Is it noble to stick it out in a hard marriage?

If two people make it to their 50 wedding anniversary, is that accomplishment honorable and noble?

My grandma and grandpa Flanders meet in the 1940s. They were married on December 20, 1944 when Grandpa was home on leave for two weeks. A few days after their wedding Grandpa left again with the Navy to continue his service. By the time I came into the picture they were in their late 60s. I saw them traveled all over the Western states on their motorcycles. When road tripping on their motorcycle became too difficult, they began cruising around in their motor-home. When I was in my late 20s, I’d drive up to their house and record them telling stories about their lives. Grandma did most of the talking, and Grandpa would sit and watch her like a little school boy who couldn’t take his eyes off a pretty girl.

Grandma passed in her home on the 18th of August from cancer that was discovered three months earlier. Grandpa passed away 61 days later on the 22 of October from a broken heart. If someone suggested to me that their ability to remain married for 61 years was anything but honorable and noble, I would be deeply offended.

Growing up, I listened to my Dad listening to The Bickersons. The Bickerson is a radio comedy sketch that began in 1946 airing for nearly five years on CBS. Their marriage of Blanche and John was a skillful dance of clever rhetoric arguments. [ The Bickersons, Tonsils and Blanche Learns to Drive. ]

Blanche: You used to be so considerate. Since you got married to me you haven’t got any sympathy at all.
John: I have, too. I’ve got everybody’s sympathy.
Blanche: Believe me, there’s better fish in the ocean than the one I caught.
John: There’s better bait, too.
Blanche: I don’t see how you can go to bed without kissing me good night.
John: I can do it.
Blanche: You’d better say you’re sorry for that, John.
John: Okay, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
Blanche: You are not.
John: I am too. I’m the sorriest man that was ever born.

If two people make it to their 50 wedding anniversary, is that accomplishment honorable and noble?

If two people cross 50 years of marriage milestone together, isn’t that noteworthy? Is it nobel if people stay together and hate each other for 50 years?

Some people suggest that going through hard times is what makes a marriage stronger. Getting so close to divorce but still remaing together can make your marriage stronger, can’t it? It can, but the marriage doesn’t get stronger because their marriage was hard, a marraige gets better because two people are willing to honestly look at what’s going wrong in the marriage and deal with that. Coming to the cliff of divorce can pressure the marriage and the individuals in the marriage to take an honest look at their role and responsilibity for the condition of the marriage, but standing on the cliff won’t impove the marriage. Being on that threshold can be a gift if you are willing to be honest with yourself and then deal with that truth.

Now, you’ve listened to me, and I know what you’re thinking: She has a French accent, she must be pro-affair. (Laughter)

So, you’re wrong. I am not French. (Laughter) (Applause) And I’m not pro-affair. But because I think that good can come out of an affair, I have often been asked this very strange question: Would I ever recommend it? Now, I would no more recommend you have an affair than I would recommend you have cancer, and yet we know that people who have been ill often talk about how their illness has yielded them a new perspective. The main question that I’ve been asked since I arrived at this conference when I said I would talk about infidelity is, for or against? I said, “Yes.” (Laughter) 

I look at affairs from a dual perspective: hurt and betrayal on one side, growth and self-discovery on the other — what it did to you, and what it meant for me. And so when a couple comes to me in the aftermath of an affair that has been revealed, I will often tell them this: Today in the West, most of us are going to have two or three relationships or marriages, and some of us are going to do it with the same person. Your first marriage is over. Would you like to create a second one together?

If you want a better marriage, then you must be willing to walk the path of self-discovery and and growth. That path, those it sounds all mystical and zen like, can be a rather difficult and painful one. It takes courage to be honest with yourself about how you are getting in the way of creating a better marriage. It’s so much easier to simply look at your spouse and talk about how they are getting in the way of creating a better marriage. You also have to be honest with yourself about your marriage. How many times have couples posted on social media photos of their spouse and talked about their wonderful marriage, as though convincing the social world will somehow convince them that their toxic marriage is great.

The one thing that stands in the way of creating a great marriage is the dependency for validation and reinforcement. Our inability to move forward without receiving validation and reinforcement from others prevents us from creating and experiencing meaningful relationships. A strong sense of self is the ability to manage your sense of self rather than pressuring others to.

Self-discovery, self-honesty, and self-confrontation can be painful, but traveling that path is noble and honorable…even if that prevents you from making it to your 50th wedding anniversary.

May 23, 2020

Time Writing: 1 hour

Total time writing on this blog: 238 hours