According to the Centers for Disease Control, the long-standing statistic that “half of marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce” is still true. You can check the numbers at www.cdc.gov.
Recently, I’ve been questioning the statistics based on my circle of family and friends, a circle that spreads across the continent. In the past several months, I have learned that more than a handful have celebrated decades of anniversaries.
In the same timeframe, only two friends have gotten divorced. But guess what? Two others have gotten engaged!
I was curious about what those in lengthy marriages might say is the magic – in addition to love – that keeps them together. So I conducted a two-day, non-scientific poll (on Facebook, of course).
I wish I could share every response I got, because I believe that wisdom could make a big difference to the half of Americans who are likely to get divorced in the coming years.
Generally, folks shared that spouses must respect and trust one another, be committed to the marriage, be adaptable and flexible, be selfless, be a team.
The best advice in a nutshell that my inquiry drew was from my pal Tressa Oswalt in Columbia. She and Rob have been married for 27 years.
She wrote that the best advice she got on marriage was that she wasn’t married to her “husband”; rather, she was married to Rob, a person, “not a pre-conceived idea called husband.” Understanding this enabled her to let go of some expectations that Rob didn’t even know she had.
My sister-in-law Deborah J. Thompson in Atlanta, married to my big brother Herb for 24 years, wrote so much good stuff that I should just direct you to the article she said she’s going to write on the topic for Crosswalk.com. (Search her name – in a few weeks.)
I’ll share one thing she mentioned, because I love it. Nearly every morning for 24 years, Herb has written her a Note on the Mirror. If one is traveling, he writes an email instead. She has saved every note, and has envelopes full of sticky love notes that mean the world to her.
Some of the magic included humor, of course. My sister Jackie Livingston has been married to Larry for 54 years. She said the magic is in knowing when to keep her mouth shut. Larry does the same.
I asked every responder if I could share their magic and years of commitment, and I wish I could include everyone, because I think it’s good to know that there really are people around us who have defied the statistics for ages.
Here are some highlights:
Marianna and Danny Hooks, 45 years; live each day like it is your last, and say those three little words; Anne and Jeff Bradley, 35, never giving up on the commitment to the marriage; Diana and Ronnie Bourgeois, 27, “we LIKE each other”; Rose and Frank Fotia, 31, being strong when the other is weak; Ronnie and Tena Thompson, 32 years, still saying please and thank you.
Now, why is this togetherness thing on my mind, you ask? It’s because my husband and I are among those celebrating a milestone. At the end of this month, Sept. 29 to be exact, we will celebrate 25 years of wedded adventure.
The magic for us is that we laugh a lot, we are honest with one another, we talk and we listen to one another. We are individuals but we are one, connected at the heart. If we were to live long enough, I could imagine another 25 years of living like this.
I love you, Amos. Happy Anniversary!