Relationship challenges are becoming mainstream news. If you read the latest studies—and the ever-present TMZ—more couples than ever are separating. Is marriage a dead institution, or is something deeper going on?
The notion that marriage is a temporary institution isn’t new. Sociologist and futurist Alvin Toffler wrote the best-seller Future Shock in 1970, and with matter-of-fact conviction, he wrote of the rising trend of “trial” or “temporary marriages”—first marriages of young people, lasting three months to three years, and of “serial marriages” that would take place after the dissolution of the “trial marriage,” happening at specific turning points in people’s lives. Toffler’s views hold true today. Having accurately predicted the coming trends, he could see how men and women would begin to view marriage as a temporary state of being, and today the divorce rate still hovers at just over 50 percent. But that “50%” data point is just common data point. Direct from the US Census and the Association of Divorce Reform):
· 19.5 million adults have been divorced at least once.
· 50% of all marriages end in divorce within five years.
· Of the couples that last five years, only 50%makeit to their 10th wedding anniversary. That’s a 75% divorce rate before the 10th anniversary.
· Over 80% of divorcees reference “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for separation.
If you’ve been married for a few years, you might have a child (or two). So, how does the rising divorce rate affect kids? Is it providing the quintessential example for children of just how temporary marriage—and all relationships—can be? Divorced homes account for:
· 63% of youth suicides
· 90% of homeless/runaway children
· 85% of children with behavior problems
· 71 % of high school dropouts
· Over 50% of teen mothers.
So, not only are the adults in these relationships causing themselves heartache and challenge, but they are also perpetuating the issues and showing their children—by example—precisely what a temporary relationship looks like. Not a pretty picture for our up-and-coming generations.
What Can Be Done
Obviously, there isn’t a magic bullet to “cure” these relationships issues. And, perhaps most importantly, marriage and monogamy aren’t for everyone. There are, however, some things that people might consider when contemplating tying the knot:
Be Ready. Why get into a committed relationship unless you’re ready? There is no Cardinal Rule stating that people must get married by X date —or at all! Before taking the leap, it’s not only important to know your partner, it’s perhaps even more important to know yourself—who you are, and where you’re going. After you know those two things, who will go with you is a choice, not a forced decision. And don’t let anyone pressure you into committing before you’re ready… including yourself.
Don’t give up your individuality. People that put everything in their relationships and leave nothing back for themselves are setting themselves up for failure. Maintain your own life, interests, and friendships… and then share with your significant other.
Put “effort”, not “work, into your marriage/relationship. I’ve long suggested that a successful relationship or marriage takes effort, not “work”. Oftentimes, Work is that thing you must do in order to have time and flexibility for the things you really want to do. Effort is what you put in to activities you care about… that you are most passionate about making succeed. In short, Effort is a driving force behind a great partnership and marriage.