You Can Choose to Celebrate The Work Of Relationships

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I’m interested in the HBO documentary airing Monday night. Filmmaker Doug Block started doing wedding videos on the side to make money and now, 112 wedding later, he has revisited the couples to see what marriage looks like on the other side of I do. It’s classic 40:20 vision. I hate to be the one always saying that marriage is hard…but it is. It’s all about how easy it is to deal with the hardships.

As the documentarian says, “I’ve been married 28 years …and know what kind of work it is. I decided to celebrate the work that goes into it rather than make it seem like a bad thing.”Today Show interview

So many of the women I’ve interviewed agree – it’s how you deal with the problems that predicts your longevity. Some quotes that resonated with me from the Today Show interview given what I have heard from the 200 or so interviews I have done:

“There are all sorts of challenges that you come up against together, and how you deal with them as a couple determines whether you’re going to make it or not. The idea that it’s going to be an easy path is ridiculous.” – Doug Block

“I loved the idea of starting a movie where most Hollywood movies end, which is the bride coming down the aisle,” – Doug Block

“You need to know who you are first before you get into the whole thing. You can’t start learning about yourself and who you are and how you react to things after the ceremony. Try to do that first.” – woman married 15 years

“It’s about sticking with it. A relationship is a journey. You think it’s going to be happily ever after and then life takes over. So are you willing to do the work and stay with the question and be together?” – man married 15 years

I do think the work is worth it. I love this quote from a man commenting in a Newsweek article about the “Case Against Marriage” on what the upside may be:

“It isn’t marriage that’s hard, messy, difficult and complicated,” comments David Tillman on, “it’s life itself. Opting out of marriage doesn’t avoid any of life’s struggles or heartbreaks. But going through life married to your best friend means doubling the joys and halving the sorrows. I can’t be angry with the authors of this article. Just very sad that they may miss out on one of the most intimate relationships two humans beings can share in life: marriage.”

It’s been a week of things poppng up about the issue of long term relationships…and reminders that you have to be happy yourself before you can be happy with someone else. I saw a man interviewed this week about relationships and the subject of cheating came up. The interviewer asked, “Once a cheater is a man always a cheater?” The male hesitated…but then replied that if a man says the reason he cheated was because there was some strain on the relationship, then how is he going to react the next time there is a strain? If that is his (or her) coping mechanism…that what does it offer you?

I had to think, well what other reason would someone give for cheating? That he doesn’t love you and is attracted to this other person? Well that doesn’t bode well either. Or they was bored? Hmmm. So my take away…chances are yes. But I’m sure there are stories of relationships that survive and grow through infidelity. I would just like to hear what the whys are.

It seems to all come back to having your own center of gravity when it comes to happiness. Or that you value the center of gravity and pleasure that you gain with this other person more than anything that would upset that balance. If not …people tend to blame the relationship and longevity is almost impossible to achieve. Unless you decide to just have an unhappy marriage or both are happy with certain outcomes.  I found from my research that it is the disappointment of expectations not being met that is the enemy of relationships. So if you both align and agree on a different type of relationship…that’s another story.

I certainly spoke to many women who were fulfilled in their marriage on my 40:20 Vision journey of interviewing women on what they know now…but it always came with some effort…and it all has to do with what you see as the reward for that effort.

My perspective is that it’s right for some people but perhaps not for others. It’s good to hear the stories that pick up where romantic comedies end and divorce horror stories begin. No one talks about what to expect. It’s a choice, not a have to do. If you make the choice, respect and trust that you chose to be together for a reason.

Here is what a few other 40-somethings women have to say about “the work.” They aren’t ready to give in the towel. They love their spouses…and accept the good and the bad. Maybe it’s all how you roll with it…and finding the right person to roll with.


“The Cinderella story tells you happily ever after. That is just the beginning of the story. And then you have to put on your boots and pick up the shovel. Getting to the 20th is hard but it is possible.I mean lets get real. It’s not easy. There are whole years we refer to. Like we refer to 1997…wasn’t the best year for marriage. He married me not knowing I couldn’t have children. I didn’t know I couldn’t have children. That could have been a deal breaker. You work through stuff. But you don’t work through it by washing your hands of it and saying okay I’m done. You work through it by sitting up all night arguing and crying and coming to something. – 44, celebrating 20 years, no children, Atlanta, GA


“Almost everyone says it is hard work, but there is no one solution to make it easy. The hardship is not the same for everyone. But you know it’s worth it when the person you have been with a long time is excited to see you. My husband and I were a mess and we probably should have never gotten married. But there was something good he brought out in me and that I brought out in him. It’s not easy and we struggle with our differences. We are very different people and don’t even resemble who we were when we met. But at the end of the day we want to see each other…that’s worth it. – 45, married, mom of 3 Cleveland, OH


“Marriage is work. My relationship with my current husband is very, very connected and intimate. It’s also a lot more work than my other relationship by nature.” – 43, divorced, remarried, mom of 3 and step-mom, retired marketing executive, Detroit, MI


You can choose to let hard times break you apart or make you stronger.My husband and I have been through things that most people would only see in the movies. The relationship that we had took us through them. Some of these experiences should have broken us up. Other people it would have. But we’ve had each other. 44, wife of 25 years, 4 children, waitress, sales rep and professional craftsperson/stained glass artist, Sierra Vista, AZ

And to end, one piece of advice I found helpful:

Remember who you are, why you fell in love with each other and work at it a little each day to make it seem like the first day.” – 40-something, Los Angeles, CA

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