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Monday, February 18, 2013

Is It Too Easy to Get Married?

Marriage Day
Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)
        Shortly after the Sandy Hook school shooting, the furor arose to ban guns or, at the very least, assault weapons.  In my post Should We Ban (Insert Topic Here), I suggested that before the nation takes an overly reactionary response in attacking the Second Amendment rights laid out by the founding fathers of the United States, we might want to consider some other things that could be contributing factors to violent incidents such as happened in places like Newtown, CT and some of the other incidents of violence.   Today I continue with my exploration of this topic.

       The post Should We Ban Divorce? stirred up a kettle of consensus more so than controversy.  There seemed to be mostly agreement with my premise that banning divorce is an improbable and impractical solution, but since divorce is responsible for many societal ills there could be a benefit to making it more difficult to obtain.

        Even though I had stated that I wanted only to discuss the topic of divorce in the discussion, several of you still interjected the opinion that marriage is too easy to enter into, thus stating what is to me a glaringly obvious flaw that can increase the potential of divorce.  For those of you who stated this opinion, I am in agreement and this leads to the next part of the possible problems that can lead to violence in our society.

         Marriage is a bond that is based primarily on emotions and practicalities.  Love can often be highly illogical and ill-defined.  Feelings about love can trigger insecurity, frustration, moodiness, and jealousy.  These are all trigger emotions that can lead us to do stupid things when certain expectations have not been met and we seem to have no control over the outcome of what is happening.

          Many couples contemplating marriage do not consider their own emotional well-being let alone that of their intended spouse.   Love is blind as the saying goes--we see what we want or hope to see.   We overlook bad traits or accept them as something our spouse will outgrow or we can change or that we will just learn to live with.   As is typical when the brain is left behind, emotions often trump logic.

        The matrimonial state does have many logical and practical sides to it.  These in reality should be the most decisive factors in getting married to one person and staying married to that same person.  This might not make for the most interesting romance story, but it should be the true story of family--forget the emotional fantasies that we like to create in our minds or see in the movies.   Marriage needs to be taken far more seriously than it often is.

        To use a commonly cited analogy, we have to take lessons and pass tests before we can get a driver's license, but I don't know of any place that requires couples to do any such thing in order to get married.  I don't even think you have to get blood tests anymore.   You merely go to the courthouse, pay some fees, and then you're ready to commit to one of the most serious contracts out there.   It all seems a bit flippant and crazy to me.

         Some churches do require couples to go through a certain amount of "training" before being permitted to tie the knot under their religious authority, but no one has to get married in a church.  Couples are free to go before any legally sanctioned representative who is authorized to recite whatever script has been decided upon and even if it's a vow the couples can say their "I do's" whether or not they even paid attention to what was said at the ceremony.

          A marriage license should require far more rigorous scrutiny than is now necessary.  Enough time should be added into the equation to allow for classes, counseling, and contemplation.  Love taken lightly can lead to making some very bad choices.

          In all reality, love is perhaps the weakest and worst part of the marriage equation.   Society should approach marriage from the standpoint of the more sensible reasons to get married and penalize those who attempt to benefit from the byproducts of marriage such as children.   How many fatherless families does our government help support now?   Why?  Maybe it's because governmental charity is now an assumption by people who want to dally in that which should be reserved for marriage.   There's a whole other source of anger and a negatively inspired generation of kids who don't understand the sanctity of marriage and family.  But I won't take that one any further for the time being.

          The concern right now is marriages that stay together because of the efforts of people who know why and have some good ideas how to keep the marriage intact.   Training and solid pre-planning are integral to helping couples misguided by blind love into thinking logically about where they are going.

         In many ways, romantic love is asinine.   Let's face it--it's often lust in a fancy disguise.  Lust distorted by a certain element of loneliness and societal pressure.   But when the lust has lost its luster and you've woken up one morning to the scary face of reality, love and marriage faces the true test.   The real love of marriage is not always going to be flowers, chocolate, and romantic dinners by candlelight.  There's also messy bathrooms, TV shows that you may not like, and dirty socks and underwear.  Isn't it better to find many skeletons in as many closets as you can find before you set up housekeeping?

        In some ways I can see the practical side of arranged marriages.   Maybe it's better to learn to love someone than it is to fall out of love because of what you've learned later down the road.   Living together sometimes works, but I think it also diminishes the institution of marriage and family that is built on sacred values and sacrificial compromise.

