On Saturday, Miriam and I will celebrate the 50th anniversary of our wedding.
We were married the year of Woodstock and Apollo 11. There were no smartphones or personal computers and no internet. We’ve been married longer than many of you have been alive. And more than twice as long as we were alive as single people.
I’m not going to bore you with how we’ve made it so long. Instead, let me give you seven reasons why it’s worth sticking it out.
But before we get to those, I want to apologize to those of you who are divorced or remarried. I don’t know your story. I realize that sometimes it’s out of your control. And when there’s abuse involved, there’s a different set of rules. I’m not trying to be hurtful or cavalier. When I talk about keeping at it, I mean right now, real-time with your present spouse.
I write this to the man (or woman) who’s just tired of the fight. Who’s thinking there’s got to be something (or someone) better than this! My encouragement is to hang in there. Don’t give up. Love is a choice you make. And here are seven reasons why you should make that choice . . .
- You’ll be happier – When we’re younger, we think, “I married the wrong woman!” and we use that perception to justify replacing our mates. Soon after, we realize she wasn’t the problem, and you’ve undone something sacred that could have been salvaged. The things you expect and demand early on pale in comparison to what matters most later on.
- You’ll become a better person – Gary Thomas talks about marriage as the full-length mirror where we can see our selfishness. When we were at the brink of breaking up, I realized just how much of it was me and my selfishness . . . demanding my wife change to become someone she wasn’t. God showed me my selfishness, and thankfully, Miriam gave me another chance and time to work on it.
- Your priorities will change over time – We got married on new love, which is fleeting and fragile. What fulfills and lasts is mature love built on acceptance, mutual respect, mutual sacrifice, and friendship. What you think matters most when you’re young moves further down the list as you get old. It’s not too late to develop mature love for each other.
- You’ll have fewer regrets – Everyone has regrets. Most fade in the rearview mirror over time. But divorce never moves to the rearview mirror. It’s bolted to the hood, dead-center of the windshield. Ask anyone who’s been through it.
- You’ll raise the odds that your kids will stick it out – If you get divorced, you give your kids tacit permission to do the same. You can’t tell them not to do something you did. Studies have shown that daughters of divorced parents have a 60 percent higher divorce rate than children of non-divorced parents, while sons have a 35 percent higher rate.
- You’ll find the grass isn’t always greener – Life is more complicated on the other side of divorce. It’s time-consuming and expensive. Your kids’ weddings certainly don’t get any easier. Not to mention the “single-again” dating scene. I can’t speak to it firsthand, but the divorced people I’ve talked find dating difficult and exhausting.
- Your shared history gets more valuable over time – My wife is the only one who remembers my parents and siblings. Those early memories of our courtship and our kids and the context of our earlier life are single-threaded through the two of us. Easy to undervalue and toss aside when things are tough.
We’re glad we chose each other and even more glad we kept at it.
Thank you, Miriam, for spending your life with me!
Scripture: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? (Ecclesiastes 4:9)