The Goal Should Be More Dedication

Yesterday I introduced the idea of dedication and constraint as the things that keep a marriage together. I suggested that constraint could change as a result of a change in one’s social circle. This has been happening on the societal level the last 60+ years. Divorce was once seen as a horrible thing by most people and that kept some couples together even though one or both would really have liked to have to end the marriage. Today divorce is much less of a stigma.

Other cultural changes are also a factor. At one time a divorced woman, and even more so divorced mothers, had little hope of earning enough income to have a decent life. Some women stayed in their marriage not because they wanted to, but because they had no other good option.

The Goal Should Be More Dedication

I hear some bemoan the loss of these cultural constraints on divorce and blame them for the state of marriage today. But while those changes are no doubt a part of why we see so many divorces, they have not changed the state of marriages. Cultural constraints didn’t make marriages better, they just kept people in bad marriages. I don’t see keeping people in bad marriages as a worthy goal! I’d much rather work at making marriages better so no one wants to get divorced.

I’m not suggesting that we stop caring about divorce. I think some level of social constraint on divorce is a good thing. It can keep a marriage together long enough for the couple to work through things on their own or to get help. As a stop gap, social constraint is a great thing. As the primary thing keeping a marriage together long-term it’s not so great. Rather than trying to rebuild cultural constraints I think we need to put our energy into making marriages better. Increase the dedication factors and divorce stops being a consideration.

BTW, this is especially true in our own marriages. There is little you can do to increase the constraints keeping your wife in the marriage, and even if you can any constraints placed by you are going to result in a great deal of resentment. However, there is plenty you can do to increase dedication. If being with you is really great, if being with your wife blesses and enriches her, she’s not going anywhere!

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8 Comments on “The Goal Should Be More Dedication

  1. I agree that working to have a good marriage should always be our main goal. However, I do believe cultural restraints can be a motivating factor to stay and work on your marriage rather than throwing in the towel when things get tough. As is human nature, we’ve gone from one extreme to another….never get divorced or get divorced the minute things get hard.We need some degree of societal pressure, at least in the church, to encourage people to divorce only as a last resort.

    • @Scott Howard – I argued yesterday that constraint had it’s place, but it’s power is limited. Constraint alone won’t keep most troubled marriages together for the long run.
      Society as a whole has certainly lost most of it’s divorce constraint. Some churches have done the same, and those would do well to rebuild some. But other churches are 99% constraint and 1% dedication, and those churches need to work on dedication.

    • But that swing has already happened, the divorce peak was 30 years ago…..

      • @mykidsmademedoit – You’re right, and I’d say that shows that constraint is not enough, as contraint social constraint was higher then. I twas going down, but it was higher than today.

  2. I’m curious what the problem is with “the state of marriage today”? Things are probably better now than they were when I was a you kid in the 80s, divorce is lower, drug use is lower, I imagine spousal violence is less prevalent….

    Overt social pressure to maintain something unwanted causes a LOT of second tier problems, we are better off focusing our efforts on helping people make better choices to begin with than trying to force people back together

    • @mykidsmademedoit – I was repeating what others say in that bit. I’d agree with you it’s less bad now than it was in the past, but less bad is not good. I also agree 100% that helping is far more effective than shame and social pressure. I think social pressure has it’s place, but it’s not a long-term solution.

  3. Pingback: #Marriage- The Goal Should Be More Dedication – World Information Centre

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