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I learned a new term recently: shipping. Apparently, the meaning has changed from what you and I know as the amount we pay to get something mailed to us and now applies to the desire to get two people together in a relationship. They even form a ship name, a combination of the names of the two people involved. This is yet another example of the most recent generation shortening words; it won’t be long before all our words are monosyllabic!

My long-time readers know that Michelle and I were set up on a blind date all those years ago. I suppose blind dates were an early form of shipping, though I’m not sure how you’d put Mark and Michelle together to form a ship name. Marchelle? Mirk? Ugh.

Regardless, we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary this past week, and I got to thinking it hardly seems possible it has been that long and that we have known each other for over two decades. It doesn’t seem that long ago we were recognizing how many months we had been dating, much less counting in years and decades.

I’ve always been amazed when I see stories about people who have been married 50, 60, even 70 years or more. To accomplish that (and it is quite an accomplishment), you have to have a convergence of hard work and luck. Your health plays a large role to get to those levels of wedding anniversary. To get to 75 years, as I saw one couple recently, that means you’ve both made it well into your 90s, which means you’ve been blessed to avoid the many pitfalls of health.

A common refrain I see from people with long-lasting marriages is this: “We don’t always like each other, but the love we have holds us together.” This seems so true. Love is a deep bond, a connection that is sometimes indescribable. I remember a character in a novel describing love as that squishy feeling in your stomach like when you lie face down on a hot surface. There are commonalities between people in love, things they share that have brought them closer together.

But there are always times of struggle. That’s why many marriage vows include, “in good times and in bad, for better or for worse.” Your partner will annoy you at times, will frustrate you, will say things that hurt you. I can’t imagine a couple that doesn’t have those occurrences every now and then. I’ve known some people with great marriages that seem to have arguments often, but it might just be strong personalities searching for a middle ground.

Life brings challenges, and sometimes outside problems help make a relationship stronger. Sometimes it breaks people apart; they can’t handle the outside stresses and, despite strong feelings for their partner, they need to move on. It’s why communication is so important; at times of struggle in our lives, we all need people to talk to and work through problems with, and who better than people we love?

I guess love can disappear. I can’t imagine what that’s like, but based on the number of divorces in our country, it happens often. Something must step in to break the bond, or maybe it’s a gradual wearing away of that bond. Either way, it’s a saddening experience. I’m especially saddened when I see kids profoundly affected by their parents’ split.

It’s difficult at times to sit down at parent-teacher conferences and listen to a parent bad mouth the other. I’m not really interested in what broke you up as I am in what’s best for your child. You know, the one you created out of love at one point? Too many times, I have to steer a conversation back to the child. It warms my heart to see divorced parents come together to a conference and show a willingness to do what’s best for their child. The parents may no longer love one another, but they know they have a responsibility yet to the kids to show their love for their offspring. I’ve even seen two parents at a conference and would never have guessed they were separated since they seemed to get along so well!

I’ve known people who have had difficult times in their marriage and nearly found a need to go their separate ways. But they found resources to work on what was troubling them and opened all fields of communication and made things work instead of giving up. The toughest part of marriage might be just throwing in the towel. That would be the easy way out when the going gets tough. The best marriages probably face those tough times and become even stronger as a result.

I know I haven’t been a perfect husband, but I strive to get better, especially when I inevitably say something dumb. The good times have been more prevalent than the bad and the better has happened more than the worse. I love my wife and hope we can reach one of those God-given anniversaries some day after a long life!

 

Word of the Week: This week’s word is knavery, which means dishonest dealing, as in, “The wife was able to forgive the knavery of the husband when he was at the casino instead of a convention for work.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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