View Full Version : sociological observation- marriage

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02-14-2004, 10:24 AM
I would like to know what people think about the following observation, and I hope this is considered appropriate:

I have noticed that through the seven years that I have been practicing aikido, I have met very few happily married people who practice aikido. I realized that the ratio is like 50/50 in American culture, but out of the people that I know though Aikido, the ratio seems to be significantly less. Those that are happily married come to class less than once a week or less for the most part. The number of observed happy marriages seems to decrease even more when I think of aikido senseis. Very few that I know are married, many are divorced, and of the ones that I do know of they don't strike me as lasting unions.

This is unsettling to me because I've been monitoring this phenomenon for some years. I was married about a year and a half ago and I thought that I would be the one who could go against the grain. Unfortunately, I am also going to be divorced soon. This phenomenon really bothers me. Although my enthusiasm for aikido was not the determining factor my circumstance, I can't help but think that there is some connection- for better or for worse. What really bothers me is just being a part of this statistic when I was aware of it all along.

Am I the only person to observe this trend? What do you think is going on here?

John Boswell
02-14-2004, 11:03 AM
It has been MY observation that... marriage is a complete give/take situation. Keeping a good balance in all things that effect a marriage is key, and you can almost always find something out of whack.

Money and Finances are the first and main reason behind a divorce. When it comes to aikido, the spouse might not like seeing the fees and dues go out the door along with money for seminars, uniforms, books, videos, dvds, bokken and jo's, etc. If money is tight and one of the two is still participating in aikido classes where the other isn't doing something fun for THEM... they can come to resent aikido.

Time is another factor. Taking the time to go to class 3+ nights a week can sometimes be a hardship on the other if that spouse is left home alone and looking for something to do. You have to keep the home fires burning with attention to your spouse to help make up for times when you may not be present. Thankfully, my future wife works at home and is generally working when I'm at class. I'm lucky in that regard.

Understanding is KEY. This is a very general term, but if your spouse doesn't know what aikido is, why you study it, why it is important to you and how it might benefit THEM that you are in aikido... there will be a tremendous break in understanding. With me and my fiancee', she has a nephew who had to be taken out of public school and sent to private due to a terrible enviornment he was in. Bullies and such ran the school and with political correctness dictating no discipline in schools, compounded by poor parenting on the part of so many other children, her nephew was left defenseless. My fiancee' is almost insisting that our children learn aikido from day one and she wants me to pursuit it for them as well as myself and her. Though I'm still very green, she sees the confidence I've achieved and that carries over into her.

Marriage is a partnership. Anyone in Aikido who is having trouble with their marriages needs to look at these aspects and many more. Personality has a lot to do with it and that is hardest to change with or without aikido.

My Sensei is married and seems to be doing very well in his relationship. Three of my closest training buddies are married and are doing well. They all have a good balance in their relationships... and I'm really not worried about the whole thing.

Hope things work out for the best in yours, TC.

02-14-2004, 11:56 AM
hmmmnn, well, I am married (quite happily) and am the teacher in my dojo. Husband is very supportive of my practice, and I of his (Zen). It is definately a give and take, and marriage takes a lot of work. My husband is a treasure, and I try and treat him as such. In addition, I have a number of friends who are in long-standing relationships (marriages some) with non-practicing and practicing spouses who are fully supportive.

02-14-2004, 04:27 PM
I come to class as much as my happily married (to me) wife is letting me(which is happily married to her) go and a bit more, ho ho!

I know of some other happily-married Aikidoka, that row the same boat. That happily changes the ratio to a 100% happy rollers :)

oh my, that's a one happy post...

02-14-2004, 05:20 PM
Thanks for the responses. I'd love to come visit your dojos some day. I'm hoping that this trend that I'm observing in my area will come around as well.

John, I've got to say that you seem to have found a nice balance. My situation is complicated with the fact that my wife is from another country and culture. You mentioned that "understanding is key". I've had to come to the realization that sometimes two parties have to agree to disagree. I'm with a person that quite conclusively has no interest in understanding my point of view, despite my efforts to understand hers.

