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Marriage During Quarantine

Relationships just got complicated due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We have some great tips for you!

Isolation and social distancing are buzz words these days. With the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 everyone is trying to figure out how to cope. This time can be trying especially for families and marriages where personal space is at premium and being cooped up inside all day is the norm.

We wanted to share with you 8 great tips taken from Bianca Miller Cole’s post on to give you a few ideas on how to turn the quarantine into a time of flourishing relationships.

  • Be honest about your financial fears; if money is an issue now is the time to have an open dialogue. Statistically according to Market Watch “41% of divorced Gen Xers and 29% of Boomers say they ended their marriage due to disagreements about money.”Financial matters will be on the lips of most people during the corona virus pandemic, and therefore it is important now more than ever to discuss how you will make your money last and stretch budgets.
  • Be Mindful; you are at home more, which means greater consumption of household items (plates, cutlery, glasses etc), both parties have to share responsibility on being tidy together. That means sharing washing up duty or packing/unpacking the dishwasher. (If the cleaner goes into quarantine, there is a REAL problem).
  • Work from different rooms; where possible if you have the space try to work from a different room during the day or parts of the day. If you aren’t used to working in the same space you need to think about potentially annoying habits you may have (e.g. speaking loudly on the phone, loud tapping on the laptop, video call distractions etc.).
  • Be more conscious; people react differently to confinement or stressful situations. For some that means they need more attention (hugs, kisses, words of affirmation), for some it means more support (listening, communication) and for others it means distance (leaving them alone for a time). Which one does your spouse/partner need?
  • Pick up the slack; I asked Samantha Clarke, Happiness Consultant and Author of Love It, Leave Itand she suggested that couples should check in with each other in terms of mental and physical well being. She suggested they should think about “Where can you pick up the slack for each other? Marriage or partnership isn’t always 50:50, it’s knowing that maybe today your partner can only do 20% and you have the energy to do 80% and the other days the roles may be reversed.” When you think about marriage or being in a couple, it is a partnership and Samantha is right, both parties need to play their role and uplift each other.
  • Communicate; according to Samantha Clarke “Conversation is shared, reciprocal nourishment that enables humans to create and exchange trust, wisdom, courage and friendship…It is an art that has to be learned and practiced and its range constantly expanded or it becomes stultified and repetitive.” In these times it’s important for couples to seek more conscious conversations instead of focusing energy on the current news cycle, depressing social media feeds and inject some curiosity, fun and spontaneity back into the relationship. She recommends it could be useful to play a round of ‘We are Not Really Strangers’ to see how well you know each other or keep the spark alive as you find out new things about each other. Communication is not just about speaking, it is also about active listening – we were born with two ears for a reason, make the space to actually be present with each other and listen. Don’t talk to fill the space.
  • ‘Alone’ time ; Samantha has suggested some time apart “some couples in Italy have set up blocked hours 10-2 p.m. or 12-5 p.m. etc that is solo time to do as you please and then come back together. It allows you to ‘miss each other’, focus on your work, create time for personal solitude and reflection and craft out experiences you can do together later.” But I would also like to suggest some romantic alone time, do something as a couple that you enjoy. And I am not necessarily suggesting activity that results in ‘corona-babies’ but actually enjoying time together.
  • Quick Tips; I spoke to Tanisha Harvey from Baiou about the article and she had her own tips to guarantee that couples would still be together after quarantine. She suggested that they should take steps to A) respect each other’s space during the day by staying in a separate rooms for an hour, doing as you please. B) Communicate about everything including your fears about Corona Virus. Don’t leave anything up to assumption. C) Simply say sorry – do not let problems build up. D) Have date nights and be creative whether you Netflix & chill or cook together. Option C was a particular favourite of mine!



Foodie Date Night Ideas

Going out with a significant other when you first meet is often exciting and a big part of your time together. As time passes and life gets busy and money gets tight, couples sometimes get out of the habit of going on regular date nights. While it can be hard to justify spending money on date nights, one thing we all need to do is eat. Consider the following ideas to combine nourishing your body and your relationship at the same time. 

