Tuesday, September 26, 2023 Sep 26, 2023
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The divorce rate is down-slightly-but more than half of all marriages still end in divorce. In order to keep your marriage, you may have to fight for it-literally. Here’s why and how.
By Mary Candace Evans |

THERE WERE 19,375 MARRIAGES RECORDED IN Dallas County last year-and 13,411 divorces. The scene is slightly rosier in Tarrant County, where 12,553 marriage licenses were issued but only 6,033 divorces were granted. In Collin County, 3,221 couples said “I do” in 1995, but 2273 said “I don’t” there last year. Counselors are alarmed by projections that 67 percent of marriages from the late ’80s will end in divorce.

Is it really just the “get tired, get bored, get a new partner” syndrome? We all know the seemingly “perfect” couple who one day just calls it quits. The house goes on the market, the kids go into therapy and the couple who once laughed, danced and made love embark on their own War of the Roses. We watch from afar like gawkers at the scene of a bad car wreck. There but for the grace of God go I. We.

But examined closely, the whys of marriage and divorce aren’t nearly so much divine whims as they may appear. The divorce rate here

and around the country today follows a trajectory created by a number of societal changes that have defined Dallas and American life- and marriage-for the last half of the 20th century.

During the ’80s, Dallas was the nation’s notorious divorce capital. Our numbers are down, but we’re well above the national average of 50 percent; 50 to 70 percent of all people who get married in Dallas will get divorced. While those figures are notoriously slippery-the 50 percent who are getting divorced this year are not 50 percent of those who are getting married this year-the fact remains that many, many people are goin’ through the Big D in Big D, as country singer Mark Chesnutt puts it.

Why do so many marriages fail in Dallas? Those who hear couples’ problems on a daily basis say Dallas is tough on marriage. “Dallas is a high-stress city.” says Dr. Ervin G. Roorda, pastor of congregational care at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church. “We live with beepers, portable telephones, move at a rapid pace. That takes its toll on relationships.”

We also ride the affluence roller coaster in Dallas. As in other very large cities, people flock here to make money. Newly married college sweethearts come to Dallas to find success and find out in the process they’ve changed, maybe not for the better, and grown apart. Corporate transfers move up the ladder via Dallas, trailing spouses and children, trading the support of family and friends left behind for a credit-card culture where going to the mall is for many people a family recreational event and success means buying a house big enough so that everyone in the family can be alone in his or her own bedroom, complete with personal television and computer.

Is it worse here than in other comparable urban centers where people generally want the same things-money, power, all the glittering symbols of success?

“The climate here is more hectic than in other cities, ” says family district court Judge Richard Johnson. Proof: Johnson says the county’s seven family courts are booked solid-21,000 cases.

We want it all now, and there are heavy pressures on young families to have all the fiscal trimmings, says family lawyer John J. Ezell. Many divorcing couples he sees are up to their ears in debt.

“It’s the ease of credit,” says Ezell. “I see couples in my office whose financial ship is sinking.”

In addition, many couples are trying to get from a marriage what they didn’t get at home, says Ezell, because often at least one spouse came from a broken home. Then there’s the temptation to find nirvana by having a younger wife-a trophy wife.

11 Men at the office ask my husband if he’s still married to his first wife,” says the wife of an EDS executive about to celebrate her 24th wedding anniversary. “Not trading in your wife is rather archaic these days.”

Sheer size also plays a role. In a small town, says Dallas divorce attorney Joshua Taylor, there are watchful eyes-folks know each other, which may help restrain the urge to split, Also, the bigger the town, the greater the chance to meet Mr. or Ms. Right, or someone who will at least serve as a reasonable facsimile. There are more things to do in the Big City, more places to hide, more temptation. My knight awaits me at the Iguana Mirage.

Of course, marriages also fail for reasons that have nothing at all to do with Dallas, per se. Just ask any- I one in the local “divorce industry”-there are as many I answers as there are counselors, therapists, divorce attorneys, family law judges and authors of make-your-marriage-work books. But their answers are all pieces of die larger answer, which is that here at the end of the 20ch century we are asking much more of the marriage relationship than ever before.

In the 1890s, only 10 of every 1,000 marriages ended in divorce. Marriage then was primarily a vehicle for economic stability-a roof and food. It was also not uncommon for people to marry for a stable sexual relationship, although sex was important mostly for procreation. And with lower life expectancies, ” ’til death do us part” didn’t mean 60 years; many people outlived two or three marriage partners in a lifetime.

Maybe, say some experts, we are in a kind of sociological sandwich, adjusting to women sharing power with men for the first time. Young women are now cautioned not to rely on marriage for economic stability, but to develop their own-thus bringing the pressure of two careers to a marriage. Then too, nowadays people Hearing 50, with children grown or near-grown, married for perhaps 15 or 20 years, are no longer necessarily looking toward retired golden years together, but often are making major life changes, starting new careers-and maybe finding new partners.

