I was talking with some friends at a dinner yesterday and as so often occurs the conversation drifted to our children.
These are grown children, with families of their own.
And sadly, the discussion about our wonderful children turned to their being divorced, or separated.
Followed by the not-so-uncommon reference to; 'pardon the expression but he was married to a bitch'.
Of course we are protective of our children. We love them and are willing to overlook their flaws, especially when they are hurting, which is usually the case when divorce happens.
They married the wrong person. We knew it. We told them. They didn't listen. You have to have a little luck. They just didn't have any.
I usually keep quiet during these discussions because there is no point in making people feel worse than they already do.
Telling them that maybe, just maybe, their child's spouse wasn't alone in having things go bad is not what people want to hear.
But let's think about it - who CREATED the relationships we have?
The bad news is - we create our own relationships. When things don't work out we blame the other person for the choice we made. They changed for the worse.
The good news is - we created our own relationships and therefore we can create much better ones in the future with guidance and insight.
These divorces that have become so common today are not the product of 'arranged marriages', but a product of 'free choice'.
So where does it go wrong?
In the past families looked for a family with a good name, possibly well off, a man or woman that had a good reputation, some education, same religion, same nationality, and 'arranged' the marriage.
The young people were protected from having relationships before marriage and forced by social pressures to stay in them afterward.
All this is gone now. How do we teach our young people to select a life partner? How do we teach them to select the right people to date?
The truth is we don't know that much about it. We might not have picked so well ourselves.
The most important life decision people make, to pick the person they're going to spend the rest of their life with, is done with very little training.
Families either get to approve or disapprove. It usually doesn't influence the final decision much.
Having said that, there is a way to select the right person!
It starts by knowing exactly what it is that will make you happy today, tomorrow and 20, 30 40, 50 years from now.
Otherwise we should have marriages with specific time frames.
'I am marrying for 25.5 years which is enough to have 2.2 kids and put them through college. After that I want to explore another life, probably as a single person in India.' So the contract is for 25.5 years. Or 10 years. Or 5.
If we hope for an everlasting relationship, without any social pressures to hold us together, we better be very clear about exactly what will hold us together. What do we want and need from another human being?
In creating a list of characteristics we need to have short term and long term goals. We might need physical attraction now, communication later, and compassion after that. We might need to have fun now, responsibility later, and unconditional love after that.
We create, select, choose our mate without knowing what we want, or worse knowing but feeling that no one is perfect, or even worse that we don't deserve to have a great person. We're just not good enough. In whose eyes? In our own eyes - it might have been friends and family from whence the original messages came from, but now we have internalized them. .
The answer is that training is required to help clarify our issues about relationships. It is not rocket science, but it is also not something we want to do by trial and error. It is too easy to run out of time or become too disillusioned to even try.