Jump to content

Marriage What’S Wrong?


apexcone
 Share

Recommended Posts

Below is an article I recently wrote for one of the National Newspapers I write a column for.

 

Marriage what’s wrong?

By: Terry Johns

When one looks at the emotional damage that the traditional closed monogamous marriage has caused over the past few hundred years and the destructiveness it promotes, "I'm yours, you’re mine and we are one" it's hardly surprising in this age of self-awareness, sexual openness, free thinking, personal growth and self-help books that there is an epidemic of broken and shattered relationships.

The monogamous exclusive relationship is fear and control based model, that places an emphasis on "the couple and togetherness" at the expense of the unique and authentic identity that we each have. This model is rapidly collapsing around the globe at an alarming rate. When one begins to understand that we aren't genetically wired for monogamous relationships, (Sex & Dawn by Christopher Ryan) one starts to see that maybe the current failure rate has less to do with imperfect people trying to make sense of their lives together, but more about a model that is suffocating and unsupportive of our humanity and authentic identity.

One of the major problems is that even in the midst of the titanic failure rate, Mr. & Miss. average are not only reluctant to look at alternative models, but are aggressively opposed to a paradigm shift in their thinking, concluding that any deviation from the norm even though it doesn't work for the majority, is a preposterous concept.

Disempowered by personal insecurity, fear, jealousy and conformity, it's tragic to see tens of thousands of Canadians who have been damaged by their own personal relationship failures, actively seeking another partnership still based on the old destructive, fear based model. How bad does it need to get before the masses get a reality check and wake up to some hard facts, that what we're doing isn't working and is only going to get worse with more people being hurt, not to mention the financial strain it places on our goverments.

At the heart of the problem is a controlling structure that promotes not only a wrong concept of love within marriage, what it is and how it works, but a structure that facilitates and host’s mistrust, fear and dishonesty. Love is NOT a feeling and is not to be confused with romantic emotions, love is much deeper than any feeling, and it is expressed through commitment, honour and respect. We love our kids, yet there is no romantic emotion, sure there are strong feelings but love is way deeper than any feeling. Sadly many couples terminate their partnerships because the romantic feelings have either diminished or disappeared completely and without shared core values there is nothing keeping them together.

If we come to the marriage party with a wrong concept of love, personal insecurity, jealousy and a need to feel validated by our partner, then our partnerships will almost certainly fail; if on the other hand we understand that no one person can fulfil all our needs, we can embrace the possibility through open and transparent dialogue of engaging and connecting with others without our primary partners feeling threatened. We must understand that genetically we all have capability of loving more than one person at a time. Although this may sound a radical concept, it is in fact how humanity has been shaped through the ages and is still a reality in many parts of the world today, France in particular.

This becomes a major problem for most people and a path they are unable to pursue, due to low self -esteem, jealousy and fear. Remember the modern marriage structure is based on fear and control, NOT, love, trust, respect, honour, openness and humility, I guess it's not that difficult to see why most marriages fail. For me not to feel threatened by my partners involvement with other people I will need to feel secure in who I am as a person. Open Marriage not only validates the authenticity of the individual, but celebrates and supports togetherness within a structure that still allows each person to be true to who they are, within mutually agreed boundaries that THEY decide.

Relationship researcher Lawrence Stone conducted a research project which included leading psychologists, psychotherapists, sociologists, psychiatrists, life coaches and family therapists. The final statement from the group after an exhaustive study of 20th century marriage was:

 

“..that both physical desire and romantic love were unsafe bases for an enduring marriage/long term partnership, since both desire and romantic love were violent mental disturbances which would inevitably be of only short duration.

 

The modern monogamous relationship structure promoted and endorsed by the church and licenced by the state is built around some very dangerous false and destructive assumptions, that one person can meet all your needs and that we are by nature monogamous, all the these assumptions are not only false, but unobtainable by the masses including the majority of those who promote the deception. Sadly this unsustainable relationship model is collapsing around the globe at alarming rates, yet in many ways the biggest tragedy is that very few are asking “why? & what’s wrong?” are there alternative models? and what would they look like? Therefore the masses carry on in their blindness incorrectly assuming that the reason there relationship failed was that had simply chosen the wrong person and the hunt for Mr. or Miss. right begins again.

