Love & Marriage
By Founder of "The New Hollywood" Brianna Brown
One of the fundaments that we all strive toward (or have) is to have a deep, meaningful, long lasting romantic relationship. Where we once felt those butterflies in our gut and we just "knew" our soulmate had finally crossed our path and we were destined to live happily ever after. To pop out 2 and a half kids, own a home with a white picket fence and be adored and cared for until our last breath on Earth. Little girls often times dream of their wedding day and marriage. We see the fairytale depicted in Disney princess movies from a very young age. We also see the polar opposite in reality shows making falling in love a strategic plot to win anothers heart against a gaggle of desperate opponents. We see brides acting certifiably insane but their actions and reactions swept under the rug because they are getting married and it's somehow acceptable to be a "bridezilla" to all the people spending a boat load of money and time for their big (chosen) day. All of this emphasis on the beginning of a relationship and on the destination of a celebration but I think that there is not enough focus on what the real commitment that both parties are vowing for, not enough spoken about tricks and tools for the day to day maintenance, and what is required to uphold those butterflies so that special magic lasts and evolves decade after decade. With marriage statistics being grim odds that most wouldn't take if at a gambling table in Vegas one has to ask HOW do so many successful couples do it? And WHY do so many couples with the best of intentions fail? I'm no expert on marriage (as I've never been married) but I strive to create that bond, that partnership that select couples have cultivated and maintained. So I decided to write a TNH blog about LOVE & MARRIAGE not just for selfish reasons but as a gift for my brother who is now a newlywed. To utilize my resources and get feedback from newly wed couples, to thriving (not surviving) marriages that have lasted decades and everything in between. I contacted friends and family (men and women) to reveal some of their secrets. I hope their insights help you avoid pitfalls, recognize what works and what doesn't and further inspires you to appreciate that special person who promised to be there for you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. And more importantly I hope this blog will perhaps cultivate a larger conversation so we can all help one another achieve a deep, meaningful, long lasting romantic relationship.
The two questions I asked folks were the following:
1. What wisdom do you wish you had know prior to getting married?
2. Why do you think you have a successful and loving marriage?
Wisdom I wish I had known: I wish I had known how happy I would be with the right partner so I wouldn't have freaked out so much right before our wedding. When I woke up the next morning, after the wedding, I had an overwhelming feeling of calm and "right". I knew I was with the right person.
Successful and loving marriage: We have a successful marriage because we have a pretty good system for getting through hard times - we try to never talk about anything when either of us is tired, hungry or under stress. We both respect each other and leave room for mistakes. It is a priority to both of us to grow together and to make our marriage a happy one. Both of us are always willing to build awareness and spiritually grow even if sometimes the day to day can bring conflict. And lastly we are compatible - we like the same things and want the same things out of life.
Wisdom I wish I had known: That you have to take responsibility for your actions and words so think before you speak or do something that might hurt your partner. You're a team now, work together not apart. I was very independent and still am. But when you marry it's a fine line of not alienating your partner.
Successful and loving marriage: To begin with, we are the best of friends. That's important! It always helps to like your mate not just love your mate. Trust: we have that in spades, so vital to trust your partner in every way. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I can count on him and trust him in every situation, period! He's always got my back and I his. They say when you get married; through good times and bad times, so true!!! It's the difficult times in the course of our lives that allows you to grow together and bond, it strengthens your relationship and builds character. The good times are easy. Than of course not suffocating your mate, freedom to let your partner follow their heart, express themselves and be the best they can be! Oh and when they least expect it sneak in .."I love you!" It's when it's not expected and catches them off guard that it resonates.
Wisdom I wish I had known: The fears most hold about "being with the same person for the rest of your life" are way over shadowed by the join and reassurance of knowing you always have someone who will "pick you first" and be "on your team"..
Successful and loving marriage: Communication and understanding. We make it a point to listen to what is important to one another, which in turn makes it important to us. Sharing these common goals has helped us become a stronger team unit. Understanding that we are different people allows us to get past the immaterial events in life (me not always cleaning my dish or her "5 minutes" turning into 25) and keeps us focused on the relevant tasks at hand.
Wisdom I wish I had known: First, I don't think there is anything I wish I had known prior to getting married. I think being older when we got married, we both had a chance to get to know ourselves and what we wanted and live life a little. So, when we got married, we both really felt ready for it. I think we also knew each other pretty well before we got married so there haven't really been any surprises. Honestly, when we got married it didn't feel that different than when we were dating. I guess I always knew we both felt really committed to each other. The other thing is that I think that advise only goes so far. You have to get in there and experience and live it for yourself. Each couple has to figure out what works for them and work together to have a marriage that they both love.
