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The Golden Era of Marriages
By Barrington H. Brennen

This is certainly the golden era of marriage in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and the Western world. I call it the golden era because more couples than ever are making the effort to invest in a loving relationship and we have all the tools necessary to make a marriage work: self-help books, videos, professional counseling, regular seminars, and fresh spirit of a willingness to learn. People will always get married. Marriage will never cease to be part of our culture. Some people would have us to believe that since there seems to be an increase in the divorce rate, then marriage is in trouble. This is not true.

In the Bahamas we have approximately 2200 marriages each year. There are about 345 divorces each year. That tells us one in every six marriages ends in divorce in the Bahamas. Every family seems to be affected by divorce directly or indirectly through a relative or friend. Since it appears that so many marriages are breaking up through separation or divorce, many have concluded that the institution of marriage is crumbling into nonexistence.

The good news is that this far from the truth. Decades ago couples had no choice but to stay together. Their marriages were based on endurance and survival. Respect and submission were the code names for a successful marriage. Romance, intimacy, and partnership were not sought-after ingredients in a marriage. The truth is that not many marriages of yesteryear were deeply romantic and mutually enriching. I have counseled many persons who have no doubt endured their marriages. They found ways to cope and adapt simply because divorce would be so wrong and taboo. They repressed feelings of anger, frustration, discontentment and discord. Sadly, many of these "traditional marriages" have been rewarded for longevity are and presented as role models of successful marriages. In reality, it is the rebirth of the well-balanced independent adult thatís bringing joy into marital unions today.

Todayís post-modern couples are not interested in just surviving or enduring. They have discovered that these are not good qualities for a happy marriage. They want deep, and meaningful, loving relationships. Hereís the good news. Iíve observed that more couples are seeking interactive, open, interpersonal marriages. More husbands and wives are wanting to become partners and not just co-inhabitors of the same domicile. More couples are seeking pre-marriage counseling, buying self-help marriage books, attending marriage seminars and workshops than ever before.

Then you may be asking why are so many marriages still breaking up? Many marriages are ending for the very same reason-Ėlack of deep, meaningful love. The difference today is that couples feel they have a choice. Decades ago individuals in a relationship did not quite understand their own personal boundaries. Personal rights and individuality were lost in the world of what they thought to be a meaningful relationship. Today, couples are learning that when two individuals blend together their unique individual rights, freedom to think, ability to act confidently, they create a long-lasting, mutually enhancing, loving relationship; a relationship that is truly rewarding to both individuals. When individuals are not achieving this kind of loving relationship, more of them than ever before seek counseling. If counseling does not work, they do not to stick around indefinitely in the relationship just to look good to family and friends. This does not make divorce okay. It just explains what is happening and helps us to get a better picture of the real world of marriage in our country.

Many marriages of yesteryear painfully survived because one of the partners sacrificed more than the other. One partner, usually the woman, had to "take care" of her husband often neglecting her own personal needs. Husbands did not take care of their wives. Yes, they were "providers" of money, house, and land, but they were not there emotionally. This type of relationship of yesteryear reaped havoc on the physical lives of many spouses.

Many marriages are a secret hell. No one knows of the pain and misery. Sometimes these marriages last legally for ten, twenty, and even thirty years or more, when in reality, the couple would have been emotionally divorced all the time, though living together in the same house. These couples often give a good impression on the outside, but the marital cancer slowly spreads until physical separation seems inevitable. Then on lookers are surprised because they did not know of the "secret" cancer. Sometimes couples set themselves up for potential disaster. They do not sleep in the same bed, nor do they join their financial assets together. They go on separate vacations, and do not share in any fun-time activity together. They also may be of different religious faiths, etc. These are part of the recipe for martial discord.

I firmly believe that because of this information age in which we are living, more and more couples are determine not to make a fool out of marriage or out of themselves.

The intention of this article is to encourage all couples by letting them know we are living in the best of times for having healthy marriages. Itís all right to think, share your pain, seek help, and be different. It is the best of times because itís okay for a woman to be strong, successful, and at the same time feminine. In these best of times, itís okay for a man to be gentle and caring and at the same time productive.

I am not intending to paint a rosy picture of marriage today. We are faced with greater challenges and temptations which, ironically, may also make it the worst of times for marriages. We are being bombarded every day through the media, much differently than couples of yesteryear, with all sorts of distorted views of relationships. Then, there are many spouses, after discovering their individual rights and boundaries in a relationship, who are prematurely, and callously ending a potentially good marriage. They are allowing themselves to be sapped with the energies that are needed to rebuild weakening marriages.

Our goal should be to make our marriages last, not just endure. To have triumphant marriages not merely surviving ones. To love and not to tolerate each other. To grow together, and not to grow apart. To become partners, and not just two individuals sharing the same space and bed. Letís take advantage of this gold era of marriage. I encourage all couples to go to the nearest video store today and rent the video "Preachers Wife," watch it together, then discuss how its main points apply to your marriage, and ways in which you can make your marriage better.



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Permission is granted to place links from these articles on social media like Google+, FaceBook, etc..   Permission is also granted to print these pages and to make the necessary copies for your personal use, friends, seminar, or meeting handout. You must not sell for personal gain, only to cover the cost to make copies if necessary.    Written permission (email) is needed to publish or reprint articles and materials in any other form.    Articles are written by Barrington H. Brennen, Counseling Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.

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April 26, 2000, TAGnet/NetAserve / Network Solutions

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