The divorce rate in the U.S. is approaching 60% and these marriages are fizzling out within the first five years.
It almost doesn't sound shocking anymore yet this figure is 2 and a half times the number of divorces that we had 20 years ago and 4 times as many divorces as we had 50 years ago.
Marital experts seem to be short on answers to explain why this is happening, but I found one study that explains a lot and confirms what Torah observant Jews have always known.
30 people from 22 marriages that span nine countries and five religions were selected for the study because they indicated on a questionnaire that their marriages were growing in love over time. The researchers wanted to know what was so different about these successful marriages as compared to most marriages today. What was enabling them to beat the terrible odds? What were the turning points in their relationships where they felt their love deepening?
The first thing they had these people do was to rate themselves on a scale from zero to ten (ten is the most) on how much they loved each other when they first got married and how much they loved each other now (after an average of 19.3 years). On average, they gave themselves a 3.9 to begin with and an 8.5 at the time of the study.
Then they asked these happy couples to identify the single most important factor that enabled them to grow happier together as time went by. They unanimously said that it was a strong commitment to the marriage.
That in itself may not surprise you but what if I told you that these successful marriages shared something else in common and that was that every one of them was an arranged marriage. These people didn't just randomly select each other based on 'excitement' and 'falling in love.' Their parents were involved from the beginning. Although they all made their own final decision about who they married, they sought to have their parents blessing and support from the start.
What we see from this study is profoundly important for us. When young people seek their parent's approval and therefore involve them from the onset, the marriage starts out with a more serious and official tone. Young people today bristle at the idea of their parents having any say in their decision, but when you look at the stats that's just a recipe for disaster.
There was a recent study published in Psychology Today thatfound that one out of ten American women experience a serious depression within the first year of marriage.
What was pulling the newlywed women into their post-wedding bell blues?
They interviewed a large group of women who had become depressed after their wedding day to determine the reason.
"The women had funneled all of their time and energy into planning their big day, and now they weren’t quite sure what to do with themselves...The depressed brides viewed their weddings as the end goal.In contrast, happy brides viewed their weddings as the start of a new chapter."
Currently, according to the US Census Bureau there are 2.3 million couples getting married every year in the US. According to the study published inPsychology Today, this means that 230,000 women a year are becoming depressed after their wedding day in the U.S. alone!
So what can we do about this?
First let's understand that no one prepared these young ladies to weather the inevitable ups and downs that marriages must go through or that they would discover qualities about their husbands that they were not totally enamored with. And secondly, they lacked what the happy couples in the first study had namely a sense of commitment and shared purpose with their marital partner.
Young people today need our help to realize that marriage is for life. The couples in the first study said that they knew that their marriages would succeed even thought they didn't see 'fireworks' to begin with. The reason that they were confident that love would grow was because they saw their parents succeed and their grandparents succeed before them. They knew that marriage was a very serious relationship.
Unfortunately it seems that the basic pre-requisite for marriage in most modern industrial countries (most of the successful marriages were not from these places) is that you must be madly romantically in love with one another otherwise you can't get married. But really - how can two people really love each other when they don't yet even know each other? The simple truth is that the romantic 'love' that most people today are so desperate for just doesn't exist. It isn't real love, and that's why it doesn't pass the test of time.
The happy love birds in the first study said that their love for each other deepened when they had children together, and weathered financial and health problems with their children together. Their love for each grew when they saw how each other reacted and handled unexpected and challenging situations with honestly, integrity, courage and other values they respected in each other. It took time, but our happy couples increasingly felt more love for each by observing how their partners made decisions based on their mutually shared value system and goals.
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Dr. Zev Ballen, Psy.D. has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than 30 years. He is the founder and developer of Emuna Therapy, a faith-based method of counseling based exclusively on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush. Dr. Zev has the endorsements of Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Rabbi Yitzchok Fagelstock, Rabbi Shalom Arush, and Rabbi Lazer Brody. You can see Dr. Zev's live video broadcast every Wednesday at 5pm Israel time here on breslev.co.il. You can write in with questions to Dr. Zev at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call him at: 845-362-8600 (US) or 054-840-9499 (Israel). Dr. Zev resides in Jerusalem, with his family, where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time private practice. You're also welcome to visit Dr. Zev's personal blog, Emuna Therapy.