My husband Tom and I recently celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. I think I understand why the previous generation makes a big deal about congratulating us on each year as it passes.
Our parents and [what’s left of] our grandparents are losing faith in the ability of two people to remain in a life-long committed relationship. Sticking together in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, in good times and in bad.
And who can blame them?
Tom and I hear (almost weekly) about yet another couple we know who has decided to go their separate ways. I find it interesting and disheartening at times so many people choose to forgo the emotional bond and communication practice needed to keep a marriage alive.
Setting aside abuse or addiction problems, which absolutely no one should remain subjected to (especially when kids are involved), I can’t help but wonder why two people who found it important enough to verbally commit to share their lives can’t find a way to work through their differences.
Often you hear “we’ve just grown apart.”
I think what they really mean by this is they’ve just decided it got too hard to be vulnerable, building walls and turning in another direction is easier than working at what you once thought was so important you spent months building a ceremony and a party around.
The four constants in life, which generally also have a significant imprint on marriage, are birth, death, finances, and change. In order for a marriage to remain resilient, both parties need to accept, support, encourage, and grow through the changes which inevitably show up in life. Tom and I have lived through some big ones, like multiple kids premature births, a dozen moves (mainly brought on by ourselves), job transfers, my son’s addiction issues, my return to college, losing our home.
Those are most of the “biggies” and could have precipitated a lot of problems in our marriage, instead we found ways to use them to help us grow stronger as individuals and closer as a couple. Easy, no. Those big changes had a ripple effect, they disbursed a whole bunch of small changes into our lives as well.
Neither one of us really spent much time considering those things when we were at the altar in our early twenties.
Nobody is kidding when they say, marriage is hard work. And even though I don’t believe there is any way to adequately prepare for the changes that will challenge your marriage, I believe the key to a resilient relationship is to continue to remain committed especially when you think it would be easier to just throw in the towel. Not only will the character of your marriage be stronger, but so will the two people who voiced those vows to begin with.
Which is exactly why we smile with admiration and respect for the elderly couple we see strolling down the street, walking hand-in-hand.
Kimberly Muench is a Flower Mound mother of five and author of “My Mothers Footprints: A story of Faith, Calm, Courage, Patience and Grace.” To see more of her work or to contact her, visit www.mymothersfootprints.com.