Listen to this provocative quote regarding marriage from anthropologist Lionel Tiger:
“It is astonishing, that under the circumstance, marriage is still legally allowed. If nearly half of anything else ended so disastrously, the government would surely ban it immediately. If half the tacos served in restaurants caused dysentery, if half the people learning karate broke their palms, if only six percent of people who went on roller coaster rides damaged their middle ears, the public would be clamoring for action. Yet the most intimate of disasters… happens over and over again.”
While it’s true that nearly half of all first marriages ultimately end in divorce and that number increases exponentially for second and third marriages, as well as for those that married at a young age – the problem isn’t the institution of marriage.
The problem is that we enter into marriage hoping that love alone will be enough to sustain it over the course of decades.
The problem is that we place our marriages on a shelf and pour our love, time and attention into our homes, careers, and kids, assuming that the marriage will take care of itself without any conscious care and nurturing.
The problem is that we receive zero training about how to do relationships well, particularly when they become challenging, as all long-term relationships do.
- We don’t know how to argue productively (or even fairly…)
- We don’t know how to set healthy boundaries in relationships (and tell people what we need…)
- We have no idea how to communicate with one another (and technology is only exacerbating the problem…)
- We don’t know how to re-connect with one another when we feel distant (when loneliness and resentments take root…)
- We have no concept of what unconditional love even means in a marriage.
We shouldn’t be surprised by the statistic of half of marriages failing…
We shouldn’t assume the solution is to ban the institution of marriage…
But we should start getting very concerned about assuming we can be successful at something – at anything important in life – without any tools, training or expertise.
We don’t send teenagers out to drive a car and say, “Good luck! You’ll figure it out.”
Our accountants and doctors get decades of training before ever advising a single person.
Hell, there’s even classes on breastfeeding a child for new mothers.
Better Late than Never
Just because we weren’t equipped before we entered into marriage doesn’t mean we cannot learn how to do it differently today….years or decades later. Actually, I would argue that you could make far more progress now because you have years of experience about what doesn’t work and what doesn’t feel good in your marriage that you didn’t have previously.
You know where you get tripped up….
You know what triggers you…
You know where you and your husband argue over and over again – but nothing ever seems to get resolved.
This is why when people work with me, they see their marriages transform in a matter of weeks, rather than months or years.
The Real Case for Marriage
Marriage will never be banned and that’s because as human beings – even when we’re in a tremendous amount of emotional pain – we still ultimately believe in love.
We believe that love is possible. We believe that love is powerful. We believe that love heals.
And we’re not wrong.