Marriages don’t last anymore. We expect them to because we have unrealistic expectations.
We Live Longer
Your Grandmother probably made her own pastry and sewed by hand, was married to one man most of her life and didn’t live to reach the age of 60 years. Maybe your Mother bought pastry and used a sewing machine, was married twice and will live to around 65 or 70 years. Perhaps you – male or female – buy readymade pies, buy another item of clothing instead of repairing. You could be heading for your third divorce. Your life pace is faster, your life content is larger and more diverse, and you already know you’ll probably live to the age of 80 years or beyond.
In view of the fact that we live longer and more complicated lives in which we have more marriages of a shorter duration; why do we beat ourselves up with guilt and remorse when one of those relationships winds down? It doesn’t make any sense.
General world figures show that the average marriage span for the first time is eleven years and the duration of second marriages is seven years. Therefore, instead of seeing yourself as a failure because your marriage didn’t last forever and a day, consider this:
We’ve evolved as people and moved on into a hectic ultra modern world and lifestyle; yet our expectations have remained back in the century before last, unchanged and unrealistic. We were programmed by old wives and fairy tales about marrying the one of your dreams and living happily ever after. When it doesn’t happen in real life our fantasies fade and we feel cheated.
The hard truth is that we no longer live in the world we were programmed for. We’ve updated and streamlined everything else to keep pace with the way our world has changed; but sadly, our marriage programming originated in an earlier century and still hasn’t been modernised.
Naturally, when our life expectancy was between 35 and 40 years old (a century or so ago), being married forever meant between 10 to 15 years – in fact, they often didn’t get there because one, if not both of them, died. So, getting married somewhere between the ages of 18 and 20 years, and staying married for ten to 15 years meant a forever story.
Nowadays, if we get married when we’re 18 years old, ten years on, at the age of 28 years, we may look askance at our spouse and wonder if we really want to be married to that person for the next 50 or so years…and chances are, the answer will likely be no!
Our Value System Has Changed
Another thing to consider is that in the past we needed to be married for survival. She needed him to support her and be the Father of her children. He needed her to keep house, do his cooking and washing, and raise his children. Therefore, even when the affection had gone out of the relationship, they stayed married in order to survive.
So, today, when there’s no affection – what’s the point? No longer do either of you need the other one. Men cook for themselves – microwaves were probably invented with men in mind. They can do their own washing and there are non iron clothes. Women can get a job probably more easily than a man and support themselves. The need for a member of the opposite sex for survival has gone.
Relationships are strengthened and last longer when the couple share things and do things together. Nowadays what do couples do together apart from watching a little TV (does nothing for the relationship) or having sex? This is possibly one of the main contributing reasons why husbands go off with their secretaries – as a team they are taking on the world and because of this sharing through working together, a strong relationship is established. However, if the marriage is strong and has plenty to keep it together, there is much less chance of either spouse becoming attached to someone on the outside.
Being married just to fulfil your sexual needs is so outdated it’s sad. That was then, and this is now. Then, if you had sex you were going to have kids but now, the pill has changed all of that.
We Have More Choices
Because we have these lives of richness and diversity – compared to our married forever forebears – our expectations have increased. When a today marriage ends it’s often because the expectations exceeded the performance. In the past, people didn’t really change. Nowadays, because they are a much more mobile society, they change rapidly (jobs every few years) and move constantly (away from relatives and close friends), so they no longer have much necessity to conform to other's expectations. Unfortunately the rate and direction of this type of growth varies between the two spouses and that’s where the friction occurs.
Yesteryear, when you were blessed enough to find someone compatible, you probably stayed as you were or changed at an incredibly slow enough rate so that the other one could adjust with you. Today changes are rapid and often and after a few years a couple could well discover that they are no longer compatible. When you no longer fulfil each other’s needs, then it really is time to move on.
It’s time that this became accepted as normal life. It won’t make it less painful but it will make it easier to bear when we finally understand what’s happening and all come to terms with the fact that things aren’t what they used to be – that what then, this is now and today’s marriages don’t last.