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Marriage Isn’t Natural: Another Reason to Commit

I didn't marry you because you were perfect. I didn't even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn't a house that protected them; and it wasn't our love that protected them - it was that promise.-Thornton Wilder

My oldest daughter is a Biology High School teacher. I knew she was a budding scientist at the age of two. She could pick up an ant and clearly identify its anatomy long before she would sit on a potty. She has a knack for explaining complicated material in a very simple, understandable manner. Last night we went out for dinner and engaged in a huge discussion about marriage. My daughter believes part of the reason so many marriages fail is because they aren’t biologically based (she bases many of her debates from a biological point of view). Men are wired to look for variety to spread their genetics, and women look for stable, secure men who will father and raise their young. As I listened to her, I became more convinced that this is why we should choose marriage deliberately. It’s a challenge, and the only way to prepare and grow with a challenge is to make sure you are “trained” before taking on the challenge.

I work with many professionals, and it is surprising to me how many of these people have miserable relationships. They try to marry and live with their partner in a logical manner. Many times, they don’t give the marriage as much attention as it warrants, and they are confused when their spouse becomes unhappy. No degree can prepare you for the amount or manner in which you need to communicate with your partner. A Ph.D in science isn’t going to help you work through the next argument with your spouse if you have let distance grow in your marriage. If your fiancé helped you pay for graduate school and upon completing graduate school you are going to tie the knot, you would be wise to invest in pre-marital counseling first. You may have been a great couple while you were distracted with studying, but do you have the skills to continue coming home and communicating with this person every night? You may be crazy in love with your partner, but what if your partner’s career has them traveling abroad? Have you talked about the issue of intimacy? Do you have a plan in place if you begin to feel distance within the relationship? Can you talk about your sex life?

I ask these questions and pose these scenarios because I am in a field where every day I see families and relationships fall apart that could have been saved had they prepared for the challenge of marriage. I see more people preparing for a hurricane than they do for a lifelong commitment. My daughter is right; we aren’t wired to stay committed for a lifetime with one person. That’s exactly why we must prepare if we are to continue the marriage lifestyle for our own and our children’s well being. We must understand that love changes, we change, and the marriage will change year after year. The determining factor of the success of your marriage is the two people joined together. Families, friends, and children can influence your marriage, but at the end of the day the race is being run by you and your spouse. The five suggestions below will help you prepare for the challenge of a married lifestyle.

  1. On your bridal registry, make sure marital counseling is on the list of gifts. If possible, try to get at least two sessions prior to your marriage. Those sessions will be worth their weight in gold.

  2. Surround yourself with couple friends who are committed to their marriage. Divorces are contagious and friends who aren’t faithful many times hang around other people who aren’t faithful.

  3. If your parents are divorced, look for a family member who can help mentor a healthy marriage lifestyle for you. This will help when you hit a rocky time in your marriage (you will hit a rocky time because that is part of life as well as marriage).

  4. Have a faith or spiritual philosophy you both share. Couples who pray together stay together (usually).

  5. As quickly as possible, identify “hot areas” in your marriage. These are areas that when opened create arguments or problems. Don’t marry someone who has a “hot area” that makes you uncomfortable. It is better to walk away than believe you can change someone. As a general rule, if there is ANYTHING you cannot discuss with your potential partner, DO NOT MARRY THEM.

A healthy marriage is a gift we give ourselves, our spouse and our children for generations to come. It requires dedication, selflessness, and forgiveness. Every human I know has difficulty with these virtues at times. Therefore, we are all prone to failing our marriage. Knowing that keeps me working on my marriage. It is the greatest challenge in my life, the longest race, and I hope to finish it in my husband’s arms. Re-commit to your spouse, and get back in the race.

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