By Tamara Jones
It will be fun!
Marriages and wedding anniversaries are a time of celebration. They are fun and exciting! My 18th wedding anniversary was spent in a way that I had never envisioned as I participated in a Spartan race with my husband. This had been a goal of ours for a year, and the date of the race just happened to fall on our anniversary. Even though we had been planning for this race I was still not as physically prepared as I had hoped I would be. Many of the obstacles were very intimidating, but my husband’s enthusiasm was contagious. I clung to his encouraging words of, “Come on! It will be fun!”
As the race started and I found myself wading through mud up to my waist, I soon realized that I was not having fun. The obstacles we encountered were difficult; they tested my physical strength and sapped all my energy. What seemed easy for my husband was overwhelming for me. However, with each of the obstacles I watched as my husband completed his task and then came back to help me with mine.
By the time we came to the second ten-foot wall we had to get over, I knew I could do it. Not because I had found some hidden strength I didn’t know I had, but because I knew my husband was right there waiting and willing to help me get over the wall. After twenty-five obstacles, five miles, three hours, two minutes, and forty-five seconds, we crossed the finish line together and received our matching medals. By staying with me through it all, my husband taught me an important lesson: He could have completed the race with a much quicker time if he had gone off on his own, but he did not leave me behind. We had made a goal to complete this race together, and so he stuck by my side, helping me complete the tasks that I did not have the ability to complete on my own.
Reaching for the finish line
For all of us, marriage is often like this race, full of mud pits and ten-foot walls. There are times when we may find ourselves doubling back and rescuing our spouse from obstacles they can’t overcome and then there are times when we are the ones being rescued. It is this commitment to a marriage that is the formula for success.
Unfortunately, many choose to walk away from marriage when things get hard instead of wading through the mud and eventually reaching the finish line. Having grown up watching Snow White, Cinderella, and other fairytale movies, I dreamt often of my wedding—complete with my own happily ever after. What I didn’t realize until I got married, was that happily ever after doesn’t just happen on its own.
Many of us enter into marriage thinking we are at the end of all our troubles. There seems to be a misconception that, once we are married, life is guaranteed to be easy. It is this misconception of happiness in marriage that is threatening our society today. But, while life is hard and marriage is hard, it is still possible to have a happy marriage.
Why stay together?
We cannot avoid the obstacles of life, and sometimes when we try to go around them instead of facing them, we find ourselves up to our knees in mud. Life will always be full of bumps, mud pits, and obstacles, but knowing we can rely on our spouse can strengthen not only our marital relationship but the family unit as well.
When two people continue to work at their marriage, they are teaching their children the importance of their family and the importance of sticking to the commitments they make. After all, some of the best things in life are the things we work hard for. When a goal is made to remain committed, there is something to work towards together. Studies have shown that marriages with higher levels of commitment have more satisfaction. It is the committing to one another and working towards united goals that help us look past our own selfish desires and make the sacrifices necessary to put the needs of our spouse first.
Marriage = happier people
With the trend in our society focusing more on deserving to be happy rather than working towards a happy marriage relationship, it is easy to lose sight of what is important. Continually working to improve a marriage relationship is not only important but it also makes us happier. The results from a recent study show that people are in fact happier married than not married. Previous studies have been inconclusive since it was thought that married people were happier because happier people were the type of people who married. This study instead looks at happy single people and then the increase of their happiness after being married. This study also looks at the importance of friendship in marriage and determined that the happiest marriages are those where the spouse is also the best friend.
When people are encouraged to find happiness in marriage there is potential for more success. It is this success that then influences families and children. Children that grow up seeing a happy healthy relationship between their parents have a standard to work towards. They can see that friendship and love can go together and that it is the happiness of married couples that creates a happy home for their development.
Committed to marriage
Even though more and more marriages are crumbling, we can be strong and know that marriage is worth it. Each obstacle we overcome with our spouse gets us closer to the goal of reaching the finish line together. With our spouse we gain new strength from each obstacle, and that strength prepares us for more obstacles. We can stand united, proudly wearing our medals, knowing that we gave it our all and we continue to give it our all. We remain committed to marriage, and it is this commitment that makes all the difference.
Tamara Jones is a wife and mother of six children. She is currently a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho majoring in Marriage and Family Studies. She plans to graduate with her Bachelors in April 2016, and wouldn’t be able to do it without the support and encouragement of her husband.