Hearing that almost 50 percent of marriages end in a divorce these days is enough to make even me, a 19 year old with two parents who have been happily married for 26 years, skeptical about getting married. It’s discouraging to consider the amount of broken commitments that exist, and even worse to think about how they impact the people involved. I started noticing how common divorces were becoming around middle school, when a lot of my friends’ parents, and even some relatives, were going through the process. I barely understood what the word meant, but I didn’t have to be an expert to recognize the chaos and turmoil it imposed on families who, at one point, I thought were happy. As sad as this might be, I’m hardly even surprised anymore when I hear that one of my friends has divorced parents. The overwhelming number of commitments that are broken makes marriage seem more like a risk to be taken rather than something you should want to do these days.
It wasn’t until I was able to recognize the effects that divorces have on their victims, and most importantly the kids of those divorcing, that I made it a point to thank my parents for sticking together through it all.
I’m 19. I’m obviously not an expert on marriage or relationships by any means, but my parents have done a pretty good job of showing me what a successful one looks like. They’ve shown me how much sacrifice and compromise is involved, what it means to be selfless, and that love means putting someone else before yourself, even after you’ve worked a 9 hour day and all you want is someone to cater to you for once. Most importantly, it’s their ability to satisfy each other with small things: a breakfast out, a cup of coffee, a visit at work, etc., that make their relationship so special. If you’re like me, sometimes you take for granted the fact that you have two happily married parents living under the same roof, but imagine being surrounded by anything different. Imagine seeing the two people who brought you into this world constantly in conflict with each other. Though I should note that not all divorces make a family worse off, it doesn’t seem like a process I’d ever want to endure regardless.
With that said, I think it’s time for those of us who are lucky enough to have married parents to thank them for staying together, even when it seems like the rest of the world is choosing otherwise. So, thank you, mom and dad. Thank you for never making me have to choose which parent to spend my Holidays with. Thank you for never making me have to live out of a duffel bag to visit one of you. Thank you for being able to support me in all I do in life together as a team, not individually. Thank you for being able to take my siblings and I out to dinner as a family. Thank you for visiting each other’s in-laws, and having such close relationships with your spouse’s family. Thank you for not putting your children in a situation where we have to communicate for you, or feel like we’re competing for time spent with you. Thank you for always resolving the little arguments, and putting aside your pride to apologize to one another if necessary. Thank you for always talking out your problems, and never ignoring each other or involving your children in settling them. Thank you for letting me rest assured that you’ll be attending some of my major events in life together. Most of all, thank you for showing me what it means to be in love, and proving that even though it's not always perfect, it’s worth it.
26 years is a long time. To someone like me, who has never dated someone for more than a year, 26 seems almost impossible. My parents are constant reminders every day, though, that it’s not impossible. It’s a work in progress and always will be. I can’t say for sure what my future holds, but I can thank them for the high expectations I have about what my I hope my future marriage will look like.