4 min 20 sec read
These three truths are the primary sad seeds of why marriages fail at such an alarming rate in our culture:
- Most people rate personal happiness on a higher scale then they do the preservation of their marriage;
- Many men and women are unwilling to appreciate their spouses for who they are and how their spouse’s basic gender differences are (most probably) permanent fixtures in their spouse’s personality;
- Our culture’s focus on individuality and the belief, by many, that we can have full lives, even absent living within a traditional family structure.
Though this list is somewhat unconventional (no mention of financial problems or issues concerning children), this is what we see every day at Graine Mediation. It appears marriages fail due to broader societal changes rather than specific problems in the individual marriage. “Mom, dad, and the kids” is not for everyone in today's world, but most independent-minded people don’t realize this until they are well into their marriage.
Throughout history, marriage has been recognized as a sacred union. In contemporary society, however, the sanctity of this union is often downplayed or dismissed as not applicable to our modern lives. Marriage is for love, but in today's culture, love can also be found and easily consummated without the union of marriage.
The ease with which people are able to enter into casual relationships, as well as our ability, in such a highly mobile and connected society, to readily switch romantic partners, is a recipe for marital disaster. When unhappy, the somewhat obscured sanctity of marriage often pales in comparison to a spouse's perceived “right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Women are Now a Force in the Workplace
Our society places emphasis on gender equality in the workplace. Unfortunately, there seems to be some connection between women in the workplace and the high divorce rate. Women are expected to act and react, at work, in the same way as their male counterparts. Our emphasis on gender equality in the workplace does not take into account the vast male-female differences in how we perceive, process, and transmit information. At home, this leads to confusion, misconceptions, and mind-boggling false conclusions.
Mars and Venus Cannot Get Along?
Men and women both express and receive love differently. When both parties expect that the other craves the same kind of affection as they do, personal expressions and expectations become problematic. In general, men value personal and professional accomplishments and want these accomplishments to be recognized. They desire support and admiration for their accomplishments.
Women, on the other hand, have a greater tendency to seek, from their mates, a feeling of being cherished and being appreciated in ways that make them feel special. Women, recent research is showing, want to be the first priority of their husbands; while men often want their wives to wait appreciatively in the wings while they engage in their professional and personal accomplishments.
Because men often link their self-worth, and their value in a partnership, to their ability to provide for their families, it has become increasingly difficult for many men to accept the new order of the American family and multi-faceted roles that women now play. Twenty-first-century mothers can do it all...but this appears to be hurting the institution of marriage.
Quite often, women wear multiple hats in family situations: nurturing mother, homemaker, and breadwinner. This leaves many men with feelings of inadequacy and, when these feelings are left to fester, marriages suffer.
Genders - hardwired differently?
Many people believe that men and women are hardwired differently. This is most apparent in how they perceive the world around them. For example, the communication center in a woman’s brain is much larger than that of a man’s. Women are better able, and more likely, to pay attention to words, take note of what is implied in conversations, and read body language, than their male counterparts. Because of this, the way women and men prefer to communicate differs, especially when it comes to problem-solving. Women prefer to talk through problems, even if a solution is not reached. Men’s brains are wired to be more direct. Thus, they prefer to conceive and offer immediate solutions to problems. This often leads women to feel as though their partners aren’t actually listening; while men feel as though their partners are choosing to dwell on issues that can be fixed quite simply.
Of course, there is no “one size fits all” plan for marriage. Every marriage faces a different set of trials and tribulations. This book by John Gottman, on why marriages fail and what makes them succeed, has a series of self-tests designed to help you determine what kind of marriage you have, where your strengths and weaknesses are, and what specific actions you can take to help your marriage. Ultimately, if you believe in the value of keeping your family intact, are willing to help the lines of communication open, and accept that men and women are different in some very key ways, you will have a good shot at remaining, "mom, dad, and the kids."
Barbara and Allan Pease, Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps, Welcome Rain Publishers, New York, 2000. Abstract found at http://voices.yahoo.com/four-major-differences-men-women-perceive-2588435.html?cat=41
Radwan, M Farouk MSc. “Psychological Differences Between Men and Women” http://www.2knowmyself.com/psychological_differences_between_men_and_women
Written with assistance from: Zia Meyer, Mediation Assistant