immediately went into overdrive, natural anaesthetics were released, my bone began to fuse together and now it’s just an amusing memory (not that funny really). (Listen to my interview with Vanessa Phelps, BBC Radio London. Click HERE )

So what happens in our marriages when we have a catastrophe or even very gradual attrition, so that the catastrophe becomes the realisation that “things just aren’t the way I wanted them to be”, or yes even a catastrophe at work, which ends up being an issue in the marriage for we take our emotions with us everywhere.  Folks who say they don’t bring work home, are seriously just bottling things up.  Not good, as it ferments!

In that moment of realisation that “this is a crisis – darling”, couples in healthy marriages have the tools and skills to do first aid, set the break and let it heal.  Tools like, being able to comfort one another emotionally, understanding how to forgive properly, and not just superficially.

Nice idea, but really isn’t this a bit prosaic?

Being a dedicated pragmatist, I am consumed by the idea that difficulties or catastrophes make us either bitter or better.  So come on folks, get healthy in your marriages, so that you can look back on troubles and be amused by the memory, and thankful for a good “Marriage First Aid Kit”.

Usain Bolt of the carpet-selling world.

Yesterday we spent nearly nine hours on a fast bus travelling to and from Fez to Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains.  Chefchaouen is fabulously pretty.  It clings to the mountainside, and uniquely is painted various shades of blue.  Blue because the original Jewish settlers, way back, discovered that the pale blue colour dissuades mosquitoes and other nasties from landing, choosing instead to fly on somewhere else.  Clever.

Of course, now the big deal is tourism, and so everyone and his cousin are selling leather bags, carpets or anything else remotely ethnic.  It was here, whilst dawdling around that we met and spent an hour with Abdul, who is the Usain Bolt of the carpet-selling world.   Abdul, plied us with green tea, “no pressure”, and began to tell us great stories from his home in the mountains.  I now know more about him and his family than I do about my neighbours back home.  He was a living work of art.  Needless to say, we left having bought a carpet / rug type thing.  I wanted to buy a massive wall one about 15” x 10” but Maria gently persuaded me that one the size of a hand towel would be fine.

Click on image to watch video












There is something superbly human and also Godly about a man utilising all his powers to provide for his family.  It sort of chimes with every culture throughout the World, in fact to provide for your family is an imperative as shown here in 1 Timothy; “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”.  So why is this a good thing?  Well obviously to care for one’s family is noble, credit worthy and an attribute which causes me to move from being stationary where all of life is set to revolve around my needs, to a dynamic image of movement, where I choose to serve needs beyond my own and in so doing I stray into reflecting something of the person of God.  So, when Abdul dances around me to persuade me to buy, is he actually personifying something of the character of God?  I would suggest, that even though perhaps he doesn’t know it, yes he is, because he has moved from serving his needs, to bleeding (sorry persuading) for the needs of others.

So in a world of relative truth, it seemed absolutely “right” that he should reach across the language and cultural boundaries and I should do likewise to meet half way, in the hope of making a sale. It was a sort of micro version of the United Nation’s worked out in a carpet shop half way up a Moroccan mountain.

 Another notable encounter was an almost elderly British guy we met, he lives in Chicago and Barcelona, he told me that he was a wholesale trader, in what I gingerly asked; “whatever people want” he said as he drew in a great lung full of hash smoke from his weird little cigarette.  He didn’t ask me to carry any parcels back to England though! Probably thought I looked to straight. Maybe Ill buy a Tommy Cooper Fez in Fez this afternoon, then when I get hit on to transport packages back to England I can say, “thanks’ for asking but not like that – like that ha ha ha”.

Ok, so it’s my first ever jaunt into Africa

Ok, so it’s my first ever jaunt into Africa, north Africa to be exact, Fez to be precise.  Difficult to believe, but it’s true – I’ve finally made it.  Here I am immersed in a 100% Moslem culture.  This 1400 year old city, parts of which appear to be original is a World Heritage Community.  The lanes, stalls and buzz blend ancient and modern.  A mobile phone stall sits alongside a butcher’s stall, which probably hasn’t changed in 1400 years.  One had a camel’s head for sale, nice with chips I’m told.

