When Jessica and I married in 2007 it was the second marriage for both of us. Surely the second time would be easier, right? Not so, apparently. Studies show that nearly two-thirds of all second marriages end in divorce and after several years it seemed we were on that path, too.
Fortunately, however, I have a patient wife and I managed to learn a great deal from the mistakes I made in recent years. I feel much more confident that we’re on the path to a successful long-term relationship.
One aspect of marriage that I’ve come to appreciate anew is the strength required to maintain a successful relationship. We might envy the image of the happy-go-lucky and carefree bachelor but the man in a committed relationship demonstrates strength unknown to the unattached.
Let’s consider a few of these strengths.
A successful relationship, for example, requires the strength to forgive. Your partner will undoubtedly hurt you over the years and say things he or she regrets. It is a strong man who is able to forgive wrongs committed against him.
It also takes great strength to admit you are wrong. When we are honest we can admit that we often cause hurt and pain to our partner through our words and actions. Only a strong man is able to admit to being wrong and to ask for forgiveness.
We might envy the image of the happy-go-lucky and carefree bachelor but the man in a committed relationship demonstrates strength unknown to the unattached.
Third, a good relationship requires the strength to put the needs of someone else above your own. When you’re in a healthy and mature relationship you understand that sometimes you must set aside your wants, desires, and needs for the other person.
We must also have the strength to be fully ourselves. It can become easy to hold emotions back, portray a false sense of who we are, or play a role but it is only in demonstrating the strength of whole-hearted commitment to vulnerability that a relationship can thrive.
Fifth and finally, I’ll note that faithfulness is difficult and the allure of the other can be compelling, but a rewarding relationship is forged through the strength of fidelity.
For those of you in relationships it can be helpful to step back and recognize and appreciate the strengths you’ve acquired (and demonstrate daily) to make your relationship work.
Adapted from the editor’s note in STAND 05