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

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!

#Coronavirus #Quarantine #FiveYearMarriage #MarriageTips #LoveAndMarriage #PartnershipMarriage #ModernMarriage #MarriagAdvice #WomensEmpowerment #MarriageContract #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,

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

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

Are You Kidding Me?

Strong Women
We Can Do It Poster Illustration

“Long before it’s time for Mom to help plan the wedding dress or Dad to give the bride away, it’s time to be raising a future wife in your home. Because wives aren’t born – they are made.” That was the warning author Constance J. Foster gave mothers. And in her 1956 Parents Magazine article “Raise Your Daughter to Be a Wife,” Eve Nelson told mothers to get started early. She wrote, “It’s up to you to create a female aura before she can even say ‘goo’.”

So, good mothers schooled their daughters in cooking, cleaning, having kids, and being a stay-at-home mom. Fathers let their daughters know their main function was to make everything good, happy, and respectful for her spouse, the wage-earner. There was no sense spending thousands of dollars for a college tuition on a girl who was only going to be changing diapers. A better use of his money was for “finishing” school. Was that to finish off the job of learning marital servility? 

The adage was “be an angel in the kitchen, a lady in the living room, and a devil in the bedroom.” Good cooking, good manners and good in bed. That was the recipe for happiness – his – not hers. Sexually, a women was told to submit to sex, whether she wanted it or not. There was no feminism or #METOO anything. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to enjoy sex (still a popular opinion in cultures that support female genital mutilation). Sex was important in the marriage so she could keep her husband – the breadwinner – happy. The idea of marital rape was foreign, because sex was a man’s prerogative and right. She was little more than a depository. And, if a man cheated, it had to be her fault.

Abuse was often part of the package – except that it wasn’t considered abuse to hit or even spank a wife as a form of discipline. Men believed that sometimes a wife needed it just to “keep her in line.” While some religions still believe that, most people consider spanking as discipline to be domestic abuse.

Even though all that was going on in most households, a significant swing in woman-power had begun.  During WWII, when men were at war, women were able to get jobs – and even managerial positions – in places they previously couldn’t – aircraft plants, shipyards, manufacturing.  Most women who worked in those places liked it – and wanted to keep working. They resented being expected to go back to being housewives when the soldiers came home.

However, those women did it…but the genie was already out of the bottle. That resentment fueled the rebellion that later became “women’s liberation” and then the first and second waves of feminism. Though the old-style marriage that allowed a man to be in charge without question, and a woman to shut-up and do what was expected, was the norm, the wheels of change were cranking.

While Foster and Nelson were spewing old school garbage in magazines and books, many women started noticing that Harriet was smarter than Ozzie, women like Lucy and Ethel weren’t ditsy broads, and Ralph Kramden would have fallen apart if it wasn’t for Alice being the brains in the partnership. Then all hell broke loose. Books like The Feminine Mystique and Fear of Flying became bestsellers. The National Organization of Women (NOW) was formed, News-capturing events like Billie Jean King’s “Battle of the Sexes” was the talk of the world. Suddenly feminism took center stage and, when it did, opened doors for many women.

Since then women have grown up and grown into their own power. They own their own homes, have advanced degrees, executive positions, thriving businesses and, more and more, sit on the boards of major corporations. There are still so many issues for women, but the worst of them are history, or at least being addressed with movements like #MeToo.

That’s why The Five-Year Marriage® is so important for today’s empowered woman.   The old-fashioned marriage of yesteryear is simply obsolete. The empowered woman needs a marital structure that honors her needs and desires.

The Five-Year Marriage® does that by shifting the old paradigm, and giving a woman both her voice AND the power to go with that voice. And, at the same time, it honors the men who join them in as an equal in partnership. The marital partnership is key to The Five-Year Marriage® where both partners can expect The Solid Seven of the Five-Year Marriage®:

  • Emotional Chemistry
  • Ongoing Dialogue
  • Dependability
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Freedom
  • Fairness
  • Mutual Respect

The Solid Seven set reasonable relationship parameters for both partners. And, within those parameters, couples build the kind of trust that leads to true intimacy in a marriage. In the end, intimacy is what the empowered woman – and the man who loves her – really wants.