What has been really difficult for me is realizing that I'm being abused, and then getting the courage to do something about it. There's a fine line between seeking harmony in relationships and degrading yourself in order to keep the peace.

02-14-2004, 08:51 PM
One other thing you might want to consider, is that both relationships and seriously studying aiki take a lot of work. Focus exclusively on either one, and the other will bite you in the butt.

I'm learning (slowly). I come home from workout, beat physically, and the love of my life has had about enough of chasing 3-year-old. I'd love to relax on the couch a bit, but if I know what's good for me, I'll step up and lend a hand.

Heck of a good cure for insomnia, though.

Ian Williams
02-14-2004, 09:33 PM
Random thoughts.

In the search for honour. There can be no greater than to honour your spouse.

If you neglect your marriage and acheive great things in your own life / sport / aikido when you have dishonoured your spouse for your pride.

I dishonoured my spouse badly when I was married, and I have lived with the shame ever since.

If you lead a balanced life and excel in your interests, and in your marriage, then you are more a complete person.

02-15-2004, 03:38 AM
John sums it up pretty succinctly, marriage is most definately a partnership that requires give and take on both parts to create balance and harmony, a bit like Aikido.

The first time round I was very young and had no idea, it didn`t last long. I waited a good few years before trying again. I am now very happily married, to a wonderful person (who incidentally is from a foreign country and culture), and have been for considerably longer than the first time.

This time round, I`ve worked hard at it, it`s not all plain sailing, but, we have a nice balance. Weekly Aikido practice doesn`t really cause any issues, although very occasionally something else may happen during a keiko day that causes problems, in these instances I may cancel or shorten my keiko (unless I`m teaching). The main Aikido bug bear for my wife is going away for courses at weekends (e.g. spending last weekend in Paris with Doshu and going of on a coaching course next weekend). in these instances, I try and balance things out by taking vacation days around the weekend or doing something special for the family, balnce it out.

In our dojo we have about 15 senior members, I can think of at least 5 others who are married. The rest, bar one or two are students or just haven`t tried that road yet.



02-15-2004, 06:51 AM
I've gotten pretty involved in martial arts after discovering an excellent nearby dojo for my son; so these days I'm out a good chunk of two evenings, an hour or so on a third, and Saturdays til mid-afternoon. Fortunately, my wonderful husband thinks it's great that I have a new passion that's making me much stronger (I was a wimp and often hurt myself or felt physically cruddy) and happier (I was pretty darn happy anyway, so this is icing on the cake). He's got his own passions, and we've always enjoyed sharing stories about each other's interests even when we don't share those particular interests. It's worked for over 15 years of marriage and has been unshaken in 2 years of martial arts.

If anything, aikido's philosophy of blending has helped make me a mellower person and therefore easier to get along with. (That, and knowing I could ikkyo anyone who annoys me -- but I don't really DO it, I just think about it in stressful times...and my husband's never the target).

The others in my class are either married and staying so (including one dedicated over-60 aikidoka), or too young, or never married yet.

02-15-2004, 10:24 AM
Everybody in my dojo but me is married, and they all appear happy. My sensei has been married for over thirty years to one of his very first students.

Gotta mean sumthin'.

Marc Kupper
02-15-2004, 03:27 PM
I have noticed that through the seven years that I have been practicing aikido, I have met very few happily married people who practice aikido. My observations is that organizations, including dojo, tend to attract and retain people with similar values. Perhaps the people in your dojo are more prone to divorce than average. E.g. someone who is happily married may not feel like they “fit in” at your dojo and so they would end up at a dojo where most of the members are in relationships similar to theirs.

In my own dojo, I, and most of my fellow members are married with children ranging from a couple of weeks old to adults. I know of a several members that have been divorced though at present all of them are in what seem like happy relationships/marriages. Thus I could look around and conclude “Aikido works.”

But, I don’t think Aikido is any better or worse than other practices at helping people with their relationships. Aikido would seem to be good for relationships but as you observed, that’s not always the case. Staying married is hard work. Good luck with yours.