This month of August I celebrated my fifteenth wedding anniversary.
Unlike Prince Humperdinck and Princess Buttercup, we actually said "I do" to make our marriage official in front of family & friends on a beautiful Seattle summer day. We were so busy leading up to it that I forgot to get a haircut.
A modern myth that simply won't die, at least in the United States, is that half of all marriages end in divorce. It might surprise you to know that the divorce rate has been going down since it peaked among those who were married in the 1980's.
There are many reasons why this is the case: people are getting married later in life, birth control, evolving gender roles, socioeconomic trends, and fewer people are getting married. Assuming more of these couples aren't getting coerced into unhappy marriages, then the trend makes sense. So let's put this particular myth into proper context – half of all marriages aren't doomed.
For those of you out there getting married or celebrating an anniversary, I'd like to share the following lessons we have learned to stay happily married for 15 years and counting.
- FOCUS: Focus on each other; other people's opinions and desires ultimately don't matter. This includes your parents, other family members, and friends. Do what's best for the two of you. (I got this piece of advice from my dad on my wedding day.)
- PRIORITY: A good marriage takes effort. Make it a priority do the hard work to make it better and stronger. You can never take it for granted. I realized that if I was willing to work long, hard hours at work for extended periods of time in pursuit of developing a long-term career, I better be willing to work just as hard on my marriage if I wanted it to be healthy and fulfilling.
- PERSPECTIVE: Don't assume that what the other person is doing or has done is due to malicious intent. Often it's simply because they forgot, they were tired, or some other simple thing. Until you know for sure, don't assume that they are out to get you. Assume they have your best interests at heart. And for the little annoying things? Learn to let them go. It's not worth it.
I'm not saying we've found that one weird trick or that we're anywhere close to being perfect, but each of these three things have made a huge difference in our lives. As we both got older, we learned to grow together, and we are all the happier for it.