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Amy Winn

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What can we teach our children about marriage, using advice from our successes as well as our failures, to teach them how to be a good mate?

Why is it that with each passing generation of marriages, there is an increasing likelihood of failure? Why is it that our grand-parents and great grand-parents went through wars and the great depression, and stuck together? They had no cable, no interenet….so perhaps it is because they actually spoke to each other. In this “me” world, it seems that newlyweds don’t have patience, understanding, empathy and tolerance. These things are the necessary foundation of a good and long lasting marriage. Where have they gone? So my question to everyone, is how can we change this? What can we teach the next generation from our own experiences, good and bad, that may improve their chances of maintaining a long term happy marriage?

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    Aug 9 2013: You have to put US above ME. We are more important than I.

    This value system continues for the rest of your life. Especially after kids are born.

    This goes for all actions, behavior and decisions.

    The end.
  • Aug 14 2013: This is what has been lost as we have moved away from small communities and into large cities. The sense of community and the ability of the young to observe the modeling of those older than them. Yes, we can teach our children about marriage through our success and failures. But likely, they have all ready watched us and have learned much from what we have "taught" them.
    • Aug 15 2013: Everett, I love that you brought up the idea that kids, (as well as adults) can learn much from those older than them. However, I believe that this is true in big cities as well as small farms. I remember so many sayings and behaviors that my grandmother instilled in me. I try to imitate what I admired about her in my relationship. Her kindness, her sweetness, and putting her husband first. And you are correct in that I learned from watching. We need to remember that children watch everything. They learn from our examples, whether we intend it or not.
  • Aug 13 2013: Hi Amy!
    You know, I think it all comes down to the understanding and patience of building a solid foundation. I encounter couples regularly who don't even know why they're together in the first place. metaphorically speaking, it's as if they're trying to put the chimney on the roof of a house for which they haven't even begun to build the foundation for. They're building on thin air, which is what their relationship is based on.

    We live in an age that is materialistic and very focused on outward appearance. There is very little space in our culture these days for internal growth and development, which is where I personally think the problem lies. I am convinced there is a correlation between the importance of building respect, communication, and empathy, and building solid, long-lasting relationships. You just can't have the latter without the first. When I see marriages gone wrong, it seems clear to me that these important traits are not people's highest priority...

    I try to set an example to my kids, together with my husband. And I stress the word 'example'! We form a solid unit, and have worked hard at our relationship to become that. We show our kids that all emotions are okay to feel, and that we stand by each other no matter what. We voice our opinions, we share our frustrations, we talk things out and we do it with unconditional love for each other. It all comes down to respect and communication, yet again!

    On the one hand, I consider myself lucky to have found someone I plan to be with for the rest of my life, my soul-mate, if you will. On the other hand, the foundation of our relationship was not something that came effortlessly. We both consider genuine communication and respect priorities in our relationship with each other, and with our children. We take one another seriously, and I can already see, by setting this example, that our children are building these essential traits as well in how they treat each other.
    • Aug 13 2013: Hi Lizanne, Your comments were so very true on so many levels, some of which I never even considered. The materialistic part also comes into play with people getting together because the other is beautiful and the sex is great. They just see the outside and never have real talks that may reveal the inside. There is a saying that I hear Judge Judy say often "Beauty is skin deep, dumb is forever". I wonder how these "pretty" people would hold up in the face of tragedy or illness. If they were scarred or in a wheelchair, would they stay together? This all goes back to foundation. When you truly love someone for who they are as a person, and respect everything that you know about them, (whether you agree with them or not), then you can face anything together. The comments about the kids was also great. What they are seeing is essential in who they become and how they get along with their partner later in life. We must set a good example, or they will never know how to handle the tough times.
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    Aug 16 2013: .

    Also, let our children know:


    "
    3. Marriage Originally
    Lasts Lifelong!
    Why?

    ...

    Abstract: Originally marriage is a state of one inseparable bio-entity of husband and wife.


