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When is it “safe”?

I used to think that once you’d been married a certain (although unspecified) period of time, your marriage was “safe”.  I don’t know where I got that idea, nor why I thought that, particularly since my parents split up after twenty-plus years of marriage. Maybe I read too many happily-ever-after stories growing up, watched too many teen romance movies. I mean, even Sixteen Candles ends with the kiss. You’re never told what happens later, after kids, mortgages, moves, job changes.

I’m not one who actively seeks out Hollywood news, but you hear it or see it pretty much everywhere…on the radio, in line at the grocery store, even on regular network evening news. I distinctly recall hearing three long-term marriages ending essentially on the same weekend, or at least the press releases came out the same weekend. And I’m talking long-term…..thirteen, seventeen, twenty-four years. I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was. And I just thought to myself, “Well, geez, when is it safe? Where’s that magic line you cross and don’t have to worry about your relationship any longer?” The more I pondered that question, and my own marriage, I realized there is no magic line. You don’t get to sit back and relax, ever. You don’t coast after a certain point, especially if you want a successful, happy marriage.

We’ve gone through our seasons in our almost-seventeen-years of marriage. There are days I like him more, days I like him less. I always love him. The romance comes and goes.  We’ve survived a lot of things which were sources of huge stress, those things that have the biggest potential to rip relationships apart. But while we’ve survived those events, I still don’t think we’re safe enough to not be vigilant, to keep working, to keep caring about and nurturing our marriage.

We have both changed immensely since the day we said, “I do.” That means I have to keep figuring him out, caring what his needs, wants, and desires are. I  need to stay on my toes, not sit back and just rest on the laurels of staying together this long. I still have to decide every day this is where I want to be, and that I want to do what it takes to make it keep working well.  We are getting close to another danger zone….that time when kids are leaving the nest and we are staring at each other, wondering “What now? Who are you?” I think that makes me more twitchy, pushes me to keep working on us, keep the us alive.

There’s no magic number. There’s no amount of time you spend married that then allows you to stop working on your relationship. The good thing is, if it really matters, if you really love that person, it doesn’t really feel like work in that grudging sort of way. It’s a natural out-flow of loving that person.

8 thoughts on “When is it “safe”?

  1. Hi! I wanted to let you know that you are my ‘Tip of the Hat’ this week. There is nothing to do, it is just my way of giving a shout out to blogs I love and hopefully helping them grow. Take care! –Tricia

  2. I agree Sis! When I heard of these long term marriages ending I began to wonder the same thing. We have to work at our marriages everyday. Making sure we always have time with our spouses without the kids is one of the best things we can do. Finding new things we enjoy together will help us continue on after the kids are gone. Making sure that as much as we love our children, they are not all consuming of our lives is important not just to our marriages but also to ourselves. We love our husbands and we work at our marriages and that is the important thing.

  3. This is beautifully written Donna! And so true that there is no safe magic number. It all takes “work” and focus to keep it going. Cheers to your almost 17 years and hope you celebrate many many more!

  4. I agree there’s no safe time, you need to work on it and always be aware of the other ‘s feelings. We’ve been married 10yrs I feel secure in our relationship but I know not to let things slide and I’m not talking my appearance!

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