So if marriage is no longer about the “easy” stuff, like financial and sexual stability, and in addition our longer life spans are requiring it to last longer, what exactly are we asking of it? Perhaps we are asking loo much-a lifetime of happiness; frequent, fireworks-fabulous sex; psychological intimacy and a way to mend all the wounds that parents and society inflicted prior to the first step down the aisle.

Should We Outlaw Divorce?

MARRIAGE MAY BE MORE DIFFICULT TO SUSTAIN THESE DAYS, but never before has it been easier to get into or get out of. And that, some maintain, is part of the problem.

It is literally harder to get a drivers license than it is to get married. If you’re 18, have a valid ID, plunk down $31 and can endure a 72-hour waiting period, welcome to wedlock. And, thanks to no-fault divorce, if you meet the state residency requirements and the divorce is uncontested, ending a marriage can be as legally simple as proclaiming incompatibility, filing the papers at the courthouse and waiting through a 60-day “grace period.” Republican Jobn Hendry, running for the 30th Congressional District seat on a family values platform against Eddie Bemice Johnson, is part of a gnawing number of judges, clergy and public officiais who think no-fault divorce has turned out to be a costly mistake for society.

“We shouldn’t outlaw divorce.” Hendry says, “but we need a slow-ing-down period. Studies show that divorce can be devastating to children and families. Maybe the issue of ’self-happiness’ should be diminished when there are children involved.”

According to Maggie Gallagher, author of The Abolition of Marriage, it is easier today to shed a spouse than it is to terminate an employee. She says our society must do more to buttress marriage legally, morally and culturally, or face higher crime and more parentless children with deep emotional scars condemned to welfare. Gallagher believes we should impose a five-year waiting period on contested no-fault divorce.

Besides eliminating no-fault divorce, Hendry would like to see a national campaign to encourage marriage preparation classes. He would like to change the current tax system, which he says discriminates against marriage and punishes those who are married.

Not all authorities agree with Hendry’s nostrums. Eliminating no-fault divorce won’t make a dent in the divorce rate, says Dallas family law judge Theo Bedard. who still remembers the old ways,

” If they had to prove cruelty, lor example, we had to listen to each and every argument to decide if cruelty was committed,” she says. “If they want a divorce badly enough, they’ll get it.”

Reinstituting grounds for divorce would make attorneys work harder and charge more, says Bedard. She, too, would like to nip the problem at the other end: encourage more premarital counseling and counseling intervention before a divorce. “Many couples in divorce court could fix marriages with counseling,” she says.

But. others say, by die time couples retain divorce attorneys, it’s usually too late. “The courthouse is the last dog you’ve got to hunt with,” says attorney Josh Taylor. “By the time the client’s in my office, their minds are pretty well made up.”

Counseling is also being used more as a way to get couples to think about what they’re doing before they say “I do.” Many local churches and synagogues have implemented serious premarital and marital counseling efforts in the last five years.

“We’re in a divorce crisis,” says Rabbi Kenneth Roseman of Temple Shalom. ” Anything reasonable that may help is worth trying.”

Temple Shalom requites its rabbis to meet with young engaged couples three to six times during the engagement period, usually a year. At Prestonwood Baptist Church, pastors “strongly recommend” that any couple getting married take its 1.0-week marriage préparat ion class false open to non -members-cost $40), which is offered four times per year. About 150 couples attend each session. Brent Taylor, minister to young marrieds at Prestonwood, says marriage prep is more important than wedding prep.

“It’s a sign indicating a dangerous curve ahead,” says Taylor. “Better a warning sign than a hospital at the end of the curve.”

Naturally, some claim that technology can help couples peer into the uncertain mists of the future. Besides marriage preparation classes, several local churches and synagogues including Prestonwood Baptist, Preston Hollow Presbyterian, and starting this fall, Temple Shalom, administer a 125-question compatibility profile called “Prepare” to couples who intend to marry.

With a database containing vital information on more than 500,000 couples, the creators of the questionnaire say they can isolate likely problem areas even before the couple walks down the aisle. Questions cover a range including expectations, conflict resolution, finances, even fam-ily-of-origin issues such as cost and location of the family home. The outcome projections score the union’s chance for success; the lower your compatibility level, the greater the likelihood for conflict. According to their creators, Prepare and Enrich (the inventory for married folks) can predict divorce with 80 percent to 90 percent accuracy.

“The intent is not to stop the marriage,” says Rabbi Roseman. “We want to isolate the areas of difference and encourage help.”