         But now we're getting into morality and values.  That's another post still and another reason we may be seeing the type of violence as we have seen with the mass shootings.   For now let's not focus on morality in general, but let's stick to marriage.

          Do you think people are able to get married too easily?   Should a waiting time or a period of courtship be required before marriage licenses are issued?    Should couples be psychologically evaluated when inflicted by that mental illness called Romantic Love?  

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  1. The problem is that unlike gun use or vehicle operation there is no 'proper' way to spend the rest of your life with one other person. Classes and training to teach you what exactly? Driving a car is very specific, do this, don't do that. Human interactions aren't.

    So while the idea people should be more careful and considerate before rushing into things is true (for pretty much everything), it's not enough to pose the question, you have to offer some specific examples, and there aren't any (not that everyone agrees on or that are proven to work). People who go to counselling, people who are counsellors, all still screw up their relationships.

    And the reason for that, I would suggest, is because there are two people involved. Guns don't talk back, cars don't have a mind of their own. It's a much more unstable playing field with ever-shifting rules. So equating them all because they share the word licence is a flawed premise.

    You don't "operate" a marriage and you can't teach humanity (except in humanities classes, obviously).


  2. A waiting period maybe? Since the 'in love' feeling wears off after two years?
    People get married because they love someone, but they rarely stop to think if they actually will like that person when the 'in love' feeling wears off.
    Classes would be great, but not government run. (Think you know the alternative I'd suggest.)
    As for the comment about fatherless families under government support - that's a whole post in itself, Lee.

  3. I personally think marriage is for life, but then I was lucky I married someone wonderful which lasted for 35 years before he passed away. It's when people no long out of school who don't know themselves let alone another person gets married, have children then realised they have missed out on their teenage years. Not going to discos, and the like they then resent one another then that's when divorce is the next step.

    Great thought provoking post.

  4. Marriage is forever but I'm also married to a wonderful man. I laughed when you mentioned the TV shows! I just had to put up with the Planet of the Apes marathon this past Saturday. We've been married 29 years, hard work, but very much worth the investment.

  5. When over half the kids come from broken families, it just keeps perpetuating itself because that's the example given. If it doesn't work, just get a divorce. No, it shouldn't be so easy to get married. The sacredness of a man and woman married for life has been thrown out the window in this country.

  6. Thoughtful post. I like what you said about romantic love - lust in a fancy disguise! Perfect.
    One thing that occurred to me is that, as long as the couple remains childless, it really doesn't matter to me if their marriage "works" or not. They made the choice to get married in the first place (foolish or not) and the primary impact is only on the two of them. However, once they conceive a child everything changes and everything matters. Their decision now has major ramifications, most notably to the new life but also to their families and to society in general. I recognize the implausibility of this but, in my ideal world, fertility gets turned off at puberty and turned back on when a couple demonstrates the necessary maturity to become parents. I know that's ridiculous but it's wrong to irresponsibly bring a child into the world. But some people just don't get that. They don't get how much work and personal sacrifice is involved in responsible child rearing.
    I do know plenty of parents who have done the hard work, made the sacrifices, been present for their child. And I know a lot of parents who are doing the very best they can with children and situations that are very challenging. Hats off to them. It's the people who become parents who can't even take care of themselves that anger me.
    Marriage? Go for it! Parenting? Make it tough to become a parent (never going to happen).

  7. Graciewilde has hit the nail on the head, if couples want in and out of marriages, let 'em, but its the decision (if decision is involved) to become parents which is a problem. We need science to invent a semi permanent contraceptive which can be inserted and later removed when the couple has demonstrated integrity and responsibility. I am on my second marriage, but it has lasted 40 years so think I have an idea what its all about.


  8. Mood - You are correct that to equivocate driving classes and relationship classes is not analogous in kind of training, but my point was to illustrate the ease by which one can enter into one situation as opposed to the other.

    Sure, marriage has a lot of variable factors to its being a union of two minds and personalities, but there are some straight facts and statistics that can be presented, coping mechanisms to be learned, and many other facets that not all people learn by the examples in their own life. As it stands, any education typically is mostly represented by media and information disseminated by others.

    An important concept behind the education and counseling would be a cooling off period where reality begins to take the place of the madness of romantic love. A license to wed can only be compared other licenses in that it is a permit to proceed with an activity.


