There are so many couples that I admire because their relationship has withstood the test of time. I have worked with so many who at the end of their lives are still together, loving and enduring all the hardships life has given them. Some stories have greatly impacted me and made me reflect on my own actions and marriage. One example is the elderly man who moved into the Assisted Living Facility where his wife resided in order to be with her daily. His wife resided in the Alzheimer’s unit due to advanced dementia. I spent a significant amount of time with this man and was so touched by the tenderness in his voice whenever he spoke about times past and dancing with his best friend. I held back the tears during the conversation, but for some time thereafter reflected on that kind of love. Do my husband and I share that kind of love? Would I willing to sacrifice myself in that way to care for him? Will I look back at our years together with tenderness?
So many marriages are hurting today. They are struggling with selfishness, infidelity, addictions, lack of compassion, lack of communication, and many others. So many feel their situation is hopeless and helpless and that their marriage will never get better. Perhaps they are comparing their relationship to others around them that appear to have it together or perhaps they are still pining over a past love. Whatever the reason divorce is rampant and with divorce comes destruction and the death of the family unit.
Because divorce is so rampant, many minimize its effect. Marriage is a vow couples make before God and man to stay together through the good and bad times. I am by no means minimizing the difficulties that take place in marriage. I am stating that so many marriages could avoid divorce if the partners in the marriage took their vows seriously and not enter marriage thinking “well if it doesn’t work out there is always divorce.” This is the very example many of us have lived. I personally come from a home where my mother has been married three times and my father four. In my own family divorce is rampant, most of my siblings have been married multiple times. This is reality, but is this the legacy I want my children to know? Do I want my children to under value the sanctity of marriage or see it as some type of contract that has loopholes? Do I want my children to fear the possibility that theirs will be a broken home? The answer of course is no, but how do I leave a positive legacy?
I have had many difficulties in my own marriage and can personally attest that the example given to me by my own parents has been less than favorable. I came into marriage with my own misconceptions and jaded thoughts. Mine was by no means a “Beaver Cleaver” home. I grew up in a home full of adultery, pornography, fighting and even some physical abuse. My parents continue to remain married until this day. I often times visit them and try my best to show them love, but I often wonder if staying married was the best choice for them?
So back to the question, how do I leave a positive marriage legacy for my children? None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, but it is in the midst of the mistakes and the conflicts that we have to make the decision that divorce is simply not the answer. Working through difficulties with respect is crucial in demonstrating to your spouse that this is a relationship that they can count on. When that happens your children will see the example and live trusting that even in the midst of difficult times mom and dad will never quit on their marriage or them. Sticking it out even when times are hard, and mutually thinking about your spouse’s needs before your own is the way to preserve love and kill the enemy of marriage, selfishness.
Please look at this video by Dr. Gary Chapman, titled Leaving a Positive Marriage Legacy.