Is There Room in Your Relationship?

Manger of Annmarie Kelly - Womens Empowerment Coach

This year I decorated my house for Christmas. Not that I don’t do it every year, but when I started going away for Christmas a few years ago, I switched to “decoration-light.”

Not this year. I needed more help getting that “festive” feeling, so I went full throttle. Taking out old ornaments and trinkets brought back memories of Christmases past…and happy feelings started coming back.

While Joseph trimmed the tree, I went through the “Christmas boxes” and, as I unwrapped this little thing or that one, I thinned out the stash. I let go of anything that didn’t have a personal or emotional significance, or that I once felt “obligated” to keep. You know the kind I’m talking about, right? Well this year I decided I’m old enough to toss whatever reminded me of anything or anybody that didn’t bring back a happy memory. It was good – I felt lighter!

Among the “keeps” are my two mangers. One was my parents’manger from their first Christmas. It was displayed under the tree throughout my childhood. Most of the porcelain figures broke long ago, but the Baby Jesus, a few animals, and the manger itself are still there.

The other nativity set is my first one. It’s Avon, bought from a friend who was selling Avon (of course) when I lived in my first apartment. It doesn’t have as much character as the older one, but still has its original parts.

Both nativities are displayed on the living room window seat. They’re easy to notice…which is how, one night last week, I got to thinking about Christmas in New York…

Christmas in Manhattan

It was 2018 when Joseph and I took the train to Manhattan on Christmas Eve morning. We stayed at a funky little place across the street from Grand Central Station. After checking in, we took a paid tour of the iconic landmark with a guide who gave us all the juicy history, from the station’s beginnings to Jackie Kennedy’s efforts to keep it from being demolished and even shared The Campbell, a “secret” lounge popular during the 20’s – the last one 🙂

The weather was very mild for late December, even at night. So we walked everywhere – east side, west side, and all around the town – including to the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Christmas Mass.

Not surprisingly, the church was packed, but thanks to Joseph’s initiative, we got a great seat – end of the pew on the main aisle.

We were right there listening to the beautiful choir sing O Come All Ye Faithful as the altar boys and priests processed to the altar followed by the well-known Cardinal Dolan. It was neat to see and hear, and the majesty of the moment wasn’t lost on me.

The Mass itself was standard for the holiday…until the homily. It was a short and simple talk. Yet, for me, it turned out to be the most meaningful sermon I ever heard.

Dolan started the homily with a cute story about his nephew, but quickly wound his way to retelling how Joseph and his very pregnant spouse, Mary, were told there was “no room at the inn.” So, turned away from everywhere, the couple ended up in a stable, where Mary gave birth to Jesus. You know the story…me too.

Frankly, it was standard Christmas fare – until the Cardinal asked, “What about you?” He asked if we ever thought about making room in our hearts for Jesus, or had we been so wrapped up in the busyness of “doing Christmas” that we too were saying “no room.”

In all my years of hearing or reading that nativity story, I’d never thought about it that way. I never internalized it enough to ask myself “am I making room in my heart — or am I saying ‘no room here’ too?” It brought tears to my eyes then…and now.

For those of us who celebrate the meaning of the season, it’s a good question to ask ourselves, right?

Is There Room for Your Relationship?

However, the reason I want to share that story with you is this: You and I are at the end of a year filled with loss — so many kinds, and at all levels. It challenged us in ways we never expected. Many couples – even the most positive of couples and with the strongest marriages –  discovered holes in the fabric of their relationships. And,  for as much as you’ve been through this year, if you’re like me, your heart is struggling between being sad, angry, frustrated, and stuck in some lockdown-induced rut.

Yet there’s the promise of a return to normal sometime soon. It can’t be soon enough, right? What’s next?

Try this…
While we’re waiting for the promised “herd immunity” you have some time to ask yourself, or think about – and maybe even meditate on – this question: “What can I do right now to open my heart so that, in the new year, I won’t be saying ‘no room’ but to be more open to love?” Figuring out that answer will change everything…

If both of you do it, then this will be a good time for you and your sweetie to talk together. Whatever difficulties your relationship went through, with open hearts, you can find the room to be more open to rethinking and resetting your relationship.

