The State of Marriage and Divorce

May 20th, 2011

By Our Anonymous Man On The Fence

In wake of the recent Arnold and Maria saga, now would be a good time to talk about marriage and divorce.  I was speaking to my mother last week, who explained that back in the day, she was actually the first of her peer group to get divorced. As was not considered the norm then, theirs was a nasty divorce. Five years of fighting, senseless amounts of money given to lawyers, and an ever lasting blemish in the memories of my childhood as well as my siblings. As for my grandparents, it was sacrilegious to get divorced and they very much frowned upon it.

Most often, the modern excuse today for staying in an unhappy marriage is “for the sake of the kids. “ I am living proof, that that logic is absolutely absurd. I can attest to this fact from my parents’ divorce and of course my own. You ought to stay married because you continue to love and care for one another, albeit in an ever evolving and growing way.

Over these last years I have witnessed countless friends and family around me seek a divorce for what many would consider to be frivolous reasons. People are throwing in the towel because their marriages are lacking passion (tell me which marriage doesn’t lose passion over the years) and they have stopped focusing on improving their marriage. But I can tell you from experience, just like you work to improve yourself at your job, as a parent, as a friend, in your hobbies, in your own personal growth, marriage too requires constant attention. Letting up for one moment can lead to a quick downward spiral, with accidental results.

Let me show it to you this way… If we were all given courses in school on tackling some of the issues modern day marriages face, many of us would be better equipped to face these challenges. Some of the issues in no particular order that ought to be taught are; fidelity, money matters, mental stability, how to deal with illness, child rearing, familial relationships, division of responsibilities. If we were taught the tools, and therefore had a good handle on potential challenges we may face in marriage, we could pre-determine a good course of action. As an example, if your spouse has substance abuse issues, or you have a child born with a disability, speaking of a framework in advance to get the right support, would help your marriage when it needs it most. What do you think? I am just throwing the idea out there.

The truth is, there are no perfect formulas for a great marriage, however some of the basic rules of are a sure beginning to success– being faithful, kind, respectful, thoughtful, selfless and genuinely demonstrating your continued effort to invest in your marriage are keys to a happy marriage. Marriage requires WORK, and I think so many have forgotten that.

My great grand parents had an enviable marriage– she was always kindly hollering and he was most accepting of it. :) But they truly loved one another. I tend to think that with less in life to worry about, they only had one another and their kids to care for and to focus their efforts on, and it was a simplistic life built on love and admiration. Nothing fancy. No pressure of “keeping up with the Jonses.” Nothing complicated. A union of love and respect.

In my circles of peers who have divorced, I see a trend emerging. In almost each scenario of divorce, I hear of the life distractions that have impeded on their ability to keep their marriage strong. Examples of this are; infidelity, needing the fancy car, pressure to buy a bigger home, more lavish vacations, personal trainers to stay fit, expensive designer clothing, cosmetic surgery, trips, getting one’s hair and nails done all the time and more. These trappings have made for men and women who no longer take pride in their marriage, rearing their children or even cooking and having a great family meal together. Dinner time is often now relegated to how fast we can order food, sit, eat and leave!

Marriage has suffered in recent times (1 in every 2 marriages end in divorce), as its value has been diminished. It is up to our generation and that of our children to re-establish the true meaning of a successful marriage. Marriage should not be something we accept casually or take lightly. We must be aware that constant diligence is needed to make it all work. Marriage is no self cleaning oven. But on the flip side, I also believe it certainly should not be preserved for the sake of the kids. Every person on this earth is entitled to live a happy existence. Every person is entitled to live a fulfilling existence.

~Man On The Fence

What do you think? Do you agree with our Man On The Fence? Do you think couples are throwing in the towel too quickly on marriage today? Would you stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of the kids? I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you a passionate weekend of rekindled love with your partner. ;)

xoxEDxox

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16 Responses to “The State of Marriage and Divorce”

  1. MelissaNo Gravatar says:

    It’s very sad that so many couples give up on their marriages without trying to reconcile their differences.
    We are not clones so their are always going to be differences in attitude and approaches to almost everything in life.
    My husband and I went through a very difficult period around 5 years ago with both of us having brief affairs. However we worked through our difficulties and are now very happy with two delightful children.
    We simply made a pact to put our past indiscretions behind us and get on with life.

