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culture

On Unhappy Marriages

We place ourselves into problematic interpersonal relationships in ways that maximally self-validate the

There is almost nothing quite so guaranteed to fracture a relationship as when two people are compelled to be together by social or economic circumstances and pressures. Being that the overwhelming majority of such formally accredited relationships occur as s function of social and economic pressures, it is hardly surprising that so many falter and fail, even if their participants tend to somehow and perhaps quite admirably maintain an appearance of sustainable continuity where there really is none.

It must be true that the primary reason that people subject themselves to such interpersonal imprisonment exists as a function of sociopsychological pressures to conform. That is – marriage represents a symbolic anchor of continuity in an otherwise stochastic and uncertain world that remains positively dependent upon such referential anchors, even when the certainty they invoke exists much more in the language that represents it than in any enduring reality.

If we might assert the singular importance and function of formalised interpersonal relationships to be a microcosm through which community and culture self-replicate, and if we also might reflect that the nurturing and protection of new generations is in most if all cases an axiomatic as constitutive fact of marriage, then we would do very well to inspect the inverse realities which seem to occur with uncanny frequency. Marriages fail, not only regularly but in proportion to the failures of societies, political systems and (indeed, of) civilisations.

If we are forced to exist together in ways that support persistent sociopsychological pathologies much more than they could ever support and nurture ourselves and the new generations we shepherd into the world, we are doing it all quite wrong. It is a matter of psychological maturity to be able to accept when a relationship is over – what do we diagnose when an emerging Global cultural narrative of identity and culture no longer even successfully sustains the notion of formalised relationships in sustainable ways?

We are married to an anachronistic notion of marriage just as we are to redundant notions of identity, possession and personality. I suspect that we have become so accustomed to unhappy relationships that we tend to expect them, to recreate them, to simulate them and to mythologically validate them in culture.

These relationships are important but we should stop trying to force them. It is our emotional (as visceral psychological) needs for continuity, safety, certainty and security that, by forcing us to lash ourselves to the formalised mast of normative social and economic expectations, all but guarantee that we can never actually obtain them. The dissonant turbulence of difference and distance has become the kernel core of our experience and there, as generative discontinuity, endlessly reproduces the conditions that validate it by driving us to maintain unsustainable partnerships and their downstream cultural mores.

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