Professor's House

Marrying For Life – For Better or Worse

I don’t think there’s a single couple planning to marry who thinks that they’ll get a divorce someday. Of course it’s always legally an option, but who wants divorce in the back of their mind while they’re walking down the aisle? Marrying for life is usually, and hopefully, the highest goal of the engaged. Marrying for life is neither popular, nor typical in our modern society, but in my opinion, strong and lasting marriages can lay the foundation for a better world.

To me, marrying for life is what marriage vows are all about. Consider this traditional wedding vow:

I _____, take you ______, to be my wedded wife/husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part.

The last line says it all. “Till death do us part’” sums up what marrying for life encompasses. Of course if a spouse does sadly pass away before his or her time, the widower or widow may consider remarrying in the future and hopefully this union will be met with the same commitment as the first.

In some places in the world, arranged marriages are the norm. Parents, or another third party, choose their child’s spouse based on the two of them having similar backgrounds. Many times these marriages thrive because the couple is compatible, but often it’s also taboo to separate in these cultures. For the most part, arranged marriages are a success. Love often comes later after the couple has been together for some time. In societies where arranged marriages are not the norm, most folks probably wouldn’t accept having a spouse chosen for them by someone else, regardless of whether they may have a better chance of marital success or not.

One of the very best reasons to stay married for life is for the sake of your kids. Even when they are grown and out of the house, children want their parents to stay together and are devastated if they get divorced. Staying married for life sets a good example for your kids to follow and teaches them that commitment is important and something worth working hard to maintain. From what I’ve observed, long marriages actually become a tradition in a family. It’s simply unacceptable to get divorced. The opposite scenario holds true as well. Families with a lot of divorced couples set that standard for other family members and separation simply is seen as a feasible solution to an ailing marriage.

Not surprisingly, folks who do stay married for life say the secret is commitment first and foremost. Divorce is off the table, but open communication is paramount. Also, successful couples did not have unrealistic expectations about the quality of their marriage. Both husband and wife acknowledged the impossibility of having the ‘perfect marriage’. Other factors that helped to keep folks together were romance, respect, giving, trust, having a sense of humor, and not taking one another for granted. A lot of married couples who supposedly love each other often treat strangers better than they treat his or her mate. The saying goes that we ‘hurt the ones we love the most’” but that doesn’t have to be true with a little hard work.

Of course there are legitimate deal-breakers that can end in divorce. Adultery tops the list. Nothing drives a wedge between two married people more than adding a third person to the relationship.’ Infidelity is a crushing blow to the very structure of a marriage. Some very brave and forgiving souls choose to work on a marriage after the discovery of cheating, but most can never resolve this betrayal in their minds or hearts. Abuse, whether physical, mental, sexual, or emotional, can also be a reason that many marriages dissolve. This is not an equal union but rather one where a member is dominant and the other is submissive. Lives become endangered and the safety of the couple’s children, if there are any, can become compromised. Obviously this is not a marriage based on love but rather control. Addictions are another deal-breaker. When your husband or wife would rather spend all of his or her time and money on drugs, alcohol, porn, etc., divorce may be imminent.

Many folks facing divorce choose to seek counseling. This is a wise last resort if both spouses have done everything they can to make the marriage work. Working through issues may take a lot of time and patience and may require even more commitment than the actual marriage itself. Selfish people who bring selfish problems to their union are unlikely to want to work on something that requires so much selflessness and giving to be a success. Counseling may be something that needs to be participated in for years after a couple decides to stay together. The best way to avoid starting counseling in the first place is to do the work necessary to have a great marriage.

Barring the ultimate offenses to the sanctity of marriage stated above, there will be times you may wish you weren’t married for life. There are going to be traits about your spouse that are going to make you want to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction, but just remember that you can be annoying too. Marriage is like a job. You have to put the time and effort into it that it deserves and that is expected of you if you want to get ahead. Be nice to each other, keep your eyes on no one else, and try to have fun. Choose your attitude and let your love improve with age like fine wine. That is the recipe for being married for life!

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