Saturday, October 22, 2011

No, it is NOT dying

Here's an interesting article a reader sent me some time ago (thus proving I am still trying to catch up on past emails). It's about how marriage is a "dying" institution.

First of all, I would like to point out that the opinions of Hollywood actors/actresses very rarely reflect those of mainstream America. Let's face it, their lives (with few exceptions) are not normal.

Second, the person writing this article is a psychiatrist. In other words, his life's work is to fix (or declare unfixable) the problems of people who suffer, including those who suffer from broken marriages. Um, does this strike you as someone unbiased on the institute of marriage? If all he sees, day in and day out, are those who are unhappy in marriage, he's going to conclude that marriage does not lead to happiness.

He writes," As a healer, I can’t help looking askance at anything that depletes energy, optimism, mood and passion to the extent that marriage does. It is, without a doubt, one of the leading causes of major depression in the nation."

Okay, so then how do you explain people who ARE happily married? My folks have been married for 54 years and still hold hands. This couple was married 72 years and died holding hands. There are happily married couples everywhere -- if you open your eyes to see them.

Happiness in marriage stems from a number of things sorely lacking in today's society. Chastity until marriage has the amazing ability to keep one's vision clear about a prospective partner's qualities as well as faults. Nothing blinds someone more than lust. Common goals, common interests, common religious beliefs, and mutual respect for the other person are all contributing factors to a solid marriage.

But today's feel-good culture dictates wild living before marriage with no consideration about how that wild living can impact future stability in a marriage. Broken vows -- eh, who cares? It's just another "me first" behavior from a culture that supports "me first."

Obviously not all marriages deserved to be saved, but let's face it, the vast majority of people could avoid divorce by either (a) marrying the right person to begin with, and/or (b) treating their spouse as the treasure he or she is (instead of someone to nag or complain or nitpick to death).

This author points out one or two things I don't necessarily disagree with, but he draws the wrong conclusions. He ends by saying, "It’s only a matter of time now. Marriage will fade away. We should be thinking about what might replace it. We should come up with something that improves the quality of our lives and those of our children. And we should keep government out of it, if we know what’s good for us." [Emphasis added.]

Marriage has been around for literally thousands of years, since the dawn of civilized culture, and you want to replace it because a bunch of people in the last fifty years can't keep their vows? Huh?

Marriage itself is not a dying institution. Marriages may be dying because people no longer know how to choose the right partners, and no longer know how to keep vows... but the institution itself can and should live on. There is nothing -- nothing! -- that "improves the quality of our lives and those of our children" more than a secure and happy marriage. Nothing.

But I do agree we should keep government out of it.


  1. It's something that hubby & I (happily married 18 yrs last month) have been discussing due to an article in the Atlantic magazine this month and the fact that we have a boy (12) and a girl (10) growing up in this culture. Hopefully we're teaching them the right lessons for later. Dear daughter gets comically annoyed at me when I mention things like "make sure you marry a good man like your dad", "successful marriages depend on respect", "don't take relationship advice from my dad (married for the 3rd time)". I get an inevitable "Mooooooom.... I'm only TEN!" to which I respond "Get 'em trained early I say". :o)

  2. Well, like everything else, there are psychiatrists and there are psychiatrists. (Are you sure this guy isn't a psychologist?) Many psychiatrists have done extensive research and written books telling us how liberals are all insane. I have to admit, they do make a lot of sense! Many of these shrinks are honestly trying to be truthful and factual, while others are part of the huge progressive lie that's sweeping the world today.