  9. Wow. This is a GREAT post, Lee! I really appreciate your views and opinions.

    For me, my understanding of marriage is based on my understanding of Scripture. Marriage is, I believe, something that God ordained. He started it with Adam and Eve, and he has set standards for it. God designed marriage to be for life, and he instructs couples to love and respect each other unconditionally. I think when any couple, regardless of their age, is mature enough to realize what that means--that marriage isn't something you can get out of easily, and that it requires hard work and constant commitment from both partners--then that couple is ready for marriage.

    I'm twenty-one and I've been married for going on two years. My husband and I are still in college. Were we young when we got married? You bet! We still are and will be for a while! But we knew what marriage was all about: permanent. No backing out. We learned to live with each other, and we didn't practice before we got married to see how it would go. (I appreciate what you said about that: "Living together sometimes works, but I think it also diminishes the institution of marriage and family that is built on sacred values and sacrificial compromise.") I don't think living together is EVER a good option, however. For one thing, it creates a higher possibility of divorce, for another it encourages immorality...but I could go on.

    Bottom line, I agree with you, it is too easy to get married. But I think the main reason for that is that people don't accept God's plan for marriage, which makes it harder. If we all went by HIS ordained plan, no one would get married unless they realized what it meant to love someone unconditionally, FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE.

    Geez, I should write a post myself on this. Sorry for the massive rant!

  10. Alex -- The training provided by government would probably be necessary for some who won't accept training by other agencies, but both should be accepted. Yes, I believe I know what you're referring to.

    Yvonne-- You and your husband were very fortunate and I think you came from that generation that had better marriage examples to follow. Marriage then was viewed much differently than it was after the mid-60's and the "Me Generation".

    Mama -- Good for you and your husband. You've probably learned a lot about give and take over the years and that makes a big different in making relationships last.

    L. Diane -- Yes, there are fewer examples of how to make a marriage work and more young people enter into the marriage with the outlook that you can always trade-in if you're not happy with what you have.

    Gracie -- No much I will add now to what you've said here and I will be doing a post about this later. You're correct though about the factor of children entered into the equation. I like your "implausible" idea of turning off fertility during the younger age and back on later, but then again that might present a whole new range of problems and damage the institution of marriage even more. Responsibility and consequences are two things that need to be taught more.

    Jo -- Yes, parenthood should be a decision between two responsible and dedicated people and not just an afterthought of physical interaction merely driven by pursuit of pleasure. Kids should be a wanted blessing and not an encumbrance to those who aren't ready for them.


  11. Jaimie -- You should do a post on this one day. A lot of people should because it's an important topic to discuss.

    You've really hit on the most important factor here and it's a truth that many people don't want to face today. And it's the biggest problem that can lead to divorce.

    I think your comment is very relevant, but I don't think it will sit well with many people since a lot of folks don't like to feel dictated by morality. However, a moral authority is the best and the most perfect solution there is.

    I'm glad to here about you and your husband and I wish the both of you many years of marriage and family blessings.


  12. Marriage is a contract between two people and the state. That's what a marriage license is. The ceremony at the court house or the church is not what makes a marriage legal, it's that piece of paper from the state that gets signed. Since marriage is a contract with the state it (marriage) should have more to with the couple's understanding what that contract entails rather than with "love."

    Yes, I think there should be some kind of requirement/classes that couples should go through or that kids get during high school. But who provides them? What is taught? Who determines who is fit/not fit? These are sticky questions. I know I wouldn't want the state telling me who I can and can't marry. That smacks of Big Brother.

    More important to me than whether it's too easy to get married or not, is the question of having children, because when a marriage goes bad and there are children involved, it is the children who suffer the most.

  13. I do think training would be good before marriage; I think being aware there are going to be differences, it is going to be an adjustment to unite with someone and you are often going to disagree more than agree about things is something some people don't consider when pursuing marriage. I think they need to think of love as a verb, not an emotion, especially when the times get tough. I like the waiting period thing too, I guess that's what engagements are for, but so many spend lots of time planning the wedding, they don't think much of what happens afterwards when they start living together as man and wife.


  14. You know... I think marriage at the very least could benefit from a 'discovery and disclosure' process... a discussion of topics that couples need to cope with in order to live together. The Catholic church requires their marriage encounters and I know my MOM ended up not marrying a man (a wise decision) because of some of the discussions in that...

  15. Honestly Lee I think that the society we live in makes it just too easy to get married. In fact even worse than that it actually encourages you to get married. You see somebody like Kim Kardashian marrying a man, divorcing him and then falling pregnant all in the one year and honestly it sets a bad example that you can just get married and throw it away. Marriage has definitely had a nose dive in prestige and importance in my opinion and unless something's done I can't see it getting better. Thought provoking post as per usual anyway buddy.

