The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

holidays put stress on most marriagesThe Holidays Add Stress to Most Relationships

Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s…It’s supposed to be the happiest, most wonderful time of the year. For some it is. Not everyone. For many, it’s a time filled with stress, and often leads to arguments between couples. Sometimes it results in bad things – from hurt feelings and silence to flying off the handle blowups and domestic violence.

“Divorce Month” follows the Holiday Stress

It wouldn’t surprise a lot of married people that January is (unofficially) called “divorce month.” After months of lockdowns, January 2021 could be a record-breaker!

With so many people out of work, working from home, and home schooling, this holiday season may be the most challenging for couples ever. It’s hard to be happy when you feel confined. It gets harder when you can’t visit your family, or can’t buy gifts because you aren’t even paying your bills on time, and you’re stuck in the house for what seems like forever.

Will this season go down as the worst in your life? Maybe. Unless…

If there’s one thing Covid confinement has given so many of us,  it’s a focus on what matters most in life. Many – maybe you – are surprised by how much family matters. Not that you didn’t know it before, but Covid brought those feelings home for so many of us – and in a whole new way. Yet, at the same time, in most households, tensions have been running high.

During this unique holiday season, if you’re home alone with your family and missing the usual parties and family gatherings, here are a few things you can do to make your holidays bright.

Have a Plan to Deal with Holiday Stress.

Do you want to be Santa or the Grinch. If it’s Grinch, no more work necessary. But if it’s Santa, then sit down with your sweetie and decide how you’re going to do the next two weeks. It’s going to take some mental and emotional effort, but the plan will be your guide.

While making a plan is mostly for you two, if you have kids, bring them into it and ask for their cooperation.

What to Include in Your Stress Management Plan:

  • Be nice. Covid confinement doesn’t feel good, and everyone knows it. It’s sucked the politeness and kindness out of many of us. And, of course, our loved ones are likely to be the most affected. We’re more likely to make an  effort with “outside” people, but let our guard down for those closest to us. That’s a recipe for disaster. So agree to make an extra effort to be nice. Start with saying please, thank-you, and excuse me.  And keep track. Make a point to notice at least five things each day and thank your sweetie. Just that tiny courtesy can soften stress and create a positive shift in energy – both in you and with them.
  • Make space for crabby. It’s hard to feel love, kindness, and tenderness when you are hurting – and you feel like nobody is listening or cares. You feel “crabby” and show it. So give your crabbiness an outlet in a short but acceptable way; it’s simpler to do than you might suspect. At the end of each day, you and your sweetie can take ten minutes (five minutes each) to express your anger, sadness, fear, or pain. No feedback necessary because this is for venting. Include your kids if you want. Note: this isn’t a “pointing fingers” time but judgment-free zone for expressing how you feel.
  • Say “I love you and I care about you” to each other daily. When was the last time you said it – honestly and deeply? When was it that you focused on each other, looked into each other’s eyes, and said the words with feeling? It’s really hard to be mean to each other when you know the person you’re being mean to really loves you…and vice versa.

What happens next: Assess if your Plan Worked

After the New Year rolls in, decide how the plan worked for you. Did it revive forgotten good feelings? Did it rekindle your love? If it worked well, you can make your plan part of a New Year’s resolutions.

Or, maybe working your plan helped you both recognize that you need some outside help. That might mean you need a simple tune-up or a reset. Or it could let you know you have a problem that needs third-party help. Marriage therapists have seen a huge uptick in business – and most are willing to do online visits. It could be a relationship-saver!

The Holiday Season of 2020 will be one for the books for sure – for lot of reasons. For you, let this Covid Christmas be one to remember…for the good, not the sad.

You can Fix a Relationship that is Off-Track!

