While I appreciate the alleged sentiment behind this list—namely, that people shouldn’t rush into making a big decision like marriage—it is precisely this sort of navel-gazing that has contributed to the less-than-favorable views on marriage my generation has embraced.
Notice that nearly everything in this list is inwardly focused. It’s all about me. My potentially unfulfilled desires. My potentially missed experiences. The horror of possibly having some minor regrets about how I spent my time in my teens and twenties. The implication here is that the worst mistake someone can make is to prematurely devote their lives to the betterment of someone else’s or to the raising of a family.
I’m fully supportive of any wise counsel that prompts young people to think through what they want out of life and who they want to spend that life with. But the constant refrain of “don’t marry until you are 100% satisfied with your job, and had the maximum number of travel and sexual experiences” has so far had an unhealthy impact on society and culture.
Marriage is about two becoming one. It is about voluntary sacrifice. It is about loving your neighbor as yourself. No one likes to hear or think about this anymore, but it is undeniably true. And where it is not true, you tend to see broken marriages, families, and dreams.
No creature, no matter how wonderful or beautiful, can fulfill our longing for the original source of wonder and beauty: God. Our desire for such goods are infinite, and creatures in their meager finitude fail tragically to deliver. Still, most of us want to be proven wrong, even if only unconsciously. And the result: we slog blindingly down a path of rampant, romantic idolatry.
Of course, de Botton speaks of marriage as a social institution, not as a sacrament instituted by God. While no marriage will be perfect — and our spouses will disappoint us in ways we lament — the Christian view of marriage does offer a mystical and beautiful dimension that the article fails to touch on. We learn to love through this sacramental “institution,” a love that is responsible for one of life’s greatest gifts: the creation of life. I think de Botton’s article treads closely along the banks of despair, while the Christian understanding of marriage — fallen human beings notwithstanding — is more hopeful.
No one is called to seek perfection in their potential spouse, but there may be a “right person” (or group of potential “right people”) whom God invites us to marry for his purposes. Again, this person is not a flawless mate, but a companion with whom to experience joy, sorrow, love and disappointment while working toward heaven. Not only is this a more hopeful understanding of marriage, but also it’s — rather ironically — a more romantic one. Marriage is much more than a medium for solidifying an emotional high or having our egotistical needs met; rather, it’s something that allows us to love like God does.
The differences in life prospects between children brought up in married-parent households vs. those raised in the new ordinary chaos of American family life are pronounced, correlating with everything from income to felony convictions. In this age of “Do It For the Children” social posturing, the one thing we won’t do for the children is be decent parents, giving them the benefits of a stable, safe, nurturing home. A hashtag campaign is no substitute for that.
Of all the stupid and destructive products of 1960s-style liberation politics, the effective abolition of marriage (and hence of family, properly understood) will, in the end, turn out to be the worst. And spare me your banal self-justifications: “I divorced my child’s mother, but I’m a good father!” “I was never married to my child’s father, but I’m a good mother.” I’m sure you think you are.
Statistically speaking, your domestic situation is about as healthy for your children as would be your picking up a drug habit. (Yes, yes, I’m sure that you are the special-snowflake exception to the rule. One of these days, a three-legged horse might win the Kentucky Derby, too.) The numbers are the numbers.
Strange thing: Wildly different philosophical and religious orientations all point to the same central fact of human life. In Genesis, it’s “male and female he created them.” In Plato, we spend our lives seeking the lost half of ourselves from which we were separated by the gods. In good ol’ Darwinian terms, the getting of healthy offspring is the very purpose of life itself. We parted ways with the chimps a few eons ago, and somewhere along the way we developed habits and institutions that helped us to connect our libidos with one of our most useful and uniquely human traits: the ability to engage in long-term planning, even beyond our own lives.
And then, around 1964, we said: “To Hell with it, let’s just be chimps.”
And here we are.
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Social constructs? That’s a glib way of refusing to talk about reality. And the reality is that men and women are happier when they and their opposite numbers are given the opportunity to be what they are. You can do your damnedest to create an androgynous society, but little boys are still going to reach for the toy gun before they reach for Barbie.
