Marriage Doesn’t Work? – Rebuttal
Dear Mr. D’Ambrosio
As a marriage therapist, counselor, coach, speaker and author I appreciate your candid and transparent vulnerability. You words brought me to share the sadness you must feel as I read your article in the context of the photo you posted the kiss you shared with your wife on your wedding day.
Frankly however there are some glaring concerns in what you have given us. Please allow this to be another voice in your audience.
Article Fail ONE: One opinion is not a foundation to build on.
To begin with, you use your experience as a foundation of fact rather than just one guy’s opinion. One guy, one failed marriage, and one opinion. The best way to illustrate this is to compare it to someone who has had a heart attack and then acts like he’s got the expertise of a heart surgeon. Just because he had the experience. Mr. D’Ambrosio you really don’t know what you are talking about. You’re just a guy with a heart problem.
So to start, your article has received a wide influence and popularity. You’ve popped up on my face book a number of times with comments like “this guy really gets it” and “tells it like it is” and “wish more people would listen”. You’ve resonated with those who know intimately the hurt of human relationships. While it’s good to be popular, it comes with responsibility. To portray the whole truth.
One of the things about your twenty something generation (which I love even more than my own) is a tendency toward the melancholy, sad, discouraged even fatalistic mindset. You project all the angst of realizing the promises of “you can have it all” really aren’t true. Perhaps your parents like so many of us boomers wanted you to believe in yourself. Have a solid self appreciation so we overdid it. We convinced you, you’re special, different and “above average”. So, now, at 20 something, here’s the bad news. You’re not. So taking that let’s see if we can walk through your article with a new perspective. It’s not about me.
Article Fail TWO: Treating Symptoms not the Problem
Mr. D’Ambrosio, as any physician will tell you treating the symptoms doesn’t cure the problem. For instance, when you are short of breath and don’t have energy we need to know more before we give you oxygen or two Monster drinks. We investigate, we learn, we observe, we get the full picture. You state symptoms and then arrive at a very sad ending. Pull the plug, it’s terminal, “Marriage doesn’t work”. Your headings of “non-existent sex…crippling finances…social media” are symptoms. So you advise your readers, sadly, erroneously, pull the plug. (Sidenote: you haven’t researched your statistics on any of those. For instance statistically there is ample evidence to show married people especially evangelical Christians have better sex and more often than most single people. Or as regards financial debt? Where is the law that says we must incur a 200K education. One can come to a Midwest college and graduate with a 4 year degree, from a private college, and an end debt of $10,000. My son did. But perhaps that just is beneath our self inflated view. (I digress.) You got closer on #3 and #4 of your article when you talked about being disconnected and the desire for attention outweighing our desire to be loved. But, alas, just like our past Nebraska football coach, close but no cigar. Doesn’t count. You missed it. We cannot settle for symptom based viewpoints. We need to drive to the truth. That is why those with the expertise of counseling experience and training and education need to weigh in.
Article Fail THREE: Complaint Oriented not Solution Oriented
Where is the solution. Are we just going to be left at the end of this article with hopelessness? A fatalistic view? Twenty somethings just like thirty somethings and forty somethings and fifty and sixty and seventy somethings, all with a single problem. We’re selfish. See marriage isn’t about two people staying together until they stop fulfilling each others sex desire or popularity or career or dream.
As a marriage counselor I am so wrong to hear one side of the story. So I wish I could talk to your “ex” and hear her heart. Again and again I look at your photo and I am so sad for you and for her. I’m sure she never came to marriage with the idea of getting a divorce in two years. Most don’t. I look at the two of you standing there. I see family and friends on the other side of the exit sign. No one was there saying, “can’t wait to get my divorce announcement”. Most beautiful brides don’t stand before family and friends to say, “I’m giving you a try for two years but if you don’t work out I’ll terminate this”. Maybe she did. We don’t know because we can’t see her heart. One thing I know is that exit sign represents the truth that you left that building with the words being said, “I DO”. And somewhere in two years you began to use the words “I DON’T”. See marriage isn’t like that. When God created it, it wasn’t “an institution” like a corporation we bankrupt if it doesn’t work out. Marriage is a Covenant. A covenant that says “I DO” and fights us in the face when we use the real words behind divorce. “I WON’T”.
Mr. D’Ambrosio, I wish I could apply the mind of Christ to your experience and hurt. And I don’t single you out, because my finger actually points at me. I have had to learn so many things about my selfishness. Yet as I stared at the mind of Christ, there I found the example of a true sense of humility. One Who said, “it’s not about me”. He could have said, “I’m done trying they won’t accept Me they won’t even acknowledge Me, they won’t listen to Me, they won’t Love Me…” So much of what I hear in counseling. But He didn’t. He said “I DO”. I do take you with all your faults and hurts and injuries to others. I do take you and I will never say to you “I Won’t”
Marriage is not about two perfect people realizing a dream of self actualization and fulfillment. Marriage is not about using someone to advance my agenda, my goals, my life fulfillment. Marriage is two imperfect people who are willing to love each other and forgive each other and help each other grow. Marriage was intended to be all about LEAVING other relationships behind as less important including pursuit of career and money. Marriage is all about CLEAVING. Super gluing myself to serve another’s best interests. Not their abusive pride, that’s another issue, but seeking their best interest over my own. Ephesians says, we as husbands are to sacrifice ourselves for our wives because that is what Christ did for His Bride. Marriage is about BECOMING one flesh. Thinking a like, doing things together, building OUR dreams not my dreams. Growing old together. And if necessary, going through the tough times in sickness or poverty. Downsizing, living lower than we wanted, putting up with stuff we don’t want to.
This was so well portrayed in the movie starring (the late) Robin Williams and Matt Damon. “Good Will Hunting“. It’s set in a context a bit like this discussion. A brilliant, perceptive, world changing young man headed into life. And a pretty old (and tired) counselor, getting close to heading out. The message, powerful and amazing. Two of them sitting on a park bench, beautiful Boston day. After spending a night in the pain caused by Will’s words days before, William’s character begins to speak. He speaks of the hurt of his night spent in the agony of Will’s injury. Until the real problem began to emerge. He starts trying not to be condescending, but stating the following…. “it occurred to me, you’re just a kid.
You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.
I confess to you I am being judgmental. I apologize if I have injured. Never met you, haven’t heard you speak. I only have the flavor of your article which gives me a sense of hopelessness. But that is what comes when we love ourselves more than the One Who loved us with all His heart and life. Maybe the words of Robin Williams can ring in all our hearts… “…it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much…” I need that kind of conviction whatever voice it comes from. I want to love my wife more than I love myself. I want to learn to love like Christ.
Thanks for the opportunity to give my thoughts. Here is a closing one, again as I look at your wedding picture. It’s true, Anthony, most hurts in life will come in relationships, but here’s the secret, most of our healing comes through relationships. My heart began it’s healing in a relationship with Jesus. With His Mind, I poured into my family healing by listening and caring for them more than me. Pretty Cool the result.
“It’s your move chief”.