We've been married now for 33 years and we've had our ups and our downs with lots of downs. Several times we stayed together because we couldn't afford to split up (plus deep inside we knew that we could make it through the storm if we just hung in there).
We've talked about this several times and we feel the most important aspect of our relationship is commitment. We are committed to stay with each other(divorce never even comes up anymore...although murder might be threatened) though thick and thin (and right now we're both thick and trying to get thin...but that's another topic).
We've found that we can weather any problem and make it back through the cycles we go through to find those feelings of love - if we remember our commitment and just stick to it.
One thing that is funny is that even after all these years - we struggle with communicating sometimes and even today we had a near blow-up about something. When he walked back in the door (he'd been up to our son's helping with the vehicle), I kept telling myself, "I am feeling hurt and angry and I can act on those feelings and make us both miserable and rip him a new one...or I can choose to let it go and understand that what I'm experiencing are 'feelings' and not let them run my life or my actions." I chose to smile and have us all go to lunch (our daughter lives with us). She got up to get more at the buffet when he turned to me and said, "I know I really pissed you off and I'm sorry. I know we don't communicate well and I need to work on it."
I had tears in my eyes. I could have argued my point and helped create a fight..but by giving him time to think through things...he is the one who opened up the subject.
I explained that I wasn't trying to show that I was pissed and that I was trying to get over it 'cause I didn't want to run my life by feelings...and he said, "I could hear it in your voice. You were trying to be sweet, but I knew you were hurt."
We talked more later on.
It reminds me that communication is a great thing and it's something I'd love to see us have more of - but that deep commitment we have to stay together and try to focus on "we" and not "me"...that's what makes us work.
It's gonna tear me apart when I leave this coming weekend to close up mom's apartment and be gone about 2 weeks. I'll get back about the time he heads off on his motorcycle for his brother's wedding.
I'm glad we have the next few days to just celebrate together now that we've worked through things - vs. being mad for days which we've done before.
I'll close this with a short story I read somewhere years ago. Someone asked the evangelist Billy Graham's wife about their marriage and the success of it and at one point they asked if she'd ever considered divorce (Billy traveled a lot and she was home with the kids all the time). She said (with a smile), "Divorce? No. Murder? Possibly..."
We quote that to each other sometimes when we get frustrated...cause it makes us laugh.