These and other diagnostic tools can point to the rocks ahead, but not everyone wants to heed the warning signs. “I remember a used car we once wanted to buy,” says Dr. Ray O. McClung, a clinical psychologist. “Took that car to a skilled mechanic who said it would fall apart after 500 miles. We knew he was an expert but we loved that car. We bought it anyway and it fell apart at 500 miles. When people are young and in love they don’t care what the counselor says.”

The Rev. Randy Mayeux of Christ Church North says it’s a basic marketing problem: How do you tell couples in love that marriage isn’t easy? Mayeux weds several hundred couples a year, offering a marriage seminar to each one. The price of the seminar-$45-includes a free hotel room for a night. Only 5 percent of the couples he marries ever opt to take the seminar.

Given all the pitfalls, why marry at all? Apparently the urge for completion is so great that we don’t stop trying-97 percent of divorced people marry again within five years. And-nobody said this would be simple-there is also evidence that marriage is actually pretty good for us. Men and women at high risk for depression, says Dr. Jerry Lewis, are not as likely to get depressed in a stable marriage. There is even evidence that confiding in a partner is good for the immune system. Married men live longer than single men.

So marriage, 20th-century style, is worth seeking and worth working on once the “in-love” blush has faded. But what makes it work? In these introspective times, many people are looking to marriage to provide the healing end to what has become typical for the late 20th century-a prolonged adolescence.

“We’re looking for companionship and intimacy in marriage,” says Dr. Lewis, senior research psychiatrist at the Timberlawn Research Foundations practicing psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “And we come into it with too much baggage. Deep within we hope to find an undoing, a healing of old painful experiences. That’s expecting a great deal.”

But another school of marriage therapy says that “incompatibility” can make for a great marriage. We subconsciously select the wrong person for the right reasons, because we sense that they are, in effect, our missing parts. Hence, the rational woman who marries the emotional man; the introverted man who finds happiness with the extroverted woman. Add a large dose of commitment and they will help each other grow. But the idea is not-repeat, not-to change your spouse, your “missing part,” into a mirror image of yourself.

In a nutshell, this is the “imago relationship therapy” developed by former SMU professor Dr. Harville Hendrix, author of Getting the Love You Want. In effect, says Dr. Hendrix, there are no accidents in who we marry.

So why bother tinkering with the relationship up front if marriage is therapy, a bumpy-ride healing process in which we’re supposed to shed a few tears? If we break a few plates along the road, hurl a few obscenities, it’s worth it; our partner becomes our soul mate.

But isn’t this a massive job for two mere mortals to tackle alone?

When the Honeymoon’s Over

Dawn and David Stein (not their real names) shared an 8-by-8 dorm room when they attended graduate school 11 years ago. They never fought. Now they have a 3,500-square-foot house and two children. David has just slammed his fist on the table.

“What do you mean you don’t have the directions? You knew about this party two weeks ago! You can never be ready when it s something that’s important for me!”

“That’s bull. I have a busy life too, you know. When was the last time you touched the dishwasher? It s tax season. Do you remember what I do for a living?”

“Yeah, you’re always at the office working!”

“I wonder why, when you’re so much fun to live with!”

“Marriage brings out the nuttiness in people,” says Dr. Kay Hale, a Dallas psychologist and past president of the Dallas Psychological Association. “I have patients who tell me everyone in the world thinks they’re wonderful except their spouse.”

There’s no such thing as a problem-free relationship, according to Drs. Margie and David McKeon, Kockwall-based therapists and leaders of the “(Setting the Love Von Want” workshops bused on the teachings of Harville Hendrix. It’s how spouses deal with the conflict that makes married life livable and pleasant-or a living hell In good relationships, the couples have the tools and skills needed to solve their problems. Couples in bad relationships simply lack those skills.

“It’s the details of life that get to us,” says Dr. McClung. “The key is to avoid destruction and abuse of each other, acknowledge behavior change. It’s incredible what brilliant people can deny.”

No matter how glorious the first bloom of romance, psychologists say most marriages evolve through stages. Many couples notice after a few months or years of marriage that their partner is not what they thought. An alarm goes off: This beautiful, tender-hearted magna cum laude graduate can be a real pain,

’I am a morning disk jockey, so I get up early in the morning,” says Ron Foster, who has been married to Debbie Reeves for 26 years. “One day she says to me, gee, I wish you’d get up at normal hours when you’re not working. Then she sprays hair spray while I’m trying to catch up on sleep. One day. I took that can and tossed it out the window.”

Another woman was furious when she discovered her husband drinking out of the milk carton. “But I’ve been doing it for years!” he protested. What marriage counselors hear is “he’s changed, she’s changed.” According to the imago theory, this means the couple has settled in enough to go off their “best behavior,” It they have married a person who’s very different, these “new” personality traits may begin to drive them crazy.

