“In my family,” said the girl. “It is a tradition for dads to leave when the baby is 3-months-old.”
I was flabbergasted and saddened when my wife conveyed this story to me. What a terrible tradition to pass on to each generation. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my family also had a similar tradition.
My parents divorced when I was around four or five. My sister’s marriage ended when her daughter was young. I’ve also witnessed several of my aunts’ and uncles’ marriages dissolve as well.
On a larger scale, more than 75 percent of African-American infants are born out of wedlock while more than 60 percent of Black households with children are headed by a single parent.
After reading these statistics and examining our family’s track record, my wife and I knew we had to end this cycle.
First, we made a commitment to never divorce. That one was easier said than done. We have been on the brink of divorce, but we managed to resolve our issues through counseling, prayer, and communication. Whereas many people would have given up during these difficult times, we decided to fight for our marriage – and we won. Those struggles intensified our love and devotion and taught us that we have the strength to overcome obstacles.
We also seek other married couples for encouragement, inspiration, and support. There is a couple that attends church with us that has been married for 29 years. What’s more impressive is that both sets of their parents have been married for over 50 years. My marriage idols are Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher. The African-American couple that holds the Guinness World Record for having the longest marriage - 86 years, 9 months, and 16 days. I only mention their race because they defy the statistics on black marriages.
These couples give me hope that it is possible to end my family’s tradition of divorce and start a new tradition of lifetime commitment. Getting married is the simple part. Staying married takes work. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and making our marriage last is definitely worth worth it.
photo copyright Frederick J. Goodall