By Chris Denning
I was tempted to start with the whole The Princess Bride “Maaaawidge” thing . . . ok, I can’t help myself.
Anyway, to be honest, I’m not the best person to write a post about marriage & divorce. I’ve only been married a lil over 2 years, and I’ve not had any personal experience with divorce.
At the same time, I tend to be an observant person. I learn from watching, from listening, from asking questions. Even more, when I care about being good at something, I pay even closer attention.
I was fortunate to grow up in a house where my parents had a great marriage, still do. I was able to see how marriage could and should be. Not easy, not always fun, but always full of love. I was able to see how marriage takes work, but is always worth it.
I’ve also been fortunate to have great marriages all around me, even today. I see couples who have spent the majority of their lives together, still deeply in love. Couples who have been through great trials together and have come out even closer on the other side.
I’ve also watched some marriages dissolve from afar. Divorce caused by seemingly harmless things like inattention, laziness, or even carelessness. I’ve seen these relationships fall apart not because of some huge dramatic act, while those do still happen, but because the importance of working on a marriage doesn’t occur to them.
That’s the one thing that I’ve personally learned about having a healthy, thriving marriage: it always takes work.
Some of you may be really turned off by that idea or even scared of the idea of punching the clock on a marriage for 50 years. And you’re right, that sounds horrible.
However, that’s not the kind of work I’m talking about. We’re not talking about you driving your 30-minute commute to a job you hate every day of your life, to simply wait out the next 8 hours so that you can go home and dread the next day of work.
No. We’re talking about work that is a labor of love.
Take my friend James, who LOVES classic cars. I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to cars, but James knows them inside and out. Whenever I talk to him about his cars, his eyes light up and he speaks with a joy in his voice.
When James goes to work on his cars, to tune them up or repair them, I doubt he feels like its a huge burden or an obligation he wishes he didn’t have. He’s excited to put in the time to learn more about these cars, to work on them to make them run even better.
The main shift here is moving from a “have to” mentality to a “get to” mentality.
With your marriage, you get to put in the time to learn about your spouse. You get to grow in your ability to communicate. You get to find new ways to express your love to your spouse. You get to learn how to serve them better every day.
You don’t have to, because there’s always divorce, right? With the “have to” mentality, that’s true.
But when you “get to,” you have the privilege and joy to work on your marriage. Make the subtle shift from “have to” to “get to,” and watch the change happen in your marriage.