This past Sunday, my husband and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary. We didn’t do anything different, or special that day—except we did exchange cards. Then I made him his usual Sunday breakfast while he watched Meet the Press. Afterwards, he turned off the television and headed out to paint his shed.
I washed the dishes and then headed to my keyboard. I’ve just submitted one novel, and have been working hard on the next one.
There were no fireworks, no flowers, no dinners out. Perhaps for some couples, every anniversary is a big deal. I learned long ago that my beloved doesn’t think that way, and really, that’s okay. We did have a huge dinner last year with relatives and friends, and we likely may have a bit of a to-do in nine more years.
This time, though, I think I’ll leave the planning of that event up to my family.
Sometimes, people will ask me how you make a marriage last for so many years. There have been various answers I have given from time to time. I won’t lie to you. Sometimes, if I know the person asking the question really well, I will chose a specific answer I think they need to hear. There really is a lot of work that goes into maintaining a marriage. There is no one magic bullet that will guarantee success. And whatever I do say in response to the question is always true.
Just recently I heard, for the first time, a song by Lee Brice called Love Like Crazy, and the words to that are spot on, too.
But really, I suppose, the best answer I can give to that question—how do you make a marriage last for so long—the most all encompassing answer I can give is quite simple and can be summed up in just two words: don’t quit.
I don’t know how it came to be that quitting seems to be something people do often and well these days. But quitting—unless you’re stopping a bad habit—is nothing more than capitulation. It’s saying “uncle” to whatever it is you’re walking away from. It’s saying that what you have been involved in is too difficult, too complicated, or too much effort for you. That what you’re walking away from is not worth the difficulty, complications or effort.
Quitting, unless it is quitting a bad habit, is in itself the worst habit you can have.
When you first get engaged, and then get married, you’re in a bit of an euphoric state, I think. Everything about your beloved seems wondrous and magical. And then, for most people, as the days and weeks and months and years progress, your relationship changes. Life happens. You have work and worry. You have challenges and crises. You have children! They bring with them a whole boat load of love and a whole new set of problems and pitfalls.
Sometimes, you suffer devastating losses.
You get older and more tired, your youthful glow becomes a middle-aged pallor, and you don’t always hear the violins anymore when you kiss.
In short, life happens, and life molds you, and it molds your love as well.
If you’re lucky, your love adapts and perseveres, maybe not being the candlelight and roses it was at the beginning of your relationship, but becoming what you need it to be, that bond that unites you as two who are one, steadfast together in the company of others. Fearless in the face of fickle fate because you have that one hand to cling to.
But that evolution won’t happen if you quit. So my advice to you, no matter how long you’ve been married, or what challenges you’re facing, is don’t quit.
Diamonds only become diamonds after enduring tremendous pressures without fracturing. Diamond wedding anniversaries are formed exactly the same way.