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:
- Where are we in our relationship?
- What’s working?
- We love each other, we’re great parents, etc.
- Give yourselves a “high fives” for what’s working!
- 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]
- 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.
- How can we fix this?
- How will fixing it help us – as a couple? FYI: This is for motivation
- What happens if we can’t fix it?
- Living together loneliness, leading separate lives, separation, divorce
- 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.
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