Price: Staying committed in good and bad times
Take a moment please and envision the worst day you have experienced in the last six months. I promise I won’t make you stay there long, but truly think back to a day you don’t ever want to live through again. Got it? Now ask yourself, how many billions of people on this planet would have traded places with you on that day? Forget the planet, how many residents of San Juan County would have gladly taken your troubles that day and you take theirs?
I’ve got a hunch this perspective will cause you to look at your troubles and concerns in a slightly different light. My point in this column is that our perspective toward, and attitude about, all that happens to us plays a huge role in our overall life satisfaction. And since this is a column devoted to marriage enrichment, the same can obviously be said for your overall satisfaction in marriage.
My wife and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary in December. I often tell couples I coach that, over the span of our marriage, I have considered divorcing her perhaps 12 times. If she is reading this column, she is likely learning this information for the very first time. For though the thought may have come into my mind on occasion, I am happy to say the words have never reached her ears.
On Dec. 28, 1980, I promised to love and be with her "'til death do we part." Perhaps you’ve heard those words before? That promise means I can legally, morally and ethically kill her, but I cannot divorce her. OK, that was a joke, but my point is that married couples must have the attitude they are in their relationship for the long haul. There will be times in any marriage where the spouses do not especially like each other very much. This is a given and in no way does it indicate you married the wrong person.
But, if you’re not careful, you may succumb to your temporary moments of displeasure and end your marriage, which in the big picture will likely turn out to be a massive mistake. So my best advice to couples is to never threaten the long-term view of your marriage. Odds are you will get through the current bout of disagreement and return to harmony and joy. Marriage must be built on a foundation of trust and assurance that each spouse is committed to making it work – no matter what.
Now, I guess I better put in a qualifier that, in my opinion, some divorce is justified when one or both spouses refuse to operate from that foundation. While that does certainly occur, my anecdotal evidence indicates it does not explain the majority of divorces. At least not the ones I see in my mediation practice.
So to help you endure the rough times, and to keep your positive perspective on your day, I share with you a poem I recently read by Chanie Gorkin, a 17-year-old girl from Brooklyn. Please be sure to read it all the way through or you will miss the entire point.
Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the mind and heart
True happiness can be attained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say
Today was a very good day
Now read it from bottom to top, the other way,
And see what I really feel about my day.
Again, there is no doubt that over a life span some days will be way better than others. That’s life – expect it and deal with it. I’m reminded of a song by Allen Sherman in the 1970s titled "Camp Granada." I won’t cite the entire song, but some will remember the beginning line:
“Hello Mudda, hello Faddah, here I am at Camp Granada.”
The writer goes on to relate how camp is a massive bore, and a dangerous place to be. He begs his parents to let him come home and promises to be super good on his arrival.
As he is citing all the horrors of camp life the weather begins to change. The closing paragraph is:
“Wait a minute, it stopped hailing,
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing.
Playing baseball, gee that’s betta,
Mudda Faddah, kindly disregard this letter!”
I hope this friendly reminder will serve to help you stay committed to your spouse and to your marriage through the good and not-so-good times. Your commitment is likely to pay off over the lon- term. And your attitude and perspective will have a profound impact on your level of commitment. One last thought: Last week, our guest columnist offered a free copy of her Gratitude Journal. You can easily download this item and let it serve to remind you of all you have to be thankful for. As you form the habit of looking for and acknowledging the good about your spouse, you will see more of that behavior and less of what you might find objectionable. Not convinced? Why not put it to the test and find out for yourself? You’ll find the journal at jilldaviscoaching.com. Type in NM GratitudeGift to receive it free.
Ron Price is the co-founder and executive director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a nonprofit rganization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners area. He can be reached at 505-327-7870.