Project Everlasting: Two Bachelors Discover the Secrets of America's Greatest Marriages by Mathew BoggsProject Everlasting: Two Bachelors Discover the Secrets of America's Greatest Marriages by Mathew Boggs

Project Everlasting: Two Bachelors Discover the Secrets of America's Greatest Marriages

byMathew Boggs, Jason Miller

Paperback | June 10, 2008

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A heartwarming and revealing look at the wisdom drawn from successful marriages and the secrets to making love last, not from Ph.D.s or therapists but from more than 200 real couples who have walked the walk to more than forty years of marriage.

Jaded by his parents' divorce, Mathew Boggs was a young man who'd lost all belief in lifelong love. After observing his grandparents who were madly in love after sixty-three years of marriage, Mat talked his best friend Jason into joining him on a cross-country search for America's greatest marriages. The two bumbling bachelors jumped in an RV and embarked on "Project Everlasting," a 12,000-mile cross-country adventure to discover what it takes to make love last.

Each chapter of Project Everlasting is dedicated to one of the pressing questions the bachelors asked the couples, such as:

—"How do you know you've found The One?"
—"What's missing from today's marriages?"
—"How do you keep the romance alive?"
—"What's the most important ingredient for a solid marriage?"

As the traveled the country, meeting happy couples from all walks of life, Mat and Jason began to understand why their own relationships hadn't worked out quite as planned. They also realized that what they were learning from their wise new friends could change everything for them and—through Project Everlasting—show their generation and generations to come how to build a marriage to last.
Mathew Boggs and Jason Miller have been best friends since childhood, and in 2003 they joined forces for Project Everlasting. Mat, a Scorpio and hopeless romantic, enjoys long walks on the beach. Jason, a Pisces, doesn't. When they aren't off doing speaking engagements, they're burning home-cooked meals in their Portland, Oregon, bache...
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Title:Project Everlasting: Two Bachelors Discover the Secrets of America's Greatest MarriagesFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:272 pages, 7.19 × 5.06 × 0.7 inShipping dimensions:7.19 × 5.06 × 0.7 inPublished:June 10, 2008Publisher:TouchstoneLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1416543260