    This guy sounds like he needs a few lessons in good common sense. Like you say, Patrice, he sees only those who are having problems. Those who are happily married have no reason to see a shrink. Does it take rocket science to figure this out? My wife and I have been together for 43 years, and married for 41 years. Sure, we've had a few ups and downs, but mostly UPS! We like to hold hands. We tell each other every day how much we love the other. We still hug and kiss a lot. We're best friends, and we have no reason to go see a psychiatrist! --Fred & Deb

  3. My grandparents met while my grandmother was on vacation after graduating college, and he was far from home in the Marines during WWII; they only knew each other 6 weeks before they got married. Her parents (who were grandchildren of their town's founder, and sort of local celebrities) were horrified -- their "belle of the ball" daughter, who could have had her choice of many wealthy & promising suitors, marrying a blue-collar young man with little prospects. The war ended shortly thereafter, he took a job at a paper mill near his wife's hometown, and they settled in to a very small farmstead near town to raise 3 kids, eventually moving into town when my grandmother decided she was done milking cows (although she never stopped gardening & canning!). Their marriage lasted 63 years, until my grandfather's death in 2009 (and my grandmother passed away this past March). He was the kindest, most loving, best example to me of what a good husband should be. From him, I learned that a good marriage is made when you choose the right person -- even when everyone else thinks you're choosing wrong -- and you become the right person. It was their example that convinced me to give marriage another try at age 40, after having been widowed with two small children at age 23.

    I'm pretty darned certain that marriage will still be going strong when psychiatry has faded away.

  4. I know of many solid marriages. They all have a strong Christian foundation. My parents have been married 56 years and they still hold hands and tell each other they love each other. God, love and respect. It works.

  5. In my early twenties I worked in a NeoNatal Intensive Care unit; I left because it was giving a skewed view of babies, the majority of which are born on time and healthy. Sounds like that "doctor" had a very skewed view of marriage. You and other commenters are right--marriage isn't dying, commitment to honoring vows is what is dying. Marriage, as well as life in general is hard and not for quitters, because it takes thinking and acting outside of self-centeredness. My parents celebrated 62 years together in September, they knew each other for six weeks before they married. Their five living children have been married 41 yrs, 36 yrs, 33 yrs, 26 yrs, and 23 yrs. Only some of the grandchildren, raised on a diet of media endorsing sex before marriage and quitting when it doesn't "feel good" are victims of divorce. I believe that strong marriages are founded on faith in God and obedience to his commandments. Worked for my parents and their parents!

  6. I think that a big part of the problem is that people are just too lazy and selfish to put the work into a marriage or relationship. Let's face it, today's people want a quick fix and they would rather get rid of something rather than take the necessary steps to fix it. In our throw away society it makes perfect sense to just discard a relationship because it's not working out the way they expected it to. There's something wrong with it so why bother trying? It's sad, if you ask me.

    I'm not married, but I've been in a committed relationship for almost 19 years. I don't know why we haven't gotten married--it just never really came up--but it's hard work being with the same person sometimes!

  7. To have and to hold, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

    A vow. We still hold hands, have arguments and disagreements, and still manage to say "I love you" and mean it. Love does NOT mean never having to say you're sorry. I saw that in a movie once.

  8. SwampMan and I met when we were both in the military and I was assigned to his unit. I was in my teens; he was an old man of 22. He asked me to marry him less than a week after we went on our first date. Our friends and families were aghast. "It will never last!" they said. In fact, we didn't even meet each other's families until after we were married two months after that first date. (The military said we had to undergo premarital counseling first.) We had our first child 9 months after our wedding.

    Thirty three years later, his and my siblings have all been divorced and remarried, some multiple times. They all had nice long engagements and dated for years before marrying. We're still happy as can be, have grown children and four beautiful grandchildren at an age when a lot of people our age are still raising their kids, found time to go to college while raising a family, and started a couple small businesses along the way. We've lost everything material a couple times.

    Whenever somebody complains to me about broke teens/young people getting married before (or instead of) college and starting their family immediately, I just have to say "It could work out. It did for us. We've been married 33 years (and counting.)"

  9. I was shocked when I realized that only one set of kids (sister and brother) in the Kindergarten class I taught had parents who were married to each other. All the other kids had either parents who were living together or were being raised by an unmarried parent. I live in a poor, rural town.

    And the sister and brother were being raised in a dysfunctional atmosphere with verbal abuse, poor nutrition, and drugs.

    I worry about the future...


  10. Marriage is alive and well at our home, we have been pretty happily married for 37 years. While some days may not be easy we made a covenant with each other and more importantly a covenant with God when we married. We might want to pinch each others head off some days but no way no how would we break the covenant we made to God.

