Last One Down the Aisle Wins: 10 Keys to a Fabulous Single Life Now and an Even Better Marriage Later

Last One Down the Aisle Wins: 10 Keys to a Fabulous Single Life Now and an Even Better Marriage Later

by Celeste Liversidge, Shannon Fox

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Think your twenties are just a waiting period--waiting to get married, waiting for real life to begin? Wrong! As Shannon Fox and Celeste Liversidge show with humor, intelligence, and reassurance, getting a ring on your finger is the last thing you should be thinking about when you're in your twenties. In fact, statistics show that if you wait and marry at thirty, your chances of having a healthy, long-lasting relationship more than double. So before rushing off to become someone else's better half, take the time to become the best, strongest whole person you can be! Last One Down the Aisle Wins will show you how to:develop and improve your emotional health, body image, and confidence
take risks and tap into your adventurous side
create a dependable network of friends and mentor relationships
identify and avoid the top ten reasons women marry too young

Last One Down the Aisle Wins is like having your very own life coach, therapist, financial planner, spiritual adviser, career counselor, and cheerleader all rolled into one.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429926508
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/11/2010
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Shannon Fox has appeared as a relationship expert on The Millionaire Matchmaker, The Tyra Banks Show, the Today Show, Inside Edition, CBS's The Early Show, and numerous E! Entertainment specials. She is a licensed marriage and family psychotherapist. Shannon lives with her family in Missouri.

Celeste Liversidge is an attorney specializing in family law. She is an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, is a frequent lecturer on topics ranging from divorce to politics, and serves as a mentor to young women entering the legal profession. She lives with her family in Los Angeles, California.

Shannon Fox has appeared as a relationship expert on The Millionaire Matchmaker, The Tyra Banks Show, the Today Show, Inside Edition, CBS’s The Early Show, and numerous E! Entertainment specials. She is a licensed marriage and family psychotherapist. Shannon lives with her family in Missouri.

Shannon Fox has appeared as a relationship expert on The Millionaire Matchmaker, The Tyra Banks Show, the Today Show, Inside Edition, CBS’s The Early Show, and numerous E! Entertainment specials. She is a licensed marriage and family psychotherapist. She is co-author of Last One Down the Aisle Wins. Shannon lives with her family in Missouri.

Read an Excerpt

Last One Down the Aisle Wins

By Shannon Fox, Celeste Liversidge

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2010 Shannon Fox and Celeste
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-2650-8


The Keys to Happily Ever After

Are you tired of hearing about the skyrocketing divorce rates in our country? Does it scare you to think that your future marriage has a less-than-50 percent chance of survival? Do you feel helpless to improve your odds of having a successful marriage? What if we told you that we know the key to more than doubling your chances of staying married? And what if we told you that this key was something you can use right now, whether you're single without a prospect in sight, in a serious relationship, or engaged to the love of your life and knee-deep in Brides magazines? How much would it be worth to you? Would it be worth five easy payments of $29.99 plus shipping and handling? Or how about just the price of this book?

Here's the key: Don't marry young. In fact, don't get married until you're thirty. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, your chances of staying married more than double if you get married after the age of twenty-five. That's right, the old "50 percent of all marriages end in divorce" statistic is literally cut in half for those who marry for the first time after twenty-five. Marriage and family researchers, Marcia and Tom Lasswell, concluded that "divorce rates are lowest for men and women who marry for the first time at age twenty-eight or later. The chances for a stable marriage increase as both partners reach the age of thirty." And after many years of working with women on the verge of divorce, we wholeheartedly agree. But it's not that there's something magical about turning thirty. There's a lot more to it than sitting back, biding your time, and waiting for your thirtieth birthday to roll around. If you're serious about improving your chances of choosing a great husband and having a fabulous marriage, there's a lot you need to be doing now, before you walk down the rose-petaled aisle.

So what qualifies us to be the Keepers of the Key? For the past sixteen years, we have been working with women in crisis — Shannon, in her psychotherapy office, with women and couples who were trying to save their troubled marriages; and Celeste, in her divorce law office, with women whose marriages were already beyond saving. We've listened to women pour their hearts out and share their stories of disappointment, regret, disillusionment, and guilt over their failed marriages and unrealized hopes for the future.