Many couples find that their relationship got off-track over the past few years. Covid confinement brought  that realization to the forefront. You still love  each other, but with kids, carers, the house…and everything…you got off track. What you need is a reset…and I have it for you.  Learn more: Relationship Reset

Your Marriage in Covid-19

Yesterday morning, when Joseph and I tripped over each other at the sink after breakfast, he noticed how I tensed up. He laughed and said, “I bet you’ll be glad when I’m back to leaving the house at 4:30.” He’s right. I have my own wake-up routine in the morning. He does too – he usually gets to work two hours before his first client so he can ease his way into the day.

Uncertainty can Cause Tension in Relationships

Neither of us is doing our own thing right now. We know it’s temporary….but how long is temporary? You’re probably wondering that too.

Covid Stress can Impact Your Relationship

During these days of covid-19 confinement, everyone’s patience is wearing thin. “I just can’t look at him another day” and “she’s driving me crazy” are just two comments I’ve heard from friends lately. Lost wages, lack of freedom and constant contact with spouses and children is making you and I stressed, depressed, and aggravated.

Take a deep breath. We’ll get through this!!!

In the meantime, and while you’re breathing deeply, remember to make your relationship with your sweetie a priority. Not sure what that means? Webster’s say that means “something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives.”

Don’t Take Your Relationship For Granted

Yes, the kids, the bills, food, and the mortgage are also priorities. But for some reason – and maybe because those important things are constantly knocking on the door – we take our most important relationship for granted.  Reports are that depression and loneliness are on the rise. Sadly, so is domestic abuse.

However, this bad time is going to be over. Soon enough you’ll be able to run to the food store anytime. You’ll catch up on the mortgage and get the bills paid eventually. The kids will go back to school someday. You’ll socialize and travel freely again. Those habitual things have a way of falling back into place.

Make Marriage a Priority

It’s not so easy with marriage. There’s no real “falling back into place” mechanism for relationships. If you want your marriage to survive and thrive, you MUST make it a priority. It has to come before the kids, the bills, and everything else. Marriage is like those gardens many people are planting in the backyard: it won’t grow unless you water and feed it. If you don’t, just as the garden will do if it doesn’t get attention, all that will be left will be weeds.

This period of confinement may have put a spotlight on some problem you have – maybe one you didn’t even know was a problem. Now you do. Don’t ignore it. But now isn’t the time for focusing on it. Instead, make a plan to talk about the problem issue when things are more normal.

Tips for Resetting your Relationship

In the meantime, take some mitigating actions. I listed a few ways to do that here: Relationship Reset Each suggestion is one small way to make your marriage your marriage #1 in your life. Start today.

Stay well!

Need help getting your marriage back in first place?

This book will show you how to make it happen – available in paperback and Kindle: The Five-Year Marriage ®

#FiveYearMarriage #MarriageTips #LoveAndMarriage #PartnershipMarriage #ModernMarriage #MarriagAdvice

Does Your Relationship Need a Reset?

Is Covid-19 causing you and your sweetie to get on each other’s nerves? It’s not a surprise – we aren’t used to being in such close quarters all the time. Someone recently told me, “I just can’t look at his face anymore.” Maybe that’s not you, but quarrels and squabbles seem to be affecting relationships everywhere.  Reports from China are that, since their confinement ended, there’s been a huge spike in divorces.

If you’re relationship is struggling and edging towards a breakup, try this

We’re all struggling – with close quarters, being out of work, stress about money, etc. All that, and all the uncertainty, tends to bring up a lot of “stuff” between couples. Whatever was brewing just under the surface before is likely to come out now. Some of it can be ugly.

Before tensions get totally out of control, take a deep breath.

Tips for calming tensions with your spouse

The tips below can help you. Do them – and not just one…do all of them!