 

To move forward and bring about the radical paradigm shift that we urgently need to see, we need open dialog, transparent people and a willingness to learn and grow. Continuing to support a system that doesn’t work for the masses is as absurd as buying a car that has a historical failure rate of over 70%, no one in their right mind would do it.

 

Terry Johns is a trained counsellor, author, public speaker, mentor and Life Coach. Since 1984 Terry has been empowering individuals, families and companies to reach past life's obstacles and pursue their goals with tenacity. Born in Canada, but having spent most of his life in the UK, Terry and his family moved back to Canada in March 2005. In the past 30 years Terry has travelled and worked in over 20 countries and has coached and mentored people from many different walks of life.

 

Alongside his Coaching business Terry is a Race Car Driver and High Performance Driving Instructor. Terry & his wife Chris have been married 38 years and have two adult children.

 

Solutions Life Coaching
www.terryjohns.ca

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting.

 

I have no objection to people that feel they need more to their marriage, but I think your article is a little biased when it says that 'nobody' can live happily ever after in a monogamous relationship.

 

I would have liked to see the article expound on the alternatives it says we are all ignoring or aggressively refusing to consider. From what I have seen, open marriages and the like seem to have just as many dramas as monogamous ones.

 

Cheers

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You may not have said that exact sentence, but you certainly portray the picture that nobody can have a successful monogamous marriage when you make such conclusive statements as:

"The monogamous exclusive relationship is fear and control based model"

"We aren't genetically wired for monogamous relationships

"Mr. & Miss. average are not only reluctant to look at alternative models, but are aggressively opposed to a paradigm shift in their thinking"

"Get a reality check and wake up to some hard facts, that what we're doing isn't working".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Divorce rates:

 

India = 1.1 (population 1.2 billion)

 

That's a lot of people where marriage is working. Maybe we need to go back to arranged marriage.

 

So what is India doing right? Reasons sited are:

 

1.) Families are more likely to choose a compatible mate than if the couple marries "for love" . Compatibility includes: Social compatibility, economic compatibility, educational compatibility and now a days even personal compatibility;

2.) Families support the marriage. They will do everything they can to support the marriage's success, including forcing the couple to stay together and work it out.

 

I'm happily married (20) years. But it was unhappy for quite a few years. We refused to get a divorce. And what I've learned is that expectations and actions are at the core of a healthy marriage. My personal belief from my experience is that If you tie the success of marriage to loving feelings instead of loving actions, then your marriage will fail. Grace has a lot to do with it as well. Many partners will break vows at some point, but the most important vow in a Christian marriage is that you stay together (in sickness and in health, etc.). Surveys have also shown that divorce is lower among people of faith.

 

So, I don't accept that marriage is not working for the majority of people worldwide. But I do accept that it is not working well in this country. Other western countries have a minority of divorced people.

I also want to make clear that it is not my place to judge whether a couple should get a divorced or not. My beliefs on marriage apply to my marriage. You will have your own beliefs. I just know what has worked for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good points, however just because people are still together doesn't mean they have a meaningful, caring and supportive relationship.So its important to clarity what working means. To assume that staying together means its working is a floored assumption. As a Family Therapist I can assure you that the majority of peoples relationships aren't working.

 

Interesting that you mention India. We have had a home in India for the last 10 years and spend several months there each year, Indian marriage is in just a bigger mess there than it is here. Yes, people may not be walking away as they are here but the abuse and persecution of women is at an epidemic level.

 

I am thrilled that your marriage is working as is mine, they are clearly build on very different models, which is my whole point, however as my article states getting the masses to look outside of cultural conditioning is problematic due to the insecurity it creates.

 

Congrats to your and you wife.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm happy to hear you are in a successful marriage as well. I had assumed that you were not. I confess that I view a family therapist's perspective differently than a bitter divorcee's.

 

I write this more for myself than for your sake or even for discussion's sake.

