Why Bother Thinking About The Other Fifty Percent?


Why Bother Thinking About The Other Fifty Percent?

Recently, while at the grocery store, I was reminded of my earlier days of marriage. As the familiar female clerk, whose age I gauged to be mid thirties, waited for me to write out my check, she conversed with a man who’d come and stood next to her. She spoke softly into his ear, while he leaned toward her. It was a brief, but personal encounter between the two.

When I handed her my check she smiled and said with a blush, “That was my husband. He is just getting off work.”

I looked at the clock on the wall, it was 6:30 a.m. “So he works the night shift and you work days.” She nodded as she processed my check. “Do you ever have time off together?” I asked, thinking about how difficult it must be for them to nurture their relationship with opposite work schedules.

“Yes, we schedule our days off so we can spend time with each other and our kids, ” she said with a smile. 

The Decisions Made

I thanked her and rolled my grocery cart out the door, reminiscing on all the decisions married couples have to make together. First, comes the one to tie the knot.

It was the commitment to a marriage that had scared me, not the tall, lean, blond haired, blue eyed man I’d become infatuated with. I’d come of age in the 70s, and envisioned marriage to be more like a ball and chain around my ankle, the loss of freedom, and the diminishing of my true self. I shook my head at the funny imaginings that had almost kept me from the bond of matrimony and my happy union. 

Then after marriage, every couple weighs the pros and cons of bringing offspring into the world and if they do, they have to answer the question, “Who will raise our child?”

Loading my groceries into the back end of my car, I remembered how at first, it had been hard for me to stay home. I’d kept my job until our first son was born and was convinced I’d go back after maternity leave. But it didn’t happen that way. Instead, I was given a lay off notice. At first, I was devastated, but not for long. Every time I’d gaze into the eyes of my newborn, I was convinced I was the one to raise him, and not someone at a child-care center. 

Staying home meant raising a family on one income. Not an easy choice. During those years, my husband worked six days a week and we often batted around various ideas of how we could make more money. Finally we concluded that it wasn’t so much about how to have more income. It was more about how to live contently with what we had. 

I closed the car’s hatch, now full of groceries, and stashed the cart with others in the parking lot. Getting into the driver’s seat, I started my car and thought back to some of the tougher moments in our marriage when I’d thought about throwing in the towel. I’m glad I never did. I steered my car back home where I knew my husband would be waiting to help me unload and put away the groceries. I smiled with gratitude thinking of how we’d stayed together in spite of  those hard moments and over the long haul. 

Fifty percent of those who say, “I do,” will later say, “I can’t do this anymore,” and file for divorce. But the other fifty percent who say, “I do,” and stick with their commitment may find their pledge to each other worth the effort it takes to stay together. I pray that my grocery clerk and her husband find that to be true.

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