I have never attended a wedding that didn’t include this promise. Or one very much like it, ‘As long as we both shall live.’ And on that momentous, life-changing day, every bride and groom means it with all of their heart.
But if I look at every couple I’ve ever known, I only know of two who actually made it to that point. My grandparents and one aunt and uncle.
In every other marriage, at least one half of the couple has been divorced.
While the rate is declining, from 7.9 (per 1,000) in 1980 to 5.2 in 2008, the United States still leads the world in the number of divorces. Frankly I’m not sure where the .9 and .2 come from because I think it’s pretty much impossible to divorce part of a person.
That’s a lot of divorcing. And it makes me wonder what happens between the ‘You may kiss your bride,’ and the dissolution of the marriage.
Sure there are issues like abuse, alcohol and drugs in some cases, and we all can understand that. But in normal, happy relationships, what happens? Is it because boredom sets in? Bad habits (like leaving the toilet seat up, or the cap off the toothpaste) that a husband or wife just can’t deal with? I mean something was there in the beginning that clearly isn’t at the end.
I suspect some couples call it quits because if they don’t, the ’til death do us part’ will become an issue, resulting in a prison sentence for the surviving spouse.
Any thoughts on the matter? What do you think are some of the causes of divorce these days?
I come from a family where the norm is lasting marriages. Both my grandparents have been together more than 60 years. My parents and my aunts and uncles have been married more than 30 years. I have close friends who’ve already been married more than 10 years. I often look at them and wonder what it is that’s kept them together even through the hard times and even through personality changes, life changes, and goal changes. And I think it comes down to a decision they all made before marriage that they would only get divorced over adultery, abandonment, abuse, or addiction. I’m not an expert, and I don’t know how other people handle their marriages, but my guess is that when you look at it that way, you’re more likely to seek win-win solutions to problems and to work as hard for their happiness as you do for your own.
You could be right about the decisions being made prior to saying, “I do.” But how cool that this is the example you’ve had to go by! I’ve known couples who have been married a long time, though most of them involve a divorce. For instance, my mother is one of eight children in her family…and only two of the siblings have/had remained married (with no prior divorces). One, unfortunately, did end…but that was due to cancer. 🙁
I think historically there were a lot of very unhappy couple and a bunch of cheating going around. But in addition to that, people today are willing to put less work into relationships. Some clearly need to be walked away from while others are given up on too soon. It’s a mix of factors in my opinion.
That’s the biggest issue right there, Debra. At least I think so. Too many don’t value their marriages enough to put the necessary work into it. On the other hand, there are people who have put massive amounts of work into the relationship and it can’t save it. I just wonder about it from time to time.
I think it mostly boils down to people not taking enough time to get to know one another…and not realizing that the honeymoon WILL end. Day-to-day life WILL become the norm and they had better be prepared for it…and take steps to keep the romance alive.
There is that, too. A lot more people do marry a lot faster these days without knowning each other. But think of all the couples that were married through the ages that didn’t know each other to begin with? When you’re thinking of that angle I think it comes down to our society having become lazy and taking the easy way out when given the chance.
I am not discounting the relationships that could not be salvaged in any way Not at all.
Arranged marriages must have totally sucked. Although I guess if you knew you had no way out, you would have been motivated to do what you could to make it work. At least as much as you could.
Looking at society today, many people do want to take the easy way out. If it takes work, it’s just not worth it. But then there are the marriages that can never…and shouldn’t…be salvaged.
I wonder if life was easier a hundred (or five hundred) years ago?
I think it’s really sad that so many relationships don’t make it. In Ireland, divorce only came into being in 1995 but even before then there were many separated couples. I wonder do younger people these days give up too easy? Then you have the likes of Kim Kardashian who make a mockery of marriage.
I think celebrities have made marriage seem like a disposable thing these days. So many of them shed spouses like snakes shed skin. And I think you have something with the younger people there. I think too many of them jump into marriage too quickly, with unrealistic expectations. And when the expectations don’t pan out, they give up without a fight. It is very sad…
People are terrible at predicting what they want or what they will want in the future. And what seems like an endearing fun trait at the start of a relationship, may not be. In my parents case, they both liked to party- HARD. And eventually my mom got tired of the drugs and the anger (there were a lot of other things going on, but I’ll simplify for this). She changed, he didn’t. Of course, her leaving forced him to change. He is still an addict, but he’s not nearly as angry. He lives with a wonderful woman, and I have no idea why she puts up with him some days, but she does.
We don’t know how we will change in 5 or 20 years.
I loved the marriage vows in my cermony to my husband. We promised to support each other. We promised to be equal partners. We didn’t promise til death, we didn’t promise to love and obey. There was the good times and bad. It was so great. I think I’ll find it and re-read it.
I’m glad your parents are on a better road now, Asrai. Hopefully your dad can win over his addictions soon. It’s got to be hard to be controlled by something like alcohol or drugs.
Your vows sound like the kind all couples should use in their ceremonies. You ought to post yours on your blog. It would be nice to read them. 🙂
I don’t think there is ever a guarantee. We go in with the best intentions and the best hope that it will last till death do us part. But at the same time, I think the days of staying in an unhappy marriage for the sake of the vows or the children are gone. We all recognize life is short. We do our best to make marriage last but in the end, if two people have simply grown apart, want different things out life and have nothing in common, call it quits and move on…happiness factor wins out!!
Good points, Natalie. ‘For the sake of the kids’ is almost never a good reason for anyone to stay together. And you are so right. Life is too short to be miserable. Happiness does matter. 🙂
I wrote an essay for a class once on this very subject and its far too long to leave in the comments section. However, I have 2 thoughts on the matter, 1st, we are marrying for different reasons now, women are equals in the world (or at least we’re on our way to being equal) we don’t ‘need’ men so we have to find someone who ‘fits’ us, and this goes for men too, my William doesn’t want to be ‘needed’ he wants me to only ‘want’ to be with him. Which for us is true.
2nd, and this is one William and I both were blown away by, the late Beatle George Harrison’s wife said, when things are rough and you aren’t ‘feeling’ it, you just get up everyday and decide to keep walking beside that person, you decide to stay in their life and keep them in yours, you just decide to do it.
I think far too many couples take the easy road and leave just because the road got a little bumpy, instead of holding hands through the tough parts.
In a lot of cases I think those things are very true, Katrina. Too many people seem to think marriage is nothing more than a short-term contract. When the going gets tough, time to bail. But there are people who have tried for years and it just doesn’t work, no matter what they do. Regardless of the reason, it’s always sad to see the end of something that two people had such high hopes for. 🙂
I was married for 30 years when I ended it. He had quit drinking and didn’t fool around (neither did I). and in Canada we are part of the growing divorce demographic – couples in their 50s who end their marriage. For us it was a number of things:
1. if I’d been wiser at 16, I wouldn’t have ever said ‘yes’.
2. terminal boredom – I’m a writer and he’s illiterate
3. the kids were gone and the prospect of spending time alone with him was exhausting
4. I wanted time to myself
5. I was lonely in the marriage
6.I wanted to be responsible for myself and no one else.
7. as you mentioned – my choice was a mortgage in my name or murder. Either way,it was a 25 year commitment. I chose the house.
he’s remarried, has a couple of school age kids with a woman the age of our children. I can afford to be a magnanimous ex-wife. by the way, I negotiated the mortgage so he could buy me out of our home so I could buy my own place….
All very good reasons to start over, Louise. It’s just not right that one spouse should have to be lonely. That’s not what marriage is supposed to be like. Thanks for sharing your reasons. 🙂