While dating, the wife of a prominent attorney loved the way he was always in control of things-strong, stable, respected. “But then we married,” she says, “and he started trying to control every aspect of our lives, even trying to control me. That’s one reason we divorced. “

’Til Debt Do Us Part

ANOTHER AREA FRAUGHT WITH DANGER: MONEY. WHILE courting, few lovers ever discuss the nitty-gritty of finance- who makes what, who will pay the bills, etc. While sex is-well, sexier-money rears its ugly green head more often than do sexual problems. And don’t forget one common-sense warning: We are what we do. Sometimes career skills that make an individual successful in an occupation can lead to problems in marriage: military men who find it hard to stop giving orders at home; compulsive surgeons who want their homes lobe run like an operating suite; litigators who delight in hours of argument over whether or not the toothpaste tube should be squeezed from the bottom or the middle.

Rebecca Belew noticed that her husband, Jim, was coming home from the office but never really leaving it. A managing partner at a top-10 Dallas CPA firm, Belew-Averitt, Jim was used to snapping his fingers and watching everyone jump. That behavior didn’t go over well at home.

“One day he came home and sort of barked out something and I fell to the floor.” says Rebecca, owner of a marketing/communications agency. Jim asked what was wrong. “I told him that someone had changed our address and stamped his office address all over our home and my forehead. I got his attention and made my point.”

However, not all couples have the instinctive ability to know that drama and humor can help them through difficult moments and even ease the way through the inevitable power struggles that, according to the imago people, follow the waning of a marriages early romantic stage. This conflict is pan of how each person struggles to regain his or her original wholeness, trying to capture whatever it is in their partner that heals their own wounded child within.

But even scarier than the prize fighters, say psychologists, are couples who never fight. “These are the nice, quiet couples who go to church and never raise their voices,” says Dr, Hale, “Often one will come in with depression or physical problems. There is no sense of closeness or intimacy, no words.” These couples don’t make their way through the confrontations that result in healthy power sharing, and allow spouses to grow together instead of apart. So it’s no surprise that the confrontation-shy have a higher divorce rate than the brawlers. At least, say therapists, the couple that fights is communicating, albeit in a perverse, immature sort of way.

And they’ll need those communications skills to build intimacy, because the pressure put on marriages today to find someone to fall in love with, someone to make you “whole,” can lead to immense fear of rejection, according to Dr. Manoochehr Khatami, chairman of the department of psychiatry at St. Paul Medical Center and clinical professor of psychiatry at Southwestern Medical Center. “People fear rejection and create barriers to avoid intimacy-multiple sexual partners, multiple marriages.”

In marriage, the ultimate barrier to intimacy is an affair. According to one widely circulated figure, 37 percent of all men and 20 percent of all women are unfaithful to their spouses at some point over the course of their lives-and according to Janis Abrahms Spring, author of After The Affair, those figures may be conservative. (They’re based on a 1992 study at the University of Chicago in which 20 percent of the respondents could not be located for interviews. Perhaps they just did not want to divulge the raw details.) Dr. Kay Hale says about 30 percent of his marriage therapy patients will admit to an affair when they first come to counseling. By the time they leave his care, many more will ’fess up.

“People have affairs for lots of reasons,” says Dr. Hale. “Some are hedonistic, yes; they’re looking for sexual adventure. But I think it has more to do with intimacy and closeness issues. It’s a symptom. Something’s wrong in the marriage.”

So many symptoms, so many of them fatal to a marriage. How, then, do some couples manage to stay together, remain civil and maybe even still care for each other while raising children, enduring financial woes and beating the hassles of everyday life?

Making It Work

THE LONGEST MARRIAGES ARE THE STRONGEST MARRIAGES, Experts say that once a couple makes it past 30 years, they are statistically safe. Fifty-eight percent of American households consist of couples married 15 to 20 years; 27 percent have been married for .30 years or more.

How to make it last? Psychologists have identified basic attributes of solid marriages. When the going gets tough, don’t blame, criticize, play the martyr or hurt each other. Unite against the crisis, says Dr. Khatami, and use lots of humor. That was the salvation for Ron Foster and Debbie Reeves, who had a terrible 1993, She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, their children were in a serious car wreck and Ron doubled over with three bleeding ulcers. To maintain sanity, Ron did impressions of famous comedians.

Happily married couples also figure out ways to resolve problems satisfactorily for both partners so they can get on with their lives. This requires communication and non judgmental, non-blaming discussion.

“You get stuff out in the open and talk about it,” says Ron Rose, a Christian family counselor and director of Faith in Families of Fort Worth. Rose and his wife Lyn conduct marriage seminars using their his/her books, Loving Him, Loving Her.

