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Failed Marriages are Generational Curses

Last year, when reality star Kirstin Cavallari filed for divorce from her husband, former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, she gave an interview to The School of Greatness podcast explaining her reasoning for ending the family.

“The scariest thing that I’ve ever done is get a divorce, but it’s been the best thing that I’ve ever done and that has really jumpstarted my journey on self-love and figuring out who I am now…My kids have inspired me to become the best version of myself…I can only be as good to my kids as I am to myself. If I am empty, I have nothing to give them. Being able to be energized and love myself so I can love on my kids—and support them and encourage them—that’s the most important thing.” 

‘Staying together for the kids’ was once the slogan of a marriage in its death throes whose contractually implicated members recognized that the fruit of the union would be directly damaged by its dissolution. Call it no-fault divorce, or the culture of narcissism, or if you can’t see anything wrong with it, cultural evolution, but there’s no denying: this idea that there are goods higher than “self-love” (interchangeably “self-expression,” “self-acceptance,” “self-gratification”) is no longer the norm, especially when it comes to marriage. Cavallari simply says the quiet part out loud. ‘Staying together for the kids’ has been replaced by endless introspection and self-focus, wrapped in the cloak of a therapeutic ‘healing journey.’

While there is a more readily visible kind of nobility in suffering for a higher cause than self, it is also a false dichotomy that we should either find ourselves in intractable, loveless, and resentful unions OR dissolve those unions. In fact, you can probably blame the no-fault divorce attitude on the mutual resentment of the parents of the parents choosing no-fault divorce. I find these kinds of connections between the generations interesting and explanatory; Father Ripperger, whose content I’ve recommended in the past, does a deep dive here on how the sins of previous generations lead to the amplified errors of the next. It’s a hell of a thing to be a child triangulated between two parents’ reciprocal hatred, and it’s really no wonder those kids grew up to believe leaving was the better alternative.

But the answer is neither to run away, nor is it to refuse to change at all, but instead, as a couple, to become aware of each other’s communication style, core needs, pet peeves, and fears–and to make those known within the safety of commitment so to help each other improve in the marriage and outside of it. Theologically speaking, the purpose of marriage is to turn each other heavenward. The Gender Wars discourse relies on men and women viewing each other in essentially competitive terms, with mutually exclusive interests and mutually incompatible habits. It’s not true; or at least, it doesn’t have to be.

Last week, as part of our Valentine’s special on Girlboss, Interrupted, I spoke with Adam Lane Smith about attachment theory. Smith worked for years as a licensed psychotherapist and now focuses his specialty as an Attachment Specialist. According to Adam, attachment bonds are the core issues that bleed into relationships in marriage, dating, work, friendship, and family. When those are disrupted, often by early childhood experiences and observations in our own parents, they have lifelong negative consequences. Putting divorce aside, if you want to avoid a bitter marriage in the first place, you need to listen.

Through informative content, community, and one-on-one consultation, Adam helps men and women build a new foundation for their life by addressing the unique attachment wounds that are common to each. By showing his clients how to repair their attachment wounds, Adam teaches people to “open up to others, find their voice, receive the love they’ve always wanted, and live with confidence.” Find him at https://adamlanesmith.com — on YouTube at @attachmentadam — on Twitter @Brometheus.

If our Valentine’s Day content inspired you to invest in your romantic relationship this year, also consider Kingdom Coupling: this is an aligned relationship-building business that sells courses designed to equip people to understand God’s purpose for their lives and to thrive in God-honoring dating relationships. Align readers save 10% off the course with the code ALIGN.