Till Death Do Us... Part With Marriage?

January 18, 2011
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The bright red headline of the November 29th, 2010 issue of “New York Times” magazine reads: “Who Needs Marriage?” This bold question captures my disturbed attention. The article goes on to say that based on research compiled by Pew Research Center and TIME magazine, 40% of Americans think marriage is becoming obsolete. I sigh sadly at this statistic, but it does not come as a complete shock to me, seeing as the current divorce rate in America is something in the 50% range.

But then I ask myself, how can an institution, a social union, that has been in place for centuries be in danger of extinction in just a matter of a few generations? According to that same “New York Times” article mentioned above, “Who Needs Marriage? A Changing Institution”, back in 1960, 70% of the American population was married, and now only about 50% are. Why this drastic change? Do we suddenly think that marriage is unimportant, that it holds no meaning in our current society?

Marriage is still a very important institution, not for only the material benefits it brings, such as a two income household and child rearing support, but also for the emotional gains that come with it as well.

Marriage has many assets that directly affect your day-to-day life. Husbands and wives can share a two paycheck income, instead of just one. They can also have joint auto, home and life insurance policies. If there are children in the picture, spouses now have it a little easier raising a brood with someone to help them. Overall, marriage could offer someone a great convenience in their lives and in running a household.

But with this convenience comes a price. In order to reap the benefits of a marriage and the happy home it can bring, spouses must work together as a team to keep the household, and themselves, running in harmony. Every decision that affects the home and the people within it must made by the couple together.

Granted, this means no privacy whatsoever for a husband and wife machine. You can’t act on independent whims anymore; you must consult your spouse about every financial, work related, and maybe even social decision that comes into your life. That sort of partnership could get very exhausting and even a little irksome if not viewed in a way that can benefit the unit as a whole.

But this “no privacy” tactic does have some merit. It means that you can now share your entire self with another person. Marriage is a wonderful way to satisfy the human need to never feel lonely in life. A marriage is a union founded upon trust and respect for one another. It’s a commitment that says, “I will be faithful to this one person for the rest of my life and trust that they will take care of me.” A husband and wife have the privilege of another person in their lives to be close to and share life with. Between a couple, there can be no secrets and that frees a person up from the heavy burden of harboring said secrets.

And then there is the perk of understanding -- understanding the spouse you have made a commitment to, and in return having them completely understand you. You now have the blessing of a person in in which you can confide your joys, your sorrows, and even your very soul. These things never have to be contained anymore, because you have a team mate in this game of life to listen to you. And doesn’t that sound nice?

But I digress and ask you again, is marriage important? Of course, it is. Can you think of anything better than making a mature decision to team up with another person, share their life with them, and have your’s shared too? Yes, you are no longer a completely independent person once you‘ve tied the knot, but now you have the future to look forward to with someone always by your side. There will never again be an empty house for you to manage alone. A life-long union with another person can create a very deep and caring bond, solidifying a faithful support system in one’s life. A spouse can turn into an emotional refuge, one were there are no secrets, no lies, no distance. You can be completely close to another human being, in every sense of the matter.

There needs to be a new understanding amongst the American people who believe marriage is becoming obsolete: Marriage can be here to stay. It can remain an important part of our lives. But we have to be willing to let marriage, and everything it means, into our lives.

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