  • Be polite – like you were in the beginning, when you remembered to say “please,” thank-you,” excuse me.”. A little politeness can go a long way to easing tensions.
  • Say thank-you – Everyone likes appreciation and, in confinement, it’s usually in short supply. Thank you’re sweetie today at least 3 times today. See what happens.
  • Give each other some “me” time – A little alone time is good for both of you
  • Plan a private rendezvous by candlelight…even if it’s just you two alone in the bedroom, on the patio or (if it’s the only way to get away from kids) in the basement. Have nice conversation…talk about some of your best times together. Stirring up those good memories can lead to sweetness….and maybe some good “sexual healing”

Reset Your Relationship in 30 Days

When the Covid confinement is over, you may want to regroup. So consider a 30-Day Relationship Reset.  That’s where you “review” where you’ve been, figure out what’s working and what’s not, and make a plan – a reset – for going forward. Using those tips will be like planting a seed and watering it.

Resetting your relationship is the basis of The Five-Year Marriage® Method – and you absolutely need it now! Download a copy to your Kindle today: The Five-Year Marriage

#FiveYearMarriage #MarriageTips #LoveAndMarriage #MarriagAdvice #WomensEmpowerment #MarriageContract #HealthyMarriage #RelationshipAdvice

Contract Marriage Featured in Philadelphia Magazine!

This month’s Philadelphia Magazine’s (April 2029) features The Five-Year Marriage®  – contract marriage. It’s one of 10 “different” marriage scenarios. I’m thrilled to be part of it. I tell the story about how and why The Five-Year Marriage started.

This “new I do” is the right story right now. It for all the independent millennial women – and the men who love/will love them – who don’t want to give up their sense of self for the sake of a relationship.

Read the whole story here: Philadelphia Magazine April 2020

Curious about contact marriage? You can read all about it in The Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm Also available for your e-reader.

#FiveYearMarriage #MarriageTips #TheNewIDo #TheBetterWaytoIDOe #ModernMarriage #MarriagAdvice #WomensEmpowerment #MarriageContract #HealthyMarriage #RelationshipAdvice #AnnmarieKelly #ContractMarriage #Wedding Vows #CoupleGoals #spouse #marriagecounseling #MarriedCouple #MarriageGoals #Couple #CoupleAdvice #MarriedLife

The Washcloth and The Wall

Unhappy couples can fix their relationship
Can We Fix This?

Have you “hit the wall” in your marriage yet? It happens to just about every married couple at some point. Based on my conversations with women, I’d say it’s most common someplace between 8-15 years. For me it was in my second marriage.

When Joseph and I were in our first month of counselling, there was a lot of anger, tension, and hurt. We had 2½ years left in that marriage and I didn’t know if we could fix the problem. We tried and tried, but didn’t. I was clear about not wanting to have another marriage unless we did. Counseling seemed like the last chance.

But it was hard…really hard. We both had to look at stuff about ourselves we didn’t want to see.

In those days, much as it is still today, Joseph left for work early. He was up and out the door before I was awake. So we didn’t talk and, in those days, that was probably good for us.

One morning, after a particularly difficult counseling session the night before, I got up to get ready for work. One of my “things” is having a fresh washcloth each morning. The cloths were stored in the linen closet in the hallway.

That morning, before going to the linen closet, I went to the bathroom first. There I found a fresh washcloth waiting for me. I was surprised. Joseph never did that before – he just always got his own and I got mine. But that day was different. Though I noticed, I shrugged it off as a quirk.

The next day it was the same thing…and the next day…and the next. Every morning when I saw that fresh washcloth, I knew Joseph thought about me that morning, in a nice way. I realized it was Joseph’s way of telling me that he still loved me and wanted to work things out. I started to see the washcloth as a sign that we might be able to find a way together. In the midst of a very difficult time in our relationship, when our verbal communication was minimal, that fresh washcloth was a lifeline.

Every Five-Year Marriage® will hit a wall. It’s important to recognize what agreements you have that created the challenge. It’s equally important notice the signs that keep you going.

Curious about what a Five-Year Marriage® is? Start with this website and then read the book, available in hard copy and digital: The Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm

#FiveYearMarriage, #MarriageTips. #LoveAndMarriage, #PartnershipMarriage, #ModernMarriage #WomensEmpowerment, #MarriageContract, #RelationshipAdvice, #AnnmarieKelly, #ContractMarriage,

Did Bezos Need a Post-Nup?

