I've managed to stay married to my guy for twenty five years, today. I didn't think I would see this day. My first marriage ended three months after our first child was born. She was perfection. We were a match made in heaven and then he was gone. He didn't want to go, choose to go, we fought for life but the c word stole him at 29.
In those moments I thought life was over, at least the marriage part. To make it to twenty five seemed like climbing a very tall mountain.
Then I met a man. We are both head strong, quick to speak, sometimes with words that cut. I knew this about myself but then I seemed to meet my match. He will tell you he is no match to my flame, but I would disagree.
We have made it to twenty five years and I have a few thoughts to share. My thoughts, not three key things that will keep you married. That is on you. I'm just standing a long way up the mountain and this is my view from there.
You hear marriage is hard. It's true I'm sure, it's just not my first thought. Marriage is a gift. Marriage makes us better. Marriage is a covenant. Marriage is a choice. Maybe because my first marriage slipped through my hands, with me on the other side, gripping for life as it took its last breath. Maybe because I can say I have been married to two incredibly beautiful, intelligent, respectful men. I know I am lucky, blessed, more fortunate than most, to have been loved well. This is not lost on me... and why I am not teaching on marriage, just sharing my experience.
I was talking to a friend, married twelve years and she told me many of their friends are getting divorced. Couples in their thirties, throwing in the towel. Moving on to better pasture... I get it, it's easy right? Ask a divorced friend and they will tell you how not easy it is. It's way harder to divorce than figure out what's wrong with them, you. To stay married.
I'm not talking about couples who should not be together, because of violence, abuse, fear. Those are not okay situations. Get out and stay out. Run. Fast.
But don't quit if he is simply annoying, writes everything important on tiny pieces of paper, then loses them, has played stupid war games on his computer and now phone, for twenty five years (he could be sitting next to me now doing this exact thing), hums all the live long day (please stop), refuses to stop eating ice cream, even though it causes him to fall asleep within minutes (weirdo), goes to lunch with friends (or on vacation with you) and leaves his wallet home. These are not divorce-able offenses. These are just things that may make you bat %$#& crazy, but really they are just different than your annoying habits (which we will not mention)
People offer suggestions for staying married... don't go to bed mad, listen to each other, think before you speak, remember you are a team, like each other, don't just love each other, stop arguing about the same &*%$, don't bring up your parents in a fight. Woa... fail, fail, fail, fail.
We've failed at every one, multiple times. We don't quit easily so I have reason to believe these will prevail. If you are of the same cloth, don't lose heart. It's never to late to build a future.
What we have learned... Commitment, even if that ship is sinking, we are on it, by golly. Be accountable for your actions. Pushing each other to be who God created us to be. This is where the marriage makes us better part comes in. One of the biggest roles my husband has played in my life is accountability. Pushing me to do the hard, uncomfortable.
Laugh at yourself. Laugh at and with each other.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Sounds easy... it's anything but. Sometimes one of us is talking, but the other isn't listening. Usually.
We are both fast paced people. We are both leaders and challengers. We both make decisions quickly, so we need good communication to be on the same page. Otherwise I'm going to the beach and he is headed to the mountains. Honestly, we struggle here some days. I blame (always helpful) it on his inability to pay attention for more than 3 minutes, instead of looking deeper into the list of 38 things on his list and realizing he has moments where his brain just overloads. I get it.
It has taken us twenty five years to begin to understand one another. I am still learning about myself and my hubs. Yes, we are slow to learn, quick to act!
I'm so thankful we never considered quitting, we would have missed the dance. The dance of discovering personalities, and why we react and act as we do. One of the most important things you can do for your marriage is learn about yourself. Read the Enneagram, The Road Back To You. It should be part of premarital counseling.
I'm an eight, The challenger, strong and assertive. The hubs a one, The Perfectionist, the Reformer. We get each other now. He simply blames everything on my eightness, which I wear like a crown. Kidding (sort of). Eights don't really kid about being an eight.
We would have missed the dance of watching our kids grow into amazing adults, looking at one another in gratitude and saying thank you for being a great dad and mom. Thank you for being generous and kind and always welcoming in.
The dance of supporting one another as we help aging parents. The dance of encouragement when one of us falls. The dance of knowing that even in all of my jacked up ideas, plans, words and ways... he still loves me. I have never doubted his love for me. He has never caused me to wonder if he was all in. He has offered me a safety net to fall into when the days are hard and I am done.
The biggest reason we are still climbing the mountain. God. The abundant grace and mercy He has provided is unmatched to any human idea we could entertain. We understand that He is our guide, our moral compass, our passion, our goal... and we climb towards Him.
So if you are thinking marriage or are thirty six, married and thinking of throwing in the towel... wait. Just wait a minute. Breathe and think about the dance. There is so much at stake. So much you will miss.
And there is no match made in heaven... my first marriage, its first test was the biggest and only. We would have faced challenges as we grew as individuals as well as a couple. It would not have been easy, but I trust we would have stayed the course.
Marriage is worth waiting for the dance friends...
Cheers to the years! I love you Hawkeye!