  16. Actually, I don't think marriage is the problem at all, if that's all there is to it. It's only when kids are involved that there is an issue. So, maybe, marriage shouldn't even be allowed unless the couple wants children, then there should be some kind of application process. You have to prove that you are capable of being married and raising children or whatever before being allowed to be married. Of course, that doesn't deal with children out of wedlock, but I haven't had any thoughts on that.
    At any rate, if two people get married, spend a couple of years together, don't have kids, and want to split up, big deal. They should have just lived together and saved the money.

  17. And, now, glancing back through the comments, I see I'm not the only one saying this.

  18. I think there is a "'proper' way to spend the rest of your life with one other person". It takes committment from both spouses to participate in a respectful, love filled and faithful (to each other) marriage. Maybe classes once a year to remind ourselves of the committment would help.

    Of course, I failed. :)

  19. Many people marry young, when they aren't even sure of what they want from life. It's easy to get married, hard to get out of it.

    When children are part of the equation, it just gets messier and impacts the kids. Many people from single parent homes blame their parents on their inability to succeed in relationships. (no good role models)

    I think it should be harder to get married, and that a course should be given telling both partners how to run a household together, the trials of raising children and how to cope when arguments arise, etc.

    I've been divorced and am married for the second time, and experience taught me that compromise, respect and consideration as well as love,are helpful if you want a marriage to last. It's time well spent.

  20. I read your post and most of the comments (I think). Most seem to have little regard for the couples getting married if there are no children involved. However, their feelings about it changed dramatically if there were children involved. Ironically, the family situation has been BROKEN for so long that most people who are of a marrying age NOW probably are from BROKEN homes. People can easily sympathize with children, but only while they are children. Why is that?

    They grew up... but still carried all of their scars of their past. Never learned how to model a successful relationship. Were doomed to repeat the mistakes of their parents... And they lost all of the sympathy of everyone. Now, it is just don't have any babies. So long as you just get married and don't have any kids, we are good with you. Honestly, we don't care about you, so long as you don't procreate. That is like throwing the Baby Out with The Bathwater.

    Society never gets fixed when you only care about the children while they are children, and you toss them out when they hit 18. Once they are 18, they become the Problem and not the Victims anymore. If they never received any Counseling or any way to turn it around... what do you expect??? They are going to model after what they are seeing. What they know. The evidence is before us. It has been happening for the last 50 years.

    I think that there were several things that made marriage work 100 years ago. It wasn't as easy to get married. It wasn't as easy to get divorced. It was understood that you only did it once. So, I don't think you can just put one of these strictures into place, without putting all of them into place, and get the same sort of result. Additionally, since we are starting from a place from a Brokenness, as opposed to Solidness, all couples could use counseling on what makes for a healthy relationship. Many people have never actually seen one. It's hard to create in your own life what you have never seen.

    I also recommend that everyone read Gary Chapman's book The Five Love Languages (before marriage, but anytime is better than never). We all feel loved differently. And a person can knock themselves out to make you feel loved, but if they aren't speaking YOUR love language (but are speaking their own), you won't feel loved. And vice versa. It is very sad when these people divorce. They do love one another, but both feel dried up and unloved. In that event, marriage will not work.

    People will always leave a place where they feel unloved, uncared for, and unappreciated. The Five Languages is one of the best reads to turn that entire boat around. Learning someone else's Love Language is hard. You have to then CHOOSE to speak it. It is unfamiliar territory that may feel uncomfortable to you. However, if you love that person, you will learn it. Love is often work.


    P.S. I know I diverted off-topic, but my mind doesn't really run in a straight line.

  21. Well, the thing is: you can't measure love. You can't measure how much someone loves someone else because our emotional worlds are different from each other. Likewise, you can't measure if someone is capable of keeping a marriage going, because people are different and what works for the one doesn't have to work for the other, and the other way around. You wouldn't get anywhere with psychological tests.

    There is no instant solution for this, no law to implement that would work.

    All you can do is educate. I've said this before, but aside from using school to prepare children and young adults for college, we should use schools to teach social skills, human interaction, the way we relate to each other, all those things.

    We all have our own definition of what love is, but with the right tools we are more likely to be tolerant, understanding, accepting, inventive and creative (especially in terms of problem solving and dealing with conflicts). It would take a generation or two before society can enjoy the fruits of the effort, but it would be worth it as it would make the world a better place. Not just for marriages, for society as a whole.

