I was 24 when I got married, which, for the Los Angeles area, is super young.
When we were just a few years into marriage, my husband and I attended a work event of his, and I began chatting with one of his co-workers, a single man in his 40s. The man expressed that he was surprised not only that we’d gotten married so young, but also that we had friends and family back home in Texas who married even younger than that.
“Yeah, but how many of your friends are divorced now?” he asked, assuming that all young marriages must be doomed to fail.
I half-laughed and told him that I didn’t actually know anyone among my peers who were divorced. And at that time, I didn’t.
But apparently I spoke too soon.
One night my husband came back from a dinner with a friend whose wedding we’d attended the year before. “____ and _____ are getting a divorce,” he told me. I was shocked. We’d just gotten together with them recently! We had no idea that they were having problems, and so the news of their separation caught us completely off guard.
Over the next few years, news of break-ups and divorces became more frequent. Acquaintances. Siblings. Best friends. Co-workers. Couples who’d been dating for years and we assumed were about to get engaged. People whose weddings we’d been to, or even been in. Couples we’d had over for dinner, who’d seemed happy in their relationships, who we thought were fighting the good fight of marriage commitment with us too.
When it seems like everyone around you is splitting up, and especially if your marriage is already going through some tougher times, it’s hard not to feel as though your own marriage is hopeless too. There have been times where I’ve wondered if I’m the crazy one for sticking in my marriage, and if maybe those who gave up and moved on from on their relationships were actually somehow right.
But then I look at my husband.
And I think back on the commitment I made to him on our wedding day. I truly made those vows to mean “for better or for worse.” Yes, even the “worse” part. And I was – and am – determined to fulfill that commitment to him. No matter what. No matter if everyone else around me makes different choices in their own marriages and relationships. All I can be responsible for is the choices I make in my own marriage.
I still don’t have all the answers, and I’m still navigating the murky waters of how to handle family and friends’ divorces. But the thing I do know is this: my own marriage will always come first. The decisions others made in their marriages do not have to be the same decisions I make in my own marriage.
I look forward to one day celebrating my 15th, 25th, 50th+ wedding anniversaries with my husband, knowing that we’ll be able to look back on the life that we worked hard at and committed to together. And that no matter what, no matter the choices made by others around us, that we will have stuck by each other’s side through it all.
We’re in this marriage thing for life.