Besides for the, urgle, "shidduch crisis," there is another issue that occupies our too-unoccupied thoughts: the rising divorce rate. There are a number of theories bandied about as to the cause (I believe there must be more than one issue); one of them is that in today's world, with so much available and of shoddy workmanship, it is considered "simpler" to discard than to renew.
A while back I had listened to Rabbi Y.Y. Rubenstein's shiur, "Making the Right Choice or Making the Choice Right," and I recalled it while reading Debby Greene's Modern Love piece, "'We Pledge Allegiance . . . '"
Both the author and her husband had unhappy, unstable childhoods due to their parents' divorces. Therefore, when they wed, the first thing they both decided was "no divorce," simply just to spare their children their own experiences.
That was the one constant in their lives, no matter how bumpy the ride, no matter how tempting the move. But it even came to a point where they no longer viewed the pledge in such absolute terms, and that was helpful, too.
Approaching my 50s, I know the “no divorce” pledge Josh and I made all those years ago is just one of those rules people make up to give themselves the illusion of control. Though I believe loosening our grip on our pledge saved our marriage, I think the pledge saved it, too. Our pledge gave us a strong foundation before we were ready to go it on our own, and by the time we realized we had outgrown the pledge, it had taken root and grounded us as we found the space to deepen our relationship.
The child in me still wishes there was a secret formula to make a marriage last: perhaps a dose of bringing each other coffee in the morning along with a smidgen of holding hands at the movies and a dollop of passionate nights.
But my more-mature self realizes that after 23 years of marriage, the key for our relationship to grow and thrive is finding a soft place to land between the rules we make and the reality we live.
There is a scene in 1776, when John Adams is in complete despair. It is the day before the vote whether to declare independence, and the entire South has marched out in fury over the clause regarding the abolishment of slavery. Delaware could only be won if a dying delegate is fetched, Pennsylvania looks lost, and the vote must be unanimous. Adams and Franklin have just traded sharp words.
He summons the image and wisdom of his wife, Abigail, for guidance.
Abby: Have you forgotten what you used to say to me? I haven't. "Commitment, Abby, commitment. There are only two creatures of value on the face of this earth: those with a commitment, and those who require the commitment of others." Do you remember, John?
With that, Adams hurdles himself back into the fray, and emerges triumphant.
Do we commit today? Or do we merely seek the neverending upgrade?