by Cindia Carrere
Years and Counting!
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times,
always with the same person.”
~ Mignon McLaughlin
Looking for wedded bliss? Let's start with the stats. The wedding industry brings in over 50 BILLION dollars of revenue annually, even in the midst of the pandemic. Check this out – on average, over 44,000 weddings take place around the world every week. That's at least 88,000 people vowing, "I do," every seven days.
With wedding budgets typically around $28K for the ceremony and reception, plus $5 grand for the honeymoon, that's a lot of build up for the big day. With the additional pressure of appearing picture perfect on social media, there's far more hype for the wedding than there is for the marriage.
Huh. When I checked my facts with Professor Google, the divorce industry is also valued at, wait for it, 50 BILLION dollars a year! Combined, that's a hundred BILLION dollars a year to tie and then untie, the knot.
Breaking that down to the individual couple's burden of cost, reports say the typical divorce runs around $20,000.
Approximately 50% of all marriages end in separation or divorce, happening at a rate of 1 every 36 seconds. That's a whopping 876,000 divorces a year – or one MILLION, 752 thousand people saying, "I don't."
All that to say, there are high prices to pay financially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to get hitched and unhitched. There's far more fuss and hullabaloo at the beginning and end of the "til divorce do us part" arrangement, but where does the excitement go during the actual marriage?
Once the initial thrill of the honeymoon fades, many newlyweds find themselves adjusting to the day-to-day, and fighting over the basics – dirty underwear on the floor, the toilet seat left up, schedules, chores, attention giving way to careers, friends, and annoying family members instead of romance.
The euphoric feelings of being in love get you to the altar, but the unglamorous parts of an intimate relationship can dull the shine. Seeing your partner squatting on the toilet, flossing their teeth, clipping their toenails, or gasp, watching yourself turn into your parents – eeeks, cue up the scream machine!
Oh yeah, and then there are the dry spells, the arguments over money, who said what, the sexy bedroom voice transforming into shrill or demanding tones, the flirty outfits traded in for lounge pants, and late night dates losing out to early morning meetings.
What do you do when the reality of living with someone kicks in?
Secrets of a Happy Marriage
I gave Groom the nickname during our first year of marriage and it’s stuck. For us, it carries that fresh, newlywed energy, yet with each passing year, the depth of our love grows more intense.
One August, we spent an anniversary at the coast. While riding rented bikes, we stopped for coffee and a nosh. The barista could tell we were tourists and asked what brought us there.
“Celebrating our anniversary,” we said.
He looked a long moment at us, sizing us up and down, then said to me, “You’re dressed too casually to be celebrating your first anniversary, but your husband looks too happy to have been married for very long, so is this your second, or third anniversary?”
He almost needed smelling salts to revive him after we thanked him but told him it was our 23rd. We’ve now been married for 30 years.
Groom and I were both raised on weddings. His mother was a florist, and he grew up helping her make floral arrangements, delivering them, and decorating churches. My father was a minister, and I attended MANY weddings, sitting in attendance as he pronounced couples, “husband and wife.”
It’s how we spent our Saturdays. From our earliest memories, both Groom and I saw behind the scenes – including the various emotional states of bridezillas on their day, the differing moods of the wedding party, the numerous mishaps and drama, and all the steps from courtship, engagement, pre-marriage counseling, rehearsal dinners, to the pageantry that finally led up to a couple’s big moment.
At the time, we didn’t realize the impact all that pomp and circumstance had on our adolescent psyches, but neither of us grew up dreaming about our own weddings. As a young girl, I never fantasized about gown shopping, my shower, or wedding ceremony. Instead, I prepaved my experience by dreaming about WHO I would marry. I focused my energy on what happens after the nuptials, and the quality of the relationship.
So guess what we did? We eloped. Do I have pictures as a beautiful bride surrounded by family and loved ones? Nope. Do I have 30 years of memories as a HAPPY bride? Yes, I do!
Nurturing the relationship and enjoying wedded bliss is where the payoff truly is.
Here are some secrets to a very happy marriage:
1. Your choice of partner says everything about you and sets the tone for your life
It may be too obvious to even say, but judging by the statistics, perhaps it needs to be said. Choosing the right partner is the number one key to a happy, lasting relationship. My mom, whose marriage lasted to my dad for almost 70 years until she died, indoctrinated me about the choices of a life partner. She impressed upon me to never have any more children than I could raise alone. She wasn’t making any judgements about anyone else, but simply directing her advice to me. I guess she’d seen me play with my baby dolls enough to know I quickly got bored and abandoned them.
