Having been divorced twice, one might think that I would be rather cynical on the whole concept of marriage but that's not the case at all. I admire good marriages; I love good marriages; I am envious of good marriages; I wish I'd had a good marriage! As I have written before, my parents had one of the best marriages ever and it was great to grow up knowing that my parents loved each other more every single day in spite of life and all that it had to throw at them. If my Dad hadn't passed away in 2003, they would have celebrated their 50th anniversary this past June and I'm sure that they would have been more in love that day than they were the day they first took their vows. And who can't admire that, envy that, wish for that themselves?
That said, I want to wish a very happy anniversary to Andrew and Bethany who are celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary today. Though it's a long cry from the years my parents had together, it's a marriage that I think will last that long or - God willing - longer. Theirs is a marriage that I admire because it's a marriage where the two people involved not only love and respect each other but genuinely like each other, too!
Friedrich Nietzsche, a German-Swiss philosopher and writer, as well as one of the most influential of modern thinkers, said it best when he wrote: "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages." Too many times we see marriages where the couples involved just don't seem to like each other anymore but they stay together for a myriad of reasons - finances, kids, religious vows, appearances, etc. - that have nothing to do with how they really feel about each other.
Sometimes I think it's easier to love someone than it is to like them and before you decide I'm crazy on that one, think about this ... it has been said many times over that love is deaf, dumb, and blind because when we are first falling in love with someone we want to believe the best about that person, we don't want to know their shortcomings or faults. When you live with someone day in and day out you have no choice but to look closer at that person whom you share your life with - faults and all - and that's where the true test of any marriage comes in. It's not enough just to say that you love someone - you also have to like them and respect them.
Perhaps that's the part that I'm really envious about ... couples like Andrew & Bethany, Cyndi & Jeff, George & Rhonda, my two brothers & their wives, my parents - all of the marriages that I know of that are solid ... they all possess the three main ingredients that were missing in my two marriages - love, respect, and friendship. Together those three form a very solid base but take one away and you're left with something that wobbles and, chances are good, will eventually fall.
By all means a successful marriage involves the two people joined together falling in love with each other over and over again but don't forget to be friends, too. That makes all the difference in the world - trust me, I know!
Addendum: After reading his comment posted here, I wanted to note that I attended the wedding of Bulldog and Melissa two years ago and it was by far one of THE BEST weddings that I have ever attended. Not because it was extravagant or lavish or anything like that but because it was a pleasure to watch two people who so obviously not only loved but liked each other exchange vows and start their lives together as "man and wife". I don't think there was a single person in attendance who had the cyncical thought of "let's see how long this one lasts" because we all KNEW that this was a marriage that was going to last. A belated happy anniversary to you, too, my friend, and I wish you and Melissa many, many more years of happiness and friendship and love!