The Married Millennial: What Marriage Isn’t

The Wedding industry in the United States has an estimated worth of nearly $60 Billion. That may be no surprise, but did you know that the Divorce industry is booming, too?

Recent findings suggest that the Divorce industry’s total worth in the U.S. is $50 Billion or more. It makes sense, then, that most lifestyle websites will have a “Weddings” section and a “Divorce” section, with little to say about the marriage in between.

Marriage isn’t cool, these days. Stable relationships simply don’t make headlines. Hollywood magazines are constantly on the lookout for wedding announcements and breakup scandals. Paparazzi follow newly married celebrity couples, denying them privacy. When the whole world is waiting for them to screw up, is it any wonder that most famous marriages fail?

If our famous role models are divorcing, our parents have been separated, and our newly engaged friends are over-sharing ring selfies left and right, it’s understandable that we have warped ideas of marriage.

To define what marriage actually is, let’s consider what it isn’t.

Marriage is not a blissful horseback ride into the sunset.

Most people do not have their lives figured out, their hearts fully mended, or their finances in perfect shape before tying the knot.

Before I met my husband, I said I would never marry unless I: (1) had become wildly successful, (2) conquered my anxiety, (3) made a million dollars, and (4) owned my own home. But then, I met him…and there went all my plans.

On the other hand – marriage is not a bummer. At all.

Our relationships reflect our inner states – and how you value your partner shouldn’t change just because you’re married. Happy unions are not as rare as you’d think. People who are genuinely happy with their partners are actually less likely to talk about it on social media, or in public. Unhappy people, on the other hand, are much louder about their dissatisfaction. Marriage, by itself, does not make people unhappy. Life does. It’s been said to “Never take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with.” This applies to marriage tips, too.

Marriage is not about “settling” or compromising on your dreams.

Sure, my checklist didn’t happen in the order in which I planned it, but since being with my husband, I’ve accomplished more than ever before. He encourages me – and because we have similar goals, we work well as a team. You don’t have to be alone in order to achieve your dreams, as long as your partner is truly supportive.

If you expect your partner to set aside their goals in order to make the relationship work, this is a problem. If you’re thinking that marriage will change your partner (or you), it won’t.

Marriage is not about you.

It’s not your partner’s job to make you happy – it’s yours. We all have problems, but your spouse can only do so much. There’s a reason why people say the first year is the hardest: our personal expectations almost never match the reality of a lifelong partnership. Nobody “fixes” us.

When we date, we often present the perfect package. We offer the best versions of ourselves – and this is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, there are two sides to every coin, and you need to be willing to work on your issues. Marriage brings only one guarantee, and that’s vulnerability. It is a commitment to working on yourself, while encouraging your partner in their journey.

Marriage is not the end of freedom – not anymore.

I can’t tell you how many people asked me “why?” when I said I was getting married in my early twenties. There’s an outdated image of a 1940’s housewife begrudging her chores, and a 1940’s husband who’s dying to cheat on her.

It’s 2016, people! Marriage has changed as much as we have. My partner has a career, and so do I. He has friends, and I have mine. We do fun things together, and have no qualms about going places on our own. Nowadays, people can get married because we want to. Not because we have to.

Marriage is not the end of sex, or dating.

The longer you’re together, the more opportunities there are to be creative. Being married is not an excuse for complacency. You may not sweep your partner off their feet every day, but don’t forget to make them feel valued. Intimacy is only as important as you make it…So make it important.

Marriage is not everything.

My relationship with my husband is number one to me. But if I don’t have a life outside of our marriage, it’s unhealthy. Maybe that’s why marriage doesn’t make headlines: we’re all just people living our lives. It’s not as glamorous as a wedding, or as dramatic as a divorce, but I like this better. Much better.

In the end, Marriage is what you make it.

It’s like any other thing, except it involves another person who is equally important and committed. Marriage might have changed in meaning, but love itself has not. Commitment relies on communication in order to thrive.

Marriage looks different on everyone. Choose your own adventure.

