Love, Marriage and Conscious Uncoupling: Why Can't We Get This Thing Right?

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by Jemarion Jones

A couple of weeks ago I took an impromptu trip to evil-ass Florida because the weather in DC was making me angry, depressed, and stabby due to winter's refusal to die a timely death. Plus, one of my besties lives there, so the decision was easy.

While the trip was a welcome respite from Everlasting Winter 2014, I found myself thinking a lot about love, marriage and divorce (or “conscious uncoupling,” which is a thing, I guess) when I should have been applying more sunscreen.

Like anyone else, I have friends, acquaintances and family members that seem to be happily married. On the flip side, I also obviously know people whose marriages are no longer working. These folks are either on the brink of divorce, separated or they just need to sign the papers. For the couples that seem to be happy, I'm starting to wonder if it's just a matter of when, not if, before I start to notice changes and get a final confirmation from the horse's mouth. That's a terribly pessimistic view of such a cherished institution, but I see it more the older I get. As a single that wants to be half of a couple one day, I'm starting to wonder if the “happily married” and “'til death do us part” thing is really possible, or is it all fallacy created by the Wedding Industrial Complex.

With all that said, I still don't think the institution of marriage is the problem. I hate to say it folks, but we're the problem. We're the ones who keep screwing things up. Humans have a tendency to do that.

I say this because as result of my matrimonial aspirations, I often casually research why unions dissolve. I guess I do this in the hopes that enough knowledge and insight will keep me and my future husband from suffering the same fate (if I remember everything I've learned). However, my research is far from scholarly. In addition to reading things about marriage and relationships, watching things about marriage on TV and just general observation, I've also had the good sense to ask real couples still in the happily married stage why it's so hard to keep a union based on love intact.

One of the common threads in these conversations is that marriage is hard work. If you get lazy and don't work at it every day, a breakdown is inevitable. The other common thread is communication, or rather the lack of it. If little to no communication is a marriage-killing disease, then the symptoms can include infidelity, money problems, unrealistic expectations and secrets that reveal themselves in full after the ceremony.

I understand human beings make mistakes and don't always get it right the first time. However, if we're capable of learning from our mistakes and these things about hard work and communication in marriage are knowable, why do we keep screwing it up? What's to stop me, despite what I've learned, from doing the same if I find someone to accept my own special brand of crazy via marriage?

I hurt for people whose marriages don't work, and I hope for people who still have a fighting chance. However, if I'm really honest, I also hope for an example that will make me more hopeful about marriage rather than hesitant.

By day, Jemarion Jones (@TheRealJCarol on Twitter) is a detail-oriented communications professional for a major health care association in the Washington, D.C. metro area. In her free time she blogs at The New Randomness (

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