Why Do So Many Marriages Fail?
By Lynn Armitage
Did you know more couples get married in June than any other time of year? What a superstitious bunch we are. According to custom, getting hitched in the month named after Juno, the Roman Goddess of Marriage and Family, will ensure a life of wedded prosperity.
But don’t be fooled — all was not heaven in Olympus, the mythological Wisteria Lane. Legend has it that Juno had a less-than-perfect marriage. Her husband Jupiter, Lord of the Gods, was cheating on her (Say it ain’t so!). And while this desperate, yet godly, housewife exacted revenge on Jupiter’s lovers, she remained devoted to the sanctity of marriage and stood by her man.
But enough about the Clintons.
For better or worse, nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce. (In California, it’s closer to 60%!) Clearly, matrimony isn’t a cakewalk. Even the gods couldn’t get it right. We start out with the best of intentions, white picket fence and all. But somewhere along the way, the edges on that picture-perfect dream start to fray. And before you know it, you’re divorced with two children, writing a single-parent column and hoping for second chances.
Americans are great at solving world problems. Yet we can’t figure out how to live peacefully within our own homes. Obviously, I don’t have the answers. (Although I suspect it has something to do with marrying the right person to begin with.) So I asked the experts: Why do so many marriages end in divorce?
Dr. Cornelia Brentano, co-author of the book “‘Til Divorce Do Us Part: Causes and Consequences of Marital Breakup for Children and Adults,” says it’s a host of things. “Many people have unrealistic expectations and marry for the wrong reasons: it’s romantic, to demonstrate commitment, to have regular sex, to have a big wedding, because everybody does it.” She continues, “People also lack the skill to choose a suitable partner. Instead, we look for a cute, sexy, rich or available one.”
That explains why Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston didn’t work out. But what about the rest of us?
Dr. Brentano, assistant professor in the department of psychology at Chapman University in Orange, California, has identified risk factors for divorce to help everyday folks steer clear of a doomed union:
- Marrying before age 25
- Earning less than $25,000/year
- Race and ethnicity: Divorce rate for African-Americans is 47%, Asians (20%), European Americans (32%) and Latinos (34%)
- Rape: Women forced into intercourse before or during marriage
- No religious affiliations; different religious views
- Already having children; unwanted children
- Divorced parents
- Lack of education
- Poor communication
The outlook isn’t promising. Yet every now and then, some people get it right. An elderly couple, holding hands, tottered into Mimi’s Café where I was noshing recently. Newlyweds after 60 years. She has Alzheimer’s and couldn’t remember what to order. After a lifetime of breakfasts together, he remembered for her. Every detail . . . down to wheat toast with jelly, no butter.
In sickness and in health. I want that someday. I want that for all of us.
Writer and blogger Lynn Armitage plans to get it right the second time around. Check out her other blogs at myteenthealien.blogspot.com and amadmom.blogspot.com. She welcomes your e-mails at: Boatfolk@aol.com.
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