As I sat in the emergency room Wednesday, I kept telling my wife how sorry I was that she had to go through this with me. She just smiled and told me to be quiet and let the pain meds kick in. They did, and soon I was asleep. When I woke up, there she was, sitting right by my bed, patiently waiting for me to come to my senses.
September 12th marks our 32nd wedding anniversary, and for many of those years it seems that Lanette has been patiently waiting for me to come to my senses in one way or another. When I tell people how long we’ve been married, their response is almost always shock that someone could be married that long, or maybe they are just shocked someone could be married to me for that long.
Sadly, the average marriage in America that leads to divorce lasts only 7 years. I read some research in the internet (so you know it must be true) that says that humans in love release chemicals that attract the other person. After 7 years we get tired of the chemicals of the other person, and are no longer attracted to them.
Many researchers still say that approximately 50% of marriages will end in divorce. Only 65% of married couples make it to their 10th anniversary, only 52% make it to their 15th, and only 20% make it to their 35th. But why?
In the 1950’s the US divorce rate was around 14%, and by the end of the 1970’s the number of divorces had risen to 40%. The biggest contributing factor seems to be “no-fault” divorces. A no-fault divorce is one where neither party has to show wrongdoing, they just decide not to be married anymore. And there is our problem.
Any time a marriage dissolves, somebody is at fault, and usually it is both sides of the marriage. Over 32 years Lanette and I have had our share of troubles, and more than once it would have been much, much easier to simply walk away. Easier, but not better. Easier, but less rewarding. Easier, but not right.
Life is not always easy, and marriage certainly isn’t. Anybody who tells you that their long-term marriage has been without ups and downs is probably lying. However, my marriage vows included the phrase, “For better, for worse.” The problem is that when we repeat those vows we have no idea how “worse” it can get. Over 32 years there were times that the only thing that held Lanette and I together was our commitment to God, and our refusal to give up. And we are not special, we’re just stubborn. Too stubborn to give up on each other and on our vows.
So what did we get for our refusal to give up? What advantage was there to holding to our vows, and literally fighting our way through the tough times? We gained each other. My wife is truly my best friend. Our days are spent being together, enjoying each other and the life God has given us. We still get into scuffles. She still refuses to believe that I am right 100% of the time, and she still doesn’t like football. Every day we keep working on our marriage, and every day it gets sweeter and sweeter. We just spent a week in the mountains and did what we like to do best: hang out with each other and just enjoy our lives together.
If you are married, hang in there. Divorce isn’t the answer. The failure rate of second marriages is pretty close to that of first marriages. The tough times will come, but they will also pass. Learn to talk to each other, learn to listen, especially to the things that aren’t said. Put in the work, it’s worth it.
Happy anniversary, baby… Jerry