I am divorced, as such typically shy away from writing about marriage. While a case can be made for appropriateness of a divorcee as an advisor or counselor for married people or intending singles (the “experience is a good teacher” maxim), the “if you know so much why are you divorced?” question requires provision of some evidence that advice in respect of marriage is incorporative of pragmatic wisdom.
My marriage ended primarily because my ex wife decided what she was getting out of marriage was not worth the effort. To the extent that I was not getting as much out of my effort as I expected, I was in agreement. I believed, however, that we could make it work. When you have to balance work life, maintenance of a home, and raising of four young children — all within 5 years of each other, finding time for romance is not easy and you have to find a way to make stress your friend. I believed we could ride the storm through, she believed otherwise.
We tried for four years to see if my ex would change her mind, but things did not work out, the marriage ended. So after four kids and 19 years of romance we called it quits and went our separate ways. My ex wife had a right to feel marriage no longer was for her. I had the right to believe marriage remained well worth the effort. Could have been me, could have been her, could have been we both changed and divorce was equilibrium. Since break up of my marriage in 2012 (inclusive of possibility of one night stands), I have as yet not gotten involved in any new romantic relationships.
Increasingly, people wonder whether marriage is worth it. Some think marriage is for suckers. Some think (my take away, the author may differ) marriage requires selfishness on the part of each partner, selfishness both parties acknowledge and are willing to tolerate. These views are rooted in hedonism, throwing off of restraint, or knee jerk reactions in the sense there is desire for marriages that are fulfilling. Both of these assertions are reactions of women to what they rightly sense to be extremely low probability of finding of fulfillment in marriage. In this sense, the women are right. I am under no illusions. The truth is probability of finding of fulfillment in marriage is at an all time low, and likely will deteriorate over time. But probability of successful entrepreneurship never has been higher than 40%, yet new businesses continue to be formed. Uber is an example of a business formed in the last 10 years, which has gone on to become a monumental success.
Marriage can be likened to either of a joint venture or a merger, both of which require partnership of two companies.
A joint venture requires three entities for formation — the two companies partnering and the joint venture formed by the two parties, with the joint venture a separate legal entity. Whenever the rationale for formation of a joint venture expires, the joint venture is wound up and where there once were three entities, there is reversion to two separate entities. If either party to a joint venture ever becomes selfish, the joint venture is wound up and we have reversion to two separate entities.
Selfishness destroys joint ventures, never is an enhancing quality of joint ventures.
A merger transforms two separate companies into one new entity. This new entity does not correspond with either of the two entities participating in the merger, both of which cease to exist. Where there once were two separate companies, there now is only one merged entity. As part of its growth and stability objectives, this merged entity navigates establishment of a new corporate culture. Unless the new company no longer is able to remain profitable or viable, all challenges are weathered with focus of maintenance of existence and facilitation of growth of the company.
If there exist rational reasons for partnerships which take the form of joint ventures or mergers in the world of business, there exist rational reasons for partnerships between individuals within society. Marriage is one form of partnership possible between individuals.
Joint ventures typically are agreed to be finite life entities to be wound up at some future date to be agreed by both parties. If marriage is based on money, looks, fame, fortune, sex, career objectives etc., things that temporal in nature, marriage is more like a joint venture destined to break up at some future date. If two individuals believe there exists enough synergies (as opposed to enough selfishness) for formation of a joint venture within context of marriage (a JV marriage), upfront honesty maximizes value of the marriage union until date of break up — neither of two individuals in the marriage are under any illusions in respect of the nature of the marital union.
Within context of marriage, a merger signifies abandonment of old selves for formation of a new entity — the marriage. If the marriage is to weather all storms, both parties to the marriage must be in agreement as to objectives of the marriage. It is agreement with respect to objectives of the marriage which ensures there is commitment to maintenance of the marriage in face of all sorts of challenges. If objectives set are of the temporal sort, a merger type marriage (an MG marriage) disintegrates and reforms as a JV marriage. If merger type marriage must remain merger type, objectives set must be of the sort which requires infinity of time for full actualization. The only objective which survives the infinity test? Commitment to actualization of the self of the other partner to the marriage.
Commitment to things that are temporal in nature cannot produce “till death do us part” or eternity of marriage in our hearts.
In absence of agreement between the two parties to a marriage to outlined objective or commitment, merger type marriage is impossible, not sustainable ad infinitum, lacks power for till death do us part or eternity of marriage in our hearts.
When there is commitment to actualization of the self of the other partner, hurts are opportunities for mutual growth and development of affection, misunderstandings are opportunities for arrival at better understanding of each other, intentional hurts are opportunities for exploring of character weaknesses hidden in deep recesses of the heart, and successes at loving of each other are opportunities for celebration of life, love, and institution of marriage.
Marriage is becoming more distasteful over time because people want MG marriages (from their partners), yet are only willing to give in return JV marriages. They want love, but are desirous of acceptance of selfishness on the part of their spouse. We end up then with everyone demanding to be loved, but with no one getting loved because there is disequilibrium within the marriage institution.
If you want a merger type marriage, you have to be willing to give a merger type marriage. Combination of effort for JV marriage and desire for MG marriage generates cognitive dissonance within marriage, resulting in divorces, and increasingly acrimonious divorces.
I have remained single for the last 6 years because I seek an MG marriage, not a JV marriage. Might I settle for a JV marriage in event an MG marriage does not arrive within say the next four years? Who knows. Sometimes acceptance of severity of imperfections in society requires you abandon a search for the ideal in favor of what is attainable, in favor of what can be regarded as pragmatically achievable, the next best thing. If I abandon search for the ideal, which is an MG marriage for a JV marriage, however, it will be the case that I and my partner are well aware of parameters of the union, not under any illusions as to what type of marriage we have instituted. There will not be any blindsiding of each other, both of us will prepare for the day the JV marriage no longer is feasible, the day the JV marriage is wound down.
The wisdom of pragmatism of settling for a JV marriage in an imperfect world filled with imperfect people, myself inclusive? Joint ventures at times have been known to transform eventually into mergers.