Editor’s Note: Anthony D’Ambrosio, 29, of Wall has built a large following after the success of his relationship columns that regularly appear on these pages. Today, he discusses why marriages just don’t work for people of his generation. D’Ambrosio is now divorced after getting married in 2012.
As I read through D’Ambrosio’s five reasons, I felt the need to respond to his drivel. Right off the bat, he states, “Many of you will ask what gives me the right to share my advice or opinions,” and then he answers with this:
I’ve been divorced myself. But I’m only one of the many people today that have failed at marriage. And while some of us have gone through a divorce, others stay in their relationships, miserably, and live completely phony lives.
So since he is divorced, he now has become an expert at giving relationship advice. That is equivalent to saying, “I baked a souffle that fell and now I am a professional chef,” or “my children grew up and are in jail, but I can give you parenting guidance.” His logic is faulty. Obviously you can grow and learn through failure, but that does not make you a guru.
The author then goes on to say things were different for past generations, and I can agree with him to some extent, but he lists 5 Reasons Why We Can’t Handle Marriage Anymore,” I can list one reason – SELF! When you are so focused on what you can get out of a relationship, you fail to take into account the other person. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 states: Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
D’Amborios’s five points are as follows:
1) Sex becomes non-existent: I am confused by this statement. Is he implying that once you get married, you stop having sex? The implication is that sex before marriage is wonderful and afterwards it stops. Having sex outside of marriage is clearly not part of God’s plan and that causes problems. But the author also believes that sex is the most important part of a relationship. His statement also implies that sex is wonderful before marriage and after marriage it becomes mundane. I am going on the assumption that he is stating that since he believes sex is the most important thing, and after getting married sex tends to diminish, marriages are doomed to fail. Here is where I disagree with him vehemently. While I believe that sex is a very important part of marriage, I also believe that the most important part of a marriage is having God at the very core. Having your marriage grounded on the standards God has set for marriage ensures that even if you aren’t having sex, you are still committed to the marriage. I am in no way advocating that sex isn’t important. 1 Corinthians 7:5 says, “Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. After, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” God, in His Word, tells us that without sex in the marriage, you may be tempted to look elsewhere.
Sex is much easier to maintain in a marriage, but our goal should be to develop long-lasting intimacy, and true intimacy takes a lot of work. When you think that sex is the end goal and is the ultimate expression of love you have completely deceived yourself. Ephesians 5:24-25 states “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
As our hair turns gray and our bodies aren’t what they use to be, I can say with much certainty that watching my husband work hard to provide for his family, giving up the things he desires, he becomes far sexier to me! Our relationships should be about pointing the other person towards Christ, and serving one another. In a marriage if both people are doing what you are called to do, it works.
By the way, if you think sex is difficult, try living in a one room house without air conditioning like our ancestors did. Somehow they managed to stay married through it all and continued to have sex. This is evidenced by the number of children they had.
2) Finances cripple us. “We’re trying to live the way our grandparents and parents did in a world that has put more debt on our plate than ever before.” This one really makes me angry. Unless your grandparents rubbed elbows with the Rockefeller’s they probably did not live in a house that was as big as yours, they did not have the luxuries that you have, and they did not experience debt like you did because they weren’t taking luxury vacations and acquiring a lifetime of goods at age 25.
So this generation thinks because they have student loans, life is more difficult. My grandmother got married young and by the time she was 20 had lost a couple of children. My grandfather was already working in the United States when my grandmother traveled on a ship with a 6 month old to meet him. My grandfather worked hard, long hours. My grandmother took care of her 5 children and her household, sewing, cooking, baking, butchering chickens, etc. During the Depression she took a job as a cook in a hotel. She continued to care for her household, walked to church every morning, worked all day and came home at night to care for her children. My grandparents didn’t have the latest gadgets, but they understood what true riches were. They taught their children about faith, family, and hard work. My father continued what they started by teaching his children those values.
