Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Modest Proposal

It's 11:39 PM. I should be sleeping at the moment because I have an 8 AM class tomorrow and I haven't gotten much sleep over the last couple of days on account of finals coming up. But, like so many other nights, I'm not sleeping. I'm contemplating.

So this is an issue that I've thought about for a while and something that I think is worth discussing. And that is the divorce rate in countries like the US. It seems like the couples that you think are for sure going to work out, don't. I mean, I for sure though J-Lo and Marc Antony were going to be together forever. Not to mention Demi and Ashton. (That one killed me).  While these may be  superficial examples, they still makes a point. If such power couples couldn't work it out, what hope is there for the rest of us? Yes, it's disheartening but it's not about that; what I want to know is why?
Why is the divorce rate for Americans so high? I think I have the answer. America is centered around the culture of dating in which you find someone through a series of uncomfortable and awkward encounters until you find someone you want to be with forever (possibly). This type of thinking sets people up for failure. Think about it. You go through all these people who may or not may be "the one." Often times this concept of "the one" is so blown up by Hollywood movies, self help books, and reality TV shows, that NO ONE can ever live up to those expectations. Then, everyone wonders why they're still not with someone or is unhappy in the relationship or divorced.

What people need to realize is that this romantic, showy aspect of "the one" does not exist. Instead, I believe a person can be with person A, B, or C and be equally happy. I know what you're thinking. How presumptuous of me to even suggest going for someone you don't "love." But hear me out. For example, if a girl is looking for someone whose is nice, kind, smart, and loves to read books about alien conspiracies,  she can be compatible with any guy who is nice, kind, smart and loves to read books about alien conspiracies. It doesn't have to be ONLY Jim. Tim and Andrew have these qualities too. (Sorry for my unimaginative names). In other words, the world is a big place; there are many people out there that could meet your expectations, given that those expectations are realistic.

Researcher Dr. Helen Fisher has studied the concept of love and falling in love over countless cultures and countries. She has found that those countries that have arranged marriages tend to have less divorce rates than those with "love" marriages. Though there are probably many aspects that contribute to this, there are some things we can learn from this. First, people should go for what they NEED in potential partner instead of what they WANT. To sum this up, I will allow a Japanese saying to take over:

"You Americans marry the one you love. We love the one we marry."

Now, if you're thinking I sound totally insane right now, think about this. When a couple falls "in love" , it's an intense biological reaction. Believe it or not, Fisher actually found that our brains are hardwired to become obsessed with the person we are infatuated with. This makes sense evolutionary; in the beginnings of a relationship, these feelings are needed to keep the two people together. Fisher also found, however, that once couples get married and have children, those intense feelings go away, and are replaced with a different kind of love; more of an attachment than an obsession. This again, makes evolutionary sense. The couple need to be less involved with each other to focus on the children.

However, I believe this is American couples' downfall. They expect that love "high" to stay there throughout the whole relationship. When it goes away, replaced by the more mature attachment, they think "Oh the spark is gone...this must mean my wife's not "the one." (That attachment is why many couples who get divorced are miserable afterwards--they still 'love' their spouse, just not as intensely). Not only is this type of thinking impossible, it is unpractical. It is chemically impossible for our brains to do so and it's just exhausting. Imagine feeling intense obsession for something 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It would consume you.

So if you're totally depressed right now, consider this: that feeling of attachment is not a bad thing! It's good and healthy and will allow you to not only be a good spouse, but also a good parent. It will lead to a life of content. Everyone needs to get this thinking of "true love, love at first sight"blah blah blah crap out of their heads and be happy with the one they're with. Because truly, they are "the one" because YOU made them "the one."

I'm not suggesting that arranged marriage is for everyone and I am certainly in no position to give marriage advice. However, I do think more American couples need to realize that marriage is not something to be taken lightly. Once you tie the knot, you are completely committed until you kick the can. Divorce should never be the answer (unless, of course, extreme circumstances). I think these days, it is a permanent fix to temporary problems.

Just something to think about!


P.S. Also, If you know what the title of this post is a nod to, you're super awesome!


  1. 1. I like how you think on the transition between infatuation and maturity, but I think there's not only a communal level, but a personal part too. From what I've seen, for a relationship to work, not only do both sides have to be willing to work at a relationship for it to work, but both sides have to be at generally the same level of maturity for the two to be compatible. This maturity can be overridden by that infatuation, which causes a lot of problems.
    2. All celebrity marriages that are out in the open are doomed to fail. See Jay-Z and Beyonce for proof. Hidden from the public, good marriage.
    3. Bonus points for using an IB Psych reference.

  2. I only meant to use celebrity marriages as an example. Obviously, I understand they don't hold much water but since everyone knows them, they make sense.

    In terms of your maturity aspect, 50% of first time marriages in the US end in divorce. I think by the 3rd marriage, it's like over 70%. That's ridiculous. Are ALL of these people not mature enough to handle it? I myself am not sure. That's why I think it's more of a social issue. Our society needs to change as a whole.


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