The Secret To A Happy Marriage
By June, I was exhausted from the heartbreak of losing Nala and the inner turmoil of questioning if we were doing the right thing by moving forward with the wedding.
The emotional wounds were still fresh, but the deposits to the wedding vendors were paid.
I told myself, “If I can’t commit to a lifetime with him during our lowest point, then I shouldn’t commit at all.”
Every day for seven years Evan and I chose to be together – and on June 23, 2018, we agreed to all of our future days in advance.
Marrying someone when you’ve been with them for 7 years (living with them for 6) is very different than marrying someone after 1 or 2 years. I would have married him that early on and I would have smiled with the blissful ignorance of a child waiting for Santa’s presents; but here’s the thing –choosing to be grateful for what is real is far better than believing in a fairytale.
Growing up, I never dreamt of my wedding day, but I did dream of my prince charming, my soul mate, the one person in the world that would “get” me and think I was the best human being in the world.
When I daydreamed of what my soul mate would be like, I always thought of how they’d make me feel, but I never thought of how I’d make them feel.
After a lot of failed relationships, I’ve learned that you only get what you give, you can’t expect someone to be everything you need without also trying to be everything they need, and neither of you can be everything, and that’s OK!
I’ve had a lot of great examples of successful loving relationships; my sister and her husband, my mom and stepdad, my grandpa and grandma, and Jay and Bryan (who starred in my documentary The Right To Love) are just a few examples.
People would ask my mom, “What is the secret to a happy marriage?” and my mom would always playfully but very seriously answer with, “Low expectations.”
This may sound like the most pessimistic view on love and marriage you’ve ever heard, but the more you apply this logic, the more it makes sense.
Placing unrealistically high expectations on the other person makes them just as doomed for failure as placing unrealistically high expectations on yourself.
If loving yourself is conditional, meaning you only love yourself if you fulfill a subjective expectation, then you don’t really love yourself. The same goes for your significant other. If loving them is conditional and based on them reaching some idealized expectation, then you don’t really love them. You also probably shouldn’t marry them, because how can you commit to being with them for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health?
I guess that’s why they say “you have to learn to love yourself before you can love another” (who says that? I have no idea… but people should say that!).
For my husband and me, our low expectations for each other are:
– Always do your best to do the right thing
– Be considerate of others
– Always strive to improve upon yourself
Those guidelines are broad enough to encompass other good rules to live by, like don’t go to bed angry, always communicate, give each other the benefit of the doubt, etc… but ultimately, respect each other.
And one more thing… because I was a sappy and sensitive child, every movie I watched repeatedly as a kid was about love. The Notebook, Grease, A Walk To Remember, Love Actually, Sleepless In Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, While You Were Sleeping, Titanic, 10 Things I Hate About You, Dirty Dancing, Princess Bride, Romeo + Juliet, Notting Hill… they’re all about love and they’re all messy love stories!
An idealistic (and foolish) mind focuses on the Happily Ever After and ignores the messy, but every great love story is messy. The only perfect part is the love that makes those two people battle the odds to be together.
So, to all of you “seeking Mr./Mrs. Right”: when you let go of the fairytale, you’ll find your Happily Ever After.
My $1+ Patrons and PayPal subscribers will get early access to the video of our original wedding vows/ wedding letters.
Engagement and wedding photographs by Taralynn Lawton Photography
Malcolm January 18, 2019 at 9:27 pm
Another very enjoyable read Cassie!
I’m never sure if ‘never go to bed angry’ is such great advice though! If we go to bed angry we’re pretty much never still angry when we wake up… and things get resolved in no time. Waiting to go to sleep till no one’s angry any more can mean some very late nights!
Peter Wright January 18, 2019 at 10:59 pm
After many tragic twists and turns in an old romance movie, the voice-over at the end said, “It’s ok to build fantasy castles…. but you shouldn’t try to move into them”
Nice personal account of what love is about, topic would make for a wonderful doco.
Mark Burgess January 20, 2019 at 5:41 am
Sounds like you’ve done alright 🙂
I dont know if letting go of a fairytale is good advice for everyone, but keeping it real is a plus.
Paul January 24, 2019 at 8:00 pm
Lovely profound words, Cassie.
You looked beautiful as a bride and your husband is a lucky lucky man to have you as his wife, as you are lucky to have him.
I am so grateful for you and Evan producing and putting out your wonderful documentary; you deserve the love of a good man, and Evan is that man.
Wishing you nothing but the best.
Phoenix Huber July 11, 2019 at 1:32 am
I love this so much!!!!! Cassie’s work inspires me tremendously, making it all the more gratifying to read about her happy marriage.. I’ll try to take these words about forgetting “Mr. Right” and embracing the messy love story to heart. 🙂
Dolf (a.k.a. Anders Ericsson) July 1, 2020 at 3:33 am
I remember your post about you miscarriage. And I always wondered what happened after that. I guess I somehow got this answer today with the youtube video of you and Evan reading your letters to each other.
I have to admit I was a little bit disappointed that I never got any response whatsoever after having shared my story about my two cats in my comment to your miscarriage. (And incidentally, recalling that my birthday plays a significant part in that story, I do have my birthday now on Friday 3rd of July, a date for me personally now more filed ,with grief than with joy.)
That said, I figure you and Evan are still there for each other and that you are happy. And that gladdens me, as I have always (or at least as long as I’ve been aware of you) appreciated you as an extremely beautiful woman. And with that I’m not just referring to your incredibly good looks, but that you like a wonderful lamp not only have av an intriguingly attractive lampshade, but also, like all true beauty, seem to be lit from within by a warm and tender glow that comforts and gives solace.
I might offer, as another little story of mine, which I do not yet really know how it will end, my experience of having fallen in low with a women posting pictures every Thursday of herself in wedding dresses on twitter (and I usually respond with an 8-line rhyming poem, which she seem to appreciate). Despite having never been married (the the wedding dresses she have she got for her daughter for the daughter’s marriage) and being passed 50 years in age, she’s incredibly beautiful and the somewhat forlorn atmosphere in her wedding dress pictures caught me in my heart. I still have never met her in person, but yet, I’m courting her. I sent her a message on Valentines day, and then flowers a month later for her birthday. We are living quite some distance apart but I have at least spoken to here on phone several times, and it is my hope that I will be able to meet her for real before the summer is over. My little romance with her is not entirely joyful, as on top of COVID19 throwing spanners in the works, I know she still has feeling for an ex which she also associates a lot with, so it is not really looking bright for me.
But that said, communicating is the heart of everything in life, and beauty and communication is intimately connected and the centerpiece of all that is worth anything in life.
Your little video of you and Evan reading your letters to each other (which actually seems a bit strange to me as a Scandinavian, I’ve never heard or seen the exchange of wedding promises or messages here with seems so common in the states) somehow inspires me, and I actually do feel like it’s time to sit down and write a 20+ pages love letter to the lady of my heart, not that she doesn’t know that I have feelings for her, but I do feel the need to lay them out in the open without any ifs, buts or maybes.
Anyway, you’re an inspiration and I wish you all luck and happiness. I do think you deserve it.
Dolf (a.k.a. Anders Ericsson) July 1, 2020 at 3:39 am
… and of course, realizing that there probably are some people now very happy with me having mentioned the wedding dress pictures, and being left in the dark about what pictures I’m referring to, check out #weddingdressthursday on twitter. I think you’ll understand me. And yes, she’s passed 50. But don’t let her know that I said that.
Dolf (a.k.a. Anders Ericsson) July 1, 2020 at 3:40 am
“are some people now very unhappy with me”, of course.
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Well said and extremely accurate. You’ll be fine. My best regards to Evan.