Marriage isn’t having a great moment.
From Barnaby Joyce’s affair, to Karl Stefanovic moving on, to the numerous accusations of sexual assault and affairs against the POTUS, Jennifer Aniston and her husband (Justin someone)…and then of course the total car crash that is the TV show Married At First Sight: one would be forgiven for being somewhat disillusioned by the current state of the institution of marriage.
Google “divorce rates Australia” and you’ll get stats like these, from the Australian Institute of Family Studies:
“In 2013, 47,638 couples got divorced in Australia.”
And this from the Australian Bureau of Statistics:
“Nov 28, 2017 – The median age of males and females at divorce was 45.5 and 42.9 years respectively in 2016. Median age at divorce in 2016 has increased by 0.2 years for both males and females from 2015.”
Divorce just means that people made mistakes and fixed their lives – but presented like this, in the context of all the celebrity drams, it sounds a tad depressing, right? #loveisdead.
Divorce is everywhere, and the media loves a marriage breakdown and a sex scandal. Because do you know what doesn’t sell? An enduring ending. I know that’s very at odds with the success of rom-coms, and every Disney movie ever made – but outside of confected H0llywood cinema, happily-married-ever-afters simply aren’t extraordinary enough.
Unless, of course, you’re the Obamas.
Or Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks.
Or Kim and Kanye. LOL.
The focus on the negative consequences of commitment means that many happily married people feel they’re almost not allowed to talk about their own marriages. They need to apologise for the fact that it’s worked out for them, lest they sound boastful.
A friend admitted to me recently, “I always tell people we’re not perfect, because I don’t want to look like I’m rubbing it in anyone’s face, but the thing is, we are still happy.”
So here’s one of the biggest ‘secrets’ about marriage that people don’t talk about – genuinely healthy relationships exist.
I mean, there’s obviously a reason why millions of people around the world have been fighting for marriage equality for decades: it means something good. So why aren’t we focussing on that more often? Why isn’t that headline news?
Let me state categorically that I’m not saying you need to be married to be happy. I’m literally the poster child for being single and happy. All I’m saying is that if you are, or want to be, in a committed relationship, it’s possible to find a real life partner who loves and respects you. Happy, fulfilling relationships can exist.
You don’t need to be married to be happy. But you also don’t have to apologise if you’re happily married.
Dear friends of mine, who have a solid friendship and share the same sense of humour – the basis of any good relationship.
If we don’t start talking about happy marriages – or happy relationships – we’re going to have a generation on our hands that might not know they’re possible. Because only the unhappy and unsuccessful relationships are getting the attention.
We need to show our kids that a solid relationship (regardless of sexuality, obviously) that has a healthy balance of ups and downs, isn’t a unicorn: it can exist.
Because otherwise our kids may think, as I did, that their parents’ unhappy marriage is “normal” – and repeat the mistakes – not realising things could be so much better. And that leads to serious issues, like choosing to have children with someone you’re only superficially compatible with, or even more seriously, domestic violence, because unhappiness, or prolonged dissatisfaction has been normalised for you.
So let’s teach the kids about marriages like the Obamas – or like my mates Ben and Nirelle – and show them what #couplegoals really are, so they can set their own standards, should they choose to.
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