ISBN - 13:9781416543268

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Introduction NOW THAT'S THE MARRIAGE I WANT! -- by Mat My favorite movie growing up was Walt Disney's animated Robin Hood -- I watched it about a zillion times. Why? Because only a hero as cunning and courageous and charming as Robin Hood could get a girl like Maid Marian. Oh, Maid Marian. (I understand that she's a cartoon fox, but she's a smokin' cartoon fox.) She had a sweet, contagious laugh that made me melt. She played badminton (extra points for being athletic). My heart literally pounded when Robin Hood and Maid Marian took a midnight stroll behind a waterfall. Robin may have had to win his archery competition against the sheriff to get a kiss, but love conquers all, right? At age ten, that's what I believed. Never for a moment did I doubt the existence of everlasting love or my ability to obtain it. Happily ever after -- isn't that what everyone wants? Cut to several years later. I was studying for my ninth-grade biology test when my mom's voice broke the silence. Family meet- ing, she announced. This meant one of two things: Someone had either done something really right or really wrong. My family is full of overachievers, so I was more accustomed to celebrations than bad news. The second I stepped into the living room, however, I knew we wouldn't be celebrating anytime soon. My sister sat on one end of our couch, my parents on the other. Mom was crying. She wiped away her tears and looked at me with eyes that said, No matter what, you'll be okay. This only worried me more. Dad, the consummate clown and entertainer, was expressionless. My parents did not touch. My mom said, "Your dad and I have something to tell you -- we're getting a divorce." My stomach went into zero gravity and my sister burst into tears. Several of my friends had gone through this, but their parents were completely different from mine. Their parents screamed and threw plates at one another. Divorce was a godsend to those friends, not a tragedy. My parents' split came with no warning as far as I was concerned. They'd been married twentyseven years and seemed like the happiest couple in the world. "I love you," they'd tell each other, and I believed them. My mother's words obliterated everything I believed about love. Both my parents had betrayed me. Lying in bed that night, my thoughts swirled so violently I became dizzy. Memories of my parents kissing and hugging, laughing, telling me over and over again, "We are soul mates, Mat," seemed like a mirage. How could this happen? How could they have lied to me? Like most children of divorce, I was soon forced to make a decision: live out of a suitcase or pick a parent. I chose the suitcase. Every other weekend brought the bitter reminder that my home had been ripped in half. I felt turned inside out. Nothing felt familiar. The future loomed like a thick fog. What will happen to Christmas? Birthdays? Thanksgiving? The divorce consumed all of our lives. I hated my mom for leaving my dad and I let her know it. I hated my dad for not being able to make my mom happy and I let him know it. I wanted my parents to love each other again. I wanted my family back, but it was hopeless. Apparently a commitment to forever lasted only until you changed your mind. Thirteen years later, I was finishing my master's degree in education. My girlfriend and I were going through a nasty breakup. This relationship had lasted almost a year, a record for me. My mom called from Portland to let me know my grandfather had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Grandpa Jack dying? It didn't seem possible. I'd loved that warm, generous man for as long as I could remember and somehow thought he'd be around forever. "You'll be home soon," my mom said. "You need to spend some time with your grandparents, maybe arrange a date each week." Hang out with the grandparents? Of course I would. It's just that my schedule...I've got a lot on my plate...Don't get me wrong. When I was little, I idolized Grandma Dorothy and Grandpa Jack. They lived in a world of Mickey Mouse pancakes, a garden with candy hidden in it, and endless supplies of homemade cookies. They told funny stories about the olden days and thought everything I said was clever and important. They treated me like a little prince, and there was no place better than Gram and Gramps's house to find a warm hug. My grandparents had always seemed old to me, but in a good, twinkly kind of way. In recent years, however, I'd found myself restlessly tapping my foot as I waited for them to put on their coats. They moved slowly, and I was in a perpetual hurry. I found it hard to sit through a two-hour lunch while Grandpa chewed each mouthful forty-four times and talked about the childhood friend who just died, especially when I had a ten-page term paper due. Grandpa and Grandma were quaint and sweet and I loved them, but somewhere along the way my adoration had turned to tolerance. They listened politely but blankly when I talked about buying a laptop. And I could hardly share my girlfriend troubles with Gram and Gramps. They were the product of a bygone era. It had been, what, nearly sixty years since they had fallen in love? They probably didn't even remember what it felt like. In their day, people married for life because they didn't have a choice. Husbands worked, wives stayed home, and divorce was taboo. Even if a wife wanted out, how could she support herself? Now that couples can split up, they do -- in droves. For my grandparents' generation, it seemed to me that marriage had become a habit that just took too much effort to break. But despite the fact that we lived on two different planets, they were still my grandparents. "Of course, I'll spend time with them," I assured my mom. "Looking forward to it." Guilt and obligation can sap the joy out of any activity, but I did come up with what sounded like a decent plan. Each Thursday morning I'd roll up to their house for the day's excursion. Grandma would spend the prior week combing the newspaper for that week's latest and greatest lunch spot. With newspaper clippings in hand, we'd hit the road, Grandma riding shotgun and Gramps sitting in the back, with the calm of someone who has made his peace with life. We would drive two or three hours in search of special treats in out-of-the-way spots, like Mike's pumpkin milk shakes, Dooger's clam chowder, and Serendipity's rich chocolate brownie cake. To my great surprise, I had a blast on these visits. The long drives provided ample