It’s so interesting to me how generation to generation, values and goals are not only altered, but tend to tread on the opposite and extreme side of things. I feel like so many of us look up to our grandparents, many of whom were self made successes and had marriages that lasted well through many decades. Yet, our current societal goals seem to be so different, less focused on love and more on independence, less focused on the long haul but more on quick fixes. Not to say that one is better or worse, but it is fascinating to see the norm shifting away from following in the footsteps of people we all have admired, to becoming someone we personally aspire to be. Our generation is made up of go-getters, independent thinkers, and world travelers. Their generation was based in home-makers, hard workers, consistency, and dependability. Our generation is fighting for women’s and LGBT rights while pulling away from the notion that creating a family is the key to happiness, where as theirs was absolutely founded in exactly those traditional values.
I think it is so compelling to think about this dislocation of ideals in the subject of romantic relationships… Why is our current divorce rate so high? Why was it so low just a few decades ago? Can we even be faulted for this shift or was it a natural production of being submerged in the notion to chase the best rather than create the best? In our grandparents marriages, there was shame in leaving, no matter how unhappy you were. In our day in age, there’s shame in staying in a relationship that has caused you unhappiness at some point. In our current society, there is more temptation to stray than ever before thanks to computer access- social media and dating apps at the tip of our fingers- enticement lingers everywhere we look. However, as both a blessing and a curse, it’s the easiest of all times to get caught due to the trail that technology inevitably leaves. And I find it so interesting because I don’t think it’s only the societal pressure to leave a person that hurts one in this manner… I think that betrayal may actually cause more pain in this day in age than it did in previous times. What a statement to make! But bear with me here.. I’ll link the video below, but I watched a really amazing TED Talks with the crazy intelligent Esther Perel and her somewhat unconventional opinions on infidelity in relationships. It actually blew me away with how much truth and wisdom that short video holds- behind why people behave in this manner and whether or not it is recoverable. But, the part that really struck me was when she was comparing infidelity coming to light in a relationship in our grandparent’s generation versus now. Previously, a man may have gotten caught from a lipstick smudge being spotted on his shirt or finding a hotel receipt he left in his jacket. In this day in age, a woman finds out by seeing text messages or emails to a person- she searches through them- she reads their words and she devours through pictures- it’s death by a thousand swords. It’s not the what-could-have-been that haunts her, it’s the FACTS of the betrayal and all that she KNOWS to be true that will keep her up at night. Forgiving a person who wronged you when you know the inner workings of the betrayal could be far more difficult than having to trust someone’s explanation of events. I think that there is so much truth in that.. which is why I find it remarkable when love is found in these modern day circumstances that essentially work against the idea that two people can actually be honest and happy together for the long haul. I am absolutely infatuated with the notion that even though temptation lingers and attraction is inevitable, that at the end of the day love means seeing the other options that will inexorably seep into your line of vision, but still choosing your partner day in and day out. I think that there is magic in working through hardships, that is- if both parties are willing to put in a genuine and honest effort. There is something to be said about a couple whose connection outweighs the allure of selfish prerogative… nothing is impossible… no hardship has to be the Be All End All. I really do think previous generations may have had the leg up on us in this matter in life.. it is absolutely possible to find your fulfillment for adventure, excitement, and even independence nowhere further than in the eyes of someone who you truly love.
Click HERE for Esther Perel’s views on infidelity.