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What makes marriage work?

Before you invest in I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook, we want you to have a sense of whether it’s the right book for you. One way to do so is to determine if the philosophy, values and beliefs expressed in the book are aligned with your vision for yourselves and your lives together.

Our thoughts on creating a happy marriage

  • Marriage is a partnership created by two people who love and want the best for one another.
  • A wedding (or commitment ceremony) is the official beginning of a marriage, but a marriage is a lifelong journey that you have committed to take together.
  • Powerful, meaningful vows provide a solid foundation on which to build your marriage, and by upholding these commitments you’ll be better able to handle the bumps when they come.
  • Having a shared vision–how you will relate to each other, what values you live, your desired future destination–is essential. If you’re on divergent paths, it’s difficult to journey together.
  • Love is essential to a wonderful marriage. So are respect, forgiveness, compassion, honesty, cooperation, clarity, purposefulness, and “for-ness” (being fully committed to the other person and supporting their growth).
  • It’s imperative that you develop, practice, and hone your communication skills (listening as well as speaking). You’ll use them every day, and they affect every part of your relationship.
  • Even the best relationships have ups and downs. How you choose to handle the bumps in the road as you journey together is of prime importance.
  • No one has all the answers to marriage/relationship questions. However, seeking out the company of those who practice love, respect, and intimacy in their relationships will support you as much as expert advice.
  • Openness to learning, growth, and change will serve you well in marriage, because time and experience will alter who you are and maybe even your vision for your journey together.

Learn more about our relationship philosophy and the Marriage Vow Workbook by listening to a recent interview (16 minutes) we gave to Dave Debs from The Coach Corner. You have to create a free account to access this recording, yet the process is very simple and quick to complete.

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”

~ Mignon McLaughlin


What wedding traditions should you keep?

Your wedding is your special day and should therefore fit your wants and needs. There is no “right” answer regarding the issue of choosing traditional or modern for your marriage ceremony. Below are suggestions for you to use in making choices that fit for you and your spouse-to-be.

How to decide on traditional or modern wedding choices

  1. First determine your overall vision for your wedding. Besides the obvious purpose of getting married, why else are you having your ceremony? What experience do you want to have? What kind of event do you want to create for your guests?
  2. Now consider if there are any traditions that are meaningful for you or important for you to include. Certain symbology, readings, or specific elements may help you create an event that “feels” like a wedding for you. These components may be serious–religious reading, cultural tradition–or more for fun–tossing the garter and bouquet, clinking glasses to make the newlyweds kiss.
  3. Check in with other key people (parents, your officiant, etc.). Even though it’s your wedding, it’s valuable to have conversations with those closest to you to learn of any wedding elements (traditional or modern) that they would like to see included/excluded. You may also be required to do certain things to have your marriage be official, so check with your officiant on this.
  4. Review your vision and your list of ideas to make your final choices. You may or may not have time to include every idea on your list, so determine which elements are essential and which can be eliminated or incorporated in some other part of your wedding events. You might make a 3-point scale and “rate” each of the ideas (must have, optional, can eliminate) as a quick way for you and your partner to make your final selection.
  5. Know that you’ve created the right wedding ceremony for you. Sometimes it’s easy to second guess yourselves or worry that you have to accommodate everyone’s wishes. Once you and your partner have made your choices, trust that these choices are the perfect ones for creating the magical wedding day that you’ve envisioned. Now have fun putting it all together into one joyous, honoring, and loving celebration!

How did you decide what wedding traditions to include and which to leave out of your big day? Share your wisdom with other couples preparing to say “I do.”


Podcast — Prevent negative energy from turning into trouble

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A tiny snowball at the top of a mountain starts to roll down the slopes. As it rolls, it accumulates more and more snow, becoming a gigantic snowy boulder that will crush anything in its path.

Have you ever had that kind of “snowball effect” in your relationship, where many tiny annoyances soon roll into one huge argument? My guess is that you have (or you at least know someone who has). I’m also guessing that you would be happy to have fewer such “snowball” situations from now on.

The good news is that we each have personal warning signs that alert us to relationship “danger ahead.” In this podcast (5 minutes), I share an example of one of my warning signs and how knowing it kept Bruce and me out of a deep dark hole.

How to prevent a negative situation from getting worse

  • Know how you feel when you’re in a negative situation — Perhaps you feel a tightness in your chest, your breathing is more rapid and shallow, or your head starts to ache. Learn what signals your body sends to tell you that something’s not right.
  • Know your personal “warning signs” that danger lurks ahead — You might hear that certain tone in your voice or notice that judgmental thoughts are zooming through your mind. Become adept at recognizing that your fuse is wearing out and you’re getting close to your explosion point.
  • Learn how to diffuse negative situations — You can simply stop talking, take some deep breaths before talking again, or even ask for a time out. Find effective ways to disengage your negative energy so that you can stop a downward-spiraling conversation from gaining any more momentum.

“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.”

~ Dale Carnegie

What habits or practices do you use to keep negative situations from spiraling downward into trouble?