I relate to the comments in this article, as a divorced parent of two young children myself; I know all too well what not taking time away from the “important tasks” of childrearing does to a marriage.
It is quite astonishing how, after a divorce, sharing children with a capable ex can be such a life-saving and fulfilling experience. My question is why can’t we do this when we’re together? What interferes with creating an environment that supports two adults living self-actualized and fulfilling lives within a family dynamic?
The article by Elisabeth LaMotte speaks to the idea that marriage and parenting need a complete overhaul. This archaic standard we all attempt to live up (down) to does not work in our times. We need to redefine the entire package. We have become a nation of overachievers in areas that don’t really matter. If meaningful relationships are to survive, we need to start looking more deeply at what matters, like our true purpose for being here and understanding our true nature.
I have met countless parents who are on some sort of psychotropic drug to help cope, who have little or no sex life, and consciously or not, hold a great deal of resentment towards their spouse and others. This is clearly a toxic environment to raise children in, yet it is the most common situation of our time. I must agree that most families are ill equipped to deal with the stress and responsibilities that comes with this awesome task of raising children. The reason we find it stressful is because we are not prepared for the task.
I am an advocate for self-healing prior to having children, in fact I believe that it is infinitely more important than having the financial resources. In my experience I have known many children that have been raised by families with ample resources, families that could well afford child care, private schools and housekeepers, but these (now) adults are no more self actualized or healthier that their counterparts who went without these “luxuries”. In fact, the ones with “less” in most cases have a quicker path to recovery and self-realization than the others. It is misleading to believe that money (or a staff) can take the place of parents that have taken the time to discover who they are and worked on living to their fullest potential as loving confident human beings. Is it a coincidence that most adult individuals that do the real self introspective work on them selves decide not to have children? I believe that it is because they have become painfully aware of how bad parenting destroys lives, and not just the children's.
Maybe instead of getting married and then going through a painful and costly divorce we could redefine what families really are and start out relationships more independently. A way that gives both parents an opportunity to be more present and yet, at times, completely removed from daily care taking, a situation that takes into consideration our real needs, not the social construct that suits the corporations and governments but one that really speaks to who we really are today.
Since the divorce rate is now well-over 50%, then maybe we should start seriously looking at this social construct. Maybe instead of seeing ourselves (the majority of us) failing a system, we need to see that the system no longer meets our needs as individuals and families.
If each individual took the responsibility of healing themselves and becoming self actualized maybe the standards of what real adult relationships are would change and the choice of becoming a parent would start to take on a whole different meaning.
In the end, each of us is responsible for our own happiness, regardless of pressures to conform. You can make it work, however unorthodox. If it works and you're happy, than you've reigned supreme in a life where most people are struggling to find joy.
Thank you so much for a very thoughtful, insightful, heartfelt and full response, MC. You touch on many areas, all of great significance, including a favorite subject of mine, the archaic nature of the institution of marriage. I agree that we should "look seriously at this social construct," and I do believe more and more people are. While the divorce rate is climbing, on the one hand, at the other end, the number of people getting married at young ages is declining, as is the number of young people having kids. This is great news!
I do agree, as you suggest, that marriage and childrearing can be restructured to facilitate rather than interfere with a couple's personal growth and self-actualization, and I look forward to watching that transformation unfold. Perhaps if we started spending those tens of thousands of dollars that modern weddings cost on a few years of therapy and childhood development training, that transformation would accelerate.
Thanks again, MC! Your kids are lucky to have you!