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Laura Wellington Headshot

Is It Gluttony or Starvation That Is Killing 'Marriage' in the United States?

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They say it is lonely at the top and it seems no different when it comes to "marriage" in the United States. Still considered to be the best country in the world by many, the fact is, the United States leads all other countries in its rate of divorce -- jockeying for position only with Russia. Quite a super-power standoff and "sad state of affairs" if you ask me. Sometimes -- in being number one -- there is only enough space left for one...whether it be in the boardroom, the bedroom, or the oval office. Suffice-it-to-say, such a reality doesn't bode well for marriage.

Although assigning a percentage to the actual number of divorces that occur each year will, undoubtedly, cause a flurry of expert opinions and underlying arguments to be hurled my way, I'm going to spare everyone the aggravation and ride on general convention -- noting that 50 percent of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce today...and those who live together prior to marriage, don't heighten their odds for marital bliss by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, they might lower their chances of success -- in my opinion -- given the lunacy in thinking that a "trial period of living together" might offer any added long-term security or insight whatsoever. I don't quite understand that equation -- especially for young women -- but that's another blog entirely.

With most marriages lasting a tad over twelve years presently (harboring four years of "separation" within and numerous concerted attempts at marriage counseling, marriage boot camp, marriage retreats, and reconciliation be damned), it is no wonder that marriage in the United States is on the decline. Nor is it any wonder that those who are choosing to marry, are marrying later in life -- 27 years old for women and 29 years old for men, respectively. My own daughter made a formal declaration to me just last week that she is in no rush to tie the knot any time prior to age 30. And frankly, I get it. With two-thirds of all divorces being filed by women and over forty percent of all U.S. households being run by single moms, marriage doesn't sound like a barrel of laughs to consider in its current state -- for either party and least of all for the children whose youths and innocence become mangled given good intentions go awry.

All that said, though, I often wonder if we haven't become so spoiled by the absolute "privilege" bestowed upon us by living in this country that we must accept ourselves as the culprits (beyond just the "victims") in the destruction of the very foundation in which the United States was built - strong families. Are our rich-kid attitudes robbing us of a realistic perspective and taste for commitment when inevitable moments of discomfort or intolerance rap at our doors? Does each of us have too much "me" in our diets and, thus, know not how to share? Or have we hit a point in this country's history where the reality of being number one amongst our international brethren is causing our citizens to drown in their cooperative efforts to keep a family afloat...and, ultimately, together? Is our country's insatiable appetite, ego, position, and status starving those required to feed it, thus, killing "marriage" along the way?

With little hours to spare and even less money to carry back over the threshold at the end of each week, the stress marriages are under today to remain both happy and healthy is extraordinary. And the delusion that so many of us have succumbed to regarding what a "good and satisfying" marriage actually looks like makes the survival of this institution near impossible. One might say that our present-day marriage psychology combined with our burdensome economy is spoiling marriage to death in the United States.

So why, then, do so many single individuals living in the U.S. today still feel so driven to marry at some point in their lives...a few even fighting for the legal bindings that cause each of us such grief in closing one door to open another? No doubt, we all have our reasons and opinions but, I believe, it is Fred Stobaugh who offers the true answer to that question in this touching video created by Green Shoe Studio. Given you watch it through, you will intimately understand just how deeply logical the desire to marry continues to be and why the institution of marriage will never be fully antiquated no matter what variation, obligation, or price tag it carries or in what country it occurs.

As my grandmother use to say, "When it comes to matters of the heart, the mind loses all rationale!" No doubt, Fred Stobaugh would agree. Whether it be in 1938 or in 2014, certain things never change - which includes the longing of human beings to be wholly accepted, known, and loved. Heart-provoking glimpses into such rare instances like Fred's reminds us of this inherent fundamental...well beyond mere words could ever express alone.