To me, the American dream means growing up, getting married, having kids, working hard, having a successful life, and retiring with the same person you married when you started out. But it seems like many in America have given up on that dream. Today, the trend seems to be: get married three times, and then divorce four times. Listen, I’ve had my own struggles and failed relationships , but I don’t want that to be the final word.
My grandparents’ generation was not perfect, but their divorce rate was lower than it is today. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we went back to our old roots and did some things like they used to. Would families be stronger? As I look back at their lives, I wonder if these four things were keys to making marriages last.
1. They didn’t date just to date around.
There is no point in dating with no intention of finding a life partner. In that scenario you’re pretty much looking for what you want in the bedroom verses actually falling in love with that person. I guess it’s because I’m ready to start my life and look to the future that I’ve been frustrated with common patterns of dating just to hook up. I’m looking for a relationship and I’m looking to stay in the relationship… not just, “Oh this isn’t new anymore, I’m done.” I still believe, as fellow IBIL writer Lance put it, that “The Old-Fashioned Way of Dating Still Works.”
2. They knew that no relationship is perfect.
A perfect relationship will never exist. It’s something you work at, build upon, and constantly improve. When searching for a spouse, it doesn’t make sense to look for perfection. Instead, find somebody you can work with, compromise with. Because love is never, ever perfect. It’s a process. I once heard author Joyce Meyer say something along the lines of, “If there’s not ten things you can’t stand about your significant other, then you are in it for the wrong reasons…” There will be things you are not going to like. But if you love them you’ll work through it.
3. They didn’t air all their dirty laundry on social media.
A lot of problems with relationships nowadays are made worse by technology. Technology is not the root problem, though—the root of technology being an issue is jealousy and suspicion and drama and posting everything about your life on Facebook. Some things are meant to be kept sacred. If you’re sharing your story to help somebody or give advice that’s different, but otherwise it’s not appropriate to post about arguments between you and your husband or complain publicly about being unhappy in your relationship. Talk to your partner, confide in a close friend, visit a counselor—but don’t overshare on social media.
4. They didn’t give up easily and didn’t believe in divorce.
Marriage is meant to last. It is not meant for divorce. When a relationship is no longer fresh and new anymore is when you really have to push through. But instead of putting effort in to find happiness again, some people just kind of go day by day, acting on impulse. People can be closed-minded, instead of trying to see that things can get better with time and effort. When it gets hard, they run. And if you run your whole life from everything you’re going to get nowhere besides an empty place with no one. You’re eventually going to run out of room to run. So instead of giving up, take care of problems when they arise, as they come. Otherwise they build up in the end like a brick wall.
If someone today would ask me about my ideal relationship I would tell them that I want a loving relationship that is going to last, like they used to. I would also tell them about the relationship I have now and how we are working towards that. Our relationship is far from perfect, but I would not change it for the world. If we get upset with each other we talk it out. If we have worries or concerns we talk about it, and we spend a lot of quality time together. When two people love each other as much as we do you learn to work through your problems because giving up is not an option. I feel that our relationship is different than most relationships I see nowadays because of this attitude about commitment, our friendship, and our communication. But it didn’t happen like this overnight. It took time for us to get to know each other and continue to work together and not give up, and it will take more time for us to learn these lessons even better. Along the way, we’ll look to the past for inspiration.