Relationship trouble for Bezos?
RIGA, LATVIA – February 24, 2017: Forbes Magazine list of The Worlds Most Powerful People.Number 14 CEO and founder of Amazon.com Jeff Beezos.

Before the affair, before it all went to hell, they were young, in-love, and with their whole lives ahead of them. It was 1992 when Jeff Bezos was working in Manhattan. That’s where he met research associate Mackenzie Tuttle.

When Bezos and Tuttle married a year later, the couple wasn’t thinking about pre-nups. They were thinking about starting a family and making it big in business.

In 1994, the newlyweds drove across the country to Seattle, Washington. That’s when Bezos got the idea for an online bookstore. The couple settled into a rented a home, Bezos got a loan from his parents, and he started Amazon. It was a big dream.

For the next few years, while Bezos was boxing up books in his garage, his spouse was having children, paying bills, putting food on the table, and keeping their life going.

Of course, Bezos crazy little idea became the behemoth Amazon – and made Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world.

Now the couple is getting a divorce. Since there was no pre-nup, many attorney-analysts suggested that the couple could have gotten a post-nuptial agreement to address their changing finances.

I say…What about an agreement that would have addressed the couple’s changing relationship? Would a post-nup have filled the gap that eventually led to divorce?

No one knows, but here’s the reality for most couples:

  • Everyone starts out with dreams and hopes for the best
  • Early on, love helps smooth over the bumpy patches and tiny breaks
  • Over time, you change, he changes. Maybe you notice, but you’re really busy (kids, work, careers) that you ignore differences
  • A few years later, bumpy patches become hills and tiny breaks become gaps
  • One day you wonder, “do I even know who he is anymore?” And he looks at you and thinks the same thing.
  • Maybe you stay together, maybe not, but either way, you lead separate lives. You’re unhappy, lonely, depressed, angry…

Is that what you want? If it isn’t, get yourself a post-nup – Five-Year Marriage® style.

How? First, you and your sweetie agree to sit down together. Do it on a regular basis (weekly or monthly) and talk. Here’s your template…your conversation starters:

  1. Where are we in our relationship?
  2. What’s working?
    • We love each other, we’re great parents, etc.
    • Give yourselves a “high fives” for what’s working!
  3. What’s not working for us?
    • I’m doing too much by myself, we spend too much money, the kids are driving me crazy, we don’t have sex enough, you’re spending too much time with your [family, friends, at work]
  4. Here’s how what’s not working is a problem for me (you both get equal time!)
    • makes me angry or resentful, hurts my feelings, makes me feel unappreciated and/or invisible, affects my personal self-worth, impacts my performance at work, our finances are making me stressed etc.
  5. How can we fix this?
  6. How will fixing it help us – as a couple? FYI: This is for motivation
  7. What happens if we can’t fix it?
    • Living together loneliness, leading separate lives, separation, divorce
  8. Here’s what I’m willing to do on my end…[make a commitment]

When you’re finished, write it all down – particularly 5 & 6. Next, set a time to get together for a follow-up (and stick to it)

These meetings can be intense, so when they’re over…

  • Have a glass of wine together
  • Thank each other
  • Tell each other how much you appreciate him/her – be specific: “I still love that you make me laugh.”
  • Talk about something good for at least fifteen minutes
  • Say “I love you” – in whatever way you choose

Marriage isn’t rocket science and it isn’t just about love. It’s about learning how to live together happily. You do it by cultivating the relationship: noticing the good, finding the tiny breaks before they become huge gaps that turn into unmanageable caverns, celebrating your wins.

The Five-Year Marriage® gives you the foundation and template for doing just that. It’s “the better way” to be married.

Want to know more? Start by getting on the Five-Year Marriage® mailing list. That’s how you’ll find out when there is a new blog post or podcast, how to join the next free teleseminar, when the next workshop or webinar is starting, if there’s a book signing in your area, and more.

