By Alex Berger
Dietician lecturing to audience: “The material we put in our stomachs is enough to have killed most of you years ago. But what one comestible causes the most grief and suffering after it is ingested?”
“Wedding cake,” yelped a recent divorcee.
June is the month of marriages. Recently, a pastor in New York was stunned when a couple who wanted him to preside at their wedding asked if he would alter the traditional marriage vow and forget the “till-death-do-us-part” part. Instead, would he mind substituting an escape clause such as “as long as our love shall last?” “Yes, I would mind,” he told them. “Now go find another minister.”
Yes, the sacred wedding vow is under attack.
Consider that the precursor to the wedding is a round engagement ring, symbolizing eternity. In one form or another, couples have customarily plighted their undying pledge to each other for ages. And, historically, most marriages, for better or worse, usually ended in death.
Not anymore. Divorces occur because of excessive use of the strongest muscle in the human body: the tongue.
Surprisingly, small things lead to divorce. One wife complained her husband did not help with the kids and housework. Another bewailed that her husband leaves his dirty socks on the floor and the toilet seat up and butters his English muffin incompletely. Another fretted over his wife’s goofy laugh and loose hair in the sink and her leaving the tooth paste tube uncovered. The weight of inane things trigger divorces over time.
Just as we often fall in love with the little traits of our partner, we can fall out of love over them also. Aggravation builds over time. Marriage authorities agree that most unions fail not because of huge setbacks like job loss or sickness. People usually support one another when faced with a major disaster. It is the trivial that pull couples apart.
Divorce often turns a short matrimony into a long alimony.
Current figures are hard to come by, but more marriages, predictably, will end in divorce than death. And about half of those marrying for the first time will wind up divorcing, usually within seven years, despite vowing “eternal love” to one another.
In law and religion, marriage commitment was, for the most part, an essential and integral part of every wedding. For example, in the Catholic Church couples pledge to unite “all the days of my life.” An exception to the rule is the Jewish ceremony where it is customary to not include absolute commitment because Jewish law has recognized divorce for thousands of years.
Marriage is the price men pay for sex; sex is the price women pay for marriage.
Marriage advocates maintain that the primary vow defines the principles of marriage. While altering the vow for many couples can be liberating, it pushes law and religion into bumpy and uncharted territory.
Marriage is a knot tied by a preacher and untied by a lawyer.
It is known that marriage tends to afford a healthier lifestyle than staying single. But new research indicates that when married people become single again, they experience much more than an emotional loss. Often they suffer a decline in physical health from which they never recover, even if they remarry. In terms of health, it is actually not better to marry and to lose a spouse then never having married at all.
Also, middle-aged people who never married have fewer chronic health problems than those who were divorced or widowed. This does not suggest that people should stay married at all costs, but that marital history is an important indicator of health and that the newly single persons need to be vigilant about stress management and exercise, even during a subsequent marriage.
New York has one of the lowest divorce rates in the nation. Why? Do you have any idea what it costs a divorcee to live here solo?
Experts warn that if you cannot fix a marriage, you are better out of it. With a divorce, you are disrupting your life, but a long-term acrimonious marriage is equally as bad.
I say stay married. If you have a good wife or husband, you will be happy. If you have a bad one, you will become a philosopher.
Two secrets to keep your marriage brimming:
1. Whenever you are wrong, admit it.
2. Whenever you are right, shut up.
As Mignon McLaughlin said, “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” McLaughlin, you are right. When Gloria serves me my favorite dish of coffee ice cream, I fall in love with her every time.
Contact Alex Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.