Possibly my favorite quote from last week was from Nate Bagley: “It’s time to cut back on the cynicism surrounding commitment. It’s time to dial back on the drama, and ease up on the expectations and take a good, honest look at love, why it’s important, and how to nurture it in our lives.” Although I think that thought might sum up the whole interview, it really was juicy and inspiring and totally worth checking out if you missed it. You can find the first part of our interview with Nate and Melissa from the fabulous Loveumentary Project here.
This week they tackle the meaning of marriage, the power of perspective and they share the best advice they have ever gotten and their favorite advice to give. Hint – we saved that for last and it’s worth reading the whole article for.
Get ready to be inspired, intrigued and have your heart opened and your mind expanded. Yes, they are that good. That’s why they have already been featured on the front page of Good Morning America’s website among other amazing places and we love them here at Modern Married.
Here we gooooooo….
MM: What is the most surprising thing you have discovered in all your research?
Nate: Relationships are not designed to make us happy. They are designed to make us better people.
Melissa: If you want to be in a committed relationship, start with the commitments you make to yourself. How many times do you plan to go running in the morning, but hit the snooze button instead? How often do you mean to eat something healthy, but end up eating fast food? How easy is it to leave big passion projects unfinished—over never get around to them at all? The best way to prepare yourself for a committed relationship is to practice by keeping the commitments you make to yourself.
MM: Tell us about the Loveumentary Podcast…
Nate: Our podcast is a series of conversations with couples who claim to be madly in love with each other, as well as experts, scientists, and authors in the field of love and relationships. We’re trying to mix science with stories to substantiate our love discoveries. Episodes are typically between 30 minutes and 1 hour (we’re leaning more towards a shorter format, as it seems to be a bit more manageable). We’d love for you to subscribe on iTunes, or just drop in on the website whenever you’d like. (See links below…)
MM: You do a lot of interviews for your podcast – what have been your favorite revelations or conversations?
A few weeks ago we did an interview with a man whose wife had a pituitary brain tumor 10 years into their marriage. She had the tumor removed, but as a consequence, her personality was altered. He has stayed with his for 30 years despite the fact that she is a different person than the woman he fell in love with. His story teaches taught us some amazing lessons about commitment, selflessness, patience, and love.
Neil and A.Rae got married very quickly, and realized during their honeymoon that they weren’t truly in love. They struggled in their marriage for 7 years and 2 children (daughters). In their 7th year of marriage, they found out they were having a son. Neil did a 180, and decided that he needed to step up his husband/fathering game to be a better example for his new son.
A few months into the pregnancy they found out their son-to-be had a heart defect and would not live long after birth. Grieving together and comforting each other after their loss softened both of their hearts, and they started to mend and repair their relationship as they fell back in love. Their relationship now grows stronger every day. They now meet with other struggling couples to encourage them to overcome their differences. Few people have been through the struggles they have been through…but they are proof that you can come out on the other side a better person.
We recently spoke with The Dargers – a polygamous family – who painted a beautiful picture of what love looks like in a plural marriage. They dispelled a lot of stereotypes and myths surrounding the polygamous culture and relationships. It was a fantastic conversation about what it takes to create a healthy relationship, what love really is, and the importance of commitment.
Melissa: Our conversation with The Dargers was one of my favorites as well. It shook my perceptions about polygamy, and truly made me pause and reflect on how easy it is to make assumptions about what you don’t know. I think monogamous couples could learn a ton from listening to that podcasts. Two of the biggest takeaways from that interview for me were:
(1) You need to understand and love yourself before you can fully love other people—but the great paradox is that you need to be in relationship with other people to fully learn about yourself.
(This is Maggie chiming in to say, Oohhh I love a good paradox! Though I am not convinced on polygamy but fascinated that it was such a revealing interview and grateful we live in a society where we can agree to disagree.)
(2) It is critically important to take responsibility for your feelings, thoughts, and behavior. The Dargers said that, instead of taking their own feelings out on one another, they’ve all learned to look inside of themselves first when a negative feeling, thought, or emotional reaction occurs, and search for the true cause. I think if we all took full ownership of our “stuff,” our relationships would be so much healthier and fulfilling. When you can approach every interaction with the desire to understand rather than the desire to blame, that changes everything.
(Maggie again. Yes! To looking for the true cause of the upset. Still no on polygamy in general. Definitely not for me. Observing how I can respect someone else’s choice for themselves and yet not agree with it for my own life. Loving an interview that challenges my own mindset! Told ya’ it was gonna be GOOD!)
