Love: A Response to Hate
After adding my most recent post, All the Single Ladies (And Gentlemen), many of you have reached out and shared your stories. I am grateful and humbled that you have allowed me to walk with you on your journey. One reader, however – a woman whom I have never met or heard from before – was a bit less pleased with the article. So much so, in fact, she openly commented:
Puke. I hate to break it to you…but my married friends are super miserable. You will feel differently about your status when hubby gets tired of you and leaves you a single mother. I would also say that your friend should reconsider her friendship w you. Check out the divorce rate when you get a moment.
I don’t know this woman’s story or why she reacted so vehemently to my post, but, nonetheless, that’s how she felt. So I took her up on her suggestion and checked out the current divorce rate. According to national research through Utah State University, this is what I found:
In the United States, researchers estimate that 40%–50% of all first marriages will end in divorce or permanent separation. The risk of divorce is even higher for second marriages, about 60%.
The statistic is heartbreaking, she was right about that. But I can’t really say that it’s surprising. I’ve grown up in a culture where people spout these figures like they’re commenting on the weather or the time of day. What I haven’t heard, however, is their definition of love. After all, “falling out of love” is a big reason people get divorced in the first place. So what is love, exactly?
According to the dictionary, love is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person; a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection; sexual passion or desire.”
This feelsy-goodsie definition seems ingrained in society and is, in my opinion, contributing to the divorce rate. It’s true that love elicits warm feelings, but that doesn’t mean that love is warm feelings. In a marriage (as in any relationship), there will be moments when the last thing you feel toward your partner is ‘profound tenderness’ or ‘passionate affection’. Does that mean love no longer exists between those two people? Personally, I think the answer is that of course love can still exist between those people.
Think of love like a flower. The warm fuzzies produced by love are the petals; the root of love, however, is commitment. The root of love is perseverance. Those couples who divorced may have been relying on the petals; it’s no wonder then, that everything would wither and die.
The thing about love as commitment is that it’s a choice. In the times when my husband “gets tired of me”, he chooses love. He chooses commitment. When we disagree with each other, are exhausted, frustrated, or need time alone, we choose love. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, but it’s done nonetheless. It has to be in order for our marriage to survive.
Because of our commitment to love and to each other, my husband and I don’t buy into the divorce culture we live in. (PS if you haven’t read that article from Matt Walsh, click the link and do it now. It’s awesome.) The fact of the matter is, before anything can become a reality, it must first be a thought. Therefore, we don’t allow “divorce” to be in our vocabulary, not even jokingly. Divorce, for us, is not an option. And that’s only because we have made the conscious decision to choose commitment when other couples simply consider divorce.
Upon further research, I found more empirical information that backs my perspective:
Researchers have identified the most common reasons people give for their divorces. A recent national survey found that the most common reason given for divorce was “lack of commitment” (73% said this was a major reason). It is interesting to note that a significant number of divorced individuals report to researchers that they wished they or their ex-spouse had tried harder to work through their differences.
So instead of just “checking the stats”, maybe we should be more cognizant of why those stats exist in the first place.