“You compromise,” says Ron Rose. “Resolve some, adapt to others. ” Successful conflict resolution takes time and effort. Unless they’ve had some training or possess innate fair-fighting skills, this is the area where many couples need professional help.

Like Kevin and Nancy Rusk (not their real names) of Piano, who after six years of marriage had a major disagreement over having a second child-a disagreement that almost brought on a divorce.

“We didn’t work through it,” says Nancy. “I was angry at him for the way he treated me during my pregnancy.”

When the child was born, the problem mushroomed: The baby had colic and cried for eight full months. Kevin blamed Nancy-“I didn’t even want this child and now she expected me to get up and help her take care of this baby during the night.”

At the time, Kevin was a student and Nancy an attorney. She came home and criticized the way things were done-or not done. “She was trying to control me,” says Kevin. Nancy remembers it differently. “It was like I had three jobs-my work, coming home and cleaning up the house and being a mother,” she says.

They tried counseling.

“We sat for an hour and yelled at each other,” says Kevin. Once Nancy even threw a chair at Kevin. Things got so bad they each hired divorce lawyers. Then they found Dave and Margie McKeon through a one-day couples’ seminar and began therapy. Slowly they found their love was still intact; it had been buried by the demands of life, concealed with conflict and pain.

“Dave took charge right away-none of this dumping stuff,” says Kevin. “We learned how to talk to each other, to mirror the other’s feelings. We started to understand each other and stop the blame game.”

Kevin and Nancy also learned other imago techniques, such as being a “container” for a partner, sharpening listening skills and making requests. They learned how their childhood relationships left wounds and pain they were now duplicating on each other. They learned how to rephrase statements. “You’re a sick, angry, screwed-up so-and-so” became “I am frightened by your anger because…”

Most of all, they learned that other couples also battle through these and other issues. That gave them hope and comfort.

“It is not good to be allowed to explode whenever you want,” says Nancy. “Now we make an appointment with each other to resolve conflict or just be close. That way our feelings are both validated.”

Such techniques also recognize that in marriage, respect is almost as important as love. Sure, she may have PMS; he may snap at her after a horrendous day at the office. But it doesn’t happen often and when it does, couples apologize to each other out of respect.

Another trick that experts say contributes to happiness and success in marriage: Aim at collecting ” moments,” small positive events or occasions that please partners. Happily married couples have a lot of these, a 5-to-l ratio over negative moments. Moments can be anything from small hugs, bringing her a cup of coffee, rubbing his feet, cutting out a pertinent newspaper article, surprising her with fresh flowers. They are done regularly until they become a ritual.

For Beth and Ray McClung, married 35 years, the moments came in a small gingerbread home in New Braunfels, Texas. They bought it when their children were little. Every weekend they’d drive down to the house. Beth painted and wallpapered while Ray took their three children to float on the river.

“My husband always helps me haul in groceries,” says one Dallas woman who’s been married for 18 years. “lie may leave a mess in the kitchen but it’s sweet and gallant the way he rescues those bags from my arms.”

“She keeps the house well-stocked,” says Jim Belew. “I really like that there’s always enough Kleenex and a quart of ice cream for me when I want it.”

Disagreement, successful conflict resolution, respect and valued moments: Children raised within these boundaries, say experts, feel more secure because they know the power is balanced,

“Equal power is the most important ingredient in a marriage,” says Dr, Jerry Lewis, “How are we going to make decisions? Resolve disagreements? The more central the power, die more likely you are to find respect.”

A successful marriage then becomes a teeter-totter of power balancing that is mutually satisfying. Tim is what couples who have been married tor many years mean by “the work of love.”

“Power will not always be 50/50,” says Dr. Agnes Whitley, a Dallas psychiatrist who recently retired after 30 years of marriage counseling. “It I choose to let my husband make a decision, I still have power.” Dr. Whitley. married for 34 years, believes that successful marriages transcend selfishness.

“Don’t always put yourself first,” she says. “But that’s hard to do when, for the last 25 years, we’ve been told that ’I’ is more important than ’we’.”

Many long-married couples say they went into the union with the view that divorce was not an option. “We talked, we set ground rules,” says Elayne Mays, a Wylie editor who was married to Tom Mays for almost 29 years before he died suddenly two years ago. “We covered everything from infidelity to major purchases. We wrote epistles.”

For the most part, marriages are not broken over major issues, according to Dr. Lewis; they break over the little pieces of everyday-ness. Like laundry, Lyn Rose talks about how it annoyed her that Ron dumped his dirty clothes on the floor right next to, but not into, the laundry hamper. For years she seethed about this piddly but annoying habit of his-the antithesis of a positive moment-until one day she decided to change the way she regarded ” the Pile.” Lyn became thankful he was dropping his laundry at home, not in a hotel room with another woman. She changed her attitude about the Pile, making it a symbol to count her blessings.

