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Opinion: Is marriage dying or is it just the economy?

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by Rev. Jesse Herriott, M.A.

In many cases, it’s not the “ultra-romantic” times that define a marriage; it’s the tough times that really define what that relationship will be for all parties involved. The economic recession is definitely one of those occasions.

Committed relationships and marriages alike are entered into with the intention that they would last forever. In fact, some of them do last forever, but there are just as many that do not. In some instances there are some unforeseen circumstances that contribute to the relationship’s dissolution; and in other instances, some of those circumstances could be avoided.

In many cases, it’s not the “ultra-romantic” times that define a marriage; it’s the tough times that really define what that relationship will be for all parties involved. The economic recession is definitely one of those occasions.

Experts say that a close study of our nation’s history shows that there is a stunning relationship between marriage rates and economic patters. In fact, recent studies by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia suggest that marriage rates rise and fall with the economic stability of the country. Now, in light of current divorce rates steadily climbing and the current state of the economy, it makes you wonder if marriage is anything more than a business contract. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be a lot of negotiating, compromising, and exchange of goods and services, as with any business, but it’s not supposed to be just business; it’s supposed to be a little deeper than that. It should definitely not be  like the movie, “Indecent Proposal,” where Robert Redford asks Woody Harrleson to “loan” him his wife for one night…unless you both agree on that?

If a typical relationship experienced problems leading up to the recent economic crisis, then of course those problems will only intensify. If you were already thinking about leaving, the fact that your spouse lost a job will most likely cause you to leave or agree to stick around until you can afford to leave them. But you have to wonder, what happened to the commitment and effort that some of the older generations demonstrated? Between 1950 and 1990, the divorce rate has doubled.  Is it because we have more freedoms? That could be possible. Is it because the “cult of domesticity” (where a woman’s only place is at home) has dissolved? (Thank God that’s no longer an issue). So, what is it that makes the current culture so post-post-modern, and so independent?

One thing is definitely sure; families are the building blocks of any institution. Take a look at any religious institution, and you will quickly notice that if it is lacking a strong familial system, with the younger generation maintaining a conscious connection to it, it will soon fade as the older adherents pass onward. Maybe marriage isn’t for everyone, and that may seem strange coming from me because I am a priest. Honestly, after being married myself, I’m positive marriage isn’t for everyone. But, if you love them, you’d be willing to afford them the protections of that covenant. We can’t deny that money does play a serious role in any relationship, but it doesn’t have to be the centerpiece of your relationship.

One thing’s for sure; it definitely takes hard work to be in and remain present in any kind of committed relationship. Of course, the “work” that I’m referring to is within your own awareness. In the words of Rob Base, “it takes two to make a thing go right.” If you want a successful marriage, find someone that’s willing to work on themselves while you work on yourself; your spouse isn’t your pet project…unless they agree to be?

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


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