Marriage/Till Death Do Us Part/ Part 2

Yesterday we discussed if “Marriage/Till Death Do Us Part” is a concept still applicable in today’s busy, scattered, shattered world, where things move at breakneck speed and change is seemingly the only constant…The relevancy of some of these older customs and more specifically, the marriage vows themselves seem almost like quaint, romantic left overs from a different time, a different place, a different era…

The “till death do us part” of the marriage vows can be traced back to medieval times, when extremely high death rates caused many young women to die in childbirth…Advances in medicine since then have drastically reduced female mortality rates in childbirth…

The actual norm back then in medieval times was discovered to be more like a series of marriages, for the man at least, a form of serial monogamy…. I have written about serial monogamy in a previous blog as the possible wave of the future, (without of course the death part!) as we careen headlong into the fractured, frantic millennial years of the 21st century.

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Let’s face it, we are all living much, much longer life spans than even our grandparents could have predicted, and medical science has made huge strides in combating not only maternal mortality but in virtually eradicating former medical scourges like the black plague, cholera, typhus, tuberculosis, and yes even many forms of cancer into simply preventable diseases, able to be controlled by vaccinations and up to date medical care and procedures…

Yet the same human dynamics apply to us today as applied to former generations, and we for the most part dutifully adhere to them…We go to school, we go to work, we pair off into couples, either through formal marriage vows or more commonly today just living together…We have children, we raise our families and strive to improve our standards of living as best we can, and we are all caught up in the frantic pace of life in America today….

The advent of children causes the first cataclysmic shift in the primary relationship….Suddenly, instead of just having to please and be pleased by our significant others, all the focus is suddenly and irrevocably shifted onto the children…This is true of all cultures and ethnic groups in America today…Now we have a whole new skill set to learn and apply, how to raise our children…The birth of the first child is a major, fundamental change in the primary relationship we all started out with…

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B8M6FK Whipps Cross Hospital London 1988 A father holds his new born baby moments after his wife has given birth

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It starts with the pregnancy itself, a 9 month crash course in boning up on medical procedures and obstetric pre-natal care…It progresses through bodily changes for the female and psychological changes for the non pregnant partner and proceeds at breakneck, reckless speed after the actual birth into the midnight feedings and the diaper changes we all think we are ready for but are often overwhelmed by, at least at first…

But then, as the children age, things slow down a bit, there is pre school and kindergarten and finally grade school; things are slowing down but most people don’t stop at just one baby, they have at least two or even more, although the number of births in the USA has plummeted drastically from a few generations ago….

From my Google sources: “ Births among Hispanics — they make up 23.1% of those under 18, up from 17.1% in 2000 — have not been enough to stem the overall decline. The number of non-Hispanic white women of child-bearing age has dropped 6% since 2000, and they’re not having having enough children to keep that population from dropping eventually. Fertility has declined among blacks, too, resulting in a 2.3% drop in black children during the same period.”

But having a second or even a third child does not have the visceral impact on the primary relationship that the first child has…We grow accustomed to the new routine, we have more confidence, and everything settles down into a comfortable, functional pattern…Our new relationship world involves co-existing with our primary partner but revolves around getting our kids through school, grade school, high school and even college, for many families…But when that last child leaves the home for school or a job or to get married or just strike out on their own it is like a massive slap in the face, a huge wake up call to a suddenly brand new reality!…

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The twin demons of empty nest syndrome and mid-life crisis usually strike at the same approximate time…All the routines and patterns we have grown accustomed to and dealt with on a daily basis and adapted too are all changed now, literally out the door!… And suddenly we are face to face with our primary partner, alone together, for the first time in 18-20 years and we find ourselves living in a suddenly seemingly too big and definitely too empty home with a familiar yet virtual stranger….

Who the heck exactly is that stranger staring across the room from you, that person we married oh so many years ago, who has always been around but slowly but surely was relegated to the background as the children and our ever more demanding tasks in work world took precedence over our day to day life? This sudden jolt to our mental equilibrium applies equally to men and women, because most commonly over the years, unless you are an exceptional, loving, sharing couple, you have without realizing it devolved into living parallel but separate lives…

You each have developed friends through the years, and sometimes they overlap, but more realistically, you each have a separate set of friends that have nothing in common with your primary partner….He has his bowling or golf buddies and sports pals and you have your other mothers and crafts and gossip girl friends, you each may even have fallen into the habit of partying separately with your own set of friends, going out for drinks, going to clubs or work functions with other people…

You each have your own ways of doing things, your own hobbies, your own relaxation techniques and in most cases they are completely different from the other person, your primary partner….You have grown apart, slowly but imperceptibly, over the years, without even noticing it!

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This is a huge shock to most people, because when the last child leaves the home, you are suddenly confronted with a whole new set of realities…What do you do to fill in the gaps, the places the children habitually filled, how do you deal with the awkward silences and the too big house and the abrupt change in the routine you have grown accustomed to over the last 20 or so years?

How do those youthful marriage vows “Till death do us part” seem to you now, in an age where people are living much longer life spans? Because in reality, you are just hitting your stride, your are at your peak earning years job wise and while not as young as you once were, you are still plenty healthy, adventuresome and yearning to explore all the possibilities you have willingly put on the shelf because of the full time job of raising your children…..You are on your own now, for the first time in years….

I honestly thought I could resolve or delineate this issue in at least two blogs, but it is such a huge, life changing topic that I will have to continue tomorrow and add a third and hopefully final resolution to the relevancy of my original thought: “Marriage-Till Death Do Us Part?”and it’s relevancy in our modern world…

It’s like that Guns and Roses song “Sweet Child O’ Mine”: “Where do we go, where do we go, where do we go from here”

For more information on:Declining birth rates, see: http://www.usatoday.com/…/2011-06-03-fewer-children-census-su

For more articles by John Whye, click on http://www.johnwhye.com

Just leave it like it is right now

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