Every marriage has its ups and downs; yet, some marriages do not work out. Abuse, betrayal, alcoholism (and other forms of chemical self-indulgence, often known as addiction), and emotional and physical abandonment are all factors that contribute to the latter. It’s not that they can’t overcome any of them, but they’re four of the top five reasons why they can’t rescue some marriages.
- I can’t think of an A-word for the fifth reason, so I’ve invented a new condition: postnatal marital amnesia, or PNMA.
- One broken or failing marriage after another, owing to misguided priorities; to wit.
- Taking refuge in a relationship with children to avoid marital troubles is cowardly, dishonest, and immature.
- Most of us have seen parents turn their children into idols.
- It’s what I refer to as the “child-centered divorce.”
- In some ways, the divorce merely formalizes what has been evident for some time: PNMA. People my age or approximately were not fussed over, talked about, or made idols of when we were kids.
- As a result, we recognize that the value of just loving and disciplining a child rather than idolizing them is immeasurable.
I can’t think of (or find) an A-word for the fifth reason, so I’ve invented a new condition (it’s what psychologists do, after all): postnatal marital amnesia, or PNMA. My recent essay on the necessity for the marriage to “reign” in every sense provoked a stream of emails, letters, and even a few phone calls, demonstrating the PNMA’s current ubiquity.
Consider the man who his wife effectively abandoned after his live-in young adult daughter gave birth to a child out of wedlock. That was the end of it. The wife went into full grandmother mode.
Or the stepmom who, when her husband’s teenage daughter visits for the weekend, takes her pre-teen daughter (also from a first marriage) and herself to a hotel, so she doesn’t have to deal with her stepdaughter’s disrespect. Depravity (said child enjoys telling her younger stepsister about her sexual exploits), which dad largely ignores for fear of upsetting her.
These tales of suffering went on and on:
One broken or failing marital amnesia after another, owing to misguided priorities; to wit, ordinarily rational adults who would choose to have a good relationship with their children over with their wives.
Before the child-idol issue emerged on the scene, some of these usually rational adults could declare their marriages were on the rocks, slowly unraveling. Sorry, but it isn’t an acceptable reason.
Take it from someone who has been married for 50 years (to the same woman, not some random figure): When anything goes wrong in a relationship, the best thing to do is focus on fixing it. Taking refuge in a child or children’s connection to avoid marital amnesia difficulties is cowardly, dishonest, and immature.
People my age frequently discuss the challenges that today’s young parents have created for themselves:
We talk between ourselves because most of us have learned the hard way that young parents who will listen to us, much less follow our counsel on child-rearing issues, are few and few between.
Most of us have seen parents turn their children into idols. This idol-making takes various forms, one of which is posting daily photographs of a child on social media platforms and a daily report of the child’s recent accomplishments. Tiffany went down the park slide for the first time today!” to which no one should object (and which all point to nascent genius of one sort or another).
Uh-oh, when one parent has created an idol out of their child while the other parent recognizes and demonstrates the difference between love and idolatry. It’s the “child-centered divorce,” as I call it. In some ways, the divorce only formalizes what has long been obvious: PNMA.
When we were kids, people my age or around my age were not fussed over, talked about, or made idols. Furthermore, it was evident that our parents shared a far stronger bond than they did with us. As a result, we recognize that the value of just loving and disciplining a child rather than idolizing them is immeasurable.
I certainly didn’t realize that when I was a young parent, but I do know: the greatest of all teachers in the past, and the most outstanding teachers always have enormous respect for the past.
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