Michelle and I celebrated 22 years of marriage yesterday! 22 years man. Every year I just shake my head and wonder how the heck somebody managed to put up with me for so long. Crazy.
It’s a little bittersweet to celebrate though because so many of my friends have had their relationships fall apart in the past year. Long relationships. And as I sit and ponder what makes a relationship work and why they fall apart, I think it starts with selfishness and ends with cowardice. Let me explain.
I’ve seen no less than half a dozen long term marriages fail in the last year or so. They have all followed the same basic pattern. Partner 1 becomes unhappy. Partner 1 doesn’t want to deal with the drama of talking about it so they go find happiness somewhere else. Partner 1 eventually can’t live the lie and bails on partner 2. Partner 2 is clueless and gets totally blindsided.
So it starts with one partner thinking they deserve more (selfishness) and it ends with a blindside (cowardice). I’ve seen this in my own marriage. The times we had real problems were the times that I became selfish. And so if I were to think about what it really takes to make a marriage last, the key is in serving your partner.
I could say you should “love” your partner, but that word means less and less these days so let’s talk about what it really means to me. Love is really voluntary servitude. It’s putting the welfare of somebody else ahead of your own. Think about that for a second. What if we approached our role in marriage as being responsible for the welfare and happiness of your partner?
But we don’t do that. Modern America sees the marriage as a way to get what “I” want. Like buying a car. And when I don’t get what I want, or I get bored with what I have, I leave and go try again with somebody new. It’s insane. What’s that saying about the definition of insanity?
So when people ask how we’ve managed to stay married so long, I’d say it’s because over time we’ve learned to take care of each other. Michelle is my responsibility. And I am hers. This is what the bible is talking about in Ephesians 5.
So we’ve made it through another year and it’s been a good year. I think the next is going to be even better.