The clothesline where dirty laundry is hung is easier to access.

They are busy getting on with the business of building a life and building love in their marriage…

The verdict of public opinion is written in the headlines: Marriage is Dead…Human Decency is Out…and Good People are Hard to Find. Or so it would seem with the recent string of television and tabloid revelations of “scratch-your-head-what-the-hell-were-they-thinking” moments.

And then, you flip over the coin to discover a “silent majority” of decent folks who just do the best they know to do each day without getting up in other people’s business. These are people who don’t have time for gossip…they are busy getting on with the business of building a life and building love in their marriages and in their homes.

So, who do you believe?

The truth is that both sides of the coin exist, just as it has for thousands of years. The only difference now is that in the scramble to be acknowledged in a world that seems too big, and with easy to access news feeds and social media platforms, we are hearing more about it.

The clothesline where dirty laundry is hung is easier to access.

The Movement to Stand Up for Your Marriage

There is strong momentum for those who are interested in becoming a marriage success story…

Someone once said that every time a couple divorces, a little bit of the community is damaged. We all hope for strong families; they are the foundation of a strong world. And, while nobody goes into a marriage believing that divorce will be the final chapter…it happens.

It may have happened to you.

And, that doesn’t have to be your final chapter. There are plenty of great people who have walked down the aisle more than once. Some repeat patterns from the past; others learn and grow stronger. They make different choices the second time around because they are, in fact, a different person.

They take time to care for themselves, learn about themselves, and perhaps become a stronger person, a different person, who is able to attract a better partner for life.

I love when that happens.

I also love that there is strong momentum for those who are interested in becoming a marriage success story. Almost as if to combat the steady stream of Hollywood train wrecks, faulty statistics about marriage, and an exasperated sense of inevitability for infidelity and broken homes, people are standing up for themselves and their marriages. And, they are willing to pick themselves up when they stumble.

Sometimes it’s faith-based (most of the time)…because just like so many things in life, prayer and faith and a belief in something bigger than yourself allows you to step away from the white noise and make sense of this crazy life from a different vantage point.

You are less likely to get wrapped up in the drama because you work on life’s challenges from the inside out.

You don’t have to shout to be heard when a whisper carries more authority.

Accountability

Many states have “no-fault” laws around marriage. When a marriage ends, they say it’s nobody’s fault. I agree that fault and blame are useless emotions to carry around with you. Life is a journey. Sometimes we travel well, other times we don’t.

Accountability, however, is something different altogether. It’s important because at the end of the day, being accountable for your choices is an opportunity for growth. And when it comes to marriage and the promises made, knowing you are accountable to your spouse and your family allows you to take a breath before you make a decision.

Sometimes, just a breath, a pause, is all that’s needed to help you make a better decision. Sometimes, you need a swift kick in the arse!

However, the responsibility to make better decisions around marriage rests with all of us. Not just the couple who is married but also the community at large. It lies with you, and it lies with me.

Marriage should be protected. When the knot is tied, the couple as well as the community around them, should not pick at it.

But, pick they do.

I bet we all know of a married man or woman who is being tempted and pursued, sometimes relentlessly, by someone outside of the marriage. And, it’s not just infidelity that can pick at the knot. Friends, parents, and entire families, can do their own amount of damage when they don’t support a marriage or actively work to destroy it.

But alas, the law helps these situations. In states such as Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah, a person can be sued for interfering with someone’s marriage. The potential penalty? Awarded damages have ranged from $250,000 up to $9 million. In some cases, there is jail time. And, this doesn’t only apply to infidelity. Any person who manipulates or is actively involved in undermining a marriage can be found responsible.

How is that for accountability?

Many times, proving the claims are easy. Those same social media platforms which spread news of another failed married, a cheating spouse, or “WTF” life decisions, are often the trophy cases for the person seeking attention. People incriminate themselves in the pursuit of validation.

Marriage is Alive and Well

Marriage is a living, breathing thing meant to be nurtured, not destroyed…

Despite the well-publicized relationship disasters, marriage is alive and well. You see it everyday in “Anytown, USA”, sitting in the pews of church, walking in the park and down the beach. If we could peer into the windows of countless homes you would see it in kitchens, living rooms, and gathering places of flawed couples working toward being better today than they were yesterday.

It doesn’t always look like what you think love looks like. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes it’s happy; sometimes angry; sometimes full of joy; other times touched with a little bit of sorrow. It’s always messy. And, it’s wonderful.

It’s that ebb and flow of life.

It’s important for those struggling or just starting out to realize, this marriage thing isn’t easy. And, because it isn’t easy, you will grow. So will your spouse. Together, you’ll learn what your version of a happy marriage looks like.

Marriage is a living, breathing thing meant to be nurtured, not destroyed. As it grows, it will change. You will change. A marriage in year one looks very different in year 35 and then again in year 60.

It looks better. I’ve seen it.

Don’t let the headlines fool you. Couples are interested in building a strong marriage. Type “strong marriage tips” into your computer and you will come up with over 25 million results. “How to stay married” yields over 137 million results.  There are a lot of fun suggestions…you should check them out!

However, the tips that come up over and over again go back to the simple things in life. Treat each other well, take care of yourself, spend time together, be willing to adapt, say “I’m sorry” and learn to mean it, communicate, treat your marriage as a long-term commitment, and just be a decent human being (even as you are being a flawed human being).

We should all do that.