man teaching boys to be men

I wish you were a better man.

I hope your love never sings this as your theme song.  Sometimes we men miss the mark of being a good man.  We can use help growing and recovering.  Our issues show up as depression, addictive behaviors, emotional outbursts, and avoidance.  Bing a good man takes discipline and maintenance.

Fortunately, we don’t have to face our issues alone.  It takes other men to validate our manhood.  Consider joining a Men’s Mastermind Group.  Just as iron sharpens iron, a mastermind group can help you gain perspective on how your behaviors affect others and how you use impression management.

Start loving life and stop disappointing the one you love the most.  Check out Man-Talk, Fredericksburg’s local Men’s Mastermind Group.

If a mastermind group is too intimadating, consider watching a recording of my presentation to a Men’s conference “Iron Sharpens Iron.”

premarital and remarital


Premarital counseling is not the same as post-marital therapy. Therefore, education and prevention is the goal of premarital counseling while restoration is the focus of marital counseling. Looking problems are not the focus for this type of service. Re-marital counseling addresses the specific needs of couples working their second or more marriages.

Traditionally, premarital counseling has been conducted by clergy. However, too often, clergy members are not adequately trained in counseling and therapy. Unfortunately, these counselors may skip the tough subjects such as sexual exploration. Some opting to focus their attention on the wedding plans and wedding day.

The counselor’s role is more than guidance. It is vital to the understanding of the relationship. He or she should be knowledgeable and competent in counseling. The counselor should have some level of training and recognize their educational limitations. The counselor is not there to approve or disapprove the relationship. He or she is there to inform the couple. He or she should educate the couple about possible pitfalls within their relationship and unrealistic expectations. A skilled counselor will be able to guide the couple in recognizing their strengths and weaknesses. Premarital counseling provides couples with a framework about how their relationship may progress.

A final note; it is not the counselor’s role or responsibility to approve or disapprove of the marriage, merely to inform the couple regarding marriage.


Other resources:

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One of the questions I'm most frequently asked is, “How do you know when it's time to quit?”


Hi. I’m Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness, and in terms of when to give up on your marriage, here's what I recommend.


If divorcing is a consideration for you from a moral perspective, then before you go that route, try first for at least one year.


Did you hear that?


Try for at least one year!


And I mean REALLY try. You can always call it quits. You always have that option. But once you pull that trigger, it's over. No more chances. Your life will never be the same. Do you have kids? If you do, their life will never be the same.


If you end your marriage, you don't want there to be a shred of doubt in your mind. You don't ever want to look back and wonder if things could have been different. You don't want to ask yourself, “What if this…and what if that…what if I tried this…what if I did that?”


If you have to end your marriage, you want to know DEEP IN YOUR HEART that you did everything you could to make it work.


If you have to end it, you want to be able to move on with your life and into another relationship with a clear head. You want to come to a place of healthy “completion.” THIS IS CRUCIAL! And to accomplish this, in my experience, it takes at least one year. I know it probably seems like a long time, but it's an investment in the rest of your life.


Here's the key point. Listen carefully. It's a good investment for the rest of your life WHETHER YOUR MARRIAGE SUCCEEDS OR NOT. Obviously, it's a good investment if you turn your marriage around. But if you don't, it will NOT have been a wasted year. It will have been the most important thing you could have done with that year because of how your effort will impact the rest of your life AND YOUR NEXT RELATIONSHIP.


I have seen too many cases of spouses ending their marriage prematurely, and as result of not reaching “completion” in one relationship, they find themselves in the same situation a few years later with someone else.


The work I do with marriage coaching clients sometimes turns out to be more beneficial for them in their next relationship than in their current one.


I remember once when the marriage of someone who registered for the Lone Ranger track of the Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp ended in the middle of the program. This man asked me if he should continue with the final 3 weeks of the program. I said, “Absolutely.”


He responded, “Why? What's the point? My marriage is over.”


