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A 'Successful' Marriage Is About The Quality Of The Days, Not Just The Quantity Of Years.

Updated: Feb 19

Adam and I have been together for 24 years. When people hear that, they often say, “congratulations,” or “wow, what an accomplishment!” But no one asks how much of that time we’ve spent feeling disconnected, or residing in a state of complacency or disappointment. We often do get asked, “How did you do it? How have you stayed together all that time?” The honest answer I would love to give? “What did we do? Stay married? Is that REALLY such an accomplishment?” If we’re supposed to judge a successful partnership by its length of time, then yes, Adam and I have rocked it. To acquaintances and even people close to us, it definitely looked like a success story. But what did our marriage feel like for many of the days that comprise those years? That’s a whole other story.

Many elements of Adam and my partnership lay the groundwork for a solid marital foundation. We have always loved and been passionate about one another (we have also simultaneously often resented one another). We have undeniably great chemistry, a mutual desire to indulge our “wild" sides, a deep appreciation of family and friends, and we are both witty as hell (Adam will argue he’s wittier, but he’s fucking wrong). Yet we also had terrible communication skills, a chronic case of irresponsibility, and a “tug-o-war” concerning whose parents we should model our relationship after (hot tip: don’t model your marriage after anyone else’s). And then there’s other complicated crap, including having kids, mental illness, miscarriage, secrets, and the ‘who does more around here’ domestic labor fiasco. One could say we became comfortable in the eye of our self-created hurricane. Every once in a while, an electrifying bolt of lightning would strike (you know, like a really big slot machine win in Vegas, or starting a podcast practically on a whim and having it unexpectedly climb the charts…the usual stuff), and briefly recharge our relationship with a much-needed dose of adrenaline, and shared sense of ‘well, wasn’t that fuckin’ lucky?’ As long as we kept up the facade of having it all together, we didn't want to rock the boat.

I don’t want to misguide anyone into thinking that weren’t always attempting to work on our relationship. We did all the things: romantic date nights, surprise getaways to tropical locations, and countless (COUNTLESS) conversations and promises about what we were each going to do differently and better. Some aspects definitely did improve, whether as direct results from our efforts, or indirectly from dealing with life events. Our honesty and openness while recording the podcast did help us greatly improve our communication skills. Having kids with very specific, acute needs forced us to mature and prioritize, shifting our perspective to no longer giving a shit about what our marriage looked like to anyone. We were exhausted from the chaos. We craved calmness and a steady, reliable connection that we could savor and sink into, rather than always awaiting the next electrifying event. But achieving this meant investing in our relationship in a more timely, day-to-day manner, individually and together.

Reflecting inward meant finally highlighting the ways we were feeling disappointed and unfulfilled, without unproductive accusations and pent-up hostility. Breaking down how we could better step up for one another in manageable, achievable ways removes the frustrating "guessing" component. It was time to stop avoiding the necessary conversations, and be more direct, vulnerable, and open-minded while conveying and listening to which efforts would lead to the most of satisfaction. As my therapist tells me repeatedly, “think about the smallest changes you could make that will have the greatest overall impact.

Utilizing expert advice, resources, feedback, personal experiences, combined with my gentle, laid-back-yet-motivational approach, I created a plan to jumpstart the journey towards a more consistent state of "flow" while incorporating actionable strides towards reciprocal fulfillment. It would also leave room for flexibility, individuality, creativity, and spontaneity.

Since implementing "The Challenge," into our daily routines, we are already more mindful, receptive, and empathetic towards one another. The minor adjustments are made on our own terms, at our own pace, and within whatever time constraints our schedule presents. The guide simplified the process of choosing a "right fit" plan for one another; one that feels bold yet doable, uncomplicated yet impactful. Do we still have a lot of work to do? Hells yes. But now, even the most minor efforts don't go unnoticed or unappreciated. And, we are each reaping the benefits, which keeps us each motivated. Progress, not perfection.

Adam and I have been married for over twenty years. Far more importantly, we’re married to one another each and every single day. Plenty of these days have felt incredibly lonely and hopeless. Others have felt exhilarating and euphoric. But it’s the days in between, when life is just life, that I want us each to feel valued, and to make the most of the moments that comprise the bigger picture. I want our growth and partnership to feel natural, pleasurable, more intimate, and realistic. I want us to live a life that feels good, so that when people say we look more fulfilled and connected, we’ll know that this time, it’s authentic.


 Check out Danielle's upcoming Beyond Permission Workshop sessions for the opportunity to communicate and learn more about this topic and more!

Want to have meaningful conversations that matter with your partner? Get the Date Night Questions book or ebook, and start connecting in a fresh, productive, fun new way.

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