Kristin Armstrong

When Kristin Richard was 25 years old, she was swept off her feet by Lance Armstrong, who at the time was a courageous cyclist battling testicular cancer. Kristin was working for an advertising and public relations firm in Austin, Texas, when she first met him. "He had just finished up his chemotherapy," she says. "He was bald and cute, and it was a business relationship at first that evolved into a friendship."

Quickly, Lance and Kristin's friendship developed into something more. Lance popped the question just months after meeting Kristin. The bride-to-be threw herself into wedding planning and admits that she "paid more attention to the rock on her left hand than to readying her heart for the journey ahead."

A year after they met, the picture-perfect couple said, "I do." Kristin quit her job, rented her house, sold her car, and moved to France with Lance so he could focus on cycling.

During their marriage, Lance went on to beat cancer and win the most illustrious bicycle race in the world, the Tour de France, four times. Kristin stayed at home and raised their three young children in the French Riviera. From the outside, it seemed like they had a glamorous, happy life...but Kristin says the fairy tale didn't end "happily ever after."
Kristin Armstrong

After four years of marriage, Lance and Kristin announced their divorce.

In the years since, Kristin says she's been able to accept responsibility for the mistakes she made during her relationship. In April 2006, Glamour magazine published an article Kristin wrote called, "What I Wish I Had Known About Marriage."

In her article, Kristin says she gave up her independence after getting married, and in doing so, lost part of herself. The opinionated woman she once was slowly eroded, Kristin says, and she became a "yes" woman who tried to please everyone but herself.

"It wasn't Lance saying, 'You should be like this' or 'Do this,'" she says. "It wasn't him making a mandate and me being a mouse. It was me trying to emulate whatever I thought would be the perfect wife or the perfect mother. ... We think we're trying to please somebody for the sake of our marriage, but then if you ask Lance today if he appreciated that, I think he would probably say, 'Well, that wasn't the woman that I fell in love with.'"
Kristin Armstrong and Oprah

What is the greatest conspiracy in modern history? Kristin says it's not Watergate or the assassination of John F. Kennedy—it's marriage.

"I think a conspiracy is anything that's shrouded in silence," she says. "I think women are awesome communicators. So why don't women talk to women about what it's going to take to not just make [marriage] work but make it great?"

Kristin says that in order to have a healthy marriage, husbands and wives have to find a balance between pleasing their partner and staying true to themselves. "There isn't anything wrong with making sacrifices and working together. But I think as long as each person can hold onto themselves, and it's a mutual experience of growth—that's the beautiful part. That's the point."

Oprah says she never walked down the aisle because she didn't want to sacrifice herself and her feelings for a man. "I was in tears when I read [Kristin's article] because this is why I never got married," she says. "I just wanted to always be myself."
Kristin Armstrong

Kristin says that she lost a part of herself during her marriage to Lance, but she's slowly putting her pieces back together. A big part of the healing process has been to remember the things she loves most in life. "I forgot my own list of things that I liked and loved about myself and about my life [during my marriage]," she says.

Now, Kristin can rattle off a long list of things that make her happy ... "I love God, my family, my friends, red wine, fireworks, going for a long, sweaty run, laughing until no sound comes out and...taking my time."

Wives everywhere should stay true to themselves and make their opinions known, she says. In her article, Kristin writes, "If your husband asks what you think, tell him. If you have a preference, voice it. If you have a question, ask it. If you want to cry, bawl. If you need help, raise your hand and jump up and down."

Lance and Kristin have been divorced since 2003, but she says their relationship is good. "Lance and I need to go forward honoring each other because that's the way that we can still show our children that love is lasting and love is unconditional."
Dr. Robin Smith

Like Kristin, psychologist Dr. Robin Smith is coming forward to reveal the story of her divorce for the first time. Oprah says this is a side of Dr. Robin she's never seen.

When Dr. Robin was 18 years old, she began dating her future husband and was engaged by age 23. "We went to the same church. We were part of the same community. We were the golden couple that everyone's hopes were in," she says.

On her wedding day, Dr. Robin says she believed that marriage would make her happier and validate her existence. She was wrong, she now says.

"Two becoming one was part of my own fantasy," Dr. Robin says. "I didn't realize that meant I was going to end up not existing. We were married for five years, and it ended traumatically because we were too young and didn't know how to repair what was broken."

In her book, Lies at the Altar: The Truth About Great Marriages, Dr. Robin discusses promises that couples make but can't keep.
Dr. Robin Smith on 'Lies at the Altar'

Dr. Robin says that "lies at the altar" are wedding vows couples make without really knowing the truth about themselves and their partners. "We make these promises from a place of ignorance ... ignorance that we don't know who we are," Dr. Robin says. "We don't know our partner and we make pledges and promises to be someone to someone that we don't know. And so it's doomed to fail even if people stay married for many, many years."

When she got married, Dr. Robin says she told herself lies too. "One of the fundamental lies was that it was my job to make someone else happy, and my own happiness was not even on the table," she says. In her book, Dr. Robin presents 275 questions to help couples grow closer, whether they are planning to marry or have been married for years.

Discuss these critical relationship questions with your partner.

Dr. Robin says it's important to ask your partner questions such as, "What do you think about people coming over uninvited?" and "What makes your heart smile?"—and not just assume you know the answers.
Meghan and Chris

Meghan is a bride-to-be who says she has doubts about getting married to her fiancé, Chris. "Going into my 30s, I became very attached to who I was. It became a source of pride for me to be single, and I wasn't going to let anything get in the way of that until Chris came along," Meghan says. "At first I really thought of it as a death of my former life and now I realize that I wasn't completely wrong."

With their wedding just a month away, Meghan says she's considered calling off the ceremony several times but that she and Chris have agreed to move forward with their plans no matter what.

Although Meghan and Chris have a lot of money invested in their wedding, Dr. Robin says their lives are worth more than money. She says Meghan needs to be willing to give herself more time to decide. "You haven't given yourself the option to wait," Dr. Robin says. "You're saying, 'I have to do this.' And to feel that you have to do it means that somehow you're feeling that you don't have a choice."
Teyanna and Ric

Teyanna is another bride-to-be who says she has serious doubts about getting married to her fiancé, Ric, whom she's been with on and off for eight years. "I hate to hurt him by letting him know I have doubts," Teyanna says. "So instead, I smile and pretend to be the good little fiancée, all the while losing more of myself."

Teyanna says she wasn't able to be her true self until her mother passed away two years ago. "I was always the sheltered person—not going anywhere, not doing anything—but I started to come out of my shell and wanted to go places and do things, and he's more of the type that wants to stay home," she says.

Dr. Robin says Ric runs the risk of taking the blame if Teyanna continues to compromise her sense of self. "We want to say, 'It's the man, it's his fault,' but we don't realize that a shrinking woman—who can't be big in who she is, whoever that is—is not a partner you want," Dr. Robin tells Ric.

"This is your opportunity to find out who you really are," Dr. Robin tells Teyanna.
Dr. Robin on successful marriages

Dr. Robin says the key ingredient to successful relationships is truth. "The truth is the light—let it shine," she says. "The truth will set you free, and that joy and balance will come when you live more in truth than in lies."

A great marriage is possible if you and your partner are willing to "show up" as grown-ups, Dr. Robin says. "You cannot be evaporated, invisible and think that you are going to create the marriage of your heart and your dreams," Dr. Robin says. "Get out of the fantasy. Let reality live and breathe and you will have a chance—a real chance—at having a great, successful and healthy marriage."