11/18/2010 09:42 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Prince William Marriage: Will it Last?

You can hardly go to a wedding these days without thinking "I hope this one lasts." So how will Prince William and Kate Middleton fare? The initial outlook looks good: They are both in their late twenties. They have been friends and lovers for several years. They broke up at least once, which the media in Great Britain seized upon to the max. But then they reconciled. They have had plenty of time to reflect--so much so that the wedding-hungry Brits referred to Kate as "waity Katie."

Does it matter that his parents divorced? And that the divorce was acrimonious with accusations of infidelity, and that since the divorce occurred when he was 10 years old, he has spent half of his childhood in a divorced family? Or that his mother Diana, although she'd been humiliated by her husband, was completely devoted to him before she died when he was 17, meaning that during his adolescent years he may have been gravely concerned with her suffering? Or does it matter that she remains a very important emotional presence in his life, as evidenced by the fact that he proposed to Kate with Diana's ring, which he stated in the New York Times was very special to him? And finally, does it matter that he and his dad seem to have reconciled, and that he may have forgiven his father for the rupture of his family?

The answers to all of these questions matter, because they are alive in William's heart and mind, and revived in his engagement to the beautiful, intelligent woman he appears to have chosen so carefully. We know that his love for his mother enriched his capacity to love and be loved. On one hand, his history may make him more aware of the fragility of marriage and the importance of trust, fidelity and honesty in his relationship with his bride to be. It may also make him more considerate, less selfish, more eager to please and willing to work hard to overcome his own doubt about whether he can be part of a loving marriage that will endure. On the other hand, he may identify with the long line of broken relationships in his family and mistakenly conclude that he has little control over what will happen. Indeed, his worries and past suffering can enrich his marriage or they can block his feelings because they are tied to sad memories. No one can predict which way he will go.

Judith Wallerstein is the author of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce and What About the Kids? and the co-author of The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts