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Once upon a time, a handsome young prince came galloping by on his white horse. He saw a beautiful young maiden, drew her up into the saddle with him, and they rode off into the sunset, married and lived happily ever after.

Now, let’s see about how to make a fairy tale into reality – or turn reality into a fairy tale.

In the beginning…

Dating and marriage are different from what they were twenty years ago. In today’s society, more than 50% of all marriages fail for one reason or another. The fact is that relationships, whether dating or married, are hard. Things do not always go perfectly, fighting does occur, and it takes a 100% commitment from both parties to make it a success. The very traits and appearances that enchanted you when you first dated have two sides — looks, sexuality, tenacity, creativity, sense of humor, intellect, talents, personality, athleticism, and many, many more. As time passes in your relationship, tenacious may become stubborn; focus may turn into “You’re not listening.” Looks may cause jealousy, or fade, and a great body may put on weight!

At some point, one or both of you may feel as though something is missing. The “spark” has gone, leaving you feeling inadequate and unfulfilled, and may cause you to want to break off the relationship. It’s easy to lose perspective, but you and your partner will benefit by working together to remember what attracted you in the first place and to keep it alive. Most of the time, there is great value in your relationship that make it worth putting up with the short-term aggravations.

So, what can you do to increase your chances of a successful marriage? If you haven’t yet tied the knot, you would be wise to engage in discussions with your fiancé(e) and possibly a marriage counselor or clergy on the types of issues that can cause marital difficulties – for example, issues involving your financials, children and religion. A list of pre-nuptial issues for discussion is attached to the end of this book. If you are married, these can still be discussed, so you can work out any areas of disagreement while you are both happy and in love, rather than facing them when the relationship is on rocky ground.

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