“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
– Mignon McLaughlin
Dave and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary the other week. Like any moment worth celebrating, it’s a great opportunity to stop and reflect on the time we have spent together. Reflecting on what we did right, what we did wrong and where we are going. Above all, one thing really stood out to Dave and I: WE MADE IT!
As anyone whose been married that long will tell you, it’s no small feat.
Looking at those who have been married for sixty plus years, I wonder what they went through to get there. My parents, who have been married for thirty-two years, have endured many tough times and despite it all are still together. Not just the “grit your teeth and bear it” together but “we could do that thirty-two years all over again and hope for thirty-two more” together. It’s inspiring, and importantly: THEY MADE IT!
It’s sad to say but amongst our friends there’s been a huge increase in the number of our friends who are divorced or in the process of getting a divorce. All were married for less than five years, some less than three. I’m not just talking one or two couples, but rather twelve couples. That’s right, twelve. Most under thirty years of age. It’s upsetting that it has come to that point for so many people and my heart feels desperately sad for them. Some of the separations were through mutual agreements and for others, one party has decided that they can’t go on. Either way, I know how deeply it has affected everyone involved myself included.
Looking at society in general; celebrities, people of influence, friends, family and even the church, it’s easy to see divorce as normal. Almost all who get divorced appear to have a ‘valid’ reason for the separation. If I’m honest there have been times in our marriage where I have thought that I have a valid reason for leaving. I would rationalize: “It’s definitely not me, it’s Dave. He doesn’t talk to me the way he used to. We have just grown apart. He has pursued the business thing and he doesn’t have that much time for a marriage as well. I don’t think I’m attracted to him like I used to be.” For me these thoughts and mindsets that crept in came down to one thing.
Plain and simple. Now that may be a bitter pill to swallow for some, but it’s the truth. For me, I didn’t view my marriage as Dave and I united. Nor was I thinking; how can I put Dave first? Rather, it was “what is in this for me?”, and “Im not getting it, so I won’t give it”. If you ask Dave he’d tell you he was thinking similar things. The point is we were both hurting and both of us felt like we were owed something.
When I realized this, I was then able to take this to God and Dave and ask for forgiveness. When both parties are hurt one of you needs to step up and break the stalemate. Each day I need to lay my relationship with Dave at God’s feet. It’s when I start to think that I can do this “married thing” in my own strength that I become selfish and unstuck.
So what is it that gets a couple to five, ten, twenty or sixty years happily married? Is it simply being unselfish? Well that’s definitely part of it, though you’ll always catch yourself being selfish at times. As Dave and I were talking about all this, we pin pointed one thing: Our mindset of marriage is FOREVER. Not until it doesn’t suit us any more, or while ever the other person is meeting my needs, or until it gets too hard. Rather through the good times and bad, through sickness and in health, ’til death do us part. Remember those words on your wedding day? Yep, we swore an oath to do that.
Now I don’t say that to condemn those that have chosen separation. My point is that for those who are married or considering marriage; you need to approach every conflict, argument or disagreement with the FOREVER MINDSET. This mindset requires that no matter what, divorce isn’t an option for resolving your conflict. Of course I’m aware that things like abuse and infidelity can make resolution difficult, if not impossible, but most couples don’t start there. When you think in terms of forever you’re forced to get creative and break out of your comfort zone. After all, who wants to live unhappily ever after?
Do you have the forever mindset in your marriage?
In a subsequent post I’ll share with you some practical ways you can create it in your marriage.