Successful and loving marriage: As for what makes a successful marriage. I think having similar values and life goals is huge (at least for me...maybe some people like having the challenge of different views). Not just in the big ways (politics, religion, raising children, relationships) but in all the small ways too. I have learned that it is so much easier and more fun to be in a relationship with someone who enjoys the same things as I do, spends his free time in a similar way, structures his day similarly, and prioritizes similar things. It just takes a lot of the work out of the relationship. We are often on the same page without really trying. I also think that we really try to include each other in all the big and little things in each other's lives. We email and talk on the phone throughout the day. We update each other, send pictures, and talk to each other about things that are going on. Doing that makes me feel connected. I think for me, one thing I really make a conscious effort to do is to prioritize my husband and child. Sometimes works gets busy or there is an endless list of tasks and things to do, people wanting to get together, etc. Sometimes I think, well I should do those things first. But, I have to stop and remind myself that nothing is more important to me than my relationship with husband and son. So I will stop, make the phone call or write the email before I do other things because, ultimately, it is that connection that matters most and must be attended to and maintained. So those are some of my thoughts. I have to say, I also think that my marriage is so wonderful mostly because my husband is so wonderful!
Wisdom I wish I had known: I echo what my wife said. Piggybacking on her point about enjoying similar things, I think it helps to have friendships that are similar too. Her friends are my friends now, and vice versa. It would be weird to me if I went and hung out with my friends and she went and hung out with her friends. I'd feel like I was missing out, and that just makes us feel more united. Plus, we get to spend more time together when we hang out with each other's friends.
Successful and loving marriage: Also, our relationship has never felt like work to me. I think when people have to work so, so hard at making a relationship satisfying, there's something off. I know how lucky I am that it feels pretty effortless to be in this marriage. I am a fortunate guy.
Wisdom I wish I had known: Hmmm tough question....I feel very lucky with my marriage....If I had to answer it....I wish I knew how good it would be when you marry the right person. And not to sweat the small stuff.
Successful and loving marriage: We love each other like nothing else and we want the same things out of life. Deep within our core my wife and I have the same unwavering commitment, love and respect for each other and our marriage. We trust each other and have earned each other's trust. We have similar values. We both are hard workers willing to work on ourselves and our relationship. In addition, we both have a similar sense of humor and value having a good time.
Wisdom I wish I had known: Kids will change YOUR idea of life and accomplishment. That being said accomplish your tasks before marriage and together accomplish your collective tasks before children.
Successful and loving marriage: Because GOD sent me on this 180 degree course from MY plan, now that I have accepted that I'm back on track. This quote I came up with while knee deep in military conflict: "I would rather have a hand full of stories to tell my grandchildren than a lifetime of stories to tell a stranger at a bar."
Wisdom I wish I had known: I wish I had known the level of commitment it takes to make a marriage work. Not that I would have made a different decision, but I think when you are young and in love, it's hard to really grasp "til death do us part." When the honeymoon wears off, you have to make that decision to be committed to your spouse everyday. There will be times when you don't feel "in love" and that is when commitment is most important.
Successful and loving marriage: My marriage has had its ups and down, like most I think, but above all, my husband and I are friends first. We respect each other and like each other so much. We never (or very very rarely) hit below the belt. We are both protective of the other and even in times of disagreement are aware of the other's feelings and want the other to be happy, even when it might mean we don't get what we want.
Wisdom I wish I had known: I had a hard time figuring this one out because it almost feels like. "what regret do you have about marrying" and luckily I didn't come up with many. But then again, I'm a realist so I never had fantasies about rainbows and butterflies on my fairytale wedding day, or in my marriage, for that matter. I guess the reality that your differences become huge. An example of this would be that before marriage our differences might have been described as "one is more organized and the other more laid back". When you're married, "organized" becomes anal retentive, perfectionist control freak and "laid back" becomes lazy, messy, and unambitious (unspoken, of course). Marriage is a lifetime and lifetime is a really long time. Sometimes I think people think that the way their relationship is when they get married is the relationship they'll have forever and that's what goes wrong.
Successful and loving marriage: The jury is still out on that. We just cross our fingers and hope that our marriage doesn't become just another divorce statistic. Marriage is a work in progress. I guess you'd have to interview geriatric couples for that question because they are truly the ones with proven successful marriages that have withstood the test of time. To me there's nothing worse than someone gloating about how successful their marriage is because those are the ones that seem to suddenly divorce. I think my marriage is successful because the person I chose to marry is genuinely a kind person. The choices he makes in life are not based on how much he loves me or that he wouldn't want to hurt me, he does what he does because he wants to be able to respect himself and be a decent person in life. When things get tough we try really hard to keep our arguments respectful and constructive. Once people start shooting below the belt, it never goes away and you eventually lose respect for that person and with that goes your love. For us, having these two elements allows room for lots of love because there is trust.