How It All Started

As best friends in our twenties, and just starting out in our professional practices, we'd often commiserate about how frustrating it was to enter our clients' lives after the damage to their marriages had already been done. At that point there was nothing we could do to turn back time. We wondered if there was anything that could be done to better people's chances of having a successful marriage, or were we all just destined to be random victims of the depressing divorce statistics? As big fans of marriage and out of a desire to have great and lasting marriages ourselves someday, we decided to investigate. We were determined to figure out what leads to the demise of marriages and if there was anything to be done to prevent divorce before saying "I do."

After discovering consistent patterns in our clients' stories, we came to two important conclusions: First, the choices we make before we're married, even long before we ever lay eyes on our spouse, have the biggest impact on the success or failure of our future marriage. And second, happy marriages are born out of fulfilled single lives.

Armed with this knowledge, we were determined to find a way to encourage single women to live their lives to the fullest in their twenties so that they could make better choices, have some great experiences, and hopefully enter marriage with no regrets. Writing a book was the obvious choice if we were serious about reaching the single women of the world with our message of hope. We didn't get very far on the whole book idea back then because we were so busy traveling, pursuing our careers, and making the most of our own twenties.

Sixteen years, two marriages ( just one each!), and six children (three each!) later, we have an even better vantage point. Our personal experiences of marrying at twenty-nine and thirty have reinforced our message that having a fabulous single life leads to an even better marriage later. Throughout the next twelve chapters, we'll share many stories from our clients, mentor relationships, focus groups, and interviews with women of all ages and stages of life. We are so appreciative of these women (whose names have been changed) for their willingness to honestly share their experiences, even the painful ones, in the hope that others will benefit.


Vanessa is a former therapy client who, at twenty-three, was sure she had found her soul mate. She and Greg met their junior year of college and had been inseparable ever since. If this wasn't love, she didn't know what was. By all accounts, Greg was a great guy — athletic, handsome, funny, and incredibly romantic — everything that Vanessa had always wanted in a husband. Vanessa had never experienced such intense passion with anyone, ever. "Our chemistry was intense, and I always felt safe when we were together. My parents loved Greg, too. They were always telling me how relieved they were that I had Greg to take care of me now that I was graduating and 'going out into the real world.'

"I was pretty nervous about walking down that aisle on my wedding day. I knew I wasn't ready to be anyone's wife and couldn't shake the nagging feeling that there was more I should have done with my life before getting married. But I knew that I loved Greg and he loved me. Besides, my parents had spent a small fortune on the wedding, and my friends and family were all there, expecting me to say 'I do.'" So she did.

A little less than five years into her marriage, it became painfully obvious to Vanessa that she had made the wrong decision. She had changed so much during those five years and felt a million miles away from Greg. Fighting was a constant in their relationship. Many of the fights were about money, of which there never seemed to be enough, even though Vanessa had a decent-paying job. The credit card debt was spiraling out of control, and Greg had been through three jobs since the wedding and as many periods of unemployment. "I didn't understand why he wasn't more motivated to try to find work but seemed content to just sit around and wait for the phone to ring. When Greg found out that I had called my parents to help out with our rent, it caused a huge fight. What else was I supposed to do? He hadn't worked in five months!" Despite her guilt, Vanessa quickly began losing respect for Greg.

Vanessa reconnected via Facebook with a girlfriend from college who had spent the past two years working with a nonprofit in Paraguay. Hearing about her friend's incredible experiences learning a new language and exploring a new culture made Vanessa long for the freedom to just pick up and go. She tried to talk to Greg about the possibility of working abroad, but he made it clear he had no interest in leaving the comforts of the good ol' U.S. of A. and couldn't understand why Vanessa would want to, either.

Religion also became a problem between them. "Greg and I always considered ourselves to be spiritual people, but decided back in college that organized religion wasn't for us. When a friend from work invited me to her church several months ago, though, I felt a very strong connection there. I started going to church every Sunday and invited Greg to go with me, but he had no interest. We just don't seem to have much in common anymore."

Why had Vanessa been so naïve to think that she could make a decision about whom she would spend the rest of her life with at age twenty-three? That "intoxicating" love she had felt so strongly toward Greg had slowly worn off and was instead replaced by feelings of resentment and distance. She was miserable, ashamed, and full of regret. Why hadn't love conquered all?

Vanessa wasn't just a silly little girl in love, nor was she reckless in her decision to marry. She was a college graduate, had known Greg for a few years before they got engaged, and had the support of her family and friends. Most important, Vanessa truly believed she was in love. And she probably was. But, that's just it. At twenty-three, Vanessa lacked the ability to really know herself or her future husband. It was the life she had yet to live that would bring about the growth and maturity she was just starting to experience now, at twenty-eight. From this new vantage point, Greg already looked a whole lot different than he had sitting across from her in their college cafeteria.