    Case

    In Angela Neustatter's article "Why marriage is worth the effort" (telegraph.co.uk, Oct. 7, 2011), it is reported that infidelity, intolerance, boredom, no longer in love, Facebook fueling divorce and etc. are the reasons leading to statistic data of high percentage of divorce today.


    Common-Sensing

    Based on the well-proven common sense and the biological knowledge we learned in junior high school, all the reasons mentioned above will disappear completely if we have our happiness validly, that is, have happiness for our offspring or keeping our DNA alive ---- the real goal of our life. And then:

    1. The infidelity will disappear if the couple both dedicatedly does for keeping their DAN alive in their offspring’s bodies. This way both the husband and wife have 100% valid happiness; otherwise, each will has his or her valid happiness only 50% at most.
    2. The intolerance, boredom and no longer in love will disappear, if the couple does in the way stated in previous paragraph (1) and they understand what the optimal point is for everything in their life.
    3. The Facebook effect will disappear either if the couple concentrated all to their offspring. It is just like the couple lives in an isolated island where no other people are there at all. .

    Then, how could the marriage not last lifelong?
    ....
    "
    • Aug 16 2013: Hi again Yin, You used the words common-sensing. That is what I was seeking here. But its much more than a DNA thing. There are marriages that do not produce children and they are no less valid and loving and fulfilling than any other marriage. But I totally agree with you that infidelity can tear a marriage to shreds. I also believe that even if the couple stay together after the infidelity, something will be affected. Trust, self-esteem, and self-worth of the person that was cheated on. I personally just don't believe that things can ever be the same after such a betrayal. So, I agree with you that this is a deal breaker in a marriage. Also agree that things like internet cites where people can live with secrets can be damaging to relationship, but those relationships may not be the strongest to begin with. You have the right idea - Each of us needs to learn to behave with the utmost respect of the other in mind, and no feelings will get hurt - no marriages will get hurt when we truly love and respect each other. You should continue to spread your idea as it needs to be a more common way of thinking with the youth of today.
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    Aug 15 2013: .


    Easy!
    Just "teach" our children the instincts in their DNA:

    "...
    5. Sexual Love (Primary Symbiosis)
    Sexual love is an essential component of the second period of primary symbiosis in a person’s life.
    ....
    6. Marriage (Primary Symbiosis)
    Marriage is one of the most important parts of human primary symbiosis.
    A. Origin
    Marriage was originated after biological evolution progressed from asexual propagation to sexual one. It is so because the sexual propagation can cope with all kinds of difficulties much easier than the asexual one.
    ....
    a. Husband
    The husband half is biologically assigned in charge of food-seeking, habitat constructing, defending, donating all kinds of co-body-safety messages ceaselessly to his wife (kissing, embracing, and so on) .
    His ability and smartness come mainly from the ceaseless intimate encouragement of the other half of the marriage ---- the wife.
    b. Wife
    The wife is biologically assigned in charge of the child bearing, child bring up, house hold, and etc.
    She transfers all the physical substantial materials from her own body into the baby’s. Also, she exhausts all her spiritual energy to bring up the baby or child ---- the DNA-carrier of both the husband and wife.
    That is where her mother-greatness and beauty come from.
    Her beauty and virtue are support-enhanced by the ceaseless intimate co-body message from the other half of the marriage ---- the husband.
    This is the right way that the husband and wife of a marriage work; and the right way that happy life of the couple comes from.
    Then, there will be no issue of gender equality at all.
    ....
    "
    • Aug 15 2013: Dear W. Ying, I notice that it says 10,000 years ago norm next to your name. Then I read you comment. Is this meant to be funny? If so, I get it.

