My husband Michael and I have been married for 32 years, which seems impossible because I don’t feel I’m 32 years old yet.
But when your baby gets married and then does something astounding, like have a child of his own, it’s tough to deny you’ve got some years behind you.
I’m in the midst of promoting my new book, Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage, and often hosts of the several radio interviews I’m doing daily will ask why people should stick it out through tough times.
Part of my answer is…Julia Rose. That’s the name of my new…tough to say it…granddaughter. Now, you can say that plenty of divorced people have grandchildren, and I’m sure they’re as tickled as I am with their sweet little offspring. But nobody can share the joy of this new little person better than the partner whose commitment and constancy brought you to this point together.
Together, couples who have lasted a generation share a special bond, because they continue to form the basis and model for their child’s parenting–which is the parenting they accomplished together, whether imperfectly or not. The mere fact that they–we–now look at each other incredulously, realizing we were instrumental in the existence of a new family, is a reward directly derived from our tenacity.
We made it this far as a team, and that is gratifying in a way that validates and confirms the joys and difficulties we’ve experienced.
When couples are angry, disgusted, bored and betrayed, they look at the “greener grass” as enticing, with two erroneous assumptions: that they’ll find a much better romantic partner, and that the problems they’re now mired in will be over if they just end the marriage.
Well, my divorced psychology clients told me that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find…another bunch of frogs. When you come to a second marriage, you’re carrying with you all the “baggage” that makes joining with you complex–relationships with children, financial complications, professional expectations–and then you have to agreeably mesh all that with the same or more baggage lugged by a potential partner. Not so easy, especially because older and “wiser” divorcees tend to be pickier about who they choose. They don’t want to blithely slip into another flawed relationship.
As far as solving the problems plaguing the marriage, perhaps some bugaboos will be removed–usually replaced with a raft of new problems if children are involved. You can never divorce the other parent of your children, who you might have to see several times a week if you share custody. And if your kids are grown, you’ll always have those awkward family occasions where the kids will have to choose between you. Christmas at Mom’s and Thanksgiving at Dad’s? Both of you walking your bride down the aisle? And the complications with blended families radiate out from there.
When the blessed event of a grandchild happens, rather than sharing those moments with her together, you’ll take turns (if things are amicable). Or perhaps one or the other grandparent will end up more of a ghost figure, removed from the scene.
After staying together 32 years, my husband and I have a lot of happy memories (most captured by my incessant photo-taking) and a few tough times and trials. But that’s brought us an unshakeable bond and a deep satisfaction that can only be created via endurance and time. That’s how you fashion a soul-mate, which research shows is the number one desire Millenials have for their marriages.
A traditional Jewish blessing for a new couple is that they live to see and enjoy their grandchildren. That’s wonderful in itself, but the blessing is in enjoying them together.