When should a marriage end?

Till death do us part, right?  Recently a friend was discussing an acquaintance who had broken up with his girlfriend because “he was no longer physically attracted to her.”  My friend thought this was shallow.  It may be, but I also thought it kind of made sense, if you aren’t attracted, why stay together?  Although on the flip side, we all physically age, so if you do commit to (marry) someone you are going to need to accept their aging and the eventual loss of physical attractiveness with that.  It prompted some thinking as to what would be acceptable grounds for breaking off a relationship and more specifically getting a divorce.

First the obvious: any sort of abusive behavior, physical violence, or large breach of trust like cheating would be fair grounds for ending things.  Not that some of those things couldn’t be reconciled, but it’s unlikely anyone would hold it against you if you ended things over those.

The next general reason would be if you rushed into things and your lover just didn’t turn out in the long run to be the person you thought they were (my parents were sort of in this boat).  That seems fair, if certain behavior didn’t manifest itself until later in the relationship it probably is healthier to end things than to try to stick them out.  For this reason, I’m in favor of living with your partner before you get married, mutually share all the crazy ahead of time.

Then the last category would probably be the most debatable, but I think if someone no longer keeps up with the positive traits that you found attractive in them than that could be grounds for divorce.  I would personally include staying fit in this category, for which some people could call me shallow, but I see it as an effort thing, if my wife doesn’t care enough about taking care of herself then she really doesn’t care that much about me.  Similarly, I think that the fact that I work hard/am ambitious at my job is a reason I would be considered attractive.  If someone married me and suddenly I mailed it in on the work front, I wouldn’t be surprised if they divorced me.  Also my drinking, if I fell back into alcoholism, that would also be fair grounds for divorce.  So yeah, be forgiving of your spouse, especially if they are trying their best, but hold each other accountable to give each other that max effort.

~Dmitri

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