“You're not doing it for this marriage,” I explained. “You're doing it for the benefit of your next one.”


Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that your intention while you're working on your marriage should be for the benefit of your life after your marriage. Your intention needs to be to restore your CURRENT relationship. But if you fail, your effort will NOT have been for naught.


Bottom line is this. If you're asking, “When is it time to call it quits?” The answer is: one year after you think you're done. If after one year of trying everything in your power to make your marriage work you're still miserable, then you should consider moving on. Until then, hang in there and don't give up.


This topic reminds me of my situation many years ago. I remember learning late one night that my wife had an appointment with a divorce attorney the next morning. We were hours from “done.” Who would have ever thought that we could turn things around at that point?


It's NEVER too late! In fact (and here's real food for thought), very often the turning point in a marriage is when a couple hits rock bottom. Sometimes it's not until things couldn't get worse that they can get better.


I wish you and your spouse the best. If you’d like further information to help with your marriage, then subscribe to my FREE breakthrough report "7 Secrets to a Stronger Marriage" and get a FREE marriage assessment too. To subscribe, CLICK HERE. It’s FREE.


Mort Fertel

Author of Marriage Fitness

Marriage Coach


Posted by Dr. Dave

married 50 years

I’m fascinated when I meet couples that have been married for more than 50 years.  Before I became a therapist, I used to ask, “what’s your secret?”  Now, I tend to probe a little deeper.  Check out my most recent exchange with a wise church member.

What’s your secret?
  When you’ve been married for 50 years, people are amazed and will ask. “How did you do it or what was your secret?”
That’s easy I say.  We just stayed married.  People fail to ask the question behind the question.  Did you enjoy being married or how did you stay in love?
  It wasn’t all fun stuff. The fun moments are times in between the crappy moments.  My marriage wasn’t always the greatest or in the right place.  In fact, I wasn’t in the right place.  Most of the times I was a spoiled brat that just wanted life to go my way.  There were times I wanted to leave.  We made stupid decisions to include affairs, bad financial decisions, drinking too much and even working too much. We overcame boredom, the death of a child, crappy sex, not enough sex, health scares and almost dying, and work accidents.
How did you overcome those adversities?
  We got good at apologizing and not taking everything personal.  We had good days and bad days.  I guess we grew up and stopped acting selfishly.  We learned to make each other a priority, even before the kids.  We figured if they [kids] were going to make it, we had to make it.
What advice would you give people thinking about getting married?
  Happiness doesn’t come from another person or marriage.  So don’t get married to be happy, you get married to build a life together.  Always put God first in your life and your marriage.  Be the example you want from your marriage.  Follow the advice of the late Steven Covey, to have a purpose you must learn to laugh, to love and to leave a legacy.  Marriage is hard.  It forces you to grow up.  It isn’t for weak people.  If you want life on your terms, don’t get married.  Oh, one more thing, take a shower together at least once a week whether you’re dirty or not.
Do you have any regrets?
  I have lots of regrets.  When it mattered most, I wish I’d been more understanding and kinder.  I wish I had more time.  Unfortunately, the cruelest thing of all is just when you start to figure out your part in your relationship and can appreciate the one you’re with, your time is almost up.  One of you gets sick, forgets the other, or even dies.  The saddest thing about the greatest love story is that it always comes to an end.  One of you will have to bury the other.
  Even though it’s tempting to pull away or emotionally disengage to avoid the pain, endure.  It takes the strength of character to keep loving someone even though you know it will end in pain.  Staying married for the sake of kids is easy. However, staying in love and connect is a different ball game.  That’s what a real marriage and love story is all about.
About the Author
Dr. Dave Jenkins, DMin, LMFT is a marriage and family therapist in the Northern Virginia area.  He’s the founder of Fredericksburg Relationship Center, LLC and Counselors of Color.  He’s been married to the same woman for 25 years and has four children and a daughter-in-law.
relationship price

What price are you willing to pay for your relationship?