It can all be quite intimidating, such a masculine noisy culture.  People stare at Maria (blond blue eyes), and I’m a dead giveaway in my panama hat.  We did consider trying to blend in but realistically; it was never going to happen.

The Imman’s call out at regular intervals from the 420 Mosques and everyone observes the Ramanadan fast, not eating or drinking from 2.45 am through to 7.45 pm – every day.  I am of course impressed by the believers adherence to the law, the passionate retort from our cheery guide, Mohammed, “I’m fasting –I’m a good Moslem”.  I don’t know if I would so readily suggest I was a good Christian!  I guess that’s where these two great mono theistic religions divide, because I am a Christian not by my own goodness (heaven would be very disappointed by my goodness, or lack of it) but by the free gift from God, in Jesus.  Meaning, that even if I fasted every day for ten years, it still wouldn’t make me good enough, so with you know who, effectively fasting for me I appear amazingly and truly without shame.  Don’t get me wrong, my Moslem brother’s and sister’s are brilliant devout people, who deserve our admiration and respect.

However I’m a Christian, not because I’m religious, but because I’m grateful for Jesus absorbing my shame and delivering me from dogma.  Like Mel Gibson in Braveheart shouting “Freedom”.  Or maybe, I think I’m free but really I’m full of dogma, answers on a postcard please.

Take her away to naughty school for a 1000 years

Granted it was very early in the morning, and perhaps the middle aged lady was not quite fully awake when she began to plaster on her make up whilst 20 or so sleepy travelers sat watching the transformation.  We had brushes, mirrors, lip stick, mascara, foundation all applied as if we were not there.

I’ve been around long enough to know that the idea of make up is to hide the natural ageing process by applying lotions and potions, thereby creating a vista of youthful enthusiasm and vigour.  In principle of course there is nothing wrong with make up – if the barn door needs painting, then paint it.   However, clearly the target audience is people she will be meeting today, so what then does that make me.  Am I an inferior type of person because she is disinterested in my seeing her as it were not only under construction, but in natural form too.  I can’t quite get my head around the idea that she will apply make up for making a good impression, whilst ignoring the fact that in so doing she is making a poor impression.  Do it privately please.

I didn’t really mind, except that awful powdery stuff was splashed around.  I could smell it wafting up my nasal cavity – unpleasant.  Just don’t get me started on nail varnish on trains, the pungent smell of solvent applied indiscriminately.  In my dreams I stand up and explain that solvents are carcinogenic, and I have with me a heath and safety policeman who will take her away to naughty school for a thousand years.

My photo’s for this post are of Egyptian dudes, carved some 3400 years ago.  They reside in an amazing Egyptian museum in Turin, Italy.

The bus conductor had a Sigourney Weaver glint in her eye

How could I forget the spellbinding tension back in 1979 when I sat in the Empire cinema in Middlesborough watching H.R Giger’s monstrous creature come to life before my eyes.  Or to be more correct, not actually appear before my eyes, as tension was magnified, by the sheer swiftness and stealth of the terrifying predator that I don’t think you actually saw it in it’s entirety once.

Do you remember the egg scene in that huge empty space ship – terrifying! Then the bit fairly early on where the guy gets grabbed from above amidst pipes and water, Alien scoops him up to a horrible end.  Most scary for me as an innocent 17 year old was the sheer craftiness of the beast, wedded to it’s ingenuity, intelligence and appetite for staying alive.  Alien the great survivor.

I was so scared, that I went home with a nervous cough.  Filled with fortitude the next day I returned to watch it again – this time nice and objective.  Nope, it dragged me back in with that compounding tension until at 11 pm Alien vomited me out, a quivering wreck to walk home down those dark alleys and wet streets.  Middlesborough had turned into Nostromo, the bus conductor had a Sigourney Weaver glint in her eye, and I was never the same again.

This weekend see’s the prequel of Alien, or apparently the prequel to the prequel.  My daughter who is almost seventeen is at the midnight launch, tonight as I write.  A whole Alien generation has been messmerised by the genre.  It seems, we are fascinated by the idea of malignant evil, personified in a person / creature – Alien.  Maybe it’s just harmless fun, like a rollercoaster, only with our emotions.  Or maybe more sinister the genre evokes a God given fear of unrepentant evil.