Religious affiliation is less important than regular religious attendance when it comes to predicting divorce.
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Shared prayer is even more strongly associated with higher relationship quality, such that men and women who report praying together frequently (almost once a week or more often) are 17 percentage points more likely to say they are very happy together. Joint prayer is likely to engender a heightened sense of emotional intimacy, communication and reflection about relationship priorities and concerns, and a sense of divine involvement in one’s relationship. However it works, shared prayer is a stronger predictor of relationship quality than other religious factors in our statistical models.
One of the less-recognized core purposes of marriage is to structure the sexual behavior of the unmarried. In the past it may have been easier to see this structuring, since the basic message was, “Don’t do it until you’re married.”
But even today the prospect of marriage shapes young adults’ sexual behavior—it’s just that the shape has been turned inside-out. Instead of waiting until marriage, you’re supposed to try a few different sexual partners. You prepare for marriage not through chastity but through sexual variety.
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Regnerus and Uecker draw out the beliefs about the self which shape this ethical norm: for example, the belief that you should only marry when you’re done with “life,” done with change and personal growth.
This post is about identity. How to see yourself. How to figure out if you can remake yourself. How to make a life that is true to yourself. And, put more bluntly, how to get the best deal in a wife given who you are.
For men, there are three choices: breadwinner, and stay-at-home dad, and shared responsibilities.
You cannot pick a husband to have kids with until you know if you want to work full-time while you are raising them. Some women will say they know for sure that they do want to work full-time. Most women will say that they don’t know for sure. But there are actually only two choices: be a breadwinner or marry a breadwinner. Then, within those two choices, there are a few strategies you could use.
Scenario 1: Be a Breadwinner
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Scenario 2: Be Home with Your Kids
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Scenario 3: Denial. Don’t do this.
Then, something happened. Another birthday, maybe. A breakup. Your brother’s wedding. His wife-elect asked you to be a bridesmaid, and suddenly there you were, wondering how in hell you came to be 36-years-old, walking down the aisle wearing something halfway decent from J. Crew that you could totally repurpose with a cute pair of boots and a jean jacket. You started to hate the bride — she was so effing happy — and for the first time ever you began to have feelings about the fact that you’re not married. You never really cared that much before. But suddenly (it was so sudden) you found yourself wondering… Deep, deep breath… Why you’re not married.
If you’re holding on to negative ideas — “husbands bad/wives good”; “marriage is suffocating”; or this one especially: “If I become in any way a traditional wife, marriage and motherhood will swallow me whole” — you’re doomed. Doomed.
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Too many women today unknowingly sabotage their chance at a happy marriage because they’re holding on to ideas they’ve been taught by the culture or because they’re afraid they’ll turn out like their parents. Ignore the culture, and forget about your parents’ story. Make your own story.
Love today has become a power struggle, largely because women have been conditioned to keep their guard up – as though men and marriage will swallow them whole. As Sandra Bullock once said to Barbara Walters, “I’d always had this feeling that if you got married, it was like the end of who you were.” That attitude is commonplace, and it’s the direct result of a generation of feminists who told their daughters never to depend on a man.
We live in a new world. But that doesn’t mean it’s a better world. Women are struggling more than ever with how to rectify their desire for independence with their desire for love. These two things can be reconciled. But you must first be open to ideas that sound blasphemous.
There are very few jobs that are truly just taking care of people. And most of them pay very poorly, if at all. So you may as well do it for your own family, where the pay is not so important. It’s ridiculous that we don’t think of taking care of a family as a career path. That’s a good path for some people. Just like earning a shit-load of money is a good career path for other people. In fact, those two types of people should marry each other.
Actually, this brings us to the real key to opening a successful yoga studio: marry one of those middle-aged divorced guys who hang out in the back of the room, struggling in downward dog, who have more money than God. You know who I’m talking about. Alec Baldwin is the Hollywood poster boy for rich-guy-marries-yoga-teacher, but he’s just the tip of the cliched iceberg. Keep your yoga studio running long enough to marry one of those guys and then they’ll fund it.
