Marriage has been in the news more than usual lately.From defining its definition to analyzing its popularity, impact and stability, it’s been a popular topic of conversation.My son even jumped into the fray with a poignant question for me and my wife.
“Why do you and mom stay married?” he recently asked me.
It’s a good question – not just for me, but also for the millions of others legally wed.
My wife and I have been married for over eighteen years.I love my wife!But as the old joke goes, we don’t have a perfect marriage – because my wife isn’t perfect.
In all sincerity, any honest person will admit that not every moment of married life is bliss.We’ve had our moments and our seasons of struggle.But we’ve always taken our vows seriously.Indeed, the phrase “for better or worse” is interpreted quite literally within the walls of our home.
The source of our occasional rifts can almost always be attributable to our God-given differences in both temperament and habit.Surprise – we’re two different people with unique personalities.How so?My wife was the oldest child who still often feels a burden to keep the train on the tracks.She’s the responsible one, the woman who keeps a list and checks it twice.She gets the job done.
Conversely, I’m the forgetful one who often assumes the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” attitude.Where my wife is often labeled a task master, I’m often accused of being a goofball.To these accusations I plead, “Guilty as charged”.
With those types of family dynamics, you can imagine the potential for fireworks – especially when a family is trying to navigate the challenging waters of life with a disabled child.
According to a study highlighted in a recent edition of The New York Times, parents of special needs children suffer from an 80% plus divorce rate. While I’m sure these couples would acknowledge that a variety of issues contributed to the disintegration of their marriages, there is no denying that the added stress of raising children with a disability contributes to couples thinking a life apart is easier than one together.
Our marriage has defied the stiff and depressing odds. I wouldn’t say we’re any different from any other couple – we endure the same issues and challenges of 21st Century America. We also don’t employ any special trick that has made the difference.We’re not wealthy in worldly standards.The financial burdens are real and the stresses are new every morning.
So what gives?We believe one of the reasons our marriage has endured is due to the strength of our faith. We both believe very strongly that our faith in God is integral to our lives as a whole. At times, it’s helped keep us from the brink of divorce, though even people of faith obviously are not immune to relationship struggles. But marriage was designed to be a permanent union till death. The consequences of a broken relationship trickle down to all members of the family – especially to children with special needs.We continue to do everything we can to protect our marriage.
There are some who might attribute our longevity to luck – a fate that’s void of any human influence.But to hold to such a perspective is to contradict the fact that I’m responsible for what I do – or don’t. Plus, I’m just not good enough to be that lucky. [See the above goofball comment.]
Or maybe we’ve taken the long view of love. Perhaps we’re confident that good times come and go, ebb and flow.After all, daylight always comes after the darkness runs its course.And maybe we’ve even looked back at the times we thought were bad and realized that because we went through them together, they really weren’t all that bad at all.
As for me, I’m grateful my wife has seen me at my worse and yet she still loves me.She may not like it when I miss trash day or forget an appointment, but she doesn’t love me any less.Maybe it’s also because she knows that I know she has faults too, but I still can’t imagine life without her.
So the next time my son asks me why we’re still married, I might tell him it’s because she feeds me well – but I think I’ll also say that in spite of my shortcomings, she still loves me and I love her too.
That might be all – but it’s surely more than enough.