A husband and relationship coach looks back at the first 10 years of marriage and what made it work.
I look at my friends (Facebook and otherwise), peers, colleagues and I'm hard pressed to find people in my life that I can share my 10th wedding anniversary with that know what it means to reach this milestone. If I look at the same group, where are my mentors, the people who have been beyond 10 years, the ones I can learn from along the way? I realize my wife and I have primarily been alone in this. Perhaps WE are the mentors, maybe we have something to offer. Here are some thoughts.
First, I got to thinking, why does 10 years matter?
It matters because it's ridiculous!
Given the structures available and commonly utilized for successful marriages and the challenges that took place over our first 10 years, it's incredible we or anyone else get here. We've lived in busy cities where people primarily keep to themselves, their demanding jobs and social lives. Our parents didn't live nearby. We weren't a part of a spiritual community. Our incomes were never enough to take amazing care of ourselves, we had growing debt and we threw children into that set of insufficient structures for success. It all makes little sense on the surface and we had the perfect conditions for a big ball of stress. Just the set of circumstances that will make the modern divorce a ripe possibility.
What were our assets? Love is an asset, but over 10 years love must grow. There's no way it will look the same at the outset of the relationship as it will look 10 years later. Don't even think about it. We hear phrases like “the magic is gone” and that's true, if we relate to magic as one trick that we expect to deliver over and over again. One trick gets boring. Love must evolve. As the commitments within our marriage became more clear, like raising children, owning a home, becoming a contributing part of each other's families and other scary things that come along, we had to love who we could be for one another.
Love evolves from “you complete me”, which is momentary and relieving to “together, our love of each other will always get us through.” Not so romantic, perhaps, unless you romanticize being committed to something greater than yourself. This is what any marriage that lasts 10 years must become, where we surrender to our commitments and know we need each other to succeed. This is the only way to become pillars of our professions, parents, homeowners, household accountants, personal health administrators, eventual retirees and grandparents and keep the relationship intact with our modern standard of needing to be in love that we need to keep us in our marriages.
It's those commitments that forced us to learn more about each other and to support each other in who we needed to become so we could take them on honestly, as a team. Just a few generations ago, being in love was not necessary to keep a marriage together. Men had their team and women had theirs. We lived near our childhood friends and families and became members of clubs and groups designed to support us in making our lives work.
Not any more!
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