"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

For better or for worse?

Marriage. What does it mean anymore? For better or for worse... in sickness and in health? What about when frustrated or frantic? In recession and depression? In America, 41% of first marriages have ended in divorce. The stats for second and third marriages are just too discouraging to mention. Are people giving up too easily these days? Is marriage a nearly impossible task? What makes some marriages last and others disintegrate into all out war?

As my parents are going through a dirty divorce, some of my peers are beginning their blissful marriage journeys... funny how life always juxtaposes these things. So I've been thinking... how do two young, beautiful, happily married people transform into angry middle aged enemies? I guess as time drudges on the responsibilities accumulate thereby nearly suffocating personal time to death. The mortgage, the kids, the work stress, the in-laws, the chores, the bills, and whatever the crisis of the week may be all leave little time to nurture the marriage, let alone the self. Learning to have balance and make time for your relationship is key.

As the hopeless romantic that I am, I refuse to believe that lasting happy marriages are unattainable, despite the evidence stacked against me. From the clinical perspective, it is clear that we all often repeat relationship patterns that we learn from our parents. So how can we fight against the divorce epidemic sweeping the nation? Breaking the cycle of unhealthy relationship patterns is the only way I can fathom. However, this is easier said than done. Firstly, you have to recognize the patterns that you want to avoid repeating. For me, my parents were both workaholics. Between that and aspiring to be the perfect parents, they made little time to work on their relationship with themselves and each other. Learning from our parents' mistakes can help us to better our own lives. When we don't nurture ourselves, we are too strained to have the capacity to take care of others effectively. Therefore, the pattern I want to break is a lack of balance. In order to do this, I have to make a constant effort throughout my life to make the time to care for myself and my relationship. Some people believe love should be enough to carry a marriage through decades. I disagree. Relationships are hard work even when two people are madly in love... so work at it every day!

What relationship pattern do you want to break?

Here are some interesting questions to ponder before committing to another person for a lifetime.


  1. Jessie,

    You are on a great path because you have hope tied to realism (and not pessimism.)

    So many people think a "happy marriage" is about heart throbs, all encompassing joy, and total connection at all times. It's just not true.

    Marriage at its happiest has times of deep understanding and moments of disconnect. It is about sharing, reconnecting and loving. My mom once told me marriage is falling in and out of love repeatedly with your spouse. She shared the trick is to not both be out of love at the same time.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.
    -HappyCoupleXprt (Twitter)

  2. Nice post! I was reading about prairie voles and their monogamy which is rare in the animal kingdom. It's not Always perfect, much like with humans. Going through a divorce myself I wonder about this stuff and the steam I'd have for another shot at this institution. It doesn't always have to be hard though. I truly think it's the work you put in early on about your expectations and beliefs that will ensure a lasting relationship. But I guess we'll see!