I’m so glad that God is at work on planet Earth, that’s why evil atrocities such as those we are seeing in Syria stand out, because rampant evil is exceptional, purely, I suggest because of the presence of God on earth.  Civil war is horrifying because it’s exceptional not the norm, and that is because of the presence of goodness on earth, in neighbours, friends and loved ones, just people being generous with one another suggests a sense of God, certainly the antithesis of a sense of malignant evil.

Whatever, it’s still out there, no one can here you scream and I’m going to watch it Saturday with John Miller.

Find the assets

Today I sat at the feet of an extraordinary man.  Lord Robert Edmiston. Born in India, grew up in Kenya, started selling flowers at the age of 11, Baron Edmiston, is one of Britain’s most effective philanthropists, giving away “180 million pounds”, all cash generated through hard work, thinking big and turning problems into opportunities initially through the motor trade, and also through property. Christian Vision

So what did I learn?  Well, in the midst of trouble look to see where the sometimes, overlooked assets are and indentify also what the problems are.  Why, well because behind every problem is a solution waiting to happen, and perhaps the “trouble” has blinded your eyes to what your real assets are.  Interesting!

He also explained how to start a business with no money!  Finally, after questions he explained that he was a tad unsteady on his feet, due to vertigo.  Needless to say, it was my privelidge and honour to act as a leaning post for this most inspiring man whose Christian faith is clearly his driving force.

Thanks to Matt Bird and the Cinnamon Network for bringing it all together.



The Jury’s out (but it is looking hopeful)

Middle Temple was packed yesterday evening for the long awaited grand launch of Sir Paul Coleridge’s Marriage Foundation.   We were plied with delicious snacks and quite reasonable wines as Coleridge articulated his vision aided by contributions from the Romance Academy, his Patrons, and the ever brilliant Jonathan Sacks.  We were all impressed.  The big idea is of course to argue the case for marriage, and to promote marriage as “gold standard” to young people.

It’s a tough challenge for a number of reasons; firstly, as Iain Duncan Smith said at the launch of Marriage Week UK in 2010, to paraphrase “ ten years prior mine was the only parliamentary voice that dared to use the M word, now (2010) I can get cross party support for the pre eminence of marriage, such has been the success of the robust and effective research based arguments”.  Harry Benson, Coleridge’s new Director of Communications, will I’m sure do a sterling job in batting down what’s left of the wooly liberals in media interviews on marriage, so long as he can appropriate the common touch.  He is a first class recruit, and clearly marriage is always on the agenda, so he will be kept busy no doubt.

My thoughts, for what they are worth are that the case for marriage is well made and established already within the minds of opinion formers.  It’s pretty evident that they don’t really know why marriage is best, they just seem to scratch their heads a bit and say that for some reason the statistics are compelling.  Scott Stanley’s visit in February, set up by the unstoppable Dave Percival began this process of explanation.

The area of work where Coleridge et al should probably take a peep might be, I suggest, looking at some sort of a primary preventative campaign, using crucially and hopefully Government funds to reason with the populous and persuade us all that a good marriage can be appropriated, for those who care to learn.  Furthermore, particularly where children are involved couples have a duty to invest in their marriage to make it a success. It is indeed what we at Marriage Week have been struggling to deliver for 15 years now, in this nation and overseas.

Sir Paul and his distinguished team have my enthusiastic support.  The challenge is of course to find something useful to do after the advocacy has waned that does not take an existing organisation’s funds or raison d’être.  As they say; The Jury’s out!

Possibly, the most passionate people in the World!

Had a great day with YWAM England leaders at Homsted Manor, West Sussex.  Loved all the vision and passion.  It is true that YWAM people are the most passionate people in the World.  Homsted Manor which is where I spent a couple of years back in 1985 was looking superb, good to see the oak floors all polished up and the grounds too just beautiful, particularly the waterfalls.   

It’s quite shocking “an equality too far”!

