I’ve been thinking about becoming a relationship advice columnist ever since I received a press release headed, “From fizzle to sizzle: how to reignite a relationship.”

Now, this was four full pages of information from “America’s Marriage Coach,” Jacqeline Del Rosario, “a published author, speaker and nationally regarded media personality” who also happens to be president and CEO of Recapturing the Vision International, an organization dedicated to promoting healthy marriages and “family strengthening.”


Because she has a doctorate of education in organizational leadership, her website calls her “Dr. Jacquie.”

I, of course, am not a doctor of journalism, as Hunter Thompson used to claim, but I wish I was. Then I could call myself “Dr. Mikel” and when I passed along these words of wisdom, like I’m doing right now, I would expect to get no guff from ordinary people. In fact, I might even have a sign over my desk saying “The Doctor is In” (or “not in,” whichever the case may be).

Anyway, this epistle about Dr. Jacquie goes on and on about how we might liven up our marriages. Dr. Jacquie, by the way, has been married more than 20 years and has two children. She’s also something of a goddess in the looks department — which I really don’t pay that much attention to because, unlike her, I’ve been married 47 years, and if there’s anything I’ve learned about fizzle vs. sizzle, it is to make sure you do your most serious sizzling at home.

I would not presume to tell anyone how to reignite the sizzle in their relationship, because I know if I did, the other person who lives at our house would waste no time pointing out that I’m about as sizzly as a glass of warm water.

To which I would say, yes, but I love you with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns, and I would do anything to prove that, including make a fool of myself in about a million different ways.

In fact, any time I pay her compliments or point out what I believe to be her biggest attributes, she invariably calls me a “flirty guy” who is “full of Irish blarney.” In other words, my attempts at igniting the sizzle usually are met with hostility or ridicule — and, at the least, disbelief.

That’s not so rare, the marriage expert informs us.

“Many individuals in long-term relationships find themselves lamenting the excitement their relationship used to hold. Many try various things to rejuvenate the passion and, when those methods don’t work, they may feel lonely, desperate and needy and even begin to seek a solution outside of their committed relationship,” notes Dr. Jacquie.

Still, she adds, there is good news. “There are proactive measures couples can take to regenerate sparks that can make a relationship as spectacular and exciting now as it once was.”

She offers a number of tips: Identify and rectify mood killers (also known as hot buttons); remember that you’re married to your spouse, not your children; learn to communicate with your spouse; and make passionate moments a priority (which means carving out time for yourselves free from the reach of cell phones, computers and other interruptions).

I would probably add another element that seems to be overlooked in our instant-gratification-obsessed society: Be willing to work on the relationship a little.

I’m pretty sure, in my own relationship with the other person who lives at our house, that if there’s any kind of problem, it’s probably my fault.

If you are having problems with your spouse, the same is true. It’s probably your fault.

I sincerely believe in not telling people how to act or what to think — but I’m convinced of this: You really need to allow each other opportunities to talk about what you like or don’t like about what’s been going on lately — or maybe even over a long period, years even. Just because everything was clicking once upon a time doesn’t mean it’s all hunky-dory right now.

One thing I know for sure about being in a long, long, long-term relationship is that you never really know everything there is to know about the other person. You wish you did, it’s true, but you really don’t.

So keep trying.

If you decide to share that thought, and somebody asks you where you heard it, just say, “I heard it from Dr. Mikel.”

Former managing editor of several community newspapers, including the Woodburn Independent, Lake Oswego Review and the Times papers, Kelly is chief of the central design desk for Community Newspapers and the Portland Tribune, and he contributes a regular column.

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