What’s your attitude toward marriage as an institution? Is it more traditional in nature, or does it match the culture’s more progressive, cavalier view? Your attitude is the single most important determiner of your success in life. Life will throw you a thousand curve balls. So will marriage. But it isn’t the curve balls that matter—it’s what you do with those curve balls. And what you do stems from how you think.
The America of today teaches two basic tenets about marriage: that it isn’t necessary, and that it doesn’t have to be permanent. That’s a tectonic shift in attitudes in a relatively short period of time. We hear a lot about how bad things were for women “back in the day.” But the truth is, women have robbed Peter to pay Paul. They may be more successful in the professional sphere, but they know next to nothing about love.
“This is ironic,” writes Timothy Keller, author of The Meaning of Marriage. “Older views of marriage are considered to be traditional and oppressive, while of the newer review of the ‘Me-Marriage’ seems so liberating. And yet it is the new view that has led to steep decline in marriage and to an oppressive sense of hopelessness with regard to it.”
That’s because the culture teaches that marriage is supposed to make women happy; and that if it doesn’t, a wife should leave her marriage and find happiness with someone else.
Talk about sabotage! Who’s never unhappy? And why should becoming a wife (or a husband, for that matter) guarantee one’s happiness? Yet this directive—“life’s too short; move on if you’re unhappy”—is pervasive, and it’s tailored specifically to women.
To be clear, I’m not arguing that divorce isn’t sometimes necessary. The problem is that we live in a culture that equates divorce with liberation. Ask any honest psychologist, and he or she will tell you divorce is a temporary relief at best. More often than not, divorce creates more problems than it solves.
So let’s change the paradigm. Rather than assume divorce is the answer to marital conflict, change your views about marriage itself.