I pride myself in not being too reactionary or defaulting to obvious positions regarding contentious issues.  However, I am starting to become a tad paranoid!  I was distressed to read about the chap in Manchester; Adrian Smith, who had the temerity to make a fairly innocuous comment on his own private Facebook page, in his own time off from work, about the possibility of same sex marriage in church.  Commenting on a BBC news story, he said, prepare yourself, it’s quite shocking “an equality too far”!  Shock Horror!  Not only did he get demoted at work, but District Judge Charles Khan at Manchester County Court, threw out his case this week, claiming that Mr Smith’s human rights did not apply.  Seems ridiculous to me, or maybe I should become really careful about what I write on FB in case the thought police bag me.  Hang on a minute, this is great Britain isn’t it?

My second story which is fuelling paranoia, is the story about the nurse Abdhul Bhutto who was unable to attend to a patient, despite the only other assistant and Mr Bhutto hearing that a fragile elderly patient fell from her bed, because the nurse was in prayer!  The patient died, not because the nurse was unavailable, but certainly his absence due to prayer for four hours, did not, shall we say, assist the situation.  The point of this story is not to vilify Mr Bhutto, who the Coroner is waiting to give evidence, but to ask the question; If Mr Bhutto had been a Christian praying and not someone from a different faith, how tolerant or intolerant would the media and police have been to Mr Bhutto?

In my view, Mr Smith should be able to express his measured views in this great nation without being demoted, the judge should have been a bit more sensible and Mr Bhutto should have left his prayer to assist the old lady (whose husband, Steve Griffiths had been a professional footballer).

Poncing about in the margins.

Frank Field MP

So, yesterday was budget day, and today therefore is budget dissection day.  Nothing new here.  The annual challenge for the Chancellor is a distilled version of the five year term challenge for any Government – that is there isn’t really very much they can do.  I mean most of the budget, like that for any organization is set and immovable.   So really all that can happen is trivia in the margins.  For example, I mean please give me a break, 50% or 45% tax, to be honest, and I know this might surprise some of you, it won’t affect me either way.  Nor will it affect about 97% of the population.  It would be so nice to hear a candid politician say something like “Mr Speaker, since spending on; education, health, defence and welfare are 90% all buttoned up, we find ourselves slightly emasculated – so we are going to make the very few minor adjustments which we can”.  It is bizarre to consider that on the rare occasions that a politician considers “thinking the unthinkable” as in Frank Field back in 1997/8, or even the recent Welfare bill, by the time it gets through hundreds of amendments all these shenanigans emasculate “the unthinkable”!  This means that we NEVER will get any radical root and branch change, just never ending poncing about in the margins.  Ah Humbug!

So is it just a big social club?

The Lantern, Merley.  First of all, so packed out at about 250 people, there was standing room only for myself and my South African buddy Marco, who at 6’6” is the resident baby comforter for mum’s as they tire of managing babies.  Marco just stretches out his massive arms and gives the little ones a sweet grin whereupon, without fail they drop off in his arms. Marco loves babies – just as well really.

As it’s Mother’s Day today, Rimmer, the Vicar did a great job of honouring women, interviewed three women, and did a brief talk.  Bit of sung worship with the guitar led band, a few prayers and all done in about 70 minutes.

Of course it’s then that real Church begins as 250 people all begin to chat, catch up and arrange to meet.  So is it just a big social club?  Well, it’s true that’s what it looks like, but scratch a little under the surface and people are mostly connecting because their common interest, is their faith in God, and crucially how God is impacting their lives today.  So, since there are literally stacks of young families, folks are praying for each other and helping each other with kids, and seeing God intervene in their lives.  Needless to say, this is all pretty exciting.  I chatted to an older guy who clearly was recovering from a fairly significant illness of some sort.  To my shame, I had no idea what had happened to him, so I just smiled along, and was pleased that he could once again talk and sing, and also pleased I wasn’t rumbled regarding his condition!

I think this is so interesting.  All over the World it’s like this, which is beyond any social network, whereby people from all ages, professions and social strata’s, without trying, find themselves “being church”, sharing the news of the goodness of God with their chums.

Another really weird thing at the Lantern is the 250 people are always in flux, so new people are arriving, and old ones moving on to a massive degree.  This, however is not a problem, it just seems to have a sweet and appealing DNA that seems to work!


Brussels parliament from Chingford

Buzzing like a bee kind of a day!

