Marriage as a lifestyle is far different from the actual wedding. Unfortunately, many people are very focused on the ritual of getting married and not focused on what takes place after the ritual is over. Sometimes this is so pervasive that it can cloud a person's judgment as it relates to the person he or she is marrying - or whether he or she even wants to be married at all (Beck, 2011). Getting married (the wedding) and being married (spending a lifetime together through sickness and health, etc.) are two very separate things. While this is realized on a logical level, it is not always as deeply realized on an emotional level. Getting to that point of deep, emotional understanding of the commitment being made is a very important thing to do for any couple considering marriage.
Once the vows have been said and the guests have left, two people must embark on a life together. Marriage today is not the same as it was 50 or even 20 years ago. Today, many more couples live together before marriage, and in some states the definition of marriage being between one man and one woman has also changed and expanded to include same-gender couples. Whether people agree with this change or not, it is something that is taking place today. But, does it affect how people treat marriage once the ceremony has been concluded? Overall, it would seem that a marriage - no matter who the people are who enter into it or how long they have been together - changes things. There is a different mindset that goes with being married, and that becomes apparent once the vows have been said and the couple has settled into the life of a married couple.
According to Bernardi & Martinez-Pastor (2010), how much education the woman has may play a part in what happens to a marriage after the ritual is over and "real life" has settled in for the couple. Their study showed that women who have a higher educational level are more likely to divorce than women who have a lower level of educational attainment in countries where the rates of divorce are relatively low (Bernardi & Martinez-Pastor, 2010). As divorce becomes more common, however, or in countries where divorce is already relatively common, this difference between women with and without education is less obvious. In countries with high divorce levels, women who are highly educated are actually less likely to divorce (Bernardi & Martinez-Pastor, 2010).
Bernardi & Martinez-Pastor (2010) speculate that this is due to several factors including fewer marriages by women who are highly educated and a stronger commitment to marriage by those women. If women who are well-educated are not getting divorced in large numbers where divorce is common, why are they more likely to get divorced in areas where divorce is less common? While Bernardi & Martinez-Pastor's (2010) study seeks to answer that question, all that is actually available is speculation. There is no specific and reliable answer to why these women act and react the way they do. However, Bernardi & Martinez-Pastor (2010) believe that there are more self-selection criteria for these women. In other words, they are choosier and more careful with their mates and other facets of their lives because of their higher education, and that can cause them to choose mates that are more appropriate for them. That, in turn, makes them less likely to divorce.
Of course, there are always anomalies, as is shown in Beck's (2011) book. Despite her education and lifetime Mensa membership, Beck (2011) was married and divorced five times in 17 years due to codependency and relationship addiction issues. Intelligence or education are not the only factors at play in whether a woman will get divorced, and sometimes marriage is entered into for all the wrong reasons. When that is the case, it is very likely that divorce will follow no matter how educated someone is or whether they live in an area of the country or world where divorce is seen as common. Of course, Beck (2011) is not the norm when it comes to educated women in developed countries. She faced an addiction and a compulsion to marry and divorce while trying desperately to find the right partner.
Eventually, Beck (2011) realized that the problems she was facing were hers, and not caused by the men she was choosing. She says of her condition: "I hadn't seen the problems I was having while I was right in the middle of them. Who Does?" (Beck, 2011, p 203). Most women do not get to that multiple-marriage point, but they often do not see the problems that they are facing in their current marriage. The same can be said for men, as both sexes often fail to realize what the honest reality of married life is like. There are also many different problems that can lead to marriage difficulties once the ritual of the wedding is over and the couple settles into their new life.
According to Gornbein (2011) - a family law specialist - there are 11 main reasons why marriages fail. These include alcohol problems, drug problems, the economy, gambling, people simply growing apart, Internet addiction, pornography addiction, infidelity, abuse, a lack of communication, and - as Beck (2011) will attest to - getting married for the wrong reasons entirely. Communication seems to be one of the biggest issues for marriages today, but it is one that can be addressed. According to Gornbein (2011, n.p.) "If you cannot communicate well, seek a marriage counselor."
That appears to be sound advice, but there is still a stigma in the U.S. And many other countries against "seeking therapy" for anything. If you have trouble in your marriage, however, seeking counseling can be one of the ways to salvage it. Unfortunately, many couples do not realize the depth of their problems, or they do not feel comfortable admitting that they are having any kind of difficulty with their marriage. They will not admit it to each other or to themselves, so it is unlikely that they would admit it to a complete stranger who they are paying to help them with their issues (the ones they think they do not actually have). If more couples sought marriage counseling both before and after the wedding day, there might be fewer divorces no matter what the other factors in their lives might be.
Edge & Corrywright (2011) state that one of the main differences with marriage today and in the past is that more and more people are getting married at the courthouse or in some other type of civil ceremony, instead of getting married in the church. Some people do both, but others only pick the civil style of union. The authors of this study are not necessarily arguing for Christianity or even for the existence of any particular god and how that god should be part of a wedding ceremony. They are, however, arguing that the ease of marriage today can be one of the problems that leads to divorce later on. In other words, people do not take marriage seriously enough due to the way it is presented to them in today's society, and that contributes to problems that can develop after the vows have been said and the wedding ritual is over (Edge & Corrywright, 2011).
From examining the authors discussed here and their contributions to the field, it is clear that there are many issues surrounding marriage and how people feel about it. Some of them may hypothesize that education affects divorce rates, while others understand how other factors can also be a significant concern for married couples. Divorce is an important issue for people who are married, because it affects so many of them in today's society. However, divorce is not the only looming issue for people who are married or who are about to get married. A significant number of couples who remain married also appear to have problems. Sometimes one partner simply "puts up with" the issues that the other partner is facing. Other times, both partners have problems and they seem to stay with each other because they become addicted to the drama that is created by their relationship.
Marriage can also be a very healthy union for some couples. Many of these couples are older now. They got married when they were young, and they stayed married because people just did not get divorced in large numbers back when they were young. Society was different at that time. For example, Beck's (2011) parents have been married for more than 50 years. Theirs was a different generation. That is not to say that people who married many years ago never got divorced, but only that divorce is much more prevalent today in the majority of countries. Marital problems and strife also appear to be more prevalent, but…