How do we make marriage last forever?
There is a concept with marriage in our society that I just don’t get.
It is the idea that when attraction leaves, the marriage is over.
Or when you don’t feel IN love anymore, it is time to move on.
This seems crazy to me.
I have a different view of marriage that some of my clients have told me is “old fashioned.” It is certainly not the sexiest view of matrimony, but it has saved me from multiple divorces and a shattered family.
In my opinion, the way to make a marriage last forever is to start with a certain mindset. It is the fundamental belief that when two people marry, they create a family. It’s a bond that is as strong as if you were related by blood. Even more so, actually, because you chose each other. Blood relatives don’t get to choose. So if you viewed your spouse as your “family”, tied together no matter what…you will stay married through the ups and downs of life. Whether you feel like it or not.
How making a marriage last forever relates to having kids.
When you decide to bring children into this world, you commit to loving them. This is pretty remarkable considering you don’t have any idea what they will be like when you decide to conceive.
You don’t even know if if you will have a boy or a girl. You have wants and desires for your children. But you almost always get surprises. And yet, you love your children fiercely.
Even when they are unlovable.
You love them when they hurt you.
You love them when you don’t like them.
You wouldn’t dream of leaving your children because you just didn’t feel like being their parent any longer.
Some people do this and we are shocked when we see it. Because it isn’t natural.
Now, how would the world change if we viewed marriage the same way?
Here’s the thing: most people end a marriage when they are in pain.
Whether it is pain from disappointment, betrayal or unmet needs.
Sometimes it is the misery that comes from the frustration of not feeling loved.
And sometimes it is the pain of boredom.
There isn’t any abuse, but there aren’t any fireworks either. We don’t like pain.
We try to avoid it or we numb it or run from it. But pain is necessary for growth.
So in all our avoidance of pain, we are also avoiding the opportunities it provides us to grow ourselves up.
Pain is an invitation to change. Make your Marriage Last Forever.
So if your marriage is causing you pain, let that pain teach you and guide you.
Let it change you. I’m not talking about suffering through an abusive relationship.
I don’t believe every marriage should be saved.
But the way we recycle life partners in our culture indicates we have a serious problem with avoiding and denial.
You will have days when you don’t like your spouse.
You will have seasons where you question your commitment and love.
You will yearn for a simpler life with less conflict.
You may even be tempted by greener pastures.
But remember, you committed to love this person for the rest of your life.
I don’t believe in saving marriage at any cost.
But seriously, if you are miserable in your marriage and there isn’t abuse, it is growing pains. A sign that something needs to change in you or your partner.
We don’t seem to know how to get along with anyone anymore.
We aren’t very good at reaching out to our neighbors or involving ourselves in other people’s worlds.
We have become hedonistic and it is toxic to us and to our society.
A Real Life Example
I met with a client recently who was having an emotional affair.
She was angry because she had told her husband for years she was unhappy.
He didn’t get serious about changing until he found out about the affair.
She asked me why it took something so drastic, because now she really didn’t care anymore.
I told her it took this long because she trained him.
She complained, but she didn’t get his attention.
If she was truly unhappy she should have put the marriage on hold.
Moved out of the bedroom, gone to counseling, given him a deadline and followed through.
She was shocked and asked me if she really should have been that direct.
It felt so “mean” to her. Ironically, it would have been much kinder to have gotten his attention and forced his hand sooner while she still wanted the marriage.
If you or your spouse is unhappy, get to work.
Stop staying silent because you think it is easier or you feel like “what’s the point.”
If you are complaining and your spouse isn’t changing anything or taking you seriously, ramp it up until you have their attention.
Having a marriage last forever will take work.
But the rewards will be worth your time and effort.
Trust me! I know these things.