Last Thursday, Carla and I celebrated our 5th year anniversary. It’s been five years, filled with so many memories that our single lives feel like separate lifetimes.
After five years, all we can say is that what everyone says is the secret of a healthy marriage is true. And I’m not basing this on our marriage only. We’ve only been married five years after all. But this secret is what EVERY happily married couple has said in one way or another.
But before that, I read something interesting. This article compiled the data produced by a study done on over 3,000 couples in the U.S. in an attempt “to determine the factors that predicted divorce.”
I was surprised to see that in some areas, our marriage was in the “less likely to divorce” zone – we had a big wedding, we go to church regularly, and we went on a honeymoon.
On the other hand, there were a number of areas where we were in the “more likely to divorce” zone – we dated for less than a year before I proposed, we had a big, expensive wedding (most of it was sponsored), our household income was the lowest bracket in the study (though we are in the Philippines), and looks are definitely important in our marriage since, and it’s amazing how Carla’s gotten more beautiful every year, while I…
So while the study helps, it doesn’t give the most important factor.
And the secret to a lasting marriage is this: if both of you are willing to love your spouse more than yourself, you’ll make it. That’s it. For us, we can do this because Jesus loves us so much that we are able to pass that love on. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s true: our marriage lasts coz Jesus is at the center.
There are trends. There are studies. There are best practices. There are tips and tricks.
But at the end of the day, the only important question is: are you willing to love that person more than yourself and is he/she willing to do the same?
Some people counsel a minimum dating period. We know a happily married couple who got engaged three days after they met.
Some people advise both partners to work; some say only the man should work. But there are great examples for both sides.
Some people say you should have been friends for years before you get engaged. I know people who’ve done that, I know people who haven’t.
Because the most important factor isn’t any of those things. It’s that question: Are you willing to love that person more than you love yourself? And is that person willing to do the same?
DIsclaimer #1: I’m not saying the study is wrong. In fact, it makes many good points.
Disclaimer #2: I would say our friends who got engaged after three days are exceptions to the rule. So don’t go quoting me or using them as example to do something stupid.