There are a lot of marriages that stay together and I have no idea why. It’s obvious that the two people don’t love one another. Sometimes, they appear to actually hate each other.
If you get one of them alone, they will give you the usual reason why they are staying together:
- We can’t afford to get a divorce (too poor or too rich)
- He/she is wacko (and sometimes, he/she really is)
- We run a business together
- Drug abuse, gambling, alcoholism or any addiction
- Fear by one party of the other; abuse is a lot more common than most people realize.
No matter how many ways you point out that there are solutions, they aren’t listening. Sometimes, something happens and one day, the relationship snaps.
The kids grow up. They decide money is less important than they thought and they can run the business, even unmarried. They do some minor religious switching and suddenly divorce is fine.
It’s not an easy choice, especially when there’s a good chance that if they try to leave, someone else is going to die — the kids or a wife, husband or any combination of the above.
I know how ugly the outcome of these divorces can be, especially for children. No how bad your parents are, the alternative can be worse. With all of the studies and statistics on how dreadful foster care is, we have yet to come up with a better solution. When you are a kid, you often feel you have a choice: live with the devil you know or get thrown into life with devils you don’t know who could be worse.
What baffles me more are people who basically have good marriages, but the first time something goes wrong, they are filing papers. I agree, for example, sex outside (monogamous) marriage is uncool. I’ve heard conversations where everyone agrees that if such a terrible thing should happen in their relationship, all bets are off. It’s the divorce court. No conversation, no forgiveness, no discussion.
Given the looseness of pre-marital relationships in this century, is there some reason to assume that this is going to entirely change because you stood up in a church or a registry office and vowed: “Till death do you part”?
Marriage isn’t a vow. It’s a process. It’s not dating. You don’t just hook-up until it stops being fun, then go to your next hook-up. It’s when things get a little rough that the real marriage begins.
Half the time, the partner would never even know anything happened if the spouse didn’t have some sort of bizarre need to “confess.” I’ve always wondered what the point of that confession is supposed to be. Is it going to improve the marriage? Of course not. I’m sure it’s intended to do exactly what it does: break the relationship up.
You need to be honest? If you needed to be that honest, why did you do it in the first place? Since you’ve already strayed, live with it. Find a priest and confess. Find a shrink and confess. Find a complete stranger on a bus and confess. But leave your mate out of it and move on.
Also, a genuinely committed couple who have built a life should be able to cope with reality and maybe with a degree of dishonesty, too. Life in the real world is not life on television or Hollywood.
I’ve seen couples divorce because one of them was sure he/she could do better. A few do. Most don’t.
It’s not about the wedding or even the honeymoon. It’s working through issues, changing your behavior. Helping your partner change his behavior. It’s helping a partner get sober or quit gambling. It’s sticking with them if they fail. And them sticking with you when life isn’t going well.
Loving them when their hair falls out and they aren’t nearly as cool and dashing as they were 30 years ago … but you still think they are.
That’s when you know you have something that means more than pretty cakes and chapel bells.