Lessons Learned From Marriage and Divorce

All relationships involve sacrifice. That includes putting up with some things that annoy or offend us. This is true no matter how great the other person might be. Because no matter how good someone is, they’re not perfect.

When you get married you inevitably join yourself to someone who has a different inner constitution from yours. You married someone who thinks differently from you in many ways. There are certain compatibilities too, but if the differences aren’t complimentary they’ll likely become major obstacles. You won’t be able to change your partner and they won’t be able to change you.

In any relationship it takes many years to really know someone. Even then, you still won’t know the person as well as you think you do. It’s true that people change and that people can “grow apart.” But it’s not always a matter of people changing—it’s that we didn’t know the other person as well as we thought we did to begin with. Sometimes that’s because of individuals being guarded, sometimes it’s because of inattentiveness, sometimes it’s because of the inability of words to convey exactly what we mean, and sometimes it’s all of the above.

Marriage requires you to put up with more than you originally thought you would have to. We basically ignore the “or for worse” part of the marriage vow. Because deep down we all know that relationships are reciprocal. If the other person isn’t holding up there end of the bargain (according to our judgment) we will eventually bail.

Let’s be honest, we don’t get into relationships for the primary purpose of serving the other person. We don’t do it just for ourselves either—we’re willing to make sacrifices for the other person, because we care about them. But nobody is so benevolent that he or she is all about the other person.

One of my favorite T.V. characters summed up marriage well:

Colonel Potter: “When you’re in love you’re always in trouble. There’s only two things you can do about it. Either stop loving them or love them a whole lot more.”

Cpl. Klinger: “But if you love them a whole lot more, won’t that just get you a lot more trouble.”

Colonel Potter: “Yup. Then you love them even more.”

Cpl. Klinger: “Boy that sounds tough.”

Colonel Potter: “It’s murder.”