For some time I have contemplated writing this post, but last Sunday I saw a few things that compelled me to stop contemplating and to contend for this subject via blog post. In the local newspaper (which I won’t name because I have issues with Tom Scarritt the editor) on the 28th I saw a small snippet of an article that said, “Jennifer Anniston and her boyfriend Justin Theroux have taken the plunge.” Taken the plunge has such a myriad of potential meanings, but in this case it meant that the two have rented a house together. Rented, not even bought, just rented. This is “the plunge” as Hollywood sees it. Never mind that someone thinks this is news worthy of printing, this is “taking the plunge!” A less famous anecdote is one from a few months back when someone I know mentioned of my divorcing neighbors; she mentioned that they “broke up.” Broke up, a marriage ended is “broke up” now. It isn’t that the fact that these phrases used to mean something, it is that a marriage used to mean something. Now it is cheapened with trite clichés as if a couple of ninth graders are no longer going to call each other on the phone. With all the decreased emphasis on the long-lasting state of marriage it makes me wonder why the homosexuals want to do it, but that’s another topic entirely.
For the last month I have been traveling over 300 miles one way from where I now work to where I still live. Along the way, in one of my top three least favorite cities in all of Alabama there is a stretch of interstate which has on the right a billboard advertising a $200 divorce. Not to be outdone, a mere hundred feet down and on the left is a board advertising a $199 divorce. Not only is this a competitive practice, there is a billboard on the way into a different city in Alabama where one can pick up a divorce for even less.
The tipping point of this rant was a column by my favorite columnist, and sole saving grace of the afore-not-mentioned newspaper, John Archibald. In his column he describes the state of marriage, and divorce in Alabama. While the divorce rate is high in the country, higher in the South, it seems that Alabama is topping the chart. Who says we always finish last? It isn’t that we finish last, it’s that no one wants to finish high in the categories we do, except property taxes—we hold the lead on least paid and wouldn’t give it up if we doubled them.
Mr. Archibald even says at one point, “If the Bible Belt is our issue, the problem is it won’t stay buckled.” Now that one hits me, I have to say it, below the belt. It’s perhaps true, but it was enough to stir my emotions.
I knew at 13 that at some point in my life I would live in Alabama. I have been all around this country multiple times and have never found the concentration of attractive women that Alabama has. It is so high that I married one and made three more. Before I married my hot, Alabama belle, I went through a marriage counseling session with Jimmy Bradford that has not only rung true through 19 and a half years of marriage, but has made me look intelligent when I share it with other newlyweds or soon-to-weds.
All problems in marriage boil down to one of 4 things: 1) In-laws Whether they are too close, too far, one partner is too attached or too detached from their parents, they can always be a source of problems as well as help. How much of which is the issue.
2) Money Do we buy a house, rent a house, who gets a new car, who balances the checkbook, do we eat at home or go to fast-food restaurants, do we both work or only one? How the money is earned, how the money is kept, who spends the money, and many more problems appear that two people must agree on or have a source of constant irritation. Even John Archibald sees this one as a biggie.
3) Sex Having too much, having too little, having it before marriage, having it after marriage, do I really have to go into much detail about how this can be a source of problems?
4) Communication If it seems I saved the root of the first three problems for last there is a good reason. I did. At times it has seemed to me that the first three problems can all be blown out of proportion, or even just caused by, communication issues. Love of money may be the root of all evil, but lack of true two-way communication is the root of almost every problem.
So what do we do with it? Knowing where the problems start is the key to eliminating them. But how to avoid these pitfalls is another post. Before I leave you with just these thoughts, I ask can you think of any problem in your or someone else’s marriage that has stemmed from an area other than these four?
Getting divorced once makes subsequent divorces more likely to occur, or make a couple more determined to stay together, but always remember, no matter how high the divorce rate, the marriages still outnumber the divorces.