One of the biggest problems in a marriage is the lack of strong relationship peers to help the couple realize that problems in marriage are normal. Anytime I hear someone speak of the "perfect marriage" I know they are hiding stories of blood shedding arguments, slammed doors, hours of silence, and maybe even a departure or two. Any couple that says they never fight, probably beat each other with cast iron skillets. I've found that when people pretend that they have a perfect marriage, it is usually because their marriage is...in the words of Charles Barkley, "Turrible". If more couples with good marriages were transparent about the trials and work it takes to maintain a family, more couples would have "good marriages".
I married the best man I have ever known. His character is of great value to our communities and to our family. His passion for scholarship in our communities has driven him to help numerous students in pursuit of a college education. His ability to uplift those around us is only surpassed by the manhood and perseverance he has shown in our marriage. He is unequivocally, undoubtedly THE best man I have ever know...and he works my one good nerve. There are days when I am so fed up with looking at him that if he says, "Good Morning" I am annoyed. And guess what? In the last 15 years we've been together and 10 of marriage, I am fairly certain he has felt the same way. We have had problems - to say the least.
The key to keeping a family together is simple. Well, not really, but it sounds simple. The difference between people who stay married and people who divorce is that people who stay married...stay married. Hurt, betrayal, loss, and the pressure of finances affect "good marriages" just as they do ones that end in divorce. There are no characteristics of couples who stay married versus divorce. For my saints out there shouting "Jesus" - There are Jesus couples that get divorced and non-Jesus couples that say married until death do them part. But, couples that share an accountability for staying together put their heads down and drive through the storm even when they don't feel like it.
One of the things that I have found to help with this accountability is a circle of friends - a village - that supports the culture of family. This works not simply because you have like-minded couples to share with, but also because your families are so intertwined that the dissolution of your marriage would impact the village. It causes you to think before you give up your marriage.
Ego has no place in a relationship, particularly a marriage. In a "good" marriage, you sometimes risk outsiders criticizing you for staying together, but as long as the two of you agree that there is something to be salvaged you continue to work together. Good marriages have bad times. In those times you must remember the old saying, "This too shall pass."