By Lisa Stewart
This infatuation is also exhibited through the breaking news stories of same-sex marriage activists trying to achieve the dream of marriage. We also see it in the sweet newspaper clippings that list the latest marriages of those close by. Marriage is put into young minds with once upon a time stories of princesses and prince charmings. It is pinned all over Pinterest, and posted on Facebook. It is even searched for on national television by people all over the world. Marriage is a dream that is searched for earnestly and it can be wonderful once the right person comes along. However, “marriage is rapidly slipping away…[couples] are significantly less likely to achieve a stable marriage, or even to form one in the first place.” Now days, once marriage is found it is easily given up on. “For first marriages recently formed, between 40 and 50 percent are likely to end in divorce. The divorce rate for remarriages is even higher than that for first marriages.” This rapid decline of stable marriages has raised the question of why are marriages falling apart so easily. Is this happening because the norms of society have changed through the years? Or, are there really that many people who are so unhappy with their marriage that divorce seems like the only option?
There has obviously been a change in society’s views on marriage. During the 70’s era, there was a rise in individualism. People changed their focus on first doing what was best for themselves. During this time, there was a huge fluctuation in the divorce rates. It went from extremely low in the 60’s to an all time high in the 80’s. Individualism does not promote relationships, giving to another person, or acting in a loving manner. It promotes providing for yourself and yourself alone. There are also those that believe that marriage is just for pleasure, and divorce is for when that pleasure wears off. Many have even followed the trend of starter marriages, with the intent to end in the marriage in divorce. However, it seems that despite the trends, most people still believe that marriage is the American dream and would like to see it happen in their own lives.
Through this search for individualism, many Americans have become much more focused on themselves and first loving themselves. This habit of constant self-gratification has distorted the view of many who have developed this habit. This mindset encourages the individual to back down when life gets hard. Our natural senses convince us that do not want to get hurt or that we don’t want to work unnecessarily hard at something, especially if it is not causing us happiness at the moment. Divorce has become a popular solution for when things get tough. “Too often a good marriage is taken for granted rather than given the nurturing and respect it deserves and desperately needs. Some people may think that getting divorced rather than languishing in what they may deem an unhappy marriage is no big deal—they may even consider it trendy. But there’s now plenty of evidence documenting just how harmful this can be for all involved.” Marriages can be saved and they are worth saving. Though marriage can be difficult, divorce is not the immediate solution.
Can this marriage be saved?
If both individuals are willing to do what it takes to change themselves and sacrifice for the other person, they can have a successful and happy marriage. Goddard stated that, “Relationships that cannot be salvaged are rare. … Even science shows the blessings of persistence. Research found that 80 percent of those who reported being unhappy in the marriages, but who did not divorce, five years later described their marriage as either ‘very happy’ or ‘quite happy.’” If a couple remembers that love is not as much a noun as it is a verb, they will have a new perspective of their marriage. Dallin H. Oaks stated, “Marriage is like a human life, it is a precious, living thing. If our bodies are sick, we seek to heal them. We do not give up. While there is any prospect of life, we seek healing again and again. The same should be true of our marriages.”
The action of love should be seen as one of the ways that we can heal our marriages. Instead of feeling love for your companion, showing your love would be a better way to feel your love for them. When an individual puts time and effort into something or in this case someone, there is an emotional tie that is formed that is much stronger than enjoying the things that it can do for you. As an effort is made to begin loving or serving your companion instead of waiting to feel love, your marriage will thrive with happiness.
However, we also have seen that some marriages are not always salvageable. No one can force someone to change and therefore, if one member of the couple is unwilling to change it cannot always work out. When the unchangeable part of a person is dangerous to the other person through abuse, unfaithfulness, or other extenuating circumstances, it is sometimes advisable to end the marriage after much thought and deliberation.
Ultimately it is up each of us as individuals. You are the one who is in the relationship and therefore, you are the one who is going to be able to best judge the situation. Each couple and individual that faces the possibility and the sadness of divorce should assess the condition of their marriage and then see what they think is going to be best. Marriage or divorce, neither should be taken lightly. Our children and our society are counting on us.
Lisa Stewart is a student at BYU-Idaho, majoring in Marriage and Family Studies. Her education and the knowledge gained has caused her to have a deeper love and appreciation for her own family. Her hope is to share her knowledge and help others build stronger relationships and families.