Click here now: Yes! I want to know more about the Five-Year Marriage® community

 

#FiveYearMarriage, #MarriageTips. #LoveAndMarriage, #PartnershipMarriage, #ModernMarriage #WomensEmpowerment, #MarriageContract, #RelationshipAdvice, #AnnmarieKelly, #ContractMarriage,

Can Marriage Be Flexible?

marriage - can it be flexible?

Peg, a fun-loving redhead and Dave, her strapping young sweetie, met at their center-city Philadelphia job where they were both social workers for the mentally challenged. They liked each other as co-workers, but it was clear that there was more between them. Their attraction grew. By the time they got engaged, they were so in love that just watching them together made family and friends happy.

As they planned their wedding, they talked about their future. Coming from strong Irish Catholic backgrounds, both Peg and Dave knew they wanted children. And, since Peg was a little older than Dave, she didn’t want to wait too long to get pregnant. They agreed they’d start trying as soon as they were married. Also, because they both grew up with stay-at-home moms and wanted their children to have the same thing, they decided Peg would stay home with the kids.

The sticking point for them was money. Peg and Dave knew, with one meager social worker salary, pulling that off wouldn’t be easy.

But, as it often the case with the young lovers, they believed anything was doable.

The wedding was wonderful! Next, while they still had both incomes, bought a modest twin house just outside Philadelphia. They started building the life they dreamed about together.

By their fifth anniversary, Peg and Dave’s life shifted. They weren’t those carefree kids in love any longer. They were the parents of two beautiful little girls and bill-paying, responsibility-laden homeowners. Still, they were a happy little family. Just the same, living on just Dave’s salary was much harder than they thought.

Dave’s parents offered some help, but they refused it.  After much conversation, Peg started looking for work she could do from home.

For the next couple of years, Peg worked as an insurance agent. It was a job where she could meet clients at night while Dave was home. She was good! Before long Peg was making as much money as Dave. When she started making more, Peg knew she could do even better. If she worked for a larger company, Peg could advance into management and also have healthcare and other benefits that Dave didn’t have. Dave knew it too. However, they both still felt strongly about having a parent at home.

So Peg and Dave renegotiated their marriage agreements. It made perfect sense for Dave to become a stay-at-home dad.

For the next ten years, the burly rough-and-tumble Dave took care of his daughters at home. When they started school, Dave was the parent who helped out at school, the one who chatted with teachers about the girls’ progress and who was there for them when they got home each afternoon. When the girls they needed something or when they got sick in the middle of the night, they called for Dave. 

Over time, the girls thrived. They bonded with their mom as their feminine role-model, the homework person, the problem-solver, etc. Yet, they got to know their father in a way that many girls don’t get to experience until their fathers are older – a common regret of both daughters and their fathers.

By the time they were in high school, the girls were into sports and other activities and Dave was bored out of his mind. And he saw the empty nest coming fast. So he sat down with Peg and, again, they renegotiated their agreements. Their new agreements reflected both their lifestyle and personal changes. They also honored Peg and Dave as individuals, as a couple, and as parents.

Peg and Dave’s story isn’t unusual. More and more women are working in executive positions, many that include long hours and travel. It’s a conundrum for couples. When not dealt with respectfully, it can also sow seeds of discontent, anger, and resentment.

With life changing daily and new roles replacing those of days gone by, the confines of traditional marriage clearly can’t serve today’s couples. It’s time to shift the marriage paradigm to something that makes sense for today’s couples. It’s The Five-Year Marriage®.

The Five-Year Marriage®

The Five-Year Marriage® is a new and better way for couples to live a marriage. In a Five-Year Marriage®, a couple like Peg and Dave don’t have to live with outmoded agreements. They have the clear choice to revisit and re-evaluate those agreements and, at the end of five years, renegotiate them as partners. They can honestly address those ever-happening changes – in life, in each other, and in the relationship. 