Marin got married a week after she turned twenty-four. She graduated from college and then spent a year getting her teaching credential. She and Erik had been dating for five years and knew they were meant to be together. Marin's family loved Erik like a son, but still encouraged Marin to wait a few years to get a job, settle into adult life, and get to know herself a little more before getting married. Marin saw no reason to wait. Thirteen years and three children later, Marin is still happily married and had this to say: "I am glad that I married Erik — he is still the only one for me. But ... I do wish I had listened to my family and married him later. We really struggled for the first several years and despite truly being in love, our frequent fights put a big strain on our relationship. When, in our late twenties, we began to develop different interests and goals for our lives, we had to go to counseling to get some help. All this time, we were struggling with infertility. In retrospect, I don't think we were old enough to handle such big life issues. We got through everything and stayed together, but it would have been easier to handle if we had been older when we got married."


The first time Rory slipped on that white satin gown, she knew it was the one. She was only six at the time, trying on Halloween costumes in the aisle at Walmart. Thus began Rory's love affair with all things bridal. She always expected that she would get married right out of high school, but because she wasn't dating anyone by graduation, she went on to college. By the time her senior year rolled around, Rory began to panic. Her boyfriend of a year, Bobby, wasn't on board with her plans of having a "ring by spring," so she gave him an ultimatum. He caved, and they got married that fall.

"I always wanted to be a young mom and was convinced that my eggs would shrivel up if I didn't have a baby by the time I turned twenty-four. I had Nathan just three days after our one-year anniversary. What should have been a happy time in our marriage ended up being awful. Bobby and I fought constantly. He always wanted to go out with his friends, but expected me to just stay home and take care of Nathan. I never got to have any fun. Money was always a big problem, too, mostly because Bobby was happy working part-time at Best Buy and spent most of his free time playing video games. I finally realized how completely different we are and that we want very different things out of life. Unfortunately I got so caught up in my goal to get married, I hadn't thought past the finish line. Bobby and I ended up getting a divorce, and Nathan and I are now living with my parents. Not exactly how I had imagined my life would be. My biggest regret is that my son is going to grow up in a broken home."

Vanessa, Marin, and Rory all echo the regretful refrains we've heard from the women who have sat with us crying their way through boxes of tissue: "I don't know what I was thinking." "I didn't even know myself when I got married." "I changed so much in my twenties; I would have chosen someone very different if I had waited to marry." "In my early twenties, I had no idea what I really wanted or needed in a husband." These married or divorced women, who ranged in age from twenty-four to sixty, were full of regret about the way they had spent their twenties. We asked them to complete the sentence "I wish I had taken time in my twenties to _______________." Here are the most common responses:

finish my education
pursue my dream career
figure out what I believed
deal with my family issues
get out of debt
live on my own
deepen my friendships
see a therapist
be more sexually responsible
feel better about myself

Through these conversations with our clients, a consistent theme emerged. Marrying young, before you know yourself and have a solid handle on your life, is a bad idea. We were both troubled to hear these frequent expressions of regret, especially because there wasn't much we could do to change the path these women had already chosen for themselves. That's when we realized that even though it was too late for these women, it isn't too late for millions of other young women. And it's not too late for you. Stay tuned ...

But Everyone's Doing It

Hollywood celebrities are known for their whirlwind romances followed by intense proclamations of true love. In the last few years, there has been an epidemic of brief courtships between people in their young twenties, followed by extravagant weddings. These young celeb marriages have an average shelf life of around one to three years.

Jennifer Garner, movie star, married fellow actor Scott Foley when she was twenty-six. Jennifer was utterly effusive after her engagement: "He is a completely amazing human being!" she gushed. "I never imagined I could ever be this in love with another person. I'm giddy!" They were married for all of three years. A few years later, she married co-star Ben Affleck. Recently, when asked about the differences between the two marriages, this was her response:

I don't have this fantasy about marriage anymore. Everyone says it takes hard work. Well, it kind of does — and I'm much more pragmatic about romance than I used to be. [With Scott] I wanted to see him as a white knight and was crushed whenever anything normal happened. I wanted to be the princess. Now I'm much more willing to see myself as human and flawed, and accept someone — the whole picture. My life is definitely changing for the better. I couldn't be happier or feel more comfortable with the direction it's going in.

