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Several years ago, a young woman asked me how long Ray and I had been married. When I told her how many years it had been (it was 32 or so years; I have forgotten exactly how long it has been since she asked the question), she said, “That’s a long time to be with one man.”

Yes, it is — a wonderfully long time. We are almost to year 44 now. I’m hoping for many more years with my one man.

But I don’t think she meant wonderfully long. She seemed to find it hard to wrap her mind around the idea of being “with” one man that long. I am sad when I hear how long someone has been “with” someone or how long they have been “together.” The only anniversary that mattered when I was a girl was a couple’s wedding day.

My take on what the young woman meant by her “That’s a long time to be with one man” statement was that variety seemed more appealing to her. Sadly, her life since then is evidence that I understood her too well.

I hope you don’t mind my going back to the subject I wrote about a couple of days ago. Even the “secular” world is seeing the benefit of stable, long-term marriage and the greatest beneficiaries are children. Brookings Institute¹ scholars Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill have come up with the idea of a “success sequence” for young adults. It goes like this.

  • Complete at least a high school education.
  • Work full-time.
  • Get married.
  • Have children.

This past June the American Enterprise Institute² and the Institute for Family Studies³ released a report on poverty, which included the statistic that 55% of millennials are reversing those last two steps of the success sequence. Citing Haskins and Sawhill’s idea of a “success sequence,” the report calls for people to help the adolescents and young adults of America know the benefits of following the sequence. You are teaching that very idea to your young adult children and to your younger children, too. I’m so proud of you for that.

A Brookings Institute article by Richard V. Reeves and Eleanor Krause from April of 2017 states a fact they call “largely uncontestable” — that adults who grew up in stable families enjoy better health, are better educated, and are less likely to live in poverty. They also state that parents who are married are more likely to stay together than parents who merely live together without being married. According to their statistics, two-thirds of parents who cohabitate separate before their child is twelve while one-fourth of married parents separate before their child is twelve. Both statistics are heart-breaking.

Now that researchers are confident that kids really do grow up into more stable adults if they grow up with married parents, they are searching for why this is true. One idea is that adults with certain positive skills are more likely to get married and stay married and that those positive skills also make them better parents. These are the positive skills you are working on with your children. Way to go, Mama!

I talked earlier this week about the heartbreaking sadness of divorce, especially for children. But living together and rearing children in that unstable environment is another matter entirely. That is a choice made at the front end. Children deserve better than that. They deserve parents who are married and who do whatever it takes — within their power (since both have to be willing to fix it) — to stay married for a lifetime.

Wedding of Cedelia Wrazen and Bronislaus Nowak, Buffalo, New York, May 1943. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Wedding of Cedelia Wrazen and Bronislaus Nowak, Buffalo, New York, May 1943. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Staying married for a lifetime is a series of little daily — hourly — moment-by-moment — decisions that add up to being married for a wonderfully long time.

“He who is faithful in a very little thing
is faithful also in much;
he who is unrighteous in a very little thing
is unrighteous also in much.
Luke 16:10

¹ The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization, based in Washington, D.C., which conducts “in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national, and global level.”

² The American Enterprise Institute is a think tank, also based in Washington, which publishes “original research on the world economy, U.S. foreign policy and international security, and domestic political and social issues.”

³ The mission of the Institute for Family Studies, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, is “to strengthen marriage and family life, and advance the well-being of children through research and public education.”


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  1. Thank you so much for addressing this topic. It really seems almost taboo, and I’m sure you may be getting some negative feedback. Recently I was shook to the core by learning a really great lady podcaster that I enjoy listening to, filed to divorce her husband recently. Perhaps there are more and greater reasons than she offered, but the ones she offered disturbed me so much. She appeared to just be wanting to get out of a difficult situation. I wondered if you could maybe someday address some of the issues that women feel it is okay to leave their husbands for. Homeschooling is HARD, and marriage is hard, and I so admire people like you for sticking together through the tough times. We are 10 years and counting, and its been hard the whole way—but we are committed for life, so we just keep pegging away and our marriage is stronger and happier now. I love to ask people like you, “So what is your best piece of advice for us?” I have 2 sisters who are in VERY difficult marriages, and I am so proud of them for sticking it out. People need to know that just because the going gets tough, they don’t have a right to just back out. I understand your statement that your heart goes out to people who are truly in such extenuating circumstances there is no other way, but people are just so quick to throw in the towel without trying very hard! Thanks so much for your example.

    • Thank you for this affirmation, Kezia. I will plan to respond to this with a blog post soon. Way to go. Keep it up and I, too, am so proud of your sisters.

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