Today is our wedding anniversary. This afternoon at our church there is an anniversary celebration for a couple that has been married 60 years. We have only been married six years. I cannot imagine the effort and reward that goes into 60 years of marriage but we are striving for it. Yet we are no longer the average American household as a married couple. Last year I read that married couples only represent 48% of American households now versus 78% in 1950. 37 states have below 50% of married couples. There’s an 18% increase in just a decade of households headed by women without husbands. I’ll leave the analysis of statistics for academia and researchers. But as a former head of household woman without a husband, first with only a high school diploma then with a college education to now a college educated working professional married woman, I think there is a case to be made for marriage. And it is far from average reasons on why marriage matters.
|Our wedding day, October 28, 2006
1. Marriage matters for stability.
I have been a single parent. I am not advocating for marriage under all circumstances. But I have seen the stability and trust that our teenage son has in his every day life. Marriage has made a difference in his life by having a strong male figure day in and day out in his life. Kids needs stability for success. As adults we need stability for success also I believe. Marriage is that anchor of stability. A stable home makes for a stable every day. It builds a stronger family, in turn a stronger community and country.
|61 years of marriage for my grandparents, Oscar & Nola
I was not alive in 1950 but my grandparents were married in 1951 and remain married today. The level of commitment in 1950 in marriage versus today is a wide ocean of difference in America. There seems to be a casualness to marriage today. In pop culture we see super star marriages come and go as often as I go grocery shopping and I only know that because I read divorce headlines in star studded magazines at the grocery store. Of course there was divorce in 1950. My late paternal grandma came home to the prairie after her young marriage dissolved with her two sons. Life was not perfect then and is not now. But I think America needs commitment. People need commitment. Quitting is easier than keeping going most often. We seem to accept that quitting in marriage is more acceptable than it used to be. That trend needs to be reversed. We need commitment to ourselves, to our spouses, to our families, to our work, to our communities, to our churches, to our faith and to our country. It all takes commitment and it starts at home, in our marriages.
And as my mom told me before I married my husband six years ago she said: “You will have two choices in marriage: quit or keep going.”
3. Marriage is a marathon.
Speaking of not quitting, marriage happens to be a long race if you are in it for life’s long journey together. Marriage is indeed a marathon. Ideally, we have a partner that runs beside us, that supports us through the race. Sometimes we run quickly, other times it is a slow jog or even a snail’s pace walk. But just like training for a marathon, you might have a training group, a regimen to follow in order to make it through the race, a huge crowd cheering you on, cups of water for renewal and you may get injured along the way. Injuries in marriage happen. At that time, spouses can walk away and leave you there to run their own race. Or true partners, pick you up. They help you get back on your feet. They might have to carry you. You might need to be pushed in a wheelchair along the way.
But together you have to learn to run together again because marriage is a marathon worth finishing together.
|Our family, my in-laws and sister-in-law and Charlie the dog child (by Sarah Bernhardt Photography)
Today our pastor congratulated us on our anniversary in church from the pulpit. Then part of the Gospel read was:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us runB)’> the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1
Together, my husband and I are celebrating marriage and running the race marked out for us, bringing stability to our lives, with a deeper commitment than ever before and determined to run the race marked for us with perseverance, for ourselves, for our family and for our marriage. While I don’t know if we will ever have the 60 year anniversary celebration that is taking place at our church today, I do know we aren’t the majority but we are striving for success, together.
And we are better together.
What do you think helps a marriage to succeed? I need in on the secrets.