Today is Mike’s and my 38th anniversary. Last year we celebrated our anniversary in St. Maarten, with royal treatment by our friends Ron, Harry, and all of the staff at Joe’s Jewelry. Memories were made there that will always be treasured. This year we are staying closer to home, celebrating with a few days in Myrtle Beach.
The years have passed so quickly. We are not the same people that we were when we said our vows in 1984. Our marriage is not the same. But we are still together, having decided that our commitment is still strong. (An everyday decision!)
When we married we blended our families. Tara and Chatham were 9 and 7 on April 28, 1984. They now have their own families, and since you can do the math, there is no need for me to record their ages! When we married our families united, and we are bound together as a family even tighter thirty-eight years later.
I am glad that marriage was the norm in 1984. I realize that times have changed, but I am glad that we married before it became common to do otherwise. It is not uncommon now for couples to live together, have children together, and still not marry. My intent is not to be judgmental about the choices of others, just to note that for many people, the commitment to marriage is no longer what it once was. I am not questioning whether one’s commitment to a partner without marriage can be strong. I have no experience with that. But I do have experience with marriage.
What makes a marriage work? There are several answers to this, at least in my opinion. The first is commitment. There have certainly been times in these thirty-eight years that walking away was an option. But when I (I can only speak for myself!) considered the family, not just Mike and me, that option was no longer a choice. For this is about more than us individually, and even collectively. It is also about our family.
What about the divorces Mike and I both had before we married? Yes, divorce does happen and happened with us. Since this post is about our commitment to this marriage, I will leave the past where it is.
Other than commitment, what keeps a marriage strong? Shared values. Trust. Honesty. Respect. Good communication. Intimacy. Shared interests. While there may be other variables as well, if any of these are absent, the marriage will not be strong, even if it survives. To be happy and fulfilled with a partner, and to stay committed, requires shared values, trust, honesty, respect, good communication, intimacy, and shared interests. Commitment alone is not enough.
Relationships matter, whatever is their legal distinction. Make yours the best it can be. And this is daily work!