  22. As Catholics, we had to go through all kinds of counseling before we were allowed to marry, but I think the one thing that has helped more than any other in our successful 30 year relationship and 23 year marriage is the fact that we lived together for 7 years before we got married. The sparkle had worn off by that point, yet we still loved each other, still shared the same values and expectations, the same desires and dreams. We'd worked through all that angst and need to make ourselves elbow room. By that point, we were truly one and we had one goal. Children came after another 4 years, and it wasn't a decision lightly made. I know a lot of people think couples shouldn't live together before marriage, but how else are you gonna know if you can cohabit the same space? How will you know whether you can tolerate their irritating habits? How will you know that time will wear you down?

  23. I can't think of any good reason to make it harder to get married.

    Marriage is intensely personal. It's one of the most personal things we do in our lives. The only arguments I ever hear that want to make marriage more difficult are usually based on the arguer's own personal ideas about marriage, which may have nothing at all to do with the two who want to marry.

    Teach your children what you want, believe what you want, but others should be free to define their relationships as they wish, and for the reasons they wish.

  24. Bish -- I think that many people are so accustomed to skipping through the legalese to just sign the dotted line that marriage is just another contract we sign without knowing all the fine print. And you're right about the kids.

    Betty -- Like you say, the wedding often takes on greater significance than what comes afterwards. Couples are often willing to invest a great deal into a wedding and honeymoon. Shouldn't they have the same willingness to invest in the preliminary aspects of learning about married life and making the appropriate arrangements from a legal standpoint?

    Hart -- "Discovery and disclosure" is a good way of putting it. I like the process that the Catholic church requires for prospective couples. We might be able to circumvent more situations of spousal abuse in this process since I don't think marriage suddenly changes people. In a new relationship people are putting on their best faces and the true self usually appears after the vows have been said.

    Yeamie -- So true! Society often pressures us into hasty marriage and provides the wrong examples.

    Andrew -- The institution of marriage is not the problem--it's a people problem as is the case with so many other controversial issues in society. Kids complicate things for sure, but there are economic issues and things such as trust and dependency. So much hurt comes out of badly thought out relationships that I think it's time to start looking more closely at the moral aspects of this (I know I was trying to avoid morality for now, but it's usually the real answer). Marriage is, or should be a sacred contract of commitment. The constant changing of partners does not contribute to a stable society, but it probably is an advantage to the state. Bigger topics for later.


  25. Teresa -- I failed too and hopefully learned something in the process. I like the idea of yearly classes. Marriage is a two-way relationship and it's nearly impossible for just one person to make it work well.

    DG -- Too bad when the "class" is an actual trial marriage that ends--especially if it ends very badly. When we are young we are often not thinking very far into the future. You cite the actions needed to make things work as they should and these are what people need to understand and embrace before going into a marriage.

    Robin -- I'd say that was a pretty outstanding comment. The only thing I'll say about this is that marriage should be considered the same whether or not there are kids. The same degree of sanctity should apply. I think it's wrong to respect an action on one level but not on another. Marriage is marriage in all cases--a vow spoken with an intended goal of forever. Otherwise is a defiled relationship.

    Sabrina -- Since you can't measure the crazy emotional mix-up of love we should extract the love from the equation and base a marriage on more practical aspects of life and relationships. Psychological testing must mean something to somebody. Have you tried to get a job at some of the large companies and gone through the testing they require. You'd think you were getting married to them or something. Hmmm--maybe they're on to something.

    Nancy -- Everyone should be as practical as what you describe in your relationship.

    Kelly -- I won't offer much dispute to this. I don't agree, but I won't argue the point other than to say "personal" might be part of the problem.


  26. Wow, is this a popular topic or what? I'll add my two cents. I've also been married for 28 years now, nad got married young, however, my husband is older than myself, so I don't know if that makes a difference. As long as people keep thinking of love as an emotion rather than a commitment, we will continue to get divorced at a very fast rate. I love my husband to death, but sometimes I'd like to set him on fire.....but I don't because I made a commitment to love him for better or for worse and so far, the worse hasn't been all that bad. Classes would be nice, but should be voluntary. YOu'd think people would take advantage of it...

  27. I think it's vital to insist on a couple having some period of premarital counseling, either with their officiating clergyperson or with some secular figure, like maybe a therapist. I also think a lot of people nowadays get married without really knowing the other person on a deeper level. I feel that in the old days, many couples got married too quickly just to live and sleep together without scandal, but at least they didn't take 5+ years to figure out if they wanted to get married.