      Oh no, I just read your comments of other issues and I see that there is no joke here. So, I will try to address what you said. Here and now, in this day and age, men are sometimes out of work. During these trying times the woman may step in and do extra to make things in the home function and provide for the family. Should the wife need special attention or have new baby and just need a nap, Dad can take over and be a hero. These are the kind of things that make a marriage work in this century, which is when my son will be getting married. So while men needed to hunt and gather for their dinner (and I imagine that was very hard work) many years ago, times have changed and we as humans and as couples are basically forced to change with them. Expecting that all things "provided" will come from man, is just not going to cut it for the average couple today.
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    Aug 14 2013: Congratulations on your son's engagement, I wish you, him and his bride all the best :)

    Your reply made me think of a situation I've had with my family a while ago - I carelessly changed my facebook status to 'in relationship' and regretted it almost immediately. What happened a couple hours later was an unexpected phonecall from my mother saying that a distant aunt, whom I almost never talk to, called her and told her that I got married... It took me some time to explain to her that I did not and that's it's probably one cousin of mine who's told another cousin who interpreted this change as marriage and so on and so forth. After this tiny status change I had to put out fires in the family. Now it's back to 'no relationship data', just in case. I'm not really sure what I'm trying to achieve by telling this tiny story, maybe a note on the alleged sanctity of marriage. What I learnt from this episode was that the elders of the tribe (i.e. aunts, uncles etc.) were teeming with rumours for years - when will Anna tie a know, walk the aisle and so on - in their view my relationship was illegitimate. As if a ring would change the feelings or the relationship.

    For centuries marriages where contracts between families and questions of succeeding in marriage and maintaining good relationships within it where not the ones to ask. This has not been completely abandoned. There are vast countries and regions in the world where a girls only role in life is to be prepared to be married, girls as young as 13 are given away as trade objects, a man's role is to sustain her and the children. The future spouses often meet at their wedding day for the first time.

    We are lucky to be able to have this discussion and have freedom to say that maybe the knot is not as necessary as older generations thought.
    • Aug 14 2013: Anna, Just love that story about your facebook status. Very amusing that something so simple could cause such chaos. My son has told everyone about this engagement, or I wouldn't dare mention it on any web cite at all. After all, I do want to be invited to the wedding!!!! I understand your comments about the pressure. My mother asked me for the last year and a half "Why doesn't he give her a ring?" My answer was always the same "He will when he is ready." We need to trust that our children listened to what we taught them as they grew up and made the best decision that they can make for their lives, whatever that decision is and whenever they are ready to make it. We need to but out and be very happy for them and support them no matter what. I really feel that this is the only way that they will share and welcome us into their lives.
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    Aug 13 2013: If you teach them, show them the meaning of empathy, cooperation, communication, how to listen, how to resolve problems, how to respect other human beings despite their flaws, how to manage negative emotions they will have no choice but to be a good mate in marriage... But is this really what they most desire? To get and stay married? Or what you as a parent expect them to become? How about teaching them about fulfillment and self-respect, in marriage or not?
    • Aug 13 2013: Hi Anna,
      I personally think that goes without saying - respect for others can only take place when there is a solid sense of self-respect. And no, that has nothing to do with marriage, or the choice to get married.

      I lived with my husband for 8 years before we decided to get married. The choice to do so was because we already knew we would spend our lives together! By that time, though, we had been with each other through thick and thin, and built that foundation that is solid to this day, even though our original intention was not to get married at all! In Holland, and perhaps in other countries as well, if you live together for over 7 years, you aquire the same rights and priveliges as a legally married couple.

      Now, whether or not our kids decide to get married is of course entirely up to them. I expect nothing from my kids except that they will be confident to make the decisions that are right for them, including marriage, or not. I agree, it is important to teach our kids to be strong individuals, and that they don't necessarily need a partner to feel complete. But, if my kids fall in love and desire a life-lng relationship with someone, I want them to be equipped with the 'tools' to take on that task! :)
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        Aug 13 2013: "Now, whether or not our kids decide to get married is of course entirely up to them. I expect nothing from my kids except that they will be confident to make the decisions that are right for them, including marriage, or not."