  • Favorite Things Dinner: Can’t agree on one place to eat dinner? Pick multiple! Go to a few different restaurants close by and order take-out of your favorite dish, gather it all together and enjoy your favorite things! This works particularly well if you or your significant other are indecisive or picky. 
  • Food Truck Rally: It is no secret that food trucks are very popular these days. Often food trucks gather together in parks or at events and have a “rally” where you can try multiple places at once. Try some for yourself to see which ones are worth the hype.
  • Taste Testing: Have you ever wanted to be one of the judges on a cooking show? Have your own taste testing party. The stakes aren’t as high but you get to control what you taste test. Buy different brands of the same food or cook up a few different recipes of the same thing. Do a blind taste-test and discover which one is your favorite. 
  • Cooking Competition: Is there an ongoing debate in your house on who makes the best (fill in the blank) in your house? Make it a competition! Choose the ingredients, gather your judges and set your timer. Now is your chance to have some fun and get competitive, all while making dinner.
  • Charcuterie Board: Have you ever seen a fancy spread of cheese, meats and grapes on a wooden board? That’s a charcuterie board! It’s fun and it can consist of anything you like. To make your own, pick a theme and run with it. Some examples could be, assorted cheese and crackers, fruits and cake with dip, or chicken nuggets with various dipping sauces. The options are limitless; it doesn’t need to be fancy. Just pick your favorite snacks and display them on a large platter, get creative with your presentation, and eat! For bonus points, make it a picnic. 
  • Food Critic: Try out a new place and write about it online. Many people go to the internet to find reviews of restaurants, but now you can be the one writing the review. If it’s good; offer praise, give meal recommendations and highlight your server by name—that would really make their day! If it’s not so good, be honest and save someone else the mistake of going there. Nowadays everyone can be a food critic!
  • Knock-off Recipes: Ever eaten at a restaurant and thought to yourself, “I could probably make this at home?” Well, now is your chance! There is a plethora of “knock-off” recipes online for famous restaurant dishes or create your own. You might just find a new favorite family recipe or learn that it’s best to stick with the real thing. 
  • Catering Swap: Swap having another couple create and serve a meal to you in your home. They cook a meal at their home, then plate and serve the food to you as if you are at a restaurant in your home. Then, you return the favor for them at their home another night.

While it can be challenging to find time and money to go on a date, consider how to transform a necessary meal into a unique foodie date night. If you can’t get a babysitter, bring the kids along and make it a family foodie adventure. No matter the circumstance, there is fun to be had and memories to be made.

Naomi Brower and Courtney Adamson

20 Ideas for Dating on a Dime

Taking time for regular date nights with your sweetheart is not only fun and shows that you care enough to take time for each other, but they can also help you have opportunities to communicate, rekindle the spark, and relieve stress. But despite all the benefits, it can still be hard to get out on dates with your spouse sometimes- especially if your budget is a little tight. But having fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some ideas for dates that won’t break the bank, but will be so fun and meaningful that you will always remember them.

  1. Take a walk downtown and try to find every letter of the alphabet. Take a selfie or steal a kiss in front of every letter to document your night together. 
  2. Create a dream board of pictures or a list of places you want to visit or fun things you would like to do together in the future. Make a plan to make one of them happen. 
  3. Volunteer together at a local shelter, soup kitchen, or donation center. Not only will this be helpful to the community, but it will increase teamwork between the two of you. 
  4. Play “name that tune” with one another and see who can guess the name of each song first. 
  5. Enroll in a class together and learn something new. USU Extension offers many classes that couples can attend for free and learn together. See for a calendar of events. 
  6. Take $10.00 to the grocery store and purchase supplies to make a new recipe for dinner. The challenge is to not exceed the budget, so get creative. Cook the meal together at home. 
  7. Visit a local store and spend some time in the greeting card section together. Pick out funny cards you would buy each other or for others that you know.
  8. Find “buy one get one” coupons in your local newspaper for meals. Go to dinner and use your coupon, but then use the money you would have spent on the second meal to get dessert to-go. Stargaze in a park or a field and share your dessert. 
  9. Hardware or home improvement stores often hold workshops where you can learn a new skill or build something small for your home for free. Register for one of these classes and learn something new or create something together.
  10. Take an afternoon and explore open houses in your area to get inspiration for home improvement projects. Dreaming about the future together can bring you closer. 
  11. Take the dinner you would have normally eaten at home, out for a picnic. Find a unique spot in your town (challenge yourselves to find somewhere with a view) and eat dinner together there. While there, try to learn five new things about one another.
  12. Go for a scenic drive and play “I Spy” or “20 Questions” with one another while enjoying your journey. 
  13. Cook dinner together at home, and after the kids go to bed, dress up in “dinner clothes” and eat together on the fancy china. Light candles and dim the lights to increase the romance. 
  14. Make a new popcorn seasoning together and try it out while watching a movie together. 
  15. Put together a time capsule full of your favorite memories, photos, and maybe a note to each other to read in the future. Bury it in your backyard and come back to it in a few years to reminisce about what you find special about each other and your relationship at the time you made the capsule.  
  16. Snuggle up together in a blanket and enjoy the night sky together. For an added bonus, find a place to star gaze where you can also cozy up together in the glow of a small fire. 
  17. Have a fondue party. Dip your favorite veggies, fruits or snack foods in cheese or chocolate. Yum!
  18. Look through old photo albums and reminisce together. If you feel really energetic, make it a time to put loose photos into albums or delete out-of-focus and duplicate digital files.
  19. Sample a few types of cheese you haven’t tried before with crackers, bread or fruit and critique each one.
  20. Get active. Try a new exercise or dance video together or take a stroll outside. For extra romance, try going for a walk at sunset.

Naomi Brower & Journey Greenwell

Creating a Clearer Vision

After all that is said about marriage, it is a beautiful and wonderful thing deserving of being celebrated! That is why I am a big supporter of the Clearer Vision Conference where marriage is celebrated! Consider yourself formally invited:

Join us for an evening of education and entertainment at the Northern Utah Marriage Celebration, a fun date night for couples or individuals who want to prepare for or strengthen their marriage. Workshops will be provided by professionals from northern Utah including topics such as intimacy, communication and staying connected, and a keynote presentation will be given by Doug Nielsen.  Workshops will be 6:00-9:30 p.m. (with bonus workshops from 4:00-6:00 p.m.). For complete program details see

In conjunction with the conference we will be revealing the topics of the conference each week! Stay tuned and read more about the following marriage tips and tricks from the experts themselves:

  • Jan 20 – Cups of Connection
  • Jan 27 – Communicating through conflict
  • Feb 3 – Date Night Routine/Dating on Dime
  • Feb 10 – Marriage/Intimacy
  • Feb 17 – Money and Marriage
  • Feb 24 – Technoference

New Year’s Resolutions


The surest way to fall short of your goal is to make your goal unattainable. For instance, resolving to NEVER eat your favorite food again is setting you up to fail. Instead, strive for a goal that is attainable, such as avoiding it more often than you do now.


Don’t make your resolution on New Year’s Eve. If you wait until the last minute, it will be based on your mindset that particular day. Instead, it should be planned well before December 31st arrives.


Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip that exercise class or have that piece of cake. This could include calling on a friend for help and self-talk, or reminding yourself how your “bad behavior” will affect your goal.


It may help to see a list of items on paper to keep your motivation strong. Develop this list over time, and ask others to contribute to it. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolve.


Don’t keep your resolution a secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve to change yourself for the better or improve your health. The best-case scenario is to find a buddy who shares your New Year’s resolution and motivate each other.

Christmas: A Story of Giving

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it in the smallest pieces of money – pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by negotiating with the men at the market who sold vegetables and meat. Negotiating until one’s face burned with the silent knowledge of being poor. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but sit down and cry. So Della cried. Which led to the thought that life is made up of little cries and smiles, with more little cries than smiles.

Della finished her crying and dried her face. She stood by the window and looked out unhappily at a gray cat walking along a gray fence in a gray back yard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only one dollar and eighty-seven cents to buy her husband Jim a gift. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result.

Jim earned twenty dollars a week, which does not go far. Expenses had been greater than she had expected. They always are. Many a happy hour she had spent planning to buy something nice for him. Something fine and rare — something close to being worthy of the honor of belonging to Jim.

There was a tall glass mirror between the windows of the room. Suddenly Della turned from the window and stood before the glass mirror and looked at herself. Her eyes were shining, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Quickly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, Mister and Missus James Dillingham Young had two possessions which they valued. One was Jim’s gold time piece, the watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair.

Had the Queen of Sheba lived in their building, Della would have let her hair hang out the window to dry just to reduce the value of the queen’s jewels.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, shining like a brown waterfall. It reached below her knees and made itself almost like a covering for her. And then quickly she put it up again. She stood still while a few tears fell on the floor.

She put on her coat and her old brown hat. With a quick motion and brightness still in her eyes, she danced out the door and down the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Madame Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” Della ran up the steps to the shop, out of breath.

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take your hat off and let us have a look at it.”

Down came the beautiful brown waterfall of hair.

“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the hair with an experienced hand.

“Give it to me quick,” said Della.

The next two hours went by as if they had wings. Della looked in all the stores to choose a gift for Jim.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. It was a chain — simple round rings of silver. It was perfect for Jim’s gold watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be for him. It was like him. Quiet and with great value. She gave the shopkeeper twenty-one dollars and she hurried home with the eighty-seven cents that was left.

