How do we build lasting relationships and what leads to the honeymoon being over? A conversation with Gary Direnfeld

It is challenging to make love last. The number of people getting a divorce has noticeably increased during Covid. In the last episode of Love, Money, and Relationships series, we were joined by Gary Direnfeld – an incredible Social Worker and the Host of the popular Reality TV Show from a few years ago “Newlywed, Nearly Dead,” to discuss what it takes to make a relationship sustainable and healthy.

Does love really conquer all? 

The answer is no. Love does not conquer all. We may have so many differences that even though we are connected emotionally and intimately, we might not be able to make things work if we are not able to navigate the differences. Each person has a unique way of viewing and reacting to life, and that could create conflicts. In Gary’s experience, not every relationship ends with a big argument. Some couples end with a whimper, where there is no alignment found in interests, social circumstances, personalities, and money. 

 How to know if a person is for you? 

Before tying the knot with someone, acknowledge that you never marry a person without trying to understand who they truly are. That is why dating is needed to learn about your partner: what they do, how they make life decisions and how they manage their money. Until you live and surround yourself in the person’s living environment, you may not really understand them to determine if they are right for you. The Catholics’ tradition to have pre-marriage classes before getting married is also a great inspiration for those who want to prepare for a long-lasting marriage. Sitting down and having conversations to come to a mutual agreement is a skill needed for any type of long-lasting relationship.  

How to start and have important conversations in relationships? 

Gary who at the time had recently divorced and had begun dating. He was asked how long ago he got divorced by someone he went out on a date with. Gary shared that this woman made him feel uncomfortable at first, but that lady made a great impression on him as a brilliant woman to confirm how long ago he got divorced and that she would not date someone who was recently divorced. The lesson here is to be happy in a relationship, you need to feel confident and have a high self-awareness to ask important questions. If you do not like the answer, give yourself permission to set boundaries. Do not be afraid of speaking and standing up for yourself. If you set a boundary and they do not like you, you learn TWICE why you should set a boundary with them.  

Which one should we listen to, the heart or the mind when it comes to love? 

Get financially naked before becoming physically intimate. It is okay to feel butterflies when you are at the first stage of a relationship. However, do you really want to make a commitment with someone who drives a Mercedes and lives in a basement apartment? Between feelings and actions, thinking needs to be in place. Questions such as who earns, and earns more than the other, who has access to the money, who needs whose permission to spend and how much could be spent without the acknowledgment of the other person are the first crucial steps.  

Bonus tip: If you are afraid of asking questions about finance, imagine Jackie is sitting on your shoulder. She would encourage you to ask financial situation questions.   

Do you have any reasons why Covid is causing more people to separate? 

We must acknowledge that not only Covid but other societal issues such as job security, food security, rising from the pandemic could distress people and put relationships in danger. Fear can wreak havoc on a relationship and cause further problems such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and of course broken relationships. Covid specifically prevents people from having distance regulators. It is a fact that we do not need to be with our partners 24/7. To feel pleasant we are with our partner, we need to have our own interests and spend some time with ourselves. It is not an inditement in a relationship if you want some time alone. We all do. Gary and his wife have lived and worked together in a house for more than 30 years, but they get out and sometimes they get out separately. They often go out for dinner for a change of scenery and that is an essential element of their relationship. Bottom line, quality time with your partner is important but so is quality time apart.  

What should we do when we do not feel great and are not able to offer love to our partner? 

Use your words. Let your partner know “you know, I am not myself today. I have this thing on my mind, and I might be distracted. If I come across short, remind me because it is not you it is me”. Try not to take out your negative feelings on your partner. You should learn to allow yourself to feel sadness, anxiety, fear and all other negative feelings alone. By spending time with yourself and accepting your feelings, you can love yourself more and by loving yourself, you have more love to offer. If your partner is having a tough time and they share it with you, do not beat them up.  

How do we make love last? 

A lot of people believe that they must compromise to ensure peace in a relationship. Gary says DO NOT compromise. Compromising means giving something up to get a little bit of something else. In Gary’s experience, he has yet to meet anyone who wants to give up on anything. Instead of compromise, he suggests prioritizing your partner. A sustainable healthy relationship must be reciprocal. When each person in a relationship puts the other’s happiness before their own preferences, it is easier for them to become more empathetic and therefore able to become a better team.  

Thank you, Gary, for joining us in the live, we believe that his advice will benefit our confidante community to have meaningful, lasting relationships. If you would like to learn more about Gary, go to his website at  

If you want a free 1-1 consultation with Team Jackie Porter on how to manage money and create a secure financial future with your partner, feel free to send us an email at 

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