Saturday, August 29, 2009

The new social order

Last weekend I was driving my daughter and a friend to a pool (swim, not snooker) party and the girls were discussing why the venue had been chosen. Probably because it is half way between where her mum lives and her dad lives was the conclusion. "----'s parents have split up ?" I ask. News to me. But then most of what goes on in the days and lives of locals is. "Yes," Sam's friend replied."Sam and I are about the only one whose parents are still together."

Maybe I get an unrepresentative view. Maybe more people in 'rich' neighbourhoods split because they can afford to; in 'poor' neighbourhooods they never formalised their relationship in the first place. Maybe there is a large group in the middle acting like my parent's generation. Staying together, happy or otherwise, because they have no choice. Perhaps relationships are now as impermanent as jobs and careers. Or were people more satisfied with their relationships 40 or 50 years ago?

I tend to the latter view. People now have unrealistic expectations of marriage being based on romantic love. Perhaps because they live on a diet of glossies and TV. I don't and didn't, either the first or second. My approach to marriage was very pragmatic. I knew what I didn't want (to be controlled or restricted) and spotted it in my husband. I wanted a highly intelligent partner and spotted in in my husband. Certainly my first attraction to him was physical but that lust stuff wears off over years. Is that where most (but not all) marriages come unstuck? People still seem to want to mate for life but the desire to make it happen doesn't win the day.

I will show my prejudice by admitting that I hope whoever my own children pick as a partner comes from parents with a stable enduring relationship. That is then their template for life. And whether or not you think it important that kids have parents who live together, relationship break-ups are often hellish, sometimes worse than deaths and scar people permanently. As necessary as they sometimes are, they add to the sum of life's unhappiness.


Manolo said...

"I will show my prejudice by admitting that I hope whoever my own children pick as a partner comes from parents with a stable enduring relationship. That is then their template for life."

I agree 100%.
Perfectly said, Lindsay. Spot on.

Andrei said...

It is far too easy to split, with no fault divorce and the matrimonial property act etc.

If the bar to splitting was raised then the incentive to work things through would be greater - to the benefit of all.

I would be very surprised if you marriage hasn't had its rough spots that haven't been ironed out Lindsay - obviously you are committed as is your husband which will be what has made the smoothing of the rough bits happen.

Of course the cause isn't helped by holding up people like Teddy Kennedy as liberal icons because the examples they have set are just simply appalling

Anonymous said...

Been married four times.

First i was very young and it was for sex.
Second was for money.
Third stroked the artist in me.
Fourth time i found my soul mate.
After eight years we still like and respect each other. Dont argue and have lots of laughs. Sex, money and the arts have found a happy balance.
I have two children from my previous relationships and both are succesful, mature and well ajusted individuals who look upon their father as an oddball.


muz said...

Been married once, Father said it wouldn't last, maybe he is right but 47 years on its not looking good for him. Have lived in 10+ homes and we have made them all that, a home. Went into relationship with commitment and have dealt with some extreme challenges. House burnt to ground, life threatening illness, technical bankruptcy, now enjoying retirement and each other and creating our current "home". I come back to commitment, our love, our family, our work, our money, our future.
There have been times of trouble but together we worked them through. Were we lucky, I don't know but always the harder we worked at whatever, the luckier we seemed to be. I agree with Andrei, legislatively and emotionally the separation track is too simple and easy and there is no regard to the results of the lust part of the relationship. There are no legal, financial, social or spiritual impediments to the abandonment of the partnership now and I find that so sad.I don't for one minute want a couple to stay in a destructive relationship but separation is far too common when children are involved. Keep with your views on welfare Lindsay, someday enough will see the truth and then people will say 'why did the educated not see that'.