I heard someone on the radio the other day having a discussion about what makes a marriage last, and it seems to me that the discussion missed a major point. I believe that people mostly stay married for a long time because they went into the marriage with that intent.
I have a lot of friends and family members who have gotten divorced, and, in almost every case, the news that their marriage didn't work out makes me sad. Sometimes, the breakup was probably for the best, but I can't help but wonder whether they understood that part of wedding ceremony about "in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, as long as you both shall live." Of course, no marriage comes to an end in a vacuum, but some couples seem to want to get out of wedlock and on with the next relationship if their marriage turns out to be more difficult than they expected.
And marriage can be difficult. I knew that from a young age. Although my own parents stayed happily married all of their lives, my aunts, uncles and cousins didn't fair as well. I thought maybe it was because they had gotten married too young, but that's probably oversimplistic.
All of my sisters got married (and stayed married) as teenagers, but I didn't. In fact, I stayed unmarried for so many years that I'm sure some of my relatives began to question whether I was asexual or homosexual or just not trying hard enough. Certainly, a part of my extended bachelorhood was my own doing. Unlike my sisters, I didn't want to be married as a teenager.
I also discovered that I didn't want to be married for most of my twenties. I was too busy pursuing a career and enjoying the single life. I went where I wanted to, when I wanted to, and didn't have to explain my whereabouts to anyone. For example, on one vacation, I attended four sporting events in four different cities within a week's time. I didn't know any married people who did that.
I also believed (incorrectly) that I couldn't just drop everything and move across the country or across the world to take advantage of a great job opportunity if I was saddled with a wife and family. But, as things happen, I matured somewhat as I got older.
In my late twenties, I began to think that marriage wouldn't be such a bad thing. I began accepting the invitations of friends who tried to set me up with what they thought was just the "right" person for me. And, just like in the movies, my friends mostly didn't have a clue as to what I was looking for.
I went out with an absolutely gorgeous young blonde woman who turned out to be perhaps the dumbest person I had ever met. I don't know what she thought of me. In fact, I don't know if she was actually capable of forming a coherent thought, but I knew I couldn't have a relationship with someone who didn't engage me on more than a physical level.
I also went out with a divorced woman, who had a couple of kids. She was nice enough, but she smoked and I didn't. Plus, I didn't want an instant family. There was the overly aggressive co-worker who pursued me until I moved to another town. And there was the time that I developed a serious infatuation with a girl who ended up not liking me much at all. I turned 31 years of age without many prospects.
Then one day, I got a call from my friend, Lesa -- who wasn't trying to set me up. A friend of hers needed the answer to a trivia question, and Lesa knew that I could answer it. She told me to call her friend with the answer. I resisted, but eventually made the call and made sure that I acted like a complete ass.
We ended up talking for hours and hours. We ended up meeting. We ended up married.
And when I married my wife, it was because she was truly the first person I met who I could imagine spending the rest of my life with. That was my intention when I got married. I remember arguing with a friend that I would never sign a pre-nuptial agreement because it wouldn't be necessary. When one gets married, one stays married. At least, I have. It's not always been easy, but it's always been worth the effort.