Jennifer's reflections perfectly illustrate the difference between a twenty-something woman's perspective on marriage versus her perspective after thirty. You'll notice that she mentioned nothing about either of her husbands. She didn't say a word about which guy she felt the strongest chemistry with, or which guy made her laugh the most. It was her own perspective, expectations, and overall maturity that made all the difference between the two marriages.

And then there's actress Kate Hudson, who married rocker Chris Robinson at the age of twenty-two. She was obviously over the moon in love with her future hubby when she was quoted as saying, "We just kind of met and that was it. Every rule went out the window. We were telling each other we loved each other by the fourth day. I moved in a week later." Flash-forward to her admission shortly after her divorce from Robinson: "Looking back, it's pretty obvious that I married way too young. I'm such a different person now."

We're happy to report that some celebrities are actually getting it right. Here's what a recently married Beyoncé told Seventeen magazine about the importance of waiting to get married:

I really don't believe that you will love the same thing when you're twenty as you do at thirty. So that was my rule: Before the age of twenty-five, I would never get married. ... I feel like you have to get to know yourself, know what you want, spend some time by yourself and be proud of who you are before you can share that with someone else.

Founder of eHarmony .com, psychologist Neil Warren concurs. After decades of working with engaged and married couples, Dr. Warren concluded that "Young people can't select a marriage partner very effectively if they they don't know themselves well. In this society, where adolescence often lasts until the middle twenties, identity formation is incomplete until individuals have emotionally separated from their parents and discovered the details of their own uniqueness."

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain in Your Twenties.

According to a recent national survey by researchers at Rutgers University, 94 percent of singles stated that they wanted to marry their soul mate. But many of them admitted that they had no idea what they were looking for. Well, of course! Doesn't it make sense that you can't possibly identify a soul mate until you know your own soul? And did you know that the human brain isn't even fully developed until the age of twenty-four? Is it any wonder that choosing a spouse before then basically doubles your chances of divorcing?

We frequently see evidence of this immature thinking in young women.


Excerpted from Last One Down the Aisle Wins by Shannon Fox, Celeste Liversidge. Copyright © 2010 Shannon Fox and Celeste. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
1. The Keys to Happily Ever After,
2. Ten Reasons Women Marry Too Young,
3. Key #1: Get a Connected Life: Invest in Friendships,
4. Key #2: Get a Peaceful Family Life: Make Peace with Difficult Family Dynamics,
5. Key #3: Get a Fulfilling Work Life: Figure Out What You Want to Be When You Grow Up,
6. Key #4: Get a Smart Financial Life: Take Charge of Your Money, Honey,
7. Key #5: Get an Emotionally Stable Life: Manage Your Emotions,
8. Key #6: Get a Self-Accepting Life: Appreciate Your Body,
9. Key #7: Get an Independent Life: Establish Yourself Apart from Your Parents,
10. Key #8: Get a Spiritual Life: Clarify Your Beliefs,
11. Key #9: Get a Sexy Life: Honor Your Sexuality,
12. Key #10: Get an Exciting Life: Pursue Adventure!,
13. You Can Get a Great Married Life!,

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Last One Down the Aisle Wins: 10 Keys to a Fabulous Single Life Now and an Even Better Marriage Later 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
mabelgs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although this book is being touted as the essential survival guide for all women in their twenties, it actually does not attempt to speak to an audience beyond a small group of privileged, educated, heterosexual white women who fit neatly into the mold of "traditional" femininity. The fact that plenty of women in their twenties aren't actually interested in marriage, or aren't interested in marriage to a man, is not acknowledged even once in 353 pages. Furthermore, the advice in the book more or less assumes the readers have (or could reasonably obtain) a college degree. Many of the chapters on family dynamics and emotional health acknowledge only a strictly Western conception of family and healthy relationships as valid, and many of the book's "keys to a fabulous single life now and and even better marriage later" are accessible only to women with class privilege. The book's purported universality combined with the way it totally ignores women who don't fall into one certain privileged "mold" is downright offensive.That said, however, if you are a straight, white, educated woman in her twenties, this book is a fantastically detailed and entertaining guide to achieving self-actualization and happiness while single, as well as how to prepare yourself to make the best possible choice in husbands and set yourself up for a long and happy marriage.
Emily_Ann More than 1 year ago
As a young single twenty-something woman, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Authors Celeste and Shannon, therapist and lawyer, give insight on what single women should be working on/focusing before they are to settle down and marry the right guy. They emphasis on embracing your singleness.