This is certainly the golden era of marriage in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and the Western world. I call it the golden era because more couples than ever are making the effort to invest in a loving relationship and we have all the tools necessary to make a marriage work: self-help books, videos, professional counseling, regular seminars, and fresh spirit of a willingness to learn. People will always get married. Marriage will never cease to be part of our culture. Some people would have us to believe that since there seems to be an increase in the divorce rate, then marriage is in trouble. This is not true.
In the Bahamas we have approximately 2200 marriages each year. There are about 345 divorces each year. That tells us one in every six marriages ends in divorce in the Bahamas. Every family seems to be affected by divorce directly or indirectly through a relative or friend. Since it appears that so many marriages are breaking up through separation or divorce, many have concluded that the institution of marriage is crumbling into nonexistence.
The good news is that this far from the truth. Decades ago couples had no choice but to stay together. Their marriages were based on endurance and survival. Respect and submission were the code names for a successful marriage. Romance, intimacy, and partnership were not sought-after ingredients in a marriage. The truth is that not many marriages of yesteryear were deeply romantic and mutually enriching. I have counseled many persons who have no doubt endured their marriages. They found ways to cope and adapt simply because divorce would be so wrong and taboo. They repressed feelings of anger, frustration, discontentment and discord. Sadly, many of these "traditional marriages" have been rewarded for longevity are and presented as role models of successful marriages. In reality, it is the rebirth of the well-balanced independent adult thatís bringing joy into marital unions today.
Then you may be asking why are so many marriages still breaking up? Many marriages are ending for the very same reason-Ėlack of deep, meaningful love. The difference today is that couples feel they have a choice. Decades ago individuals in a relationship did not quite understand their own personal boundaries. Personal rights and individuality were lost in the world of what they thought to be a meaningful relationship. Today, couples are learning that when two individuals blend together their unique individual rights, freedom to think, ability to act confidently, they create a long-lasting, mutually enhancing, loving relationship; a relationship that is truly rewarding to both individuals. When individuals are not achieving this kind of loving relationship, more of them than ever before seek counseling. If counseling does not work, they do not to stick around indefinitely in the relationship just to look good to family and friends. This does not make divorce okay. It just explains what is happening and helps us to get a better picture of the real world of marriage in our country.
Many marriages of yesteryear painfully survived because one of the partners sacrificed more than the other. One partner, usually the woman, had to "take care" of her husband often neglecting her own personal needs. Husbands did not take care of their wives. Yes, they were "providers" of money, house, and land, but they were not there emotionally. This type of relationship of yesteryear reaped havoc on the physical lives of many spouses.
I firmly believe that because of this information age in which we are living, more and more couples are determine not to make a fool out of marriage or out of themselves.
I am not intending to paint a rosy picture of marriage today. We are faced with greater challenges and temptations which, ironically, may also make it the worst of times for marriages. We are being bombarded every day through the media, much differently than couples of yesteryear, with all sorts of distorted views of relationships. Then, there are many spouses, after discovering their individual rights and boundaries in a relationship, who are prematurely, and callously ending a potentially good marriage. They are allowing themselves to be sapped with the energies that are needed to rebuild weakening marriages.