The Five-Year Marriage® breaks the “til death do us part” stranglehold that often suffocates relationships. It opens up a logical space for conversation and honest communication. It shines a light on problems early so that they can be solved before she or he starts feeling anger and resentment. The Five-Year Marriage® gives both partners an equal voice, with respect. It facilitates love. And, when a couple is still living in love, they are more open and willing to find ways to solve problems (vs. digging in their heels).

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE? What could you renegotiate in your marriage? 

Want to learn more about The Five-Year Marriage® ?

You can get started by reading The Five-Year Marriag® : Shifting the Marriage Paradigm, available on Amazon. And be sure to sign up for Annmarie Kelly’s Five-Year Marriage®  newsletter to get the latest information on articles, meetups, and workshops.

#FiveYearMarriage, #MarriageTips. #LoveAndMarriage, #PartnershipMarriage, #ModernMarriage #WomensEmpowerment, #MarriageContract, #RelationshipAdvice, #AnnmarieKelly, #ContractMarriage

Aniston: Women, Marriage and Divorce

five year marriage

“It’s a very storybook idea,” Jennifer Aniston says of traditional marriage in a recent Elle magazine interview. She calls marriage a “happily ever after” fantasy. Her reason is valid: “I think for some people it does work…but everybody’s path is different.” Yes, and everyone sees marriage – and divorce – differently.

Though her marriage to Justin Theroux ended earlier this year, Aniston doesn’t consider either of her marriages (the first to Brad Pitt) a failure. Reflecting on the well-publicized splits, she believes both marriages were successful. So what happened? She explains, “When they came to an end, it was a choice that was made because we chose to be happy, and sometimes happiness didn’t exist within that arrangement anymore.”

Are Women Practicing Sexism?

The most interesting part of the Elle interview was (to me) the media dubbing the end her second marriage a failure, and Aniston seeing that as “sexist.”  She has a really good point.

In society – past and present – men aren’t stigmatized in a divorce the same way women are. For starters, a woman has an almost-immediate negative impact on her lifestyle. Next, people are likely to feel sorrier for her than him because, they seem to feel, she will suffer and he won’t.

Unfortunately, Aniston observes, a lot of the pity comes from other women. Aniston wonders if that’s because they may be. “women who haven’t figured out that they have the power, that they have the ability to achieve a sense of inner happiness.” If that’s the case, she thinks that’s the greater failure which, she believes, is an oversight due to “narrow-minded thinking.”

Or, Aniston wonders if “using marriage and children as the ultimate marker of female happiness is just another way to disempower successful women.” Jen’s definitely onto something!

So many women still believe that their life doesn’t begin until they are married. Many powerful, self-sufficient executives still think marriage is a measure of success. Or that their life isn’t complete yet. So, as the old song says, “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” If a woman can’t find the relationship she wants, she settles for the one she can get. That “settling” may mean giving up some of her personal power. That can serve up some tough consequences for both her and him. Sadly, it’s even worse for their children.

What Makes the Five-Year Marriage® Different

Jennifer Aniston realizes something critically important about traditional marriage. It’s really old school because “we have these clichés around all of this that need to be reworked and retooled. That’s what The Five-Year Marriage® gives couples – a modern-day, reworked and retooled version of an old tradition.  It shows couples a new way of thinking about and living their marriage – one that makes practical sense for them.

In the Five-Year Marriage®, a woman doesn’t just see her life through only the prisms of herself as a spouse and mother. Instead, she understands that she (1) has power and (2) has a viable construct for using it in marriage. Both of those are is critically important to her psyche. She also focuses on her own SELF.

So, when she dates a prospective mate, she takes the time to ask the tough questions, even if she doesn’t like the answers. She makes sure they have shared values and goals, they talk about the really tough stuff. Then, unlike many old-school marriages, the woman – and the man who loves her and whom she loves – create a set of agreements before the wedding – in a format more detailed than the simple government-issued marriage contract.

Through the Five-Year Marriage® set-up, regular Family Meetings keep them accountable.  Those meetings also shine a light on what’s working and what’s not…before a lot of anger, resentment, and disconnection build up between the couple.

