Between our parents and step-parents there are 11 marriages that have ended in divorce due to lying, affairs, addictions, mental illness, or simply just giving up. Because of this, we have a total of 9 siblings, yet only one is fully blood related. The baggage we brought into our marriage was immense. It’s taken us years to work through the trauma and abandonment issues of watching our family break apart, many times over.
It didn’t take long for problems in our own marriage to set in. They started on our wedding night when we got in a fight and Casey slept on the couch, and everything went down hill from there. Our early years of marriage were horrible because we were both deeply wounded and had no idea how to communicate and respect each other. We both got married to be happy, but no one ever told us it would require so much work.
It was the pain of watching our own relationship crumble that fueled our desire to learn how to succeed in marriage. We quickly realized it wasn’t just our marriage at risk. It was all around us. Our friends were quitting on their marriages too. Many of them would find their way to our couch, where we would listen to the pain, confusion, and regret of their recent divorce. They thought that leaving was the easy way out – that the grass was greener – but soon realized that it was even worse on the other side.
That’s when we turned the corner. Deep down inside we wondered, if we continued the way we’re going, would we be sitting on someone else’s couch saying the same thing? It seemed that we weren’t just courting the Four Horsemen. We had built stalls for them in our living room. Things got so ugly in the early years of our marriage that we weren’t sure if either of us were going to make it out alive.
In our eagerness to learn about marriage principles, we got our hands on Dr. Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. We discovered the wealth of resources offered by his team at The Gottman Institute and found ourselves watching his videos on YouTube together. We thought that we were doomed and destined for divorce, but then we heard Dr. Gottman say something really amazing.
Conflict is inevitable and it’s a mechanism for learning how to love each other better.
Those words went straight to our hearts and our minds in a significant way. We discovered that we needed to go back to the roots of our friendship and start using Love Maps to spark conversation and build connection.
Conflict cannot be managed without a strong friendship in the marriage. Of course we are going to disagree on where that picture should be hung up, or which restaurant we should eat at, but focusing on our friendship has allowed us to use conflict to better understand each other and love more effectively. We became good at asking each other questions, we listened more, and we even began sharing the same goals and dreams for our future together.
Three years ago, we created Marriage365 as a channel of hope to other struggling couples. Through our daily Facebook and Instagram feed, we provide practical advice to help these couples get back on track. And it’s working. We have gathered almost 40,000 followers on Facebook and nearly 19,000 on Instagram. The positive response is giving us the courage to spend our lives gathering resources for couples that will reach the next generation.
We are continually faced with the challenges of making our marriage a priority. Some days we win, some days we lose. We discovered that great marriages don’t happen by accident, but require being intentional 365 days a year. We want to see marriages thrive. We want to see marriages last a lifetime. We want to be part of the solution. We’ve enjoyed playing the role as coach and mentor for couples in the early stages of marriage and when they hit the rough patches. The influence of Dr. Gottman’s research runs deep in our work, and it has provided a proven framework for us to give help to couples in need.
The legacy of the Love Lab lives on in Marriage365 and we are so grateful for that.