It’s widely known that about half of all marriages end in divorce. But love isn’t just something you “fall out of,” and divorce isn’t some unavoidable hand of fate, waiting to be dealt out to certain unlucky couples.
Marriage is one of the most beautiful institutions we have here on earth. Actively committing one’s life and heart to another person, knowing the joys and sufferings that come with such a sacrifice is a truly noble endeavor. Choosing to journey through life with another person and deciding to stick with them, for better or for worse, is no easy feat.
Commit to the Marriage More Than the Person
Commitment to marriage takes more than just committing to a person. Everyone is imperfect, and each couple will face their own unique challenges, so rather than committing to just the person, spouses should actively commit to their vows and the promises they made to one another the day they said “I do.” Putting in the hard work of marriage, even when it isn’t fun or desirable, and taking care to pay attention to little things that have a big impact over time are often the differences between the marriages that thrive and those that fail.
Everyone is imperfect, so rather than committing to just the person, spouses should actively commit to their vows.
Besides avoiding the chaos, struggle, and heartbreak that accompany divorce, marriage has many benefits. More money, better health, and better sex are a few of the most highly reported benefits of marriage. More significantly, marriage offers the kind of companionship that no friendship or any other relationship can bring. Come hell or high water, spouses know that they have each other to turn to. Whether it’s experiencing life’s greatest joys or struggling through the most painful challenges, a spouse is unequivocally there.
Good marriages require conscious effort in the little things.
So where do things go sour? There’s obviously a middle ground between a marital utopia where spouses are perfect best friends and a marriage that has devolved into separation and divorce. Although I’ve only been married a few years, I’ve received advice from those far wiser and more experienced than myself, and I’m convinced that it’s the little actions of everyday life, the seemingly trivial choices, that make the most difference in the longevity of a marriage.
It’s the little actions of everyday life that make the most difference in the longevity of a marriage.
Marriage takes work and sacrifice, and there’s a reason why committing to your vows over simply committing to the other person holds potential for great success. As fickle humans, we often give in to our whims and emotions, choosing the easier options that benefit ourselves. This makes it easy to stop prioritizing the other person and to instead turn inward towards our own self-serving natures. Prioritizing vows forces spouses to make an active choice, particularly when things grow difficult, to continue working and sacrificing for the other person because it will ultimately benefit the marriage, even if it temporarily feels unpleasant in the here and now.
Don’t keep score.
Love certainly changes over time. The early “in love” emotions make it easy and natural to go out of the way for one another, but as time goes on and the feelings are tempered, those actions require a more conscious effort. Those little choices though, even in the smallest circumstances, have a huge effect. I’m not even talking about big sacrifices or compromises which are often required, but rather the little choices like choosing to do the dishes because your spouse is tired, even though you also made dinner.
Let go of the idea of “keeping score” in aspects of daily life that just don’t work out to be perfectly fair.
It’s letting go of the idea of “keeping score” when it comes to who is right or wrong, chores, or other aspects of daily life that just don’t work out to be perfectly fair. It’s actively learning about each other so you can rely on each other’s strengths to improve each other’s weaknesses. It’s knowing when and how to support your spouse, even when it isn’t easy for you.
Choose To Take Divorce off the Table
During a marriage class my husband and I took before we got married, we were instructed to discuss with our partners whether or not you would ever choose to get divorced. The leaders said if you’re looking at a person you intend to marry who feels that divorce is an option, then you should seriously consider breaking up now. The words seemed harsh at the time, but the fear I felt about whether my now-husband believed in this, and whether I truly believed in this, made me realize how valid a question it was.
There is truly such peace and security knowing that we both believe that there really is no “out” for either of us.
Having entirely removed divorce from the table is something I have seen play out for the better multiple times already during our young marriage. Because divorce is literally just not an option, we’re forced to actively work on every aspect of our lives, knowing it will inevitably affect us for better or worse at some point down the road. Beyond that though, the security this commitment provides is indescribable, and there is truly such peace knowing that we both believe that there really is no “out” for either of us.
You Get Out What You Put In
It’s often said of many experiences that you will only get out what you put in, and marriage is certainly no exception. The harder you work, the more you learn about leaning on and supporting one another, no matter how difficult the situation.
Nobody falls out of love. One or both partners stop working at their relationship and they give up.
In their article “The Case for Marriage,” Brett and Kate McKay say that “marriage is not a lottery, nor is it a game of Russian roulette. You don’t get married and then cross your fingers that you don’t become one of the statistics. Divorce is not a disease that some people catch and some people have immunity to. There is no more erroneous idea than ‘falling out of love.’ Nobody falls out of love. One or both partners stop working at their relationship and they give up.”
Marriage is hard and wonderful and scary and beautiful all at the same time. I’m convinced though that the best things in life are often the most challenging; the struggle brings reward, and a fruitful and lasting marriage that makes the spouses better individually and collectively is a spectacular gift.