There are countless variations to the traditional marriage model. In the Western World, gender roles don’t matter the way they used to. Women can choose to have careers, or stay at home – and so can men. These days, most of us get married for love, and having children is optional. Some couples live together, and some live apart. Monogamy is a choice between two people, and some marriages skip it altogether. Regardless of gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, married or unmarried, we all deserve to love – and be loved – in the way that’s right for us.

The Difference Between Finding “The One” and “Someone”: A Note on Soulmates

For many, trying to find “the one” is an epic journey filled with pitfalls, quicksand, twists, turns, and lots of surprises. But if you know what to look for, the journey might surprise you.

In just a few months, I’m getting married to the perfect guy for me. We laugh together, play games together, and, even after all these years, we want to spend all our time with each other. My friends always tell me I’m so lucky to have found my soulmate, my other half, “the one.”

And while I feel blessed in my relationship, I don’t think I’m lucky because I found “the one.” I think I’m lucky because I found someone I’m compatible with, and over the years, we were able to grow together and get closer until we got to be a such a great fit. Finding “the one” isn’t a matter of finding one specific person, it’s about choosing someone who’s a good match and fostering a life-long relationship.

Romantic comedies are movies, they’re not exactly real life.

When I watch romcom movies or read fairy tales about meeting “the one,” the couple always falls in love at first sight. The two have an unbreakable bond instantly and they know they’re meant to be together. Usually the rest of the story includes outside forces keeping them apart or a long journey to find each other again, but in the end they always live happily ever after.

But that’s not how it happens in real life. Stories give many of us unrealistic ideas about love, and leave couples disappointed when finding the best partner isn’t so easy.

A relationship doesn’t just mean being the right “fit” and feeling a connection. Relationships also mean learning how to be a great partner for each other and work together as a team. Your mate’s ability to be “the one” depends as much on them as it does on you.

So, while you shouldn’t give up your search for your soulmate, you might need a new road map.

Here are some traits to look for when searching for “the one” and tips to make that relationship last forever.

1. Find someone you can disagree with… in a healthy way

So many people think that living with their partner should be a jaunty skip through a field of flowers… which is why so many couples are disappointed when the honeymoon phase ends.

No one can agree with another person completely (and all the time). To be human is to think and make decisions and have ideas. There are so many opportunities everyday to make choices, and there’s no way someone else will have all the same ideas as you.

And even if you did: dating them would probably be pretty boring.

You need to be okay with the fact that you’re going to disagree sometimes, but you should also recognize when an argument isn’t healthy.

My fiancé and I have a lot of similar ideas, but we still disagree on plenty of things — from what to eat for dinner to which color we should paint the living room. And while arguments are bound to happen, it’s important to remember to address differences with patience and understanding.

Sometimes my fiancé and I might get mad or frustrated when we don’t agree on something right away. Still, we know that it’s important to always treat each other with respect. We make it a rule to never raise our voices and to try to look at any situation from each other’s point of view.

However, if you find that you and your partner fight all the time, you don’t feel listened to, and you’re often frustrated with your communication, it might not make for a lasting relationship. Either seek professional help, or recognize that maybe this isn’t the right person for you.

happy young couple kissing outdoors

2. Find someone with similar long-term goals

One important part of a relationship is priorities. No matter how well you get along, or how much you love each other, if your giant, ride-or-die, lifelong priorities don’t line up, it’s probably not going to work out in the long run.

Of course, in any relationship, you’re going to need to compromise. But in order to be truly happy together, you shouldn’t compromise too much on the big things. Remember: there are plenty of people out there, and if you’re going to make a relationship last forever, you’re allowed to be picky with the big things. The key is to be realistic in your search without settling too much.

One great thing to do, if you’re wondering if your partner is really your best match, is to make a list of long-term, super important, priorities for yourself. You should have two, or maybe three, tops. These are things that you’ve always dreamed about doing and could never, in a million years, live without. Have your partner make a list too, and compare.

For my fiancé and I, we both want to travel and both would like to have a family. While nobody can agree on every little thing in life, it’s important to us that we have similar opinions in the places that count.

If you’ve always dreamed of having kids, and your partner is actively against children, no matter what happens, one of you is going to end up severely disappointed. Neither of you deserve that.

