What Keeps a Marriage Together?

Divorce was unusual when I was growing up.  As far as Rick and I remember, none of my friends’ parents divorced.  Fast forward, and our best man said we were one of the few couples he knew who had stayed together.  It does make one wonder what happened to bring about the change.   Maybe it was the 60s when so many bought into the free love movement.  Rick’s grandmother had an old world saying:  “Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?”  Sometimes I think women sold themselves a bill of goods, especially when I’m reading so many articles lately about what “hooking up” does to lives, relationships, the confusion that comes, the disillusionment and emptiness some feel after following the crowd. Just because everyone seems to be doing it doesn’t mean it is a good thing. 

What does it take to stay married for longer than a decade?  It’s enlightening to read the anniversary announcements in the local newspaper of couples who have made it fifty years or longer.  This week, there were two celebrating their fiftieth.  One couple attributed their long, happy marriage to “mutual love, respect, and keeping God a focal point in our lives.”  The husband of the second couple said, “Get over yourself and be kind.”  The wife said, “Appreciate and grow from all life brings you.” 

I think it’s easier for people these days to disappear into their own private worlds.  I can’t count the number of stories I’ve heard about marriages crumbling because one spouse or the other has found someone on line they think will make them happier.  A fantasy relationship seems more exciting than a real one. I can’t help but wonder how a relationship built on infidelity has any hope of mutual trust.

Rick and I have been married forty-six years.  We were good friends before we dated.  We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming of what our individual futures might hold even before we dated.  We both dreamed of traveling – never expecting we’d be traveling the world together.  We went our separate ways, Rick to college, the Marine Corps, Vietnam, and me off to Reno, Nevada and four years at UNR.  We reconnected while he was in the war zone and I was still at UNR.  We corresponded.  We’d both grown up and experienced some hard knocks, and we found out we both still had a lot of growing up to do when we got married.   

We’ve had high-highs and low-lows in our years together.  Interesting that the low-lows are the ones in which we grew the most.  One of the things that made a huge difference was carving out time every morning to be together. This was especially important when we had three young children.  In fact, early morning was the only time we could be alone.  We’d talk.  We’d read devotionals to one another.  We’d dream.  The children have long since grown up and left the nest to have children of their own.  We still carve out that morning time together.  It’s become our favorite time of the day.