The Truth About Marriage
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."
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.'"
"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."
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."
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.
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.
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 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.
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."