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  • Writer's pictureKaryl Vassilaros

From "Till Death Do Us Part" to "Till Enemies Doth We Part": The Evolution and Breakdown of Marriage

In the not-so-distant past, marriage vows were considered sacred promises, binding two people together "till death do us part." These vows signified a lifelong commitment, a promise to navigate the ups and downs of life together.


It’s not that love disappeared; it’s that we stopped knowing how to love our spouse through the inevitable trials and tribulations.
Struggling Marriage

However, in recent times, these vows seem to have morphed into a less enduring version, with couples parting ways not because they fell out of love, but because they failed to navigate the challenges that come with marriage. Rather than feeling confident about their future together, they start to focus on the factors that point to a breakdown in marriage.


Working with couples in crisis over the past eight years has brought this shift into sharp focus. Something is missing in the modern approach to marriage that makes it harder to stay motivated through the difficult actions of love.



It’s challenging to work past personal disappointments and to move beyond those moments when the vision of marriage we walked into suddenly seems out of reach.


The Breakdown of Modern Marriages

It’s challenging to work past personal disappointments and to move beyond those moments when the vision of marriage we walked into suddenly seems out of reach.
Husband Feeling Disappointed and Struggling

I've seen it firsthand: marriages today are breaking down at an alarming rate. Having worked with many couples, I've noticed a significant factor contributing to this is a fundamental misconception about love and a lack of the necessary skills to sustain it in their marriage.


Too often, love is viewed as a static, effortless emotion, rather than a dynamic, evolving process of deliberate acts, responses, and desire to endure with and for, while also mutually forging a path of happiness for each other. 


When the initial passion fades and challenges arise, many couples find themselves ill-equipped to handle the stress. This leads to a heartbreaking breakdown in communication and connection.


The Illusion of Perfection

 This illusion of perfection sets up impossible standards, leading us to believe that any deviation from this ideal is a sign of trouble or a bad omen.
The Illusion of Perfection

One of the primary reasons for this breakdown is the unrealistic expectations set by societal norms and media portrayals of perfect relationships.


We've all seen the movies and TV shows that paint an idealized picture of love, where conflicts are minimal and easily resolved. These images create a false benchmark for what a relationship should be, and I've seen firsthand how they can make couples feel like they're failing if their own marriage doesn't measure up.


This illusion of perfection sets up impossible standards, leading us to believe that any deviation from this ideal is a sign of trouble or a bad omen.


The Importance of the Long-View in Marriage

It’s not just about taking the long view, but also about playing the long game.
Taking the long-view in life and marriage.

Marriage is not a sprint; it is a marathon.


I’ve learned that it requires a long-view approach, one that is rooted in the understanding that love evolves and deepens over time through shared experiences, both good and bad.


This commitment to the long-view is what sustains a marriage, providing the foundation to weather the storms together.


It’s not just about taking the long view, but also about playing the long game. In the process of life and marriage, the results we hope for often take time to manifest. It’s about being patient, enduring the tough times, and celebrating the small victories along the way. This perspective helps us stay focused on building a lasting, loving partnership.


Commitment to the Process

 When we commit to this process, we find meaning and value in working through difficulties, which in turn strengthens the bond we share with our partner.
Be Committed to the Process

In my experience, at the heart of a successful marriage is a commitment to the process.


This means recognizing that marriage is a journey filled with growth opportunities. It's about learning to love our spouse not just in moments of joy, but also through challenges and hardships. When we commit to this process, we find meaning and value in working through difficulties, which in turn strengthens the bond we share with our partner.


The Reward of Commitment

 This love isn’t just about fleeting emotions; it’s about a profound connection forged through shared experiences and mutual growth.
Forging a Healthy Marriage

When you and your spouse commit to the process and work through challenges together, you often find a deeper, more resilient form of love.


This love isn’t just about fleeting emotions; it’s about a profound connection forged through shared experiences and mutual growth.


Conclusion


Marriage vows are not just words spoken on a special day; they are commitments to a lifelong journey.


The phrase "till death do us part" might seem daunting in today’s fast-paced world, but it captures the essence of what marriage truly is—a promise to love, honor, and cherish each other through all of life’s challenges.


A promise to love, honor, and cherish each other through all of life’s challenges.
Lasting Marriage

By adopting a long-view approach and committing to the process, you and your spouse can find real meaning and value in your journey together. This ensures that your love not only survives but thrives. In an era where "till enemies doth we part" seems to be the norm, let’s strive to remember the true meaning of our vows.


Work towards sustaining the love and affection you have for your partner.


Take action today: listen actively, express your thoughts and feelings with respect to your partner's thoughts and feelings AND ability, and address issues constructively.


These small steps can make a big difference, helping your marriage grow stronger every day.

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