Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What is your idea of a good marriage or a lasting marriage?

A Ketubah in Aramaic, a Jewish marriage-contra...Image via Wikipedia
The meaning of marriage in present day is not what was defined back in biblical times, the average life span of a person back then was 30 years of age and the time that they were a couple together may have been only 18 years and were dependent on each other for survival.

When two people get married in present time and the years pass, the two people that first met and fell in love are not the same people that they once were fifteen years prior, when first married. Individuals in marriage grow and change throughout life along with their understanding of whom they are and their sexuality.

This is where the idea of long term marriage may really contradict what a person is supposed to feel as human beings and what is expected of them as a couple in society. As a human race our natural life span was quite shorter than in biblical times.  In those days we married and raised kids together until they were old enough to take care of themselves (which was around 13 years of age) then we were biologicaly done and passed away or were lucky enough to live into our late 40’s or 50’s.

In the society that we live in today’s world we are expected to fit into the tradition box of marriage, stating that we have to continue to be with the person we marry until death do us part, but the reality is back at that time of the biblical concept of marriage our life with someone may have been at best a 20 year span and the dependence on one another was critical for survival.

Today being in our late 40’s and 50’s is quite different then in biblical times, and is equivalent to  late 20’s and 30’s where the average age of marriage was 13 years of age.  Today we may marry in our late 20’s but by the time we are 50 our life is no longer over but many people have a renewed sense of self and are quite different than when they first got married.

Many women in their 40’s begin to know their bodies and minds better and find themselves wanting to experience sex in new ways without stress of small children and their own freedom of financial independence.  The same goes for a man as well, his seed to reproduce is still viable at the age of 50 even though he has raised his children and been married for 18 years he still has the biological need to reproduce.  Not to say that a man necessarly wants more children but that his body and mind are still very much reproductive by nature, and the husband and wife no longer need each other to survive or raise the children.

What happens in this generation of people at this stage in their lives is that they are faced with a marital dilemma, their spouse is the person that they have a friendship with, shared experiences and financial obligations but in reality the attraction to their spouse may no longer be there. Many times these feelings of turmoil will lead a man or woman to go outside of the marriage to cheat causing them extreme guilt over what they have done and hurt their spouse, and have no real solutions to their problems.

The fact is that people live longer with newer drugs to enhance their libido, plastic surgery to enhance their appearance and ways to slow down the aging process will only continue to plague married couples in their 40’s and 50’s and eventually will become the normal evolution of society to just be in sexless unhappy marriages.

Coming up with solutions to these very real problems starts with understanding and knowing that it is quite normal to feel this way about marriage.

In a lecture series that I had the privilege to listen to a very well-known marriage counselor and sex therapist gave this explanation in one of her lectures and that is, "That married couples can have many marriages in their lives with the same person, and recognize that it is a new marriage with new feelings and the old marriage no longer works or applies, but that the couple together has decided to start a “new beginning with each other”.  I thought that was a unique and honest approach to look at marriage today.

Once the couple can honestly look at each other and say let’s put our old marriage to rest and start over on a new relationship with each other.  Then deciding to really get to know each other mentally, physically and spiritually again and be open to the fact that growth in this new marriage together can happen, or that the marriage is not able to blossom and make peace with themselves, remain friends, find a new person to have a life experience with.  

Some couples also may decide to turn to non-traditional marriage and try new forms of lifestyle changes into their marriage.  Each couple and each solution or progress may be completely different, but the one constant remains and that is the understanding that monogamy for such an extended period of time is not natural or normal and takes work.

The mindset is what will make a couple that has been together for 15 years and give them the permission to say that in fact the tradition of “marriage and monogamy is the unnatural way of life and to work in that parameter of thinking will take away the pressure of failure”.    

The conclusion of the article is not to say that marriage cannot last a life time or that two people are not capable of living in long lasting monogamous marriages, but that it is not biologically the normal evolution and that having a long term monogamous relationship takes work.  Two people that can continue to grow together and be honest about who they are and what they need to stay in a marriage may be the couple that lasts for a life time.

Please feel free to leave your comments and open a discussion on this subject, it would be a very helpful topic for many people to talk openly about.
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