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  5. Nanahko says:

    “Over these last years I have witnessed countless friends and family around me seek a divorce for what many would consider to be frivolous reasons.”

    The reality is that the “many” aren’t in the marriage and really have no business judging couples for splitting. In my experience, the “many” are so invested in judging that tossing a vague reason and refusing to further discuss the topic is the only way to keep some from adding pain and degradation to already excrutiating process.

    Sometimes, divorce doesn’t ruin children and destroy families. Sometimes, divorce is the only way to save children and spouses. Sometimes, the people escaping a horrific situation really don’t need to hear how their spouse’s actions were their failing or not a good enough reason to leave. One need only volunteer in a domestic violence shelter a short time to realize just how hard it can be to leave a brutal marriage and how quickly the vultures will encircle a person who does so. In that same period of volunteerism, one can learn just how hard victims will work to cover the shame and pain of being abused.

  6. buxxyNo Gravatar says:

    I think overall, marriage is not for everybody. I wish people would stop trying to cram that notion down our throats. Many people I know who have gotten divorced should’ve never married in the first place – but nobody is thinking of that concept. Many times marriage does not improve a relationship, it only makes some worse.

  7. “Most often, the modern excuse today for staying in an unhappy marriage is “for the sake of the kids.” I am living proof, that that logic is absolutely absurd.”
    One person’s experience does not constitute proof. There are others whose experience would testify to the opposite. Both experiences are evidence for one way or the other. Researchers have found that if a marriage is low-conflict, children are better off if their parents remain together and they are better off if the parents divorce if the marriage is high-conflict. They go on to say that 70% of situations are low-conflict.
    @Divorced mother of 3
    “I can tell you from experience that staying for the sake of the kids never works.”
    Never? Odd since that is a common reason some couples stay together and even may work things out. Something may not have worked for you and it may not work for many others and then there are many others for whom it will work. I find it prudent to avoid absolute modifiers.

    @Elisabeth Kemp
    “Our children learn from our behaviour. If all they see is a loveless marriage; two people who are not affectionate or loving towards each other anymore then that is all they will expect from their relationships. There was no abuse in our marriage but for years I worried about the relationship we were modeling for our kids.”
    Dr. Phil has said that kids would rather be from a broken home rather than in a broken home. I am not certain of the truth in that, but then I can understand if I consider that a child’s view of broken differs from an adult view.
    To me it seems logical what you say and yet that has not been true according to what researchers have discovered. I also think that asking our own children about what they think to shore up an argument also doesn’t work. Why? Because each situation is different and they know the situation they are in, not the situation they would have been in had their parents chosen a different path. Kids from “unhappy-marriage” low-conflict intact homes may be grateful their parents remain together. The same family across the street may have split up. As a teenager I once told my Mom I couldn’t see how she could have been married to my Dad and understood the divorce. She felt validated. And that may be true but I see things differently as an adult. I try not to look at my parents marriage when considering such things anymore because I’m not objective.

    @Alma
    “Either way, the kids do get hurt.”
    Absolutely. Even in situations of domestic violence, divorce is still hard for the kids. The marriage needs to end, but that does not mean life will be as though it is for an intact family without high-conflict or violence.
    When I speak with people who are divorced so many believe divorce is too easy and people do not try hard enough to save marriages and that a large portion of divorces could have been prevented. But most of those same people tend to believe they are one of the exceptions—their marriage really did need to end. It is so much easier to see it in others than it is to see in ourselves.

    I think one of the things I find most irritating is that people dismiss other people’s divorce by saying that no one gets a divorce without giving it serious consideration. I think it is true that many people and maybe most—maybe not—give it serious consideration. But not all. I have read and heard therapists and lawyers anecdotally saying that if a man leaves there is almost always someone he is leaving for. I’ve found that to be true and that is not a situation where consideration is usually being given. My husband gave absolutely no consideration to the trauma of divorce—on us alone as at that time we had no children. He felt pressured by the mate predator and was infatuated. Not everyone thinks everything through.