opportunity to learn things I never knew about my grandparents. Conversations that would have normally been cut off by typical interruptions -- a phone call, an appointment, the football game -- continued on into uncharted territory. I heard the story of their first date, how Grandma's dress popped open while they were dancing and how my brave grandfather nearly lost his fingers to hopping heels as he scurried around the dance floor on hands and knees, collecting all of the buttons. Gramps told me how nervous he felt meeting Grandma's parents for the first time -- seeing their cat licking its back and hoping for a conversation starter, he commented, "I wish I could do that." But when her parents looked down, the cat was licking its crotch! One crisp fall day, we went antiquing, Gram's favorite pastime. Dusty old furnishings and knickknacks hold zero interest for me, and it was our ninth trinket shop stop that day. I wearily pulled Gramps's Buick over and helped them out of the car. My grandparents went ahead as I locked up. I watched their slow, uneven shuffle toward the store. This was a standard sight by then, but something in that day, something in that moment, gave me pause. I noticed how their frail fingers were intertwined. "Funny," I thought, "all these years, and they're still holding hands." Suddenly, I stood there almost paralyzed, my eyes fixated on their hands. I know this sounds strange but the energy between them became visible. Like a movie effect, everything around them dissolved. I could see the energy of their love swirling and encircling them. It took me a second, but I got it. I remembered the longing for my true love, my Maid Marian, and my belief that our love would last forever. I hadn't had that feeling in years. I had long since abandoned the idea of everlasting love as a stupid fairy tale cartoon. Yet here it was in the flesh. My chest began to tingle. In that moment, the couple before me became more than just my grandparents. I saw them as partners who had journeyed through a lifetime of challenge and struggle. Now at the end of their journey together, they were still crazy about each other. All these years...how had I not seen it? Grandpa beaming at Grandma, telling everyone in earshot, "Just look at her. Isn't she beautiful?" Grandma still laughing at jokes I'd heard Grandpa tell countless times. How his face lit up whenever she walked into a room! Through tear-filled eyes, I stared at the blurry image before me. How simple they made it seem! But to me it represented what I wanted most in the world. More than anything, I wanted to find the love they were living. My grandparents had been married sixty-three years, but it was not convention or habit that kept them together. Jack and Dorothy Manin were two people very much in love. "Now, that's the marriage I want," I whispered to myself. My grandfather passed away just a few months after that. Later, when she could talk about it, my grandma said it felt as if half of her had died with him. After his death, I felt an overwhelming need to preserve the precious something that the two of them had shared. Hundreds of questions ran through my head: Were my grandparents an anomaly, the lone couple that just happened to remain happily married through the decades? Or could it be that other couples married forty, fifty, or sixty years were still in love, too? If so, how did they create and maintain that powerful connection? Way back when, how did they know they'd found "the One"? Didn't they worry about falling out of love one day? Or becoming bored? Was their longevity the result of dumb luck? Or could it be they had built something in their relationship that eluded most of the recent generations? If so, I wanted to know what that something was. I wanted to be madly in love with my wife on our golden anniversary. I wanted to look at her timeworn face and still see the most beautiful woman in the world. Thanks to my grandparents, I once more believed in lifelong love and I decided I would willingly crisscross the nation in search of what I'd started calling "Marriage Masters" -- couples who'd been happily married for forty years or more, human treasure chests full of incredible wisdom, just waiting for someone to ask: What is the secret to everlasting love? The adventure was about to begin. DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT BLOKES -- by Jason When my best friend Mat called and asked if I was game for a cross-country adventure, I said yes before asking the nature of the project. The Mat and Jason Show had always been a success. Our antismoking poster received the blue ribbon in third grade. Mat as Santa and Jason as Santa's most trusted pirate brought the house down in sixth grade. Our stimulate-all-thesenses, allegorical board game based on Dante's Inferno (complete with clay volcanoes, bloodlike magma, and soft yet sinister selfempowerment audio chanting in the background) got us an easy A in high school humanities. Somehow, despite my penchant for procrastination and Mat's tomfoolery, we did really well as project partners. And we always had a lot of fun in the process. But then he told me about this quest for geriatric true love he wanted to do and I couldn't help it, I burst out laughing. Old people seemed pretty out of touch to me, so I couldn't imagine their marital advice being particularly germane. Besides, unlike Mat, I cherished bachelorhood. Settle down? Uh-uh, no thanks, I'll stick to what I know. Really, what could these Ozzie and Harriet, Great Depression types have to say that applied to relationships of the twentyfirst century? I began barraging Mat with questions regarding relevance: What do these old folks know about soccer moms or metrosexuality? How will their wisdom work for MySpace wife-browsing? I pointed out that what with online dating, e-cards, anytime minutes, and text messages, we inhabited an on-demand world that moved at the speed of "click," processing more information in twenty-four hours than the generation of a century ago processed in an entire year. How could older folks relate to all that? And I had no immediate interest in the subject of matrimony. Flight patterns of Nigerian nightingales would have been just as personally meaningful a subject to research. The last time I'd had a real relationship was during college, and I'd wounded that woman's heart sufficiently to know that I wasn't ready to be serious again. Although my parents were happily married, plenty of other people around me were not, and I'm not sure I bought the