"Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday."
Indeed, this column is about marriage, or in my case almost three years of marriage, but I want this serious topic to have a lighter tone, too, so I can't go wrong by starting off with that quote from maybe the most quotable movie ever, "The Princess Bride."
It's almost "inconceivable" to me that Aug. 15 will be my third wedding anniversary to my lovely bride Kelsey, but it's been a wonderful journey.
And I know it may sound a bit presumptuous to sound off on a topic I've only been directly acquainted with for three years, but bear with me, this is meant to be a challenge for all of us, myself included, not a lecture from an "expert."
But I think it's a much-needed challenge as I see marriages eroding and families falling apart all around this country. I know long-term marital success is possible because both of my grandparents reached their 50th wedding anniversary and my parents and in-laws have both surpassed 25 years of marital bliss. They've taught me so much.
Such as, successful relationships are not built on emotions, they're built on commitment.
Obviously it feels wonderful when all is well and lovey-dovey emotions take over, but so many people seem to divorce, separate or break up today because those all-consuming infatuation-like feelings fade.
I've learned, many times the hard way, that it's about commitment. I was told that going into marriage, but when arguments and differences hit, commitment to each other takes over instead of falling into the "pit of despair."
Which brings me to another point that I try to remind myself daily: It's either win-win or lose-lose. I'm a guy, and a competitive guy at that, but if I strive to win or even feel like I've won an argument with my wife, I've probably lost. Compromise is not always easy, but it's really the only way to truly win.
One of the best examples of compromise I can think of in my marriage was actually for the honeymoon. We couldn't afford Disney World, which we both wanted, so instead, since Kelsey loves AC/DC, we went to their concert, and since I love the Packers, we went to a preseason game (which we'll be doing again on Aug. 16 to celebrate our anniversary!).
When I think about compromise and reflect back on almost three years of marriage, I certainly realize that marriage is hard work in general.
Making it a top priority - for me second only to my faith in God - and constantly reminding myself of that fact is important, otherwise work, hobbies or other things can secretly creep their way to the top spot.
There's so much more helpful advice I've received over the last three years, and really most of it is pretty straightforward stuff, but I pray I'll remember to apply the above advice as I enter year four of marriage to my beautiful wife.
So, hopefully this column has challenged you, as it has me, to re-examine your marriage (or even other relationships, in the case of you single folk) and renew the effort to take your relationship to the next level.
And if you do, as the clergyman in "The Princess Bride" said, "Wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva"