27 years of commitment, 27 years of struggle, 27 years of life together. 27 years of good, bad, and everything in between.
My parents are far from perfect (doesn't that go without saying, at least assuming that we have human parents?).
But today I want to meditate and dwell on one thing that I have learned from my parents that has already served me well, and I pray will continue to do so. What is this one thing? That staying married is a matter of desiring to stay married.
What do I mean? Well, there is a self-evident reality to this. Why do marriages, over half of them today, dissolve? Because one or both parties desire that they no longer wish to be yoked together. Now, my parents never sat down and explained this fact to me. But when you watch two people, who in very many ways are polar opposites in thought, opinion, personality, etc., and watch them disagree, be frustrated with one another, argue--many people in our society would ask, why? Why wouldn't you just throw in the towel, try again with someone you're more similar to? The answer is rather simple: you don't want to. You choose to love, to stand beside, to reconcile your disagreements with the person you vowed your life to 2, 9, 15, 23, 27, however many years ago.
There are factors, of course, at play in this decision. Children; the desire to give them a stable home. Faith; belonging to a church which holds up the value of marriage an the biblical teachings against divorce. Community; having friends and family who value marriage in general, but also your marriage in particular. In the end, though, what are each of these things influencing? Your choice, as two individuals, and as one couple, to stay together. To fight through thick, thin, and really thin. To enjoy and love one another, not just in spite of, but for your differences. Many factors at play, but what they are factoring towards is a choice. A choice.
I don't know if I can overstate the value of this in a world so obsessed with and overrun by the "need" to follow our hearts, our emotions, our feelings, our passions, or whatever other banal expression we can conjure. That when it comes to making this most important of human relationships work, what it comes down to is wanting it to work. And then doing the work.
It isn't magic, and it isn't rocket science. It does take dogged determination, hard work, and a willingness to bear with one another. My parents have been doing that for 27 years, and I am deeply, deeply grateful. Here's to many more.