 

I'm thinking of the people of my generation in my life. Most of them are Christians; both progressive and otherwise. A group of us all got married and had kids around the same time; mid-nineties. One couple is divorced and one is separated ( out of the 10 or so couples). I don't know why the first couple got a divorce other than their life views had become radically different and she stopped drinking. The second couple, the husband is an alcoholic and a pill addict...possibly an adulterer. The rest are finding a way to make it work.

 

I'll be candid. I've struggled (and given in) with all of those vices and on top of that I'm bipolar, and what motivates me to stay vigilant against it all is the salvation of my family. I will do anything to make it work. Now, all the vigilance in the world wouldn't make a difference if my wife didn't 100% believe in our vows of richer poorer sickness health better worse. We both believe in that. We both believe in reaching out to a God who cares about our family when the going get's tough.

 

It must be frustrating for you to see so many marriage fail. I wonder what percentage of the couples you counsel are already on their way to divorce. How many healthy happy couples do you counsel? I just saw a headline that said only 17% of marriages are happy. That's sad, but I wonder how much of that is due to changes in our views on marriage. Perhaps a 100 years ago, if a woman had a man that provided and didn't beat her often, she was "happy". She knew that she and her children would not starve. Perhaps the man would be "happy" if his wife was a good cook, was obedient, and bore him children. But that's not enough for us anymore. Women need husbands that are sensitive and know how to listen and tend to her. Men are forever struggling with their understanding of what it means to be a man in an age where it has been completely redefined. It's not enough for a man to provide, and it's just as likely that a woman will provide or they'll do it together. He's cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn, changing diapers, fixing the car, taking his daughter to buy clothes, or perhaps even staying home with the kids. And she's doing the same, too. Women are damned if they work and damned if they don't in the eyes of society (especially of other women). Our social structure is being reconstructed post women's lib. Just as the South was reconstructed with the emancipation...and it was bloody. The casualties of this reconstruction is the family...at least as it was, the nuclear family. Now families are taking on all kinds of shapes and sizes...not all bad.

 

Perhaps marriage is not realistic in the modern 1st world. Perhaps we are so autonomous that we don't need it anymore. I'd be a wreck of a person without it. I'm very lucky. My parents, so far, are still together. They have a better marriage than their parents. My brothers have good marriages. They are very happy. All of my cousins are married and are happy. The only divorce in my family was due an adulterous gay affair. They might have survived the adultery, but there's no fighting sexual orientation. I hope my children marry having seen what marriage means, and that they know that the impossible is possible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a wonderful post, so pleased to hear your news. As a Life Coach, I'm either a tow truck or a tool box. I think as I said in my article the real issue is getting people to think outside the box when what's in the box doesn't work, its very problematic and we live in a world that's full of judgement and shame, both are crippling. Sadly our education system doesn't embrace teaching people life skills, just exams, so the pieces of paper become the goal, not happiness, contentment or inner peace.

 

The bottom line is without the tools the job cant get done, so we keep moving forward trying to equip and empower as many people as possible with the tools, wisdom and revelation they need to make their life and relationships work.

 

Kindest regards

 

Terry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Terry,

 

I agree about being non-judgmental, but I think that cuts both ways. I suggest that if you want more people to take your research/opinion seriously, then I'd tone down on the apparent condemning statements that lump all marriages into the same box as you do - that they are fear and control based (mine isn't), that we aren't genetically wired for monogamous relationships (absolutely no scientific evidence to support such a statement, just assumption) and that we should get a reality check and wake up to some hard facts, that what we're doing isn't working (which is plainly false for many, many people following the standard marriage 'model').

 

But clearly you feel strongly about this and have taken your position. I don't feel as strongly about marriage either way but do feel strongly about articles that claim everyone is doing something wrong.

 

Peace & goodwill.

 

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will consider your suggestions. The reason I am convinced that the exclusive relationship is fear based is as follows. If you where having some wild sexual fantasies about the cute girl in your office, would you be happy to share that with your wife or son? Or would that create massif insecurity in her ? If it would and you don't tell her you've now got secrets, that cant be shared because of her reaction, so fear would shut you down.