Keep in mind: it’s okay if your lists don’t look exactly the same. One of you can be super into the idea of having kids while the other has always dreamed about becoming a doctor, but as long as they don’t directly conflict, you can probably work it out.

Everything has some wiggle room for the right person. If your partner’s education means putting off kids for a few years, or vice versa, keep an open mind.

3. Look for similarities in spirit, rather than interests

In an era when it’s so easy to “swipe left” when someone doesn’t listen to the right music or like the same movies, remember that interests and hobbies aren’t as important as personality.

My fiancé and I met in our high school theater class and, at the time, we were both interested in plays and music. While having common interests may have helped us bond in the beginning, since then, we’ve both developed other hobbies. Recently, he’s gotten into taking improv classes while I’ve been more interested in literature, but we’re still as compatible as ever.

Similarly, you don’t need to find someone who shares your love of rock climbing or needle point. In fact, it can be beneficial to have different hobbies. What really matters is that you have complimentary personalities and a similar spirit. It’s not a common hobby that sustains a relationship, it’s your personalities.

Think of it this way: if you love watching football but your partner isn’t a huge fan, that’s okay. It’s more important to find someone with the same sense of humor as you or someone you can talk to easily. Those things are much more important than sharing an interest in sports.

Focus your interests on finding someone with a complementary personality. Hobbies come and go, but attitude is forever.

4. Find someone that accepts your faults and celebrates your successes

Support is incredibly important in any relationship. It helps you and your partner feel like a team, and lets you know that you have someone to depend on. For a long term partner, find someone who supports you through the good and bad. And practice supporting them too.

For me, it’s so important when my fiancé supports my education. While he might not know exactly what a certain class is about, or how important one particular paper is, he’s so supportive of everything I’m excited about, and comforts me whenever I’m feeling down about a class that’s giving me trouble.

Of course, you might not understand your significant other’s work drama, and maybe he or she doesn’t realize how important it is that you got into the robot-building championships. Still, you both root for each other and show your support. Whether it’s sitting in the front row of a tournament your honey is playing in, or being a shoulder to cry on when things get tough, being supportive (and getting support) will help your relationship go the distance.

The search for your ideal partner isn’t like in the movies. It’s not about covering as much land and meeting as many people until you find that perfect-incredible-super-wonderful person. It’s more about finding someone great and going on a journey together.

With these tips, you’ll find that special person to create a life with and, hopefully, you’ll see each other as soulmates too.

You can read more stories like this such as How to Win at Online Dating and Spot Your Soulmate in a Crowd.

When Finding “The One” is Nothing More Than Just a Numbers Game

When people want something (a job, a house, a change of scenery), the advice is always the same: “work hard and go get it.” But what about love?

When we want to find love, we’re told to follow an all together different approach: “wait and it will find you.”

In my experience, that’s a bunch of nonsense.

When I was in my early 20s I moved back to NYC after a year of working abroad. I found a reliable job doing something I loved and an apartment that I could afford. Everything was falling into place and I was ready for a relationship that matched where my life was; I wanted something serious. If you’re in the same boat, don’t forget to check out the LOVE TV membership.

I decided it was time to find “the one.”

So I started to look. By my calculations, there were about 8 million people in the city. Since raising kids outside of New York was a non-starter, I could keep my search local. Once I accounted for my gender preference (male), my native language (English) and my desired age range (20-30), I figured there couldn’t be more then 2, maybe 3 million men that fit the bill.

Those were numbers I could work with. After all, I was still pretty young.

To me, love is not serendipitous, it’s something we can seek out with intention. By meeting more men, I felt I could increase the odds of finding the right one for me. He was out there somewhere, I just had to comb through my options until I found him.

Everyone gets a number!

young couple dating

I started the easiest way possible, by giving out my phone number. Everyone who asked, regardless of my initial attraction level, would get a chance.

Walking into a bar was like stepping into Oprah’s shoes. Instead of giving out cars, I was giving out digits. “You get a number! And you get a number!” I remained as open minded as possible, unless someone reeked of out-right danger, they got a follow up.

