Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Death of Marriage?

I was really saddened to see an article from a (married) major mental health professional agreeing with an actress who claims that marriage is a dying institution (as if the Hollywood types are the experts on marriage or committed relationships). He gave four reasons why he thought this was true.

1. The government is involved and shouldn’t be. It makes marriage too confining.

2. Oral contraceptives make marriage unnecessary to express our sexuality – so we can move on when the passion in a relationship fades.

3. Marriage deprives people of being “chosen” on a daily basis.

4. Because of the failure of so many marriages, we are really a bunch of hypocrites mocking our vows.

I thought about this list for a while and realized what a narcissistic bunch of reasons these were. Basically he is saying:

 “I don’t want anything or anybody to control ME or tell ME what I can or can’t do, even when the consequences of my choices may damage others or society.”

He also cites marriage as one of two top stressors in 90% of the people he sees in counseling. Hello? People seek counseling because they are in pain. The conclusion then, is that stress is bad and to be avoided? My job causes me stress. Finances cause me stress. People I care about cause me stress. I could go on.

I suppose that if I believe that I am at the center of the universe and everything revolves around me, then this might be good logic. Anything that blocks my wishes, wants and goals is inherently bad. But then by definition all relationships are bad – because I will be opposed at times in any human relationship I form.

I thought further about this. If marriage is unnecessary or objectionable, why do those who have been married and divorced tend to get remarried? They have already been through the pain of a hard marriage and divorce and yet they choose to do it again.

Perhaps it is like childbirth. There is something wonderful about it that transcends the pain and trouble. And so women are willing to face another birth fully knowing what lies ahead. 

Obviously this is not an argument for multiple marriages, but rather a refutation of the silly notion that marriage is not wanted or valuable to the vast majority of folks. Our pre-married classes are always full as are our relationship classes. Why? Despite perhaps having come from broken homes or painful backgrounds, the desire for a secure committed relationship remains. It is not pain free. It is just worth it. 

And most of us know that.

Song of Solomon 4: 10-12

10 Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride.
   Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices.
11 Your lips are as sweet as nectar, my bride.
   Honey and milk are under your tongue.
   Your clothes are scented like the cedars of Lebanon.
12 You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride,
      a secluded spring, a hidden fountain.

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