Give Up Now—You Will NEVER Stay Married to the Same Person

by | Family. Love

Change in marriage

 

I have a dear active LDS friend. She married her high school sweetheart after waiting for him on his mission and dating him for two more years. They were married for five years…before he filed for divorce and left the church.

 

My parents got engaged five days after their first date. They are still married.

 

What…what?!

 

How does that happen?

 

I thought it was so important to know someone before you marry them and then everything works out?

 

Well…not quite.

 

See, after a few basic traits of ‘must haves’ and ‘can’t haves’ for the sake of compatibility, the person you marry is of little to no consequence.

 

Why?

 

Because they aren’t the person you will stay married to.

 

In a study done by a Harvard psychologist, Dr. Dan Gilbert, he interviewed thousands of individuals about personal change and concluded that “all of us are walking around with an illusion, an illusion that history, our personal history, has just come to an end, that we have just recently become the people that we were always meant to be and will be for the rest of our lives.” (Read the whole TED talk here) That is because it is easier to look back and see the changes that have happened than it is to look into the future and imagine inconceivable circumstances that will surely shape us.

 

That “illusion” that WE have already done most of our changing in life is as scientifically and rationally ridiculous as the “illusion” that we are marrying someone for the rest of our lives.

 

I, for one, have spent so much time trying to find ‘this specific type of girl,’ while completely ignoring the fact that she will be different in 5 years, 10 years, 50 years…and guess what…?

 

So will I.

 

And if marriage is a commitment, then, in effect, I have to choose to stay committed and married to a new person, as a new person, every day.

 

That choice is made by work.

 

Now what does some 29-year old single guy know about this? Not much. But what I do know is that my fear of marrying the wrong person is completely unfounded based on the fact that I will never marry one person.

 

TIME Magazine’s Theologian of the year in 2001 and longtime Duke professor Stanley Hauerwas said, “We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is…leaning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married” (“Sex and Politics: Bertrand Russell and ‘Human Sexuality'” in the Christian Century, April 19, 1978, 417-22).

 

So what I’m saying is that my friend is to fault and my parents are to emulate?

 

Not at all. There are so many circumstances I can’t even pretend to understand about why one couple is together and the other isn’t.

 

What I’m saying is that we only have one choice…and that is to continually choose to be married to the same new person over and over.

 

And that, to me, is a lot less scary than I feared. (Actually, it sounds quite nice. Who knows…maybe I’m changing my mind on this whole ‘single for life’ thing; but then again, it wouldn’t be a surprise, would it?)

 

So after looking for compatibility, love and marriage is about finding someone who is committed to change with me as we constantly become new creatures in Christ. For in the seas of change, it is only on a sure foundation that we can anchor our relationships.

 

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  • Harold Haynie

    Maybe you need to stop overthinking love and just fall in love. Sheri and I got engaged two weeks after first meeting and married six weeks later. We fell in love! The rest is called COMMITMENT!!!!! I know of no other way to stay married than to have BOTH partners commit to work at it everyday, through the ups and downs and in the hard times and happy times. So far my experience watching the singles is the list is to long, the expectations to high and the assumption that you will marry someone like your mom or dad exists. Actually as your article states we have both changed and improved with patients and encouragement over the years and continue to do so.
    Find someone with a testimony, a commitment to family and someone that when you are with them you want to be your best. It helps if there is a chemistry between you as they say but even that I have learned changes and can either grow or go away if the communication and commitment aren’t there.

    • Zack Oates

      Thanks, Harold. I love your directness. Glad to have you as a friend.

    • Harold you sound like my parents–they met in the middle of July and married on September 1st, of the same year. They were married for 62 1/2 years before Mom passed away. They were totally committed to living the gospel and staying married. After 27 years of marriage myself, I can say that those two commitments are what makes for lasting marriages. The power of repentance and the Atonement heal and bless marriages through all the trials of mortal life.