When Della arrived home she began to repair what was left of her hair. The hair had been ruined by her love and her desire to give a special gift. Repairing the damage was a very big job.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny round curls of hair that made her look wonderfully like a schoolboy. She looked at herself in the glass mirror long and carefully.

“If Jim does not kill me before he takes a second look at me,” she said to herself, “he’ll say I look like a song girl. But what could I do–oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?”

At seven o’clock that night the coffee was made and the pan on the back of the stove was hot and ready to cook the meat.

Jim was never late coming home from work. Della held the silver chain in her hand and sat near the door. Then she heard his step and she turned white for just a minute. She had a way of saying a little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.”

The door opened and Jim stepped in. He looked thin and very serious. Poor man, he was only twenty-two and he had to care for a wife. He needed a new coat and gloves to keep his hands warm.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a dog smelling a bird. His eyes were fixed upon Della. There was an expression in them that she could not read, and it frightened her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor fear, nor any of the feelings that she had been prepared for. He simply looked at her with a strange expression on his face. Della went to him.

“Jim, my love,” she cried, “do not look at me that way. I had my hair cut and sold because I could not have lived through Christmas without giving you a gift. My hair will grow out again. I just had to do it. My hair grows very fast. Say ‘Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let us be happy. You do not know what a nice– what a beautiful, nice gift I have for you.”

“You have cut off your hair?” asked Jim, slowly, as if he had not accepted the information even after his mind worked very hard.

“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Do you not like me just as well? I am the same person without my hair, right?

Jim looked about the room as if he were looking for something.

“You say your hair is gone?” he asked.

“You need not look for it,” said Della. “It is sold, I tell you–sold and gone, too. It is Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it was cut for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the meat on, Jim?”

Jim seemed to awaken quickly and put his arms around Della. Then he took a package from his coat and threw it on the table.

“Do not make any mistake about me, Dell,” he said. “I do not think there is any haircut that could make me like my girl any less. But if you will open that package you may see why you had me frightened at first.”

White fingers quickly tore at the string and paper. There was a scream of joy; and then, alas! a change to tears and cries, requiring the man of the house to use all his skill to calm his wife.

For there were the combs — the special set of objects to hold her hair that Della had wanted ever since she saw them in a shop window. Beautiful combs, made of shells, with jewels at the edge –just the color to wear in the beautiful hair that was no longer hers. They cost a lot of money, she knew, and her heart had wanted them without ever hoping to have them. And now, the beautiful combs were hers, but the hair that should have touched them was gone.

But she held the combs to herself, and soon she was able to look up with a smile and say, “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”

Then Della jumped up like a little burned cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful gift. She happily held it out to him in her open hands. The silver chain seemed so bright.

“Isn’t it wonderful, Jim? I looked all over town to find it. You will have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

Instead of obeying, Jim fell on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

“Dell,” said he, “let us put our Christmas gifts away and keep them a while. They are too nice to use just right now. I sold my gold watch to get the money to buy the set of combs for your hair. And now, why not put the meat on.”

Positivity Power up

Positivity can provide a powerful boost to physical and mental health, productivity, relationships with others, and can even lead to an increase in life span. On the other hand, negativity can be harmful to physical and mental health, damage careers, and destroy relationships.

Consider focusing on these steps to increase the positivity in your life:

  1. Keep it positive. Keep conversations positive and steer clear of comments that are negative or degrading toward others or yourself. If you catch yourself saying something negative, make an effort to change it to a more positive comment instead.
  2. Tip the scales to the positive. Research has found that happy relationships have about five positive interactions to every one negative. While it’s ok to express concerns or frustrations, be sure to also express sincere words of appreciation or other positive words to keep the relationship in the positive.
  3. Focus on what is right. While is isn’t possible to change how others act or have control over some situations, drawing attention to the things that are going right can help to set a more positive tone for interactions and increase positive emotions.
  4. Make it personal. Genuinely caring for otherssets positivity in motion that is often reciprocated. Examples of this might include listening to others with unconditional positive regard and providing support and encouragement.
  5. Share the positivity. Making an effort to have positive thoughts and interactions sets off a chain of positivity that often amplifies positive emotions and can have a powerful positive impact on others. Examples of this might include doing something nice for someone, giving a compliment, or just writing down all the things that went well today.

Being positive can have a powerful impact on the world. Sharing an uplifting word or giving a small act of kindness can create a ripple effect of positivity. What will you do today to increase the positivity in your life?

-Naomi Brower

How Full is Your Bucket: Positive Strategies for Work and Life by Tom Rath & Donald Clifton.


