One out of every two marriages end in the U.S. but we just keep walking our brides to the altar and giving them away, quoting our vows, “til death due you part”, throwing grand parties, showering couples with gifts, employing cake decorators, photographers, videographers and Dj’s, and wishing them the best of luck!
If this was the statistic for anything else in life there would be some serious research done. If you went to buy a car and they said “one out of every two cars blows up! So choose wisely!” …. Uh, this would be a problem!
It is interesting to think about how our system of marriage in the U.S. hasn’t been questioned. We seem to be questioning and deconstructing all kinds of things these days. But it seems the marriage formula stays consistent.
There are countries all over the world that have other ways of approaching marriage and relationships and we think we have it “right,” but our statistics say otherwise.
While I was in Kenya, some friends were teasing about our American love story movies, they said “ In Kenya, we say, “that is not how it is on the ground.” Get our big fat American heads out of the clouds, right?
Arranged marriages, plural marriages, family marriages, marriage for wealth, marriage for property, gay marriage and straight marriages, marriage for love, marriage for business, and more. Across the globe, there are so many forms of unions between partners, and none of them are perfect, but for sure America has quite the “fail” rate.
If 50%+ of our marriages do not “work” by the standard that has been set in the last few centuries in the U.S. why have we not questioned this? I have three boys and I am looking at my three sons and thinking with these statistics one and a half of you will not be able to make this American marriage formula work for your life, and this gives me pause.
I have sat across the table from so many women who are struggling in their marriages, leaving their marriages, or trying to figure out how to make it work. There is hurt, anger, frustration, and betrayal and if we are to leave we need a really good reason, right? Because the “Book” most of us cling to, only gives a few concessions for marriages ending. So ending is the most horrible thing, the thing we are afraid of, the thing that defines us, and we stamp a big red “F” on our forehead, “failure.”
The more you mature and the older you get, you see that life is so messy. You see that we are broken people, all trying to do our best to work through our issues. We all want the best, we all want the beautiful life, and sometimes what we find ourselves in, seems far from it.
What if we actually need to relook at marriage and what it is for, what it is and what it is not?
Do other cultures have something to teach us? What can we learn by simply looking around?
If one out of two of us, will experience a “divorce” it seems like maybe we should start reevaluating the expectation for marriage relationships.
Marriage in the U.S. is built on the love model, that you love someone and then want to spend the rest of your life with them. And supposedly “love conquers all”, so “all you need is love” and then you can make your union work for life.
Maybe until “death due us part” needs to look different now? The history of our marriage unions in the U.S. was to own a person. As a woman, you took the man’s last name and you as the woman now belonged to that man, his family line, and his inheritance. It was to keep wealth and property in the correct families, it was for power and privilege.
The vows and the expectations for life, in general, were also so different, the life expectancy was so short, 30-40 years. That is a lot different than 80-100 years. Many people died, and many people experienced being widowed and marrying again. So now many of us are living two times as long and might have a marriage for the first 20 years and another for the next 20, enough for two lifetimes.
I do believe marriage is sacred and should be the joining of two lives that have the same values, that want to build something together, that have a vision, and something they want to give to the world. The union that creates children, does so knowing that all that they have to give to the world will live on in their children. The children carry the light, carry the banner, and continue the call. We duplicate ourselves, and our legacy and our heritage lives on.
I think marriage is a place to grow. It is a place to face yourself, it is a place to learn how to love. To learn the Love that comes from a transformed life. Our relationships should be growing, changing, evolving, maturing, moving with the cycles of life because of the life impulse inside of us, that forces evolution.
If we ever get to a place where we can no longer grow or expand, where maybe the environment is not conducive for growth, or maybe it is unsafe or maybe too small. If parts of who we are will begin to die because of our relationship environment, it might be time to celebrate the gift of where the relationship brought you, who it has molded you into, and it might be time for “death” to due you part.
Most often because of what we have been taught, “ to stay and pray”, we hold on and we begin to slowly die for it is the only way to cope.
I am fearful for the next generation, I am fearful that we need to teach and celebrate relationships that gave us something, taught us something, made us into a new being, but now need to end.
I feel we need to teach respectful, grace-filled, love-filled, endings, where people who have given of themselves for years can move on yet still hold the other in esteem and not villainize one another. To respect one another and continue to hold that person up, not tear them down.
And the church… The church is no better at keeping marriages together than any other institution. Yet the church is the chief judge in telling people who is “worthy” of a relationship ending and who is not. It is sickening.
It measures sins and calls one guilty and one the victim. We all are stuck in the same statistic!! Shaming and condemning those whose relationships end must stop. This is gravity my dears, this is life.
Is there a magic formula? I don’t think so. Gay marriages end, plural marriages end, monogamous marriages end, people are widowed, and we all have been touched or affected by the endings in one way or another.
Is there a new way to approach this with our kids, so we don’t set them up for these fairy tale ideals, so we don’t feed them the same “artificial” picture of what life is like? “If you do “xyz”, then you will find the “right” person and your marriage will work and last forever.” It’s just not true.
What if the dialogue changed… what if we approached unions in this way…
“May this union push you towards your calling, may it launch you into greater depths of love and understanding, may it make you more like the divine, may it grow you and push you and refine you, and may you find great fulfillment and purpose as you seek to grow each day. And when the time comes, may you have the courage to send each other off into your next mission or training ground, to become all you were created to be. May you seek to see the other flourish in all things, even if death dues you part. “