Too often we treat the symptom. To cure martial problems you have to treat the virus.
Do the research. I did. What are the most common reasons for divorce? Depending upon the survey, you’ll get slightly different answers. But there are a few that are mentioned frequently: Communication, unfaithfulness, financial, parenting styles, abuse. But are these really the reasons?
I argue that they are merely symptoms like a runny nose or a cough to a cold. The issue is not the runny nose or a cough, it’s a virus that attacks our body. Similarly, the “reasons” for divorce are not the true reasons. They are symptoms of personal and cultural relationship “viruses”.
The personal virus is our own humanity. Our struggle in reconciling our past affects our ego and our self-worth. In the book Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, creating love in a relationship with another is a delicate dance of reconciling the unfulfilled love we received from our parents with recognizing, understanding and controlling the projection of our own faults onto our partner. Without mastering this dance, we sabotage our relationships, causing them to fail.
There are several but I will focus on two that unfortunately are like swimming against the currents: mass media's idealistic portrayal of love and our expendable society mentality that lowers our level of ocmmitment.
Mass Media – In the book Sex, Love and Romance in the Mass Media by Dr Mary-Lou Galician of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications at Arizona State, Dr Galician suggests that we receive unreal expectations of sex, love and romance from mass media. These unreal expectations create visions of how a relationship should be, what romance looks like, and the magical bliss of perfect sex with our partner. When we don't attain these idealistic expectations, we fault our self or our partner as not being good enough or not the right one, not our “soul mate”. So we leave.
Expendable Society – our society has evolved to a rush for immediate gratification and expendable products from shoes to plastic water bottles, causing our society to develop a “throwaway” mentality. Nothing needs to be fixed, just throw it away and buy a new one. This mind frame has slowly eroded our level of commitment as reflected in over 40% of all marriages ending in divorce. And once you’ve been divorced, your next marriage is easier to throw away as indicated by 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages ending in divorce .
So what's the cure? The way to create a loving relationship is focusing on the viruses: our personal virus is cured through learning to love our self and the cultural virus by raising our level of commitment.
In loving our self we become whole in mind and spirit. If we are not whole, then at some level, our love with another in some form is an emotional extraction to sooth our ego/self-worth, a need. This is unhealthy and leads to creating negative emotions in the relationship. But being whole, on the other hand, creates love that is truly a gift given with no expectation of it needing to be returned.
In raising our level of commitment, we rise above influences of society and face reality – that both people in the relationship need to grow and learn. Having commitment to "stick it out" through good or bad, until death do you part creates a powerful bond and a safe environment to work through the hard times. This creates a high level of trust enabling the couple to slowly peel away at the cultural symptoms, treat the virus and mutually evolve.
Many times marital issues run deeper than the symptoms. Couples need to peel away at the symptom to get down to the cause, the virus. It is at that level that you will find your cure and evolve your ability to love each other.