The Unfair Secret Trick to Staying Married

Love & Learn 55

I have a friend who's in the midst of a separation from her husband. I don't know the whole story, and I don't know where things will go, but it doesn't sound good. It sounds terrible, in fact, a nightmarish situation made even worse by the fact that they have young children together.

There was a time when I would hear about someone's divorce and I'd feel sorry for what they were going through, yet completely secure in the fact that I would never be facing a similar situation. It was a little like reading about a parachute accident: That's awful! Thank god I don't jump out of planes.

I don't really feel that way anymore. Lately, I've started feeling more and more like a marriage that doesn't end in divorce is as much about luck as is it about perseverance.

It's not that I think my marriage is in trouble -- if anything, it seems like we're stronger than ever. We've weathered so many storms, pushed each other down and picked each other up so many times, seen each other through good times and awful times, it's as though we've formed scar tissue that works in tandem with our love and friendship to bind us together.

More from The Stir: World's Longest Married Couple Has the Secret to Lasting Love

(Is that horribly unromantic and maybe also a little disgusting? The idea of being united by unsightly keloid nodules? It's possible I chose a bad metaphor, here.)

Still, the older I get, the more and more more couples around me are falling apart. Forty to fifty percent of marriages will end in divorce, they say, and that seems to be running close to my anecdotal experience. I know it's far more than a numbers game, but it's almost how it feels: like we're all on some great spinning blackjack wheel. Red or black, go or stay, sorry, you lose.

That's not to say that I don't think we have any control over our destiny. We do, of course: we say our vows, and we have the choice to abide by them or not. But it can take so much to walk a road together for years and years, through all the changes and divergences that take place. I've often thought about the complicated series of events -- of the sheer luck! -- that led me into my marriage and to where I am now. And how there's always this equally complex, unknown future ahead of us.  

Maybe a marriage is sometimes about not experiencing things. Maybe it's about those moments that lead to big changes -- the butterfly's wings that don't flap, the storm that never takes place. The job that was never lost, the child who never got sick, the house that never went into foreclosure, the happy hour beer that never happened with that attractive coworker at a particularly vulnerable time.

Maybe the trick is that it's about luck. Maybe it's about being strong enough, dedicated enough, flexible enough ... but most of all, lucky enough to make it.

I don't know, really. All I do know is that these days, the news of a friend's divorce is the whistle of blade passing overhead. It makes me sympathetic for what they're going through, and it makes me want to gather my family tight and bare my teeth against the idea of losing what I love so much. There but for the grace of God, I'd say, if I believed in a god who controlled such things.

We will be together forever, is what I believe. But I bet that's what almost everyone believes.

Do you ever worry about divorce?

Image via Linda Sharps

marriage, divorce


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Happy... Happydad73

More marriages would last these days if more people were committed to making it work and less focused on themselves. Selfish people do not make marriage work very well and when the going gets tough, loss of a job, loss of a child, loss of a home....too many focus on their own 'happiness' instead of their mate.

nonmember avatar CrystalMP

I really think the key to a lasting relationship is being able to let go but I can't really say for sure. It's sad tho that I'm only 22 and I know 3 other people my age that have already been divorced and remarried, it's like no one takes their vows seriously anymore and they act like divorce is the answer when things go wrong. I told my fiance when we do finally get a wedding put together he's going to be stuck with me because divorce won't be an option lol

nonmember avatar cl0ver26

My marriage is falling apart, well scratch that, it has fallen apart. I'm still clinging on to something because damnit I don't want to give up and lose everything I've worked so hard for yet, he on the other hand isn't in the same place. He's given up on me. He's given up on us. Just simply because he's chosen to do so .... it's sad really.

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

I am not worried about divorce. We don't think that way- both my husband and I realize that we are in this for the long haul and know that if we have a problem, we have to address it. It's taken time to learn this, of course, and it has taken time for us to figure out how to live with the other person in all mind sets- but it is an adventure well worth the bumps. :-)

We started dating when we were 17. We've been together for 15 years and married for 10. We've been separated for months at a time for my husband's job- moved across the country- had 3 children- and have dealt with a few traumatic experiences in our time. It has only made us stronger, even if at the time we struggled to move forward.

The key is KNOWING that things will be hard at times. When you look around you at some point and realize, I'm done with this and don't like how things are working out- you have to deal with those feelings as a team and move past that point together... not walking away on your own. That's giving up!

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

I'm sorry Clover26- you're right, you HAVE to work as a team... you can't do it alone. :-( I hope nothing but the best for you and hope that he'll get it together.

nonmember avatar Separated

Some marriages cannot be saved. It's this idea that if you just work hard enough at it that anything is fixable is why so many stay in toxic relationships. I know because that's what I've done. I wanted so much to keep my family together that I could not recognize my husbands behavior for what it was...controlling and abusive. Men like him start showing their true colors after the "I dos" and even more so after children enter the picture. I wasted years trying to salvage a "marriage" that never really was one and now I get to deal with people who look down their nose at me for filing for divorce. When your husband refuses to work, behaves like a teenager, isolates you from friends and family, lies to you constantly...there aren't any other options.

hello... hellokd87

Although I have worried about a split with my fiancee, there have been so many times in arguments that he's said something that reassures me. I don't think he's aware of it, but he'll say something to the effect of "my wife" or "deal with it for the rest of our lives" as the arguments we've gotten into are unneccessary and really is more of something going on in his head rather than the actual truth, but anyway. We're going into marriage with the mindset that "This is it." This is our one and only marriage for the rest of our lives. There's no going back, backing out afterwards. We're going to spend the rest of our lives together. I think that's the secret to a long lasting marriage. Divorce/break-up is not an option for us. One of us has a problem? Ok, we'll figure it out. And if we can't figure it out, we'll bring it up with our counselor and see if he can help us figure it out. People nowadays see divorces occurring so much in the media that it's out in the open as a valid option. Luckily, we don't care for what's happening with other people. We care about what's happening between US.

nonmember avatar Rachel

I'm worried about divorce not because of my hubby and I, but because of the statistics. I realized that almost every couple has been where we are before: happy, strong and in love. But some of these same couples still end up divorced because somewhere along the way they and their partner lost each other. So far in my marriage I've learned two things: 1. Sacrifice is important. If you know you can't sacrifice anything, you probably can't stay married. 2. You have to maintain a relationship the way you'd maintain a plant. When weeds pop up, you pull them out immediately - easy peasy. If you wait until weeds are rampant and on the verge of taking over the plant, it's a lot harder to save.

kalisah kalisah

I will celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary in May, and here's what I know: A marriage -- any marriage -- can last if both parties are committed to making it work. Divorce has to be off the table - not an option. Adultry? If the one is truly remorseful and the other truly forgiving and they work together to move past it, the marriage can survive. Addiction? If the one is truly willing to get sober and the other truly supportive, the marriage can survive. But this only works if both parties are committed. If the adulterer is going to do it again, or the addict isn't willing to get sober, that's when things fall apart. 

Dqnana Dqnana

I have been married to my husband for 27 years ... but about 20 years ago we took a 5 year "break" from one another while we both went through a very tough time, financially and emotionally. I used to think that there was nothing a "Therapist" could teach me that I couldn't learn for myself, if I just read the right book.  I was wrong. Therapy was the hardest, most humbling thing I ever did ... and the best gift I ever gave myself.  We gradually determined that we did not want to end our relationship, but we didn't want the "old" marriage back again ... so we had to figure out the best way to treat one another.  That was more than 14 years ago and we have never looked back.  BUT ... it takes TWO people, caring commitment and a better knowledge of yourself and your own issues. 

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