There are many issues with modern marriage today. We live in a world in which family breakdown is more the norm than the exception. Divorce and illegitimacy are widespread. Tons of suggestions are being published on how to update the traditional family model.
The Trouble With Modern Marriage
Married life has changed a lot. Until the mid-1940s, marriage was looked at as a contract far more binding than it is now. At the time, society had a clear view of what was acceptable and this was generally based on what worked well for the family. When there was trouble in the marriage, the couple focused on holding the marriage together. “Till death do us part” was not just a phrase you said at the altar. It meant everything.
One of the issues that marriage as an institution face is the fact that we’ve become increasingly more approving of choosing to be in long term relationships with partners without getting married. Most now believe that a marriage license does not constitute marriage. Without saying “I do” these couples take on the responsibilities of married couples such as dividing bills and household duties. While some couples are deciding not to get married, others are deciding to live together before marriage to get to know their potential spouse first.
According to the research on premarital cohabitation and marital stability researchers like Booth and Johnson, DeMaris and Rao found that the issue with this approach to marriage is that it is leading to more divorces when avoiding divorce is the reason for cohabiting in the first place. The chances of divorce for couples living together before marriage are found to be 50 per cent according to the recent statistics.
According to a recent article titled The suffocation of marriage: Climbing Mount Maslow without enough oxygen. by Eli Finkel and colleagues (2014) there is another potential explanation: Maybe we are simply expecting too much of our marriages without investing enough time and effort into our relationships to make these expectations achievable.
The article reviewed how many of the changes that have taken place with regard to our expectations for marriage may actually set the stage for many marriages to fail, and for many remaining marriages to feel unsatisfying. Scholars and social commentators frequently argue that people are expecting more from their marriage than in the past.
However, according to the suffocation model, the overall quantity of marital expectations has not changed much, whereas the nature of these expectations has changed considerably: Contemporary partners expect much less with regard to physiological and safety needs but much more in terms of esteem and self-expressive needs. These changing expectations have caused average marriages to become less satisfying.
Building a marriage that can help spouses meet their higher needs is more difficult than building a marriage that can help them meet their lower needs. It was a huge challenge to fulfil the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, but doing so did not require a loving bond or deep insight into one’s spouse’s psychological essence. In contrast, these factors are essential for contemporary spouses seeking to help each other achieve self-expression.
After all, higher needs, which “vary greatly from person to person” are much less tangible and more specific than lower needs, and the ability to provide support that is tailored to partners’ unique needs and circumstances (rather than providing generic forms of support) is crucial for helping them achieve their self-expressive needs.
This greater emphasis on relationship processes that require mutual insight means that investing time and energy in the relationship is much more important today than in the past. As a result, a level of investment in the relationship that would have been sufficient to meet spouses’ marital expectations in earlier eras is frequently insufficient today. Our spouses are not only partners in the daily task of providing for and managing a household, they are also expected to be our best friends, caring confidants, passionate and adventurous lovers, intellectual challengers, and biggest cheerleaders.
One way we can combat this issue is by reducing our expectations. When we get married, many of us expect one person to meet an impossible volume of needs. We’re convinced that marriage will solve all our problems, our partners will meet all our needs and we’ll live happily ever after. When the marriage or the partner fails to live up to our ideals, we don’t recognize that our expectations were much too high. Instead, we blame our partner. We think that maybe if we had a different spouse, it would be better.
We have to recognize that it’s OK to turn to friends, family and colleagues for support and encouragement and not put all the weight on our partner. This will help us reduce our expectations.
Another way we can combat this issue is by putting more time and effort into our marriages by spending more quality time together.
Spending time with your partner is extremely important. Create a list of fun and romantic things to do for the day or simply spend time at home together, relaxing and watching your favourite movies. Your significant other will value the fact that you are making time in your hectic schedule to spend time with them.
We have the power to change the way we view and treat modern marriage by shifting our attitude and our actions towards our relationship.
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