Archive for the ‘Married Life’ Category

Making Marriage Work: Q&A with Stephanie McKenzie of The Relationship Firm

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Stephanie McKenzie, founder of The Relationship Firm, has been a life coach of sorts since she was a teenager. “The first person I provided life coaching to was my godmother. She was getting divorced, and I was absolutely livid. I was 13 and I kept reminding her of the tenets of marriage,” Mckenzie says.

Stephanie-Mckenzie

Photo: Courtesy of The Relationship Firm

She won’t go as far as to say that divorce is never an option, but she will tell you, straight up, that it’s a very last option. As a certified life coach, who offers counseling for couples in any stage of the game, she believes that couples who are willing to fight for their marriage will always have a chance of making it. To her, that fight starts when a to-be-wed says, “Yes.”

We talked with Stephanie about what engaged couples can learn from marriage counseling, and the importance of talking about the things that might make you squirm, and we learned a bit about the coach herself. Take a look!

Houston Wedding Blog: How did you get into this industry?

Stephanie McKenzie: It was a really well planned accident. This was not what I was doing with my life, but I had done it my whole life unofficially. I was working in marketing and started working with a dating site. I thought it would be great to offer relationship education. So I went and got certified and started building a brand via social media.

HWB: What has shaped your opinion on marriage?

SM: My parents are divorced and have been since I was about two years old. Yet, I was never engaged in the conflict—they remained friends. As I got older and developed more of a spiritual understanding, I realized how beautiful it can be when two people come together and want to share their life. It requires an understanding of something greater than ourselves, no matter what you call it. Marriage really is a divine union and can be amazing if you do it right.

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Photo: Civic Photos

HWB: What are the most common problems—or potential problems—you see when you work with engaged couples?

SM: I see them being very idealistic about what marriage is, thinking that they have arrived and achieved, once they say, “I do.” The wedding is just one day. It is supposed to be a celebration, but couples shouldn’t let it get bigger than the marriage, to the point where they are spending plenty of cash, but are bankrupting their marriage with the stress and the tension. Anyone can get married, but I am talking about staying married.

A lot of the time couples just haven’t talked about anything, or they haven’t talked things through to the point of resolution. And I don’t just mean talking about having kids or where they are going to live, but also money, sex, and deal-breakers, which we call “no-no’s.”

HWB: What are your no-no’s?

SM: No-no’s are always determined by the couple, but if someone asked me for my deal-breakers, they would be physical and emotional abuse. I hate divorce, but sometimes when you can’t get what you need from a partner, and are being degraded and berated, something has to change. I would also add consistent disrespect by thought, word or deed. At some point everyone does something that is disrespectful, but maybe they didn’t think it through. After you tell someone what you expect and come to a resolution, and they continue to show these behaviors, then that’s a huge problem.

HWB: What advice do you have for couples for not letting the wedding get bigger than the marriage?

SM: Elope… I’m kidding. I recommend that they craft a ritual to stay grounded. Make every Thursday night massage night, or every Saturday morning go on a walk or a run, and don’t talk about the wedding.

Also, take away the expectation of perfection. It should be a beautiful day, and not a stressful day where mistakes are not welcome. You are both fallible, and if you are going to have a life together, mistakes are going to happen.

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Photo: Serendipty Photography

HWB: What are some of the biggest points of contention you recommend couples talk through before their wedding?

SM: Learning how to handle conflict in a healthy way is huge. People often have the mistaken notion that when there’s conflict, it is terminal. We can grow to love and have a greater understanding for our spouse if we handle conflict correctly. Not dealing with conflict can be like dripping water on a rock. It just keeps dripping until it erodes the rock. You might call it the Grand Canyon.

Also, for many couples, sex comes as an assumption, but it is something you should discuss. It is very easy once you’re married for life to take over. Your friendship and your physical intimacy with your spouse are so important. Your union with your spouse should be your priority; don’t let your marriage be a casualty of your life.

HWB: OK, so we’ve talked about sex and conflict? What about the other taboo: money?

SM: Regarding finances, my cardinal rule to couples is to figure out what works, and don’t tell anybody outside of your relationship. People have visceral reactions to how other people handle their money. At the end of the day if you want to have a joint account, great. If you want separate accounts, that’s great too. Just don’t tell anybody. Everyone is going to have an opinion and it will make you doubt the decision you made with your spouse—the only other person who has skin in the game.

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Photo: Adam Nyholt

HWB: What is the benefit about discussing all of this before the wedding?

SM: I always liken it to weight loss. You can lose 10 pounds or you can lose 100 pounds. What’s easier? If we are coming in and taking the bull by the horns from the beginning, it’s easier to be beholden to the values that brought the couple together, not the values that are breaking them.

I am working with a couple that I also worked with during their premarital coaching session, and the same issues are cropping up. I do feel that they will be more successful because at a certain point they knew that they had to call me, or another unbiased party who could help. It takes a humble person to say that. I feel like those couples who say, “We need help with this and want to be our best selves and our best love,”—those are the couples that last.

Visit The Relationship Firm here, and contact Stephanie McKenzie to schedule your pre-marriage coaching session. You’ll be glad you did!

