The Unexpected Thing That Saved The Marriages Of These Real Couples

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For BRIDES, by Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW.

Sometimes what is needed for a reset is to try something, well, extreme!

Sex was okay, but it had been a long time since it was great. So I took a six-week pole-dancing class. Each week the instructor taught us the art of swinging on that pole. I even bought the plastic clear high heels! Our ‘special night’ came and I had it all set up in his man cave. The stripper pole was installed, I had the routine down, the music was queued, his chair was in place, and the camera was charged so he could take pictures! He loved every bit of that evening. I continued to take pole-dancing classes and the pole stayed put in his man cave. It’s definitely added much-needed pizzazz!’ —Beth

“We went into business together. He is a firefighter and a firehouse chef, and I am a marketer. We bought a fire truck, repurposed it into a food truck, and called it Firehouse Grilling Co. I have firefighters from different cites working the food truck grilling up their firehouse favorites. It works for us because we are both doing what we love and are able to apply our strengths to a unique business model. In June of 2016, we hit the road with the concept, and a year later we have built solid relationships with Cedar Point Amusement Park, Nascar, and major music venues. The business has grown so much, we are looking at repurposing a second truck and possibly franchising the whole idea. The truck is a showpiece and the food is just as amazing! And we are closer than ever.” —Michelle

“Our marriage was at a breaking point. We just weren’t getting along. So after 18 years and a newly empty nest, Jeff and I decided on a trial separation. This didn’t mean we were dating other people. We just each needed to take a breath and rediscover ourselves as individuals. During the eight months of the separation, we stayed in touch and had dinner a couple times a month. But now that we were having new experiences, there was lots to talk about when we got together. Instead of thinking the other had nothing fresh to share, we were enjoying each other’s company. One night after dinner he stopped by my place and never went back to his ‘bachelor’ pad. That was five years ago, and now we are careful to not let things grow stale.” —Jill

“I felt we had to do something to shake things up, indulge in a wild and crazy adventure together before we ‘settled down’ and had children. So Jim and I, who are both mountain climbers, decided to fulfill a dream and attempt Mount Kilimanjaro. It was an amazing adventure — and we helped each other through it each tough step of the way. It was a great exercise in teamwork, one we haven’t forgotten, and, yes, now we have two kids.” —Sheila

“Tom’s snoring drove me into a separate bed. It made me miserable. Not a great way for newlyweds to start a marriage. Tom hated that I was unhappy, so he went to a sleep lab. He stayed overnight and discovered he had sleep apnea. He was fitted with a CPAP machine that he wears overnight. It’s healthy for him and we are in the same bed. Yay!” —Alicia

“John had a high-pressure job that made him absolutely miserable and kept him away from me and the kids. So we decided that he would switch to a lower paying but less stressful job. Yes, it’s been difficult financially, but we’re much happier.” —Jen

“We enrolled in a super-intense marriage-encounter weekend. Oliver had wanted to try therapy, so that he did this was amazing. It made us confront heavy stuff — and in front of a lot of strangers! Yes, this was very uncomfortable, but ultimately we learned so much about ourselves as individuals and as a couple that it totally revitalized our marriage.” —Amy

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Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, is a New York City–based marriage therapist and author.