I recently came across pretty naive article in which Ashia Sims, a relationship examiner, opined that marriage should be forever and divorce should not be an option. While the idea that that marriage is forever is highly appealing and very romantic, it is premised on an overly simplistic or idealized view that two people are destined to be together, forever.
In her article, Ms. Sims wrote:
In my mind, once I’m married it’s FOR LIFE. There is no breaking up or getting a divorce. We are going to make it work and grow old together. Period. I do agree that if you make divorce an option, even if only in the back of your mind, you give yourself permission to not work as hard as possible to make the relationship work.
I am not so cynical to believe that most people enter marriage viewing it as temporary condition. Most of my clients entered into their marriages in the good faith belief that they would spend the remainder of their lives with their spouses. But, life is not linear or always go as planned. Relationships evolve. People change. Two people, just because they are wed, do not necessarily grow at the same rate or in the same direction. When a couple no longer shares the same goals, visions or values and their differences can no longer be reconciled, even after counseling, should they be compelled to remain together? For what purpose?
Then, there are the issues of infidelity, domestic violence and substance abuse. Trust and respect are the cornerstones of a healthy relationship. If one of the spouses has been badly betrayed and the marital relationship has irretrievably broken down, why should these people stay together?
When dating, few people acknowledge that they are abusers. Should a battered spouse be compelled to remain in a marriage because of the simplistic view that marriage is forever?
While some people may prematurely end their marriages, most do not. The vast majority of divorcing couples elect to end their marriage as a gut wrenching last resort choice. Divorce only becomes an option after their attempts to salvage the marital relationship fail. No one should be forever imprisoned in a bad marriage because of the child-like belief that marriage has to be forever.
When Ms. Sims finally weds, I hope her relationship will be a healthy and nurturing long-lasting one. But, if life does not go as planned, it is good to know that are options.