  11. My husband and I work in a community outreach program at our church, with kids. When my daughter came to visit and helped out, the kids kept asking her if my husband was her real dad and if I was her real mom. Several asked several times, totally shocked that her parents were still with each other after 33 years. It was a concept none of them even understood, hence the repeated questions. Every last one of them have had "steps" "aunts" and "uncles" parade through their homes, multiple times.

    Another thought - Being yoked to an unbeliever is difficult, especially if you are an unbeliever.

    Sadly, most of the people that pyschiatrist sees are probably people who never put God first, and do not understand the sacred covenant of a lifetime relationship...with God. How can they understand one with spouses, when there's no foundation and humans fall short of the love that God conveys? Without God, any relationship is missing the core value of companionship, and grace.

  12. It wasn't dying for my parents nor is it for my husband and I. My parents were 5 months shy of their 50th anniversary when my father died in an accident 9 years ago. Hubby and I will celebrate our 25th in 4months.

  13. I never saw that movie about love meaning "never having to say you're sorry." I agree that's bull-feathers!

    Frankly, when I heard that insipid line, I refused to see the movie ever, at all. Love means saying you're sorry when you done wrong, dag nabbit!

    Silly psychiatrist - Trix are kids, but marriage is for grown-ups.

    Just Me

  14. My inlaws were married for over 50 years before my FIL passed away. My parents are just a few years short of the 50 year mark. My DH and I celebrated 23 years this week. My sister has been married for 15 years.

    Marriage isn't a 50/50 proposition, you both have to give 110%.

  15. Never did think much of psychiatry. His attitude as being jaded was a bright perception Mrs. Lewis.

    Great article.

    Steve Davis
    Anchorage, Alaska

  16. They both live in a Alice and the looking glass world. All they know is what is going on at the Mad Hatters Tea Party. And in Peter Pan's Never Never land...

  17. My husband and I have been happily married for 31 years. His parents for about 60 and my parents for 62. For the last 3 years my father has been taking care of my mother who has had several strokes and dementia. He does everything for her and I do mean everything. He does not complain and will not have outside help. (I live across the country) He knows no one would care for her as lovingly as he does and he doesn't want my mother to feel embarrassed. (even though she is not aware enough to be) Mom's in a hospital bed now and my dad insisted we rearrange the bedroom furniture so she could be at his side and not at the foot of the bed. They fall asleep holding hands while watching TV. They were not even the lovey dovey affectionate type when I was growing up. Marriage is strong in our family.

  18. I have been blessed with a family of long marriges. Both of my grandparents were married over 50 years. My mom had one brother who was married over 50 years. My dad has one brother and two sisters. All have been married over 50 years and are now starting on their 60th year. My parents have been married 58 years and my husband and I celebrated our 33rd this August. We have 8 children with 2 married so far. So marriage does work and is still alive in our family!

  19. Wow, so Patrice actually DOES read her email! (Wink, wink).

    I'm not surprised that your reaction and the reactions of most of your readers was what I experienced when I first read that article. At first, I thought it was a joke. I mean, really? Children would be better off without married parents? The past 40 years never happened? Our country is in the best shape ever?

    My wife and I, who after our first date almost 31 years ago never dated anyone else, and who have been married 26 years now, both have parents that divorced in the early 70's while we were still young. We've seen that situation from the inside, and lived through the pain, and before we ever met we each promised ourselves we'd never EVER do that to our own children.

    Yes, my lovely wife sometimes wants to wring my neck, and she's not shy about telling me so. And yes, I sometimes need her to leave me alone for a few hours instead of bugging the heck out of me. But being best friends, lovers, and partners in life is like that.

    And it is incredibly humbling to realize that there *IS* a God, and He *DOES* have a plan for our lives, and He *HAS* brought the two of us together for a *PURPOSE*. Seriously, that blows my mind. It also reminds me that obedience to God is the only sure way to a happy, fulfilling life. They don't call it a Covenant for nothing!