I went to a basketball match a few weeks ago and at half-time, the dreaded cliche marriage proposal came up on the big screen. As the crowd was yelling hysterically, cheering them on while simultaneously chanting “Don’t do it!,” I sat there shuddering at the prospect of someone ever doing that to me, and the realization that if it ever did happen, I would have to say “yes,” whether or not I wanted to marry him, just to save him (and I) from the sheer humiliation of being rejected in front of a crowd of thousands. I said something along those lines to Hanneke, the friend I was with, and her response was, “It’s no big deal, you can always just get divorced in a few years if you need to.”
I’m not against divorce – in fact, I am all for it in some cases. I mean, surely it’s much better to live alone and happy than in a marriage that sucks, right? But Hanneke’s approach to divorce made me think: are we now reaching for divorce as more of a first option, rather than a last resort after all other measures have been exhausted?
Take Halle Berry for instance. Just this week she purported to not being “the marrying kind,” but she has already been married and divorced. Twice. So obviously she thought she was the marrying kind at some point? Or did she just think that she could give it a shot, and if it doesn’t work out, no harm done? And what about Brad Pitt, he once said in an interview with GQ that “the idea that marriage has to be for all time, that I don’t understand.” But, in fact, isn’t the “forever” part, the whole idea of marriage? Isn’t, as an editorial on Elle.com claims, “the essence of marriage a lifetime commitment, without which, marriage just becomes legally sanctioned dating”?
William J. Doherty, PhD, a professor of family social science, agrees with the claim that people don’t take marriage as seriously as they used to. He claims that in surveys where divorced people are asked why they split, “soft reasons” such as: ‘the sex isn’t good’; ‘we see life so differently’; ‘we argue but never get anywhere,’ are rising. He criticizes our society for being to quick to reach for divorce and break our wedding vows, and he notes, “for me, it goes back to a promise made. It’s about integrity. What’s the meaning of the promise if you don’t bend heaven and earth to keep it?”
Clearly with the advancement of women’s liberation and more women in the workforce with their own income, societies attitude to divorce has changed, as more women are able to take care of themselves, by themselves. But is that the only reason more and more marriages end in divorce these days, or do we just not value marriage the same way? We live in a throw-away society, where things aren’t made to last and we upgrade our cars, tv’s, houses, and clothes every few years, so why not our marriages?
What do you think? Is divorce just too easy these days, that we aren’t making enough effort to keep our marriages alive? Or is it just that people no longer feel the stigma of divorce like they used to?