Not Happily Ever After

In a counseling session one day a single mother named Ruth, who had been through a difficult divorce, sat looking down into her lap, her face a picture of defeat. Quietly she asked, “How will I ever know if I’m ready to date again? When I said my marriage vows, I meant them. I loved my husband and I believed that we would have a good marriage. Now I don’t trust myself, and I have my two children to think about.”

How often have you heard different variations of this question? A woman or a man—young or old, previously married, or still single—comes to you, distraught, not trusting in love, but wanted desperately to find a mate.

I was there myself, and even though I eventually became a Christian lay counselor, for years I asked the wrong questions because I wasn’t aware of the underlying problems. One issue is so pervasive that it winds its way into every nook and cranny of our society. In my book The Compatibility Code: An Intelligent Women’s Guide to Dating and Marriage, I name this deceptive problem the fairy-tale myth. You know it well, it’s women thinking that they’re going to find prince charming and live happily ever after. It’s men thinking they need to be prince charming, and they’re going to live happily ever after.

The premise of the fairy-tale model has caused us to misapply the interpretation of love to the whole dating process. It has conditioned us into our current path of developing feelings first and then trying to determine if he or she is the right fit. Fairy tales are just that. Tales. Granted, some tales are based in real life, but this one is a fatal myth. A myth that is wrecking our marriages.

The Flaw of the Fairy-Tale Model

What we may not realize is the damage that all of this fairy-tale thinking has done to our ideas of what goes into creating a good relationship beyond the dream of the wedding day. We have, for far too long, used the idea of being in love as the leading criteria for marriage. Currently we attach even greater importance to being in love as a prerequisite to marriage than people did in past decades.1 Our belief in the power of love has become so fierce that we often ignore huge and conflicting differences, relying instead on our response to a kiss or how we feel when we’re with our lover.

Banished from the Kingdom

We both know I’m not exaggerating, but let’s look for a moment at the consequences of emotion-based decisions: it’s the 50 percent divorce rate of first marriages; the 60 percent divorce rate of second and subsequent marriages, with an even higher percentage of failure when blended families are involved. 2

The hard fact of divorce—and this applies to everyone: male, female, married, divorced, single—is that incompatibilities will destroy the most passionate and intense of emotions.

Beyond the marital failures recorded in the divorce rate, there are many living in failing relationships. All love has ended. Couples sleep in separate beds, and a sense of isolation and loneliness, antagonism, or a cool hostility pervades the atmosphere. Research suggests that only about 20 percent of marriages might be considered successful, and only 7 percent are exceptional.3

Building Sustainable Marriages

At this rate, without a different approach nothing will change and our failures in marriage will continue to rip us apart.

One purpose of Two-gether Time is to help you understand the degree to which this myth and other incorrect perceptions saturate our culture’s thinking and what can be done to redirect the thinking of those who are seeking life mates. Another purpose is to equip you with tools and resources to develop programs that will enhance your marital ministries.

What you can expect from Two-gether Time

  • Useful information: Think of me as your fisherman—I will be out with an “information” net, gathering useful insights, research and trends and sending it your way. I want to be able to add to your information base so that you can share not only facts and statistics but also stories that will resonate.
  • Enhance Your Singles Ministries: A group immediately knows if you are relating to them. Think of me as a virtual staff member that is committed to the development of programs and content that will entice, enhance, and equip your singles to make choices that will lead to loving relationships that will last a lifetime.
  • Facilitate your pre-marriage counseling: I want to give you tips and tools that you can to use to help your couples build healthy marriages based on foundations of compatibility.

My mission is to change the paradigms in North America about the way people meet, date, and select marriage partners. Behind the company name, Compatibility Solutions Inc., is powerful research, credentials and commitment. My co-author, husband, and forever love,Darren George with a Ph.D. in Psychology from UCLA—and a background in marital compatibility research and counseling—makes complex concepts easy to grasp.

Whether you are looking for empirically valid advice, proven principles, or research information that affects marital compatibility, you will have the foundations and principles of sustainable relationships at your fingertips so that you can pass that on to those who need it most. By creating a community of people with similar goals, we will improve success in marriage and permanently reduce the divorce rate.

The set up of this newsletter is simple

Part One: “Current Trends” is just information, useful stuff I find on the Internet, studies I come across in our research, even analogies that drawn from everyday life. Watch for related articles that you can click on, like the one several paragraphs above in the discussion of fairy-tale thinking.

Part Two: “Pastor’s Corner” is the “how to” section of the newsletter. It will be packed with tips on how to identify and mend compatibility issues—and build and revive intimacy—have better relationships and marriages—for your congregation or your own.

So in this inaugural edition of Two-gether Time, I want to leave you with this thought: it’s time to take the guesswork out of relationships. There is nothing mythic in the tale of real marriages between real people. I look forward to working together to help build marriages and love that will last a lifetime.

1. Simpson, J. A., Campbell, B., Berscheid, E. (1986). The association between romantic love and marriage: Kephart (1967) twice revisited. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 12, 363-372.

2. Cherlin, A. (1983). The trends: marriage, divorce, remarriage. In A.S. Skolnick and J.H. Skolnick (eds.), Family in Transition (4th edition, pp. 128-137). Boston: Little Brown.

2. Fine, M. A., & Fine, D. R. (1992). Recent changes in laws effecting stepfamilies: Suggestions for legal reform. Family Relations, 41, 334-340.

3. Popcak, G. (2002). The exceptional seven percent. New York: Citadel.

Posted by Elizabeth George in Current Trends, Pastors' Resources on October 29th, 2011.


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