  • Kelly

    My husband and I had our first date on July 4th, 1984 got engaged Sept 7th and married February 1, 1985 and just celebrated our 30th anniversary last month. In my humble opinion, I believe that people do not want to work to stay together it’s too hard and getting a divorce is easy. Marriage is a constant, changing thing. I’m not the same person now that I was at 19 when I got married. I have matured, so has he. Like the article says, people change constantly, just as the world around us does. You just have to realize the grass is greener on the same side of the fence.

  • Mark Allen Apker

    I love it when parts of our conversations make it on your blog. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something without doing ANYTHING!

  • marmiejean

    The first time I laid eyes on my husband, the Holy Ghost told me I was going to marry him even though I was dating someone else at the time. We started dating 3 months after he got home from his mission, got engaged 2 1/2 months later and got married 364 days from the time he came home (His mission pres. told him to get married within a year. He strung it out to the bitter end, ha ha!). We’ve been married for 35 years. We’ve had many ups and downs, heart breaks in our lives as well as changes in our personalities and have weathered it all and will for eternity. There have been times where one or the other wanted to throw in the towel but then we looked at the big picture and realize we love each other and would get through it. Don’t give up. The key is to put the other one before yourself and serve them, not expecting anything in return. Their happiness should be the first thing on your mind when you get up in the morning and the last thing you think of when you lay your head down in the evening. If both of you do this, you can’t fail.

  • Tanya Dennings

    I met my husband at work in Dec 1996. My brother-in-law got me the job & was introducing me to everyone. We started dating July 1997 and got married Nov 1997. He asked me to marry him 4 times before I finally said yes. He’s 9 yrs older than me, so we grew up in two different decades (80s/90s). We had different values & still have different views. I was not in love with him when we married, but I knew I would be happy with him. Our thing now: He says I loved you longer and I say, I still love you now. From the start, he always showed more love and kindness, always willing to serve & help people. It made me fall in love with him & through all sorts of issues with work, health, & children, I have been happy with him. We’ve held each other up & have a true partnership. Last November, we celebrated 17 yrs of marriage and we’re excited to be together for eternity.

  • johnrpack

    Well written — it’s about committing to change with each other and never second-guessing that commitment.

  • helle52

    This July my husband and I have been married for 31 years.
    Marriage is falling and out of love all the time and clearing away all the different obstacles and stille going along the same path with the same commitment to each other.
    We have different backgrounds: he is 4th generation in the Church I am a convert. He is Austrian and I am Dane. Just to come to terms with what to eat let alone raising children are a project when you have been raised in different environments.
    BUT it can be done. After all life is surviving one day at the time.

  • Juanito smith

    Dude you are not even married .

    • Truth Seeker

      If it’s truth that he speaks, why does it matter if he is married. Experience helps, but it does not have to be present to validate truth.

    • Sarah

      I am married; he’s right.

  • Juanito smith

    I appreciate your advide but since you are not married you really don’t know what marriage is all about.

    • Zack Oates

      As you can read, Juanito, it is focused around a study, and, as I state, not personal experience. But find me someone who disagrees and I’d be more than happy to understand why.

      • Zack you are a wise man to learn from the experiences of others. We don’t have to have personal experience with something to know its blessing or curse.

  • Juanito smith

    Harold hayne said it best : it’s about commitment .

  • Gary N Bennett

    I first met my wife in our senior year of high school. We started dating the first part of January, 1959. Feb. 14, 1959 we got engaged. On December 11, 1959 we were married. Marriage is not a bed of roses, we had many ups & downs, but we stuck together & always worked things out & never stopped loving each other. We have six great Sons five wonderful Daughter-in-laws, 20 Grandchildren & thirteen Great Grandchildren. On December 11, 2013 we celabrated our 53 wedding anniversary. My wife had suffered from a liver disease since 1999. On Christmas day 2013, I had to take her to the hospital because of high ammonia levels in her blood, which she had problems with for 15 years.

    She spent several days in the hospital, then she was transfered to a rehabilation center. Where her condition continued to get worse, until on March 14, 2013 she passed away from complete liver failure. I have always loved her & I always shall. One day, when my time is up, we will be together again & spend eternity together. Until then I shall get along as good as I can. But, at times, it is very difficult. I miss her so much.

