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Wilburn: Marriage is about more than love

POSTED: August 17, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Marriage isn't designed to make you happy; it is designed to make you married.

When caught up in the emotions of love, this statement might not make much sense to you. It really doesn't make much sense if you have been watching any of the "reality" TV shows; these programs, although they say they are about love, are really about avoiding rejection.

The illusion about living happily ever after is a comforting thought for people to believe in. But for long-term happiness, each partner must consider the commitment that they have made to their spouse.

Consider this quote from Frank Pittman's book, "Grow Up":

"I didn't marry you because you were perfect. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I made to you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married, and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn't a house that protected them; and it wasn't our love that protected them - it was that promise."

So marriage isn't just about being in love. It is about the agreement to love and support one another.

Love should be an active verb. It is about a person's ability to love their spouse. Granted, it is nice when married people are "in love" with one another, but being in love isn't enough.

Marriage gives you the structure, support and security from which you and your partner are free to create happiness.

That commitment is a promise to work together at making your relationship last. That is real life and a very different story from what we see on reality TV.

Based on a national survey by the National Marriage Project, 88 percent of young adults ages 20 to 29 agree that "there is a special person, a soul mate, waiting for you somewhere out there."

It's also reassuring to know that most (78 percent) agree that a couple should not get married unless they are prepared to stay together for life. In fact, most young adults are reasonably confident that their own future marriages will be long lasting.

More importantly, 86 percent of young adults realize that marriage is hard work and a full-time job.

More than eight in 10 young adults agree that one reason for divorce is too much focus on expectations for happiness and not enough on the hard work actually needed to make and keep a marriage successful.

Source: Ohio State University Extension

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Her Family Ties column runs in Sunday Life. Contact: 770-535-8290.


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