breaking down marriage: part 1

yesterday i asked several questions about your thoughts on marriage.  if you haven’t answered them yet, but still want to, feel free to click here and have at it. 

the first one was “is marriage as valuable today as it once was?  why or why not?  if not, should it be?”

my short answers are:  no.  society has lost its view of marriage as permanent.  yes.

people need to grow up.

how’s that for jumping straight into the i’m-about-to-make-myself-real-unpopular deep end?

marriage is not an extension of dating.  what does that mean, sharideth?  thank you for asking.  i will explain.

marriage is not something you play at, something you try on or something used to settle some sort of self-satisfaction.*  there is no “breaking up”.  though people sure seem to treat it that way.  it is a life long commitment to another human being and to that person’s life long happiness.  marriage is not selfish.  it is selfless.  there is no room for “this might not work out” like there is in dating.  marriage is a serious contract.  one that shouldn’t be thought of as reversible or potentially temporary.  and certainly one that should be loophole free.

its value is not determined by society or by an individual’s opinion of it.  the value of marriage is innate unto itself.  it does not require the approval of others to be what it has always been; the foundational core of healthy families regardless of race or culture.

many of our friends who are just a generation behind us, think Craig and i have been married “forever”.  eighteen years is not forever.  not that it doesn’t occasionally feel like it.  kidding.  love you, honey.  anyway, it’s really just getting started.  Craig’s parents have been married 47 years, my parents for 50.  and that’s not even forever.

not yet.

things get hard in every marriage.  our parents aren’t perfect people.  wonderful, yes.  perfect, no.  without perfect people, there are no perfect marriages.  what there is, that is always consistent, is the value of marriage.  a marriage doesn’t lose it’s value over time.  people lose their desire to respect that value.  and it’s happening more and more.

it makes me sad.

why are people who get divorced statistically more likely to divorce again?  because their sense of the value of marriage has been severely diminished.

now before my divorced readers start sending me hate mail, let me say this.  i didn’t say that to hurt you or to judge you.  i said to hopefully give you something to think about that might help you to hit the reset button on how you view marriage.  it can be done.  i’ve seen it.

i know i am among the minority who has two sets of parents (mine and my in-laws) who have set an excellent example, so it might sound like all of this is easy for me to say.

but it’s not.  and that’s kind of the point.  none of it is easy.  it wasn’t luck, it was work that kept my parents together.  it still is work.  because there is a goal to be attained everyday. 

that goal is the respect of marriage.

once you lose sight of it, you risk losing a shot at full, healthy, life long partnership with someone who, if you chose well, will make it his or her life’s ambition to love you.

what say you?

*alliteration is awesome as always

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17 comments on “breaking down marriage: part 1

  1. beautifully put. until we learn to respect marriage, it will continue to be devalued and played with.

  2. Well said my friend!!

  3. Why do I always get the really evil looking emoticon?

  4. Riggs says:

    i wish my parents had read this 25 years ago…

  5. The T says:

    People change… i am nothing like the man I was 5 years ago…and before the previous 5 years? Again, I was a completely different person. As i age, i tend to be a bit more selfish, I tend to accomplish a million more things, and most importantly, i look at things that make me happy and the indicators that I’m making others happy while doing it.

    I have seen couples who have been together for 10 years get married on the eleventh year only to divorce another year down the line….people change after the “i do” portion of their lives and most of those changes aren’t great or in the “beneficial” category. So sometimes, you need to hit the restart button…sometimes you must make the effort to move past one person in order to give a window of love to the next…

    T.

  6. Claire says:

    Not everyone values the institution of marriage in the same way that you or I do. That doesn’t bother me, though. It’s just a fact.

    I still believe that an individual marriage (between two people) is only as strong as the folks in the relationship choose to make it.

    In other words, what other people do is not a threat to what I may have.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Time Magazine did an article on this about 9 months ago. The Consumerist has an article about Asian marriage this week. What I have taken from both of those articles is that marriage is a casualty of progression. As we become more educated, more independent, more equal – marriage is less important. With that being said, people who are more educated and independent tend to stay married longer. What in the world does that mean?!

    In any case, I think you’re totally right that a healthy marriage is the cornerstone and foundation of a healthy family. I occasionally wonder, though, how many marriages are healthy. Women, like men, are increasingly selfish and ego-centric.

    A previous commenter said something to the effect of “marriage is only as strong as the people in it choose to make it.” I tend to lean more towards the weakest link theory – as in, the marriage is only as strong (or healthy) as the weakest (or most insane) member.

  8. I think people hit the ejection button in bad times, never knowing that the marriage can be even more awesome if you just ride through the storm.

    Bad times don’t last forever, but they can be useful if you learn something from them.

  9. Amy says:

    “life long partnership with someone who, if you chose well, will make it his or her life’s ambition to love you.”
    There’s the rub, eh? Choosing well.

  10. Larry Hehn says:

    Darn, I wish I had written this. And I’m glad you did, Sharideth. Very well said!

  11. This was so perfectly said! Anyone who is on the road to getting married should read and understand everything that you wrote!

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