In an age where reality TV shows are becoming more prevalent, and are portraying extravagance and decadence, simpler weddings are making a comeback for some people -- including celebrities. Private and quiet affairs are chosen by those who don't want the pressure and expense of a big wedding.
Whatever your wedding day choice, every wedding is about the same thing: commitment to love. Interestingly, when newly married couples are asked what their chances of divorce are, almost all will answer "0." Yet, we know that on your first crack at marriage, there's a 50 percent chance. What happens from the "WOW," as you get married to "What happened?" a little while after? Where does the spark go?
I was recently on the Today Show and we discussed this exact topic. In addition to my comments on the show, there are other changes that occur for couples soon after marriage that can drain the colorful attitude pretty quickly.
For some, especially men, there is this love of the pursuit, the game, the hunt. Too often, once married, spouses check off a little mental box in their head that says "Married" and move their attention to the next boxes on the list which are commonly career, money and kids. This change of focus can do immediate harm. It's crucial that soon after marriage you create a system for spending quiet time, having fun and still maintaining many of the dating skills you were actively using before marriage.
Once married, important decisions seem to be flying rapidly in your face, and a couple hasn't had the time to learn how to manage. From day one, think TEAM. Remember that a team sees the problem as the enemy, whereas struggling couples see each other as the enemy. Learning to resolve matters by keeping your eye on your goals and learning to compromise is critical to keeping your spark lit.
Let's face it. Once that kid arrives, it's a different world. We are no longer a couple but a wonderful new family. But if you forget about your couple-hood, that pre-wedding spark will be blown out, doused in water, plunged into the sand... you get the point. We trade in our couple-hood for parenthood in such a significant way that we don't have any balance. It's natural and necessary to create a new family system and most of your energy at home will have to go to the new baby. However, one has to make sure that as your family grows so does your individual couple-hood. This is the key to keeping that wow alive.
Additionally, when that baby arrives, we do tend to turn into our parents. Their familiar model on how to be a parent AND how to be a spouse comes flooding back to us. Talk as a couple about the things you loved about your parents' way of living and what you'd like to indoctrinate into your home as well as the things you'd like to forget.
These and my ideas of creating newness and anticipation that I discussed on the Today Show, are the hallmark of successful couples. Successful couples don't give up the dream of the WOW. They keep working for it and their spark, although brighter and softer at different times, is always there because they want it to be. Keep wanting it for yourself, keep talking about it, and keep taking action to make it strong.
M Gary Neuman is a New York Times best-selling author, rabbi, and creator of Neuman Method Programs. He was on the Oprah show 11 times as well as having made multiple appearances on Today, Dateline, the View, NPR and others. Oprah referred to Gary as "One of the best psychotherapists in the world."