    The concept of growing instead of falling in love is highly underrated. Many couples who meet through an arranged meeting (not the same as an arranged marriage) quickly talk about the important things and decide if they're compatible for living together and raising a family. They don't just go out for a short-term good time and then get married almost as an afterthought if they're still together after 7 years. There's something stronger there than just physical attraction.

  28. Alessandra -- Your comment made me think of the Elvis song "Burning Love". Enjoyed your comment. The fact that your husband was older might have made a big difference. Young guys can be awfully immature sometimes. Good marriage story. Voluntary classes might be the only way this could happen, but those classes are out there for those who are thinking from a common sense perspective.

    Carrie-Anne -- The dating relationship is usually a lot different than the real everyday life relationship with someone. While dating and just getting to know someone, people are putting on their best selves and often acting in an artificial way. Couples need to get past the superficiality of put-on exteriors and know who they are actually going to spend their lives with. The feeling of love is not enough.


  29. Lee, first of all, I simply love your blog. You always bring up such interesting discussions.

    Secondly, in answer to your post, I will say that yes, in ways, I think it might be too easy to get married. That said, I think one of the biggest problems in society is the way folks are brought up to think a certain "pattern" is what they should do. Those who are brought up to think you go to school, graduate, fall in love, get married, and have children in that order often find themselves in a situation at "the age" you "should" be getting married, but not necessarily in love. Then, because they feel bad (sometimes on their own because of loneliness, but sometimes from pressures from family and friends) that they're "getting old" and aren't married yet. Thus comes the stage of "I must find a mate." This I think leads people to settle for a relationship with someone they don't love in a forever sort of way, because hey, they love the person...they think. I think if society somehow came to a place where people didn't have such expectations of what other people should do and at what time in life, people might be far more likely to wait until the right person came along.

  30. Having been in both the local church and ministry for over 40 years, I do think people are able to get married to easily.

    The problem with any kind of waiting period or "courtship" period is that it becomes a licnese to become sinfully physcial. As a pastor, I do not believe in long engagements. Long engagments lead to fornication.

    The problems of "marriage" cannot be solved by legislation. The only way to ensure a lasting, life long, and even happy marriage is for two people who are indwelt by the HS, who fully understand the purpose of marriage, who are fully committed to being obedient to their own individual role within the marriage, and die to themselves, and pick up the cross of Calvary and follow Christ.

    Having come to be both your friend and to know you a bit, you must be tongue in cheek joking about any psychological evaluation, unless mentally challenged persons are considering marriage. I take that last question as an attempt at humor.

    Bad marriages, divorce, and the problems that come with any and all human relations including marriage are a consequence of the fall of man. Sin causes divorce. Sin causes strife.

    Applicatons, blood tests, waiting periods, counseling, classess, evaluaitons, will not make marriages last any longer or prevent divorce.

    Only two people who live in the power of the HS (Galatians 2:20) who are comitted to obedience and the glorification of Jesus Christ will experience all of the blessings of divinely instituded marriage.

    Because many unbelievers enjoy good and happy marriages for a life time is due to the grace of our patient and longsuffering God. He sheds his grace on the all.

  31. Colby -- So please to hear your kind words. What you say is true and very important. When we fall under the pressure of outside expectations, we can make some very poor decisions, which like in the case of marriage can lead to making us feel trapped, disillusioned, and disappointed that we didn't pursue our own dreams. Societal pressure can be a mighty strong force that erodes logical thinking. Thanks for bringing up this important point.

    Gregg--Your excellent advice will mostly be heeded only by those who are believers. There are others for whom the evaluations, state mandated waiting periods to obtain licenses, and classes with testing required to obtain a license could be helped to make marriages better and stronger. It probably won't happen since issues of morality and religion start entering into the picture. It's a dream I know, but more strong marriages and families could make a difference in the fabric of what our nation is. But I think your view is ultimately correct.


  32. Part 1 of 2 (I hope)You pose an interesting question; ‘Should it be harder to get married’. Your followers pose some even more interesting ideas.

    First, let me say, I would be strongly opposed to ‘the State’ exerting any influence in this area. I have friends and family members who tried to marry in Europe during the period we refer to as ‘the Cold War’ when the communist regimes of various countries literally told you if, when, and whom you could marry. Although, things in the US may be coming to that all too quickly, I for one would rather not do anything to encourage ‘the State’ to have more authority in the lives of individuals.

