March 18th, 2011


Friday middling on marriage...

On the radio this morning, I heard that Rashida Jones (an actress, apparently) made a statement this week about the failure of the entire institution of marriage. She said something along the lines of there being no marriage in 15-20 years.

Hm. That's an interesting thought. I would probably disagree (after all, I plan to still be married in 15-20 years), but I think her overall point is intriguing. Will marriage eventually be out-dated?

The djs on the show were discussing the marriage-divorce stats and offering that as one reason why anyone would believe that the institution of marriage is failing. And it's true -- those stats are daunting. However, from my experience, things look more hopeful (at least for my generation).

We were one of the first generations where divorced parents were the norm. We might have been THE first generation, in fact. I remember when one of my friend's parents got divorced while we were in junior high. She was so embarrassed. At that point, she was one of the only ones...but within three years, I'd say at least a third of all the people I knew in high school had divorced parents. I think that made a difference to many of us. The majority of people from our class waited at least five years longer than their parents did to marry. All of DH's friends were around 30 when they married; all waited on purpose. They wanted to know themselves and know what they wanted. One out of twenty-plus couples we know are divorced. That's a pretty good statistic, I think.

There were two guys in our group who married young (really young -- like 21-22); both of them ended up divorced (and both because their wives cheated on them). I have to say I do think that waiting to marry can be very beneficial to the marriage relationship.

At the same time, my parents are still married, and my mom was 19 (ack) -- which brings me to the main reason I think marriage is failing: communication. No surprise there, really. And I'm not just talking about communication between partners. I also mean self-communication. People who allow every negative thought and experience to flood their minds when they're unhappy with their partner are going to have a much harder time remembering why it's worth fighting for this relationship. If either person in the marriage can't keep from reliving past hurts, I think it's no surprise that they end up divorced.

But yes, talking to your partner -- trusting them with your heart -- that's a huge thing. And it's so hard sometimes...which is why I think divorce is so common. Of the students who went to my school, I know of at least four who married before they were twenty. I don't know if they'll make it in the long run, or not, but what concerns me about young marriages is the lack of self-knowledge and the unrealistic expectations for a relationship, in general. It's so easy, for some young people (I know there are exceptions) to believe that your partner will make you happy...that you'll be able to overcome anything. Experience teaches all of us that life has some truly excruciating moments sometimes -- and it's HARD to get through them, especially with someone who reacts differently than you do (and there's no way any two people out there will react in exactly the same way).

Be willing to work and struggle -- and remember that it's worth it -- those are all things that I suspect our society, as a whole, doesn't really grasp or value, even.

So will marriage fade away? What do you think?