Wisdom I wish I had known: Marriage is not always exciting or romantic. A good marriage is calm and steady. The simple times are the greatest part. Romance is an added bonus.
Successful and loving marriage: I think I married the right person for the right reasons. He is my best friend and most trusted partner. We have a mutual respect for each other and always want the best from each other and ourselves. We decided to build a life together and work as a team to achieve our dreams.
K. 1 & 2
My husband's response was that even before the wedding the couple needs to be compatible. Meaning both in the same place regarding wanting a commitment, aware that you don't go into a marriage thinking it will solve your problems, or is the answer to making you happy and not having high expectations about what a marriage should be. What you have together as a couple before the ceremony then just continues into the marriage if all the above is in place.
L. 1 & 2
As for me I agree with what my husband says but I feel that to keep a marriage alive and loving forgiveness is essential. Marriage is a look in the mirror with self-realization of what you need to change about yourself in order to have a loving marriage. As I asked married couples this same question 7 years ago what got my attention was not the answer, although some were awesome, but was how couples responded. Consistently all couples stopped in their tracks and paused. I pondered. What is this secret they do not want me to know? Marriage is hard. It is the most rewarding and most difficult life endeavor. Oh, and happiness is a choice!
Wisdom I wish I had know: Well I don't know if I have any insights worth while. But I don't think there is any wisdom I wish I had known before because it is an adventure where you learn things along the way. If someone told a teenager they'll be happy once they get their head out of their ass it's not helpful, even if it's true. But they learn and grow and figure things out. No one can tell you how it ends or things that will make the hard parts easier to get through or the fun parts "funner". I think it's a perspective I've had my whole life. Enjoy the moments you have as best as you can.
Successful and loving marriage: Successful loving marriage is hard also. I think it feels more successful at times, but everything in life takes effort. I never expected marriage to be just easy, but I think you partner should enhance your life. Steel sharpens steel, you try to become a better person and encourage your partner to grow in ways they feel weak. There's no easy way to put it. Life is hard, I try to make it not so hard specializing in one other person.
Wisdom I wish I had known: Even in the most challenging times, approaching conflict from a place of kindness and understanding yields better results!
Successful and loving marriage: Our strengths and struggles are often very different so we balance one another out. Also, I always come back to the truth that we are on the same team
Wisdom I wish I had known: Well, it takes commitment to each other and honesty is everything. Big secrets should definitely come out of the closet BEFORE you get married. At first marriage is wonderful, romantic, adventurous and fun. Then after so many years and children, day to day living sets in and you have to think of new ways to keep things spicy such as date nights, couples only vacations, taking up a new sport together such as golf or Harley riding. You have to learn what your partners "love language" is. What makes him or her happy? For me, I like to be taken care of (but not controlled) and I like knowing that my husband is still attracted to me even after 17 years and I like sentimental gifts. A hug, kiss, squeeze, or raised eyebrows are all ways in which my husband convey's this to me. I think it's so important to have an intimate relationship with your spouse. It's a way to reconnect and show your love physically. For my husband, his love language is physical love and gestures of kindness such as making him dinner or scratching his back. Although after time the butterflies in your stomach disappear, there is a happiness just having the security of the relationship, knowing that this one person totally gets you and you can trust them with anything. I find that I use my husband as my balance many times when I am upset about something. Am I just being emotional and moody or am I justified in my feelings? And believe me, he will tell me but not unless I ask! I came into our relationship with trust issues after having someone cheat on me. My husband was very good about reassuring me but you really should trust your partner unless they give you a reason not to. He basically told me that if I suspected him of cheating on me, then he might as well be cheating on me. Obviously, I had to deal with those feelings and get over my own insecurities very quickly. Also never assume your partner knows what you are thinking or feeling. As men and women, we typically react and think about things completely opposite.
Successful and loving marriage: In all, I think our marriage works because of unconditional love, not judging the other person, being the other person's biggest supporter, making decisions together and having the history of good and bad times together that made us stronger as a couple.
P. 1 & 2
When a person makes a decision to get married, often, the bigger question to pop is "Why?" Wait, don't abandon me at the altar here - keep reading. Please. Why is a really powerful word when it pertains to marriage. Yes, "Why are you getting married?"
If you don't know the answer to that question, and mind you, it isn't a simple yes or no response, think. Think about your why. Not one person in this world but you can answer that question for you.
