I don’t know about you, but ever since I was a little girl, singing Disney princesses, romantic comedies, and pop love songs have all told me that I should never settle for anything less than “the one.” He would be my soulmate, my “other half.” He would read my mind and satisfy all my needs. Once he and I met, we would know right away that we were the only ones meant for each other. I would never be lonely again. It was a marvelous concept. But is it true?
The fact is 2 out of 3 second marriages and 3 out of 4 third marriages end in divorce (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006).
That’s a lot of people with wrong feelings. What seems like everlasting love is usually short-lived infatuation and lust.
In He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), Anna [Scarlett Johanson] is a single woman who is considering pursuing a married man [Bradley Cooper] after a “magical” encounter outside a grocery store. Anna seeks advice from her friend Mary [Drew Barrymore].
“What if you meet the love or your life, but you already married someone else?” Mary asks. “Are you supposed to let them pass you by?“
We’re told to follow our feelings and we’re left with more divorce papers.
In the book, Sacred Marriage, Christian author Gary Thomas notes: "We have to rid ourselves of the notion that the difficulties of marriage can be overcome if we simply pray harder or learn a few simple principles. …What if God didn’t design marriage to be "easier”? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?“
Valentine’s day weekend last year, The Vow was released. It was a romantic drama starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams that was inspired by the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, a newlywed couple who experienced a devastating car crash a mere 10 weeks after their wedding. Krickitt suffered a debilitating head injury in which her entire memory of her husband Kim was erased. Krickitt never recovered her memory of her courtship, engagement and wedding with Kim, but they remarried and eventually had two children. They recounted their love story in the book with the same name.
I’m a huge fan of the movie, but as with any book-to-movie endeavor, plenty was lost in translation. The movie did not come close to portray the scope of Krickitt’s developmental loss. Weeks following the crash, Krickitt was like a tantrum-filled preschooler whom Kim had to coach back to physical and emotional health. Several months after the accident, Kim had been on leave from his college coaching job, medical bills were piling up, and Krickitt’s recovery seemed at a standstill, What’s worse, Krickitt began to resent Kim for his tough love as a coach. A sobering reality finally hit Kim.
“Very possibly, the woman I married no longer existed.” Kim had to make the conscious decision to uphold his commitment to Krickitt, even if she never remembered him.
When Krickitt lost her memory, she lost her feelings for Kim. She had to completely rediscover what it was about Kim that she had fallen in love with the first time.
“My love has grown in a different way–not that ‘fluffy romantic love,’ but more of a conscious choice. The fact was, I was married to this man. The feelings came later, and by God’s grace, I’ve grown to love him again,” Krickitt said.
The producers of the movie also exercised their creative license when they removed the couple’s devotion to God and their Christian faith. Unlike their movie counterparts, divorce was never an option for Kim and Krickitt.
Some well-meaning friends told him, “At some point you might just have to let this go.” Others pointed out that divorce would be the easiest way to release Kim from Krickitt’s mountain of medical bills. A social worker told him that when a married person has a debilitating head injury, the odds of divorce are around 80 to 90 percent.
“I had a simple answer for anyone who suggested divorce,” Kim said. “'No, it will never happen.’…I couldn’t see myself going through life without the woman I loved–the woman I had vowed to protect through times of challenge and need…I’m stuck with [her] for life. We will make it work. There is no other option.“
It’s a sobering moment when we realize that difficulties are not just the exception, but the norm in marriage. Kim and Krickitt are living testaments that it is possible to have a thriving marriage in the most crushing circumstances. Krickitt admitted that at her second wedding she experienced a deeper love than most wives experience in a lifetime. We need to stop viewing trials in our relationships as an unnecessary burden, or even a necessary evil, but as a stepping stone to a deeper love.
"Our unique experiences, as awful as they were at the time, have given us a stronger bond than we would have had without them.” Kim said. “We’re closer now; we’ve got a different bond, a more meaningful connection than before.”
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