By Rosemary Swartz
Special to NFP
The lacy, white train floats peacefully above the dewy ground. The sun paints the sky in iridescent hues as the pink and yellow flowers contrast the forestry hues of the summer. The black tuxedoed figure reaches out his hand as a tear rolls softly down his cheek.
The father of the bride gazes upon what he imagines to be his baby girl playing dress-up. How could he let her go? His fears dissipate as he watches the young bride lose herself in her lover's eye.
The moment dances across his eyes, swirling life into his aching heart. He is transported back to the front of the alter, standing there in bated breath as the love of his life makes her way to his loving arms. He exhales slowly and the image faintly disappears and transcends its loving memory upon the present scene like the first rain drops in a drought. He squeezes his wife's hand as he admires the life they have built in their 32 years of marriage. The man listens to the loving words spoken as a gentle kiss is placed upon the lips of the newlyweds.
The image is breathtaking and the guests break into a mirage of applause and sobs. The happy couple travel down the rocky terrain, heading for what they believe to be forever. Hand in hand as the endless doubts fill the elder guest's minds. Through trying times and periods of woe, the couples vows sing true. For the love of the unified heart brings about a pure happiness that embodies a world of ultimate emotion.
Marriage is a sacred unity between two people. A promise, a bond, and perhaps one of the world's leading goals.
And yet, according to the American Psychology Association, over 50 percent of Americans end their once-happy marriages in divorce. Why is this?
Leading psychologists theorize these happy couples lack the necessary communication skills and ultimate commitment in order to get each other through the hard times. To examine these findings, over 30 participants (married couples, or two-person relationships are considered) were examined and asked to give their most useful advice to newlyweds. These couples have defied the odds and have been ultimately successful in their relationships. The results are astonishing, uplifting and admirable.
North Tonawanda resident Barbara Koszelak Fronczak has been married to Greg Fronczak for 29 happy years. Barbara and Greg make their relationship work through wild adventures and the love they have for one another. They advise newlyweds that "life isn't about things, it is about people and experiences. Our best times have been laughing and crying with each other, family and friends. The size of your house, car, etc., does not matter."
Barbara then laughs and adds that "I vote for not sharing a bathroom, too!!!"
Carolyn Ernst Woomer and Mark Woomer have shared in over 30 years of marriage. Even through their hardships in life, the couple has remained strong and has maintained a positive communication system.
Carolyn states that the "No. 1 thing is to not look for a spouse - or anyone - to be your everything. No one can ever be. As much as your spouse loves you, he/she will fail you. They are, after all, human. You don't have to, nor will you, love everything about that person. Marriage is two imperfect people, warts and all, saying 'Let's go on this crazy journey called life-together.' "
Brian Swartz, happily married to Melanie Swartz for eight and a half years, advises newlyweds to "Not let little disagreements turn into huge arguments. ... Learn to let the little stuff go."
Sarah Fronczak, newly engaged to Garrett Taravella, states, "Communication is the most important factor, and always making sure you have time for each other. I see too many relationships fail because both partners never have enough time to hangout. I'm always busy, but always make time for my relationship. Being able to have fun and laugh is just as important as communication. You have to love your partner from the inside out, like a best friend. What tears relationships apart is lack of communication and lack of interaction, and not having fun!"
Above all, the remaining participants agreed that commitment, communication, respect and affection are of the utmost importance. Marriage does not solidify or make the relationship imperishable. The real work begins after the vows are spoken, and that is what most couples fail to realize.
If all these things are necessary in achieving ultimate happiness, what is it that people consider to be the downfalls? Participants were again asked the same question, yet were told to focus on what does not work within a relationship. The answers again focus on a lack of communication, and possible self-centered actions that inhibit the relationship's growth. According to marriage counselors at goodtherapy.org, relationships are of the utmost importance to understand stressors and what can strain a healthy relationship.
Joy Wrona has been with Greg Hennessey for nearly 10 years. They have been happily married for two and a half years. The couple states successful relationships have a good communication plan. They talk about issues, debate and decide together. In the opposite direction, lack of communication can often lead to the cracks that bring about a relationship downfall.
Jordan Quattrini, in a relationship of nine months, said he believes laughter and communication are always key in a happy, successful relationship. "Whether good or bad, I always tell Andy what's going on and what I'm thinking, and we're super transparent with each other. We're also always laughing and being totally silly, which makes our relationship fun and interesting. I think a big deal-breaker is money. At least in my opinion; I feel like a lot of couples fight about money, and I wish it didn't have too much influence over people, but it does."
Brian Swartz, also said, above beliefs, communication is the most important. He states that deal-breakers in a relationship are princess syndrome/vanity, being vapid, and being secretive.
Carolyn Ernst Woomer, happily married to Mark Woomer for 30 years, states "people need to realize that you may go through 'seasons' in a relationship - times of joy, hardship, stress, anger, intimacy, distance. Don't give up on each other. The difficult season will pass, with work, and you can enter a new, better season. Mark and I have been through the highest highs ... and the lowest lows ... but never gave up on 'us.' I feel there are two deal breakers: abuse of any sort or infidelity."
All couples have been through trying times and have the potential to lead happy, healthy lives with their significant others. Many happy couples agree with leading marriage counselors regarding open communication, similar values and monetary concerns. Young couples believe in the power of their love in what is considered the "honeymoon" stage of marriage. This phase does not last. Young couples tend to become discouraged and begin to falter in their efforts of putting their significant other first. Once they stop attempting to achieve happiness, the relationship begins to falter. Marriage.com offers expert and community like-minded individuals advice on all aspects of married life. This website also stresses the importance of communication and emotional connections.
With hard work and dedication, it is possible for the now-gleeful couples to achieve their goals of living their lives happily ever after. There will be times it may not seem worth it, but if young couples combat themselves with the commitment they so promised on that faithful day, they, too, can lead happier and healthier lives as a single unit.