My husband and I had a pretty important milestone lately. We celebrated twenty years of marriage.
In today’s throw-away society, that’s a pretty big deal. I’m reasonably sure the divorce rate is now well over 50%. (I could research that, but this isn’t one of those serious, research-y blogs.)
Anyway, as an act of benevolence, and in light of the upcoming nuptials of some beloved family members, I have decided to share with you the secret of my marital success.
You read that right. I am about to share with you, my faithful readers, top-secret, highly confidential information that may change the way we look at marriage, and, in fact, all of our relationships.
Come close now. A little closer. Lean in here.
Here is the secret–the secretest of secrets–
There is no secret.
I know, you’re thinking, “Wait–what?”
I’ll say it again: the secret is, there is no secret.
Part of our culture’s collective problem is that we think there is some magical answer to all of our problems. There has to be some secret to how two people can stay married for twenty years, right? Some formula that makes it easy and does all the work for us. Do this, get that result. A plus B equals C.
Oh, if only life were that simple.
My husband and I have stayed married for twenty years because we made the choice to stay married for twenty years. If you think there haven’t been times during these two decades when each of us hasn’t thought about running for the hills, then you’re deluded. Everyone has those feelings. Human beings are volatile creatures. We get angry. We harbor resentment, and say things without thinking. We hurt each other again and again. Truthfully, no one has the power to hurt us more than the people we love.
It would be so simple for people to give up, to say to Hell with it and walk out the door. Tons of people do. Matt and I have not. We have chosen forgiveness, and patience, and compassion. We talk to God about our problems instead of the neighbors. We talk to each other when we have an argument instead of posting it on Facebook. In short, we make our marriage a priority.
To me, that isn’t a secret. We should treat all of our relationships, and the people in them, with respect. We should give our best to the people who mean the most to us. After all, that’s what we expect from them, isn’t it?
It’s so easy to think someone else will be better, someone else will do better, when in reality we are the ones who need to do better. We need to try harder.
That isn’t a secret, my friends. That is a fact.