    • Zack Oates

      Thank you for sharing this! So inspiring and helps me remember the importance of love that lasts longer than life. I wish you peace and the desire to continually change for the better until your blessed reunion.

  • Gary N Bennett

    I first met my wife in our senior year of high school. We started dating the first part of January, 1959. Feb. 14, 1959 we got engaged. On December 11, 1959 we were married. Marriage is not a bed of roses, we had many ups & downs, but we stuck together & always worked things out & never stopped loving each other. We have six great Sons five wonderful Daughter-in-laws, 20 Grandchildren & thirteen Great Grandchildren. On December 11, 2013 we celabrated our 53 wedding anniversary. My wife had suffered from a liver disease since 1999. On Christmas day 2013, I had to take her to the hospital because of high ammonia levels in her blood, which she had problems with for 15 years.

    She spent several days in the hospital, then she was transfered to a rehabilation center. Where her condition continued to get worse, until on March 14, 2013 she passed away from complete liver failure. I have always loved her & I always shall. One day, when my time is up, we will be together again & spend eternity together. Until then I shall get along as good as I can. But, at times, it is very difficult. I miss so much.

  • Gary N Bennett

    Correction: Our 53 anniversary was Dec. 11, 2012. Carolyn went in the hospital Christmas day 2012

  • Realtrgrl3

    I like this and agree. But the picture is weird. The guys thumb fingernails are long like a girls. PS – My 2nd husband and I married after knowing each other 6-8 weeks. I think we are as perfect for each other as a couple can be, however sometimes he drives me insanely crazy as I’m sure I do him. BUT. We are committed and life is good, 27 years in.

  • Jim Leek

    My dad told me not to worry about being ready to marry. No one is ever ready.

  • Michelle

    My husband and I went

  • Michelle

    My husband and I went to the same Jr. High School, and he used to leave unsigned notes in my locker, and also would follow me home from school. He moved his freshman year to another town, and we didn’t see each other again for 3 years. My brother had joined the church in Idaho, and came home for a visit and introduced the church to me, and I took the discussions, and joined 2 months later. I just happened to be in the same ward as he was, so when I showed up at church he was very surprised. He actually messed up on the sacrament prayer 3 times, just knowing that I was in the congregation. As I was leaving church, he ran after me, and asked me if I remembered him, and I said No. lol It was a short conversation, and the next time we saw each other was at a young adult activity. We both came with other groups of people, and acually left together. He took me home, and in the next few months we had 2 dates. He left for his mission, and we wrote the whole time. He actually had to come home after a year, due to medical issues. We were engaged, and 8 months later we were married. We have been married for 33 years, and have 5 children, and 12 grandchildren. We are each others best friends.

  • I really enjoyed this article, which I found on facebook. I am an 80 year old great-grandmother, (9 children, 29 grandchildren, 14 greats) This September 24, 2015 we will celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary, after meeting on a blind date, and writing letters during his army days.
    You do have it right when you say the person you marry won’t stay the same. But some personality traits stay the same, such as my husband being a total sports fan, and me not caring for sports, but we both love theater, music, doing things with our family, and being devoted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). That commitment is vital to staying married. We have had things that have happened during our almost 60 years that could have broken up our marriage, and caused heartaches to our posterity. But we knew divorce was not an option. He is very kind, funny, and gentle, and so are our sons! We still hold hands during romantic movies and even “Wheel of Fortune”. Our love has grown solid over the years. Life is constantly changing, and eternity will also, I’m sure.

    • Zack Oates

      That is so wonderfully sweet, Paralee! Thank you for your comment and bless you and your husband for your commitment and example!

  • groovingurly

    I really enjoyed this article Zack. How’s that “single for life” thing working out? Okay, that came off way more flirtatious than I planned…awkward…still not rewriting it.

