The Honorable Leah Ward Sears, a retired chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, has had her hand in dissolving more than a few marriages. She wrote a thoughtful article last month sharing some of what she has learned about marriage during her 26-year career on the bench, as well as in her personal life. Her take:
- Love, yes, but be committed to marriage. Marriage is always complicated. Divorce is almost always a tragedy, even more so when children are involved. She once refused a divorce to a couple after meeting with them individually and realizing neither wanted it, although the husband had cheated on his wife of 40 years. She ordered counseling, they worked it out, and he later came back to thank her. “I don’t know of any long-term marriage that doesn’t go through a ‘stupid’ phase,” she says.
- Marriage is the most pro-child institution we have. She cites research that children living with married parents have higher self-esteem, are less delinquent, are more likely to delay sexual activity and have lower rates of teen pregnancy than children from single-parent families.
- Judge Sears adds that married parents report being happier, more satisfied, and have fewer emotional problems than divorced parents. “For your children as well as ourselves, it’s time for our country to recommit to the institution of marriage,” she says.
- After years of studying this nation’s divorce epidemic—and even pondering her own failed first marriage—Judge Sears has come to an insightful conclusion about what makes a marriage succeed. “They key to most successful marriages is when the couple is more committed to the health and longevity of the marriage than to each other. That way, during those times when they can’t stand each other—and those times surely will come, as no one is perfect—they have something to fall back on and remain committed to.” She says while love, laughter and common values are important in mate selection, commitment to the marriage itself is more important.
Judge Sears serves as a Distinguished Fellow in Family Law at the Institute for American Values. Read her complete article: Love, yes, but be committed to marriage.
What are you committed to? Your own happiness? Finding enduring romantic love? Your mate? Or the health of your marriage?