Got a lift to Chingford station from my old buddy Steve Sullivan.  Steve is originally a Kiwi but has lived his entire life in YWAM England.  He is the nicest person in the entire World – no kidding.  Got the train to Liverpool Street, except that it broke down on the way, which meant an hour with a carriage full of very grumpy, very cold commuters.  When I arrive at St Pancreas station, I had missed my 11 am Eurostar to Brussels.  However the nice lade in the office, just popped me on the next one at no cost!  How cool is that.  Arriving in Brussels about 4, I had just an hour to get to the European Parliament whereupon I joined MEP Anna Zaborska and Antoine Renard, President of FAFCE to launch International Marriage Week in the main debating chamber of the parliament building.

Meanwhile things are popping and fizzing everywhere else, see my last post from Sheila Weber.  Nola Leach Chair of MW UK has posted a Marriage Week promo video, and over 1000 people were at a great event last night in London.

Tomorrow I leave super early to catch a 6.30 flight to Budapest to be with our Hungarian friends n the Hungarian parliament for their launch event.


I did enjoy last night hanging out with my YWAM buddies, shared a few stories around the virtual camp fire, which was just great.

Smashed our 664,000 record

It seems as though close to 1 million people will be attending Marriage Week events in the USA alone. We have counted up over 4,000 individual events with an average attendance of say 250 people.  Whilst it’s not all about the numbers, it is all about the numbers because if we are trying to create a shift in culture, then we need a certain volume of the population to do that, so the numbers are important.

Arriving in Budapest I was shocked to see the frozen Danube, I hope it’s thawed out by March when we have our international conference on board a floating conference centre.  The launch event was epic with several live TV crews and many photographers and reporters.  Afterwards I did a 15 minute TV interview for Hungarian state TV, I hope to have a copy of it soon to post.  Events are happening all over Hungary but it’s too early to count them up.  Had lunch with the team which was great fun, arriving back into Gatwick I was picked up by Wayne from Advantage Cars, didn’t want to drive home after such a long day.

Arriving in Prague last night I was met by my good friend Roger Harsh, who works here full time with YWAM.  This morning we went to the Government building where the press launch was being held. I spoke about the importance of marriage skills in relationships, and afterwards did interviews on Czech TV news and another TV station.  My good friend, Petr Cincala the national coordinator over here did a little video interview with me which is here. Petr has confirmation of 160 events but reckons that is fairly conservative really.

I went with Jiri Unger, President of European Evangelical Alliance to see a bridge where couples who can’t afford a marriage lock a symbolic padlock to the bridge, and then throw the key into the river.  I’m now waiting around for my flight home, it’s 1 pm, and I leave at 9.30, so just hanging around really.  I’m back here again next weekend with Luke Tanner to teach a marriage seminar in Jablonec.

Meanwhile Rolf Dieter has complied an image library on Facebook which is worth a view.

EU Parliament via Chingford!

Buzzing like a bee kind of a day!

Got a lift to Chingford station from my old buddy Steve Sullivan.  Steve is originally a Kiwi but has lived his entire life in YWAM England.  He is the nicest person in the entire World – no kidding.  Got the train to Liverpool Street, except that it broke down on the way, which meant an hour with a carriage full of very grumpy, very cold commuters.  When I arrive at St Pancreas station, I had missed my 11 am Eurostar to Brussels.  However the nice lady in the office, just popped me on the next one at no cost!  How cool is that.  Arriving in Brussels about 4, I had just an hour to get to the European Parliament whereupon I joined MEP Anna Zaborska and Antoine Renard, President of FAFCE to launch International Marriage Week in the main debating chamber of the parliament building.

Meanwhile things are popping and fizzing everywhere else, see my last post from Sheila Weber.  Nola Leach Chair of MW UK has posted a Marriage Week promo video, and over 1000 people were at a great event last night in London.

Tomorrow I leave super early to catch a 6.30 flight to Budapest to be with our Hungarian friends n the Hungarian parliament for their launch event.


I did enjoy last night hanging out with my YWAM buddies, shared a few stories around the virtual camp fire, which was just great.

Guest post from Sheila Weber, Exec Director MW USA.

