This is a fantastic guest post by Rebecca Woods, a published writer! Her brother is my godfather and my dad’s lifelong best friend. You all should go google “Living Through Charlie” and buy it! And google her blog. It’s pretty darn cool. I’m honored to have her as a guest blogger.
This Friday, Melissa White (whom I have known since before she was born,) is getting married. She has asked me to write a guest post for her blog while she gets her nails done, practices aisle walking and whatever the hell else girls do in the few days before their weddings. Fortunately for Melissa, I love, love, love weddings and giving unsolicited advice so I’m super excited to write this post!
I married my husband Bill on July 29, 1984. Although 1984 was a regrettable year for fashion, it seems to have been a fine year in which to have gotten married. And July 29 is evidently an awesome day to get married. I share a wedding anniversary with such notably happy couples as Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, and Pamela Anderson and one of the dudes she married. What are some of the things that have kept Bill and me together for twenty eight years? One reason that we’re still together is that we haven’t gotten divorced. Unsolicited tip number one—stay married by not entertaining other options.
(First, a caveat for the random reader- if you are in some sort of self-destructive, hellish marriage, for God’s sake stop reading this blog and see a professional! I’m not advising you, I’m advising Melissa anyway.) I have been the wedding coordinator at my church for the last six years (times three weddings per month, times twelve months per year, times six years—you do the math, ‘cause you’re a math teacher and all) so I pretty much have the ceremony memorized. At the risk of revealing a matrimonial secret, the priest gives the same homily at every wedding. One of the best lines in it refers to the times when the bride and groom will hurt each other, not if. Because you will hurt each other. You will fight and you will argue and sometimes you will hate your husband’s guts and wonder how cereal can possibly make that much noise while it’s being chewed and you will want to beat your husband with the spoon he’s using to shovel it into his mouth because his chewing is drowning out the sound of your soul. Okay, maybe that last thing only pertains to me. But stay. Work it out. Take the option of divorce off the table. Keep that table clear so there’s room for better options. Use those. But 50% of all marriages end in divorce, right? Divorce is a really common and accessible out. Well, yes and no. Divorce is common and accessible but that 50% statistic is kind of inaccurate. You’re a math chick, you should appreciate this—in your demographic, you actually have a better than 80% chance of staying married!
The reason we’ve all heard that 50% of all marriages end in divorce is because a lot of the people that get married are idiots and they bring the average down. When you add everyone’s marriages together including teenagers, Dr. Phil guests and Kim Kardashian, then divide or multiply or whatever you math teachers do, you get 50%. But for a college graduate, over the age of 25, getting married for the first time, who has an already established source of independent income (sound like anyone you know?) the divorce rate isn’t 50%, it’s 20%. And the other good news is that the divorce rate has been on its way down since 1980 and continues to fall. So if you have an 80% chance of succeeding now and your chances are increasing every day, those are some really good odds! It’s also a really good thing to tell someone when they tell you that half of all marriages end in divorce. Because they don’t.
What if Mat’s a totally different person in a few years? He will be. He should be. You should be too. I don’t know why anyone is surprised when his/her spouse changes over the course of a marriage. Being married doesn’t freeze time (insert obvious joke here) and a person who doesn’t continue to grow and learn wouldn’t be all that much fun to be married to. I would even argue that you don’t have to change in the same directions, just “complimentary” ones. Learn new things, pursue your interests, fulfill your dreams, pick up weird hobbies. Don’t be afraid to be alone and explore things on your own. Boring people have boring marriages- come on, you know who they are. Don’t be boring. If you keep developing as an individual, you will strengthen your bond as a couple.
So, what did we learn? Change but stay married and the odds are in your favor even though you will hurt each other. This is not the kind of advice you’ll find in Cosmo, The Secret, The 17 Day Diet or any other publications the cool girls read but it’s worked for me. I wish you many, many years of happiness with the least amount of hurt and loud cereal chewing possible! Congratulations!