Not long after Ken and Maddy’s relationship began to intensify, Maddy got into a motorcycle accident and broke her nose and some other bones in her face. This interfered with her career acting in soap operas in Los Angeles. She walked away from her work and moved in with Ken where she spent the next year healing from the accident.
Ken was happy for her move in. Maddy was different from anyone he had ever been with. She had so much more fire than the other women. He was very attracted to the energy that could match his own fire, but they had to learn how to manage it so it didn’t burn both of them to a crisp. One time, when they were arguing, Maddy stood up to me and said, “It’s obvious that you have a list of requirements that you are looking for in a woman. I’m not it, but if you put aside your list long enough to check me out, you will find that I’m much better for you than what you have on your list.”
Commitment opens up inconceivable possibilities.
In the early months, they were madly in love with each other, but were still both commitment-phobic. One night, Ken sat down and drew a circle and said. “This is a circle of commitment. Are we inside or outside? If we’re outside, there isn’t much at stake, and there’s not much that is possible. If we’re inside the circle, we’re going to see each issue through until we find some place to stand together.” It was a life changing moment when they discovered what marriage is really about.
Ken wasn’t willing to spend time fighting unless there was a commitment. They both realized that we were in it for the long haul, and that made all the difference when their issues came up. Once they brought commitment to their relationship, things really took off. They started looking more directly into their relationship to assess how things were going, and how they could improve things.
They committed to giving their patnership the highest possible care, and putting in whatever corrections they felt were needed. They have kept that commitment and both declare that they will continue to for the rest of their lives. Once they passed over that big threshold, marriage was the next natural step. Their wedding was so glorious, that at one point Ken turned to Maddy and said, “This is so wonderful, let’s do it every year. Maddy said, “O.K., lets do it.”
And they have. They have established a tradition of taking a week for a honeymoon each Thanksgiving. For them, nothing comes before the well being of our marriage. They get married again every year on or near their wedding anniversary. One year Ken rented an Elvis suit from a costume shop and got married in The Chapel of Love in Las Vegas. They’ve gotten married by the singing rabbis of Marin County. They’ve gotten married on a deserted tropical island, with their kids performing the ceremony. Sometimes they make elaborate plans, and sometimes the day before they put the ceremony together. One year they were having a huge fight, put the fight aside, had the ceremony, and picked up the fight where they left off. It’s not just about the ritual of getting married; the important part is the assessment that goes on prior to and after the recommitment ceremony. They do a big assessment of how they did during the previous year, and sculpt their marriage to fit their changing needs and goals.
Ken and Maddy report that this course correction is as important as anything else they do all year. Many years, there isn’t a requirement of a major change. It has become increasingly clear to Ken, with maturity, that if he pushes too hard on anything, it will come back to bite him on the ass. If he tries to boss Maddy at work, he’ll have to pay later. When he was younger, he was very concerned about holding on to his power. He didn’t want her to run over him.
Support trumps control every time.
Now with life experience and maturity, if Ken wants to do something that Maddy doesn’t want to do, he will usually shift. Their relationship has gotten less chaotic and more balanced over time. When they were younger, Ken didn’t really understand that he needed to do everything he could to see to it that Maddy is happy, so that he can be happy. These days Ken understands enlightened self-interest and chooses to support Maddy. She is doing the same, and is a major component influencing their delight in their marriage.
Check out our new book!
That Which Doesn’t Kill Us: How One Couple Got Stronger at the Broken Places is newly published and has been met with rave reviews. The book is a very personal joint memoir written in alternating chapters describing their experiences during a ten-year period of their marriage in which they endured a series of challenges and ordeals that brought them to the brink of divorce. The book details the process of their descent into relationship hell as well as the process that enabled them to re-establish a connection that was stronger and more mutually fulfilling than what they had ever previously experienced.
The book is currently available for purchase through their office ([email protected]) and will also be available for purchase from Amazon after April 9, 2018. The cost is $16.95