FOX NEWS commentary by National Marriage Week USA executive director Sheila Weber was number 5 on google news yesterday! “A New Path to Upward Mobility–Get Married and Stay Married.” Full text below.

On February 7, 2012, U.S. Congressional Representatives spoke for 45 minutes on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to commend Americans to celebrate National Marriage Week USA. Elected officials encouraged Americans to strengthen their own marriages, to promote the benefits of marriage for our nation, and to encourage caring citizens to reach out and help others. Photos from a U.S. Congressional Reception and the video of floor statements are on the home page of

Full Text Below

A new path to upward mobility — get married and stay married

By Sheila Weber

Published February 07, 2012

Marriage, we have just learned, is a major cause of the growing great divide among American upper and lower classes.

Last week, in advance of National Marriage Week USA (Feb. 7-14), I took note of fresh news about marriage that should make every American stand up in alert attention. 

In mid-January, the Pew Research Center told us 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married in 1960; but today just 51% are–a record low. 

This means fewer folks are getting married, or staying married–not a great sign since research proves children (our future citizens) do best when raised with both parents. It’s also not a great sign, since we need to replenish our younger population in order to maintain fiscal provision for the aging baby boom generation.

Then a new book, “Coming Apart,” by Charles Murray, says that a retreat from marriage among the working class is a key factor in the growing economic divide in America.

Murray says that marriage is more or less holding its own among the upper middle and upper class, but falling off a cliff among the working class and lower class. Perhaps Occupy Wall Street should take notice.

“Coming Apart” cites statistics from a theoretical upper-middle class town, showing 99% of children lived with both biological parents in 1962 and 84% of children did so in 2004. 

Admittedly that’s a drop, but nothing compared to the theoretical working class town where 96% of children lived with both parents in 1962 yet only 37% did so in 2004.

Research is overwhelming on the fact that this disadvantages children on an enormous scale–think increased teen pregnancies, increased prison populations, and children who grow up with no modeling for how to attain healthy marriage in the next generation.

So what can be done? New York Times columnist David Brooks, who cites “Coming Apart” as probably the most important book of the year, calls for a two-year mandatory national service program to teach responsible behaviors. (Murray cites a loss of the four core American values–marriage, honesty, industrious, and religion–as all contributing to the growing economic woes of the working class.) 

Brad Wilcox, head of the National Marriage Project, calls for creators of film and television to promote the values by which the elite live, but because they are stuck in the grips of nonjudgmentalism, do not promote the values of marriage, hard work, obeying the law, and faith as the path to human flourishing.

In these economically challenging times, we must commit ourselves to lowering the high cost of retreat from marriage. 

The Institute for American Values reports that 40 percent of all American babies are born outside of marriage today, and taxpayers spend at least $112 billion a year for divorce and unwed childbearing. 

Charles Murray reports that less than 5% of white college-educated women have children outside of marriage, compared with approximately 40% of white women with just a high-school diploma. 

The National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting reports that 72 percent of all African-American babies are born outside of marriage. The vast majority of men in prison are from fatherless homes. We can’t build prisons fast enough–prison population has jumped from 300,000 to 2.3 million in 3.5 decades.

Single motherhood most often impoverishes women and children.

Marriage builds the economic stability of children, supports the raising of a healthy next generation, and is a cornerstone for the economic health of our nation.

So here’s an equally compelling solution. Let’s call for a marriage education movement to sweep across the nation. Leading family therapists estimate that only 3 percent of couples ever seek therapy and usually only when there is a crisis, which can sometimes be too late.

This is why caring leaders are creating a new national observance designed to strengthen and support marriages, called National Marriage Week USA to be observed from February 7 to 14 each year.

If you are fortunate enough to be in a marriage, I encourage you to take care of it. 

Whether you are married or not, Americans should be supportive of promoting marriage prior to childbearing and the strengthening of marriage at all socio-economic levels. 

Nothing short of the future of our country, and our way of life, depends on it.

Sheila Weber is Executive Director, National Marriage Week USA (Feb. 7-14) and the Let’s Strengthen Marriage Campaign.

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Let’s strengthen marriage!
Sheila Weber
Executive Director, National Marriage Week USA