Nothing ensures a bad first date like a free online dating service or a yenta-esque matchmaker. When disgruntled Twin Cities singles have had enough awkward small talk and coy debate over split checks, they turn to Kailen Rosenberg and her team at Wayzata-based Love Architects. With more than 20 years of love and life coaching experience, a new book (Real Love, Right Now), and Oprah’s stamp of approval as “a true love ambassador,” Rosenberg works with singles and couples to personally design a “Love Blueprint” for a happy relationship. Mpls.St.Paul Weddings spoke with Rosenberg to talk Valentine’s Day clichés, wedding stress, and marital bliss.
Rosenberg's new book, "Real Love, Right Now."
Mpls.St.Paul Weddings: Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Do you have any date recommendations for couples around the Twin Cities?
Kailen Rosenberg: Decide what you want to do together or give [your partner] the opportunity to surprise you, because the surprise will either be exciting and amazing or, well, it will be telling in any direction as to whether or not you want to continue [dating] this person. It’s so tough because there is so much that is cliché around Valentine’s Day, but it’s really about being with your partner and seeing what more you can experience and discover on your journey together.
MSP: Do you think those clichés are a cute way to celebrate, or just lacking in meaning?
KR: There’s a reason that people stick to the traditional heart box of chocolates and the dinner and the roses. It’s tradition, and tradition brings comfort. Tradition is something we are accustomed to and there’s security in it. I think that keeping up with traditions is a lovely way to balance and keep reminding yourself what love is about. Make it truly intimate and connected with regard to your partner. Don’t try to outshine one another. Also, there should be no expectations other than the experience of genuine love with you and your partner. I’ve had people say, “Oh my gosh. The guy is a millionaire and we went out for Valentine’s Day and I was expecting a diamond, this and that.” It’s gross. Then you’re not his girl and he’s not your guy.
Rosenberg with actress Sally Hawkins.
MSP: What do you think of the Valentine’s Day engagement trend?
KR: My advice is to save that as a day all on its own and maybe choose a different day that has meaning. One of my best friends actually got married to her first husband on Valentine’s Day. Now she’s remarried. She loves her husband very much, but now Valentine’s Day is the day she married her first husband and it was a horrible marriage.
MSP: Speaking of marriage, how can you tell when a couple is ready to walk down the aisle?
KR: They’re true buds. You can feel it when you’re with people like that. You can still fight. You can still disagree. You can still feel hurt, but there’s a common bond and a coming together that happens. The cattiness is gone. The passive aggressiveness isn’t there. The needing to one-up your partner isn’t there. You have a true fun and exciting feeling and secure feeling of a foundation of partnership. Life isn’t so scary. You know you have strength and a power along with you. They say something about the wedding-day jitters and people having second thoughts. When you know you’re with the right partner, you have no doubt. It doesn’t mean you’re not nervously excited, but if you’re sitting there on your wedding day, or even days before your wedding, and you’re questioning whether or not this is the person you should be with, you should not be getting married. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t marry this person, but it means you definitely should not be getting married right now.
MSP: That being said, is there a certain amount of time a couple should wait before getting engaged?
KR: An entire year. You need to go through the true seasons of life. You need to show up and be honest. I think one of the number one mistakes that people make—whether it’s online or on the first date—is that they show up unknowingly being inauthentic. They are so desperate to find their partner that they’re more concerned about showing up in a way that is going to lure the other person and becoming the person that they think the other one wants them to be. People are selling themselves really short by not being true to who they are.
MSP: Do you have any advice for couples that are newly engaged or about to get engaged?
KR: Each of them needs to sit down in their own space, away from each other, and really meditate on why they are in love with this person. They need to make two lists. Make a list of all the things they absolutely love and adore that have been there since day one, and make a list of all the things […] they can’t stand about their partner. They better have some, because they’re human. They have to look at that list, all the ugly, all the dysfunction, all that drives them nuts, and ask themselves: If [that list] never changed, would I still be in love with this person? Unless they can genuinely and honestly say “yes,” they need to reconsider. We are who we are. None of us are perfect. It doesn’t mean that we can’t shift. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have growing up to do or healing to do. That will come in a good marriage. But if they’re going, “Oh my lord. No, I need this to change, and this to change, and this better change or else…” then that is not the right person for them to be with.
MSP: At The Love Architects, you offer pre-marital counseling. What tips do you have for couples that are going through the stressful wedding planning process?
KR: They have to remember that the wedding gets the most attention, but it’s actually the smallest piece in the entire equation. It should be looked at as the ritual that is there to share with those that they love to express their love and commitment to each other. It’s not a big party. It’s not supposed to be this big glam thing. In the midst of this sort of storm, they need to find that eye and that calm in the storm. If they can keep that centeredness in the foundation of their love for each other, then they can get through anything.
MSP: You must go to a ton of weddings. Are there any wedding trends you absolutely love?
KR: I like when people go through the traditional vows and then also write their own. I think it’s beautiful when it’s really from their hearts. I like the people that make it truly intimate, spiritually and emotionally, and it’s not about the huge party. I almost feel like those are the weddings that end up in divorce. You know when you’ve been to a wedding where you can say they’re going to make it. Those are the best weddings.