As David very well knows, I have an issue blocking out other people’s conversations around me. I just pick up some random sentence and get intrigued. I call it my brain’s “selective eavesdropping” because it doesn’t happen all the time, but on random occasions.

It happened today. This morning, actually.

I was at the gym, and at the end of my workout, I hopped on an open treadmill for a brief run. There were two people on treadmills to my left, a man and a woman, having a conversation in which I wish I had had the guts to participate. It was a sad talk, really. From what I gathered, the man’s daughter was having issues with guys. Ok, what girl hasn’t had issues with guys, right? That wasn’t the sad part, though.

I’m not sure how old his daughter was, but from the context, I would guess in her mid to late 20s. I had missed the beginning of the conversation detailing what I would guess to be a list of the types of guys she’d dated and what didn’t work with each one.

When I joined in (listening of course), the man was lamenting the fact that his daughter is still single. “Do you think she’s a diva or something?” the man asked. The woman responded, “No, she’s not a diva, she’s just got the wrong sort of expectations as far as men go.”

I thought to myself wrong sort of expectations? Is she over-demanding? High-maintenance? Too clingy? Hmm…I wonder…

Nope. Turns out she was looking for chivalry. And today that constitutes the “wrong sort of expectations”? Yikes.

The woman continued, “What your daughter wants is one of you. A man like you. Men like you don’t exist anymore. This young generation is used to women striving to be equal with men in the workplace and just in society as a whole. Women are encouraged to be independent. You know, the ‘You don’t need a man to take care of you’ mentality. Your daughter can’t expect a man to care for her and treat her like a queen while at the same time treat her as though she were his equal.”

I was dumbfounded. Really? A woman can’t be treated like a lady and pursue her own dreams like everyone else? Interesting.

“Really?” the man inquired.

“Oh yeah. I mean, she’ll have to change her expectations to have a shot at marriage…”

I think what she meant here was “lower her standards.” But even so, she’d have to do that just to have a shot at marriage? Whoa. No wonder the divorce rate is so high…seems like some have lost faith in the concept of married for life. Now it’s more like a lottery or something. Maybe you’ll get all the right numbers and win society’s “big prize” (a perfect mate for life in a flawless marriage), or maybe you’ll keep buying new tickets…dissatisfied with the result of the most recent one you purchased.

Newsflash: the secret to having the same spouse for life is not throwing in the towel–ever. Always work through problems. My parents taught me that true, lasting love is work. I never really understood them when I was dating David–even when we got engaged. I was just so lovestruck and giddy. Love was easy.

Then we got married. No, it all didn’t go downhill. It’s been amazing, honestly. But we’ve had to work at our relationship in this past year of marriage. When two imperfect people come together, what’s the result? An imperfect marriage. Once you get to that point and understand that marriage isn’t going to be all sunny days, and determine that you’re willing to work at it to make it last, you can do it. It’s a commitment that’s sometimes rushed into without thought. Be cautious. But once you do make that commitment, stick with it.

The woman went on, “That’s why I thought setting her up with an older man, a more traditional man, would be a good move. He’d treat her the way a lady is supposed to be treated. She won’t find that in a man her age.”

That’s where I wanted to jump in. “Well, I’ve found it. I’ve found a fantastic man that lets me be the driven, independent, strong woman that God made me to be while still treating me like a lady and making me feel special. He opens jars, carries my suitcase, surprises me with cards and flowers, scrapes the ice off my car and leads our family in so many ways–spiritually, relationally, financially–while still encouraging me to pursue my dreams and believing in my abilities as a woman.

It is possible. Oh if only I could have coffee with that man’s daughter. I’d look her in the eyes and tell her to never lower her standards. I’d tell her that no man is worth lowering your standards for…any such man doesn’t deserve her. I’d tell her that marriage for a lifetime is the most amazing commitment that a person can make and that it is possible to do. It’s just a matter of making divor** an off-limits word. We have. It never comes up, ever. It’s a matter of committing your marriage to God and relying on his strength and guidance to keep it together.

It’s a matter of never, ever, giving up. Why? Because your spouse is worth it. You fought to get them, right? Now fight to keep them.