I have been having a lot of fun conversations lately with a variety of people. It all started with a radio show. I commute a fair distance, so I hear a lot of radio and the truth is that I get a little tired of music so I listen to stations that have more talking.
A few weeks ago they began talking about the current divorce rate. It actually went up with these last round of research tests. One of the radio personalities was talking about her life as a little girl. She talked about how taboo it was if someone got divorced. She actually said something along the lines of, “That happened to those people…”
Then she said the money shot.
She said, “Now, if you’re not divorced at least once….”
She let it trail off, but I thought how interesting that was. It began to confirm something that I’ve had marinating in the back of my head for a long time.
Married is the new divorced. If you get married before twenty-five people expect you to get divorced. Of course, if you get married after twenty-five, people expect you to get divorced too. If you’ve been married for more than a few years and you tell people you’re happy being married, they look at you as though you’re crazy.
Some people are actually feeling pressure to get divorced. I can’t offer this with empirical data. Certainly, though the people I’ve talked to all seem to agree that there is pressure to not be happy in your marriage.
One woman told me, “I hate hanging out with other women because all they do is bitch about their husbands, marriage and kids. I love being married and when I don’t join in they look at me like I should be admitted to Pine Rest (a local mental hospital).”
What has happened to our society? Have we just given up that marriage can work? With divorce being so prevalent (some studies suggest it went up significantly in 2011), have we just quit on the idea? Have we made happiness the greatest ideal? My personal happiness so that if anything at all threatens my personal happiness even for a few moments I quit.
Sometimes, I think we look at marriage as though it is the problem. I think we look at marriage and think that it’s just too hard. Sort of like asking my six year old to do Calculus or my nine year old to read and interpret MacBeth. One person with one person in love for the rest of their lives is just too much to ask…or so we assume.
And then there is Universalization. This is the process where we assume that what happened for us or to us must be true for everyone in the universe. I couldn’t be happy being married so the person telling me that they actually are happy must be lying.
My husband cheated on me so all men must be pigs.
My wife was cold and unavailable to me so all women must be frost giants.
My marriage is bad today so it must be bad for the rest of my life.
We make these jumps in logic and we live out of them. There are many limited thinking patterns that go into most of our marriages and divorces. At the office the other day, I was talking to one of my partners about a young couple we both know. The couple is in a rough spot of life. They have had a rough hand of cards dealt to them throughout their lifetime. Neither one is emotionally healthy. It’s obvious five minutes into a conversation with either of them.
They’re engaged. We both mentioned that when we talk to the man it seems that he thinks getting married will solve the problems. Somehow they will magically come into this place of emotional wellness. Of course, nothing is farther from the truth. Nothing will bring out their emotional troubles more than getting married because there is no where to hide in a marriage. If they get divorced, I wonder if marriage will be blamed as the problem.
I am afraid that married is the new divorced in our society. It’s time we look more deeply at why divorce is so high. I doubt it’s the fact that marriage is the problem, I would think it’s more we or our actions are the problem.