When on vacation, celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, my wife and I happened to notice a magazine article entitled, Marriages that Last (Is Yours One?). That was irresistible under the circumstances. Our marriage seemed to be one of those that had lasted, and would continue to last. Since we were now
authorities on a marriage that had lasted, we thought it might be interesting to compare notes.
There were some surprises in the article. One of them was the cost of the average wedding in the U.S.—$22,360. It took my breath away. That seems like a lot of money to pay for something that only has a 50-50 chance of making it. Would you pay $22,360 dollars for a car that only had a 50% chance of lasting? Would you pay 22,360 dollars for a car and then not change the oil? Because a lot people seem to think that a marriage requires no preventive maintenance. We figure our wedding cost something between $350–$500. Now, 50 years later, couples in the US spend $50 billion a year on weddings, and $25 billion of that is a bad investment.
Along with a lot of sobering statistics, the article had a couple of important insights. We are no longer content with a reliable partner. We want a spouse who will make us happy. And there is no one who can do that. You can have a partner who is as dependable as sunrise, who will be there for you come hell or high water. But if this partner can’t make you happy, you will leave him and take the children with you, right? Well, that is what people are doing every day. All this helped me understand why the divorce rate keeps on climbing. People are entering marriage expecting something that no partner can provide. Happiness is a will of the wisp. It comes and goes with circumstances and has more to do with what is inside you than it does with what your partner does or doesn’t do. If you enter marriage with unrealistic expectations, you haven’t got a chance.