    The idea of some sort of course or learning model to better prepare a couple for marriage might sound good on the surface, but who would put together the text and teach their particular brand of morality, love, fidelity, etc, etc, etc, in this type of study. Of course, there is already a text written that I personally consider the handbook for every aspect of life and that would be The Holy Bible. If individuals were to live closer to its teachings and study it as the manual for marriage, raising children, being good neighbors, etc, etc, etc, the world would surely be a better place, but unfortunately that isn’t going to happen.

  33. Part 2 of 2 (I hope)

    The few who are students of The Holy Bible and abide by the teachings of God and His Son, Jesus Christ seem to have a fighting chance in this world, but more and more people around the world seem to be turning their backs on the best hope they have to be successful at just about anything. I stand by the things I wrote on your blog concerning ‘divorce’.

    Of course, we live in an extension of the ME generation, where if it feels good – why not do it. More marriages are based on lust than love. Attraction isn’t about knowing of seeing someone’s soul; it’s about seeing them naked. While a beautiful woman or a handsome man easily attracts the attention of others, it’s the content, the thought processes, the inner beliefs and finally a true relationship with God and Jesus Christ that makes a person, even the homeliest of persons, attractive beyond compare.

    A true sound marriage was once explained to me as a triangle with one point reaching upward and the other two far apart at the base. If Jesus Christ is at the top of that point and a husband at one point on the base and his wife at the other point of the base, and each are diligently moving up the sides of that triangle, making every effort possible to come closer to Christ, they are also coming closer to each other.

    A part of many modern day marriage ceremonies is found in The New Testament, Mark 10:9. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” My question is this; what marriages performed today has ‘God joined together’? Does anybody actually possess that authority to act in His place? Is it the preacher who received his license from the Internet? Is it the preacher who spent years at seminary learning and studying? But, then which denomination is correct? Is it the local JP or judge? I personally believe (read that again, I PERSONALLY BELIEVE) God sanctions our marriages when we choose to become one with him and particularly His Son, Jesus Christ. The legality of the marriage certificate is important as far as our pledge and commitment to society and each other go. BUT, our commitment and pledge to God must come from our heart and is a continual process.

    I know someone is going to comment and say; ‘but I don’t believe in God, Jesus Christ or The Holy Bible’. To them I would say; ‘how sad, because then you have cut yourself off from the most perfect love, the best example, and the handbook for life.

    Again, these are my personal opinions and thoughts. Most of you know exactly where I live and whom I serve. I firmly believe that until we invite God and Jesus Christ back into our hearts, ours marriage, our schools and our governments we are on a path to live out our lives alone with no guidance, constantly struggling for answers to very simple questions.

    @ Jamie - I want to tell you how heartwarming it is to hear someone as young as your are and as newly married, who understands so well the commitment to God as well as your spouse, in marriage. I thank you for that comment.

    There I go again - hogging up the comment box.

  34. Faraway Eyes -- My comment section is a welcome forum for anyone who wants to express themselves, especially when done so well as you do.

    I also would be totally opposed to the state telling us who to marry and making other stipulations about our lives in that respect. What I am suggesting is a test for readiness to drive the marital vehicle before issuing the license.

    There are indeed a lot of complexities about how training could be accomplished. Religious guidance would not be accepted by all and secular training would be highly flawed. But a guidance, an education, a time of contemplation about the contractual union would be better than just allowing people to jump into marriage.

    If at least the practical aspects of marriage beyond the initial heart flutters and physical stirrings are laid on the table, couples might be far better prepared to make a commitment and not be able to use the "nobody told me about this part" excuse.

    God's Law is indeed the perfect and ideal solution to solid marriage. Blessings await those who obey this law. But those couples who don't strive for the Holy sanctity of marriage will be at least be better off if they at least approach their marriages with logic and reason and not be just marrying because someone looks hot and is fun to be with.

    I'm sure more regulation to marriage will never happen as a societal ruling, but it would be nice to see more happy families and fewer divorces.


  35. I completely agree that both marriage and divorce are entirely too easy to do, I hate the idea of any government entity deciding what is best for me.

    I believe almost everything you brought up comes down to morals and no amount of rules or regulations will do anything to create a better situation when it comes to ethics.

    We already have a huge large percentage of people who are willing to fore go marriage and just live together. Creating a more difficult method of getting that license will only force those numbers higher resulting in even more children born out of wedlock, problems with medical coverage and a host of other problems.

