Couples considering marriage should understand commitment

Almost every little girl dreams of the flowers, the white wedding dress and Prince Charming standing beside her. Then comes the happy ending. A relationship that holds fast to the vow “to love and to cherish from this day forward until death do us part.” But, according to a new census survey, that happy ending is unobtainable for the majority of Americans.

More than 50 percent of Americans who would have celebrated their 25th wedding anniversaries since 2000 did not because of death, divorce or separation.

The percentage of American marriages that last has been declining since the 1950s and things don’t seem to be looking up.

My perfect image of marriage was first

shattered in fifth grade when my best friend told me on the playground her parents had decided to get a divorce.

Before that moment I had thought of divorce as something that happened to other people, but never to me or to anyone close to me.

Now that my friends are starting to get married and marriage also looms on my horizon – at this point a far distant horizon, but visible nevertheless – I find my dreams of fairy tales distorted and question what it really takes to make a marriage last.

Is it that hard to stay married? Or is it that easy to get a divorce?

A movie that came out this summer, “License to Wed,” with

Robin Williams playing a priest who puts a couple through dramatically intense marriage counseling, is a hilarious example of preparing a couple for marriage.

Though Williams definitely crossed lines while spying on them to make sure they didn’t have sex and even went so far as to have them take care of realistic, robotic babies, he made a point in making them consider every factor involved in marriage, not just the happily ever after.

Maybe every engaged couple needs a marriage counselor like Williams’ character.

The census survey also reported that 80 percent of couples that married in the late 1950s stayed

married for at least 15 years. Compare that to the couples who married in the 1980s, when, of those who married, 61 percent of the men and 57 percent of the women were still married 15 years later.

Though there are a few exceptions, marriage must not be seen as something that can be easily walked out of if it doesn’t work out at first.

It doesn’t take much to see the divorce rates now, compared to the 1950s, as a reflection of society. Think “Leave It to Beaver” and “Desperate Housewives.”

With no-fault divorce laws and the increasing acceptance of divorce, it seems as if Americans have lost sight of the core foundation of marriage: commitment.

Marriage shouldn’t be based solely on feelings or convenience, but,

rather, on commitment and a willingness to love and stand by each other, no matter what. Individuals in society have become so self-centered and focused on instant gratification it has permeated all aspects of life, even the most sacred of things, like marriage.

Those pondering marriage have a responsibility to consider all aspects of life together, and not simply focus on their current euphoric state of being in love.

Our generation shouldn’t be intimidated by the divorce statistics, but rather motivated to change them and to seek to learn from the mistakes of the broken marriages before us.

Jillian Hutchison is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Omaha, Neb.