Why Most Relationships and Marriages Fail



Marriage has a low success rate. My clinical work strives to find alternative ways of relating, coupling, and “marrying”. The desire to enter a failing institution is not the best predictor for long term relational success, as everyone is aware of the high failure rate of marriage. Marriage rates itself are on the decline as well. Younger generations are seeing the misery and failure of their parents and the current research shows that in terms of 20 year olds, only about 52% will actually choose to get married. They have no successful role models to look to that can demonstrate the usefulness or success of this expensive costume party. 

To those that want to marry, you have to “revolutionize” your relationship. Push the boundaries of marriage, and still work to form your own version of what it means.  This institution needs some updating and reconfiguring. Most marriages and relationships fail because in America we are far too obsessed with “self” improvement, “self” empowerment, and “self” esteem. The “self” obsession in all these cultural and psychological concepts drives partners further into an autonomous and individualized mindset which is the antithesis of “relationship”. This is not to say that “self” obsession is bad or problematic, in fact, it is quite integral when it comes to learning and shaping who you are as a person.

While understanding and accepting of oneself is important, once we enter a relationship, it is even more important to seek the same understanding and acceptance of our partners. We have all been warned about “codependence” but this is the way relationships need to operate; with merger and fusion.
Once in true relationship, we are neurologically wired together, brain to brain via touch and eye contact, only separated by skin. This is why a break-up can feel like something has been torn out of your body. Focus on “relational” esteem, “relational” improvement, and “relational” empowerment.

Once in a relationship there is a loss of “self”; both socially and psychologically. This is not a bad thing.  We only grow and “work” on ourselves when within relationship. Being single is much easier than being in a relationship in many ways, which forces us to go up against ourselves and see who we really are. I scoff when I hear people say “I’m taking time to be single to work on myself”. Being single means nothing more than working on how to continue to live single and reinforce habits of selfhood. No one learns how to be a good marital partner while spending nights and weekends alone on their couch or at the gym. Every song, movie, and book is about relationship, as it’s the strongest human drive we have, along with sex. Relationship is how we truly encounter ourselves.

If anything above has resonated with you, a health related CBS Talk Show is looking for couples who want help! Have the opportunity to work with renowned Sex & Relationship, Dr. Chris Donaghue for free. Is your relationship or marriage struggling? Do you need guidance on how to “revolutionize” your relationship? Please submit your story if any of the below apply to you: 


  • Are the pressures of life affecting intimacy with your partner?
  • Is your messy household getting in between you and your spouse?
  • Is pressure from finances, children or medical issues getting in the way of your relationship with your spouse?
  • Are your partners erratic spending habits causing issues in your marriage?
  • Are you worried you and your partner are beginning to resent each other?
  • Have you or your partner ever been unfaithful? Are you unable to forgive each other because of it? 


If you or someone you know is dealing with a relationship issue and wants help, please contact CHRISTINE CLAYTON at christine.clayton@cbs.com. Please include your name, age, a couple sentences about your situation along with a photo with your submission.

Dr. Chris Donaghue
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