Gratitude is one of those words that is thrown around as a cure-all for the sorrows of life. You are going through a tough time? Be grateful. You can’t pay rent this month? Be grateful. This can be a little confusing and frustrating to understand. How can just being grateful fix the problems of life? Well, it probably can’t BUT gratitude does help you see your problems for what they are and formulate plans to cope with them.

Here are some ways Harvard Health says to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.

Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.

Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

Pray. People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.

Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”), it is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).

Dating in the Real World

I have a confession to make; I gave in and started watching dating “reality” TV shows in the last couple of years. I admit it is fun to watch the fun and all-expense paid exotic dates and trips around the world and the over-the-top ridiculous relationship faux pas that people make. But, as someone that is passionate about building long lasting healthy relationships, let’s be honest, I don’t think they have the best process of finding long-lasting love, and their track record of less than ten percent of relationships staying together after the show suggests that there’s a better way. 

So, how can someone find a long-lasting love in the real world? In some ways we need to do the opposite of what our reality TV show friends have done. 

1. It takes time.
While it would be convenient to find Mr. or Mrs. Right after a few short weeks of knowing someone, it usually takes far longer. People usually show us their best self at first, and it takes time to feel comfortable enough to take off the mask and reveal our true self. Research suggests that it takes at least six weeks before we start to feel comfortable; but, in my experience, I would say it takes at least a year to really know someone. While some people do meet and marry very quickly and they live happily ever after, I would say that is not the case for most people. 

2. Enjoy every day life together.
Exotic dates can be fun; but let’s face it, in real life we are in the routine of life (school, work, etc.) 99.5 percent of the time. It’s good to see a potential partner in many different situations and see how they respond to the stresses of everyday life to really get to know them. 

3. Get to know the important people in each other’s lives.
Our families taught us much about how relationships are supposed to be as we were growing up, so getting to know a potential partner’s family (more than just meeting them once) is important. 

Play detective and try to discover as much as you can about the person you are dating from other people’s point of view.  For example, how do they interact with friends, past romantic partners, children, etc.? 

Finding lasting love can be an exciting journey; but, by taking the time to really get to know someone, you can feel more confident in knowing if you are really compatible enough to make the relationship last. 

To learn more about building safe and healthy relationships see

Article by: Naomi Brower

Work-life Balance

Are you feeling a bit out of balance? You’re not alone. Balancing demands of work, family and the rest of life can be a challenge and create stress. This can be especially true when trying to take advantage of all the summer activity possibilities. Additionally, too little sleep, lack of exercise and infrequent personal time can add to stress. When stress is not managed well, individuals can become overwhelmed and experience emotional exhaustion, burnout or other negative feelings. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with work-life stress and aim toward a more healthy balance. Consider some of the following tips to find balance and enjoy the summer months:

  1. Prioritize. Setting priorities will help in deciding how to best spend your time. Use a calendar and schedule the most important things that reflect your priorities first, such family vacations or a date with a significant other. Discuss goals and schedules with family members and significant others often so everyone is invested. Remember, there is no “right way” to prioritize, but rather you have to decide a balance that is comfortable for you and your family.  
  2. Be here now. In this age of technology it is easy to get distracted by things other than our priorities, especially when work or social media is just a click away. Taking a break from electronics and focusing on living fully in the moment, wherever you may be, will help to reduce stress. 
  3. Set realistic goals and expectations. Let’s be honest, as much as many of us would like to give everything to everyone all the time, it’s unrealistic and thinking that way will cause conflict and stress. So, instead, examine your priorities and adapt your goals and expectations to fit your current situation. If married or in a relationship, be sure to include your partner in this process and discuss the roles that each of you will take. Revise plans and goals that don’t work—achieving balance is an ongoing process.
  4. Share the load. Some people try to reduce stress by taking control and doing everything themselves; but doing so can sometimes keep them from reaching their most important goals. Consider your support system and how others might be willing to help lighten the load. Remember, delegation is a sign of strength, not weakness. 
  5. Take care of yourself. It can be challenging to eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep, let alone squeeze in a few minutes of “me” time, but taking care of yourself will help you in all areas of your life. Make a goal to take at least 15 minutes of “me” time every day even if it’s to take a quick walk on a break at work, or to read a book. Remember you can also include family or friends  
  6. Keep a sense of humor. Humor can help to manage stress when things don’t work out as planned. Consider, “How will I think about this situation in a year from now?”   

While there are many approaches to creating balance, what works for one individual may not work for another, and life challenges and possible solutions may change with time. Creating and maintaining a balance in life is an ongoing process; if the current approach isn’t working, try something else. The balance may not always be perfect, but small efforts toward balance can still have a tremendous impact on life satisfaction.