Today my husband and I are celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. And frankly, even the title of this blog post is a bit of a misnomer. Because I don’t think there’s a how-to guide for staying married.
What I do know for sure is that my husband and I have seen our fair share of ups and downs in our 33 years together. Yes, there are times I questioned staying together. Because honestly there have been times it’s been really hard being married. But at those times, I just couldn’t shake all that we did have together. The good memories. The love, even though sometimes it was buried quite deeply. The unconditional support for each other all these years. And, just the fact that he is, and always has been, my best friend, and I can’t imagine my life without him.
Weathering the storms is part of life.
Whether you’re a parent struggling with issues with your kids, someone who has disagreements with their sibling, a grown-up child who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with your parents, or an employee who sometimes feels like strangling your boss, you don’t typically divorce the other person in those situations.
Sure, sometimes we don’t speak to siblings for years. But I think most people come to regret this when they get older and realize that family is really what’s most important. Sometimes we quit jobs and move on. But at some point we realize no job is perfect and no matter where we go there are going to be things we don’t like. Even if we work for ourselves. A lot of this wisdom comes with age and experience. Something many people who divorce may not yet have.
Perhaps because all of those other relationships aren’t validated with a ceremony or legal document they feel less restrictive or binding. What is it about imposing rules or putting someone in a box, that seems to make them want to break those rules or escape if things aren’t perfect? Perhaps the ties that bind us together are actually strangling our relationships.
Just look at Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who got married this past weekend after a decade together.
They’ve bucked the Hollywood statistics (some quote celebrity divorce rates at 80%) and have actually stayed together 10 years and are raising six kids, despite the fact they were not married. Instead, I’m assuming, they chose to be together every single day of the last 10 years. They’ve certainly weathered storms, many of which have been reported on publicly, and others we’ll never know about. They also bucked Hollywood tradition by getting married in a small, secret ceremony at home. I hope their union lasts. If so it will say a lot about focusing on what’s important and choosing to stay together. Now I know some of you may be thinking, yeah but their relationship began based on infidelity. I agree if it did that’s certainly not a good thing. But that’s not the point of this blog post.
Hollywood’s portrayal of love.
Perhaps because love, relationships, and marriage have been glamorized by the media and Hollywood, our expectations are not realistic. We see movies, TV shows, and news about strife in so many relationships (family, parent-child, sibling, friends, boss-employee, business partners) yet love is almost always portrayed idealistically. We even use phrases like Falling in Love which make it sound like something out of our control.
Or, if we do see the bad side of love and marriage portrayed, we see the polar opposite in movies like Fatal Attraction. It’s rare to see common marital struggles portrayed, probably because it wouldn’t be very entertaining!
I’m merely surmising because I don’t really know why so many people give up on marriage yet tolerate so many other things that aren’t working in their lives. And I really don’t have a how-to guide on how to stay married. What I do know is it takes a lot of things including patience, tolerance, friendship, forgiveness, understanding, and a commitment to see it through thick and thin. And I think that’s the message shared in this graphic.
You have to be willing to work at it when it feels like it’s broken.
Because there will be days it feels broken. Sometimes beyond repair. But if you don’t give up, and you’re willing to fight for the relationship (and remember you once loved this person so much you chose to say “I do”) it’s worth it.
After 33 years together, and weathering many storms, I can honestly say I’m very happy and grateful to still be married to my best friend. Although it’s cliché, it’s true that we are stronger and better having gone through those storms. I also know there will likely be more storms ahead because that’s just life. But I look forward to fighting through them together and God willing enjoying many more years with my husband.