Today is my fifth wedding anniversary. My husband and I had been together for five years before we got married. Actually, he moved in with me a month after we began dating (children do not follow my example, not because it didn’t work out but because I had a teeny tiny bit of previous relational experience on which to base my decision.)
I married late, at the age of forty-three, my husband was forty-one. Neither of us had been married before, although neither of us were ever alone much. We got married because we felt committed to each other and we felt that commitment was eternal.
Yes, we loved each other; we still do. Yes, we lusted after each other; we still do. But in our opinions, these were not sufficient reasons to get married. They were reasons to live together, which we did.
I think people get married too quickly and for the wrong reasons. I don’t believe in divorce. Now, before all you divorced people or friends of divorced people jump down my throat, let me say I do not advocate people staying in abusive relationships. What I’m suggesting is that people should make the decision to marry in a more business like manner.
A good marriage requires that the couple have core beliefs in common. It requires a common outlook on the things the couple find most important to themselves. As Robin Williams character in Good Will Hunting says, “You're not perfect sport, and let me save you the suspense, this girl you've met she's not perfect either. But the question is whether or not you're perfect for each other.”
This is why good marriages look different on the surface. Two people can appear to be so different. My husband is an active, outdoorsy sort of guy. He likes golf, guns, fishing, trucks, beer, “The Guys,” boobs,
and straight talk. He has lived in this area all his life. He knows everyone. He has few thoughts about God. He has a high school degree. I like reading, writing, gin (I never drink beer), have few friends, moved around a lot, am reclusive, have a deep belief and knowledge of God and have several degrees. So, on the surface, we shouldn’t be right for eachother. But our core beliefs are the same.
We believe in eachother’s right to be who we are, marriage is forever, money is a mutual commodity, work for what you want, cash is good and credit is evil, family is a top priority, commitments are to be honored and not entered into lightly, our right to speak our minds regardless of how we disagree, and the fact that we are separate people who chose to be together knowing full well we’d survive alone (the other person is not our validation.)
In other words, we get along. We are friends with benefits, as my daughter would say.
My husband and I disagree about many things. He believes in the death penalty. I don’t. I believe in God, he’s not too sure. He thinks children should be seen and not heard, I think children are people, too. He is happiest when he has lots of people around him, I prefer quiet. You get the idea. We can talk and argue about these things, but for us they are not deal breakers. What would be for us? If he tried to force me to hang out with his friends or if I followed him to where he was hanging out with his friends, we’d never be together, because trust is fundamental for us. If he didn’t go to key family functions or if I forced him to go to my work Christmas parties, we’d have split years ago, because you must know what is truly important to the other person.
So anyway, we’re not perfect and I know many people who would not like to live the way we do, but we’re not married to them. I just suggest that the rose colored glasses are taken off before you decide to marry. Think about what is most important to you and take a realistic look at the person to whom you are thinking of committing yourself. Do you like this person? Do you think you can stick by this person if they quit their job? Can you talk to eachother about tough subjects? Can you conceive of forgiving this person if he disappoints you? Can you conceive of him disappointing you (because he will)? Do you think you can deal with it? Do you think there will be room for you each to change (because you will)? Love and lust will not sustain you during the hard times, only your commitment to each other as people will.