Even with that, the process moved slowly. I felt as thought I’d put my resume up on a job recruitment site without a cover letter – sure, I was getting a lot of calls, but no one knew what I was really looking for.

So I flipped the script. Instead of me giving my number to men who asked, I started approaching men myself. If this was a numbers game, I figured I’d meet more people if the effort was coming from both sides. I also had more control over who I approached, which felt more targeted.

Because I was the one initiating the conversations, I’d choose locations I loved (the bookstore, a coffee shop, a museum during free nights) and strike up conversations with anyone I found even mildly appealing. I figured we already had something in common based on the location, so I was already a step ahead.

Online dating

online dating

A month or two later I’d been on a lot of dates, but the process felt inefficient. The men I met were nice, but they weren’t necessarily looking for something serious. So I started to explore online dating. I wanted to put my exact requirements out there so I could weed out anyone who wasn’t interested.

I found a website that was mostly text based, rather than just a profile picture with text boxes – Tinder wasn’t going to cut it for finding a soul mate. I’m a writer, and as a writer, I wanted to express myself and my relationship goals. To me, a well worded profile is more effective at introducing two people than a coffee date.

So I sat down and crafted a call for submissions, so to speak. Titled “Not a psycho killer or a scary stalker. Yay!!” I explained what I was looking for: someone who wanted to find their forever partner, who was passionate about what they did in life and would have patience with my long office hours (which I intended on keeping).

I didn’t put a picture. I didn’t describe my looks. This wasn’t about physical attraction, this was about finding my match.

After it went live, I refreshed my inbox to find at least a dozen replies. They just kept coming over the next day or so.

Anyone who wrote more than three sentences got an answer. Anyone who replied with several paragraphs got a date.

One of the first men I met was my age, which made him stand out considering everyone else was at least three years my senior. He had long black hair like Severus Snape and a face that made him look fifteen.

That being said, the date was perfect.

He took me on a historic tour of Chinatown pointing out underground gambling rings and discussing the history of human trafficking. Before meeting up, he’d googled me and read years of blog posts about my travels abroad, learning the things I cared most about. Then we wandered to one of the original pizzerias in NYC, his favorite when he ranked them for a college paper on the subject. He was odd and interesting and I spent the whole date laughing.

NYC dating

As the night was winding down, I asked him where he lived. The answer blew the whole date to bits. He still lived at home. For someone whose main identity revolved around independence, it was a no-go for me.

When we parted ways, he gave me a hug and asked to see me again. I politely let him know that that probably wouldn’t happen.

The next day I continued with the dates, but I found myself comparing other people to that first guy. I texted him despite the standing rejection that I’d issued.

Two weeks later, during a particularly emotional evening, I called him on a whim. He showed up 45 minutes later, the exact time it took to get from his parents house to my apartment.

And in that moment, I let the fate-driven part of love take over. I’d done my job, I searched the entire city for the right person. It turned out that person lived at home deep in Brooklyn, but despite that, he was better than anything I could have hoped for.

Since then he’s cut his Snape-like hair so the world can see his beautiful eyes and at nearly 30, his face looks just as boyish as it did ten years ago. He stands by me through all of my crazy whims and understands that “settled” often means “let’s take our newborn baby to Thailand just because.”

His weird fits mine in a way I never anticipated, and it only took about a thousand dates to find him.

From My First Date to My Last and Everything in Between: What I learned in 15 years of dating

From 13 to 28-years-old, I’ve had 15 years of dating. So, here’s what it has taught me.

My first date ever happened when I was 13 years old. It was a double date to see She’s All That and I remember I was so nervous. Fifteen years later, I had what I hope will be my last first date ever.

Here is my journey of dating, and the lessons I learned and don’t forget that we’re here at LOVE TV to help you to sort through the dating world. Join today

She’s All That, 1999

dating life

As soon as I saw the preview for She’s All That, I knew I had to see it. I identified with Rachael Leigh Cook’s nerdy Laney Boggs and the awesome ‘90s soundtrack (hello “Kiss Me”) had me sold.

I called my best friend at the time and we soon orchestrated a double date with two guys we were into. She had turned 14 in December and I was still 13 for another six months.

