Monday, May 29, 2006

50% Success Rate

When people are shocked by the 50% divorce rate, I sometimes wonder if it isn’t more remarkable that 50% of marriages stay intact. What keeps them together? Is it love, friendship, commitment, devotion, obligation, guilt, greed, laziness, fear, or a combination of factors?

When people first come together, there’s a natural euphoric attraction that lasts anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. It’s exciting, intense, thrilling and sexy. During that time, they might also fall in love. After the euphoric stage ends, many people stay together and remain in Love. They replace the biological euphoria with a more stable, long-lasting sense of love and attachment. It makes them want to create a life together with all of its associated responsibilities and obligations.

What keeps 50% of those people from hitting the road to chase that euphoric high once again? (Granted, a bunch of those folks are cheating and not splitting up, but that’s another post).

18 Comments:

At 11:52 PM, Blogger Monty said...

That reads like actual research, by golly. I believe it is. And, you're really asking what holds people together after the lust wears off. I can't wait to hear!

 
At 12:34 AM, Blogger Larry Jones said...

An excellent question, Theresa.

Maybe it's societal sanctions. Maybe it's that, by the time the euphoria wears off, there are babies, meaning responsibilities. While we may want to go off in search of the next hottie, we may be too busy feeding the little one(s), too tired from working at our crummy jobs, and too afraid of the wrath of God if we abandon our marriage.

Of course, all that does is prolong the agony, eh?

 
At 6:26 AM, Blogger Imelda said...

Speaking as someone who got married way too young, and ended up divorced as a result, I think the key to long term success is avoiding the restlessness. This can be achieved if both parties have led full and interesting lives before marriage (including sowing their wild oats) and have reached a point where settling down is a natural progression and something they really want to do for the rest of their lives.

It's about knowing that the life you build with that special person is THE life you want, to the exclusion of all others, for a very very long time.

I'm not jaded about the concept of marriage, I just recognise that the person I am in my late 30s is very different to who I was at 21. And I am confident that if I did find the right partner at this age, we would have a foundation of maturity to work through any restlessness together.

 
At 8:26 AM, Blogger Spin_Doc1 said...

I with Larry, by the time the euphoria wears off there is usually too much stuff to leave, also you are with someone who knows all your history.

 
At 8:31 AM, Blogger Ed said...

Does the euphoric attraction last only two years? Damn, I'm 27 years overdue...

Seriously, I agree with imelda, though. Not committing yourself too early is important. We first got together at 17 but we had an on-off relationship for the first couple of years and didn't marry until we were 24 by which time we were pretty damned sure that we were doing the right thing. Also, when we got married we made a conscious effort not to change. So many people seem to go through a transformation when they get married - we were determined not to let that happen.

 
At 10:20 AM, Blogger AndyT13 said...

You know, these kinds of statistics piss me off. Seems like a very clinical and cynical view of love. If that's all there is than honey let's keep dancing. Sheesh. Is it really so far fetched that people might fall in love and stay in love for the same reasons they fell in love in the first place? Bah.

 
At 11:36 AM, Blogger naive-no-more said...

I had a comment, but Imelda's words are nothing short of the perfect answer. I'll leave it at that.

 
At 6:21 PM, Blogger Aisha T. said...

Well, I've never been married. But, I think, like any relationship (or even more so!) that it needs constant nurturing and attention. It's easy to get into a habit or rut because comfortable can make us lazy or else we are too tired to work on it because of kids, jobs, etc. Then we forget to pay attention. It's never going to be the first couple of years with excitement and lust but, it needs to evolve and grow. Also, people need to keep their own lives--not forget they had interests or dreams when they get married. It's hard because your schedule is not just your schedule anymore but, it's important to keep those hobbies and past times alive. Just a theory. Which is why I'm going to invest in various sex books, toys, travel sites, therapy, spas, season hockey tickets, season theater tickets, etc. if I ever do the deed (I'm sure this is much harder than typed).

I've told (screamed) my guy that I don't ever want to be a habit or to be there and not be there at the same time.

 
At 8:53 PM, Blogger ZooooM said...

Mr. Zoom and I are terrified of being that couple who don't say a word to each other the whole time they are together. We see them when we are out - they are at the same table, but they don't talk. Or, the couple that has one person talking and the other one is checked out.

We don't know how to make a marriage work. We do see what made almost all the marriages around us fail, and we try to avoid that stuff. I'm actually encouraged that the stick together rate is 50%. Because as sad as it may seem, it's not that high in my immediate circle.

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Blazngfyre said...

I do believe that people CAN make things work and stay together, regardless of how young/old and life experiences they've had.
My brother and his wife started dating when she was 13, and got married when she turned 20.
Thirty years later, they STILL act like teenagers!
Also, her parents were married when her Mother was 16 .... they are still together .... 48 years later!
Granted, I realize that these two examples are the exception, but .....
It sure does give me hope.

However, I am already 0-2 in the marriage department .... so I apparently have NOT figured out the answer to a successful one.
*sigh*

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger Barry said...

50/50? That aint so bad

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger nosthegametoo said...

Before divorce was so common, People married to create families, not merely for their personal happiness. So people endured things that most people today wouldn't.

I think the difference is marriage for love and marriage for family. Romantic love fades, though it can be rekindled. If that was the basis for marriage, what happens when it's gone?

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger gnightgirl said...

I'm twice-divorced, and was 100% sure both times that I'd be married forever.

I got nothin' here. I'll keep reading for answers tho.

 
At 8:08 AM, Blogger Steve said...

we don't grow until we question.

the questions at various times in our lives can't help but change...but essentially they are the same: "where is home?"

maybe we reach a point, when, after traveling the world, looking for that touch from someone to light our way, we begin to tire from the endless journey, we slow down a bit, and maybe begin to see that the answers lie some place where they've always already been.

I think I've reached that point.

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Brea said...

I have no idea but I'd sure like to find out. I'm terrified of committment.

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger kate said...

Great post... as I am in the throws of marriage counseling it is a hot button with me for sure. I married at 23(I think that was young but it is all in your perspective I think) we were college sweethearts and everyone was doing it... lol(getting married that is *wink) Its been almost 18 years and 3 kids later and we are here wondering how we got to this. I think we will make it through because we are interested in doing so. In fixing the problems and trying to rekindle the flame. We'll see.

 
At 10:27 PM, Blogger Chick said...

Is it too simple to think if you both actually WANT to be there for each other (with all that involves) it has a high probability of succeeding?

Sure, you have to have a foundation of love & it takes mountains of work to maintain...but you both have to want it...I think that's the problem when things fall apart...one...or both stop working & wanting to be there.

 
At 7:24 AM, Blogger Buffy said...

Realism helps.

Not knowing yourself well enough in the first place.....I always think people who get married without first becoming self actualised (and i dont mean that in a dorky way) are just asking for the Big D.

 

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