But many modern women have a hard time seeing a wet toilet seat or an overflowing trash bag as a blessing in disguise. A psychologist might urge the wife to tell her husband, without criticism, how she feels, then negotiate; imago therapy would have Lyn try to understand why Ron dumped his dirty clothes on the floor. Then later she could ask him to “gift” her by putting the clothes in the hamper. If Ron’s clothes make it to the hamper, Lyn doesn’t complain when he hogs the TV remote control.

“Mature love means you can transcend your own selfishness,” says Dr. Whitley. “Sometimes you’re strongest when you give up power.”

So through the mundane bug nonetheless critical distractions-the missed hampers and wet toilets and back-seat drivers-we learn to forgive each other for not being perfect. That is the moment, say experts, when true love begins.

You can be open if you feel safe; you can share feelings and dreams; love and be loved. After all, you’ve worked damned hard to get there.

“We’ve both changed and grown and adjusted, * says Beth McClung. “You love ’em for a week, you hate ’em for a week. But when it’s all said and done, I’d still marry Ray McClung again in a minute!”

The Wedding

WHEN LISA STAGNER AND TED BOYER, THEN 32 AND 35, DECIDED to run away to Hawaii and get married in May 1986, Lisa had envisioned a week of just the two of them frolicking on die beach, sipping champagne, watching the sun set over Kaanapali Beach as they exchanged wedding vows.

“Then we found out that Ted’s best friend from college, Bob Kaminski, was going to be in Maui with his company the same week,” Lisa says, “What ensued is now referred to in our household as ’Bob and Ted’s Wedding.’ “

“The stuff these two guys did together in college would curl your hair’,” says Lisa. “So, needless to say, when I heard the good news that Bob was going to be there, I was a little apprehensive, and to be honest, jealous.”

While Lisa spent her time shopping and at the pool and the beach, Bob and Ted proceeded to golf their brains out, she says.

“I kept hearing about what a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this was because there are so many beautiful courses on Maui. Fortunately I had a few breaks because Bob was there on business and occasionally had to go to a meeting,” she says.

The wedding ceremony was on Tuesday. May 5. The weather was perfect. As the sun began to set behind them and Hawaiian music was played softly on an acoustic guitar, Lisa and Ted were pronounced man and wife.

“Ted turned to me and kissed me. Then he turned to Bob, they embraced, and Ted said, ’I’d die for you, man.’ It was really very sweet. Bob cried through the whole wedding,” Lisa says. “Then, of course, after the wedding we all went out to dinner together,”

Ten years later. Bob and Ted are still close, Bob is CEO of Leiner Health Products in California, and Ted is a national accounts manager for the company, Though her wedding wasn’t what she expected, Lisa says she did get a preview of die marriage to come by observing Bob and Ted.

“At die time I was a little insecure,” she says. *But looking back, I should have seen Ted’s capacity for love and loyalty and known that would eventually be there for me, too.”

-Sally -Giddens Stephenson

Bringing Home


“I REALLY WASN’T EXPECTING TO fall completely and totally in love with Barry again after having a baby,” says Lucie Pound, 35, who together with her husband Barry, 40, brought home seven-pound, 1.1 -ounce Katherine Eleanor Pound this June.

“It’s not that I didn’t love him before, but there was just this total gush of feeling. I think it had to do with needing him so much more.” she says.

Lucie, a copywriter for Neiman Marcus, and Barry, director of public relations for Methodist Hospitals of Dallas, had dated for six years and never lived together before marrying on June 18,1994.

“Before Katherine, we had really led very independent lives- even after we were married,” Lucie says.

Like many couples without children who both work, Lucie and Barry went ou): to dinner several times a week and saw friends on their own. Now they find they spend almost all of their time together at home with the new baby.

“I read all of the books, and I was expecting to fall in love with my baby,” Lucie says. “But seeing Barry with her in a way I had never seen him has brought a whole new dimension to our relationship. You hear about husbands developing night deafness, but I’m redly the one who has it and am always sure that ] changed the diaper the last time. It goes way beyond everyday things, though. Katherine and 1 need him. More than ever I know that.”

Though time alone with his bride has gone out the window, Barry also says that a new baby knits the family together.

“Throughout the pregnancy we became more attentive to each other and a little more dependent on one another,” he says. “Now there’s someone else who is depending on the two of us.” -S.G.S.

Working Together

After a rough day in flour up to her elbows, planning menus and puffing pastry, Katie Brown, 25. knows she can go home to a husband who understands the demands of being a chef for a major catering company. That’s because her husband of one year, George Brown, 30, is technically her boss at the dam group, a special events catering and hospitality management company.

