Though statistics show that U.S. divorce rates are actually dropping, divorce is still very common. According to The New York Times, those married in the 1980s had about a 47% chance of divorcing, while those married in the 1990s (like Jeff and me) have about a 35% chance of divorce.
These statistics still aren’t very encouraging. But, defying the stats, Jeff and I recently celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. Not only that, but both my parents and Jeff’s parents (as well as a handful of aunts and uncles) have also been married for much longer than us.
Are we special somehow? Not at all. We’ve just found the right formula for making marriage work for us.
The most important thing we do—and that we saw our parents do—is practice mutual respect. It’s something you have to work on and nurture to get it right, but it’s possible.
Jeff and I have gone through many seasons over the last 18 years. We had some time without children, then we were a young couple with young babies. Eventually, the kids started growing older and more independent—but now needing rides to soccer practice and friends’ houses. Add to that careers, new businesses, moves and it’s a recipe for stress and overwhelm.
We learned early on that it’s not enough to divide and conquer 50/50, like so many people stress. We found that the only way to make things work is if both of us give 110%, every day.
We’re no experts in relationships, but we must be doing something right! Here’s our own strategy for making it work:
- We make time for us, as a couple. To remain a happy couple, we need to spend time as a couple—without the kids. We’ve been lucky that with Beachbody I’ve earned several trips that we’ve gone on solo. But even without those trips, we make it a point to have date nights and time alone where we can be a couple.
- We make family time a priority. We’re a busy family and our kids are all involved in sports and other activities. But we make it a point to spend time together as a family. Our kids cheer one another on at sporting events and they’re willing to jump in and help one another out when needed also.
- We divide and conquer. With one child in one sport and another child needing to be across town for something else, Jeff and I often have to divide responsibilities so everyone gets to where they need to be. Same goes for housework—sometimes more falls on Jeff while other times I step up. But we work together as a team to make sure it all gets done. And no one keeps tit-for-tat points.
- We spend time apart. Just like it’s important to spend time together, we also need to spend time apart. Both Jeff and I have our own interests that we like to explore apart from one another. It’s important to grow as individuals and to consciously make time to do that.
Statistics are one thing, but we’re determined to defy the odds. Not every day is perfect and neither one of us claims to be. But we’re perfect for one another.