Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Is marriage doomed?

In the POJO’s “Tell Me About It,” columnist Carolyn Hax tells a woman, who isn’t sure if all marriages are doomed, that there are many reasons why couples end up divorced.

She says: One reason is people settle. They pick a partner that is “good enough.” Or they think they are in love, but it’s really infatuation, or a desire for the title “Mrs.” Or they are in love, then something happens, and one of them changes. Or they hit a wall, like when one wants children and the other one doesn’t. Or they have bad communication and it catches up with them when life gets complicated.

“There is a place for hard work in a relationship,” she advises. “It’s in facing yourself, admitting your needs, anticipating your weaknesses, and summoning enough respect for the outcome to be your staunchest advocate.

“And, it’s in having the courage to wait for someone who is easy to love.”

Do you agree?

photo credit: by me!

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

i think the bottom line is: humans are animals, and monogamy is not a natural animalistic instinct.

monogamy is more of a religious concept, and in today's world religion holds significantly less power over people.

in the west, women have been liberated to express themselves both professionally and sexually. they are less subjected to men, and to the role of servile wife and mother. this is not a bad thing; i am not blaming women.

selfishness is on the rise, along with wealth and power. the "family" has become less important. people, now more than ever, "don't want kids." even less want to be tied to a marriage that bores them.

this is the way of the western world.

and while i agree that "people settle" and all that other stuff, i don't believe that has anything to do with why marriages don't last anymore.

people have been "settling" (and all that other stuff) for as long as the concept of monogamy has existed.

i haven't really thought this out. i'm just babbling. i could be totally wrong.

Sarah said...

Ummm... are you saying we should live in the world of the HBO show "BIG LOVE" because I'm not about to share my husband with three other women to satisfy his animal instincts!

Sarah said...

I agree with Hax.

I was in a relationship that was going well until HE changed (due to a death in the family).

I was in a relationship where I settled. I dated someone I wasn't attracted to both physically and mentally. It ended.

I know someone who has been engaged to every guy she has dated. Umm, can you say doomed?

I know people who don't communicate well, so how do you solve problems that are bound to pop up?

AND I know people who settle. A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO SETTLE.

Chrissie said...

Wow, was that first comment from anonymous actually my EX BF?!?!

Whatever the orgins of monogamy, I think that it is BECAUSE it IS a STRUGGLE that it is IMPORTANT to commitment.

Things that are EASY don't show us how much we care, it's those things that are difficult that prove we love... I think.

And personal experience has taught me that even those guys that denounce monogamy eventually find themselves lonely and unfulfilled.

vanessa said...

I think I agree with Chrissie on the last comment. People stay with people they may not end up wanting to be with. When things are "easy" you think you're really happy with the person, and maybe not just the easy situation you're in.

Once things get bad you realize whether you're going to walk out the door or not. Choosing to stay and work things out means you do feel something deep for this person... Or at least thats the way I look at it.

But I suppose some people could try to work things out because they cant stand sleeping alone. I know a few of my friends that have been that way.

I had a friend that was given a black eye by her BF and she defended him!

If someone who supposedly :loved: me gave me a black eye, I'd put him in the hospital. Not , "Oh, it was my fault, I was being bitchy."

Sarah said...

Can it ever be easy? I see some couples that make it look easy. Why can't I have that? WHY??????

Chrissie said...

Easy is boring.

Ross said...

i'd marry you sarah

Anonymous said...

I'm so tired of hearing that monogamy is "not natural"...due to animal insticts. If you do your research you will find that there are several species of animals that mate for life.... this is just an excuse guys use so they don't have to committ, not wanting to committ is fine, but don't blame it on insticts.
I personally found, that when I found " The One " I no longer wanted meaningless relationships with other people, monogamy wasn't forced upon me, by society, religion or anyghing else, It was something I wanted.

Anonymous said...

you guys are rehashing why relationships don't work. i was talking about why marriage is "doomed" in today's world.

marriage is a commitment to the longest relationship of your life: the rest of your life.

what i'm saying is, life-long relationships are impractical.

i'm not advocating "big love" polygamy. adding more life-long partners is not the solution.

i'm just saying, staying with one partner for the rest of your life is not a natural thing.

i'm not ignorant to the possibility it can work -- on the rare occasion it does. but more often it does not.

notions like "struggle" and "love" and "caring" and "proving" anything go only so far.

people eventually get bored, and those notions that bonded together a lackluster marriage just don't have the strength to endure anymore.

and so people get divorced. "irreconcilable differences" is all you have to say... the magical phrase that ends it all.

Fuzzy said...

I hate to be the one to break this to you but marriage is dead. I sadi that to the GF and I had to run cauise she was gonna hit me with a golf club. It sucks but it's the truth. I had to watch my mom go threw 2 before she hit the nail on the head. She also was 50 when it happened. I think that's the key. by the time your 50 most of your personality changes have come and gone and have the ability to settle down. I know from seeing what she went through marriage isn't what it's cracked up to be(the GF dosen't feel the same and the pressure's on...a little bit)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I just woke up, but let me answer this qestion for you.

Yes.

Thank you and goodnight.

Sarah said...

If marriage is dead, what happens to the concept of FAMILY? It's already going down the tube. I don't live in a world without Family Values. It's bad enough I got called a "skank" for crossing in a crosswalk yesterday but an impatient driver.

If we have 5 different partners, how do you bring up kids in that environment? How do you balance finances and plan for the future? I don't like it. I just don't like it.