We also had a very emotional interview with a 32-year-old widow; her husband passed away only a month ago, so the emotion was very raw. The biggest thing I took away from that interview was this: time is incredibly limited. You never know when your time with the people you love will run out. Stop sweating the small stuff, and focus on loving your partner, and the memories you get to create with that person. None of the small stuff is worth fighting about.
The lesson that has hit home most for me is this: the primary purpose of marriage isn’t to keep you happy—it’s to keep you growing. When you approach marriage looking to grow with and from one another, it fundamentally shifts the way you look at the health of your relationship. All of a sudden, disagreements, differing interests, and trying circumstances take on very different meaning—they aren’t viewed as deal breakers so much as opportunities to grow individually and as a couple.
(Everyone repeat after Melissa: “The primary purpose of marriage isn’t to keep you happy, it’s to keep you growing.” Take that into your heart and embrace it and your whole relationship could shift by just embracing that one thought and living into it. Color me inspired! – Maggie)
MM: You have something called a 30 Day Love Challenge. Tell us more about that?
Nate: The idea of our 30 Day Challenges is to help people commit to one month of doing small things to improve their relationships, or preparing themselves for a healthy relationship.
In our first 30 Day Challenge, we asked participants to give up something that was preventing them from experiencing deep and meaningful connection.
- Maybe they sacrifice something that was taking up time that could otherwise be spent cultivating a relationship.
- Maybe they give up using a substance or a behavior as an emotional escape.
- Maybe go on a phone fast because they consistently invest more time cultivating relationships on social networks than they do in real life.
Hopefully after 30 days of giving up these things, they’ve created space for a more healthy relationship in their lives. The next 30 Day Challenge will have a different focus, but with a similar purpose: to bring people closer together.
(We have partnered with Nate and Melissa to offer a Mini 7 Day Challenge over on the Modern Married Facebook Page – Click here to join us!
MM: What is the best piece of advice you ever got? How did you use it?
Nate: Choose what you love. Love what you choose. It’s something I struggle with. It’s easy to get caught up in the “what ifs” of life, but that road rarely leads to happiness. Most of the time, the things that make us happiest are right under our nose. If we make good choices, then dedicate our lives to loving the things we choose, there’s not much room for regret. There is only room for love to grow.
Melissa: Do what you say you’re going to do. We all struggle with 100% integrity—when your behavior is a perfect reflection of your values and priorities. I’m certainly not perfect at it. But, I’ve learned your word is all you’ve got—it’s your bond with yourself, and with the world. The more you do what you say you’re going to do, the more power your words have. More importantly, it builds confidence and trust—not just in others, but in yourself.
MM: What’s the best advice you like to give? How do you apply it (for yourself)?
Melissa: You can’t numb pain without numbing joy. So many of us are terrified of experiencing pain. We like to control as much as possible; we don’t like to be too surprised or disappointed. And, we certainly don’t like getting our hearts broken. So, we shut down and numb out. We keep people at arms length because we don’t want to get hurt. We use addictions—to food, alcohol, television, porn, the internet, etc—to fill a gaping hole in our hearts. The biggest problem with trying to numb the pain is that we also numb the joy.
Knowing this, I’ve worked hard to recalibrate my relationship with pain. For one thing, there’s a big difference between pain and suffering. It’s been said that painful emotions last only about 90 seconds—that’s it. Anything more than that is needless suffering created by our own repetitive thoughts. I’m learning to go through painful emotions more fully, more quickly. Whenever I experience something uncomfortable, disappointing, or heartbreaking, I immediately say “thank you.” Some things still take more than 90 seconds for me to get over—but I’m learning to recognize pain as a signal that I’m courageous enough to be fully alive. And I’m so grateful everyday to be fully alive.
Well then, ending anything with gratitude is always a good idea! Mountains of Thanks to Melissa and Nate for such an inspiring interview and for all the work they do over at Loveumentary.com to move the conversation about love and relationship forward.
If you are feeling as inspired as I am right now, you can do things to help these Trailblazers right now: #1 Donate to their Kickstarter Campaign here. #2 Share this article with your friends so they can be inspired too! Just Like it! Pin It! or Tweet it!
This week’s LOVE WORK – Take the 7 Day Love Challenge (You can join us on Facebook here). Today’s challenge is to go 24 hours without complaining…1, 2, 3, gooooooooo.
Our community of love and creativity grows thanks to inspired hearts likes yours, thank you for sharing! Now go love and be loved. XO