You can read more about the Solid Seven and how to create your own Five-Year Marriage® the book (available on The Five-Year Marriage®: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm

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

Negotiations Ain’t Easy!

Crossing Another Bridge Together

As Joseph and I are wrapping up this marriage, we’re in negotiations for another one. Yes, we’ve decided to marry again. However, after thirty years, the conversations around our next marriage are different.

Actually, every marriage negotiation conversation is different. And difficult.

The different part is the easier of the two. We’re different because the world changed in the last five years. As a result, we’ve changed. Sometimes the changes are goal-related. Our experiences change how we see our jobs, our relationships and our mind/body/soul connection. That’s easy to accept.

“Difficult” is another story. Just by virtue of our age, we know our next five years will be different than our last. The timeline of our life is different at sixty than it was at thirty – and that impacts the timeline of our marriage. Nobody likes to talk about what aging does to a body, a career or a lifestyle.

In addition, focus and reorganization are challenges.

Focus has two parts: (1) making focused time to have the negotiation discussions is one – and making time for The Five-Year Marriage® is always a challenge (but one with a BIG payoff) and (2) focusing on goals and goal-related tasks.

You see, through most of our marriages, we were in a “building” phase – building our individual businesses, moving either our business or home, and buying things – equipment, furniture, a new kitchen, etc. Our next five years will be more centered on our joint business goals instead of just joint personal goals. We’ve never done that before. We’ve supported each other’s goals, and partnered, but we’ve maintained our own things. To some degree we still will, but we are also working together to help other couples create their own The Five-Year Marriages® through workshops and retreats. Doing that is a fun something we love, but it’s also a shift in Joseph’s practice and my business.

Something else that’s coming up in our negotiations is our home organization. For example, I often say that the most challenging part of keeping our house clean is straightening up. We aren’t slobs, but because so much is always going on in our lives, we move fast. So we don’t always put things back where they belong. As a result, before anything can get cleaned, we have to take time (waste time?) putting things away.

We need to change that…and figuring out how to do that is harder than either one of us anticipated. The reason? While we both agree on the direction, we have two different opinions about how to get there. That’s where the fireworks happen.

Also, though we agree on what we need, old habits die hard, so we know there will be challenges – and arguments – until we create the new habits that support our goals. And change is hard – even though we know we need to so we can get more of what we want.

We have a month to go before our wedding…so we’re down to the wire…

Like these ideas? You can find more tips and techniques in Annmarie Kelly’s book, The Five-Year Marriage®: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm. 

Btw: Don’t forget to signup for the Five-Year Marriage® Newsletter. You’ll be the first to know about free seminars, upcoming workshops and retreats and other good stuff.

#FiveYearMarriage, #LoveAndMarriage, #PartnershipMarriage, #MarriageContract, #RelationshipAdvice, #AnnmarieKelly, #ContractMarriage

And Ending…and a Beginning


As Joseph and I are planning the end of our marriage, we’ve gotten far enough in our re-negotiating phase to decide to go another five years. We still have plenty to discuss and stuff to work out, but we decided to get married on September 22.

Until now, we didn’t know where to have our ceremony….or if we wanted a big party or not. And, since this is August, the likelihood of getting any venue seemed like it would be in the slim-to-none category. I called the place where I have my annual fundraiser, The Girlfriend Gala. They are booked Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Then I thought about my old high school. There’s a mansion there, where we have the annual alumni luncheon. It has a chapel and great hall – enough for the ceremony followed by drinks and a light buffet.

