We stood at my apartment door after our first date–dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Surely a kiss was imminent, I thought. But, no, DH explained that he was not going to kiss me because he wanted to “do things differently this time.” Excuse me?! I can’t quite remember, but I think I got a hug. And on the third date, we did have sex. Much to my relief.

We married three years later and began having kids and started moving. Life got complicated. Today, 30 years since the goodnight non-kiss, we have grown into best friends, stuck like glue to each other. We’ve had our difficulties and considered divorce more than once. We have talked our asses off—and then talked some more. We’ve shouted, cried, apologized, compromised, not spoken to each other for a while, and eventually came back together. We went to therapy numerous times for months, even years. And in the end, we each decided to stay in the marriage through independent decisions.

We each decided to stay in the marriage through independent decisions

The story of us not giving up isn’t really a couple story. It’s the story of two individuals who assessed the situation and made a series of decisions. It’s also the story of two people who didn’t know any better and had never seen divorce up close. 

DH says, “I stayed because that’s what you do. I learned that from my folks and from your folks. Doing something else is not an option. If you fuck up, you face the music and make it right.”

For my part, I tried to imagine our family being torn up by divorce. I didn’t like what I saw. So I worked harder at staying together.

We didn’t give up because we talked. Through the process of wading through adversity, we have learned to be brutally honest. If it takes an email exchange instead of talking in person, we do that. We don’t wait for it to blow over, because problems and feelings never really go away. Issues pile on top of one another and soon you have the death of the relationship due to benign neglect. We cannot afford to take that chance anymore.

We don’t wait for it to blow over, because problems and feelings never really go away

Every long-term relationship is unique. No one, absolutely no one, understands your marriage like you do. Outside advice has sometimes helped us and sometimes not helped us. Ultimately, we decide what is right for us. We decide together.

Speaking as partners who have at times hated one another, our experience shows us that our hard work has paid off. We both put in an equal amount of effort and were rewarded by a loving, dynamic, slightly insane, always evolving relationship. I wish the same for every couple who wants it. Don’t. Give. Up.

 

If you are in a relationship that is abusive or otherwise untenable, my advice is to seek outside help. This post is only my experience and opinion.