“The Today Show” recently aired a segment about more Americans starting families without getting married. Carson Daly, co-host of the segment, himself has two cute kids with his live-in girl friend of seven years. The segment highlighted several Hollywood couples who are famously unwed: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Goldie Hahn and Kurt Russell and of course Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
In fact, current marriage rates are at the lowest levels in more than 100 years. This begs the question…why are people less likely to stroll down the aisle of matrimony?
Laura Baron, life coach and relationship expert, makes two strong points. “Hollywood affects all aspects of decisions of mainstream America, from products to fashion to trends, and now they are affecting how we do relationships,” she said. “It is much less intimidating to sign a lease than to sign a marriage contract.”
Well, of course it is more intimidating to sign a mortgage than a lease. One is more temporary by nature, while the other provides more permanence.
Living together offers many of the benefits of marriage without making a commitment. Making a commitment can oft times be a really scary choice. It’s understandable that in our culture of divorce, many people are a little gun-shy about marriage.
Relationship therapist Argie Allen offers an answer as well. “People are getting married later. They have more choices. They’re choosing to co-habitate,” she said, adding this jewel, ”an indicator of a good relationship is not how well you do when things are good, it’s how well you do when things are bad.”
Let’s pause here for a moment. I’ve noticed what appears to be a theme. When times get tough many couples want out, they want to make their escape easy or uncomplicated. Many couples want to do what is easy.
Marriage is not easy and I don’t blame anyone for waiting to ease into it, if at all. However, marriage requires a critical ingredient that few recognize and that is growth. And growth requires change. Change is not easy.
Finally, if you keep fixing up the house called marriage over time you’ll build up something I call “marital equity” and it has enormous value.
Think of the benefits that a mortgage brings that don’t first meet the eye, such as; tax benefits, legal protection and security.
Security in a relationship is priceless. To be in a relationship that involves children, where either party can leave at will is unsettling to say the least. I’ve been married nearly 19 years and there were many times when I thought about throwing in the towel. I wanted someone to fix it and I wanted the pain to stop. Would it have been easier to hop out of my marriage? Yes. Might I have avoided the pain if I had never actually gotten married? Probably not.
Yet, when I look into the eyes of my wife and the eyes of my three daughters, I’m 100 percent confident that the depth of my love for them could not exist without the commitment and pain of growth as a husband and father.
Growth can be painful, but a healthy marriage comes at a price. Nothing good comes easy.
Darryl Cobbin is an accomplished, award-winning marketing executive, entrepreneur and author of ‘Before You Wed…Read This!’ He loves his family and his work.