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.
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!