“George is at the Dallas Museum of Art and I’m in the catering kitchen, which means we aren’t together all day every day,” Katie says. “But I provide him with all of his pastries and baked goods for Seventeen Seventeen Restaurant and the Atrium Cafe. We spend a lot of time together planning menus and special events.”

Katie and George met when they were in school at the Culinary Institute of America. They have both worked at some of Dallas’ top restaurants, including The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Baby Routh, Sipango, the Melrose Hotel and the Hotel Crescent Court. This is the first time the two have worked together.

“I accept that he is in a higher position, so when it comes to a battle of wills, I do it his way,” Katie says, quickly adding, “that would not go over at home, though.”

“Working with your spouse could be a disaster, but we really respect one another,” George says, “We have the ultimate communication and instant understanding of the day-to-day stress and pressure of the job, Being a chef can require 60 to 100 hours a week- whatever it takes to get the job done. She understands that and is very supportive. Likewise I am supportive of lief when she’s in dial position.”

“Sometimes, though, we just have to turn it off when we get home,” Katie says. “Otherwise we would drive each other crazy, It-would be like never getting away from work.” -S.G.S.

Changing Roles

IT IS HARD TO THINK OF DAWN FlEDLER IN GRANNY GLASSES, EVEN harder to see her husband Chuck in long hair and bell-bottoms, carrying a peace sign. But the Fiedlers were active anti-war protestors in their native Minnesota, back in the early 70s. Their 26-year marriage has survived love-ins, the drug culture, peace rallies and bra-burnings. But when Chuck was “downsized” by a major local defense contractor in October 1994, their marriage was put to the test.

“Our roles changed,” said Dawn, a nurse. “I became the one with a definite full-time schedule.”

“I became self-employed,” says Chuck.

They met in 1963 at the University of Minnesota. While Dawn graduated with her nursing degree. Chuck enlisted {his doubts about Vietnam came later) and was shipped off to Great Lakes Naval Base. After a year and a half of friendly letters, Chuck visited Dawn at her patents’ home is Grand Rapids, Mich. They wanted to get married the next day but Dawn’s parents talked them into a wedding-and waiting.

“We talked all night about our goals, our future,” says Dawn. “We could have lots of fun together without spending money.”

Which aided them years later when Chuck learned that his department, human relations, had vaporized due to budget cuts. His master’s degree was in psychology. Without more school or retraining, there wasn’t much he could do. Dawn had worked part-time during their marriage; now she pounded the pavement.

“We tightened the belt around here,” says Dawn. “We thought of selling the house, but we managed.”

Dawn found a managerial nursing position; Chuck became a handyman. He has, says Dawn, always loved fixing things and enjoys building. Now he is highly sought by duo working couples who don’t have the time to do home fix-up duty.

“What got us through this,” says Chuck, “is that we built a wall around us together, not between us. We are also good friends. And no matter how many times we’ve disagreed through the years, divorce was just never an option.” -Mary Candace Evans

The Empty Nest

IT’S BEEN FIVE YEARS SINCE THE LAST OF CONNIE AND VELPEAU Hawes’ four children left their tasteful, sprawling Lakewood home, a house their children say “puts its arms around us.” Married for 36 years, Connie, a licensed professional counselor and Vel, an architect, have spent the time getting re-acquainted.

“The last thing we did was take care of ourselves, or even talk,” says Connie. “The children came first-five bachelor’s degrees, two master’s, weddings and all the trimmings.”

Two degrees belong to Connie. She began going to college when her youngest child started high school, earning a bachelor’s in rehabilitation therapy and a master’s in counseling. Her new professional life, she says, keeps her and Vel connected. Without her own life and career to fill the hours, which were overflowing with motherhood responsibilities, Connie doesn’t know what she would have done.

“We come home from work, have a glass of wine and spend two hours talking about work,” says Connie, 58. “It’s like being newlyweds. Of course, usually, one of the kids calls.”

Theirs has been a good marriage, but not without its moments of danger. “When I was stationed in Germany in the early ’60s she must have packed her bags a hundred times to leave. I’d even carry them out for her,” says Vel, 59. He says both were only children who had a lot of growing up to do when they got married. They had their conflicts, occasionally seeking help from a marriage therapist.

“I’m pretty headstrong,” says Connie of those early days. “And I was insecure being a homemaker. Vel’s career was taking off. We fought after almost every party we went to. I probably spent more nights on the guest room bed than on my own.”

“I used to tell the children that there’s going to be a good noisy fight,” says Vel. “Did they want to stay and watch or go in another room?” But the two, who met in the early ’50s at Dallas’ Sunset High School-he was a junior, she was a sophomore-made it through arguments, tempers and flying dishes. Now they even laugh about it.