Which is cheaper:

1.  Prevention or restoration?
2.  Date night or marriage retreat?
3.  Marriage retreat or marriage counseling?
4.  Marriage counseling or divorce lawyer?
Are you proactive or reactive?  Sadly, most people are reactive.  They seek treatment to fix what has already happened.  I tend to preach prevention.  In reality, it’s far less expensive to prevent than to restore.  However, prevention demands commitment and discipline.  We do what’s important to us, but sometimes we wait too late to affect growth and change.  Having a great relationship requires high maintenance.  Nothing comes for free. What price are you willing to pay? Go here for some date night ideas or check out our upcoming couples retreat.  Click here for a list of our marriage counselors.
Take our Brief Relationship Risk Assessment to discover your current level of risk.



Many people think the goal of life is to be happy. I don’t think so.


Have you ever been to a funeral? That’s not a time to be happy. It’s a time to be sad. Did you ever take the SAT’s, the MCAT’s, or any other important entrance test? That’s not a time to be happy. It’s a time for intensity. Have you ever waited for test results from a medical exam? That’s not a time to be happy. It’s a time to worry. Have you ever encountered a lot of turbulence on an airplane? That’s not a time to be happy. It’s a time to be scared.


The goal of life is NOT to be happy. The goal of life is to know what time it is.


Hi. I’m Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness.


“Everything has its season. And there is a time for everything under the heaven.”

“A time to be born and a time to die.”

“A time to weep and time to laugh.”

“A time to wail and time to dance.”

“A time to rend and time to mend.”

“A time to be silent and a time to speak.”

“A time to love and a time to hate.”

“A time for war and a time for peace.”


What time is it for you?


If you’re reading this, then maybe it’s time to renew your marriage. Is so, then subscribe to my FREE report, “7 Secrets for a Stronger Marriage” and get my FREE marriage assessment. CLICK HERE to subscribe. It’s FREE.


Warm regards,

Mort Fertel

Author of Marriage Fitness

Marriage Coach




Expectations can set any relationship up for failure.  However, unrealistic expectations can destroy your relationships. Stop expecting others to change in order to meet your wants and desires. Start owning your expectations by becoming honest with yourself. Use the questions below as a guide to help determine if your expectations are unrealistic.

1. Can I meet my own expectations?
2. Is my partner capable of meeting my demands?
3. Do I know anyone that can meet my desires?
4. Have I clearly communicated my expectations?
5. How often am I disappointed when others fail my needs?
6. Am I afraid of lowering my expectations?
7. Am I scared of being disappointed by others?
8. Am I willing to give as much as I expect to receive?
9. Do I demand more than I give?
10. Am I afraid of failure?
There’s a direct correlation with the meaning of the relationship and expectations. The more the relationship means to us, the more we demand from it.  I’m not saying we should eliminate our desires, but rather be fair and judicious with our expectations. We need to recognize the significance and the meaning of our connections to have a full appreciation of them.
Can we handle losing the relationships we demand so much from? Watch out since most people do not tolerate unrealistic expectations indefinitely. Just remember that everyone that’s in a relationship with us is there because they’re volunteers and not hostages.
If your demands are affecting your relationships, give Fredericksburg Relationship Center a call or make your appointment with one of our counselors.  We look forward to helping you grow.  “Mending Hears & Lives.”

About the Author

Dr. Dave Jenkins, DMin, LMFT is a marriage and family therapist in the Northern Virginia area.  He’s the founder of Fredericksburg Relationship Center, LLC and Counselors of Color.  He’s been married to the same woman for 25 years and has four children and a daughter-in-law.
be playful

Is your relationship strong enough to be playful?

