Millennials in America are terrified of divorce, and why wouldn't they be? The divorce rates in America have skyrocketed in recent decades. In fact, somewhere between 40 to 50 percent of all marriages in America are expected to end in divorce.
Because of this, we're spending more years dating, and therefore getting married later in life than any other generation. We overanalyze the best formulas in order to create happy, lasting relationships, and we spend the majority of our time reading and writing advice articles centered around dating.
We have this preconceived idea that marriage only works if you follow all the right rules, take steps in the right order and date for many years before you even see a ring. But I disagree. I think people are trying too hard to force relationships that were never meant to last forever in the first place.
I grew up in a family completely infatuated by all things Disney. So naturally, I've seen all of the Disney princess movies.
When I was a little girl who dreamed of growing up and acting just like Ariel -- I even showed off my “mermaid” swim to anyone who would watch -- people around me were buying into the Disney love stories less and less. Adults would spend their time watching children's movies, but they would also then rip them apart for teaching children the notion that love happens overnight.
At first, I would argue with people that teaching children to dream about love at first sight is a part of childhood. I would argue that we didn't have to teach children how difficult love can be from the start. If we don't teach children to believe in the kind of love that's portrayed in Disney films at a young age, how are they ever going to grow up and learn to believe in the harsh reality of love our country is constantly battling with?
But now, after experiencing my own heartbreaks, I think Disney has it right. I dated a guy last year. While we never had any real problems, I ended things three months in.
Everyone in my life was confused about it, since we didn't have any relationship issues. I found myself answering the “Why did you guys break up?” question a lot.
The only answer I could come up with was the fact that I already knew I was never going to marry him. I knew that if we were three months into the relationship and I wasn't completely head over heels for him, I never would be. A lot of people argued with me and said I should've given it more time. They said I might've changed my mind later on.
Do you understand how ridiculous that sounds? When you meet couples who've been married for over 50 years, the first thing anyone asks is how they made it work. Almost all of the time, the couple will tell you they've continued to keep the love alive. They say they're just as in love 50 years later as they were on the first day they met each other.
You are going to be the most in love during the first year of your relationship, even if everyone is too afraid to admit that to you. If you can't imagine spending the rest of your life with someone during the first year, then why would you try to force a relationship that didn't have any sort of spark to begin with? If marriage hasn't even crossed my mind three months into a relationship, then I know that relationship is never going to be the one that lasts, no matter how much effort I put into it.
We live in a culture that's afraid to talk about the future. We're afraid to say “I love you” too soon, and we're afraid that if we don't date for a minimum number of years, our marriages will never work.
But I disagree. I think Disney has it right. Sure, you might not know if you'll marry the person the day you meet the love of your life. Maybe love at first sight isn't real.
But all people feel things way before they ever have the guts to say them out loud. Just because you waited a whole year before you told your boyfriend you loved him, that doesn't mean you weren't feeling those things during week two.
We should be creating a culture that's excited about love, marriage and relationships. We shouldn't be creating one that's terrified of them. Maybe terror is the real cause of our continually increasing divorce rates, as opposed to the number of years we've spent dating someone.