“The PPACA Mandate: The Government’s Best Case” – “We are all familiar with an individual mandate that was authorized by the U.S. Congress and notoriously upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court: the affirmative duty of persons of Japanese descent to report to a Civil Control Station. Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1943).” And that worked out so well….
Why Is Gasoline Consumption Tanking? – “Even if you dismiss the recent plunge as an outlier, the declines in retail gasoline deliveries are mind-boggling. If you look at the data from 1983 to 2011 on the link above, you will note that delivery declines align with recessions.”
Lead Cooled fast Small modular reactor design could be a ‘SUPERSTAR’ – “‘Small modular reactors, or SMRs, are small-scale nuclear plants that are designed to be factory-manufactured and shipped as modules to be assembled at a site. They can be designed to operate without refueling for 15 to 30 years. The concept offers promising answers to many questions about nuclear power–including proliferation, waste, safety and start-up costs.'”
If You See Something, Shut Up – “M. Zudi Jasser is a physician, a U.S. Navy veteran, an American patriot and a Muslim who does not hold with those who preach that Islam commands its followers to take part in a war against unbelievers.” The film is The Third Jihad.
Ditch the Textbooks – “The majority of the modern management texts are written by theorists who render the content into endless seas of meaningless terminology. A better idea is to forgo textbooks altogether.”
Charles Murray, Author of ‘The Bell Curve,’ Steps Back Into the Ring – “Publishers, forget about carefully reasoned, nuanced discussions of the issues of the day—that stuff is for college professors, or yuppies off yammering away in their salons. If you print politically oriented books and you want to make the big bucks, you need to think like a boxing promoter and stage fights that will get attention. And nothing, but nothing, draws hype like a match-up between liberal pundits and the man they love to hate, the belligerent behind the The Bell Curve, the warrior against welfare, the proudly politically incorrect Charles Murray. Mr. Murray’s newest book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (Crown Forum), makes a pretense of making nice. It bills itself as an attempt to alleviate divisiveness in American society by calling attention to a growing cultural gap between the wealthy and the working class.”
Can you change your partner in marriage? – “Ultimately, though, she said it was necessary to accept the other person. She knocked on the square wooden table and said ‘You can round off the corners, but your spouse will still have the same basic shape.‘”
The Kodak Moment – Unleashed from Scarcity, Editing Becomes More Important – “There is a burden in … abundance, a pain we’ve all experienced. It’s the burden of whittling down the flood of photos into a coherent and efficient package. Because there isn’t a barrier at the input end anymore, we have to erect that barrier later, or the insanity of fifteen photos of the same mountain, the same animal, the same sunset, the same flower, or the same family smiling becomes clear. We only need one or two good ones. We don’t need them all. In fact, maybe we don’t need most of them.”
Why caring for my aging father has me wishing he would die – “[O]wing to medical advancements, cancer deaths now peak at age 65 and kill off just 20 percent of older Americans, while deaths due to organ failure peak at about 75 and kill off just another 25 percent, so the norm for seniors is becoming a long, drawn-out death after 85, requiring ever-increasing assistance for such simple daily activities as eating, bathing, and moving. This is currently the case for approximately 40 percent of Americans older than 85, the country’s fastest-growing demographic, which is projected to more than double by 2035, from about 5 million to 11.5 million. And at that point, here comes the next wave–77 million of the youngest Baby Boomers will be turning 70.”
Obamacare vs the Catholic Bishops – “There is some tragic irony to all this. We should not forget that many religious leaders have long-supported increasing the role of the state in health care and the economy at-large, perhaps thinking that conscience clauses would protect their institutions against any undue interference. Well, they were wrong; what the state giveth, the state taketh away. If you invite the state to ‘assist’ more and more of your activities, it will eventually start telling you how to do things. … Economic ignorance among religious leaders comes at a very high cost to their own good works.”