It Takes Two, Baby...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

we are a speed-obsessed culture. when the newer, faster, smaller model comes along, we toss the old one without hesitation. we cream our jeans when we read about a quarter-inch-thin laptop with dual processors and 10 hours of battery power. we go to the store and there's a waiting list. and in that instant the decision is made: we will get that laptop. and we do. we show it off to our friends. and for the first week we even wash our hands before we use it, to keep the keyboard clean. but in a month we'll be used to it. in six months, it will seem slow. we won't care when we drip instant cream of wheat on the keyboard, causing a short. in a year, we won't carry it on the plane anymore because it will be embarrassingly obsolete.

so imagine trying to have a relationship in this environment. and by that i am referring to the arcane concept of the long-term relationship. a marriage, even. imagine living in this culture and not walking out the door at the first sign of trouble. the second you hear "we need to talk" or "i've been thinking," you hit the DELETE key. do you know the chances of celebrating your 50th anniversary? something like 5 percent. don't believe me? google it.

successful, long-term relationships take two things that we, as a culture, have mysteriously become programmed to avoid: hard work and persistence.

we want our relationships to be great, and great all the time. on their own. work-free partnered bliss. as soon as issues occur, we think, "this one's not right for me." or, "we're growing apart." of course, the world is filled with psychos, and sometimes they are attractive and we end up married to one. which is a pity. and in this case, leaving is a very good thing. but most often we're just coupled with another normal person and experiencing normal problems, and leaving is the easiest idea, not necessarily the best one. i think part of the problem is that we marry too quickly. we fall in love, and then trust our hormones and brain chemistry and we get engaged. before we really know what we're getting into.

our divorce rate hovers over 40%. even i realize that percentage is most certainly an F in american relationships. and it's because we're viewing the first marriage not as the final exam but as the homework. the trainer marriage. the one where we can make all our mistakes. so that we can nail it the second--or third--time around. but guess what? the statistics don't show that. in fact, the statistics show the jaw-dropping, sphincter-clenching opposite. they reveal failed first marriages, followed by failed second (64%) and failed third (73%). i googled it.

so though i'd like my water to boil faster, and though the computer i bought nine months ago is painfully slow, and both of those items will soon be delivered to a landfill where they can infect the environment, in my relationship i'm willing to sacrifice speed for quality.

[via thelifestylekillsme]

2 comments:

spleeness 3:40 PM  

wow, that is depressing. I didn't know that about 2nd & 3rd marriages. I wonder if it's because once people have been through a divorce they are less scared of doing it again if things don't work out? (Since they know what to expect, or protect themselves financially at the outset?)

To play devil's advocate tho, what about people who stay married despite being unhealthily unhappy?

I have seen this, people who cling to eachother through a sense of routine and tradition but are hopelessly lonely and bitter within their relationship.

I do think it's important to seek happiness and, say, if substance abuse (or any abuse) crops up then it's not worth staying. That doesn't mean people shouldn't try hard though, and that counseling shouldn't be an option when times get tough.

I don't know if our nation's numbers look so dismal because people are more likely to seek happiness than in some other places; it doesn't necessarily mean marriage *works* better or that the people are happier.

All that said, YES we are a disposable society.

You know what would be interesting to me? Looking at my parent's generation, they're not the ones running out to buy the latest and greatest gadgets. They still remember their parents' concern with the Great Depression.

But today's kids in their 20s... are they more likely to marry and divorce than previous generations? If those stats increase in another decade, it'll be interesting to see why.

One last comment.

I think one of the biggest problems in relationships is that familiarity does breed contempt.

It seems like the longer people are together, the less kindly they treat eachother. But people should appreciate eachother and express that appreciation regularly (even if our feelings are hurt, even if we're upset or angry at our partners).

We do it in the workplace to get along better but why not as frequently at home? I'm just sayin'.

Crazy Momma 3:58 PM  

Great post. So true and something that we often forget.

My relationship has been neglected. Not that I wanted to "upgrade" but I was forgetting to put in the hard work...

Thankfully we were able to see it before it was too late.

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