As I was reading the morning newspaper today a headline caught my attention...Gore's Split is Part of Boomer Trend. Normally, I do not read these type of articles because, well, honestly they just make me mad. I knew that I wanted to write a blog on the topic, so I decided I should read the article to make sure I was not judging a book by its cover. Just for the record, my judgement was right (at least in my opinion) and yes, the article did make me mad. I will attempt to take my anger and turn it into passion, hopefully that is what you will see in this blog.
The large quote next to the headline said, "I was 60 and I was thinking", "I have 25 more good years left, what do I want the rest of my life to look like?". Henry McMackin married 32 years. Later on in the article he said he is now 65 years old and feels liberated and he thinks his ex wife feels the same. He goes on to say that he and his (ex) wife no longer had anything in common and that his infidelity killed his marriage. Ok, I need to insert a little sarcasm here.... really? you mean infidelity ruined your marriage and you no longer had anything in common with the woman who spent 32 years of her life with you, and helped raise two sons. I wonder if he even tried communicating with the woman that HE asked to marry him. I wonder if he was willing to go to counseling. I wonder if he attempted to find any common ground with the woman he made vows and commitments to 32 years ago. I wonder how he justified his infidelity when he first crossed that line. If we are all honest here, infidelity is not about the one who is being cheated on its about the person doing the cheating. What happened to honor, integrity, respect, and communication. Attributes that should be in your marriage at all times, even when you feel you no longer have anything in common, even when you feel you are not satisfied, even when you have allowed children, finances, careers, illness, financial problems, etc, to come in between you and the person you chose to marry. Why have we allowed the "world" to say honor, respect, integrity, and communication, no longer matter in marriages. Why has it become so easy to no longer honor your commitment. One word....selfishness.
(I feel the need to say this does not apply to marriages where abuse, mental illness, or addictions are present).
Ok now this is where I will (attempt) to take the anger and turn it into passion...
Mr. McMackin said at the age of 28 he felt he needed to be married. He said, " In those days if you weren't married then it was assumed you were gay or had commitment problems". It seems he married his wife for the wrong reasons and it is apparent that he did have commitment problems. The lesson here is don't settle, don't be afraid to address your own issues (especially before you invite someone in), don't do something just because it's what everyone else is doing or is expected, do it because you want to with your whole heart. Before you ask someone to marry you or before you say yes, understand marriage takes work, sometimes hard work. And it will only work if BOTH people are in it to win it.
As a woman who has walked through divorce, I will admit that I married my first husband for all the wrong reasons (if you have read my book you know what all those reasons are). I also saw red flags and ignored them. For nine years I lived in a constant state of fear and love for my first husband. That is not what a marriage should be based on. Fear and love never equal a healthy relationship.
I have been married to my (second) husband for fourteen years and I can honestly say I love him more today than I did when we first married. I love my husband and I have never feared him. The relationship I have with my husband is 100% different than my first marriage. I know that I want to spend as many years with him as I possible can. I look forward to growing old with him.
So, how do those of us who desire to stay in a healthy marriage keep it going. I have come up with a list of things and I welcome your input as well.
More importantly before I give you my list I want to say, before you say, "I do", make sure you are making a choice that you want to make. Make sure it's for the right reasons. Make sure you understand marriage takes work and yes, there will be times, even seasons, where all of your needs may not get met, but before you seek the comfort of someone else, ask what can YOU do to help the situation. What can YOU do to communicate your needs and desires in a way that will be beneficial to you both. What can YOU do to encourage this marriage to get stronger.
Below are some ideas for married couples who desire to keep honor, integrity, respect, and communication at the top of their priority list. Start today so you can grow old together AND be happy.
Start with finding a common interest. There are so many things all around us...movies, reading, book clubs, travel (even just driving around locally), volunteering, dance lessons, painting/drawing classes, exercise classes, biking, walking, bowling, tennis, golf, hiking, camping. You can check out your local YMCA or Rec. Center they are full of classes and clubs. The idea is just find something that is a common interest to both of you
It's also ok to have separate interests-it keeps you-you.You can encourage each other and support each others passions but remember to take time to nurture your marriage
Always keep the communication lines open...talk about simple day to day things, as well as, deeper issues
Ask each other questions and be willing to respect each others opinion
Listen with your ears and your heart
Take time to kiss, hug, and compliment each other
Remember your manners...it's amazing how far a "thank you" can go
Keep intimacy alive in your marriage
Be willing to admit when you are wrong
Be willing to show grace, mercy, and forgiveness
Be encouraging to each other
Be willing to acknowledge if a certain season of life is too much...invest in your marriage and seek counseling if its needed
I am sure this list could go on and on but for now I will stop and say to all of the Mr. McMackin's and Mr. and Mrs.Gore's of the world, I am truly sorry for the demise of your relationship and I hope for each of you out there, that you find what you feel you are missing out in life. To the rest of the world...remember don't settle and if you are in a marriage that seems as if the season you are in is no longer tolerable... I challenge you to ask yourself...what can YOU do to start the healing and moving forward together process.