Last week was the annual Victorious Woman celebration, The Girlfriend Gala. Along with all the goodies of silent auction and raffles and happy chatter, I had a “contest table.” It was dedicated to my book, The Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm. After looking at the table, and the book, a woman rushed up to me.
“The first five years of my first marriage were great,” she laughed. And then she said, with a bit sadness combined with a little sneer, “It was all downhill after that.” She explained how, after her first “great” five years, there were children, work, family and social obligations, and eventually, a divorce.
That Victory Chick’s story is not new to me. It’s similar to one I’ve heard – over and over – for most of my adult life. Not all of the stories – or the marriages they were about – ended with a divorce. Some of them ended with things like “but I wasn’t getting a divorce (or another divorce),” or “I vowed for better or for worse,” and sometimes “we don’t really have anything in common and mostly go out separate ways, but I have a great lifestyle and I don’t want to give it up.”
Women and men have different reasons for getting married. They range from passion to maturity – and, of course, there’s always the looming biological clock. In The Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm, I devoted a whole chapter (Is Marriage Obsolete) to the myriad reasons why people get married.
Sometimes – but not often enough – a couple are lucky enough to have the same reasons. That can be magical – if the couple is smart enough to adjust AND communicate those reasons as life moves along and the inevitable changes happen.
If you are planning your wedding, make sure you and your fiance are on the same page about why you want to BE married. Ask your partner:
- How do you want the next five years to unfold? Do you want to have children, finish school, focus on your career, travel….what?
It’s important to talk about and come to an agreement. You need to be traveling on the same road with a common destination.
And once won’t be enough. You need to do it again at the end of five years. Life happens and things change. And those changes (children, money, deaths and disappointments, growth and successes) all affect the way you think and feel about life, people, each other. If you don’t talk about those things, you’re making a mistake.
Remember: You aren’t just getting married. After the wedding, you will BE married. Marriage is difficult enough when you and your partner agree. However, when you do, and things get funky, at least you have each other to lean on – and sometimes pick each other up.
If you aren’t in agreement, as partners, it will be a challenge that at least half of all married couples can’t overcome.
Will you be the woman – or man – saying, “The first five years were great! And it was downhill after that…” OR will you be saying something better?
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