Sunday, June 27, 2010

"I Do..." A Case for Marriage

A couple days ago I received my Newsweek magazine. "She reads Newsweek?!?!" you exclaim. Well, not usually but now they're sending it to me (they're being the Newsweek folks) so sure, I'll read it. Who knows, maybe when I actually DID subscribe via my e-USPS address change procedure back in April to Fitness magazine, they threw in a Newsweek subscription for good measure. Never the less... a couple days ago I received a Newsweek; and the following article was featured:

"I Don't" - The Case Against Marriage

I'd like to say now, before the rant and rave begins, this IS my blog. Yep. Mine. THUS, I can rant and rave about what I want on my blog. Alrighty? There's an entire bloggery world out there blogging about what they blog about, and they get to do that because we're free to not only have our opinions, but express them peaceably and in a way we deem most appropriate for us. This is me... on my blog... doing just that.

This article tried to make a case against marriage; why it's not necessary in our 'very modern' world and that cohabitation and singleness is not only a more common route, why, it's the better route! Apparently, according to these authors, we've become so progressive that marriage is something our grandparents and maybe some of our parents did - ya know - like walking uphill both ways to school or hand writing letters subsequently handed to a slim postal worker atop a pony (see: Pony Express). Anything considered "traditional", as the media will surely antagonize every single day, is archaic, demeaning, dusty, old, and of course, useless now that society is so "modern."

The view the authors take is that marriage is no longer necessary, so why do it: "Once upon a time, marriage made sense. It was how women ensured their financial security, got the fathers of their children to stick around, and gained access to a host of legal rights." I'd like to submit that first, it seems that they are arguing that women particularly ONLY married for the above reasons and secondly, it presupposes that anyone financially secure and childless, would never even cultivate the desire for marriage; thus marriage loses practicality. Where's the romance? I ask you! They claim that marriage is nothing more than a piece of paper, a formality, with nothing practical attached to the institution at all. I find this ironic for if marriage was as trite in our modern society as these authors claim, I don't think there would be such a battle over gay-marriage. It would seem to me, because such a battle rages, that couples of all lifestyles innately recognize something greater to the institution of marriage than financial security and someone to help change diapers. Otherwise, it would be drive through civil-unions for all! Couples recognize there is something more to marriage than 'practicality.'

Then come the statistics: "The numbers are familiar but staggering: Americans have the highest divorce rate in the Western world; as many as 60 percent of men and half of women will have sex with somebody other than their spouse during their marriage."

This is a sobering and albeit saddening statistic. Though the flaw in this statistic lies within the authors comparison of American divorce rates to that of Europeans: stating the Europeans cohabitate vs. actually getting married and thus also boast a much lower divorce rate. Well, dear friends, if less people are getting married, would it stand to reason there are less divorces since there are less marriages to divorce? I'm just saying. To make such a comparison, I suggest a methodology including ratio's vs. "so... like Europe doesn't get divorced or married so they win!" They also do not include "break-up" statistics of those who co-habitat because guess what, you don't have to go down to the court house and sign a "co-Habitation" agreement. It would be presumptuous to assume that co-habitating couples are more likely to stay together than married couples when there is no way to measure it. People co-habitat so they can break up; skirting a greater responsibility that's innately attached to the word "marriage."

 They also utilized their statistics to justify behavior that, as they claim, 50 years ago was a stigma in American social acceptance: "We know that having children out of wedlock lost its stigma a long time ago: in 2008, 41 percent of births were to unmarried mothers, more than ever before, according to a Pew study..." Apparently this statistic is being interpreted by the authors to mean these unmarried mothers chose to have children out of wedlock rather than striving for a two parent home and further more, because these women aren't locked in a back room or painted with a scarlet A on their chest, it's more socially acceptable to have children out of wedlock. They do not address the issue that perhaps it's not a matter of acceptability, but rather a matter of reality. Again, because the 'stigma' of single mothers has been loosened, there will likely be more statistical data to assess in 2010 than perhaps in 1955 when it was hushed away in disgrace. I see this statistic as more of a reality check "Hey! This happens and we need to realize it happens and find out why it happens" (which does not, in my mind, translate into, "It's totally fine to do this..."). Furthermore, how many of those mother are below the age of 18? How many of those mothers gave up children for adoption? And subsequently, is this something that we're now going to start advocating? Find me a single 17 year old (or 26 year old or 45 year old) mother who says single motherhood is her ideal situation and I'll eat my hat! Eat it I tell you! As my mother is essentially a "single mother" of 4 (happily grown) children, I can tell you what her response would be: No one would CHOOSE single motherhood. No one CHOOSES single parenthood. The Hollywood glitz and glam of single parenthood is fake. This is not an argument against marriage, but a sobering truth that the traditional family is being challenged and we need to do everything we can as reasonable human beings to recognize it and save it.

