It appears that the institution of marriage is in a state of
chaos and flux. There is a plethora of opinions, research and documentation about
the so-called sanctity of marriage or
lack of it. Why do we call it sacred? Do the words catch in our throats and
give us expectation of heavenly events? Are we expecting our spouses to be
saintly or that the ritual will completely transform our lives? It is
undeniable that the institution of marriage is in turmoil today and approximately
fifty percent of sacred unions end in
divorce, not to mention that an even larger number of second and third
marriages suffer the a demise at even greater proportions. In addition, it is
estimated that a huge number of those who remain together are unhappy.
In Courant.com, an article was published entitled, Wedlock
Unlocked, by Joann Klimkiewicz. Klimkiewicz is a staff writer at the Hartford
Courant and previously worked as a suburban correspondent at the Philadelphia
Inquirer. She had this to say: “The studies and statistics, percentages and pie
charts come at a steady clip. We’ve barely finished probing and understanding
one set when we’re already wringing our hands over another.”
Can marriage and relationships be evolving as quickly as the
short-shelf-life that electronic devices have? I’d have to say I believe that is true. That’s the impression
that I get from reading and my own observations.
Klimkiewicz’s article gave some startling statistics.
“Americans continue to delay marriage, with the average first-time marrying age
now 27 for men and 26 for women. A record number of single women over 35 are
having children outside of marriage. Divorce and cohabitation are widespread,
so now married couples are in the minority of
percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
It is odd that many people go into marriage without a
thought given to the reality of what might be in store. The nearly obligatory big wedding celebration
seems to unleash dreams of being in the limelight for one night to display your catch,
and for that people are willing to mortgage their homes and/or go into serious debt to spend umpteen
thousands of dollars. There is usually a cast of hundreds to watch. All too often, the marriage ends within a short period of years.
It is possible that the initial dazzle of courtship and the
culmination of the wedding sets us up for a major disappointment. During the
mating ritual, each person is on their best behavior, adoring and blissfully in
love. Foibles and annoyances are generally overlooked. I suspect it is the sacredness that is expected to last
forever? No harm will come and bliss will follow for the rest of your days.
This seems to be the concept lodged firmly in the conscious, semi-conscious and
conscious mindset. If one or the other sees problems beforehand, they often
believe that once into marriage they will be able to change their partners and
make them holy and wonderful.
What about the issues of dirty laundry, food shopping, house
cleaning, finances, and bills? Uneven work loads outside the home and within
make for abrasive bedfellows. In reality, very few of us change and resentment
builds. That wonderful carefree life is gone. Add on the new expectations expected once
married, and you have a recipe for disaster.
To complicate matters more, children may enter the scene.
Many men, even today, don’t handle the infant responsibilities well. Men often
complain that with children in the picture they are no longer the focus of attention in the home. This can make them vulnerable to the manipulative
wiles of women searching for security in exchange for giving hot sex and
unconditional adoration – until perhaps they marry.
Gentlemen, what did you expect when you had kids? If you pitched in and
created a harmonious exchange of tasks with your wife, you’d do a lot better
all around and especially in the bedroom. There is nothing more seductive than
a man doing domestic chores without being asked or nagged to do his part. When the division of labor is not equal, there
is nothing worse than trying to make love to a furious mate. Sometimes, this
is the place where the label frigid wife emerges. It may or may not
It seems to me that women in particular
tend to overlook flaws in the courtship phase hoping that once that magical
piece of paper is signed, all bad things will go away. Somehow, marriage is
supposed to produce a safe haven for instituting change in a mate. I strongly
suggest that these issues are ironed out prior to the ceremony. If not, the
intense regimen of trying to change him can be grueling to both partners. The
husband has every reason to harbor resentment at this new aspect emerging from
his spouse’s personality. After all, she accepted and adored him before marriage.
To better understand some of fears toward marriage today,
let’s go back in time. Maggie Gallagher, director of the marriage program at
the Institute for American Values says this: “During the 1950s and early 1960s,
the war against marriage was a male-dominated campaign launched by the Beats
and Playboy philosophers against the man in the gray flannel suit who went to
work for a faceless corporation to support a whining wife and a passel of
bratty kids in the suburbs…By the late 1960s and early 1970s, some radicalized
women had picked up the cudgels. Joining those militant feminists was a wide
range of allies: population controllers, Marxist ideologues, apostles of the
sexual revolution. These combined forces launched a far more wide-ranging and
powerful assault on marriage, not just as a sexual constraint but as a lifelong
There are many other theories about what goes wrong in a
marriage. One that I find fascinating has to do with the unconscious selection
of a spouse who duplicates the most distressing characteristics of one’s
parent, parents or caretakers. This can contribute to determining that mysterious romantic chemistry. We
are attracted to the potential mate and, in that way, we are given an
opportunity to try to correct that attribute that disturbed us growing up. For instance,
we select emotionally disconnected spouse because the parent behaved that way.
In this way, we get a second chance change that person and get what was missing in childhood. The problem is that if our mate comports themselves in a way the past is reawakened with a vengeance, especially if we are unable to make the person emotionally connected. Let’s face it, most times, that is an impossible task. And then begins
the downward spiral of a defeated relationship. You might even say that
marriage was doomed from day one, and no amount of cajoling, pleading,
pushing will change the situation.
I like to think marriage is not necessarily obsolete or
headed on a straight path to self-destruct, but rather that it is evolving. In
the past, cookie-cutter marriages were the norm and deviations kept secret. Marriage was expected to fit neatly within
certain boundaries and everyone required to adhere to the same set of rules.
Society still seems to want to rein everyone in to fit the patterns laid out for us
over many centuries, and we are encountering resistance because it is in dire need of fixing. Many social, political and religious dictates have become
untenable in this modern world. There is a tug-of-war between people already
making drastic changes and the ones who insist on keeping the institution of
marriage unaltered. If there is no change, it will indeed render a large
segment of the population even more resistant to marrying.
Rather, I believe, everyone has to make their own contract,
determine what works for them. Perhaps before we see healthier attitudes toward
the sacred institution of marriage, we
need to go into the schools and teach elementary school children about
relationships, and continue all the way through to college.
The sexy G email: email@example.com