    Do you think couples are throwing in the towel too quickly on marriage today?
    Absolutely. Divorce destroys families. The negative impact on children—into adulthood—is shocking.
    Would you stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of the kids?
    Of course, but why would I have to or need to? Joy (what so many refer to as happiness) is a choice! I choose joy—even when life is difficult and I’m having a bad day I still have a joyful life. I create my life and my joy.

  8. ButterflyNo Gravatar says:

    Marriage like everything in life requires hard work and effort in order to be successful. No one tries hard today. Staying together for the kids although admirable does not work and all persons involved can end up worse in the long run. People say children of divorce suffer. Children who live through utter unhappiness suffer more. Children are truly resistant and at the end of the day all parties may very well do much better, creating stronger relationships between parents and children.

  9. I agree that many couples do throw in the towel way too easily these days. Marriage is hard work! Like any other relationship, whether business or personal, you have to work on it. especially after having kids, a relationship changes but you CAN find your way back to one another.

    I find many think that getting out is the easiest solution but it’s not – before a couple decides to split, they should really try to work things out, with a marriage counselor or whatever works. Divorce has to be the absolute last resort.

  10. JoanneNo Gravatar says:

    Great article and good points made. It’s a very sticky situation and in marriage and divorce it’s hardly black or white. I would try and stick it out unhappily for the kids sake. I think.

  11. Rob NNo Gravatar says:

    Some of the questions you ask at the end are very good.

    Yes, people throw in the towel to early. If you could go back and listen to your wedding day. Perhaps, reread your vows when your relationship has hit a rough patch, it may re focus you on “working on the relationship.

    Yes, even if I were at odds with my wife, I would stick it out for the kids and try to make it work (some things like infidelity would be tough).

    Good article.

  12. AlmaNo Gravatar says:

    Either way, the kids do get hurt. As a divorced mother of 3 as well, it was difficult for me to finally get a much needed divorce, but in the end I know it was the best decision for us. I stayed in my previous marriage for as long as I did for the kids and it made both of us miserable. The kids still remember the fighting and arguing. I didn’t want to keep subjecting them to that environment, or give them that idea of marriage.

  13. I am a divorced mother of 4 incredible boys who have unfortunately had to deal with a very difficult divorce between their father and myself. I would have given almost anything for them to not have had to go through this. I agree with so much of what you said. We were married for almost 20 years, and the separation came as a shock to the boys of course. You are so right about marriage being a work in progress, and should never be taken for granted. I see so many people who treat strangers with more respect, kindness and thoughtfulness than their own spouse. This is not something to model for our children. Our children learn from our behaviour. If all they see is a loveless marriage; two people who are not affectionate or loving towards each other any more then that is all they will expect from their relationships. There was no abuse in our marriage but for years I worried about the relationship we were modelling for our kids. We led very separate lives within our marriage. Since our divorce I have been fortunate enough to meet an incredible man (my Mr. Perfect for me). We have fun together, laugh and love each other. My boys see that and have all commented on how different it is and how that is what they want one day. I just feel so lucky that I was able to show them that there is a better way

  14. Kristin JohnsonNo Gravatar says:

    I wouldn’t split up my family before my kids were in their twenties, no matter how unhappy I was. He would have to be abusing me to leave. You made a commitment and you should see it through. There’s a reason why you fell in love. MarriaGES have ups and downs but you work through them. Kids of divorce suffer terribly.

  15. Divorced mother of 3 says:

    I can tell you from experience that staying for the sake of the kids never works. I agree with you on both issues man on the fence. Yes I believe couples are not trying hard enough today. They hit a few rough patches and don’t want to put in the effort required. But I also believe if it’s really not working, and if you can split amicably it’s the better route than living in misery and chaos especially for the kids.

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