People ask me now and again, what is the key to staying married for the long haul? My parents are about to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary, and it is obvious to anyone who knows them that they are still absolutely in love with each other. What is it about them that has allowed their marriage to go the distance, while at least half of the married population ends up divorced? Is it luck, or something else altogether?
I think that there is one character trait that, if present in both partners, holds the key to marital longevity. It’s actually two traits rolled into one. I believe that the key lies in whether both partners have the courage to be humble with themselves and one another. There simply is no substitute for humility. Pride is a relationship cancer that will ultimately kill it’s prey. Allowing pride and ego to run in relationships will end either in divorce, or an unhappy marriage that stays together “for the kids.” (And if this kind of humility is present in only one partner, it still will very likely end in divorce, by the way.)
I think that all relationships are meant for our learning and growth. What is the lesson? I believe that the lesson we are to learn is to deny our ego and learn humility. Folks are generally pretty realistic about knowing their partners aren’t going to be perfect, and they usually know that they themselves can’t be perfect either. We don’t need perfection in our partners. We need humility. We need our partners to admit when they’ve hurt us and learn and grow in a way that says “I see that I hurt you, I’m sorry, and I don’t want to continue to hurt you. I want to grow and change.” See how much courage and humility it takes to say that to your partner, especially when they hurt you, too? When both partners are doing this, however, in a safe and gentle way, their relationship will thrive.
What if we look at the humility it takes to allow room for more than one opinion, world-view, and way of thinking in a relationship? Guess what guys, you are two individuals, both with unique ideas and values…you see things differently! If your partner doesn’t agree with your point of view, do you have the humility to allow room for their point of view too, or do you get angry, thinking that if they don’t agree with you that they don’t understand or accept you? Can you love and accept the other person, allowing their ideas too, even if they disagree with you?
Need help with this? Please…don’t wait. It is so much harder to turn a marriage around when pride has been infecting it like a cancer for years. If you know that this is what your marriage is suffering from (and if it is suffering, it is…) then come in for some relationship chemo. Humility and grace are wonder drugs that work. Remission is possible, no matter what. Choices can always be made to be humble, if you have the courage to do so.
Healing Hearts provides counseling services to the surrounding communities of Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, Westfield, Noblesville, and Geist. E-Counseling is available for residents of Indiana. Call or text today to set up your appointment. 317-218-3038
© 2015 Nancy Eisenman, MSW, LSW