How to stay married.
The recession hit our family hard, too, but somehow we are still married. I’m not sure why. I’d like to say it’s love, but perhaps it’s simply luck. At one point, as we faced our construction business faltering, our life savings dwindling to nothing and a slew of other problems, we looked at each other and said, “Let’s not make it worse by getting divorced.”
And so we stuck it out. Sometimes staying together is just about pragmatism.
But the recession also gave us something unexpected: time and perspective. Without an onslaught of homes to build, we had space to reflect, talk and get to know each other again. I began to appreciate my husband for who he was rather than who I thought he should be.
He may not be someone who buys me flowers or delivers on birthdays, but when I became obsessed with Dave Matthews, he bought me every Dave Matthews CD ever made, and when we go to restaurants he often orders my second choice so I can eat his meal if I don’t like mine.
Approaching my 50s, I know the “no divorce” pledge Josh and I made all those years ago is just one of those rules people make up to give themselves the illusion of control. Though I believe loosening our grip on our pledge saved our marriage, I think the pledge saved it, too. Our pledge gave us a strong foundation before we were ready to go it on our own, and by the time we realized we had outgrown the pledge, it had taken root and grounded us as we found the space to deepen our relationship.
The child in me still wishes there was a secret formula to make a marriage last: perhaps a dose of bringing each other coffee in the morning along with a smidgen of holding hands at the movies and a dollop of passionate nights.
I know so many of these people.
Couples who, in the midst of their pain, turmoil and the loss of all hope that their marriage was worth more then the paper the certificate was printed on, who simply decided to stop.
They decided to stop and take the risk of listening, learning a set of new skills, remembering how to trust again and taking a whole lot of risks to forge a new relationship.
People, in other words, who are still married and who think that was the best decision they ever made.