I just read an article called “Dating for a decade? Young adults aren’t rushing marriage” http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-06-22-10yearcourtship22_CV_N.htm?csp=usat.me
Frankly there is much to commend and much to correct in the article.
The basic idea is that couples are living together for a long time, sometimes breaking up and then getting back together— all as a strategy for making sure marriage works. The most commendable thing in the article is the reference to up-to-date research that shows cohabiting has no noticeable effect on the marriage success of couples.
Couples who live together before marriage and those who don’t both have about the same chances of a successful union, according to a federal report out Tuesday that turns earlier cohabitation research on its head (http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-03-02-cohabiting02_N.htm?csp=obinsite)
There are two problems with the article I do want to mention:
1. The chief examples they give of those trying this ‘new’ approach are of the rich-and-famous (royalty in particular). I don’t see how the record of the British / European royalty should be an example to the rest of us for much of anything about life (no offense meant at all, they just live inside a different kind of world). Their record is dismal, but to their credit they are trying something new!
2. There is nothing new under the sun. The article claims that people are now ‘waiting’— lots of people were waiting 30 years ago. The article claims people aren’t rushing in…of course they are! Every person reading this article already knows many couples who got married quickly (i.e. rushed in).
THE REAL PROBLEM
The real problem, which is fully explained in the book GLAEN, is that people are trying to create guarantees where there are no guarantees. The truth is that realizing there are no guarantees helps the relationship!
Relationships are lived in the moment (not in the future) and they are best lived by sound principles rather than control strategies. Let me share one of my favorite turning points in my 28 year marriage. For many years my wife (Jody) would mention to me that she was having a fear that I would leave her (usually in about 2 weeks in her mind). My first strategy was to assure that I would never leave, but the problem kept showing up. After some time I started my second strategy; I got mad. I mean, come on, where is the evidence? We have 5 children together, I come home every night (and stay), and we do everything together. “It’s not fair that you don’t trust me,” I’d gripe. As you might guess, that strategy didn’t work very well either…
THE REAL SOLUTION
After more time, Jody one day said, “I’m just afraid you are going to leave me (in about 2 weeks).” But I had grown a little, so I told the truth to the both of us. “You know sweetie, I don’t know the future. I might leave you in a couple of weeks or a couple of years. I really don’t know. I don’t think so. Yet, here is what I do know—I’m not leaving today. Would you like to have some fun today? Would you like to be married and in a relationship with me today?”
Oddly enough, that cured it! Jody will tell you now that she KNOWS I’m not leaving (I don’t know how she knows…I think she thinks I’m too lazy to leave).
You see, it is really not that complicated. The article is saying that the trend (the article says the trend is to avoid the mistakes of Baby Boomers…which isn’t clearly explained) looks like this:
MEET => FALL IN LOVE => GO SLOW TILL YOU THINK YOU KNOW FOR SURE => LIVE TOGETHER => DECIDE TO GIVE MARRIAGE ITS DUE => MARRY => HOPE FOR THE BEST
Allow me to offer a different pattern that will give you an even better shot at a long and successful marriage:
MEET => FALL IN LOVE => COMMIT TO THE MARRIAGE => MARRY => BUILD A LIFE TOGETHER AFTER COMMITTING => KEEP YOUR COMMITMENTS
You see, if commitment to the marriage itself isn’t there, you are statistically doomed. People change. If you are committed to that person, then you can convince yourself you are off-the-hook when that person is ‘no longer the person you married.’ Yes, love them and cherish them and commit to them…but committing to build a life with that person through the commitment of marriage is an even greater calling. In GLAEN, it’s called “marrying for keeps.” Isn’t that what you really want?
“Richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part”
Notice how the guarantees are absent and the commitment come first?
P.S. I know there are exceptions. I know there are innocent parties sometimes in divorce. I know that we can’t guarantee things on this earth. All I’m sharing is that you can put the odds in your favor…but doubtfully by putting “building a life together” AHEAD of The Commitment.