Why are the most beautiful things in life usually the most difficult to maintain? It takes real work to, for example, reach a breathtaking mountain vista, or find your dream job, or to sustain a healthy relationship. That last one is what Matthew Sullivan wrote about this month in his article titled How to Stop Breaking Up, as featured in the New York Times.
In the article, Sullivan eloquently illustrates how he met his then-future-love-interest, Libby. They first spoke to each other in a book shop they both worked at in Denver.
It wasn't long (a matter of weeks) before they started dating. Their passionate love for books sparked within them a passionate love for each other.
Sullivan writes that he and Libby worked side by side in that book shop for four years. But they weren't four years of a fairytale relationship. Like everyone, they had problems. They were problems that surely you yourself are familiar with. "Openness, idealism, growth," Sullivan writes.
Matthew and Libby's differences and weaknesses ultimately drove them apart. Not once, not twice, not three times; they broke up more than a dozen times. Over and over again. But each breakup ended with a make-up. The little book shop that had originally brought them together was what kept bringing them back together, and the couple pushed forward.
After four years working at that little shop in Colorado, the couple faced their next challenge: a change of employment. Libby moved to Boston and Matthew moved to Idaho. Seperated by 3,000 miles of solid American soil, their relationship held on... sort of.
"We broke up at an artist's colony in Maine where Libby spent summers working as a librarian," Sullivan writes.
"We broke up on the steps of a church in Poland, where I was on a teaching fellowship.
"We broke up in a fleabag motel in Seattle and at her sister's home in Denver."
Well, it's a commitment. It's a public declaration of fidelity to one and only one man or woman. But it's not just a natural result of marriage, hence why about 45-percent of marriages end in divorce.
The marriage commitment is a choice. It's not a one-and-done deal, but rather a continuous decision a married couple makes every day. It's a choice that Matthew and Libby have apparently been making for the last 16 years.
Marriage was not the final solution to their habit of breaking up, but rather it was the outward expression of a newfound inner commitment to each other. That's what stopped Matthew and Libby's phenomenal breakup streak.
If your relationship is suffering from the same problem that Sullivan writes about, consider following in his footsteps. If you're not married and feel that marriage would reinforce your decision to commit (and let's be honest, it would), get married! If you're already married and are still at each other's throats, renew your effort to live this adage every day from now on: "Choose your love, love your choice."