    • groovingurly

      And now that I’ve looked over your blogs tagged with “single” I feel even more awkward. Oh well. You write great stuff. 🙂

  • Linda

    I totally agree with what you have written. I was married 47 years to my best friend. There were things we had in common, the Church being first, followed by things like both of us being bookworms (not always the same books, but reading alongside of each other). Things we differed on – like watching tv. He always had it on for at least background noise; sometimes I would go to another part of the house to get away from it. Things we learned to share – he was an amateur magician; I became his assistant. As long as the Gospel and the temple were the basic bond, we survived the tough times.
    A year ago my daughter dragged me with her to a singles conference. At one point I was chatting with another sister. I said, “I’m not here to look for a husband. I have a perfectly good one; we’re just not on the same side of the veil right now.”
    She replied, “I feel exactly the same, only my husband’s been over there for 15 years.”
    I always thought I would die first – worse health, poorer genes, etc. I new feel that I stayed longer because there are things I still need to learn and do. I miss him (especially when I’m trying to figure out how to do things he used to handle). I am still changing, and I assume he is too.

    • Zack Oates

      Thanks for sharing and I wish you all the happiest days on your journey!

  • roots4all

    My husband and I got married (1st time marriage for each of us) when I was 32 and he was 37. We met online and had more than 3K emails, plenty of multiple hour phone calls, and Skyped regularly before we physically met in person. We met physically, and then two days later were engaged. From first writing to first meeting, it was two months. From engaged to married, it was three months. We didn’t rush anything. The pace felt right, and we’ve been married for almost two years.
    Two years married is not even close to the other couple comments here, but each of us had a long curing process before getting married (think of fine cheese or a reserve book). We weren’t kids when we got married, but we got married in the right circumstances and reasons. The people in our ward are astonished when they learn (or realize, as I was in this ward for a year before we got married), that we act like an old, happily married couple although it hasn’t been that long chronologically.
    We fit well, and more importantly, we genuinely love each other and work to make the relationship a success. It’s worked because of God. It’s not just about him, and definitely not just about me. We make a great team, and we’re better together than apart. And yes, we’re still changing, but I wouldn’t want to live with a stagnant person. Neither would he. We grow and progress better together and I’m grateful for that.

  • maryann7

    This author has discovered one of the most valuable truths about marriage–the fact that you will BOTH continue to change. He is just too wise to stay single!!! My husband has changed so much since our wedding day and I am so happy with him! I have found that sometimes there are periods in marriage where you just have to hang in through the difficult times, be still, and WAIT. We have been married for 45 years and these later years are the best in many ways.

  • Belgica

    You’re an incredible writer. Thanks for this.

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  • Rachel Geogeek

    I met my husband 6 months before the engagement and less than a year before the wedding. My parents were half way across the world on a mission and his lived half way across the world. We only had each other in the temple at our ceremony. I got sick 6 months into marriage. I gained 60 lbs in 3 months on steroids trying to keep auto immune disorders at bay. My parents (who met and married withing months) knew how trying this could be on a brand new marriage and we’re scared it might not last. They had seen marriages dissolve with seemingly less to deal with. My husband stuck with me and loved me even though our honeymoon phase lasted such a short time. Then there were 5 lost pregnancies. A blessed daughter who ended up having heart surgery. Unemployment. Moves. 5 more lost pregnancies. And now a son. This has all happened in the last 11 years (10 being married). It isn’t easy. I have changed. A LOT. I am not ashamed of that. My husband has had more subtle changes, but he is definitely a different person than I met 11 years ago. He proved to me those horrible months of chronic illness as a 20 year old that he is here for good. And for that commitment I am eternally grateful.

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  • Merethemum

    I enjoyed the beautiful stories in the comments as much as the article.
    Marriage is definitely a ride with some great parts, and some that leave you wanting to get off.
    Wouldn’t change it for a thing though…except maybe a sock free floor? 😉

  • lifeseyephoto is me

    You make some very good points in this article. In fact, I have linked it to a post on my blog. Hope you don’t mind. You have a very unique site here!
    W/a Smile, Tiana
    http://seagullsinthemountains.blogspot.com/2015/09/ted-talk-tuesday-borrowing-from-zacks.html

  • Iammudita

    My husband remained the same as he was 25 years ago. I wish he would evolve so I could choose to love that person each and everyday. I chose to love him because he is kind hearted and a wonderful father, however, while I have changed and grown and offer so much more to conversation, he is still stuck Peter Panning by drag racing cars despite being almost 50 years old.


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