 

As I said exclusive relationships work for some people because they are TOTALLY open and transparent, but article indicates that MOST aren't and I stand by those statements. Open Marriage starts with being TOTALLY Open & Transparent. Most people in exclusive relationships cant go there.

 

Terry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Terry,

 

I agree about being non-judgmental, but I think that cuts both ways. I suggest that if you want more people to take your research/opinion seriously, then I'd tone down on the apparent condemning statements that lump all marriages into the same box as you do - that they are fear and control based (mine isn't), that we aren't genetically wired for monogamous relationships (absolutely no scientific evidence to support such a statement, just assumption) and that we should get a reality check and wake up to some hard facts, that what we're doing isn't working (which is plainly false for many, many people following the standard marriage 'model').

 

But clearly you feel strongly about this and have taken your position. I don't feel as strongly about marriage either way but do feel strongly about articles that claim everyone is doing something wrong.

 

Peace & goodwill.

 

Paul

I didn't say everyone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

The monogamous exclusive relationship is fear and control based model, that places an emphasis on "the couple and togetherness" at the expense of the unique and authentic identity that we each have.

 

Terry,

 

I tend to agree with Paul that though you don't use the word "everyone", everyone who has a monogamous exclusive relationship is implied because you make the statement that the relationship (monogamous exclusive) is "fear and control based". Though it may be such for some people i do not consider it based on fear and control. In fact, personally, i find it more wisdom based.

 

I have a monogamous exclusive relationship that has worked well for me the last 47 years. My wife can speak for herself. Perhaps it might not work tomorrow but tomorrow has in my view, no real existence in today's reality except as a hypothetical. I have experienced sexual thoughts concerning others you referred in your article as sexual fantasies but i just consider them "thoughts" that pass and not at all who i am in reality. I don't think i have lost an authentic identity by my exclusive relationship. In fact perhaps i have more accurately realized my real identity and recognized the unique thoughts, emotions, and images that have passed through this mind as merely transient and not me.

 

just sayin... :)

Joseph

 

PS i suspect that since you deal primarily with problematic marriages or others doing the same, your views may be conditioned or slanted a particular way. By the same respect, since the majority of those i associate with seem to have relatively solid marriages, i am also conditioned or slanted in my view differently. I am acquainted with police officers who believe "everyone", with few exceptions are liars. That is in this mind understandable.

Edited by JosephM
PS
Link to comment
Share on other sites

apexcone. I'm going to challenge you a bit on this, for the sake of this discussion of your provocative article. So what do you tell your clients who are having marriage trouble? what do you tell people who are planning on getting married? If I was looking for a family therapist to work out marital issues, and I looked you up and found this article, I'm quite certain I would go elsewhere. It seems like it would be like going to Richard Dawkins for faith issues.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A bad marriage is made up of 2 wounded people, marriage only works when both people have the same shared core values. Get both parties walking in emotional and spiritual health and the marriage improves.

 

I ask my clients who have difficulty, "what are you contributing to this mess" Lets start working on you and lets stop the blaming and shamming of each other.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel my marriage works because my wife and I respect each other as individuals. We were lucky to start from scratch, my family dis-owned me and because my wife was seeing an American her family dis-owned her. We were able to start our own painting without interference and are still painting that picture at different stages. I feel my time as a monk was the best preparation for marriage because if a person can't live with himself, he/she defintely can't live with another person. I like Gibran's analogies, a house is stronger with two pillars than with one, you eat from the same cake, but on different plates. I like being married to one person because I feel it is an emotional, mental and spiritual investment and to start building over and over the depth of relationship would be boring and time consuming when there are better things to do. I have only worn my wedding ring one day, the day we got married because I don't like to wear jewlery and my wife doesn't care, but she loves jewerly. I like this stage because of our independence, but niether of us have the desire or jealous feelings about other people even though we can admire physical and mental beauty. I told her I loved our relationship because I get to enjoy the best of two worlds and can live as a monk and a married man. She does not mediate and is not a vegetarian, but respects that I do.

 

I like the Indian philosophy of seeing you wife as a reflection of God and by serving your spouse you are serving God.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service