Stop thinking and start playing.  Don’t over think it.  Thoughts don’t count as much as actions do. You must be secure in your relationship to be playful. Sadly, some relationships become too serious.  They lose their playfulness and friendship.
Stop waiting to be friends with your partner again. Start being a friend to your partner. Be the one to rebuild it.
Go out on the limb. Take the lead and develop your friendship by having fun again. Some examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • write a song together
  • draw together
  • golf lessons
  • skydiving
  • rock climbing
  • snow skiing
  • snowball fight
  • horseback riding
  • body paint
  • tickling
  • cooking
  • play games
  • role play
  • fantasize together
  • couples massage therapy
  • daydream together
  • planning
  • walking
  • learn a foreign language together
  • practice pick up lines with each other at a bar
  • travel
  • laughing
  • joking
  • line dancing
  • stripteasing
  • singing
  • karaoke night
  • dancing
  • Wii party
  • running
  • biking
  • hiking
  • swimming
  • roller skating
  • pillow fighting
  • water balloon fight
  • laser tag
  • day spa
  • give coupons for “happy endings”
  • etc…
  • If you don’t know where to start, you can always check out our bed and breakfast marriage retreat. Just remember, space and time are limited.
    What do you do to be playful in your marriage? Add your suggestions in the comments.



“I Want A Divorce”

I work with too many couples within counseling who expect their partners to be “ok” with their decision to get a divorce and end the marriage. They often use counseling as leverage to convince their reluctant partner to get on board and go along.  When that doesn’t work, they sabotage the relationship with an affair or emotionally divesting while blaming the other. They often use counseling as a last-ditch effort of control and influence the clinging spouse. These spouses put in a half effort in order to convince themselves they have done everything possible to improve the relationship. They come to counseling to alleviate their guilt. This is merely a waste of time and false hope for the remaining spouse.
If you have concluded divorce is the only option left, don’t string your partner along or expect them to support your decision. My advice is for you to be authentic and upfront in all that you do. When going through a divorce, it’s no longer personal its business. Stop trying to protect the other person’s emotions. How they feel is how they feel. You must get over the fact that you are the cause.

Is There Any Hope

However, if there is any hope, the marriage can be salvaged, remove divorce as an option.


Work on the marriage by working on yourself and your own attitude.  Threatening to leave the marriage or get a divorce is like initiating a weapon of mass destruction. Security within the relationship cannot develop when there is a threat of your partner leaving you.

Do Something About It

For the next six months, remove divorce from the table as an option and from your vocabulary.  Get help from a therapist, minister, podcast, or self-help books. Do something. If you do nothing, you get nothing.
Contact us for your appointment today.
888-317-7795 x1

About the Author

Dr. Dave Jenkins, DMin, LMFT is a marriage and family therapist in the Northern Virginia area.  He’s the founder of Fredericksburg Relationship Center, LLC and Counselors of Color.  He’s been married to the same woman for 25 years and has four children and a daughter-in-law.



Recently I had a series of private phone sessions with a person who was very frustrated. Listen to how this person described their situation. I bet you’ll be able to relate to it.


This person said they felt trapped in their basement trying to communicate with their spouse via Morse Code. They said they were banging on the pipes trying desperately to be heard. They would bang on the pipes and wait for a response. Bang and wait…bang and wait…bang and wait. But each time they finished banging, there was silence. No matter how hard they banged and no matter how long they waited; their spouse never heard them.


Hi. My name is Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness.


Are you trying to get heard? Do you feel ignored? Is your spouse not responding to your communication?


We live in an interesting time. With one click, you can communicate with anyone in the world. It’s easy, quick, and free. You even have options. If you don’t want to click, you could dial, beep, page, instant-message, or Fed Ex. It’s true. Your ability to communicate with the outside world has become increasingly easy. But my guess is that your ability to communicate with your spouse has become increasingly difficult.


The reason for this is that most people confuse INFORMATION communication with PERSONAL communication. Technological advancements give us all sorts of options to communicate information. But how do you feel the pulse of someone’s soul? How do you communicate the subtleties in your heart? You can’t text message that. You can have the latest and greatest in communication gadgets, but it won’t matter. PERSONAL communication is a whole different ball game. And it’s PERSONAL communication that determines the success or failure of your marriage.


