It was in a story yesterday morning: “Marriage is just the flip of a coin.” Because of this “fact” the writer was making the case that being a swinger is an acceptable lifestyle and one which should not only be accepted, but actually encouraged.
It was in a phone call yesterday afternoon. The magic is gone from the marriage. He thinks he made a mistake. He doesn’t “feel it” anymore and thinks he never can. “I guess I flipped the coin and lost.”
It was in a television show last night. I’m sure the writer thought he was dictating absolute truth. Look around. Failure in marriage is everywhere so anyone who has a good marriage just got lucky.
There is no doubt that a good marriage feels like luck. Jenny and I regularly discuss how lucky we feel. I see friends, talk with readers, and sit with those whose marriages are failing and oftentimes it feels as though some people are just unlucky. (See: Three People You Should Marry)
The girl does everything right, but a few years into marriage the boy cheats and the relationship ends.
A guy lives radically differently from his friends, finds a great mate, but she refuses to grow up and the marriage dies.
The young couple is the epitome of how a young couple should be, but within a decade they are not together.
A good marriage can feel like luck, because there are many people who have experienced the sting of divorce who have not done any more wrong than any of the rest of us. They weren’t perfect, but their mistakes should not have ended in a divorce, yet their marriages dissolved and they are feeling the weight of trying to put their lives back together.
Individuals can have bad fortune. They can be perfectly willing to do whatever is necessary to make a marriage work, but their spouse is not willing. Where one is unwilling, both suffer. To them, it feels like a flip of the coin.
Yet marriage is never a coin toss.
Unless two people are wiling to submit their individual wills to that which is best for the couple, a marriage will likely fail. While marriage might seem like a great mystery which is highly unpredictable, it is actually fairly simple to predict if a marriage will last or not.
While I may not be able to accurately predict whether an individual will get divorced, I can confidently say that any couple with both individuals doing everything in their power to make a marriage work, will in fact make a marriage work. (See: How I Predict Divorce Based on the Wedding Cake)
Marriages most often fail because individuals choose to stop trying.
Even if the divorce rate was 50% (remember that it is not), marriage still would not be a flip of the coin. There is not an unidentified mystery of whether a marriage will make it or not. There is the unanswered question of whether each of individual will do the work necessary to find success. Some will and some won’t. Unfortunately, many who would do the work are married to people who won’t, and so they will end up divorced even though it’s the last thing they wanted.
But they didn’t lose a coin toss. They lost a flip of their partner’s will.
If you are considering marriage but you are afraid of the risk, recognize that successful marriages are everywhere. It’s a myth that every marriage is failing; many marriages are thriving. Surround yourself with mentors who love marriage and learn from them.
If you are married and things are going well, appreciate the good times but do not become apathetic assuming it will always be this way. Keep growing, learning, and loving one another.
If you are married and things aren’t going well, you might be tempted to wonder, “Am I losing a flip of the coin?” Tell yourself the truth—there is no coin being tossed. Do the work necessary to make the marriage succeed.
Good news: marriage not a flip of the coin. Your relational success is not based on luck, but instead is a direct reflection of the actions the two of you take as a couple.
Bad news: marriage not a flip of the coin. You can’t luck into a successful marriage; you must work at it.