Most couples enter marriage believing it’s forever. But what if a single moment during your wedding could give you a glimpse of the success — or demise — of your marriage?

Pastor Kevin A. Thompson has officiated at weddings for nearly 20 years and has a secret. "I can predict the likelihood of divorce based on the exchange of wedding cake," Thompson explains on his blog.

He pushed it into her face, she pushed it harder into his and he forced her to the ground. The crowd laughed. I was shocked — and a few weeks later they were divorced.

“One of the first ceremonies I performed was pretty routine,” he writes. “Everything went without a hitch until it came time for the cake exchange. What began as a playful moment turned ugly. He pushed it into her face, she pushed it harder into his and he forced her to the ground. The crowd laughed. I was shocked — and a few weeks later they were divorced.”

Thompson cites four negative indicators from the cake exchange:

  1. force
  2. revenge
  3. pride
  4. contempt

Alternately, a pleasant exchange reflects three coupledom virtues:

  1. playfulness
  2. respect
  3. love

Thompson's theory is backed only by his experience, so we thought we’d add to the anecdotal "data" fun.

MAureen wedding cake exchange
Photo credit: BrianTreffeisen.com

Boring might be best

  • Katie, married 10 years in September: “We did a nice, gentle exchange. We were teased for holding our hands under each other's chins to catch the crumbs! Instinct.” 
  • Julie, married 17 years: “Everyone said our cake exchange was nice and boring."
  • Terry, married 35 years: “We were considerate cake exchangers (or rather dull and boring — however you choose to look at it). [It was] my husband’s idea far in advance of the ceremony. Thirty five years and we are too stubborn and cheap to change it up now,” she jokes.
  • Mimi, married 44 years in May: “We did the boring bite of cake, but I don't think people did the shoving and smashing that you see now.”
  • Susan, married 44 years in June: “We did a nice, polite, boring cake exchange.”
  • Georgia says, “[We've been married] 55 years and had a boring cake exchange, but a terrific marriage!”

Smashing doesn’t mean sabotage

“We did a sweet cake bite exchange at first and then [smashed] the second bite on each other's faces,” shares Amy. “Still together almost 21 years later!”

Amy and Mike wedding cake exchange

Substance to the cake theory?

Of course behavior during one moment can’t predict a lifetime of bliss or battles. “I doubt there's any merit to it,” Mark shares, conceding “It is a fun superstition.”

...it is separate from how two people manage a marriage. It can't be boiled down to a single act or measurement of behavior.

“While [the cake exchange] can be an indicator of personality types and character," he adds, "it is separate from how two people manage a marriage. It can't be boiled down to a single act or measurement of behavior.”

Mark’s history supports his skepticism. “My (ex) wife and I had the same theory on the cake thing,” Mark shares. “Our exchange was nice and loving, and we watched other people do it the 'bad' way. Well, most of them are still together."

Kevin and Jenny’s exchange

After developing an eye for marital harmony as told through flour and eggs, Thompson looks back on his and wife, Jenny’s own exchange: “Remember, by the time we got married I had already had a bride hit the ground. I remember ours being sweet and playful. No icing on her and just a bit on me that she intentionally put there.”

Keving and Jenny Thompson cake exchange

Jenny’s memories reflect a touch of careful assessment. “I remember trying to be very nice to him to get it in his mouth without making a mess because I didn’t want him to get me all messy,” she remembers. “I think you can tell by the second picture where he is feeding me that I have this look in my eye of, ‘you better be nice back, or else.’”

Advice: Pre-emptive strikes?

The secret to a graceful, respectful exchange may be — gasp! — communication. “We had discussed the 'cake exchange' before, so I felt pretty good about it being a nice exchange,” Jenny shares, “but you never know what someone might do to be funny — and he likes a good laugh from the crowd.”

Mary has been married since 1991, and she recalls “a lovely, delicate, peaceful cake exchange — preceded by a serious finger-pointing warning from the bride, as caught on video.

“No cake [smashing] here, hubby didn't dare!” Cindy shares. “[We] will celebrate 31 years on April 24.”

Ultimate advice

I would forget the cake and focus on the relationship. Build trust, playfulness, and care.

What’s the real lesson about ensuring a solid marriage? Thompson tells AllParenting: "I would forget the cake and focus on the relationship. Build trust, playfulness and care. The cake will take care of itself."

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