In the past, rather than end an unhappy marriage, a couple – two strangers occupying the same house – often lived a lifetime of misery, imposing that misery on their children even as they tried, with uncertain results, to hide their feelings and behavior from their neighbors and friends.
Such an unhappy life is simply unacceptable in most, if not all, of the Orthodox world today.
Notice, at no point have I suggested a reason for the unhappiness of the unsuccessful marriage. Whether because the husband was an insufficient provider or because of the stress of a difficult child or any other reason is immaterial. It really does not matter what the reason is for the failure of a marriage. What matters is only that, despite an honest attempt by at least one of the partners to make a successful marriage and life, the marriage is untenable.
It was not bashert.
That realization is a hard blow. Sometimes the truth that a marriage is unsuccessful takes years to become clear. Other times, it takes nearly no time for either the husband or wife to discover that the marriage will not work. “Only three days into the marriage, I knew I had made a terrible mistake.” He is “controlling and belittling.”===============================
... It is a wonder that any marriage survives and succeeds! Yet, most do. Some do not. There needn’t be any shame in that.
UK Divorce Judge Sir Paul Coleridge Daily Mail
How my family (despite the odd pointed silence) taught me that marriage is worth fighting for. ...
Sometimes you’re happy because you feel as if you are winning, at other times you are depressed because things aren’t going your way. But for much of the time, if you are not careful, you are just rather bored. And being bored in today’s ‘Pass the Partner’ society can all too often lead to discontent and ultimately divorce. Anyone who has ever witnessed the goings-on inside today’s family courts will be aware of the consequences. They are a never-ending carnival of human misery. And what makes this ceaseless river of distress all the more tragic is that in many of the cases there seems to be no solid reason for the divorce to be going ahead.Some people seem to give up on their marriages simply because their partner has not been attentive towards them or variants on that — their spouse devotes too much time to work, playing golf or is simply said not to be investing enough time in the marriage.<Such ‘justifications’ would never have been a basis for divorce in the Fifties when the stigma attached to marital breakdown was such that divorcees weren’t allowed in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot (a restriction which, ironically, would exclude many of today’s Royal Family).But today the process of getting a divorce has become so streamlined that it is a simple form-filling exercise, achievable in six weeks and, if all goes smoothly, at a cost of a few hundred pounds.It is quicker and easier than getting a driving licence. However, the impact can be devastating and long-lasting, not just for the partners and children involved, but for the wider family, local community and society in general.Unfortunately, the idea that marriage should be the gold standard is regarded as judgmental and is therefore unpopular with many of the middle-class intelligentsia.How attitudes have changed even in the four decades since Lisa and I met through mutual friends. When we married in 1973, I was a 23-year-old lawyer, a child bridegroom compared to my 25-year-old wife to be, who was then working as a fashion writer. The differences between us went far beyond our dissimilar fields of work.In those days I was a party-loving extrovert, while Lisa preferred the company of a few close friends.As you might expect, we had our disagreements, which tended to result in pointed silences rather than the conflagrations favoured by some couples. But over the years our roles and the sources of tension between us have changed.If anything it’s me who prefers a quiet night in these days, while Lisa has become steadily more outgoing.But we have learned to work around and adjust to each other as the years have gone by — though there will always be times when things are not going well.I think part of the point is that we took the element of public commitment via our wedding vows seriously.Standing up in front of your family and friends to publicly commit to another person gives marriage a psychological stability or glue lacking in other relationships.
This is backed up by evidence that is readily available and will be published by The Marriage Foundation on our website.
The evidence I find overwhelming is that married relationships are more stable and the children of such relationships fare better.
The evidence I find overwhelming is that married relationships are more stable and the children of such relationships fare better.It is fashionable to argue that none of this matters, that marriage is simply one of many possible templates for a successful relationship.But examine the background of almost every child in care or the youth justice system and you will discover a broken home.Children from such backgrounds are, on every measure of success, less likely to achieve their proper potential and, as their life chances ebb away, the wellbeing of our whole society suffers. Even at the most mundane level, it is estimated that the financial cost to the nation of family breakdown exceeds £44 billion a year: greater than the entire defence budgetI believe that such funds could be far better spent on promoting marriage as an ideal, and in teaching people the art of making it last.<This is what The Marriage Foundation hopes to achieve and its remit goes far beyond the younger generations.In recent years there have been increasing numbers of older couples who have decided to break up once their children have left home.This may seem to be a victim-less trend, but talk to people in their 20s or 30s whose parents have broken up and you will find that it is still extremely emotionally disturbing not just for them but also for the grandchildren.To these young minds, it reinforces the idea that marriage is something you can pick up and put down as and when it suits you.And for these older divorcees, the motivation often seems to be the fantasy that out there somewhere the ‘right’ person is waiting for them and they should grab them while they still have a chance.We have to rid ourselves of this fantasy that we are going to find the partner who is perfect in every way: emotionally, physically, intellectually — I’m afraid it’s just a dream. The reality is that, if you are prepared to put in the effort, you will find that the right person for you is right there in front of you — or in Lisa’s case, several purposeful steps ahead of you with a guidebook when we are on holiday.As we have discovered after many years together, our holidays work best with an agreed division of labour. I tend to be the one who decides where we should go while Lisa does all the planning and detailed research.That plays to both of our strengths and surely that’s what marriage is about — dancing around each other’s differences and making it work, something far less fashionable than divorce, but infinitely worth the slog.