Marriage. It's a really serious matter in reality. Real marriage, the “till death do us part” kind, not the “one blip on the radar divorce” kind, can you find you one day, like my mom and dad, who are in their 70's now and married for 40 years, in the ICU battling for a life. Back that up 20 years and you'll have found them bankrupt. Back that up 20 years more and you'll have found them with 5 kids right off the bat and a blended family. Forward a bit and you'll find them with 11 kids and 17 grandkids.
t's life. It's married life. It's the kind of life you don't abandon or hurt through all of the life that will happen in your future. Marriage requires love that looks through weight gain, sickness, moods, careers, and maneuvers and adjusts accordingly to the changes. Marriage celebrates moments. It cherishes accomplishments and growth. It marvels in courage. So very many people make the mistake of thinking who they are marrying now will remain as is forever. Marriage twists and turns with changes. Marriage requires an element of selfless and an element of selfish to succeed.
Over the course of 15 years of marriage and 8 or so prior to that and four boys now ages 12-14-16 and 18, I've learned that the basics, beyond love, get called into play often.
That is, the basics of who, what, where, when, how, and why.
Yes, love it key, but see a person, for example, develop a head of gray hair and get a new set of hips or gain 50 pounds or nearly die from an allergic reaction and you really may find yourself asking, "Why?" As you do that, bring in some laughter and gratitude to answer the other questions and thank your lucky stars it isn't worse.
I was sitting next to a bridal party getting my hair done just about 2 years ago now. This bride and her wedding party said they had a goal to get as drunk as they could get before the wedding. In my 44 years, I've actually seen this quite a few times, but more at the reception, not at the wedding. I stopped the bride and asked her "Why are you getting married?" I was just curious, because it didn't seem to me, like anyone, her in particular would remember any of it, unless by photos. Her answer: "Because I've always wanted to be married." I watched her keep drinking. (I wanted to be the one to speak up during the wedding to object.) My hair dresser informed me the other day that they had divorced and were having a custody battle over their child.
I know this is really serious, but marriage, especially if you decide to bring children into it or into the world, is a really serious matter. It's not some movie or some always fun thing. It's real work. Quite possibly the most challenging you will ever do, if you are to be considered a 20-30-40-50-60 year long-term success.
Your why, meaning your heart, will guide you. Think with it. Think with your heart. Think with your why.
Wisdom I wish I had known: Living with someone before marriage isn’t at all a guarantee that you know and fully understand your partner. Respect for your partner and behavior that reflects that respect are key factors in a good marriage. You cannot take back anything you say or do in anger. People don’t forget. No matter how many times you say “I’m sorry.” Lust is a passing feeling, love stays around for a lifetime. Be faithful to your partner. If you are able to communicate successfully, any obstacle can be overcome
Successful and loving marriage: I respect my partner, I compliment him frequently, in all affairs of the heart, I try to be unconditionally loving and accepting. I’ve learned to keep the little things that irritate me to myself. In the long run, they are not that important. We share a lot of laughter and enjoy many of the same things. We are able to be honest and have open communication. We never have heart to heart talks before bedtime; that can become an emotional time to discuss important matters.
Wisdom I wish I had known: For me the most important thing I wish I had known before marriage was Myself! What path I wanted to follow, how to take care of myself, being dependent only on myself before meshing with another person.
Successful and loving marriage: Giving of myself over and over hoping to be available for another persons needs and accepting what I can give and being able to accept what I need from another person.
Wisdom I wish I had known: I am really happy I did not read a book or ask advice from anyone prior to getting married. I was very willing and wanted to start from day one doing our own thing, getting to really know each other and experiencing each day just how much we thought the same and liked the same things. We knew we had the same values but back 40 years plus, you just did not really know your partner the way couples know each other today. Good thing and bad thing. It worked for us then. Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Since we came from extremely different cultures a book on the Italian way of life might have been nice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Successful and loving marriage: I know the politically correct answer to this is "Put your spouse first." However, we never put each other first. We were a couple and did things together. But, when our boys were born, we always put our children first and still do. They were a gift from God and it was our responsibility to take care of them, even up to and including today and always. Know your priorities and always discuss everything you do. The way we do different things work for us, but might not work for sons and their girlfriends. So many times we did things to please family members, that was ok, but remember to please your family and make your traditions. We have a successful and loving marriage because we love each other, are very considerate of each other, and most important, we have God in our life. Between you and me, my husband spoils me every day!!!!!!!!!! I love that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
T. 1 & 2
Never go to bed angry. Make a game out of it so you resolve the issue before going to sleep. Compromise!
TED Talk: Esther Perel: The Secret To Desire In A Long-Term Relationship
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Special thanks to all of my lovely friends and family who contributed to this article (but not in this order): Deanne and Maarten Kylstra, Tom and Jean Brown, Karen Starr, Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino, Amy Hathaway and Naveen Jeereddi , Wendy and Jason Richmond, Marcel Robicheaux, Molly and Dave Schoneveld, Kathy Madvig, Carolyn Day, Angel Parker Nenninger, Sarah McMaster, Helen Scorsone, Lindsey and Jonathan Tiegland as well as anonymous contributors.
*Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of the “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.