- Gender and Relationships»
- Relationship Problems & Advice
Realistic Spouses Can Avoid Divorce
Will We Ever Be the Same Again?
I Promise to Love, Honor, and Go With the Flow
In a marriage in a free society full of laws guaranteeing personal freedoms and strong individualistic rights, a couple has to be prepared to face the changing circumstances that can damage the marriage. If they are too rigid in their preconceived notions of what a marriage should be, the forces that await them in the days ahead may dominate.
This is not to advocate an "open" marriage that is so open that it's like an unlocked door swinging too wide and too freely. This would admit too many variables for normal couples to tolerate. However, they should be ready to give and tolerate, not just a little but a lot in any trying situation.
It seems that today's world demands a willingness to withstand a spouse's behavior and preferences much more than previously. As society's tolerance grows, so should a spouse's ability to withstand unexpected behavior. Too rigid an attitude would result in too many activities immediately constituting grounds for divorce.
On their wedding day, a couple may think a long time about how unique the day was. But a different attitude, which could prepare them for the future of their marriage, might be to think of each and every coming day as being just as unique as that special day in the past when they said, "I do."
With that sense of adventure, the marital union will have a much better chance of surviving than if the couple believed that no day ever could be as perfect as the wedding day. In a sense, that would be a defeatist's attitude, almost like believing it's downhill from here.
The marital bond, like so many other forces, values, and emotions we experienced, is an intangible, invisible thing, and yet very powerful. What makes it so important? We may never know the answer, but love and marriage have been valued universally all throughout history.
Like the wedding day itself, each following day will be a mixture of events, decisions, and feelings. It seems that every day of our lives is filled with some good and some bad results. This variety of possibilities keeps us wondering what tomorrow will bring.
The difficulties in marriage often arise when one spouse had a nice day while the other had a stressful day, for example, or when one feels comfortable and the other doesn't. Therefore, variety itself can lead to stress being placed upon the marriage bond.
If couples really were honest, many might admit that the unforgettable wedding day wasn't absolutely 100% perfect every minute. Even a happy occasion can bring anxiety and stress.
But starting with the belief that no day of a marriage will be perfect, may be the best point on which to build strategies that can save the day, and the marriage, when things get tough.
The expression that "love conquers all" (Roman poet Virgil, 38 BC) is only true if a couple's motivation and efforts are sufficient to keep their love alive throughout the stormy weather all marriages must face over the years.
It seems that in a lifelong marriage probably as many things will happen, in one form or another, as have been written in any book of love stories or poems. To capture in writing or thought the emotional essence of each such day would be to describe the amazing depth of feelings that transpire throughout a marriage.
Facing reality involves knowing that marriage will be no more perfect than the days we live. After the wedding ceremony, future days will be filled with all kinds of happenings. No day, even one that seems splendid, will pass without some little imperfection or small drama. But will the married couple be able to keep their bond in tact?
Married couples nevertheless are and remain individuals throughout their separate lives. Separation for working purposes, for family, or just when it's needed as a mental health day, is no crime. It actually may strengthen a marriage. The separation can be physical, ideological, political, or social.
Flexibility is essential to respecting one's spouse. There should be an openness in marriage, not only to the new and unique demands that future days will bring, but also to changes spouses go through as they grow and experience the different phases of their lives.
No human is totally tolerant. There must be some agreed-upon boundaries, but a tremendous openness is demanded of married couples today, a progressive and adventuresome spirit suitable to the modern world.
Jealousy is self-love wearing a disguise of love. Possessiveness, to the point of angering one's spouse is not going to help a marriage.
We married couples, I think, should enjoy marriage not as if it were a dessert, but as if it were a well-balanced meal containing a little sweet and sour, even a touch of bitter, but nutritious nevertheless.
With an attitude of adventure, it's possible that a couple really can last as a couple for a lifetime. But that's only if they're realistic enough to be able to enjoy life together despite life's little and big imperfections.