        My points exactly :)
        • Aug 13 2013: Hi Anna, Your comments are wonderful. Just wanted to let you know that the reason that I posed this question about marriage particularly is because my son is recently engaged and I was seeking some words of wisdom to share with him. He has the self-esteem and good morals thing down very nicely, but the together part is a new world and some good advice in the marriage department can't hurt. So, thanks for yours... I will surely pass it on.
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    Aug 11 2013: I think that people often have a glossed over impression of 'the good old days'. Marriages may not have ended in divorce as often but I think that was more to do with the way society ostracised those people that separated. I don't think relationships were that much better. Considering the way women were treated like chattels not so long ago, it is unlikely many women would have left a marriage even if it was harmful.

    These days, society is more accepting of 'broken' marriages because they are more accepting of the realities of making it work.

    My parents are still together after 40 years of marriage and I think that is amazing. I also think that we need to stop programming young people into believing that marriage is the highest form of relationship. For many people, it is not.

    Staying in an unhappy relationship out of some kind of loyalty to an ideal seems an unnecessary self torture (and probably does not do others much good either).

    Advice to the next generation would be to make sure before you tie the knot. Getting married later in life would help, I think.
    • Aug 11 2013: Scott, What interesting comments. As I mentioned in my question, I was looking for people to comment on good and bad - and you covered so much. To go in with both eyes open is so important. There often seems to be so much more planning of the wedding than the marriage. When the honeymoon is over and the dust settles, you really need to like each other and have the communication tools to make it work. I get the idea from your letter that you have seen exactly that , people going in all excited, without a clue as to what it take to make it work long term. I am happy for your parents, but a little sad that a 40 year marriage has become "amazing" My grandparents were married 64 years and it seemed effortless. Likewise, my marriage very often seems effortless. My husband and I are happy that our son, who just got engaged has completed his education first, earning both an Aud and PhD, and had also lived on his own and dated before even entertaining the idea of marriage. He just turned 30 and knows who he is and feels secure about himself and about the relationship. I agree with you that waiting is a plus. Maturity takes time, and getting to know someone takes time. And finally, like you said, marriage is just not for everyone. Nobody should feel pressure from parents, or even their mate, to enter a marriage. It needs to be entered freely and wholeheartedly. Thanks for the input. Amy
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        Aug 11 2013: Well that is nice but I gotta tell you. I put career first and had children in late 20s early 30s. I totally understand why some people have kids at 18.
        • Aug 11 2013: Linda, I had my son when I was only 19. I kind of think that it was a blessing because I was still young and had lots of energy. Also, my husband and I were only 37 when he went off to college. However, I wish that I had some of the maturity back then that comes with age. On the other hand, if you wait until you are completely prepared financially, emotionally, and with full knowledge of what it takes to be a parent, you may find yourself rather set in your ways, and with a little less energy than you had in earlier years. There are very compelling arguments for both sides, but whether you are 19 or 45 when you bring a child into the world, I think that the same rules apply with regard to unconditional love, patience, tolerance, discipline, and all of the other characteristics that make a good parent. Best of luck with your children.
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    • Aug 8 2013: Deepak, What a wonderful idea. Fix yourself first. Otherwise, you will never be happy with anyone. My son's comments suggested that his age group often feels that there is nothing to fix - that they are perfect, and if anyone doesn't agree with them, that person is the problem. When you look inside yourself, it may be scary what you find, but without knowing who you really are, how do you know what you really want - in a mate or in anything? Also agree with you that it is not just newlyweds, it is relationships in general. Even parent-child and brother-sister relationships needs patience, tolerance and empathy.

      So all advice will help here - whether we can reach out to help those thinking about getting married and provide encouragement and wisdom, or even those thinking about getting out of one, but need some strength and hope to work it out. Thanks. Amy
      • Aug 21 2013: "Fix yourself first." Not knowing what he said specifically, I might say to trust yourself (& your mate) and honor yourself (& your mate) in spite of eventual mistakes & shortcomings. The mistakes & shortfalls are probably minor bumps that can be learned-from & improved-upon. Life is a long, long journey. And hardships along the way are worth struggling through; epsecially if it's with/about other people.
  • Aug 7 2013: Teach them the golden rule.