I wish you a fabulous Christmas and a wonderful holiday!

With love and in victory,
Annmarie

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 ®

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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

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Quarantine Quarrels

Unhappy couple arguing on the couch at home in the living room

Your new lifestyle, courtesy of the coronavirus, is giving you some interesting challenges, isn’t it? You’re working from home, homeschooling  your kids, and getting meals on the table – all while trying to stay healthy.

Then, just the other day, you realized something. All those little quirks your sweetie has – the ones you usually brush off – are starting to wear on your nerves. Today you read that there’s been a spike in Chinese divorces since the coronavirus and you thought, “No surprise! It’s only been a couple weeks and s/he is a making me crazy.” At the same time you’re wondering…are these quarantine quarrels a sign of something serious?

Maybe – maybe not. Here’s one way to figure it out:

First, relax. Take a deep breath. Remember that you’re both used to your space and now you don’t have it. It’s stressing you out. It may seem like forever, but it really is temporary.

Next, take a minute to stop and regroup. Fighting is a normal part of a relationship. You are bound to get on each other’s nerves from time to time. Right now you both need some time to be apart. Plan it – go out for a jog, find a quiet place in the house to be alone, call an old friend. If you have kids, each of you take some time alone with them so your partner can have some me-time.

Then stop and think. In The Five-Year Marriage®, I tell people to focus on patterns of behavior. When you’re bickering, are you arguing about a temporary annoyance or a pattern? Is your sweetie watching repeats of old SuperBowl games or binge watching Downton Abbey and it’s annoying the hell out of you? If those aren’t regular patterns, it’s likely to be more about immediate stress relief. For those, as the old nuns used to say, “kiss it up to God.”

On the other hand, if your partner is online and running up the credit cards…as usual…that’s a pattern of behavior. It concerned you before, but now you’re both out of work, money is an issue and it doesn’t seem to matter. Or maybe it’s not about money or something so concrete. What if s/he has a pattern of constant complaining or seeing the downside of everything. That negatively affects you and it matters for your health and well-being.

If quarantine quarrels are highlighting serious issues – around money, alcohol, online gaming, criticism, etc. – that’s a problem. Maybe in your busy lifestyle you didn’t even notice it. or it wasn’t an issue. However, now that you do and it’s a concern, DO something. It’s not going to magically disappear when the coronavirus quarantine is over.

You can start by mentioning it as a concern that you want to talk about later. Trying to fix it when you’re stressed enough and cooped up in the house together probably isn’t a good idea; it will only add to your stress. Still, you can share your feelings and  get an agreement to talk about it at the end of the confinement. You might even get an agreement to get outside help with a marriage therapist. If you do, make the appointment now – once the quarantine is over, therapists are likely to be very busy!

Finally, understand that the coronavirus quarantine isn’t the end of all things, but it’s a definite shift. Pay attention now and prepare so when life returns to what will be the “new normal” you can be better off and ready for the good stuff.

Want some self-help? Download the Kindle copy of the Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm  today. It’s chock full of ideas and things to think about and talk about to help you bridge the gap between now and your happier future!

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Is Marriage Broken?

Fix a broken marriage“Incompatibility of temperament between the parties such that they find it impossible to live together as husband and wife” is what Todd Palin, spouse of Sarah Palin, put in the divorce papers. With that, it seems that Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and only the second woman ever to run for Vice-President of the United States, is getting a divorce after 31 years of marriage.

The Palins married in 1988, a month – almost to the day – before the first of my seven five-year marriages. So I relate to challenges of a thirty-one year relationship. And because Sarah Palin is in the news – though it’s none of my business – I’m curious about what happened. Maybe you are too. I think we want to know a little bit because it juicy gossip. But I think we are more interested in whether the same thing is happening in our relationship.

