elderly old cute couple celebrating 50 year anniversary years celebrate marriage last long lasting hard work sacrifice compromise relationship stay together

There's Nothing Wrong with Marriage… There's Something Wrong with You!

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John Powers

Everyone knows love is patient and kind, but what the disposable, single-serving, bottled-water generation of convenience doesn’t realize is that love is also really fucking hard.

As one who gives (albeit comedy-centric) dating advice, it is against my code of ethics to criticize another counselor’s advice. What works for some does not work for everyone and we are all entitled to our opinions and the dispersing of those options. I am not in the habit of telling people they are wrong or their advice is not valid, but in this instance I cannot refrain from explaining an important discrepancy in another man’s writing…

I just read an article entitled, “5 reasons we can’t handle marriage anymore,” and it pissed me off. Read it for yourself and form your own opinions. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Here’s mine… Marriage still works the same, but people don’t. Marriage is work. My generation cannot grasp that. Words like compromise and sacrifice are unfamiliar to some. Marriage doesn’t work unless you work on it. It takes effort… sometimes a lot of effort. A wise man once told me that what keeps his relationship together is “you cannot both be mad at the same time.” One of you needs to stay calm and be a voice of reason. If you both say “fuck it,” at the same time, then your relationship will end.

Is it all that surprising that the generation who had everything provided for them is incapable of being selfless enough to put another person before themselves? Is it unexpected that the culture of random hookups make us feel like we can get a replacement partner at any time? Is it a complete shocker that the kids of the 50% divorce rate feel like marriage just doesn’t last? Is it surprising that people care more about the success of Kanye’s relationship than their own?

No. None of that is surprising. We are living in the age of polyamory. We are watching the rise of the temporary marriage contract. Instead of “until death,” the marriage of the next generation will be a limited term contractual agreement for 5 or 10 years, or until one party no longer wants to participate. There will be exit stratagem and an understanding that this is a temporary situation, with an option to renew at the end of the trial period.

I find it sad. I’m one of the few 30-somethings who celebrated his grandparents’ 50th anniversary; whose parents are still in love after 35 years; and who himself realizes that marriage is not easy. There will be good times and bad. It’s a choice, sometimes a daily choice, to follow through on a commitment to another person. I can guarantee that a couple has more than a few fights after 50 years. I am confident there were at least several times when one or both of them would have preferred to walk away; it’s easier, but that’s not how it works.

Marriage is one of the few remaining relics of a different time. A time when honor and commitment meant something to people. A time when a man would pledge his life to a woman and vow to cherish and protect her. A time when it was more important to be a person of good character than a person with a lot of money.

The author of the article referenced above is 29 years old, and is already divorced after having been married since 2012. He explains why millennials are not going to succeed at marriage. While I agree that they face more obstacles, I think the writer is a quitter. When faced with struggles and challenges he and/or his partner chose to bail. They took the easy way out and now complain that marriage is the problem. I cannot help but wonder if his negativity and pessimism were the problem. His selfishness and immaturity certainly did not help.

Will it be hard for the next generation to find and keep love? Yes. Will a majority of them end up divorced, alone, or in a van down by the river? Maybe… but that just makes it more special for the true believers. The couples who realize it will not be easy. The ones who believe the good times are worth the bad. The people like me out there who are old-fashioned enough to appreciate a life-long oath, but modern enough to define and combat the pitfalls. The ones who want it to last and work hard to make it good. Those will be the successful marriages of the future.

– John Powers


One thought on “There's Nothing Wrong with Marriage… There's Something Wrong with You!”

  1. I recently heard this Faulkner quote at a writing workshop, and it comes to mind as I read your post: “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.” I think marriage works very much this way. You make the effort first, and the love and affection follows the effort, not the other way around (which is to say I agree with you). I am 39 years old and 16 years into marriage. I think the years when the kids were babies/toddlers were the toughest just because of exhaustion. Now that both kids can buckle their own seat belts, wipe their own asses, go to school and sleep through the night, things are lots easier. The online stuff, though. Also, I am old enough to have been witness to many friends’ divorces, and it makes me feel more protective of what I have.

    As far as the online/technology stuff goes, I think the pendulum will swing back the other way at some point. To be clear, I do think that we will stop using it, but I think we will grow more consciousness about keeping it balanced. I think it will some day be in fashion for people to have “attention regimens” the way they have regimens for fitness today. Social media via internet is to this generation what white loaf bread was to our grandparents: new, delicious and awful for us in excess.

    I didn’t mean to write a comment that was the same length as your well-written article.

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