On a whim, I emailed Lori at the Faunbrook B&B. It’s a place I’ve looked at for Five-Year Marriage® couples retreats. My emailed started with “I know this is probably a crazy question at this late date…” I expected an “I’ve been booked for this date since spring.”

To my surprise, Lori told me that date was the only date she has open all fall. She doesn’t have someone penciled in, but that couple hasn’t given a deposit. She wondered if I could wait until she contacted them. Seriously? Of course I could wait. About a week later, Lori got back to me. The other couple decided to have their ceremony in someone’s backyard. The B&B would be available.

What are the odds?!?


Today Joseph and I went over to Faunbrook. We booked the date and gave Lori the money for the venue (it’s too late for just a deposit). She gave Joseph and I the tour as she suggested different places to have the ceremony, where the guests would be seated, how she would set up the food, bar, etc.

Joseph and I decided we’d have the ceremony on the side porch section of the beautiful wraparound porch, the bar will be around the corner of the porch and our guests will be seated on the patio – where there will still be a canopy/tent for fall weddings.

We decided to have a cocktail hour at 3pm, before the 4pm ceremony.  I like that idea because everyone will be in a more relaxed mood for our ceremony. After we are married, we’ll have a toast, followed by a buffet dinner. We’re meeting with the caterer, Merrill Johnston, next week…right before we leave for our Maine vacation. I think I want a wedding cake…what a wedding without a cake?? And a little while ago Joseph asked our friend, Vincent James, to do the music….and he will.

It’s a little late to order paper invitations. So I’m going to send evites – the “paid version” – which are very pretty.

I’m a little shocked by how fast this came together – especially since this was so last minute. But I’m glad – and EXCITED!

Now…to find a dress…

#FiveYearMarriage, #LoveAndMarriage, #PartnershipMarriage, #MarriageContract, #RelationshipAdvice, #AnnmarieKelly, #ContractMarriage

My Marriage is Ending

On Jordan Pond

Recently I was talking to a twenty-something, newly-engaged woman who loves the idea of The Five-Year Marriage®. “It keeps things fresh,” she affirmed. And she was correct. A Five-Year Marriage® does keep things fresh…and that’s the good part. However, the new beginning follows an old ending.

The end of a marriage is always a challenge. As Joseph and I are ending this one, we’ve taken some time to reflect on what went right and what didn’t. That includes figuring out how to resolve the latter and get more of the former. We expect a lot of changes in the next few years. So a lot of the stuff we have to resolve is around shifting roles, both in our home and in our careers. It also means a lot of letting go of things like:

  • Stale beliefs: that includes those “not good enough” and “not enough” beliefs as well a misconception: “we have plenty of time”
  • Responsibilities that we no longer have to keep. Some of those are family obligations, others are considerations for people and things that no longer have purpose or meaning and can leave our lives
  • Old lifestyle habits that no longer serve us
    • For Joseph and me, that’s about organization. If there’s a flat surface, we put something on it – end tables, island, steps…and then the place looks a mess, so that needs to change
  • Clutter: Letting go of actual things we no longer need or feelings that create negativity or limitation between us

And it means embracing new things:

  • Lifestyle habits that support our upcoming marriage
    • One is such a simple thing: putting everything away at night. It seems simple, but we haven’t been doing it. Now we are agreeing to change an old pattern
  • A different budget
    • We need to pay attention to what our retirement funds look like…because, at some point, that’s going to happen – whether we are ready or not
  • Making more time for R&R – something self-employed people never seem to get enough of

So, the young woman was correct. The Five-Year Marriage® does keep things fresh. However, as I say in the book, the Five-Year Marriage® ain’t for sissies. “Fresh” doesn’t happen accidentally or by magic. It happens with purpose and focus and and communication, all of which can be (at times) uncomfortable. However, the result is that you and your partner gain more trust with each other. And, with trust, comes greater intimacy. And, if it not for intimacy, why would anyone – especially in today’s changing world – ever get married? The result is worth the effort.

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