Why is it that when we go to a wedding, we always look forward to the couples dance? Not the dance for just anyone, but the dance that lets couples show off how long they have been married.
Recently, my wife and I were at a wedding – we had a great time and were surrounded by friendly faces of people we know and even people we did not know. But of course, it came time for the dances. The usual dances occurred with the bride and groom, the parents and even the wedding party; but then the crowd got to participate. Ah yes, the couples dance. This time, my wife and I got to stay on a little bit longer because we are at the 10-year mark. Happy and proud, we entered the dance floor and as I looked around me, I noticed something probably that I have seen before, but only truly absorbed this time. We were surrounded by mostly older couples, and I mean couples in their 70’s, 80’s – maybe higher?
At the end of the dance,there was one couple remaining. (I’m sure the knew they would be the last couple too). The DJ came over to them and asked the all being question that everyone seemed to stop and listen too. “What is the secret to your long marriage together?” Everyone seemingly zoomed in on the man that was taking the microphone with bated breath waiting to find out what the secret was. On the edge of our seats, or leaning forward as we stood, the man began to talk. And we heard nothing. Ha! I don’t know if it was technical difficulties, or if he just wasn’t speaking up enough but unless you were right there next to him you couldn’t really tell what he was saying. Talk about a letdown!
How interesting this was. It was in that moment I realized that everyone in the room wanted to know the secret. Do not fret though because the honest truth is this…
There is no Secret to a long and happy marriage!
Sadly, this is true. The truth of a healthy and long marriage is a combination of many attributes coming from both sides. It’s not up to one person in the relationship to make it work. It isn’t one person’ responsibility to make everything right. So if I had to narrow it down to just one thing, or a couple of things that tie together nicely, I think it would be this:
You need to know how to Forgive. It does not matter who you are, where you have been, or what you have done. You NEED to learn how to forgive. I made the word “need” in all caps, but the real key word is “learn“. Forgiveness is a learned skill over time. The reason for this is because we hold on to things too tightly. And I don’t just mean with the person we love when they wrong you and make you feel angry or sad. I also mean that we all hold on to things too tightly with ourselves, and that is where it starts. You have to FIRST learn to forgive yourself. This takes time because we generally feel very guilty about what we have done, or maybe didn’t do. And the best way to achieve this is to ask for forgiveness of yourself and from the person you wronged. The guilt inside you makes you not able to forgive yourself because you still feel like the other person is upset with you – and maybe they still are. But until you ask, you will never know. Be specific. Don’t just say I apologize for what I have done – name the things you have done, own them for yourself. Even if in the end the other person says “no, I can’t forgive you yet”, you can at least then move on to forgive yourself.
As time goes by, you can then forgive the other person that has wronged you. And if they still haven’t forgiven you – don’t worry. (Don’t worry? This guy is nuts!) I assure you. I am not always nuts. The reason I say not to worry is because sooner or later, the other person will see the tension lifted from you. The guilt has evaporated over time, and you are no longer acting like the same person you once were. If you haven’t caught on yet, here is the amazing thing about forgiveness. If you can forgive, you have helped yourself. Forgiveness free’ the person who is forgiving. In our minds we say we are helping the other person because we forgive them, but really we are freeing ourselves from having to hold on to the grudge.
No, I don’t think there is a huge secret out there that makes couples stay together forever. But I do truly believe that forgiveness is at the Heart of the whole thing.