Hollywood, the media, and the Internet pundits have contributed greatly to the notion that the “abnormal” is “normal.” Our research on all seven continents of the world over the past 30 years tells us clearly that “traditional norms” still predominantly prevail, but many, including the media, try desperately to depict a different scenario.
Little wonder that many people take on practices like “cohabitation,” have children out of wedlock, consider traditional marriage obsolete, and promote gay marriage as the “new normal” And let us hasten to add — our following discussion of “normal” in no way is being critical or judgemental when it comes to the aforementioned behaviors. Quite the contrary, to be “normal” is to practice what the majority of others practice.
The purpose of our article today is to contribute to the understanding of what it means to engage in normal practices in personal loving relationships between two people. First, let’s discuss what it means to be NORMAL.
Many of our readers are familiar with the “Normal Curve.” If you have ever taken a maths or statistics class you have seen one.
In a nutshell, the Normal Curve demonstrates that in a population of people, there is a “distribution around the average.” By looking at the normal curve above you will note that approximately 68% of people fall within one standard deviation, plus or minus, of the statistical “average.”
Statistically, it would be fair to say that what most people consider “normal” falls within this 68% range. The farther people fall outside that range the less their behaviors and practices represent “normal” or “average.” Many folks who work with statistical data refer to the two ends of the Normal Curve as “the pinches” of the curve (think of pinching each end with your thumb and index finger). People who fall here deviate significantly on both ends from the majority who fall in the middle. In other words, practices or behaviors that fall in these ranges are not considered “normal.”
One more example, as we all know, the measured intelligence of a person can lead to our concluding that intellectually they are normal, below average, above average, well above average, etc. We doubt that anyone would consider Albert Einstein as “normal.” Quite the contrary, his intelligence was clearly NOT normal, it was well above average. Most likely he was a genius. His intellect was in “the pinches.”
Another example we like to use plays off a recent article in USA Today that implied that co-habitation among two people was becoming the norm. The truth is, it is not.
Personally, we think there are three reasons for an increase in the phenomenon known as “co-habitation.” Our research over these past three decades suggest that there are three principle reasons for the perception that co-habitation is increasing. And remember, a significant number of human beings who “cohabitate” do not do so for love and marriage reasons. Here are but a few of those reasons for the increase in cohabitation in recent years.
1. The Economic downturn. When the economy is bad, more people will live together to share expenses as neither can survive comfortably on their own. Many of these cohabitations are NOT love relationships at all! This should not come as a surprise! However, the USA Today article implied that cohabitation has a sexual, love, or intimate purpose when, in reality, it might not.
2. The significant reduction of marriage for African-Americans over the past 20 years (down by nearly 60%) contributes greatly to the cohabitation statistic. This is NOT a positive trend! Also, when three-quarters of African-American children are born out of wedlock, it is little wonder that cohabitation is the norm among this ethic group.
3. The divorce rate for those who engage in cohabitation and then get married is MUCH higher than those who don’t. So, this so-called “trend” of cohabitation for those involved in a love relationship is not a healthy trend and will only result in even higher divorce rates.
We know this — the practice of cohabitation before marriage does not lead to the bliss that USA Today might suggest. Quite the contrary, it is an aberration — outside what it means to be “normal.”
Over the past two decades there has been a 20% decline in marriage among White men and women. However, marriage between a man and a woman is still the norm as the solid majority (approximately 80%) of both men and women will get married at least once within their lifetime to someone of the opposite sex. So, being a married adult IS the norm, not the exception.
Still another example is divorce. A lot of pundits would like to convince you that divorce happens 50% of the time. The truth is, it doesn’t! It is more normal to be married once and to stay married. What clouds the divorce statistic are those who get married more than once or multiple times, and improper or inappropriate statistical calculations made by some who report on divorce.
The only way to truly calculate the divorce statistic is to follow those who get married through their life cycle. Then we will actually be comparing apples and apples and oranges to oranges. Here’s what we know to be true — marriage between a man and a women is very much the norm. Anyone who claims that divorce is the norm is simply wrong.
A final example is the issue of “Gay Marriage.” It seems that in recent years Hollywood has been on a mission to convince people that “Gay Marriage” is normal. If this were true, gay marriage would fall within the 68% of the normal distribution, which of course, it does not.
Marriage between a man and a woman has been the norm for over 3,000 years and the strongest glue of social order and the propagation of the species for the same or longer period of time. “Traditional” marriage between a man and a woman is the norm worldwide and will continue to be so well beyond the lifetime of those reading this article.
So the next time someone suggests to you that a person, practice, or behavior is normal, give them the statistical lesson we have given you in this article. Do not be fooled or deluded by those who want to convince you of a “new normal” or simply what it means to be normal.
In our judgment, the media, people with an agenda, Hollywood types, and the vast array of pundits on the Internet and in social media, are constantly trying to convince you that something they advocate or practice is normal when, in fact, it is not.
There is nothing inherently wrong about being “outside of normal.” Our general attitude is “live and let live.” But when you or someone you know engages in a practice, attitude, or behavior that is outside of normal, don’t call it normal. When they demonize a normal behavior, practice, or attitude because it is normal, well, all we can say is, be wary of those who do.
Normal is what it is!
In love and marriage the simple things matter. Love well!
About the Author:
As America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts and award-winning authors and the SelfGrowth.com Official Guides to Marriage, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz help international audiences answer questions about love, marriage and relationships. With 28 years of research on love and successful marriage across six continents of the world and their own 44-year marriage, the Doctors know what makes relationships work.
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