Anonymous said...

its very easy. everyone takes care of themselves. and the kids eat the scraps.

ok that was a joke but this isn't.

the traditional family from the old days that everyone thinks is "normal" never accually existed. it is safe to say that from the 40's till today most if not all familys were disfunctional in their own way. Alchoholism, spousal abuse, drug abuse, child abuse. the breakdown of the traditional family tree is the least of our problems. In fact it seems to be more of a solution. there have been a steady decline in the above infractions since the 1940's .

Its about time we realize that people are primitave beings looking for immediate gratification and self indulgence. so you dress your self up in banana republic's spring catalog and put on the facade of being "normal".

but what is normal? with the exception of the ability to comunicate through written language, we are no different than any other mamal. stop trying to hide it! just eat, sleep, and reproduce like we are supposed to and stop acting so sophisticated.

Anonymous said...

in regards to the concept of family (expanding on what i said in the first comment)...

the family has become less important, because family values have become less important, because "morality" is being redefined, because religion holds less control over people's lives.

religious servitude was the glue that adhered our moral concepts to our tangible self.

without that glue, our physical acts become detached from our moral conscience. morality is redefined as we justify our behavior. traditional obligations are not kept. expectations are not met. certain accustomed social and familial structures begin to breakdown.

but again, i haven't really thought this thru all that much... but maybe i'm on to something...

btw, i am not religious. i'm not trying to go there...

i am just identifying a natural characteristic of man -- the characteristic that religion was designed to repress:

selfishness.

Sarah said...

Why even wear clothes at all? Maybe we just paint numbers on our body that signify what time we want to mate with each other, and we can live happily ever after… That’s just sick.

I know that monogamy, dinner around the table at 5 p.m., Sunday school for the kids, family vacations, Sunday pasta with the in-laws, etc., are all in my future. If not for anything else, I plan on teaching my kids about the meaning of family as I knew it because I firmly believe that is how you raise GOOD people, decent humans, kind neighbors and so on.

Marriage may be dead for some, but I am determined to have my 2.5 kids and drive a min-van to soccer practice. And hopefully, not run into any naked people along the way.

Besides, I feel fabulous in a banana republic suit!

Anonymous said...

sarah, answer this question:

let's say you get married. you have your 2.5 kids. 10 years down the road, as you're driving to soccer practice, you realize that you don't love your husband anymore. for all intents and purposes, your "happy" marriage is over (this is a hypothetical situation; it may not ever happen to you, but for the purpose of the following question, assume it has (and remember, this has happened to a LOT of people just like you...))

you can remain "content" in your marriage by not saying anything. or you can seek out new happiness by starting over, by getting divorced.

would you stay married (let's say, for the kids' sake...)?

Anonymous said...

That is a personal choice to stay together. No therapist or counselor in the world is going to be able to give you the answers to such a question. You need to reflect on what is most important to you and what is the problem in your relationship that has driven you to this feeling. If it is unfixable then you have a lot to think about.

Kids are always going to be effected either way. The best situation is for you to love them and support them no matter what. DO NOT USE THEM AS PAWNS! My father tried that route and 20+ years later my brother still doesn't talk to him. Kids make it more complex and no less painful when leaving a relationship. For them to be happy you need to be happy and that will provide them with a lesson in life on what choices can be made in tough times. Staying together is not always the healthiest option. They are little "yous" so think about how you would want to be treated in a tough time like this. Affection works well and keeping confrontation out of their eyes is a good choice too.

A broken relationship doesn't make you a failed parent, kids that grow up disconnected and not knowing love make you a failed parent.

Sarah said...

As the child of a broken home (two times on my mom's side and three times on my dad's side = five divorces between the two) I would have to say that as long as MY marriage isn't abusive, if we just grew apart for example, I would REMAIN MARRIED TILL DEATH DO US PART.

But I must also say that I refuse to settle on a partner that isn't easy to love. I know things change. But I see happiness in my future.

Sarah said...

BTW, MONEY is the No. 1 reason couples get divorced... Not animal instinct, although, imagine if it was the No. 1 reason?

Anonymous said...

well sarah, then traditional obligations are not lost on you. you have not redefined morality from that which was taught to you by religion (or religion vicariously thru something or somebody else).

your marriage is less likely to be doomed.

loneliness within your marriage is a possibility, but maybe you'll be one of those couples that stay fresh right up to the end.

btw, i can't say either way whether staying together helps/hurts the kids. my parents did not have an abusive relationship (just an unloving one), and the day my father moved out was one of the happiest days of my childhood.

oh, and another btw... i would have to say that selfishness is the no. 1 reason people get divorced. money issues (along with many other problems) are just a by-product of that.

vanessa said...

I'd have to agree with anon. People get divorced due to selfishnes, and thats not a bad thing.

If you aren't happy in your current situation (marriage)then you need to do the best thing to fix it. If the answer happens to be divorce then so be it. If that's selfishnes than so be it.

Children should not be the main reason people stay together. Kids arent stupid, as a matter of fact, the younger they are, the more intuitive they are. If you're not happy, they'll KNOW it. Then they'll internalize it and somehow think your unhappiness is their fault. In some screwed up way it actually is their fault, because they're the only reason you're staying in a unhappy marriage.

My parents were not happy with each other, and rarely CIVIL towards each other.

The day they got divorced was one of the happiest days of my life, because now they're both happy, or getting there, and I'm happy too.

Being 6 years old and having to console your mom after a screaming/slap match she had with your dad isnt exactly harvesting a good environment for "happy" kids to grow up in.