Marriage … In Retrospect

Ronald Wayne, one of the co-founders of Apple Computer, sold his 10% interest in the company for $800 . . . less than two weeks after it started. What would have ended up being worth $75.5 billion was traded away for less than some people pay for a month’s rent. Wayne later said he made “the best decision with the information available to me at the time.”

In retrospect, nobody can imagine throwing away a fortune for a mere $800. But in retrospect, a lot of things look different, don’t they?

Take marriage for example.

We go into it fueled by infatuation with visions of perfect companions slicing and dicing through the stages of life. We see lots of money, wonderful sex, little kids pretty and perfect, and tons of friends cheering us on.

But sometime in the first few years, reality bites. She’s not as crazy about you as she once was. His kindness has been replaced by an angry tone. Money is tighter than you ever imagined . . . things happen you didn’t plan for and cash is drained away in chunks. Friends feel more like magnets pulling you apart than pushing you together. And if there’s a kid, your joy is joined by the weight of responsibility the first night he’s sick and you don’t know what to do.

In retrospect, you see things you didn’t think about. You didn’t date long enough to see how she responded to stress. You didn’t plan for all these expenses. You didn’t realize how tired she’d be after working all day and how that would affect her interest in you. You didn’t think it would be this hard to have a kid and keep it fed, dry and quiet. And maybe you didn’t think she would show up on your radar. . . the perfect girl who has none of the issues your wife has. You didn’t think he would ever come back into your life and say, “I was wrong, we were meant for each other, leave him and let’s pick up where we left off.”

Thousands . . . no millions of couples hit one of these walls in marriage. After 48 years and hitting most of these walls at one time or another, I offer three suggestions for moving beyond them . . .

  1. Visualize yourself at future points in time and look backward . . . in retrospect.In screenwriting, the main character is revealed by what he does, not by what he says. If you’re 28, visualize yourself at 38. “Is what I’ll be giving up by divorcing my wife the very thing I’ll want when I’m ten years older? Do I want to be ‘that guy’ at 38? At 48? At 58?” Who has divorced his wife and become a better man as a result? Which of my divorced friends has become my hero? Who’s remarried ‘perfection’ and now lives the wrinkle-free life?
  2. Think with your head and not with your heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” says Jeremiah. The word “heart” can be swapped for the word “desires.” Our desires are deceitful. They can be really sick and hard to understand. Our appetites can lead us to decisions that damage our health, wealth and stability. When emotions get involved . . . things like love and lust and acceptance and shame and anger, we can talk ourselves into and out of most anything. Don’t do it. Don’t let your heart convince you of things your head knows are false. Find a couple of friends you respect. Tell them where you are and where you’re headed. Let them talk you off the ledge.
  3. Stress is always derived from deadlines. When we’re patient and not in a hurry, stress is low. But when we want what we want and we want it now, stress goes through the roof. It’s a proven fact that when our emotional level goes up, our functioning level goes down. We make poorer decisions, some of which we’ll regret in retrospect. Think long-term. Visualize future seasons of married life when you’ll have more money, older kids, and less testosterone. Think about how your tenacity will someday inform your kids. Divorcing your husband informs them a different way. It gives them permission to divorce. Never forget that.               

It’s been said that marriage is the full-length mirror where we see our selfishness. None of us want to hear that in the here and now. But in retrospect, I see my temptations around marriage and divorce were motivated by my selfishness. Don’t give into it. Think long-term. Give yourself and your wife and your God time. In retrospect, we feel good about ourselves when we do the right thing. I knew the ‘right thing’ was to stick it out . . . to invest in my marriage even when it was hard. In retrospect, I’m so glad I didn’t sell out early on for what I now know to be chump change.

Scripture: Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Mentor Tip: 
Tell your guys about your marriage . . . the good, the bad and the ugly. Your transparency and vulnerability can help them avoid the mistakes you made. Help them think long-term and take the “d-word” off the table.

This blog was reprinted by permission from our friends at Radical Mentoring.


Regi Campbell is an experienced investor and entrepreneur by trade. But his real passion is mentoring younger men. In 2007, Regi founded Radical Mentoring to help encourage and equip mentors and churches to launch mentoring groups. He has written three books: About My Father’s BusinessMentor Like Jesus and What Radical Husbands Doand currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife of 47 years, Miriam.