According to the Office for National Statistics (Dec 2012) 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce, with 34% of marriages expected to end in divorce by their 20th wedding anniversary. So why do so many marriages end up in the divorce courts?
Is our desire to have it all, NOW, one of the major contributing factors?
- We get frustrated when our mobile phone doesn’t load the internet within seconds.
- Our supermarkets open 24 hours a day so that we can satisfy our “needs” at 4am.
- As soon as Microsoft announce the release date of a highly anticipated Xbox game, we pre-order it to avoid waiting even a moment longer than we have to.
- We can pay extra money for a 24 hour courier service on most things.
- We instantly connect with people we just met on Facebook, instead of getting to know each other more slowly and savouring the experience.
- We don’t like it when the comment we posted on someone’s article isn’t instantly uploaded because it’s “awaiting moderation”.
- We get offered call backs by companies just so that we don’t have to wait in a call queue.
- If we can’t buy it immediately, we might not want it.
- If we can’t fix it immediately, we may consider it forever broken.
We are such a spoilt, impatient bunch! We even have a Twitter hash tag, #FirstWorldProblems, that nicely sums up this problem that we have created for ourselves.
Think back 15 years and we wouldn’t have dreamed we would become this impatient this quickly. What happened? Technology happened. Along with it came the rise of social media, sites for those looking for extra-marital affairs, “relationship experts” telling us that marriage and monogamy is an outdated concept, immediate “relationship advice” from people with little accountability, and our general socialisation into people who want everything now, and who can often satisfy that desire by clicking the ‘download now’ button for instant gratification!
At the click of a button, we can get many of our impatient needs met, instantly, or within 24 hours. Is this the reason almost 50% of marriages end in divorce? Are we so used to instant gratification that we have forgotten that it doesn’t apply to all areas of life? Are we so driven for instant gratification now that we are willing to gamble our relationships for it?
Here are some reasons our instant gratification needs are taking their toll on our relationships:
- If we’re going on dates and he/she doesn’t fit the bill immediately, we’ll just move on to the next dating profile we’ve seen online.
- If we’re not sure we’re marrying someone to be with “until death parts us”, divorce is much more acceptable now, and much more accessible.
- If our partner isn’t performing in the bedroom, we can seek out real or cyber alternatives: porn, social media sites dedicated to racy photos, online chat rooms, escorts, etc.
- If we think our partner is the sole cause of our relationship problems, our Facebook friends and online forum buddies can quickly race to the pity party, help us to believe we are the victim and that perhaps our partner isn’t Mr or Mrs Right.
- If we are dating someone and we’re not sure where it is going, it is easy to get sidetracked by that other person who’s been flirting with us on social media.
- When we meet two different suitors, the one who replies to our tweets the fastest, might be the one to get lucky.
- When we feel our biological clock ticking, we say we’ll have a baby with the next partner that comes along; the relationship’s chance of survival may not even factor into the equation.
- When we want to buy our first house, we might choose a partner for financial reasons rather than waiting for the man of our dreams to come along, ultimately decreasing the chance of the relationship’s survival.
- Our desire to become successful might mean we jump into a relationship with a well connected person, rather than taking the time to climb the ladder.
- Rather than go for relationship coaching (or counselling), we might end a relationship and move on to the next partner instead, often taking the same problems with us.
- Instead of openly communicating with one another and waiting to see improvements in the relationship, we might end it and start over with someone else, thinking that will be the quicker path to happiness.
“Why wait when we can have it now?” seems to be the modern motto, but apply it to relationships and you can see how our need for immediate pleasure, instant gratification, is inviting long-term pain and problems into our lives and society.
Anything worth achieving takes time. Successful relationships aren’t handed on a plate, or downloaded at the click of a button, or ours in 24 hours for just £9.99 extra.
Instant gratification should come with a caution. Are you exceeding your recommended daily allowance?