Saturday, June 9, 2007

Marriage and Divorce: Like Peas and Carrots

Our grandparents must have a lot of misgivings considering the new attitudes prevalent in society today about marriage and divorce. Gone are the days when "till death do us part", means "till death do us part" for many of us. It appears that "till we have a disagreement" seems more the norm. Often marriage and divorce are mentioned in the same sentence now. More than ever it seems that couples are getting married with the understanding that "if things don't work out there is always divorce". What is it that has taken place in the past decade or so to make divorce seem as common as opening a bank account? Why are so many marriages ending in divorce? Could it be that people today place more emphasis on trying to find a way out of a problem instead of looking for a cure?

Society frequently dictates the actions we take in our lives, especially when it comes to marriage and divorce. Throughout history divorce was not an option. Even King Henry VIII had to start a new church so he could divorce his first wife. History shows us other examples of when divorce was considered taboo as well, when marriage was a lifelong duty. Many fathers would 'gift' or 'sell' their daughters to men they had never met before simply because it made an "agreeable match," securing either wealth, prestige, or both. That match, whether agreeable or not, lasted until the death of one or the other partner. Today things are much different. We no longer sell our female children into marriage of course, but we also see divorce as an easy option if the marriage breaks downs.

Communication is the glue that keeps marriages alive. Sitting together, like peas and carrots on a plate in comfortable silence with your spouse is common for those who are happily married. But when silence exists between you and your spouse because neither of you have anything to say to one another may be an indication that your marriage is in trouble. Positive conversations obviously took place between people before marriage even enter their minds. So what happened once the vows were said that makes couples say negative things to one another or stop communicating completely? Conversations fulfill a need. They create a connection, an opportunity to voice a thought or learn something new. When couples fail to communicate after they are married, shared dreams and desires can be lost and the marriage disintegrates. To create a solid, long lasting marriage, it is important to focus on positive points about your relationship instead of only discussing the negative. This could mean talking about shared interests and desires for the future, or it could simply be letting the other person know how important they are in your life.

Statistics on marriage and divorce rates have become staggering. Some reports reveal that at least forty percent of marriages today will end in divorce. Our society has drastically changed the expectation of marriage, making it far less important than it was a decade ago. The union of two people creating a life together, the vows they shared on their wedding day, their goals and plans, their life together seem to lose their importance as the daily grind of life takes it's toll.

Saving a marriage can be as simple as opening up the lines of communication. It can also be as difficult as overcoming personality differences and making sacrifices for one another. But the bottom line is that marriage takes work and dedication from both parties involved for it to survive.

There are of course very legitimate reasons for divorce. No one should be forced to live in a situation that is harmful, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. However, getting a divorce when the first challenge presents itself seems to be the norm in our society. It appears we are raising a society of people who lump marriage and divorce together in the same sentence and accept it as the norm.

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