Because of my work, I talk to a lot of women who are divorced…or thinking about it. When it comes to the “why,” I know that it’s seldom one thing that ends a marriage. Yes, there could be a catalyst – like an affair or a big money issue. However, very often that is just “the last straw” in a series of events that troubled the marriage. The affair we hear about could be just the latest one, or there’s an alcohol/drug abuse/domestic violence/hoarding problem. It’s been going on for years.. There were a million promises that weren’t kept. It finally reached a crescendo of intolerance for the partner.

Is the “Forever Marriage” an Impossible Dream?

The fact is that the ’til death do you part” marriage is now longer than anyone ever imagined – even just a generation or two ago. In the olden days, couples who married “until death do you part” were together for twenty or twenty-five years. It was long enough to raise a few kids into young adulthood. Then the man died and the woman lived out her last few years are the mourning widow and kind grandmom. If she married again, chances are that marriage would last an even shorter time.

Those days are long gone.

Thanks to the many fabulous advances in medicine and health, the average life expectancy around the world is about 82 years old. The conventional ‘til death commitment could mean fifty or more years.

Living with your Spouse can be Hard

Every married person knows how hard it is to live with someone. Life happens, stuff happens, and things change. When they do, emotions run hot and cold, words are said, and feelings get hurt…sometimes deeply. Each one of those things changes you. – even when you love the person.

So who, at age 25 or 30, can honestly make that kind of commitment? They can’t. It’s an unreasonable expectation.

The marriage paradigm that is in place now – and has been for the past two thousand or more years doesn’t work now for at least half of today’s married couples. It’s become an unreasonable edict, an impossible dream.

There’s a better way to Structure a Marriage : The Five-Year Marriag

How it works: Before marrying the first time, a couple makes agreements that stretch over five years, revolving around careers, money, children, responsibilities, etc. At the end of five years, the couple pauses their marriage. They assess what’s changed, in life and in themselves. They talk about how those changes impact their relationship and their future together. Looking at the next five years, they renegotiate old agreements and make new agreements. Then they “spiritually” end that marriage and enter into a new one…for five years.

For the typical couple, the focus of the first five years might be on advancing a careers, buying a house, and/or having a child. They focus on whether both partners will continue to work outside or if one partner becomes a stay-at-home parent? They decide who will oversee bill-paying, how will they save money, split household chores, and more.

A marriage agreement that allows couples to change and grow over time

At the end of five years, the couple evaluates the relationship in light of their personal and relationship changes. They rethink what they want and how to partner for the next five years. Maybe in the first marriage, they only wanted two children, but now they want more – or vice versa. Or s/he thought s/he wanted to be a stay-at-home mom/dad but misses the career (or the money) and wants to change course.

In the case of Sarah and Todd Palin, when Sarah decided to run for governor and then vice-president, it affected Todd and the marital relationship. It also impacted the whole family. So did the birth of a special needs child. Did they talk about all those changes? Did they get any outside help with the problems – like a family mediator or couples therapist?

When things get wonky in a Five-Year Marriage® , after they reevaluate and reconnect, they get a fresh start.

What’s Next? A New Idea on Traditional Marriage

If fifty was still the average life span, the ‘til death marriage might still work. It’s a blessing to humankind that our life expectancy is thirty or forty years longer. However, with the extension of life, related things (like marriage) need to adjust to something that is doable in today’s world.

Marriage with Breathing Room

The Five-Year Marriage® gives a couple some breathing room. Their dreams and goals get revisited, discussed, and maybe revised. They can reset their expectations. Problems-in-the-making can get resolved before they become marriage-enders. Marriage counseling may be chosen before the couple hates each other and it’s just a “last chance” (often useless) effort.

Yes – marriage is broken! It’s time we shift the paradigm of marriage to one that makes sense in today’s world for modern couples.

Get your copy of The Five-Year Marriage From Amazon!

To learn more, check out The Five-Year Marriage® : Shifting the Marriage Paradigm in HardCopy or Kindle

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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

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What If He Isn’t Interested?