Lord Wedgwood & Jorge Perez Dish from Bering’s

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Lord Wedgwood & Jorge Perez

If you happened to pop over to Bering’s on Friday or Saturday, June 18-19, you no doubt caught a glimpse of the future of fine china and crystal. For two gleaming, glittering, gorgeous days, Houston’s emporium of elegance hosted Lord Wedgwood, of the famed British china dynasty, accompanied by Waterford Wedgwood international spokesperson and arbiter of entertaining excellence Jorge Perez. Big thanks to Bering’s for pairing with Rolls-Royce to bring this terrific twosome to Houston!

For those of you who weren’t able to attend, we snagged an exclusive chat with Perez and Lord Wedgwood, who dished on serving platters, teapots and such, and told us why today’s tabletop registry is all about breaking free of the “china prison” (Perez’s cute term for grandma’s hands-off china hutch). Here’s what we learned:

Lord Wedgwood: Registering for your wedding is not just saying something looks pretty. Yes, it looks pretty, but you should also be able to say, “Wow, we can use it for this and this and this.” Wedgwood has been at this game for 250-plus years, and the reason we’re still in business is based on the legacy of a number of things. One of them is quality. And quality absolutely illustrates that this is something that can be used multiple ways for time immemorial.

Jorge Perez: There is nothing like a Houston bride. These are world-class brides. They’ve had great parenting, and this region of the country is one that still entertains with style. It’s in their blood. We also know that with brides today, they have so much going on in their lives. Registering is a point in time when a bride stops and takes time to think about the future. We may not be the sexy part of wedding planning, like the cake or the venue. But we are about life after the wedding. We’re here to inspire a bride to think about why she might need a teacup. It’s not just for tea. A tea cup can be used for tapas, spicy sauces, holding flowers or serving soup in. We’re here to give brides permission to use these things in many different ways, so you can use that china that your parents or grandparents left in the hutch too long. Get it out of that “china prison!”

Lord Wedgwood: Entertaining is all about creating atmosphere and ambiance. In so many instances, that is so critical to the whole experience. Even the food can be relatively mediocre, as long as you’ve created the right ambiance with lighting, flowers and the right kind of accessories. It just requires a little bit of thought. And if you have put that thought into your registry, then you’re able to draw from the things that are there.

Jorge Perez: And that ambiance we’re talking about really begins at curbside. That’s where your guests should start feeling this incredible evening coming on. And that table, make sure it’s real for you. Don’t set your table for a photo shoot, set it for the purpose of evening. And remember, there are no rules. We just want you to enjoy yourself. Do, though, try to keep the centerpieces low, and the candles and flowers fragrance-free. Also, one of the things we love to advise at Waterford Wedgwood is always do something unexpected. Guests might not remember the meal, but they will remember the experience. So turn that Waterford glass upside down and use it for a votive. Pour the soup out of a coffeepot into a cup and saucer. Your guests will remember that forever. It’s really all about doing simple things in a fabulous way.

Jorge Perez will return to the Houston Wedding Blog to offer his top registry tips in just a few weeks. Trust us, you won’t want to make your list till you check this post…twice. We’ll announce it on Facebook and Twitter when we post, so stay tuned!

For a full gallery of event photos, visit Bering’s bridal blog

Waterford Wedgwood Event

 

Prepare for Life After the Big Day with Married Life Prep

Friday, January 15th, 2010
Photos: Mike Miller

Photos: Mike Miller

These days, taffeta, floral arrangements, and seating charts are probably just about the only things on your mind. But what about all the days and years after the big day—you know, married life? If you haven’t prepared for that, take note, Houston bride: Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church offers a four-week Married Life Prep class to help you and your soon-to-be-hubby navigate your so-called happily ever after.

And get this: the class is free. Think of it as the gift of marriage insurance: According to some statistics, taking a premarital class increases your marriage’s chances of lasting by a whopping 50 percent!
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For two hours each Sunday morning, you and about 25 other couples will learn how to manage conflicts, nurture admiration for and closeness to your honey, and enjoy sex for many years to come. If you need some guidance in managing money—and who doesn’t?—you can also sign up for a three-session Married Life Money course.

Brett and Kellie
Both classes are taught by Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church’s Minister of Families and Relationships, Brett Hurst, and his wife Kellie. With more than 22 years of marriage under their belt (and two teenagers to boot), the Hursts have plenty of funny anecdotes about married life to share. Throughout the class, they also show movie clips and draw on Scripture as well as leading scholars’ research on marriage. Don’t think of this as school though: You and your guy will get plenty of one-on-one time during Married Life Prep sessions; you’ll also get to know other newlyweds and soon-to-be-weds who face similar challenges.

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So when should you take Married Life Prep? Some couples take the class after their wedding. “They may get more out of it because they have the stress of planning the perfect wedding behind them,” says Brett. But it’s generally a good idea to take the class before you tie the knot. You don’t even have to be engaged yet. “Once you’re married, you’re often off and running,” says Brett. “But we spend a lot of time encouraging our students to continue to be students of relationships and marriage because we don’t think couples grow closer unless they’re doing so very intentionally.”

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So what are you waiting for? Grab your man and call Patty Leonard at 713.490.0931 to sign up for the next Married Life Prep class.