Over time, as the woman lives her life with her  partner, she pays attention to how the contract is or isn’t serving her and the relationship. If it isn’t, she has the space to renegotiate those agreements. So does he. That’s part of the paradigm-shifting design of The Five-Year Marriage.

What would you renegotiate in your marriage contract?

Interested in starting your own Five-Year Marriage®? Learn more and get the basics, starting with the book:  The Five-Year Marriage®: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm

#FiveYearMarriage, #MarriageTips. #LoveAndMarriage, #PartnershipMarriage, #ModernMarriage #WomensEmpowerment, #MarriageContract, #RelationshipAdvice, #AnnmarieKelly, #ContractMarriage,

DeNiro and Hightower: One-Sided Divorce?

Trouble in paradise - deniro
TFF 17 Opening Night red carpet CLIVE DAVIS: THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES

Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower recently made headlines – and not for a happy reason. The famed actor filed for a divorce from his long-time spouse after 20 years of marriage. This is the second time DeNiro has filed for divorce. The first time was about ten years ago. The divorce was never finalized because DeNiro and Hightower resolved their differences. They recommitted in a lavish, celebrity-filled ceremony.

So what happened this time?

Reports are surfacing about the reasons. They include Hightower’s lavish spending habits as well as stress over raising their autistic child, one of DeNiro’s two children with Hightower. According to Radar Online, the celebrity insider who confirmed the breakup to Page Six, and also said, “she was blindsided. As of a few weeks ago, everything seemed fine.”

Blindsided?? How could that be? A divorce, like a marriage, involves two people. How does a marriage die – but only one person writes the obituary? A one-sided divorce is something of a puzzle.

Clearly DeNiro and Hightower weren’t connecting in a meaningful way. If there were problems, the two weren’t sitting down to discuss them. Or, if they discussed their problems, they weren’t finding a way to effectively identify and resolve the difficulty. As every long-time married couple knows, partner communication in marriage is more important than sex. Without it, the marriage partners experience a disconnect accompanied by loneliness, anger and/or resentment.

Two Ways the Five-Year Marriage® Shifts the Marriage Paradigm in Your Favor

The Five-Year Marriage® recognizes the communication cornerstone…and human nature. Here’s how:

  • Time-Limits. It’s human nature to put things off until you have to do it. Most people are motivated by deadlines. The Five-Year Marriage® has the built-in end date of five years. Partners cannot lull themselves into thinking they unlimited time (’til death) to fix a problem. They have five years. It creates an incentive for communication, as well as a method for action and accountability.
  • Structured Support. Five-Year couples develop the habit of doing a team temperature check. They do it during their Family Meetings, where they use a format to evaluate their relationship.

How to Have a Family Meeting That Works

  1. Set a definite time and place
  2. Start the meeting with a “high five” list of what’s going right
  3. Next, identify what isn’t going well, and talk about how it isn’t and how that’s a problem – without blame or finger-pointing
  4. Then figure out how to solve the problem; figure out how to get help if you need it (counselor, mediator, books, etc.)
  5. Finally make a commitment for who’s going to do what in the resolution process. For example, if someone is overspending, create a budget. Maybe there already is a budget but it’s not being honored. Then make an agreement that both of you have to agree on anything for which your joint money is being used over a specific dollar amount.
  6. Follow-up on your progress at the next Family Meeting.

If the problem isn’t being resolved, go for mediation or counseling – before resentment builds up and turns to hate or apathy. And before one partner feels so disconnected to the relationship that s/he files for divorce and blindsides the other.

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE? Thinking about couples you know, how would a Family Meeting help their communication?

To learn more about the Five-Year Marriage®, join the Five-Year Marriage community. When you do, you will get a download link for my article on “The Four Traits in a Partner to Avoid at All Costs.

Ready? Here’s what to do now:

Get my Five-Year Marriage® started! Sign-up and receive “The 4 Traits to AVOID AT ALL COSTS in a partner”! (PDF) Plus, be the first to know what’s new with the Five Year Marriage®

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Would You Walk Away on Your Wedding Day?

marriage advice
What Would You Do?

