In response to my previous article "Surviving Ex-Wedding Anniversaries", the question was asked, “If the marriage seemed off from the start, what made you stay so long?” Regardless of the reasons for a marital break up, this question always comes up, but probably more so when it is obvious for a long time that the relationship isn’t working and, despite that, the couple continue living in such a situation.
Some claim to stay together for the kids. Some do it for finances. Some do it out of fear—fear of what family members will think, or fear of what their spouse might do. Some do it out of complacency—although their marriage isn’t happy, they’re content with the rhythm of life with each spouse fulfilling a part of keeping the household running.
I once heard a story about a woman who all but despised her husband and her living situation, but stayed to get the 10-year anniversary ring. What she would do after she got the 10-year anniversary ring she didn’t say and I’ve often wondered. I also wondered how sad is it—for her, her husband, and her children that her only focus is on enduring long enough to get jewelry? To my mind, that piece of jewelry would hold no fond memories or times of happiness, because it didn’t seem there was any of that in the marriage to begin with.
A little bit more about my story. My husband and I were married for 14 years when we finally “officially” separated. We had dated for one year prior to getting married and married after becoming pregnant (I will explore this in reference to marital successes in another article). There were a number of issues I know now that existed in the very beginning that in hindsight spelled disaster for a successful marriage, but I’m trying to keep to the topic at hand.
I had several reasons for staying. One, I really did love him. I wasn’t “in love” with him, but I did “love” him. There is a difference. Several years after getting married many people lose that “in love” feeling. If they’re lucky, they may come back to rediscover what it means to be in love with each other and become one of those cute old couples holding hands that we all admire.