Larry James' BLOG

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Is It Time to Get Rid of Marriage?

Bob Hollander, JD, LCSW-C and Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, Guest Authors

I’m still not over Jennifer and Brad, and Mariah and Nick; but now, Ben and Jen? I really thought, or was hoping, their marriage would last. Every day we read about marriages breaking up. It’s very discouraging.

REL-DumpMarriageI was under the impression that divorce was decreasing in the U.S.; recently I searched for the facts. I found a review of marriage and divorce trends over the last 144 years. Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, Randal Olson, researcher at University of Pennsylvania, plotted the numbers. It’s fascinating to see the correlation of marriage and divorce rates with historical events. Check it out.

The data shows that divorce rates have been steadily declining since the 1980s; however, so have the marriage rates. It also shows:

The rate of marriage today is at the lowest point ever recorded in U.S. history.

That was news to me. It made me wonder: Has the institution of marriage in the millennium outlived its usefulness? After all, we don’t necessarily depend on each other for financial support, childcare and housekeeping.

Bob and I see two glaring problems with marriage in this day and age:

1. Today’s marriages are based on romantic feelings of love – the weakest link in relationships. We assume love will last forever. The truth is love can last, IF we nurture, sustain and grow it over a lifetime. Sounds easy, but it’s a tall order in our hectic day-to-day lives.

2. We aren’t prepared for the job of being a millennial spouse. On our wedding day how many of us know:

• Feelings of romantic love will die if they are not consistently fed
• Hard work is required to sustain a healthy, loving marriage over a lifetime
• Skills including communication, negotiation and conflict management need to be learned and practiced
• Money and sex are the two issues couples have most conflict about
• Marital satisfaction statistically plunges after children are born
• The true job description of being a marital partner isn’t written down, not to mention we may not have the right training for the job?

marriages:divorcesIf you saw an ad for Spouse in the Help Wanted section, it would go something like this:

Job Description: Seeking committed, mature individual. Responsible for health and well being of self and others, physically and emotionally; dedicated to hard work; devoted and loyal for life, despite future offers; team player; ability to identify, analyze and face obstacles to team welfare; prepared to learn and practice advanced communication, conflict resolution and negotiation skills, especially around issues of money and sex; willingness to share and sacrifice own needs at times for team; stamina to persevere and maintain quality of job performance despite years of hard labor, multiple organizational changes and transitions; and only a 60% success rate.

Did you realize this is what you were signing up for? Sounds daunting.

However, Bob and I still believe in marriage. What could be better than weaving a life together, through good times and bad, persevering, learning and growing from tough times, being able to enjoy and appreciate your accomplishments, having companionship and a best friend along the journey to find meaning in this world?

In addition, research-based evidence shows that the job of spouse comes with incredible benefits. A review of the research by the US Department of Health and Human Services finds that married people have:

• Better physical and mental health
• Improved economic well-being
• Improved well-being of children as adults
• Better long term health
• Greater longevity

So add good health, long life, higher income, and healthier children to the job description. It is worth the work.

Have a conversation with your partner about the “relationship house” you have built and make a plan to repair any damage. Strengthen the foundation and redecorate based upon what you both want for the future. It’s never too late to make your connection even stronger.

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Copyright © 2015 by Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD. Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, is a licensed counselor and co-founder of Relationships Work, an innovative therapy practice and online resource center. Together with her husband, Bob, they encourage couples to consciously co-create their relationships in order to achieve a deeper, more intimate connection. You can visit Relationships Work online at: Follow them on Facebook.


CLoveLOGOLarry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere.

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