Does marriage work?

It’s a fair question, don’t you think, when we look around and see so much cheating going on.   I wonder what your answer would be.  Mine is “yes, it does work…for some people.”  The problem is, it really doesn’t work for everyone.  And yet, our conditioning says that marriage is the way to go–it’s good, it’s the goal, it’s the way to a happy life—and we don’t usually question that.  We simply walk down the aisle, say our vows…and then, and then?

And then after time passes, we scratch our heads and wonder why we don’t feel the way we’re supposed to feel.  Is it me? Is it her or him?  Have I married the wrong person?  Any of these could be the problem, but it could also be that marriage just wasn’t for you. That you needed a different form for your partnership, and with all the brouhaha about marriage, you didn’t realize that you had a choice.

There are so many ways for people to be together in relationship—successful ways that don’t fit the norm.  Given the diversity of our histories– our wounds, our vulnerabilities—it’s ludicrous to think that we would all be happy in the same paradigm.   For some, marriage is like trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole.  It just doesn’t work.  I’m not against marriage…not at all.  But I am against the scorn people face when they go against convention in an effort to do what’s best for them. We should not have marriage and marriage only shoved down our throats.  We should all be free to choose, without shame or guilt.

What if it were this way: two people make their own decision about how their relationship will work; they come to an agreement about it, and then make a commitment to keep their agreement. Then as time passes and they change (which inevitably happens) they revisit the agreement and make adjustments according to who they have become rather than who they once were. Doesn’t that make more sense than taking out our megaphones and shouting “marriage, marriage, marriage” as being the only way?

I wonder if Arnold, Jesse James, Tiger and all the many others who have cheated could have saved themselves some heartbreak if they had chosen
something more suitable for them than marriage. Maybe in our fast changing world, this flexibility is what we’ll come to. I hope so.  It just might work better for all of us.

Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for great tips and insights about relationships. You can read a synopsis of the book on my website, and buy it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


Add yours →

  1. To me, marriage is a committment to be with another person–for better or for worse, through sickness and health and until death do you part. Sure, you can make this committment without having to get married, but I think people are more likely to keep this committment (particularly during rough periods)when they have made that vow to each other. …..I also believe that marriage is journey filled with both highs and lows. Failure is inevitable at times (and the severity of it will vary), which is why forgiveness is crucial.

    All this does not mean that marriage is the ultimate destination for everyone. It’s a journey that some of us choose to embark upon and others don’t. But with anything we pursue in life, we should embark on marriage with a little bit of awareness of what it involves, a sense of adventure for what it will bring, and a whole lot of faith in its uncertain future! 🙂

    Great post!

    • Thanks so much for your input. Seems we agree that marriage is not necessarily the “be all and end all” for everyone. I also agree with you about what marriage is…something that should be embarked upon with more awareness. Seems too many jump in thinking “the picture” is real and then are disillusioned when reality hits. Thanks again.

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