I listened today as my wife took a disturbing phone call from an old college friend. Apparently his wife of many years has taken it upon herself to procure a boyfriend. Now being one of traditional marriage this obviously did not sit well with her husband. Sweet hearts in college, married with two adorable kids, and suddenly its all gone. Life wasnt good enough, the marriage wasnt all she had dreamed, the road has been rocky but he tried everything he could to keep them together. But apparently “keeping them together” was never in the fore front for her. Hence a new boyfriend….
Till death do us part.
My parents met when they were 15. Married after my father returned from a stint in the Army thanks to the draft. They settled down and started a life together as husband and wife. I am sure they had a million dreams and plans they wished to fulfil. They undoubtedly laid in bed at night knowing in their hearts this feeling of love would never end! Never dreaming that one day their relationship would struggle, stumble or even land flat on its face. I bet they felt as though the world was their oyster, and as a team there was nothing that could possibly stop them.
Mom and Dad took their vows very seriously, they were married in a house of God, before God and that meant something to them, both mentally and spiritually. I can remember being very small and having my mother move around excitedly as dad came home. Over the years that faded away as the stresses of two children started to wear her down. Finances were a struggle too. They were raising kids during a time our country was locked in an over 9% unemployment rate. The price of oil was skyrocketing and there was fuel rationing at every service station. My dad was moving from one job to another and income wasnt steady. I bet they never dreamed of having arguments over money and children when they were first married. But they did. Times grew harder as I remember arguments over horses (we had a horse ranch) and hay, dogs, and 4-H projects. Some nights my mother would cry and my father would brood. Yet they always managed to say I love you, and they never seemed to carry a grudge. Sure they poke fun at each other now and again. They treat each other like old friends instead of happy newlyweds, but that’s completely understandable after 55 years of marriage. Yeah 55 years of marriage, that’s pretty amazing.
So I am left wondering what the big difference is? Why are marriages tossed about like frisbees in the park? How can someone preach the sermon of love to another then treat them with such disdain? Well here are my thoughts:
The concept of marriage is tied to the church. I can’t tell you how many people I know who hadn’t set foot in a church before their wedding! Sure they went through the church counseling beforehand, but in my opinion there might be a little more to vows than just the symbolism of standing inside a church.
Society has embraced disposable lives. We are a society of hoarders and wasters, if you have it I want it, if i get it and don’t like it I will throw it away. Such is marriage, I got you, I have kept you, now I find a new better you and you are tossed to the curb. My lawyer will be in touch!
Lawyers have continued to profit, making it incredibly easy to get out of something you never really took seriously to begin with. Just look at hollywood, these actors and personalities are getting married and divorced, sometimes within the same month. 2 million dollar wedding, 30 days later, wedding is over and the pre-nup is on the table with lawyers arguing over compensation. What message does that send our youth?
You need to WANT to bring children into the world! Not because you are lacking something in your life! Not because you feel a child will save the relationship. Not because you are lonely and need a buddy! But because you’re ready to give up everything in your life to stop and raise another human being from infancy to adulthood. Once you have kids you can’t give them back and they depend on you for everything. Its awesome, but it does mean cutting back and in some cases just plain giving up some of your freedoms! It also means being there for your wife when she becomes a first time mom! It means being there for your husband when he is fumbling as a first time dad! It means making sure you have patience, understanding and the ability to go endless nights without sleep. All while still having the ability to romance and cuddle your wife, your husband, your best friend! Letting them know they are the most important thing in the world and even though we have children now, that spouse still comes first! Everything else falls into line after that!
Work at it! The secret to my parents relationship, they worked at it, and continue to work at it everyday! The learned how to grow and evolve! They continued to talk, never leaving anything on the table to rear its ugly head later. Say your sorry, sometimes even when you don’t mean it! On occasion it has taken me days to realize I was wrong. Would you rather have your spouse pissed at you for days or minutes. Recognize when something is wrong, then shut up and listen! Every problem doesn’t need an answer. Sometimes its just nice to vent the issue then figure out the answer on your own. Stay friends and always place each other first! Even when you have children, you need to place each other first otherwise you will not be a team while raising your children. This leads to resentment and anger when times are stressful. Never, ever go to bed angry! Hash it all out or to the best of your ability before you go to sleep! Like I tell my kids when they have screwed up, tomorrow is a new day, you have a clean slate, make the most of it!
Lastly we have no respect for ourselves anymore. If you don’t respect yourself don’t look for a relationship until you do! No one is going to “fix” you, no one is going to make you feel better! Until you learn to care and love yourself, you have no business bringing another emotional human being into your life. Seriously, how many times have we heard: I know he cheats on me but he loves me! or I don’t care that he is married, when he leaves her were getting married because he doesn’t love her anymore, he loves me! She says it’s not me its her! She still loves me so its ok.. Have some self-respect..
Yes there are definitely circumstances where divorce is the only option. Yes people change over time, but if you have kids, just try. I havent met one kid from a divorced family that ever thought their up bringing was fantastic. Dont cheat on your spouse, get divorced and move on before you cross that line. It’s painful for all involved and if you have kids it’s just downright confusing.
I don’t have all the answers, I don’t think we are any better than anyone else or immune from any of the challenges that face married couples daily. I just know what I see. Friends who we knew loved each other at one time, now can’t be in the same room together! It’s very perplexing. It’s a very sad emotional time for all involved. My wife and I love each other very much and we respect each other enough to recognize when our relationship needs a little tune up. We love our kids and our family and friends. I plan on honoring my vows, I made them, I meant them and I have promised myself to her till death do us part. I plan on keeping that promise.