Thirty-five years ago today, collinsmom and I were married in a little church outside West Lafayette. As weddings go, it was a disaster. A major snowstorm the night before prevented most of the guests (including my parents) from attending. Various other small glitches and goofs adorned the ceremony itself. Even what we did right (she made her own dress and cake, and did it well) simply added to the stress of the whole event.
Meanwhile, lots of our contemporaries, and many others I have witnessed since, have managed to pull off the super-expensive, glitter-mega-social event of the year, only to have their relationship hit the rocks within a few months or years. For all our rocky start, we are still together.
What makes some relationships last, and others fail? (Besides sheer dumb luck or lack of imagination?) My observations follow.
1. Stubbornness helps. Or commitment, if you like. Neither of us wanted to be the first to say, "this was a mistake," or to throw away what we have invested in each other. That seems like a small thing, but sometimes it's the small things that save you from big disasters. All the strands in the rope may be frayed, but so long as even one keeps from breaking, the rope will hold. (Of course, when the crisis du jour is over, then you've got to mend your rope, because nothing will hold indefinitely.)
2. Belief in God -- especially mutual belief in God. Lots of Christians get divorced, I know. But still and all, trying to do God's will matters. And when you both are pulling in the same direction, the likelihood of success is even better. Paul's advice about not being "yoked with unbelievers" goes largely unheeded, to everyone's cost.
3. Love is about sacrifice, not fulfillment. This is the hardest thing of all to get across to people. Today, person A "acquires" person B and expects B to fulfill A's expectations. In other words, It's All About Me. Or, at best, love = corporate merger. "Love is a 50/50 proposition," they say. But real love is not a 50/50 proposition; it's a 100/100 proposition. Each partner gives all one has to the other and doesn't quibble about who gave how much last time. In fact, Real Love™ is finding someone so precious to you that you would be willing to lay down your life for him/her.
D. and I are not particularly holy -- or even nice -- people. We're sinners. And we're frequently selfish. We snarl at each other. In other words, we're normal. But we're not quitters. We depend on that promise in the wedding charge, that "if steadfastly you endeavor to do the will of your heavenly Father, God will bless your marriage, grant you fulfillment in it, and establish your home in peace." And in the crises we have faced -- and they have been many -- we have each consistently chosen to defer our own good for the good of the other.
So here we are, and hope to remain so. In fact, we're not halfway to the goal, yet. We hope to celebrate our 75th anniversary someday (I would be 95, she 94). Maybe by then, we'll even have learned to dance.