Are you happy and fulfilled in your marriage or are you pre-
tending? Do you
fantasize about life as an “independent?” Would friends and family be shocked if you announced that you and your spouse were divorcing?
Of the 60 percent of intact marriages (give or take a few percentages), many are not what we would consider good or healthy relationships. Yet, people stay because they made a commitment, or because they’re afraid to leave the kids with the other parent, or because they would face financial ruin if they split up.
Of course, not every marriage could handle these kinds of changes and, before elaborating on this idea, I feel it’s important to distinguish between a “bad” marriage and a “good enough” marriage.
In a “bad” marriage, one or both people feel unsafe in some way or things do not improve despite attempts to help the relationship (or, your partner blocks you from getting help in which case, the marriage is surely doomed).
A “good enough” marriage is one in which you and your spouse have a basic trust of one another as co-parents, for example, or you feel comfortable relying on each other financially, socially or simply as a roommate.
If your marriage is good enough, try talking to your mate about changing your agreements and goals for the marriage.
An example of this is transitioning from a love-based partnership to a purpose-based relationship. One Colorado couple, Cynthia and Dennis, went from having a “traditional” marriage to a Parenting Marriage because they decided that the romantic part of their relationship had expired but their kids were still young enough that they both wanted to be as present as possible. Since they co-parent well together, this arrangement has really worked well.
Some couples have chosen to live in separate homes, while others have agreed that they won’t have children and they’ll focus on creating wealth by being DINKS (double income, no kids). Still others will stay married in order to share experiences, travel, co-exist in the house, or take care of each other. Betsy and Warren Talbot exemplify the couple who at one point were focused on earning to their maximum potential. They are traveling the world and have started a blog/website called Married with Luggage. Last we heard from them, they were in Spain.
In researching our latest book, The New I Do Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels, we uncovered seven alternatives to the love-based model we’ve come to equate with conventional marriage.
With the exception of the first model (which is not a legal option because it’s against public policy to plan the demise of a marriage), all of these options are being practiced in one way or another with people throughout the Western world (even in the U.S!).
These alternatives have helped many people remain in their marriages by allowing couples to taper their nuptials to their own needs. If marriage in general is going to survive, it surely needs to change. If you feel your marriage needs some changes in order to survive, you may want to research one of these options.
Tweaking the way we relate within the institution of marriage is truly a way to have your wedding cake and eat it, too.