Last month my mom and dad in-law celebrated fifty years of marriage. That’s an accomplishment.
A little over a year from now, in December 2014, my mom and dad will reach fifty years. Again, a pretty big thing.
Lately I’ve noticed, via Facebook, couples I knew years ago, perhaps in high school or college. Some began dating at 15 or 16 years old and now they’ve been married 20+ years. My husband and I celebrated 23 years of marriage this past June. Yet Facebook also reveals the divorces. The remarriages. The couples who do not stay together. Some are people I knew years ago, in or preparing for ministry. For whatever reasons, they decided to call it quits. Or at least one of them did.
Some people lived together before marriage. I’m certain many had sex before their wedding night. Yet they’re still together, seemingly fairly happy, after years and years.
I’ve also come across a lot of marriage blogs and opinions recently written by people who are celebrating 6 or 7 years together….or less. Here’s one, for instance:
I honestly ignore most of what they have to say. Because realistically, I’m not sure how much advice one can give to the masses a few years into a lifetime commitment. Sure, maybe you can speak to newlyweds or the about-to-become husbands and wives. But please don’t consider yourself an expert. I do hope someday you become one.
I ponder this: People proclaim the stats. People list out the rules. Yet there seems to be no real rhyme or reason. Why do people stay together? Why do some drift apart? Why do some drift apart yet stay together?
In the loving couple each person discovers someone who is able to welcome in, and offer hospitality to, the stranger within them. ~ Peter Rollins
There are those who say it’s submission. That’s the key. Wives submit. Then there are those on the other side. All for equality in the partnership. Personally, well, I’ve learned much of life depends on the circumstances. And it’s not always wise to put it all on my husband. Nor is it wise for him to expect me to understand his logical thinking brain. When mine is the opposite. But we’ve learned. We’ve learned to adapt. And adapting is not always pretty. Sometimes it has to be an overnight adjustment. And there are ways in which, after 23 years, we’re still adapting. An evolution of sorts. [sorry if you’re not a Darwin fan]
It’s true, really.
I was told love should be unconditional. That’s the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever? If I know I am loved no matter what, where is the challenge? I am supposed to love Nick despite all his shortcomings. And Nick is supposed to love me despite my quirks. But clearly, neither of us does. It makes me think that everyone is very wrong, that love should have many conditions. Love should require both partners to be their very best at all times.
― Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
If you’ve read Gone Girl, you’re probably wondering why in heaven’s name I’m quoting it while writing about marriage. Yet I find sometimes there are great lines in fiction books. And I think there’s a bit of truth there. If we don’t have to change……if we don’t have to do the right thing…… why do we? Or is it why we don’t?
What I suppose I’m saying, or at least trying to is most of us don’t have a clue. There’s no easy recipe [in my experience]. Life is hard. Living with someone is harder. And learning to love and re-love a person is even harder than that. It takes more than a Hallmark card, a dozen roses, and a pricey piece of jewelry every five years or so. Those things might equal thoughtfulness, but they don’t necessarily equal love. Not the kind of love that carries you the long haul.