Marriage + Not Giving Up

It’s not marriage that’s hard, so much as life that’s hard.

Yesterday I was house hunting.  We were late for one showing but the owner still let us tour the home.  It was beautiful! Two-story brick colonial.  Classic and symmetrical— I love that look.  As soon as I stepped through the door, my heart sank. There was something very sad about the home, more a feeling than anything else.  It should have felt cheery. A Christmas tree was still set up in the living room and a new train set was perched on the dining  table.   The Children’s rooms were charming with Pottery Barn bedspreads looking plush and inviting.  A boy and a girl. There were family photos on the walls.  Beautiful portraits in gilded frames but something about them was profoundly sad. The owner spoke to my husband a little and later I learned that he and his wife were getting divorced.  I was not surprised to hear it, I could feel the difference.  Houses have a way of carrying feelings.  I saw several houses that day and this one stood out.  The phrase “broken home” feels sorrowfully apt when you’re looking at the real thing.

I have no idea what the situation was in that home owner’s marriage.  However, generally, I think that divorce is used far too often as a remedy for that which it will not help.  It’s not marriage that’s hard, so much as life that’s hard.  People think they will divorce their problems or unhappiness by divorcing their spouse.  That’s not usually the case, as research suggests.  Statistically, people in a second marriage are not as happy  as those that stay in a first marriage.

My grandparents had the most loving, enviable, alive, marriage and home life I’ve ever seen.  They were a dynamic couple.  People just wanted to be where they were because what they had– it worked. My grandmother, who had been married 60 years, said it best.  She said, “We have had all the same problems that other people get divorced over.  You just stay together.”

I think there is real healing to be found in not giving up on each other.  It makes you strong enough to face the lows with steadiness.  You have to be patient with yourself and recognize that everyone has hard times in marriage.  Just because it’s hard does not mean that you’ve been cheated or you’ve made a mistake by getting married in the first place.    Most good marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration.  Does that mean you’re not really in love?  No, I think it’s the other way around, you’re in real love—the kind that endures and blossoms through every phase of life, becomes strong and makes you a new, better version of yourself along the way.

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