I just celebrated my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary with my husband. I’m not sure how we made it through a quarter of a century, but somehow we did, as well as three years together before that. Everyone is full of congratulations and well-wishers. Yet for most Amish couples, a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is standard procedure.
That’s not to say that they don’t celebrate, but there are many more Amish couples reaching this milestone than English couples. Everyone knows that Amish couples can’t divorce. So it’s easy for them, right?
Not particularly. Amish couples have a lot of the same problems as English couples. Job stresses, children stresses, and a host of other issues.
So how do Amish couples stay married for life?
They do a lot of the same things that English couples do.
My Amish friend Sadie was telling me about going to marriage counseling sessions with her husband. Well, we would call them counseling classes. They call them marriage enrichment classes. Instead of a one-on-one therapist-to-couple situation, four or five couples get together on a weekly basis to talk about how to keep their marriages fresh.
The men also have a “boys night.” The men all get together at someone’s house and have a singing. Women are not invited. It’s just a time for them.
The women have “hen trips” and all the girls take a small get away jaunt to give them a little time away from children and husbands.
It’s a strong misconception that the Amish aren’t allowed to read their Bibles at home. Although this may be the case in some of the more conservative Amish sects, the average Amish couple does read the Bible together. What better way to feel close to one another than studying God’s word?
For the most part, Amish couples don’t have electronic devices that pull them away from their family time. Though with so many Amish men working off farms and in the English world these days, this too can become a problem for the Amish as it is for the English.
When people ask me how we managed to stay married for so long, I always tell them, the secret to being married is that you have to want to be married. For the Amish, divorce is not an option. Sadie once had a friend come stay with her for a while when the friend and her husband were having problems. The bishop talked to both the husband and the wife to help them work through their issues.
They have to remain married, though that doesn’t mean that couples have to live under the same roof. It isn’t well-accepted for couples to separate, though it has happened. I’ve even heard of an Amish couple who live their different lives though married and living in the same household. When I asked about this arrangement, I was told that the bishop felt the marriage was the most important thing and the couple needed to do what they had to do in order to keep it sacred. (Keep in mind that separate lives to the Amish does not have the same meaning as it does to the English.)
So once again, the Amish are not so far different than the English. They have their marital problems just like we do. The difference is how they handle those issues.
I love the joke about the elderly Amish couple who were asked how they managed to stay married for so long. The old gentleman replied, “Because neither one of us is dead yet.”
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