One such Anthropologist even suggests: "she believes humans aren’t meant to be together forever, but in short-term, monogamous relationships of three or four years." I'd like to see that study and then compare it with the thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of studies that show children who are born into a family with both a mother and a father, who are married and stay married, have a greater chance at happiness and success in life than children who are not. Go ahead and google it. You'll see I'm right. And recognize the qualifiers I've added "good" marriage and "stay" married. Is this a fairy tale? I do not think so. Is the divorce rate high? Yes it is, but there are also 50% of couples out there who STAY married and perhaps its time we tap into that secret rather than throwing our hands in the air and exclaiming "Marriage FAILS!"

The authors go on to lament "...but we’d be fools to think we’ve completely shed the roles associated with “husband” and “wife.”" Because apparently, according to these authors, this is the normative ideal now; apathetic adult roles non-associated with gender. How dare we claim that there are gender roles within society! How dare we suggest that a woman has natural inclinations and abilities best suited for being in the home! How very archaic that would be! I can see the nay-sayers gathering stones now...

Well, let me tell you what I think. I think marriage between a man and a woman IS fundamental to the propagation of the human race, a social necessity for cultivating empathy, charity, love, and raising up of the next generation of stable, able, citizens and leaders. Marriage is not dying. Marriage is not a wo begotten fade slowly going the way of the dinosaur. Marriage is not something our grandparents enjoyed like a cool Root Beer at the local Diner with the Jukebox blaring "I Ain't Nothin But a Hound Dog." What this article tells me, is that the world, "modern" society, is once again, getting it all wrong in the name of "progress and practicality." Where's the principle of the idea? Where does the desire of human companionship, love, and nurturing come in? Are we to believe that there are such organizations that can take the place of a the nuclear family and do it any sort of justice to the rising generation? I submit there is not. I for one, am not too modern, to progressive, nor too intelligent for marriage. As a woman, I see marriage as a gateway for fulfilling the role of womanhood I find to be the most important: that of wife and mother.  I can think of no greater responsibility nor anything more influential for society at large than raising good children in a home with a husband. I will, if I am able, make the choice to become a Mother who utilizes her world experience, her education, and her abilities to make sure that HER children understand that though the world would tell them they are close-minded, stagnate, ill-informed, and heaven forbid traditional, that marriage, a good marriage, is key to a life of wholeness and happiness. And I will teach them that from the home... where I will be there for them throughout their entire growing up. Throw the divorce rates at me, tell me how marriage doesn't give me a tax break, that women don't "need" marriage anymore because they're more educated and financial able, and that Europeans who co-habitat are apparently, "happier, less religious, and more likely to believe that marriage is an outdated institution" (because happiness and less religion apparently correlate...), and I'll tell you that as a woman, I believe in marriage no matter how 'out-dated' the world tells me it is and if I work hard to meet the expectations I have of myself and I have a companion that does the same, I will tell you that you are wrong... and prove it in every way I can.

Lastly, my mother was a "stay-at-home mom." And I believe that because she made the choice to utilize her talents and abilities to raise us four kids, that we are more stable, more happily adjusted, and more emotionally secure in who we are and where we are going. If it wasn't for a Mother who recognized that her most important role was creating a safe and secure environment to raise good children, I don't think I'd be the person I am today. And though life doesn't always pan out as we'd hoped, I still choose to have hope and aim for those things I've been taught, and personally believe, will give me the greatest joy and allow me to see beyond what society says I should be, to what I know is best for me to be.

11 comments:

Annie said...

Here Here!

Becca said...

A-MEN. And amen. Once once again, just for good measure: amen!

Nasher said...

I know this religion you should be a part of if you are interested.

heidikins said...

Bravo.

xox

Mike & Emily West said...

YES, WOW and and AMEN! Thank you...

Drae said...

Agreed! Well put, Andrea. Are you sure you're not too intelligent for marriage? You thought through that whole article all by yourself. :)

Andrea Jolene said...

You've made an excellent point here Drae.

Craig Barlow B. said...

Well done Andrea. This is really great. Honestly, this is very well written. You are a really impressive writer. You can drive a pretty mean argument.

I like how their major argument ultimately boils down to: "Marriage is a bad idea because it stands the chance of creating a failure that will be tracked by staticians."

Andrea Jolene said...

Craig Barlow B. - Perhaps you should email the authors that conclusio - cause I'm not even sure if they knew what they were getting at. Buzzards.

Jessica said...

I haven't read all the way through this post yet, but the idea they propose that just because there are so many single parent families therefore marriage is outdated is so absurd. Like you said, they didn't choose to be single-parent families, and they say nothing AT ALL about the negative effects of such an arrangement on the children. We shouldn't just sit back and accept the inevitable failure of marriage and families, but fight to preserve what is most beneficial to future generations.

Boo on them.

Just ME the MOM said...

Bravo - loved your ravings. I'm going to link you up from my blog!

Kristin