Recently I have talked a bit about the fact that I’m currently at the tail end of a divorce that has been brewing since late 2012.
Although I am not someone who will ever “celebrate” a divorce, having it finalized will be relief. It will allow me to finally close the door on one chapter of my life (well, as much as you can when kids are involved), and truly start defining my new future.
My marriage may have turned out differently than I expected, but that doesn’t change how I think of love. I still believe in marriage. I still believe two people can allow time to deepen the bond between them, instead of letting it pull them apart. I still believe you can achieve “forever” with someone, and have that forever be a beautiful thing; where you are actively choosing your partner each and every day. I still believe it’s possible to one day be part of a couple who after decades together can walk hand in hand, still very much in love with each other.
Any longtime readers will know I’m a big believer in continuous improvement. No matter what happens to you in life, to me it’s important to take situations and try to learn from them. To look at what you may have done right, or wrong, and how you can try to improve for a better future.
I would like to think I have learned, and grown from my experiences. So maybe that learning will prepare me for the future I want.
Then I look at the numbers.
For marriage in North America the divorce rates are as follows:
- First marriage – 50%
- Second marriage – 67%
- Third marriage – 73%
Are those number accurate? Who knows.
When looking at divorce stats sometimes I see those numbers and sometimes I find different ones. I don’t think the accuracy of the numbers is as important as the trends they show. And in every set of number I have seen the trend is the same – as the number of marriages increases so does the frequency of divorce.
Statistically at least, it looks like your first marriage is actually your best shot at “forever”. And if that’s true, maybe people DON’T actually learn.
I think that’s a pretty scary thought.
An even scarier thought is, maybe people do learn.
Maybe they are learning, about their own boundaries and about the things they will not put up with in the future.
But if learning that means the failure rate actually increases with subsequent marriages, then what does that tell you about long term relationships?
At that point, why bother?
Do we just need to accept that relationships are fleeting? That we will only have a few good years together and then things will invariably go to shit?
Personally, I can’t accept that.
I don’t really care what the stats say. Maybe it’s the exception to the rule, but I believe it’s possible to hit 20, 30, 40+ years with someone and STILL be in love with them. To wake up every day and actively choose each other (alright, maybe not *every* day, but most of them). To accept each other for who we actually are, flaws and all, instead of focusing on what we are not.
Will it happen for me?
Honestly, I don’t know.
But I believe it CAN.
I also think believing gives me the best chance.
Here’s the truth – there are NO guarantees in life.
And maybe that’s alright.
Maybe one of the keys to lasting 40-50 years is not necessarily caring if you hit 40-50 years.
Wanting to, sure. As I think that’s an important part of commitment. Plus you need to have a sense of where you want get to in order to actually get there.
It doesn’t just happen though, and you won’t actually get there if you don’t put in consistent effort.
Really, what actually matters?
The past can and should be a learning tool, but beyond that it doesn’t matter. It’s already happened.
The future gives you goals and things to work towards, but it’s not guaranteed.
All you really have is today.
So what really matters is how you treat each other today.
Are you making time for each other, even when life is busy? Are you trying to listen to and understand each other?
Do you understand your partners needs and wants in life, and are they a priority to you? Do you feel like you are a priority to them? If either of those are a no, what are you doing about it?
Do you set goals together, and try to share in each other’s victories and support each other through challenges?
Are you actively choosing them, each and every day? And not just on the days when things are easy? If so, do they know it?
Things happen. People change. The future is never certain.
But I would like to think if we actively choose each other and make each other a priority each and every day, then we always have a great chance at tomorrow.
And maybe that’s all we can really ask.
After all, 40-50 years is really just a whole heck of a lot of tomorrows.