"Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan Don't need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me Hop on the bus, Gus, don't need to discuss much Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free" Simon and Garfunkel Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover
That one word may be the defining factor in the difference between relationships today and those of our grandparents. If we closely examined what went on between Granny and PopPop, we'd find the same problems that we are these days so quick to lambaste. These problems do have merit, but we lack the 'stick-to-it-ness' to try to work them out. Relationships are dispensable, couples can be joined in holy matrimony online, can divorce be far behind?
The reasons behind the dissolution of relationships are vast.
We get involved too quickly, happens all the time. You meet someone and lust prevails, cloaked as love. Until the passion wanes you have no idea which is which. And if one which is greater than the other which, it's time to switch. What, I beseech of you, could be quicker than an arranged marriage so famous in our forepeople's time. You were betrothed to someone you barely had time to share porch swing nausea with before you were whisked off to the chapel in the woods.
Even more bizarre is the fallacy that today's relationships don't last because people get married for 'all the wrong reasons'. Tell me, in the 'olden days' what could be more of a wrong reason than getting married to someone because her family offered a dozen goats or because the man was headed off to war?
Commitment. You were in this relationship and you made the best of it.
I can guarantee you from the look in my Grandpappy's eyes that the man had some dalliances now and then. Adultery was acceptable behavior. No one thought anything of it. It wasn't any more right then as now, but it happened and the women accepted it.
Heinous deeds such as physical violence were tolerated, even expected in relationships of decades ago. The woman was supposed to submit to the man. Often the woman depended on her mate for her financial security. Where else would she go? These days it's no longer shocking to learn that the woman is the physical offender...and gets booted out. Most women, despite Dr. Laura Schlessinger, still choose to work outside the home, and therefore have more financial security...to leave.
Before I am stoned and sentenced to life with a female bashing male who thinks sex is basting himself while I bend over to baste his dinner, let me assure you that I do NOT agree that all the things our grandpeople did was in any way correct...I'm merely making a point. Whew...that last rock got awfully close.
Money problems have been around for the last 50 years, and will be here for the next 50. All relationships have financial ups and downs. The downs often keep the see saw firmly planted on that side of the playground, but we so easily let ourselves see this as an escape to the monkey bars. No matter that we have contributed to this economic crisis, alleviating the lack-o-cash problems is simply too much work.
Sex used to be a taboo subject. I doubt Gran got much of a 'pep' talk from her mother when she got married. Likely it was 'just grin and bear it' to branch the family tree. We'll never know if Gran enjoyed it or not, but she sure had a bunch of kids. Over the last five decades this has changed to the point where it's probably the guys getting the 'pep talk'. "Son, there's always viagra". We've all heard the jokes mostly aimed towards women that once we are in the relationship we turn off. Truth be told that works both ways. Dissatisfaction in a relationship based on conflicting desires and needs is a major reason people leave, or revert to paragraph seven above. C'mon folks, do you really think couples have ever been on this same wavelength? Then as now, a mutually satisfying sexual relationship takes some cooperation. Couples have always had the choice whether to sex or swim even when it meant putting locking mechanisms on their walkers.
Communication has always been a problem. Men and women have always spoken different languages or just don't listen. In the first year of marriage, the man speaks and the woman listens. In the second year, the woman speaks and the man listens. In the third year, they both speak and the neighbors listen. Fifty years ago, counseling was something you ashamedly sought, if at all. Counseling was admitting there was a problem, some psychological deficiency. Today it's difficult to find anyone not in some kind of therapy. In theory therapy opens the lines of communication but "I'll go but it won't make any difference", precludes any benefits.
Supply and demand is the greatest change in relationships. How much easier it is now to have fun fun fun til your Daddy takes the T-bird away. You can go anyplace and do anything with anyone at anytime, then walk away.
Why bother to enter into something we've been programmed to believe won't work anyhow? Marriage is the brunt of many jokes, jokes borne out of our need to laugh at our pain, to make it better. We are conditioned to expect failure in relationships simply because we've been faced with the visual truth of this.
I can count on one hand the number of my closest friends, also the parent's of my daughter's friends, who have remained in the same relationship to which they initially committed when they made their life choice. If you look at the marriages you do not necessarily see years of bliss. They've all been faced with the normal problems that attach themselves to any couple. They've just somehow weathered the storm. They've stuck it out.
Today we are just too quick to get into and out of relationships. Couples enter into what they perceive as lifelong joinings based on love, desires, loneliness, enjoyment of companionship, mutual goals, future dreams, passion, needs, desire for children, financial reasons, the list is endless. The relationship too often isn't.
Despite the how-to books, despite the invaluable resources available to us by understanding what has and hasn't worked over the last 50 years, despite our ability to be able to be more selective, despite the many options available to us for meeting a more varied group of people, we still continue to fail.
Relationships haven't changed all that much over time, just our handling of them. Disposable, recyclable, and replaceable, move on, move up, move out.