If you let most newscasters tell it, marriage isn't "in" anymore. We see all sorts of headlines: Divorce rates are up. Twentysomethings choose cohabitation over marriage. Marriage isn't for everyone. I could go on and on. Everywhere I look there's a new study or story on why people aren't getting married, waiting much longer to get married, or just plain miserable in their marriages. Yet, as a newly married woman all I can think about most days is how happy I am in my own marriage and how blessed I feel to have found a wonderful man willing to take this journey with me.
Dear naysayers: I don't agree. Marriage can be wonderful, if you marry the right person at the right time. I can't tell you who or when to marry, but I can give you seven damn good reasons why you should, at least, believe in the power of the institution. Read them before you pass judgments, please. Put simply: I'm only about a year and half into a marriage, and I can already find seven reasons to tell you it's worth the work -- that's got to be a good sign.
1. Marriage can heal you.
Sometimes I realize my husband's love has slowly but surely healed parts of me I never even knew were broken -- some small, some big. If you let it, the love your spouse has for you can repair the pain other parts of your life have caused.
2. Marriage motivates you.
Just like becoming a parent makes you want to be better for the sake of your child, getting married makes you want to be a stronger more present person in your relationship. You share a life and beliefs with your spouse -- the achievements and the consequences -- and knowing that your failures are theirs as well makes you want to succeed for the both of you.
3. Marriage is a test you'll want to take.
Remember those times in your life when you walked away from something prematurely only to wish later on that you'd at least given it a try? Marriage is a test of your inner will and your devotion to yourself and another human being. It's also a test of your honor and commitment when life is most unkind.
4. There is someone for everyone.
I believe this wholeheartedly. And if you don't, well then, hey, why are you even reading this right now? There are billions of people in this world, and when you find that one needle in this humongous haystack we call life, you feel so truly blessed and so lucky that it will be hard not to want to give all you have to them.
5. Marriages keep it real.
In life you can lie to everyone else but yourself -- this we know. And who knows you better than you know yourself? Your spouse just might, if you let them in. They will be the one to call you out on your bullshit when no one else will. When everything else in your world seems confusing and out of place, if you've chosen to spend the rest of your life with the right person, they will be there to help you put it all into perspective -- even if you don't particularly like what they have to say. Like it or not, you're gonna need that type of raw honesty at some point in your life. Why not when you say, "I do"? When they commit to you, they commit to a lifetime of openness and honesty with you. (Or, at least, they should.) That's a gift.
6. Marriage is resilient.
Yes, you may know of quite a few people who are still reeling from failed marriages -- they might even be your parents, friends, aunts or uncles. But I bet you also know at least one couple who is happily married right now and working hard to keep it that way. Studies will have you believe that marriage is something that used to be a good idea but isn't so smart today. Marriage has taken a beating over the years in the press, but if you pay attention, there are still millions of weddings a year in the U.S. alone. Why do you think that is? Despite what negative aspects of marriage others see or hear about in their own lives, they still feel compelled to try and are willing to fight for.
7. Marriage reopens parts of your heart you never even knew were closed.
Remember the joy you felt when you were a kid and you rode an amazing coaster again and again because you didn't want the high you felt to end? Or how excited you were to unwrap that giant birthday gift you'd been staring at all week? Can you remember the last time you felt that good? On the best days, a healthy marriage can warm your heart in those very same places and really make you feel that alive and vulnerable again. Your spouse's love can go to those places, promise.
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