    Teach them by example the importance of respecting your partner.

    Teach them by example the importance of pitching in to help with family problems and to care for all family members.

    Teach them by example the importance of experiencing life rather than just observing it through a monitor.

    Teach them by example the importance of unconditional love.

    Teach them by experience the importance of hard work, ethical behavior, and good citizenship.

    Teach them by experience how to have respect for themselves.

    Teach them by experience the importance of curiosity, learning, observation, and listening.

    Teach them by example how to live in harmony with nature and to have respect for nature.

    Teach them by example how to be happy, find their own happiness, and find happiness in doing nice things for other people. Teach them the value of deferred gratification and long-range planning.

    Teach them the value of a healthy mind and body by taking care of your own.

    Teach them by example how to care for people that cannot care for themselves.

    Teach them by example the value of honesty and integrity in word and deed.

    Teach them by example loyalty to a friend.

    Teach them by example how to be courteous and kind to other people.

    Teach them how to bravely face fear, danger, risk and unpopular opinion in a way that displays character and ethical behavior without compromising personal safety or the safety of others.

    Teach them how to be proactive in thought and deed, planning ahead for themselves and others for unplanned contingencies or unexpected events.

    Teach them how to live comfortably and enjoy life at a level that is below their means. Teach them the importance of saving money, thrifty behavior, and to have an aversion to activities that waste food, money, time or energy.

    Teach them by example the importance of self-reliance and independence, but tempered with compromise and understanding relative to your mate.

    This is a start!
    • Aug 7 2013: Robert, This is just a calculated guess here, but I'll bet that you have a lovely and happy marriage. And if you have children they are so very lucky to have a dad with the insight that you have. My son is recently engaged and I am seeking words of wisdom to share with him. Thank you for these. Amy
      • Aug 7 2013: Thanks Amy.

        I do, but I credit my wife with most of our marriage's success. I aspire to be as good a husband as she is a wife.

        My kids are grown now and I hope some of these words make it into their personal life philosophies.

        Knowing what is truly important is part of the struggle, but the real challenge is to encode these values into behaviors and actions. Doing this requires commitment, patience, and work. Some of these things come very natural to me, others I struggle with. Perhaps letting your kids watch you struggle with some of them is not a bad thing, so that they realize that to live up to these values they to may need to struggle.

        Some of these things came from my parents, some came from my experience with the Scouting program, other things I just picked up along the way.

        If your son goes into his marriage with honesty, sincerity, and a willingness to try and do what he knows to be the right thing, he should do fine. A large part of having a good marriage is doing what is necessary to make it work, but some involves a bit of luck with finding someone that genuine loves you and is willing to put in the same effort.

        I met my wife on June 6, 1980 and I consider it to be the luckiest day of my life
        • Aug 8 2013: Robert, I just knew it! And by the way, I feel the same about my husband. The day I met him I knew we were perfect together.

          In an effort to expand on this conversation, I got my son's opinion on the subject. He stated that many of his friends have failed in various relationships because their parents have not shown them the good and bad side. The did not learn how to get through the struggles. In fact, he claims that the baby boomers have produced a generation that has been told that they are perfect, and that anything less is unacceptable. His friends have learned that money is the be all and end all. Accordingly, when they find a mate, anything less than perfection is tossed aside.

          I think that what we need to teach children is that people can be vulnerable with each other and still be happy. My husband and I have been through richer and poorer and lots of sickness and health issues. We never hid any of it from my son. He learned that his parents are not perfect, but they loved each other and loved him with absolute commitment on both.

          Your letter was beautiful and inspiring. Now, go kiss your wife. Goodnight. Amy