Looking for hopeful encouragement as you date?
Well, journalists and bloggers are always out there blaring their microphones and wielding overheated keypads informing you of the latest “research” and how it effects you. One thing is certain: the news is not good.
Yesterday, Eric Hayden of The Atlantic Wire published an online article to help you in your quest for a lasting marriage relationship. His article, entitled “Nearly Everything Will Destroy Your Marriage,” dispenses a forecast for your future that even Jean-Paul Sartre would sign off on.
The alleged research concludes that, in addition to finding out that everything you eat will make you fat and everything has more germs than a toilet seat, the latest round of investigations details that everything will eventually cause the demise of your marriage. And Hayden estimates that no one, really, is exempt from these statistics.
The shocking criteria supporting Mr. Hayden’s article include but are not limited to: husbands who don’t help with the laundry; spouses who are long-distance commuters; parents of twins; husbands or wives who play video games; married couples who are friends with divorced spouses; and so much more. These are the facts that apparently should lead everyone to doubt the possibility of “till death do us part.”
What’s interesting is Mr. Hayden states his own doubts on the validity of the criteria that carries the most weight. He writes:
“If you’re a couple that’s lived together before marriage, you’re more likely to get a divorce (this research has been countered and endlessly debated)”…”If you’re a woman who’s…had sex as a teen you’re more likely to get a divorce (the study’s findings were notably questioned here).”
I’ve done my own research over the last 22 years, beginning with my first marriage and pausing momentarily today with my happy 11-year long second marriage which debunk the myth Mr. Hayden promotes. Here are the findings I can report:
First, let’s state the obvious and get it off the table. If you’re not a mature adult who is capable of living an honest, moral and committed life, then yes, pretty much anything can destroy your marriage because you cannot handle life beyond adolescence and you should just go live in your parents’ basement.
Now that we’ve sent the children off to bed, let’s speak as adults. Marriage is exciting, romantic, and fun, no doubt – until you, as a couple, encounter stress. Stress can start on the honeymoon with an argument over whether or not to go para-sailing in bad weather. It can start with an argument over the dirty underwear that is left on the floor (day, after day, after day). It can be stress over the loss of a job, challenging in-laws, terminally-ill family members or even when you have to stop having sex during pregnancy.
The bottom line is virtually any type of stress can strain a relationship. But that doesn’t mean divorce is inevitable. At that point, it’s up to the couple to roll up their sleeves and work at the relationship – something society in general and Mr. Hayden in particular seems to believe is an impossibility.
So I propose a paradigm shift. Simply stop buying into the idea that stress or adversity in a relationship is a negative. Quite the contrary! Adversity in a relationship is a springboard to a better, stronger, and more loving relationship if both spouses are willing to let that happen.
No pain, no gain, right?
We’ll diet, work out till we croak and willingly impose sacrifices on ourselves as a discipline for things that we want and believe are good. Why should it be different in a marriage?
I am not perfect, nor is my husband, and there are plenty of things in life that try to lessen our odds of staying together. But I guarantee you the relationship we have now is far more exciting, loving, and solid than the day we stood at the altar and took our vows. And the only way that happened was through adversity and hardship that offered us the opportunity to grow together as a couple and encounter a much deeper side of our relationship.
Anything in life can happen and it usually does. There are couples who have remained married and lived through extraordinary circumstances, such as the loss of a child, natural disasters (sometimes multiple times over), abusive and addictive situations – all far more serious than whether or not the toilet seat is lifted and put down again.
The bottom line in a successful marriage is love. Not the emotion of love, but the act of love. Commitment, honesty, communication and the willingness to put your spouse first. So don’t believe the nay-sayers of the world. A strong, happy and lasting relationship can be yours whether or not the cap is on the toothpaste tube.