We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
As families gather for Thanksgiving this year, nearly one in three American children is living with a parent who is divorced, separated or never-married. More people are accepting the view that wedding bells aren't needed to have a family.
I have no idea how anybody can run a family or a household, or build a good life, without a loyal and dependable partner. I couldn't do it.
I disagree that it is not quite as necessary as it was. I certainly isn't perceived as necessary but the result of the "marriage experiment" of the past forty or so years has left a lot of carnage (primarily visited upon the children of the marriages) in its wake.
Marriage in the form of a state enforced contract was never necessary. Marriage in the sense of two people choosing to spend their lives together may make the lives of those two people easier and if they decide to have kids would certainly make that job easier, but it is also not necessary. Nothing but air, water, and food are "necessary".
From the words of a 23 year old. I will never be married in the sense of a state enforced contract. If I find someone I want to spend my life with and they the same, we could decide to spend our lives together, by choice, but would never bind myself to another at the point of a gun.
The gun in the room is whats obsolete in marriages today.
I agree with with Anonymous. It is not obsolete. Marriage is an agreement between two people. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.
Cilla Mitchell, Galveston Texas
I agree with Anonymous and with Cilla. If marriage is "disfavored" it's because nobody lately has listened to the vows involved. Living up to vows is always difficult. But it is pretty much universally accepted that two parent families do a much better job of raising stable children who are more ready to tackle the inevitable problems of real life. And having a dependable and loving partner makes one much more able to survive life's inevitable betrayals and disappointments. What is muddying the waters today is the intrusion of childish egos and expectations into what is one of the most difficult and yet most rewarding relationships we can have.
That was my point, Marianne. Too many people don't take their vows seriously. They feel that they have "grown apart" or they "need to find themselves" so they split up. They view their marriage as sort of like dating. Their view of their relationship does not include the idea of dedicating their lives to each other much less their kids.
Getting married should be harder and getting a divorce should be even harder.
Ever more people (especially women) see marriage as an economical way to live because of the tax incentives.
Then, when their husband has built a bit of a nest egg and/or starts bringing in less income because he looses his job they file for divorce and run off with half of everything, leaving their "loved one" with nothing but lawyer's bills.
It seems to me that marriage had three traditional purposes:
(1) to "put people in their place" by defining roles based on an old-fashioned division of labor which then made sense for just about everyone, but no longer does.
(2) as a formal, public promise by both partners to stay and raise and support whatever kids they might have, thus preventing tragedy for the kids and burdens for others.
(3) to act as the couple's retirement plan, because no other was available.
While marriage also creates (defines) a family, that was considered merely incidental to these three purposes.
Modern practice, though, has changed a good part of this:
- Neither the law nor most of the public expects people to follow the roles in (1) and (2) any more, except the man's duty to provide the financial support. (And a woman no longer needs to marry to get that! Child support law now goes far beyond the children's needs, and many unmarried women now have kids for the purpose of collecting the subsidy, often from men they deceive into cooperating! That's not right. Choice and responsibility for the result of that choice must be inseparable.)
- Modern retirement plans, both governmental and private, have almost completely replaced (3).
- People live much longer now than they did even 200 years ago. This makes promises like "til death do us part" so unrealistic that even committed religious people frequently feel the need to get out of them.
If I could write the law, I would get the state out of the "marriage" business altogether. But there would be a mechanism for any two or more adults to define themselves as a family in the eyes of the law, and there would also be a formal process for (2) -- and the courts would never again award child support to someone who didn't go through that process before or soon after conception.
Marriage worked fairly well until the me-me-me generation of the 50's and 60's came along. We are suffering through their wake now. Lets hope most of the lasting effect can be scrubbed away by the next great generation.
It also worked when religion was a respected aspect of ones life and promises made to another in front of God meant something.