I’m reminded of a scene from a Broadway play. A man and woman happen to meet on a train and engage in polite conversation. They were both headed home to New York after a day in New Haven, CT. After further discussion, they learned that they were going to the same building on Fifth Avenue. Lo and behold they discovered that they had the same daughter and lived in the same apartment. They finally discovered that they were husband and wife.


You know what’s killing marriages these days? EMAIL! More and more I’m seeing husbands and wives resort to email to communicate with each other. You want to do something tangible TODAY to improve your marriage? STOP EMAILING YOUR SPOUSE! Email is for INFORMATION. But in a marriage you’ve got to HEAR each other. And I don’t mean hear the sounds of each other’s words. You’ve got to be able to hear the silence between the sounds and interpret the unspoken meaning of a pressed lips or teary eyes. You’ve got to be able to hear the shapes and sounds in each other’s heart. You can NOT accomplish this via email.


And let me be clear about something; you can’t do it with communication techniques either. There’s no clinical communication therapy that can help you and your spouse think each other’s thoughts, feel each other joy, and cringe from each other’s pain. My 1-on-1 phone session schedule and the Marriage Fitness Tele Boot Camp are filled with casualties from traditional communication strategies and the usual marriage counseling approach. If you’re like most people with marriage trouble, you’ve been down that path and you know that it does NOT work.


Today my 4-year-old son came to me with a bruise on his leg. He was crying and I could see that it was black and blue. He said, “Daddy, I need a band-aide.”


I responded, “But it’s not bleeding.”


He said again, “Daddy, can you put a band-aide on it?”


I realized that my son’s perspective was that when something hurts a band-aide makes it better…even if it’s a bruise and not a cut.


So what does this have to do with communication in a marriage? Because most people think that if spouses aren’t hearing each other that communication techniques will solve the problem. But that’s like putting a band-aide on a bruise. It’s the wrong solution.


Communication techniques can help colleagues transmit INFORMATION clearly. Communication techniques belong in seminars that teach negotiation and sales. But you’re not trying to complete a transaction with your spouse; you’re trying to renew a relationship. I can almost guarantee you that your problem is not clarity; it’s concern. Ironically, communication techniques sometimes give people clarity that they don’t care what their spouse thinks or feels. They “got it,” but “it” doesn’t matter to them anymore.


How do you get back to the place where you and your spouse care again?


This is one of the things that’s unique about the Marriage Fitness approach to repairing a relationship versus traditional counseling. Most approaches to marriage success preach communication skills. But communicating effectively will NOT create love in your marriage. In fact, the correlation is the opposite. Creating love in your marriage paves the way for effective communication. I’ll prove it to you.


Think about when you fell in love. How was your communication? Good, right? In fact, when you’re in love, you communicate with the wink of an eye and you can finish each other’s sentences. And yet you haven’t known each other that long and you haven’t learned any communication techniques.


Then, years later, after getting to know each other inside and out, employing psychologically tested and proven communication strategies, and taking into account all the differences between Mars and Venus, you can’t get through to each other.


Listen carefully: Communication has very little to do with techniques or knowledge of each other. It has everything to do with the depth of connection between the communicators.


The question you should be asking is NOT, “How do I communicate effectively with my spouse.” The question you should be asking is, “How do I connect with my spouse again?” Once you reconnect, you won’t be sitting in silence in the basement. You’ll hear the sound of the pipes from above. It’ll be your spouse. You were heard. 


If you want to learn how to connect with your spouse again, subscribe to my FREE report, “7 Secrets for a Stronger Marriage” and get my FREE marriage assessment. CLICK HERE to subscribe. It’s FREE.


Warm regards,

Mort Fertel

Author of Marriage Fitness

Marriage Coach