M arriage, like any relationship with another fully-grown human being, is not easy. It takes a lot of deliberate work to maintain it. Notice the phrase, “deliberate work”, because nothing automatically falls into place. You don’t just fall out of love, or develop separate interests in marriage overnight. You get there deliberately and gradually. You become indolent and naturally grow apart as you develop separate lives that do not include a future with the other. It’s unwise to plant a garden and rely on the rain to water it, and not even remove the weed from time to time. In their most recent marriage and divorce report, Stats SA found that 4 in 10 marriages in SA end in divorce before the 10th anniversary. And this is for reasons most of-which could have been avoided.
While indications of separation are often highlighted in many discussions across various platforms, the discussion behind the beauty of marriage and the many reasons to stay are rarely highlighted. There are so many reasons to hold on to the marriage commitment, and here we briefly discuss only a few.
Your marriage vows
On your wedding day you entered into a covenant that was sealed by binding promises in the form of vows, commitments, public declarations and agreements as a way of pledging your allegiance. Through those solemn promises, you created a healthy soul tie with your spouse, one that will adversely affect you should you choose to break it for whatever reason. Unlike a mere contract which is simply kept by doing something if or as long as your partner does their part, vows are kept by doing something whether your spouse does their part or not. Vows are covenantal, and are sacredly kept for better or worse.
Your history together
You and your spouse have been through ups and downs together, and the time spent together has created a wealthy bond that is simply irreplaceable with another person. The value in the history that has been created has made you and your spouse the people you are today. It’s important to keep that bond intact. Throwing it away is like flushing a critical part of your life down the drain. And what will you be left with? Isn’t it wiser to use the life lessons you’ve learnt through your life experience in marriage by improving your relationship with the very person you’ve had those experiences with, instead of seeking a new person – with their own unique set of flaws – to invest all that wealth of wisdom to?
Your familiarity and intimacy
There was a time you couldn’t get your hands off each other. Your mind at one point was occupied by your spouse and was often led to do lots of wonderful things for one another. In that process you cemented a lot of intimacy and deeply-rooted soul ties. In addition, you’ve had years now to discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses because you are familiar with each other. The likelihood of someone else knowing a lot of these things is slim to none. There is a certain intimacy that familiarity of each other has created that is so powerful, and because of this it creates a bond that is hard to break.
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
Marriage is for better or worse. It’s important for each spouse to understand and accept the fact that there will be good times, as well as bad times. To hold such high, unrealistic expectations upon getting married that everything will be great and then subsequently watching those expectations crash down around you is no one’s fault but your own. Ask yourself whether the good times outweigh the bad. Make a conscious effort to make the marriage work by seeking help in whatever positive way you can.
We are firm believers that you shouldn’t stay in a miserable marriage simply and merely for the sake of children. However, the responsibility of giving your children a safe, loving, understanding and complete family falls onto your shoulders as soon as you bring them into the world. Even with differences that may arise during the marriage, it’s important to model to your children what commitment, love and compromise in marriage is all about. Unless their emotional and physical safety is threatened, the two of you owe it to your children to be matured and adult enough to cultivate a healthy marriage for your own sake and the benefit of the children. By cultivating a safe environment in marriage for your children to thrive, you would have also saved this country of another possible social ill like school dropout, fatherlessness, crime, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency and others. Until love is sacrificial, it isn’t love. And until you understand marriage to be bigger than your selfishness, you won’t last even on your next one.
One of the greatest accomplishments in life comes from overcoming great challenges. Marriage is challenging in itself, but when you throw in the curve-balls life decides to throw along the way, it only adds to the challenge. The satisfaction and sense of accomplishment upon making the marriage work despite those challenges is both rewarding and creates a sense of triumph.
There is much truth to this statement because it’s the similarities and differences between you as a couple that brought you together in the first place. It’s those differences and how you both decide to work through them and overcome them that make you that much stronger as a couple. Choose to work together through those differences, rather than letting them create a thorn between you. Never try to make each other into copies of one another by demanding that the other changes their personality and the essence of who they are to suit the other. An extremely boring marriage is one where you’re both similar in every way. Trust us, you don’t want that.
Acceptance for Flaws
Your spouse is not perfect, and neither are you. You both are not strangers to each other’s flaws. Everyone has flaws and if you were to jump ship from your marriage, the next person you meet will have their own flaws. You are already familiar with your spouse’s flaws, so why would you put yourself through learning and possibly accepting new flaws in someone else?
Work with the person you have, and love the one you’re with.
Mo & Phindi are authors, professional relationship coaches, print media columnists and radio contributors. They have been married for 14 years, with three children.