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Excerpted from I Will Never Leave You: How Couples Can Achieve the Power of Lasting Love by Hugh and Gayle Prather. Copyright 1995 by Hugh and Gayle Prather. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Obviously relationships have not been immune to this atmosphere. Breakups and divorce are epidemic, even among the elderly."

Hugh and Gayle Prather, I Will Never Leave You, Part 1

What went wrong with our relationships in the twentieth century? We live in a world that is out of control. Actually, the world was never controlled or controllable, but a fundamental shift occurred in the twentieth century--we became aware of this fact.

Anyone who reads or watches television now knows that there is no end to the things that can hurt or kill you. Our reaction to this daily deluge of problems is understandable: Regardless of how utterly we have failed in the past, we still want to gain some measure of control. Anything that promises that possibility--from a new political movement to a new approach to health, from a new religion to a new gun--will inevitably appeal to many people.

The first line of defense against our recognition of chaos has been to withdraw into the smallest possible definition of ourselves. Large nations are breaking up into smaller ones. Religions and races are pulling in their boundaries and rejecting anyone who is dissimilar. Men and women, gays and straights, are preoccupied with their differences. And even neighborhoods of one culture now use arms against the neighborhoods of another.

Obviously relationships have not been immune to this atmosphere. Breakups and divorce are epidemic, even among the elderly. Those couples who do stay together may face addiction, infidelity, disease, financial uncertainties, sexual incompatibility, psychological and physical abuse, and problems with children, in-laws, and schools. Our relationships are as out of control as the world itself. This fact is now inescapable, and its recognition has brought a tide of anxiety and confusion that has engulfed most couples.

A little over a century ago, a person needed a partner just to share the labor involved in mere survival. Families were larger, with older children often helping to raise their younger siblings. Marriage was permanent; life expectancy was shorter; and it was not uncommon for children to remain at home throughout the lifetimes of their parents. Those who already had wealth looked at marriage as a practical means of increasing it, and for both the poor and the privileged, marriage was needed to continue the family name. In other words, marriage was a simple necessity, a part of life, and not something that had to be singled out and carefully watched, like some strange bank of clouds on the horizon that could bring either a miracle rain or a disaster.

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