I remember being so nervous calling the boys to organize the outing and freaking out teenage girl style when they said yes. We were too anxious to order food but we did have slushies and in typical eighth grader fashion, we didn’t even hold hands. We laughed through the movie and I felt myself blushing when I’d accidentally brush my guy’s hand.

When the movie was over, I remember feeling such a relief that it was done. I was happy that my first date was over and I managed to make it a double date at that. It’s fun to think about the shared experience the four of us had that winter in 1999. Firsts are always hard, but when they turn out as fun as this date did, it made me excited for my romantic future.

Prom, 2003

Dating life

Four years later, when prom time came around, I was no longer wishing for romantic dates just like the movies. I went to an all-girls high school which I absolutely adored, but one thing about it bugged me.

I’m not sure if this has changed, but 15 years ago they required us to have a date. I didn’t know very many guys and all I wanted to do was go to prom with my friends. I love laughing at my picture of myself and the date I ended up going with—a friend of a friend I think. He wore a top hat and sported a cane and he was a good six inches shorter than me.

I barely hung out with him during the dance. Instead, I spent the night with my friends, dancing and having fun.

It was nice to know that I could have a good time without having a “date” per se.

Founder’s Day Ball, 2004 and a Late-Night Diner Dinner, 2007

First Dance

Sometimes dates have outcomes you’d expect.

When I started college, I met a great guy who was also from Pittsburgh. Being the naive 18-year-old that I was, I instantly felt a connection that I hoped would become romantic.

I remember calling my sisters the night before the boy and I decided to go to our college’s Founder’s Day Ball. They were giddy with excitement, wondering what the night would bring. Soon enough, I realized we were much, much better as friends and we never actually dated beyond taking each other to things like school dances.

In the meantime, I found a wonderful friend in the process who has shared so many amazing memories with me.

Three years later, I briefly (I’m talking a month and a half) actually dated another man I had become close to during my college years. I remember one night we went out to a late-night dinner at a local diner we loved. I was very forward and flirtatious and remember trying to play footsie under the table and saying things I couldn’t believe were coming out of my mouth.

It was nice to know I had the confidence to be so sure of myself when it comes to matters of the heart. Our dates were fun, innocent and spontaneous—a nighttime trip to Dairy Queen or our local movie theater. However, speaking of matters of the heart, when we broke up it was the first time I felt truly heartbroken. While dating the boy didn’t exactly have the outcome I expected, I ended up becoming great friends with him as well.

Just those few dates with those boys resulted in a friend group that rivaled the Three Musketeers, This is Us’ Big Three, basically any friendship group of three you can think of. Those two boys turned out to be two of my very best, dearest friends. It’s funny to think about the surprising ways life can take you and turn out to be way better than you ever thought.

The most romantic date ever, 2011

chicago couple

While the relationship didn’t turn out with any positives except a story in a local magazine, the one I had in 2011 brought me the most romantic date I’ve ever had. As a self-described hopeless romantic, I thought going to visit my boyfriend while he was away in Chicago was straight out of a movie.

The weekend I was there, he took me to the Navy Pier and as we rode to the top of the Ferris wheel where we shared a passionate kiss. I will always appreciate the date and refer to it as “that one time I felt like I was living in a romantic comedy.”

My first and only blind date, 2012

passionate romantic couple

2012 was a tough year, as it was the year I got laid off due to budget cuts from the newspaper I was working at. While it was tough, it was also a great year because it was the year I met my current boyfriend.

The woman who worked at my apartment building’s front desk was friends with my boyfriend’s coworker, who happened to live in my building. They both agreed we would be good for each other and slipped a Starbucks gift card under my door.

My boyfriend and I met at the Starbucks at the end of my block and ended up chatting for hours. Six years later and we are still together and I’ve got a good feeling that that evening at Starbucks was my last first date.

Dating can be challenging, but so many important life lessons are learned.

Whether it’s getting over the fear of my first date, wishing I didn’t need a date at all, gaining confidence, appreciating romance or finding my forever date, I’ve learned so much with the men I’ve dated. As scary as it is to put yourself out there, it’s totally and completely worth it.

Interested in getting out of a not-so-great date? Check out this piece.