It's no coincidence that the divorce rate in America essentially mirrors the successful second wave of the feminist movement.
These days, women aren't willing and no longer have to put up with what they would have in the 50s and earlier. Women usually have the financial means and education to get by independently, and divorce is no longer social taboo either. Both genders have higher expectations of prospective partners, a greater understanding of what constitutes abuse and know full well that marriage doesn't have to mean forever. When a spouse no longer meets their needs, divorce is a viable and easily accessed option. Unfortunately, this lessens the value of the institution of marriage as it becomes completely disposable.
Agree with everything said, but I don't consider it unfortunate in terms of the value of marriage lessening. To me, it's a great thing. People are becoming significantly more independent minded and are less strung by what moral arbiters say is the "correct" way to live...........more people are living for themselves rather than through others. That's for the betterment of the world as a whole. The fewer people who are essentially brainwashed into living in accordance to what I see as a restrictive and archaic existence, the better.
This doesn't mean love and monogomy do not exist though, it means that human-beings aren't easy creatures to please, and now that both parties are able to stand up for their rights, there's a bigger chance for a marriage to fail. America may have the highest rate of divorce, but it also has the fastest rate of repartnering and remarriage in the world. This means that to some degree, the average American still believes in marriage even after a divorce. To me (someone who has never been married), that says that the human spirit is resilient enough to endure a failed long-term relationship and still see the worth in pursuing another.
I think that shows that, in U.S. society, traditional codes of living are still very much prevalent and expected. And that includes partnering with a "soul-mate" for life, getting married, and living the two cars, baby and dog "All-American" lifestyle. Western Europe has moved beyond this significantly, so have more liberal areas in America. Divorce and remarriage rates are highest in the South and conservative areas overall. That shows me that marriage is still a social requirement in these areas where "traditional values" cultural constructs are still the norm, and still something in the heads of individuals in these areas that is sacred and something a person is "supposed" to do. In these areas, marriage is still something that just naturally happens as you grow up, and even if you divorce, marriage is still seen as the ideal standard of living when you're older.
The human spirit factor certainly exists as well. If you want something bad enough, then, for most people at least, they're going to find a way to attain whatever goal they're seeking. In this case, what people want is that special someone. They want someone they can call "the one". Like you see in the movies, that special lover. And one failed relationship isn't going to deter many people from finding that special someone, wherever they may be. So, for people with this mentality, all failed relationships are just steps taken on the journey to everlasting happiness with their soul-mate.
Anyone whose life and happiness is in any way tied through what others do/say/etc. is someone, in my eyes, that has to take a step back and figure out what makes them tick and them INDIVIDUALLY happy. If you need to be with someone to be happy and feel complete, that's a problem. No human being can make you feel happy in your own skin. Being with a partner doesn't magically make things better on the long haul. You may feel fleeting happiness but eventually, when that's gone and you realize that you've married this person and the possibility is there to spend the rest of your life with that individual, what do you do?
I'm an idealist and I'd like to believe in the power of love, so I'm happy to say that I genuinely believe the "5 year" statistic doesn't paint the whole picture.
I'm a realist
It's good to be an idealist in certain situations I think, though. I believe in love, but the reality is, love alone isn't enough. It takes more than love to maintain a relationship, or to enter one at all with someone. The facts are, as the graph you linked indicate, that most relationships fail and have been failing at an increased rate. Marriage/relationships rates in general have been declining sharply. It's not, obviously, the most positive thing to talk about, but we can't deny the truths, and even if they don't paint a pretty picture, I do believe the picture most certainly has been drawn out.
Would it help if I said that 50% of all marriages still remain intact at the 20 year mark?
Maybe..............but as you said, that's something that needs to be explored. Is that a correct statistic? And even if a couple may be legally defined as married, it doesn't mean they are still in a relationship. We don't know the health of the relationship, why they are still married, if it's for the kids or if they're actually still in love with one another. All we do know is that most relationships do in fact fail before 5-10 years, let alone making it 20+.
But to your point: the average courtship lasts 18-24 months, so even if the average marriage only lasts 5 years, you've still given 7 years of your life to one special person. Imagine the many invaluable experiences, important life lessons and (hopefully) all the joy that would be packed into those seven years. Better to have loved and lost...
I agree with you on the life lessons aspect. You definitely have the opportunity to learn a lot that you can use for future relationships; you'll be more wise, more experienced, and hopefully a lot more mellow and realistic, given most people tend to enter their first relationship(s) with grand expectations and end up disappointed. But.............can you call someone who you had a relationship with that failed, "special"? Ultimately, if they were that special to you, you wouldn't have broken up. You would always want to be with that person, through thick and thin. Not saying you can't love that person afterward, enjoy time with that person, that the individual you broke up with doesn't still mean a lot to you, and the experiences shared with that person are worthless, but............does any of this make that individual a "special" person? Or just a person that you ultimately had fun with on a more intimate level than a simple friendship for a while, and that ride ended?