This is not a post on gay marriage (I'm pro), or the stability of the institution of marriage, or anything controversial at all. I am currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert's new book Commitment, and it got me thinking about my own marital situation, and I simply felt like expounding upon my thoughts for awhile.
My husband and I married young, quickly, and against a lot of people's advice. When I think about our situation, and compare our relationship to other's who married under similar circumstances, I realize...wow. We probably should have split up a long time ago. We were pregnant with kid #1, his parents were - unpleased. Mine weren't so thrilled either. He had just finished college, I hadn't even finished yet. We had little money, were only together for 3 months at the time we got engaged. Different backgrounds, different ideas about family and religion...you get the picture.
Here we are 13 years later. I've seen others divorce and remarry...and we stay strong. We fight, disagree about a lot, still have different ideas and opinions. And yet...
In her book, Gilbert, having endured a painful divorce, is in a position where she has to marry her lover, or lose him forever. She spends the next year exploring marriage as an institution, and learning as much as she can about why people marry, and how they stay together. I'm only 3 chapters in, so I can't tell you much more about the book, but it made me think...why, when so many others in our situation would have given up years ago, have my husband and I stayed together? What have I known all through these 13 years, that this 30-something year old, educated and well-traveled woman has not managed to learn?
And honestly, it did not take a lot of thought. The answer was pretty freaking easy. Because it isn't just love. You can love someone from the depths of your soul, and not be able to live with them. The answer is...adaptability. We have both been growing and changing as people. We have had two kids. Moved to another state. Dealt with financial ups and downs, as well as vastly different financial sensibilities. We've weathered these changes by adapting the ways we deal with each other and the situations. He tends to be rather arrogant, judgmental, and pig-headed. I tend to be flighty, irresponsible, and very messy. And we have certainly gone to bed mad. That whole "don't go to bed mad" is just dumb advice. There have been nights we would never have gotten any sleep...not to mention, sometimes sleeping on it is just the right medicine for the argument. See? Adapting.
Anyway, the point is...we've continued to learn, grow, and roll with the punches. We don't expect the other to read our respective minds, and we talk. A lot. And this couple, who was given 6 months from the onset by close friends and family, is happily working on their 14th year together.