Happy Fat Tuesday! Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the debauchery begin.

I LOVE Mardi Gras. My mom grew up in New Orleans and my grandparents lived there all throughout my childhood so I had the wonderful opportunity to spend my spring breaks in N’awlins every year.

For those who may not know, the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans lasts several weeks. There are balls, parades, and parties but all the festivities culminate on Fat Tuesday. It’s the last big blowout before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. The entire city of New Orleans shuts down and everyone ventures out into the streets, dressed in costume with drink in hand, for one big party.

When I was four I attended my first Mardi Gras parade. Sitting atop my grandpa’s shoulders, arms outstretched and collecting a bucket load of beads, I thought this was the coolest thing ever. Topless women aren’t the only ones racking up beads on Bourbon Street. The paraders have a soft spot in their hearts for kids too πŸ˜‰

So when I recently reflected on these precious memories, it dawned on me:

Mardi Gras is analogous to monogamous relationships.

How, you say?

Party Time

In the beginning of any new relationship, everything is AWESOME! There’s lots of shiny! You’re engulfed with passion, hanging on to each word they say, every atom in your body feels 100 times its normal size.

You feel like you’re drunk. You can’t think straight. Every moment without them, even taking out the garbage and cleaning the litter box, is a welcome activity because it brings you closer to the hour when you’ll see them next.

You’re seeing life through rose-colored glasses. It’s the honeymoon period. It’s the stage that inspires sonnets, song, and art of all kinds. Even The Seven Wonders of the World like the Taj Mahal. Feelings are high. We’re invincible. It’s like one big party.

Then reality sets in…

The Lenten Season

This is when we realize that, if we want to be in this commitment for the long-haul, there’s going to be sacrifice involved. Compromising schedules, desires, and holidays. In the case of marriage, avoiding temptation and committing to one bed-mate and tube of toothpaste till death do you part. Consulting your other half before major decisions and realizing, you’re not always going to get your way.

In short, it’s not just about you anymore.

This isn’t the funnest part necessarily, but it’s still vitally important. The issues that get worked out here are the meat and potatoes of any relationship. This is the make-or-break-it stage which sets the foundation of union or tears it apart.

But successful navigation through the Party Time and Lenten Season leads to…

A New Life

Babies, bunnies, and eggs galore!

Ever wonder why bunnies abound at Easter time? Well, what are rabbits so good at? Propagating new rabbits. I mean, life.

Yes, babies are often the result of married couples or other committed unions but new life is more than just the literal flesh and blood. Once we make the commitment, whether it be a heart or legal agreement, a new life has begun. And as research shows, a far better one than staying single.

Happy couples benefit from lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, longer life expectancy, and the comfort and joy of life-time companionship, to name a few.

Click here to read more about the benefits of love and relationships.

Finding the Balance

This is key. Some relationships explode because it’s all party and no substance. Others slowly fizzle out because of the lack of fun and spontaneity. In order to continually reap the rewards of marriage and other committed unions, we must find the balance between work and play. Sacrifice and spontaneity. To keep the love alive.

Each couple has their own unique balance. Some may place more emphasis on play than others.

There is no right or wrong, only that the balance is agreed upon by both parties. This agreement helps create harmony within the relationship which is always a good thing.

So how about you? Have you been guilty of too much Mardi Gras and not enough Lent in your relationship? Or do you need to learn how to lighten up a little and earn some beads? Surely someone out there has mastered the balance… and yes, it does involve chocolate πŸ˜‰ Care to share your tips on a happy union?

To learn more about Mardi Gras, like why they throw beads or bake babies in king cakes, click here.

Photos courtesy of dreamsunlimitedtravel.com & cajunchefryan.rymocs.com