whole concept of lifelong love. Truthfully, marriage scared me. I don't think I'm alone in that fear; wedlock seems to be an iffy endeavor to a lot of folks in my generation, and increasingly so. Studies show marriage rates declining every year: For the first time in U.S. history, married people are now in the minority. Americans are delaying marriage until they're older. The majority of today's couples now live together before marriage in order to scope things out and "make sure this is really the person I want to be with for the rest of my life" -- something that was virtually unheard-of fifty years ago. Despite the statistics, I'd watched Mat's search for a woman so right for him that divorce wouldn't be an option. I'd found myself doing the same. I'd listened to friends talk about the need to become economically set before even thinking about marriage, insisting that this way money management conflicts, the ostensible root cause "for all of those divorces out there," would be altogether avoided. I'd nodded my head in agreement because I'd made the same excuse. I'd even read of a groom who replaced the "for as long as we both shall live," or the more traditional version, "till death do us part," with "until our time together is over." I'm no sociologist, but it was clear to me that all this practicality meant we were spooked. Whether we've grown up with firsthand experience of divorce or simply witnessed our friends' struggles to cope with it in their families, we are a generation jaded by marital failure. But when I get right down to it, I -- like so many in my generation -- secretly desire a great, fulfilling, lifelong marriage, only I've been too petrified to even try. What if I make a mistake? All that said, adventures with Mat had never failed to teach me something before. And while it seemed far-fetched that I would meet Ms. Right while scouring retirement centers for happily married geriatrics, I did see this excursion as a golden opportunity to impress women. How adorable I'd seem, a single guy traveling the country interviewing When Harry Met Sally couples! Hearing that, girls could draw their own conclusions about my desire to settle down, and then we'd make out for a while. "Count me in," I told Mat. We put a map and an itinerary on the wall: twenty-five major cities all across the United States, twelve thousand miles on the road in a giant RV -- all in just nine weeks. "Project Everlasting: The Search for America's Greatest Marriages," we called it, giving each other a big high five in celebration of our daring ingenuity. And that's when crazy things began to happen. Before we knew it, our little adventure landed us on national television, with sponsors who believed in the work we were about to do, and thousands of applications came pouring in from couples wanting to be part of Project Everlasting. We hit the road. From a cattle ranch in Oregon to a dance club in a Manhattan skyscraper, we scoured the country in search of Marriage Masters, asking our generation's toughest relationship questions. What I thought would be a five- or six-month lark turned into the most meaningful, eye-opening four years of my life. I was amazed at how wrong I'd been about the older generation. Certainly, we met couples that stayed together out of convention or convenience and bicker like nobody's business, but this only enhanced our education in matrimony. We were able to determine what the amazing couples are doing to set themselves apart from the ho-hum couples, the couples who are just trying to get by. The couples who inspired us run their marriages on a foundation of respect, commitment, and sharing, and if that sounds oldfashioned, consider that upholding those values has also kept their romance alive decade after decade and allowed them to live contentedly with quirks and habits that would easily -- and probably unnecessarily -- drive modern couples apart. Regardless of their age, people are people, and relationships are not era specific. Irritations, in-laws, income issues, and insecurities -- all the elements that can strain a marriage -- haven't actually changed all that much over the years. Likewise, the principles for success these couples shared with us are timeless. They don't rust, wear out, or run dry. Mark Twain put it best: "Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century." No matter how differently Mat and I approached this project in the beginning, after interviewing more than 250 Marriage Masters, we've both come to the same conclusion: Our elders' wisdom has the power to shift hearts and change lives. Looking at the positive sea change in our personal understandings of love and marriage, we accepted the responsibility we'd been given from these inspirational couples: We would share their message, their legacy of lifelong love, with those who desire the same. This is why we've written Project Everlasting: to increase the love in the world, one couple at a time. This book is a result of the fifteen thousand combined years of devoted marriage. We are grateful for these couples' willingness to share their wisdom, sincerity, and vulnerability. Some of them drove hours to share their stories with us. "I hope our story helps someone out there find the joy that our marriage has given us," one couple said. Einstein said that a mind introduced to a new idea never returns to the same size. After four years of Project Everlasting, Mat and I now know that Einstein's principle applies to the heart as well. The Marriage Masters leave a legacy of love that has already expanded our hearts. We sincerely hope that their message moves and expands your heart as well. Copyright © 2007 by Mathew Boggs and Jason Miller

Table of Contents

Contents

Prologue

Introduction

1. How Did You Know You'd Found the One?

2. How Do You Keep from Driving Each Other Nuts?

3. What's Missing from Today's Marriages?

4. How Do You Keep the Romance Alive?

5. How Do You Bring an "It'll Do" Marriage Back to "I Do!"?

6. What's the Number One Secret to an Amazing Marriage?

7. What's the Secret to Staying in Love for a Lifetime?

8. What Message Would You Give to the Younger Generation?

The Bachelorword

Acknowledgements

Editorial Reviews

"America stands or falls based on the strength of our marriages. Mat and Jason are dedicated to discovering and showing the world's greatest marriages. I know that their book will model and show how to master the dream of everlasting love. Everyone loves a great love story, and they are about to present it." -- Mark Victor Hansen