Very frequently, I am asked by individuals, couples, even the press, “what makes a marriage last?” I chuckle a little because the answer is so simple (simple is NOT the same as easy).
But before I tell you the secret, I am aware that we are quickly approaching Valentine’s Day. At least in the United States, this holiday has become a retailer’s dream (and many an individual’s nightmare!). We have woven this whole ideal of romance into the fabric of this day.
Do you know who Valentine was? The facts are a little sketchy, but the theory is that it started with a Roman celebration where a lottery was held, matching girls and boys together for the duration of the celebration. Some of these became marriages. That celebration was, evidently, around mid-February, probably on the 14th.
Then enter Emperor Claudius. Claudius outlawed marriage, so that the young men eligible to be soldiers would not be encumbered by marriage. But a Catholic priest, Valentine, continued to perform marriages. He defied the emperor to honor love.
This led to his imprisonment and beheading. So his martyrdom was celebrated on February 14th, partly to overtake the Pagan celebration by honoring love in Christian terms.
Valentine was quite the counter-cultural! He refused to allow an emperor to prevent the union of two people who wanted to be together. And we have managed to bring back only the romantic, sexualized nature of relationships in our current celebrations!
So, that is the apparent history of Valentine’s Day, which leads me to the secret of a lasting marriage. You see, we have taken this holiday and made romance the cake, not the icing on the cake.
The secret to a lasting marriage? Two people who choose to stay married. That’s it. Marriages that last don’t necessarily have less conflict, more sex, more money, less anger, or anything else we assume. Marriages that last do so because each person makes a daily decision to stay married.
The commitment to the marriage, then, is the cake! From that commitment, a couple decides to work through difficulties. And since there is a commitment, a couple realizes they must come to some solution to the problems that arise in any marriage. Their solution just does not involve dissolution of the marriage!
When there is commitment, the cake, then romance really is the icing on the cake! It is not that romance and romantic feelings are unimportant. They just should not lead us into believing that their absence means a marriage is over.
Every marriage, successful or not, has times when passion wanes. That is the natural pattern of relationships. But those that share a commitment end up carrying the day when the passion is not the glue of the relationship.
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, and commit to commitment in your marriage!
If you need tools to help you get to the icing on the cake, grab my ebook!
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