Casey thought her wedding day would be the happiest day of her life. So, on the night before she was to marry long-time love, Alex, she was totally unprepared for the shock of her life.

While celebrating with her bridal part, Casey started getting some texts. At first she thought they were hot and sexy somethings from Alex. It didn’t take her long to figure out that they weren’t.

To Casey’s amazement, the texts were from Alex to another woman.  They contained pictures and oh-so-hot messages, which she recently posted on her social media, including these:“This weekend. You and I. It is on, hot stuff. Bring your A game.” and “Your body is f-ing incredible. And…you know how to use it. I wish my GF had half the skills you do.”

Casey was confused and devastated. Her outraged girlfriends insisted she call Alex immediately and dump his sorry butt. However, to their surprise, she didn’t.

Casey couldn’t wrap her head around what was happening to her now happiest-day–turned-nightmare.  She didn’t know what to do…until the next day…

As planned, Casey got ready for her wedding. However, when she walked up the aisle, her phone was hidden beneath her bouquet. She got to the front of the church, turned around, and did something that stupefied Alex and astonished her guests. Instead of reading her vows, and with tears streaming down her face, Casey read Alex’s text messages aloud – all of them.

When Alex tried to grab her hand, the scorned Casey didn’t give him any opportunity for redemption.  Shocked, embarrassed and angry, he stormed out of the church. Casey then told her guests that they wouldn’t be going to a wedding reception that day, but to join her for “a celebration of honesty, finding true love and following your heart even when it hurts.”

Could you have done that? Would you?

Casey’s story isn’t as uncommon as you might like to believe. Many brides-to-be have more than second thoughts or wedding day jitters. They have premonitions, misgivings, and “feelings” – that are most often ignored because once the train is on that wedding day track, it’s hard to stop. The money is spent, the invitations are out, and…what will people think?

Also, you want to be in love and have the “happily ever after.” That makes you vulnerable and easily duped into having a fake or doomed relationship…without even knowing it. That’s why the old saying “love is blind and marriage opens the eyes” still sticks; it’s an all-too-common reality.

Was love so blind for Casey? Was this the first time Alex cheated on her? Or, had it happened before, Alex asked for forgiveness and swore it would never happen, and Casey let it slide?

Or, maybe it’s something deeper. Maybe Casey, like most prospective brides (and grooms too) don’t want to believe s/he could have been so fooled or made such a big mistake. Nobody wants to be wrong. And many people would prefer to take a risk on suffering the consequences down the road than be publicly embarrassed.

Not for Casey. She chose short-term embarrassment over long-term pain.

What about you? Is there any way you can stack the deck a bit to avoid the same thing?

Frankly, there are no guarantees in relationships. “Stuff” happening is always possible. However, the Five-Year Marriage® gives you some solid leverage for shifting the marriage paradigm in your favor. Here are three ways that happens:

  • Someone who has the intention of deceiving is looking for a safe space to do it. The traditional “til death do you part” marriage provides cover for their despicable acts. The Five-Year Marriage® is not so protective. It has more accountability built into its design. So it’s harder to hide deceptive or bad behaviors, even as early as dating and courtship.
  • The process of creating the Five-Year Marriage® partnership is more open and transparent. It challenges “feelings” of love and instead calls for fact-based communication and an honesty that puts that love into action…before the wedding.
  • You use Family Meetings to hold both partners to their agreements on a regular basis. If one partner isn’t living up to those agreements before the marriage, you aren’t stuck for ten-fifteen-fifty years or until the relationship sucks all the joy out of you.

Are YOU ready to shift the marriage paradigm in your favor with your own Five-Year Marriage®? Get started by joining the Five-Year Marriage® community where you will be the first to find out about upcoming facebook live, seminars, workshops, retreats and more. Click here: Yes, I want to shift the marriage paradigm in my favor!

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