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, he 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 Marriage: 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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