The time to avoid divorce is not after the petition for divorce has been file, but before either spouse makes a commitment to divorce by giving up on changing the situation in the marriage.
Money is often at the root of marital arguments. If one spouse is more strict with money, that spouse should have the final say on expenditures.
It has proven best that both spouses have jobs that take them away from the home for part of the week. This may involve childcare, but as long as both are earning, it would be money well spent to put children into good daycare.
Don't be afraid to be apart physically, even if it means renting a little apartment so that one spouse can spend part of the work week in a different place. This has been shown to increase phone calling and actually help a marriage stay together.
Never overlook the importance of sex. It's not important so much by way of measuring frequency, as it is that it should occur as often as possible and practical. Making sure that an opportunity is not missed, and placing a high priority on it, is what counts.
A marriage can last even if imperfect as long as the good times together outweigh the negative interactions that can take place between the couple. There will be some of both types of interactions, but the kind and good things should greatly dominate over the occasional bad times.
If there is a desire to stay together on the part of both spouses, they will find a way to succeed.
There are a couple of real life stories that can be of interest to show the power of love. In one, a woman nearing her late thirties told her live-in partner she wanted a child. He said it would be too much money and too much work. She proceeded anyway to have the child of a donor, not her boyfriend partner. She kept him around for security and to see whether he would take to the child. He loved the baby; they got married; and lived happily (as possible) ever after.
In the other story a man married a foreigner who became ill and went back to her own country. He spent five years flying back there to see her two or three times a year, and was not a wealthy person. It was a financial burden and an emotional one. But they loved each other, stayed in touch by phone and computer screen face-to-face, even watching their favorite TV shows as she would point the laptop camera eye at her living room TV most nights. Eventually, doctors got her on the road to health, and now they fly back and forth to spend time with each other in their two countries, each spouse making one round trip per year. As tough as this sounds, it proves the power of love to bring happiness over all obstacles.
Life Isn't Perfect
Preparing for Marriage
If it weren't for sex, there would be no marriage as we know it today. Sex is like a big handshake, an agreement to be united together, to aid each other in life. Should couples wait until after they are married in order to have sex? Probably if they did, it would make the marriage stronger and more meaningful. However, the truth is that couples generally don't wait nowadays.
Many couples today will cohabit prior to their wedding day. It may last a year, just to see if they get along well enough to want to marry legally, officially. During the cohabitation, the couple will become intimate physically of course, but also mentally and emotionally.
What leads a person to choose to get married rather than remain single? The single life can be unsatisfactory for many reasons, mainly the lack of depth and permanence in any relationship that develops. In marriage there's hope for permanence. This is what drives many people out of the single lifestyle and into marriage.
All of these factors are perfectly understandable and usually occur prior to the marriage. The crucial step of marriage involves a very important commitment--fidelity. From now on, a man and a woman will not cheat on each other and go out with other people behind the back of the spouse. That is the vow that must be taken seriously. Most couples do take that approach and do their best to live by it.
But people are weak. When marriage becomes less exciting in future years, an affair can be rationalized or even justified completely while the marriage is still alive. But the secrecy is like poison to the marriage and will kill it eventually in most cases. This is why the vow of fidelity is what holds marriage together.
A good marriage that lasts will have to endure many trials. One aspect in modern life is that spouses may have to have residences in different cities for practical reasons. But they still are married, and still vow fidelity and avoidance of cheating behind the other's back. That's what it takes to stay married and say that one is truly prepared for marriage.
What can tear down the marriage? Drugs and alcohol facilitate the affairs that wreck many marriages. Without those overwhelmingly strong influences, many married people can weather the storm and stay married.
However, there are cases of genuine, sober meanness. If it persists over years, there would be grounds for a legitimate divorce. Therefore, as a footnote to all this, it has to be acknowledged that there are times when a victimized spouse really does have perfect justification to seek a new spouse.
But barring those exceptional circumstances, the vow of fidelity and the avoidance of intoxicants and other obvious temptations to have an affair, will keep a marriage in tact.