Why Many Marriages Fail – Expecting Too Much and Not Trying Hard Enough
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It is not necessary to be a keen observer of the social scene to realize that the marital relationship as we know it is floundering and, in many cases, sinking. The divorce rate is astronomical and shows no sign of slowing down. Intelligent and experienced people rush into matrimony with the loftiest expectations only to file for a divorce less than a year after pronouncing vows of fidelity. I know of one lovely young couple that seemed to have everything going for them: sharpness of intellect, warmth of heart, willingness to make a commitment, and even idealism. Yet hardly had they settled into their life together when the husband wanted out. “It’s not what I expected,” he declared. Unfortunately, his reaction is not the exception that proves the rule. It has occurred again, and again, and again.
What is wrong with all these people? Part of the problem may be the fierce individualism, even selfishness that our society has instilled in the younger generations. The minute there is a conflict, the reaction is often: “I don’t have to take your crap any more. I’ll be better off alone.”Young adults are no longer restrained by the stigma of divorce. Divorce is now so common that it has become a fact of life. In the past, married couples plagued with all kinds of unresolved tensions would simply sweep them under the carpet and continue making do. Now people just close the door behind them, seek out new partners, and often go through the same cycle again, having learned nothing.
Another reason for the divorce rate, I believe, is exaggerated expectations. Younger generations have grown up with frozen food, a boon to harried homemakers but hardly the epitome of haute cuisine. When in a hurry, you just pull out a ready-made dinner from the freezer, shove it into the oven at the designated temperature, and in less than an hour you have a ready-to-eat meal. Unfortunately, too many young adults tend to view human relations in this way. If an experience does not provide them with instant gratification, then it is unsatisfactory. They will view their marriage as a failure. It rarely occurs to them that dealing with another individual implies all kinds of complex issues. Life simply can’t be reduced to the size of a dinner gulped down in front of a TV screen. Building human relations takes time and effort. If you are unwilling to invest your energy into them, you will ultimately be left with nothing but disappointments.
But even when newly married couples try sincerely to see beyond the mirage of instant gratification, they can fall victims to another deadly illusion: the belief that two unhappy solitudes will constitute one plenitude. A commentator on the Discomfort Zone website said it in another way: “My observation of most marriages (or inseparable couples in general): two people stubbornly believing in the mathematical formula that two minus give one plus.” Too many young adults believe that simply by linking their destiny with another human being to whom they may feel attracted will automatically bring them fulfillment.
Obviously, their multiple hang-ups will not be dissolved magically through marriage. On the contrary, there is every reason to believe that their problems will be compounded. Many married couples are bogged down in this dilemma and, of course, their relationships go down the drain. Their illusions about being married are their blind spot and, not being able to foresee what is in store for them, they head right into a wall.