“Our children are actually surprised that we’re getting along so well,” says Connie. “An empty nest takes preparation, much like retirement. You need to keep yourself active, involved.”

“It’s like I’ve been married to two women,” says Vel. “And I love them both.” -M.C.E.

Saying Goodbye

THE MOST PRECIOUS TIMES WITH HIS WIFE SUZANNE, SAYS KEN Olles, 47, were getting over the disagreements.

“In 20 years, 13 days and one hour of marriage you have plenty of them,” he says. “So after we put the kids down, we would sit in the front room for three or lour hours and go over everything until we came to an agreement. By the end, we were usually sitting close and holding hands, and we had solved many of the world’s problems as well as our own.”

Now Ken, a history teacher at Lakewood Presbyterian School, solves those problems with the help of his six children: Stephanie, 6; twins Chris and Tim, 11; Emily, 14; Amy, 17; and Katie, 19. Suzanne died of cancer in August 1992, shortly after their 20tb wedding anniversary. She was 44.

“She always said on our 20th anniversary she wanted to do something different, Well, this was,” says Ken.

“There are two most difficult moments. The first is when your mate actually dies. I remember clearly standing next to her bed when she took her last breath. I truly thought I was going to die.

“The other is after everyone goes home. It was a Sunday evening. We had a memorial service and lots of people were in the house. When I finally let the last person out and locked the door, I realized the next day was Monday, and all of those people were going to go on with their lives. Suddenly I knew I was on my own. That was a long night.”

Ken and Suzanne had home-schooled their children, and initially he was overwhelmed with the thought of continuing toward this goal they had both taken very seriously. “But pretty early on a friend who had lost her husband gave me some good advice,” says Ken. “At first you can’t think about the future. You have to live 24 hours at a time. “

Eventually different family members took on Suzanne’s everyday roles. Katie became teacher. Amy a great washer of clothes, and Ken, a former caterer, became grocery shopper and cook. With Katie now a dean’s list student at Houghton College, Amy and Emily teach their younger brothers and sister and set their own curriculum.

Ken says he trusted in God and has watched all of his children, even the youngest, emerge from grief and sadness.

“I have been amazed at how gracious God has been, that even Stephanie can talk easily about her mother who is now in heaven.”



The Surprising Results

LOOKING INTO WHAT MAKES MARRIAGES WORK, WE TALKED to dozens of experts-therapists, counselors, judges, minis- ters and die like. But we also wanted to hear from another group of marriage experts-you. So, with the help of research consultants at The Richards Group, we devised a 25-question survey and mailed it to 1,500 married couples who subscribe to D. Our thanks 10 the 423 couples-almost 40 percent-who took time to answer the questions, some of them quite personal. The bottom line? Very few of you will be complaining to Sally Jessy Raphael anytime soon. Here’s some of what you told us:


● 74 percent of the surveys were filled out by women ; 26 percent by men.

● 75 percent have been married only once; over hall have been married 21 years or mor

● 84 percent of those in first marriages had not lived together before marriag

● 41 percent of those in second marriages had lived together before marriage.

● 90 percent of you said the chances of a divorce were “nonexistent.”

● 54 percent of die households were two-income; 34 percent had incomes of between $50,000-$99,000; 23 percent between $100,000-$150,000; and 33 percent over $150,000.

● 42 percent had children living at home.

● 41 percent said religion played a “very important” role in their lives; 36 percent listed it as “somewhat important


● About half of the respondents described their marriage as “perfect,” followed by 43 percent saying they were “mostly satisfied. “

● Of those who said their marriage was perfect, 35 percent said money was the primary source of conflict, followed by lack of conversatio

● Of those who felt their marriage was in trouble, lack of conversation

was cited most often, followed by money.

● Almost 75 percent of respondents would marry the same person again “in a minute,” only 4 percent would want to make major changes, and only 2 percent would not marry the same person again.

● 80 percent said they were married to their best friend.


● 65 percent have never been tempted to have an affair; 25 percent have been tempted but have remained faithful; 10 percent have had an affai

● 36 percent of men had been tempted to have an affair vs. 22 percent of women.

● 60 percent of those who have had affairs said they were “mostly satisfied” with their marriag

● About 70 percent of you are “absolutely sure” your spouse has been faithful to you, 20 percent think so but are not sure, and 7 percent know that a spouse has straye

● Of those who described their sexual relationship as “extremely satisfying,” 68 percent were women and 32 percent were men.

● Of those describing their marriage as perfect, about half have sexual relations less than five times a month. Interestingly, that’s the same number cited by those describing their marriage as “mostly satisfying” and those who say their marriage is “not what I hoped for.”

● Out on the ends of the bell curve, 8 percent of respondents either never have sex or have it 11 to 20 times a month.

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