My parents had seven children and my in-laws had six children. I watched the incredible sacrifices they made to provide for their families. We went to church every Sunday, but my father lived his faith every day. After God, family was important. My father and my husband’s father worked 60+ hours a week to try to put food on the table. Our families had one car. They were not working for designer jeans, fancy vacations, gym memberships, cable TV, or the latest iPhone. They were working for survival. As I hear people complain about how they need two incomes to survive, I wonder what we are teaching our children about true survival. I also wonder what we are modeling for our children regarding what is really important.
Chances are good that the author’s parents also had their own struggles when they were first married. Maybe instead of consulting 29 year old experts, you can call your parents or grandparents and ask them how they dealt with difficulties in their day. In Titus 2:3-5, the Bible states, “Similarly, older women should be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers. . .” For the older women to teach the younger ones, there has to be a desire to learn. Instead of consulting the internet for a recipe, call your grandmother or mother. They would be happy to talk with you.
In addition, here are a few suggestions for paying off your student loans quicker: Work with your spouse towards the goal of paying off your debt, cancel cable, your gym membership, quit buying $5 cups of coffee, and any luxury items. Bypass the designer clothing, purses, and sunglasses for a while. Don’t upgrade your smart phone with the latest, greatest model. Make a commitment to not “live comfortably” for a short while. I guarantee that working as a couple toward a common goal will strengthen your relationship!
3) We’re more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time While I agree that technology has a way of interfering in human connections, I believe that technology is a tool. I shouldn’t blame my mixer or power tool any more than I should blame my phone for my failed marriage. You have the ability to put down your phone and connect with the people around you. I know that I am guilty of having my phone with me often, but sometimes I leave the house without it just to live!
4 and 5) Our desire for attention outweighs our desire to be loved; and Social media just invited a few thousand people into bed with you: While I agree with these statements, D’Ambrosio is using social media to bring attention to himself and his failed marriage. He claims that he understands what caused his marriage to fail and then he goes and does the exact same thing that causes marriages to fail. Would you want to be in a relationship with this man who penned an open letter to his ex-wife? Beware: You might be the next open letter!
While D’Ambrosio may understand what led to the failure of his marriage, he doesn’t understand that “self” is what divides marriages. And he certainly doesn’t understand what leads to the success of marriages.
Here are my top 2 pieces of advice for keeping your marriage together:
My top advice for any relationship is God, the Bible, and Prayer: Having a common belief is important in a marriage. Studies show that couples that pray together, stay together.
a Gallup Poll that was done in 1997 by the National Association of Marriage Enhancement in Phoenix Arizona that showed the divorce rate among couples who pray together regularly is 1 out of 1,152. That’s a divorce rate of less than one percent. Could it be that prayer is the missing link in keeping couples together? It’s prayer that makes two people one and binds two hearts together with the heart of God.
This one piece of advice should be shouted from the rooftops, however, we are so busy reading recommendations from the internet, that we fail to try the simple, tried and true methods. Ironically, going to church together does not ensure marriages will stay together. There is a level of intimacy achieved when you pray with another person.
My second piece of advice is honor your commitment: My parents and grandparents understood that your word was more binding than any contract. When you stand at the altar before God and man and pledge to love, honor and cherish all the days of your life, that is not just something you can walk away from. Even if you fail and make mistakes, that covenant should never be broken. If I lead my life with the understanding that marriage is between God and me and my spouse, I understand that even if I walk away from my spouse, walking away from the promises I made to God are much more difficult.
I have been married thirty years, and I don’t pretend to be a graduate. I would advise you to seek your instruction regarding marriage and parenting from people who have walked before you! Don’t seek lessons from those who have failed. Find the marriages that have lasted 30, 40, or 50+ years and study those. Humans have always wanted to blame the culture and the circumstances around them for the sin in their lives. While technology and the internet have changed life, the Bible points out in Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
Sources: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Divorce Rate and Prayer from SmalleyMarriage.Com