Wednesday, November 29, 2006

On Marriage...

I was recently asked to write an article on marriage. I think they were under the impression that I must be an expert since I teach a marriage class. However, being a long-term bachelor, one has to wonder what valuable piece of information I can offer for those considering “taking the plunge.” I suppose that being "single, never married" allows me to give the unbiased view (at least this is what I tell my classes). Let’s face it, if I were recently divorced I might have a very negative view of marriage. On the other hand, if I were a newlywed, I might view this societal institution through rose-colored glasses. So, here is an “unbiased” commentary on the institution of marriage.

Since I am a bachelor you may think that I do not support marriage. On the contrary, I am all for marriage. There are those who have forecast the end of marriage in society. For example, one doomsday commentator stated “In 50 years, unless there is some change, the tribal custom of marriage will no longer exist.” This comment would indicate that marriage is definitely under threat of extinction. However, psychologist John Watson made this comment well over fifty years ago.

It would appear to me that if marriage were going to become extinguished, it would have happened by now. Actually, marriage is thriving in today’s society. Current statistics show that 90-95% of the population marry at least once. Now some would argue that many people must NOT like marriage because about 45% of first marriages end in divorce, but I disagree. (Note: That statistic is exaggerated, but that is a different article). Heck, the majority of the people who divorce like marriage so much that they do it again; and some even try it again and again – now THAT is commitment to marriage!.

With so many people getting married (or remarried), it would seem that marriage must play an important role in society. Marriage plays a very important role to me. It takes one more single guy out of the competition. Yes, I know, it also means there is one less single female out there, but I generally ignore that little fact.

In actuality, marriage performs a variety of functions. Marriage serves as a public and/or spiritual affirmation of commitment, joins two families and social networks, establishes a legal contract between the State and the couple, provides a context for most human sexual activity and reproduction, forms an economic union between spouses, and provides an opportunity to develop an intimate and sharing relationship.

You may not know this, but the median age of first marriage for females is around 25, while the median age for males to get married is approximately 27 years old. I don’t know how my mom learned these averages, but I have been listening to her lament my moving past the average age of being married for many years now. The way I see it, there is one primary reason I should get married and that is to get my mom off my back! Of course, I can also see the appeal of dual income and the legitimization of sexual experiences. Others have listed a whole slew of more positive reasons to get married including: love, desire for children, security, social status, and the romantization of marriage. But, there are also less positive reasons to get married such as a desire to leave home, fear of independence, fear of loneliness, societal pressure to get married, as well as discrimination against singles. Regardless of the reason, just suffice it to say, that marriage is NOT on its way out!

Note: My personal opinion of marriage and/or life-long commitment is that it can be a wondrous thing. It is something I desire immensely (with the right person of course).

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