Recently, a friend of mine sent me a video called "Hot Crazy Matrix." The video is rather clever and humorous as the creator, Dana McLendon, hopefully devised it to be. I can't imagine any other reason for this gentleman to actually formulate or post such a presentation knowing the backlash he would be inviting, not to mention the hampering of his own dating life that would, most certainly, ensue given any other reason. Suffice-it-to-say, I like to assume the best of people before I assume the worst.
That said, this matrix did coax me to think about that "unicorn" Dana mentioned towards the end of the video -- specifically the actual definition that applies to that unicorn which, in my opinion, has nothing to do with Dana's explanation and everything to do with the practice of 'marriage' overall -- made ever more clear -- what marriage is and is not by today's standards and how that reality is impacting our nation's current success rate in keeping our relationships alive and well for the long haul. I pause to acknowledge a recent comment a friend of mine (also named Dana) made to me after I noted how incredibly perfect her parent's rather lengthy and noticeably happy marriage was. She replied, "Yes, it only took 48 years in the making." Needless-to-say, the crux of my friend's response is, by my definition, the true definition of the word unicorn -- that prized relationship that seems so rare, mystifying, and elusive to so many of us today.
There is no doubt that men and women in the United States are struggling with 'marriage' as we continue to lead our international counterparts in the rate in which we are divorcing across the globe. There is neither a shortage of books on the topic nor a lack of opinion with regards to who or what is to blame for the challenges men and women are facing in maintaining singular marriages for a lifetime. The debate is enormous, with the culprits spanning everything from the stress foisted upon couples due to our nation's strained economy to the rise in feminism over the years to the romanticism reality television has colored marriage with to the lack of positive role models demonstrating healthy marriages prior to so many of us taking the plunge. Where the truth lies with regards is anyone's guess.
That said, I do believe that 'we the people' of the United States currently count amongst our many freedoms...the freedom to divorce for reasons that might not seem so horrifying given we took a more practical approach to marriage, not to mention, went into it with a bit more knowledge and preparation, if not, conversation from those who have made their own marriages writhing successes. It seems the closest example our youth has embraced that shows even a smidgen of what it takes to be married today is the television program Married At First Sight. That said, I hardly think the creators and producers of this program believe that they have come up with the prime template for a successful marriage despite the helpful insight from the psychologists employed to help these couples along -- which lean more towards the practicality of marriage rather than the romance of it. In all fairness, romance is easy. It's when the romance starts waning that marriage becomes a struggle. As Dr. M. Scott Peck explains in his highly acclaimed 1978 book The Road Less Traveled:
Romantic love is a myth. Real love involves investing ourselves in the needs and desires of another person. 'We must be committed beyond the boundaries of the self.'
Put another way by Rob Camper, the Chief Experience Officer at SetforMarriage.com, "At some point in every committed relationship, love -- like marriage -- becomes a decision." I happen to think this statement is very true. In order for any marriage to stand a chance of surviving, the transition from romantic love to real love must be made. That transition arises in the form of a conscious and purposeful decision as unromantic as that might sound. Admittedly, had I relied solely on 'romantic love' to carry me through the three-year-long passing of my husband, I might not have made it through. It was the 'real love' that made each day bearable...the same kind of love that rebuilt my family into the happy, healthy, and strong unit it is today.
In light of the importance of marriage in our society (which continues to remain indisputable by all measures), it might be high time that we address the practice more seriously, practically, directly, and aggressively so that our kids know which unicorn to actually look for before they are carried off in reckless abandon (otherwise termed 'naively') by the wrong one. Maybe 'Marriage Ed' in high school should be coupled with 'Sex Ed' and then expanded upon even more deeply and realistically in college. Merely, one suggestion opening the door for many others, of which, I hope to read at the conclusion of this blog.
Truth-be-told, our nation is only as strong as the foundations that underlie the many institutions within. If the foundation of 'marriage' (the most important institution in society) continues to weaken and crumble, what more can we expect from our country?