I read an article from the Star Tribune the other day which, in effect, said “working class people are being priced out of having happy marriages.” That somehow, good marriages and happy couples exist only because they come from prosperous roots.
It gave an example of a woman who was in a couple of loveless marriages and laid the blame straight on the fact that, without money, there was no way to succeed. I don’t think I would have to go far, in my life, to find people who have had solid marriages which were based on anything they were able to buy.
My parents, who, by the way, had a good marriage, never had squat. We were some of the poorest people in the town we lived in. They had eight children and out of the eight, over a span of 50 some years there has been one divorce, and it had nothing to do with lack of money.
I go to church on Sundays and see all sorts of elderly couples happy to be living out their old age with partners they have walked the path of life with for many years. I personally know most of them and they are not rich. At least, not in the sense of riches the newspaper was talking about. The richness they possess comes from hearts that grew close together by working hard, raising families and having an admiration for each other for what they brought to that marriage. Note, I said, “brought” to the marriage, not “bought” for the marriage.
My wise old grandfather, God bless his soul, told me the two greatest things anyone could give to each other were love and respect. That those two things were the absolute foundation for a good marriage, and that’s where you started to build from that day you tied the knot. You can take all of your money and riches and go down to the Mall of America and walk the corridors for days, looking in storefront after storefront, and you will never find a “love and respect” store. You get respect one way — by earning it — and you get love one way — by giving it. It’s that simple and there are no shortcuts.
I was married for 49 years, and except for the death of my spouse, I still would be. We were never rich, or even mildly rich, when it came to money. We always had enough to eat, and paid our bills, bought most of the things we needed, but not many things we viewed as luxuries. When we had troubles in our marriage — and yes, financial troubles, too — facing them and solving them together only made us stronger. The happiest moments in our married life didn’t come from buying them. I have many friends who are rich, and a lot of them are happily married. But I suspect that those happy bonds they now share were made long before the money was there, and if the money was gone, the love would still exist. The money was only the frosting on the cake.
We have done many things to dumb down and ruin marriages in our society and not make them work. We have developed selfish attitudes about what we should and shouldn’t have to endure in life. Troubles, in and out of marriage, often become a blame game with couples because someone isn’t man or woman enough to face them any other way. Children, grandparents, friends and other relatives are thrown beneath the wheels in the aftermath; and nobody is ever happier, rich or not.