Transparency is something people desire - real people in their real lives being honest about their dirt. Here is a glimpse into my marriage and how we are beating the odds stacked against us before we ever married. What odds?
For starters, while this is my first marriage, it is my husband’s second marriage. Right away, our marriage is categorized as higher risk.
Another factor that increases our odds of divorce is the fact my husband already had children. To make that increase even higher, they lived with us! Why might that increase the odds of our marriage failing? Numerous articles and personal testimonies talk about adding children to the equation. Learning to adjust to the relationships your spouse has with his/her children and the extended family that were “pre-you” is complicated. Tensions rise when loyalties are questioned and conflict closely follows. Children struggle with the changes that come with their biological parent’s re-marrying, and the separation that naturally occurs with their extended families.
As the parent of the children, learning to value and honor both spouse and children is difficult when a choice has to be made. Someone is going to end up hurt and angry, creating the tension mentioned above. Most cases feel like a lose-lose situation, especially in the early days. We remember those early days well and they are not fond memories, either.
Let’s take a look at a check-list of things that make relationships higher risk for divorce:
ü Previously divorced
ü Having divorced parents (he does, I do not)
ü Parents re-married after divorce (significantly increases divorce rates)
ü Children from prior marriages/relationships
ü Alcohol and/or drug abuse – thankfully we met in recovery
ü Extreme financial difficulties (make less than $50,000/year)
ü Experiencing economic recovery
o Premarital pregnancy
o Marrying at a young age (statistics state marriages before the age of 21 have a higher divorce rate).
o No religious affiliation
ü Age discrepancy of 8 or more years
ü Bi-racial couple
o Either or both smoke
o Either or both drink two or more alcoholic beverages a day (average)
o Either or both have a cancer diagnosis
ü Live in
ü Raising daughters (as opposed to sons)
ü Chronic pain (him)
ü Depression (me)
This list is in no way complete. Active alcohol and drug use, abuse, and infidelity are not mentioned above but those high risk factors certainly increase the odds of a marriage ending in divorce.
It is overwhelming looking at the list above and how many check-marks there are. How are we beating these odds? Some of these odds have significant increase percentages, so high that if we added them together we should have divorced long ago. So what are we doing (and what have we done) to protect our relationship?
Church Home. We are invested in a church family and they invest in us. Having a home church, studies say, decreases the odds of divorce. We have had a church family since before we were married and we see the benefit of having them in our marriage and in the health of our family.
Counseling. Not only pre-marital counseling, but counseling through different times of our marriage. We see counseling getting a bad rap for couples. That it means you are on the verge of divorce. A last ditch effort to save your marriage. We see it entirely differently! We see it as marriage maintenance! Getting a different perspective, creating a safe place to discuss hot topics, and seeking the counsel of another are helpful in working through stressful situations and decisions.
(FPU). We are not joking when we say
FPU likely saved our marriage. Financial
strain and stress is a HIGH divorce factor.
This course, and the people in our class, made a significant impact in
our lives. We consider three of these
couples ones we can share our financial woes without fear of judgment. Having a budget
and talking openly with one another about financial fears is ongoing. Not allowing our finances to determine our
happiness was HUGE! We may be broke but
we are not poor. Peace University
Recovery. For two people who met in Alcoholics Anonymous, we cannot ever afford to forget that we are in recovery. Self-care and accountability are needed and support of the other to keep their own recovery as a priority is needed in our relationship.
Medication. Being willing to seek medical attention for my depression is an ongoing self-care decision. Taking my medication keeps the various hormones and chemicals in my body more balanced and makes daily living easier.
There are some factors we have never had control over, like our parents. We cannot change our age difference, our race, the gender of our children, and where we were born and raised (we can chose what country we live in).
Let’s be honest, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. While we knew what issues we were starting with, well most of them anyway; we did not know what struggles were in our future. None of us do. Being real with one another, other people, is a way we can learn from each other.
We did not know what secrets the other kept, that things from our past would raise their ugly heads and knock us down. We knew we had scars but we did not know how deep those scars went and what healing still needed to happen. We did not know we would need to have emotional and spiritual surgery and re-open wounds we thought had healed.
We did not know the number of fights we would have over money, children, and decisions we were making. We did not know the number of tears that would fall because of the harsh words said by the other. We were two people, two broken people, who were trying to making a whole couple.
In order to make something whole from broken pieces, you need all of the pieces, or at least something to fill the missing area. Once we learned we could not be whole, we learned God could and would fill the broken areas and we could be broken together. The first time I heard the song, “Broken Together,” by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms, I bawled - tears streaming down my face, snot too. It was us. God healed us. God heals us, still. Daily.
So, here we are. Beating the odds, one day at a time; some days are good, some not-so-good, and some are flat out awful, but here we are. We made a commitment to one another and to God. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV) says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” As long as we keep God in the center of our marriage and each of us are willing to put the other before ourselves, to be on each other’s side, each the strongest supporter of the other, praying together and dying to self each day, we will continue to beat the odds that have been stacked against us since before we married.
#BrokenTogether #EgalitarianMarriage #BeatingTheOdds