She told me to be equally yoked – in values, beliefs, intelligence, income, and family backgrounds.
And this gem from my mother was emphasized the most. “You’re cute now, but trust me Hon, your looks will fade. Be sure your insides are beautiful because that will last. And by all means, don’t fall for the first guy who makes your toes curl, but choose wisely, choose the person who will stick by you no matter what. And that includes if you were to get sick, be in a wheelchair, or some other unforeseen event. Lust fades, but love grows.”
2. Don't keep a list or go to bed angry
I don’t know how we did it, but Groom and I figured this out when we were in our 20’s. We made a pact that we would never hold on to grievances. If something was bothering us, even 5 minutes later, we agreed to go the other one and talk it out.
My mom made another observation about me. She once said, “Hon, you don’t collect green stamps.” In case you’re too young for that reference, S&H green stamps were something you got from the grocery store each time you spent money. When you collected enough of them to fill up cards, you could trade them in for merchandise.
She was referring to green stamps in a metaphorical sense. She noticed that I didn’t really hang on to offences or grudges or collect enough emotional ammo to go charging in with guns ablazing, to make my case. I discovered to do otherwise was exhausting.
It’s much easier to discuss something and get the other person to listen when the issue is only a level one or two on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being DEFCON. At level one or two, emotions aren’t riding very high, and straightening something out doesn’t have to become argue-maggedon. The same with weeding a flower bed. It’s simple to pull out a single weed but arduous to tackle a garden full choked with them.
Groom and I made the decision early on to take ownership of our own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. When something bothers us, we speak up. We aren’t allowed to hold onto something and later pull it out to hurt the other out of anger or spite. While still in college, we decided if we were old enough to play house, make love, and pay bills, we were old enough to put on our big girl and boy panties and have the uncomfortable conversations.
We agreed that there would be a statute of limitations on our complaints, and we are not allowed to weaponize our emotions. That way, when we’re discussing something that’s bugging us, it’s really only that topic, not years of built-up tension or hostility. We’re so used to being in sync, that when we’re not, we both desire to hear the other one out so we can settle whatever it is quickly and get back into our groove.
3. Create household harmony
Even though Groom and I grew up with more traditional gender roles, we personally don’t subscribe to them as it relates to responsibilities. Being equals, we decided to make keeping house fun. Running and maintaining a household requires work. We wrote all the tasks on slips of paper and put them in the middle of the table. Then we took turns choosing the ones we preferred. So while we each have tasks to do, we don’t argue or nag the other about them. We each have our own routine and style, and everything gets done. We have a clean, organized house, which we both prefer, so that also eliminates friction.
4. Make the space
Groom and I are each other’s priority, spending a lot of time together doing activities we both enjoy. We also have different interests and hobbies. We make the space and time to be together, as well as come back to each other with fresh information, ideas, and conversation. This adds an extra zip to date nights.
5. Express appreciation and gratitude
I’m frequently cranky and apparently have a tone that hits people the wrong way at times. I’m working to correct that. However, being a crab pot usually lasts for only a few minutes, and there’s much more gratitude, expressions of appreciation, and compliments in our house than there is criticism. We also say “I love you,” every day.
6. Invent rituals and rules
It makes us laugh, but Groom and I have more rules and rituals for our relationship, yet we feel the most free and ourselves with each other. For example, we are not allowed to lie, cheat or steal. We eat meals together. We’ve created wonderful habits and rituals in the way we wake up (I bring him coffee and we snuggle in bed, and also read), in the way we say goodnight, and in the many connecting points in between.
One of the most frequent complaints I hear from clients is that they’ve grown apart from their spouses and that creates a chasm that’s difficult to bridge. Think of it this way, if two people walk side-by-side basically parallel to each other, but take steps just a few degrees apart, it’s easy to overlook because it still appears as if they’re walking together. But continue at that trajectory for a few months or years, and those few degrees will have them miles apart.
Life, responsibilities, children, aging parents, work, health
issues and resentment can take over. A happy marriage requires time, attention,
affection, and checking in with each other to make sure you’re still on course.
Here are a couple more marriage quotes to wrap up this post on wedded bliss
“There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”
“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.”
~ Andre Maurois
If you’re interested in learning more about pre-paving your experiences, or zipping up the love and fulfillment in your relationship, check out the LVB Manifesting Course + Mastermind Community!
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