How I’m More Fulfilled In My Marriage Than I’ve Ever Been… 14 Years Later 
(and 18 together, minus 2 break ups)

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Before I met my wife at age 29, I had no interest in marriage and zero interest in kids. No F’ing way.

But, then I started dating my now wife.

Right from the start, things were different.

I was showing up differently. Instead of running away when things got hard, I pushed myself to stay in and work through the struggle.
I had never done this.

Historically, I blamed and “made wrong” every single partner I dated. I didn’t think I had “relationship issues.”
Boy, was I wrong.

Once my wife and I made a commitment to marriage, which was heroic after 2 painful breakups, it was game on.
I wanted kids immediately.

Deep down, I knew that a successful long-term relationship meant that you had to put effort in to get results (Amazing how many people think that a great relationship should just feel good and always feel good).

Fourteen years later, things are better than I could have ever dreamed of. Here is why.

Did you know that between 40-50% of marriages end in divorce?

Studies suggest that 20 percent of marriages end within the first five years and that this number increased by 12 percent within ten years. But between 10 years and 15 years, the rate only grows about 8 percent, implying that one of the safest stages of your marriage is between years 10 and 15.

In fact, the Gottmans, who have done legendary research on married couples, figured out that an estimated 80% of couples are headed in the direction of divorce within their first four to five years of marriage.

Overall, the national length of marriage in the United States is about 8.2 years.

Wow. Shocking, right? So, what does this mean?

Does this mean you should avoid relationships all together? Of course not.

Remember, you will die one day, and you will leave this world, but just because that is true doesn't mean you don’t want to share your entire life with one special person.

Relationships aren't always about forever - High-quality relationships are about the depth and growth during the journey.

And without the right approach to relationships and marriage, you will dramatically increase your chances of a loving relationship turning sour, then ending in a painful divorce.

"The most commonly reported major contributors to divorce were lack of commitment, infidelity, and conflict/arguing. The most common "final straw" reasons were infidelity, domestic violence, and substance use. More participants blamed their partners than blamed themselves for the divorce."

That statement sounds about right, but it's more helpful to look at what gets people to those "final straws" in the first place.
Why Most Marriages Will Fail
People tend to 'fall' in love or into a relationship without much conscious thought. They meet, hang out, keep hanging out, then start to fall in love, then decide that they only want to be intimate with each other, and then keep doing this until they get married. Then it's all over in 8.2 years.

I am trying to highlight the 'lack of conscious thought' here. Most people don't think about these things. They do what feels right, right now. And in the beginning, it mostly feels right and should be relatively smooth. If it's turbulent, it probably will fail pretty quickly, or you'll be one of those couples who think getting married will fix their problems - It doesn't, and they end up divorced within two years.

Thanks to Disney and pop culture, people seem to think that marriage is a "white-picket-fence finish line." Just about every movie about love only shows up to the part they get married and are standing in front of their new family home, with a freshly-painted white-picket fence. People see this BS, and they believe the fantasy, the fairy tale of “meet the right person and live happily ever after.”

This looks great on the TV or in our mind, but what lies behind the fence?

And, reality is full of problems.

A never-ending waterfall of life problems, most of which are exacerbated by relationship problems:
  • Career problems
  • ​Sex issues
  • ​Financial issues
  • ​Health problems
  • ​Car troubles
  • ​Family problems
  • ​Kids and the challenges they bring to our lives as well
  • ​A pandemic that makes you have to stay inside for what feels like an eternity
Finally, there comes a realization that relationships need to be maintained and worked on consciously, forever.

Once you understand that relationships aren't a magical end zone where you can relax, put your feet up, eat whatever you want, and hit the snooze button every day, then you might have a chance of it lasting longer than 8.2 years.

Here is why we have lasted more than 14 years, and our marriage is better than it has ever been:

  • We have each worked on ourselves. We have a growth mindset. Meaning, we have invested time, effort, and money to discover who we truly are and what we value in this world. Most people skip this step, and I believe it is the most significant cause of why marriages fail - by not knowing yourself enough and not reflecting on your own life.
  • ​We each take complete personal responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and desires and don't rely on the other person to 'fix' us. Of course, we want to help each other out, but it's our responsibility to be proactive and seek to be better every day. We don’t blame and own our part in every single fight.
  • ​We are both okay if the marriage has to end. Because we have both worked on ourselves over the past 20+ years each (40 years combined!), we are comfortable in our skin. This means that if we face problems that we cannot resolve (which at this point would be a longshot), and the marriage has to end, we are okay. The most successful marriages aren't NEEDED - They are a welcome addition to an otherwise exemplary life. Of course, there will be tears and heartache. Still, we would have exhausted all avenues by that point, and walking away would be the only option left, as sticking together despite the unsolvable problems makes life worse for everyone.
  • ​We are both proactive and agree that relationships take constant effort and work, and we work together to ensure we both help out.
  • We communicate well. Especially uncomfortable conversations most people avoid. If we need a 3rd party (such as counselors or experts), we seek them out quickly and with enthusiasm.
  • ​We are continually learning about better ways to improve ourselves and our relationship.
  • ​We schedule time for us (without the kids) and add in random things now and then to stave off monotony and keep things fun.
  • ​We allow the other to grow and be who they are. Controlling behavior has the opposite effect, so it's essential to let the other person fly like their own butterfly. Most people don’t do this.
Because of this, our marriage is better than it ever has been, and it continues to get better. It hasn't been easy, but it has been beyond worth it.

Seems simple? Well, it shouldn't because it's not supposed to be. Marriage is work, but when you put in the effort and have selected the right person to begin with, it's the best investment that pays the best dividends you could ever ask for.

REMEMBER: "The garden isn't greener on the other side of the fence. It's greener where you care for it and water it."

The same is said for marriages. You have to be proactive by watering and “tilling the soil”. You have to give a shit, every, single, day. Otherwise, the weeds take over and things die.

But it is this sort of proactivity and willingness to work on ourselves, and our relationships don't start when you are married. It begins today with you.

Instead of tackling your relationship problems (or a lack of relationships) alone, assuming that you know how. Be honest. When you humbly admit you have some issues and that you could benefit from guidance and help, you are not afraid or ashamed to hire a professional.

And the best kind of professional is someone who studies relationships as I do for a living, someone like a relationship coach. Relationship coaches are professionals who help people in this area of life. They know this terrain and the bonus is they are skills that transfer into all life areas.
My wife and I wouldn't be where we are in our fulfilling marriage if it wasn't for our ability to seek out professional advice and embrace that we don't know everything, we can't see our blind spots, and there is no shame in wanting to be better. It’s not selfish. In fact, I would argue it’s self-centered of you to not to seek professional assistance. Instead of thinking about other people, you’re only thinking about, and protecting yourself. Over time, if you refuse to get help you only waste your own time, which wastes other people’s time. Ouch, right?
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I recognize how hard a balance that can be to strike and she does it very successfully. She notices when I am defended and when I am ashamed and helps me soften and helps me stay a second longer than I want to. Her ability to do this helps me actually do the work.”
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She has such a beautiful gift in being so relatable and authentically present.”
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