The marriage rate per 1,000 in population in the United States is currently at 6.8, whereas the divorce rate per 1000 in population is 3.4, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Do the math: Half of the country’s marriages are ending in divorce.

In recent years, the divorce rate among baby boomers has nearly doubled, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University. This trend has even earned its own name: gray divorce, which describes divorcing later in life.

If these trends continue, it is likely that marriages that last would become more of a rarity than marriages that break up.

Hellen Chen has counseled men and women who have given up on relationships because of past failures.

Lily and Jeff, for example, have been quarreling about their difference in habits and what they like to do together.

After getting Chen’s advice, Lily realized, “I have thought about ‘doing things together’ as the most important part as a couple. But when Jeff does not wish to go with me to do, for example, shopping, I see him as uncaring. But that is wrong thinking. He simply does not care for certain activities which I like, but there is nothing wrong about the love he has for me.”

Chen said, “My own husband likes to go out into the sun. I prefer to stay indoors. His eating habits are very different than mine. So what is the rule? No rule. We do what we each like. And still find plenty of ways to love each other.”

“There is no rule in love,” Chen says.

Looking at Chen’s insight, an adaptation of a popular quote by John F. Kennedy might apply to marriage: “Ask not what the other partner can do for you, ask what you can do for your partner and ask how you can improve yourself at the same time.”

— The Times and Democrat,

Orangeburg, S.C., July 1

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