A few years back, a local woman went missing. The community responded with search parties, missing person flyers and even monetary rewards. The husband of a couple I was seeing at the time became fearful of his wife leaving his sight. I told him not to worry. That her disappearance was not a random event. Many years and two trials later, her husband, Bradley Cooper, was convicted of her murder.
This week, another local husband, Jason Young, was convicted of the first degree murder of his pregnant wife. Again, it took many years and two trials to bring about justice. While he argued the killing was a random act, the intense brutality of the beating she took could only have been personal.
Both of these marriages were known by friends and family to be extremely troubled and unhappy. What set these marriages apart was the way they ended, not the underlying difficulties and unproductive behaviors that characterized them.
As I read accounts of Jason Young’s behavior, both before and during his marriage, it became quite apparent that he had no desire to be a husband. He drank too much, acted inappropriately in public, and had at least one affair. His own defense attorneys acknowledged in court that, as a husband, he was a jerk.
As I contemplate these marriages, the line from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade keeps running through my mind, “He chose poorly.” I would argue, so did she (both victims). I would also strongly suggest that they aren’t alone in making poor choices. Not just in choosing partners, but also in choosing marriage.
I define an adult as “someone who can put someone else’s needs before their own wants.” I define a grown up as “someone who accepts things as they are, not as how they want them to be.” These definitions are not based on age, but on behavior. You can be 65 years old and be neither an adult nor a grown up. However, both are required if you want to have a successful marriage.
The third criteria for a strong marriage is a commitment to the relationship. I interpret this as a willingness to make room for your partner in your life. When you take your marriage vows, you are making both a public statement and a private commitment to not walk through life on your own anymore. You tie your life, your choices, and your behavior to your spouse. Every decision you make from that day forward either directly, or indirectly, impacts your partner. It is why I am a strong proponent of making those decisions together.
The Young’s married because she became pregnant. It’s an understandable reason for marriage. It’s just not a good one. She stepped up to the responsibility of this next phase of her life. He continued to behave as if he was still single. This mix could only become volatile. And it did, in a vicious and heartbreaking way.
The inability of one, or both, partners to transition to this new life is at the heart of all marital problems. Luckily, few end in murder. Unfortunately, too many end in divorce. The pain and collateral damage may be just as great, however.
Marriage is a choice. In today’s world, it is no longer a necessity for ensuring a woman’s financial stability and security. It should not be viewed as a prize to be awarded once you have the rest of your life in order. It should be a well-informed decision to move to the next stage of your life and leave the focus purely on yourself behind. If you are not prepared to be an adult and a grown up, or if you are not prepared to commit to making room for another person in your life, then you are not ready to be married. Period.
Marriage is not about work, or sacrifice, or compromise. It’s about the choices you make to live up to your promises. It’s about recognizing that if you choose to go down Path A, Path B is no longer an option and you’re okay with that. No one forced you. No one tricked you. You chose. Hopefully, when and if you decide to marry, you will have chosen wisely.
What do you think marriage is all about? What do you think is necessary for it to be successful? What are the challenges you think most couples have?
- How to Put ‘Happy’ and ‘Marriage’ Together in Your Life
- Buy-In to Your Marriage to Keep Your Love Alive
- How Resolving to Make Your Marriage Great is Key to Its Success: A Fearless Marriage Quote
Learn more about Lesli’s book and how you can take the work and sacrifice out of your marriage.