Last night I watched Eat Pray Love and it brought back thoughts from when I read the book and what was happening in my life then. I can relate to it on a deep personal level. I can relate to “the only thing worse than leaving is staying” part. And the “I need to change myself part”. And the “you just left and didn’t give me a chance to make things better” part. And the “ruin is the only way to transformation” part. I could go on. The book is so full of powerful quotations it should be read with a highlighter.
So let’s talk about the giant D in the room: Divorce. Statistics say 45-50% of first marriages end in divorce. That means one out of two marriages! And that number doesn’t even include people who are unhappily married. There is as much money spent in the wedding industry as there is in divorce industry. Why? Does it really all come down to irreconcilable differences? To “I just don’t want to be married anymore”? To “we changed into different people”? When we say “we tried to work it out”, did we really?
Well, maybe and just maybe, we have been asking all the wrong questions all along. A lot of people question divorce but very few question marriage. Actually the only people who question marriage are the ones who are against it and never want to get married. I mean, how many times do people actually speak up when the priest says “If anyone has an objection to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace”? My guess is no one. Well, I object!! This is important. Ready? Not to the idea of marriage but to doing it the same way the society has been telling us to. When people announce they are engaged to get married everyone congratulates them. Congratulations, you just increased your chances of being miserable later by 50%!! But enjoy it while you can. When people decide to get divorced they become one more statistic and everyone perceives this as yet another personal failure. Given the state of marriage in this country, maybe divorce IS the way to go. What can be more of an indication of failure of marriage as an institution than the rate of divorce? Human beings are pretty smart when it comes to learning from other people’s mistakes in the field of economics, science and bodily harm but not in the area of relationships. We try to avoid things, people, products that have a bad reputation. We do this very successfully every day. But yet we ignore how bad of a reputation marriage has and we ignore the fact that the odds are stacked up against marriage. Why? We think it won’t happen to us. We blame the people in a failed marriage and determine we are not like them. People who get divorced, very often marry again, including Elizabeth Gilbert. Guess what percentage of second marriages end in divorce: 60%!! We do this the same way adolescents start experimenting with drugs thinking they won’t get addicted like their friends, because somehow there is something special about them (by the way their addicted friends thought the same thing when they started). We call this stupidity, recklessness, insanity, rightfully so. OK, maybe this is too crazy of an idea but why do we NOT question the institution of marriage? Not only that, but we perceive marriage as sacred, so much so that we use this quality as a reason for why gay people shouldn’t get married. Personally, I would love to get married now if I could and I can guarantee it won’t fail. 100%. Why? Because I already went through the “divorce” as in “ruin it all and walk away”. Hopefully we don’t all have to go to that extreme (I have to admit I have a tendency to be melodramatic). But what if the real test to commitment is NOT getting married but getting unmarried? What if we did it backwards? Revisited and questioned everything about our relationship, rescind our commitment, left everything behind, ruined ourselves only to build us back up this time with a clearer idea of what our own personal marriage should look like?
What would marriage look like if we all did this systematically the same way we go about planning weddings?
And, this is the most important question, would David’s Bridal go out of business?