The past few months I have found out more and more people that I knew or am still friends with have gotten divorced. The shocked part of me thinks: “I swear they all just got married yesterday!” And then the realistic part of me remembers that high school was 7 years ago and a lot can happen whether people got married right out of high school or more recently. Because I’m in this same grouping, it gives me mixed feelings, realizing that divorce truly is a possibility, but that I’m glad I have the strong marriage I have.
I talk about having strong marriages so much that I sometimes forget how often divorce happens. And when it does happen, I admittedly can’t help but wonder what the reasoning was for it. Not that divorce situations aren’t justified, but that it can be very surprising when you remember how cute they were together or how strong their relationship seemed. Some personalities just really don’t mesh well. Some people make bad mistakes. Some people won’t change. Some people aren’t willing to go through the hard work. Even though often times divorce is for the best, it’s still a hard poke in your gut reminding you that not everyone makes it on this journey.
SAD REASONS FOR GOOD REMINDERS
In the beginning of marriage there are many transitions to experience and many things you discover about your spouse that you didn’t know before. Some couples handle or work through those transitions better than others. The first five years can be the most difficult for a couple, which is why 20% of marriages are either separated or divorced by their 5-year anniversary*. So based on this statistic, if it’s not me it’s one of the four couples I know… I guess it’s just a statistic you hear until you find out it applies to someone you know! It’s in the moment of finding out that tends to put my own marriage in perspective.
- I am reminded that the lovey-dovey-ness of being engaged, dating a lot, and being first married doesn’t last for some people.
- I am reminded that maybe I need to be MORE lovey-dovey than I have been.
- I am reminded to not let my marriage take a backseat to something else or someone else who is far less important.
- I am reminded that I can’t take my marriage for granted.
- I am reminded that we truly can’t let things get in the way of our union progressing.
- And I’m reminded that if things have gotten in the way, we need to address them even though it’s freakin’ hard at times.
THE Sad but True Reality
It’s interesting how your perspective changes with time. For example, I remember our strong attitude of “This is going to last forever! Nothing can break us apart!” We just felt like we were so solid, on the same page, and truly appreciated everything about each other :) We still are somewhat this way today, even though we have out of sync days just like every other couple does, too. The difference is that we thought we were bulletproof; that nothing could touch us. But the reality is we’re not. No marriage is because we can’t control every single bullet that might come at us for our entire marriage. What we can control is strengthening our shield, because that will help us react to the bullets better. If we have a strong enough shield built up then the shots fired only feel like the wind getting knocked out of us. But without a strong shield that you both are sturdily holding onto, there’s nothing stopping those bullets from making you bleed.
Sorry if that visual comparison sounded grim or harsh, haha, but hey it’s the #truth you guys. We all tend to be naive about marriage at some point and it’s not fun having your head brought down from the clouds when hearing things like this. It’s in these moments, however, that I find changes I can make to strengthen my marriage, so that I can afford to be on cloud 9 more often :)
So I encourage you to take this opportunity to strengthen your shield TOGETHER. It has to be a team effort or you will not see progress. Find those things you could be better at and work on them. Keep trying! It’s OK if you need help from a counselor, too! Do what needs to be done in order to get back to your Cloud 9.
Featured Photo by: Nicholette Photography
* Resource: Walsh, F. (2012). The New Normal. In Normal family processes (4th ed.). (pp 103). New York: Guilford Press.