Get your man interested in a relationship reset“We celebrated our fifth anniversary,” Jill told me. ”It’s a good time to look back. So I told my husband about the Five-Year Marriage®. He gave me a weird look. Then, in an irritated voice I didn’t recognize, he said, ‘Are you crazy?’ And, with that, Jill dropped the subject.

However, what she told me later was, “He thought I was talking about getting a divorce, but I wasn’t. I just wanted to talk about our relationship.”

Of course, Jill wasn’t talking about getting a divorce. She wasn’t even thinking about it. She wanted, after five years, to evaluate their relationship. Her goal was to open a new door for problem-solving before any little problems got bigger. She also wanted to talk about the changes her growing business was making for both of them. Finally, she wanted to affirm that they share mostly good experiences, and figure out how to get more of them. Instead, once that conversation shut down, they talked about the food, their families, work…and stayed on the surface of their relationship.

Jill’s experience is common. It happens more than most women (and some men) want to admit. Then, when the marriage hit a breaking point for her, and she wants out, he’s flummoxed. The complaint goes something like this: “All of a sudden, she tells me she wants a divorce. Where did that come from?” And, when I hear that, I always wonder, “How many years did she try to tell you there was a problem and you didn’t want to hear her?”

Starting the Five-Year Marriage® Conversation

Talking about and creating your own Five-Year Marriage® isn’t something that happens in a single conversation. Instead, it’s a process.

Think of it like planting flowers in the spring. Very often the ground is hard and compact. It doesn’t absorb water. As a result, you can’t plant anything. You can’t even get a shovel into the dirt. If you want to plant something, first you have to “condition” the ground with water. Then, when it’s aerated, you can start planting.

The mind is much the same. New ideas – like The Five-Year Marriage® – are like that too. You can’t plant in the dry, compacted soil of old ideas – like traditional marriage. The mind isn’t ready and the idea is immediately rejected.

So, even though you want to talk about The Five-Year Marriage® , if your partner isn’t ready, you won’t get anywhere. So you need to think about how to best “prepare the soil.” Every time you do , you’re gently aerating the hard soil of a mind not used to the idea.

Here are some ways to help you:

  • Give it the light touch. You don’t have to be “militant” about the idea. Make it an part of an “I’m curious” conversation.
  • Read The Five-Year Marriage® articles found on the Five-Year Marriage® website. When you find one that you think your partner can connect to, bring it into your conversation. Say, “Get this! I was reading an article about this couple…” Explain why the article interested you and end with, “that’s something different…what do you think about it?” Whatever those thoughts are, see them as the beginning of a longer conversation, either now or in the future.
  • Leave the book around where it’s visible – like the nightstand or coffee table. That is likely to generate questions, like “are you thinking about a divorce?” Good – any interest is better than none. Interest is the equivalent of a rain shower on dry dirt. It’s a conversation starter.
  • Send out some feelers. If you see an article or interview about The Five-Year Marriage® , share it. Ask questions like, “that makes me curious…how about you?”
  • Point to somebody else. Find a couple in your circle – or a celebrity couple – who are having problems, or got divorced. Express your concern about how easily that can happen to any couple. Ask “what do you think was a problem for them?” Then ask, “how do you think a Five-Year Marriage® would have helped them?” or “how do you think a Five-Year Marriage® could have made a difference?

Traditional marriage, with its out-of-date construct, is ingrained in our brains. Most people like the idea of marriage, but even when they’re married for a long time, couples wish there was a better way. The Five-Year Marriage® is it. When you give your Five-Year Marriage® the light touch, and use examples that make sense to your partner, s/he will be more receptive. And you will both be happier for it!

If you’ve been reading my articles and are want to know more, sign up here for The Five-Year Marriage® newsletter. You’ll get a few emails right up front. They’ll tell you more about The Five-Year Marriage® . After that you’ll get an email when there is a new article, a free teleseminar, a upcoming workshop and discount offers. Get it here: The Five-Year Marriage® Newsletter

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

 

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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.

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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,