Marriage was designed to be permanent. No one walks down the aisle with the goal of till seven years do us part. Unfortunately our mindset these days is not aligned with permanence but favours instant gratification and the pursuit of (fleeting) happiness, from one source to the next. As a result, many homes are built on sandy soil – vulnerable to changing (but forseeable) weathers and easily collapsible. We see this instability reflected in the increasing divorce rates all around the world and it just prompts one to make an attempt in figuring out what is going on.
1) Entering marriage for the wrong reasons
Around us, we see couples entering a lifelong commitment because of reasons such as familiarity with each other – if we are not moving on to marriage, we might as well call if off; age is catching up – it is too exhausting, time consuming and risky to restart a new dating process all over again; false sense of intimacy created by pre-marital sex. Marriage becomes an idealised solution where those that are in wants out, and those that are not, wants in.
2) ‘What’s In It For Me’ mentality
The idolatry of self-gratification orientates people to approach marriage in a ‘What’s In It For Me” mentality. It is about MY needs, MY desires, MY wants, rather than ‘What Can I Give’? With this inward looking attitude, it is easy for women to lose respect for their husbands and men to lose love for their wives when they are not meeting each other preferences. This leads to the fracture and eventual destruction of the relationship.
Instead, when two people becomes one in marriage, the union thrives when each ask themselves, ‘How can I build my spouse up to be the best version of him/herself’, and ‘What sacrifices can I make so that I can be a blessing to my spouse and thus our marriage?’ In doing so, you begin to understand that in this union of one, the blessings you extend to your spouse serve to bless yourself as well.
3) Marriage needs work
It is commonplace these days for couples to spend extraordinary effort, time, stress and money for that one big day. You read of couples getting into huge debts even before taking that first step onto the petaled-aisle. Not that there is anything wrong for making exhaustive plans and preparations for the day which is supposed to be the biggest day of your life. But that one day is just, well, one day. The love between a couple should be celebrated every day of their lives. And to bring this to fulfilment, we need to spend equal, if not tons more effort into laying a solid foundation for our marriage that is poised to withstand the changes and challenges ahead.
Seek counsel from older couples who are in a loving marriage; learn how to manage the differences between you and your partner; learn how to overcome communication barriers and talk about expectations and concerns you might have; work out day-to-day realities such as dealing with in-laws, finances and household responsibilities. Often, these ‘dry’ and ‘unromantic’ details are the ingredients to nurturing a strong and committed love.
4) Lack of communication that fosters intimacy
Referencing Now You’re Speaking My Language – Honest Communication and Deeper Intimacy for a Stronger Marriage by Gary Chapman (best-selling author of The Five Love Languages), he writes about five levels of communication, being:
Level 1: Hallway Talk – “Fine, how are you?”
Level 2: Reporter Talk – “Just give me the facts”
Level 3: Intellectual Talk – “Do you know what I think?”
Level 4: Emotional Talk – “Let me tell you how I feel.”
Level 5: Loving, Genuine Truth Talk – “Let’s be honest”
Level 5 is the level that delivers the highest degree of intimacy to your marriage. Chapman suggests that “It is where we are honest but not condemning, open but not demanding. It allows each of us the freedom to think differently and feel differently. Rather than condemning one another, we seek to understand our spouse’s thoughts and feelings, looking for ways to grow together in spite of our differences.”
When a marriage lacks such intimate communication and weakens to Level 1, we see it ending in divorce for reasons such as ‘irreconcilable differences’, ‘we have just grown apart’, ‘he/ she has become a different person’.
5) Priortising children before spouse
Instinctively, we love our children beyond ourselves and strive to be the best parents we can be. Perhaps we aim to model after the healthy parenting that we were blessed to receive, or we work towards making up for what was lacking in our own upbringing. In the process, we might unwittingly prioritise our children above the relationship with our spouse. Then through the toil of the child-rearing days, our marriage loses the physical and emotional intimacy that keeps the passion alive.
What we might fail to realise is that the relationship of the husband and wife is the main beam of the family unit. Children are no doubt precious gifts to be loved, nurtured and watched over. But without a stable loving environment enabled by a strong relationship between you and your spouse, for all the good intentions you have, your children will be affected in the process.
A loving healthy marriage that your child can look up to and aspire for him/herself could be the best gift you can bless your child with.
6) Divorce as the easy way out
A common culprit to divorce is the idealism that the next relationship would be better. But statistics have shown that in the United States, 50% of first marriages, 67% of second, and 74% of third marriages end in divorce.
Those who see divorce as the easy way out to pursue their next source of happiness tend to adapt to and replicate the same issues that contributed to the failure of their previous relationship. Instead of discovering and fixing these issues, they quit the process by getting a divorce, and drag the same baggage into their next relationship. This pattern of quitting instead of fixing, which is reinforced by what society promotes these days – flowing along whatever makes you feel good – gives the satisfaction they seek, but only temporally.
You might also be interested in: Eight Characteristics of A Wise and Loving Husband
Perhaps if the rose-tinted glasses are removed , many people might give much more thoughts to who they marry and make much more efforts to prepare for marriage. Perhaps if people in an unhappy marriage were open to seeking and receiving help (from the right sources), divorce will not be seen as the only solution.
Still, for all the preparations and efforts one can make, for all the complexities that comes with the union of two separate individuals, only a mutual commitment to a lifelong marriage can secure a couple through the darkest of times. This commitment will eliminate any lingering thoughts of a divorce being an option and will choose to love despite fluctuating emotions. This commitment is afterall a vow that you have already chosen to make: to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward till death do us part.
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