Ask Dr. Dobson

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Question: I have a great fear that I will someday be divorced. I?ve been through it with my parents and watched several of my uncles and aunts. I?d rather not get married than to run that risk. Is it possible to protect yourself from a divorce today?

Answer: You?re not the only member of your generation who worries about the odds against successful marriages. That concern showed up in the song ?That?s the Way I?ve Always Heard It Should Be,? popularized in the 1970s by Carly Simon. The lyrics are devastating. They say, in effect, ?It is impossible to achieve intimacy in marriage, and our life together will be lonely, meaningless, and sterile. But if that?s what you want we?ll marry.?

While I understand the pessimism expressed in this song, I disagree emphatically with its message. The family was God?s idea, not our own, and it is still a wonderful institution.

Furthermore, it is a myth that marriages are destined to fail. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1993, 61 percent of people living in the United States are married, 23 percent have never been married, 8 percent are widowed, and only 8 percent are divorced. Seventy-five percent of families with children are headed by two married parents. Despite what you hear about disintegrating families, most of us still live within solid families.

We do have to acknowledge, however, that marriages are fragile. They must be nurtured and protected if they are to survive for a lifetime. If ignored, they will wither and die.