    I like to counsel people before I perform a ceremony, but people who have decided they want to get married will do so with or without the requirements I may put on them. Other than a resurgence of people who care about morals, (which would solve hosts of problems) I have no idea what we are supposed to do.


    Stopping by from A to Z. This will be my first year participating.

  36. I think too many people are suckered into the lie that a 'fairytale wedding' is followed by a fairytale marriage where there are never disagreements and there are never any issues of compromise to be made!

    And who sold us that lie? Slushy escapist fiction, unrealistic 'role models' on the Silver Screen - and the advertising industry!

    After 32 years of marriage I believe I am qualified to have an opinion on this!

    I married in church (our choice but we were both committed Christians and felt it right) and amongst my vows I promised my spouse that I would remain married to him through sickness and in health, in good times and bad, until our life's end. That means - you don't just cut'n'run when the going gets tough and the flowers and lace fade.

    We've been through some tough times - massive debt (not entirely our own mis-management), life-threatening health problems, the near-loss of a child's life and even the insidious 'boredom' of familiarity.

    Some days, yes I have wondered if it was all worth it - then I remember the vows I made and realise that sometimes it's my own selfishness that's got in the way.

    For a marriage to work well, each partner/spouse must be willing to put the needs of the other first. To my mind, the marriage falters when either party doesn't hold to that value and sadly, without some form of restoration through apology and forgiveness, the future looks bleak.

    And Christians don't always get it right, either! A number of church-friends have divorced (and not all of them were the innocent party!)

    All I can say is go into marriage with your eyes wide open: it doesn't just 'happen', it requires two people dedicated to 'making' it work.

    Oh, and don't believe the Ad. men!

  37. it's way too easy to get married and get divorced. all the things that we're supposed to work for are now too accesible, too in plain sight which makes them less valuable or even unimportant - just paper-work, no real value. the problem isn't the fact that we can do whatever we want, but the fact that those wh don't appreciate them drag them through mud and those who are too fixated on value lose the big picture.

    these days... a lot of freedom and right, no prospect, no textbook.

  38. You know, I'm still quite young (24) and although I've fancied myself in love many times, I've never found someone I'd actually commit to.

    Maybe that's a good thing, saving me from a lot of heartache later on.

    From an outsider's perspective, though, I think people do get married too easily and it almost seems as if people of my generation think of it as just another form of having a boyfriend/girlfriend. That if it gets hard, they can just split.

    Of course, it's not always the case, but it just seems to be the prevalent mindset.

  39. The divorce rate is presently about 60%.
    To ask if it's too easy to get married, one must also ask why divorce is more common now than it used to be.
    In the 50's, when women had little choice of birth control, a job or the ability to support a family, the divorce rate was low. How low exactly, I don't know, but less than 60%. Marriages lasted because the women had few other options.
    Many people don't even bother getting married these days. They live common law.
    In Canada, after living together for one year, an unmarried couple has the same division of assets if they break up, as a married couple.
    I think that times are changing. Young people don't have the same traditions as their parents. I think that's ok. Nothing is so certain as change.
    Living with the right person for your whole life is wonderful, but if you're with the wrong person, sometimes you have to move on.
    I think the state of marriage these days is simply part of the times. They are changing, and that's all there is to it. Making laws about marriage insn't going to help. Denying support to single parents with children isn't going to help.
    We can only deal with what is, and adapt.
    I have a good marriage. I expect to live with my husband for as long as we both live.
    Louise Sorensen
    louise3anne twitter

  40. Brett -- You are very correct about this all coming down to moral values and, yes, what in the world can you do to force this on anyone. We are probably stuck with the way things are. Welcome to the 2013 A to Z Challenge.

    Sue -- Agreed that we have mostly been sold a bill of goods that has been misrepresented. Most in modern society are soft when it comes to dealing with tough times and we don't make it so well.

    Adriana -- Anything that comes too easily is not valued as much as that which we struggle to obtain.

    Misha -- Love can be very fickle and is often an illusion. In fact, what we think is love often is something else.

    Louise -- If one takes an honest rational look at a perspective partner before marriage I think there is far less a possibility of coupling with the wrong partner. Relationship hopping is not a good thing and usually creates more complex problems that it solves. Especially if there are children. I think things will continue changing in the wrong direction as long as appeasement of self is the main goal in life.


  41. I do think that it's a good idea for couples to try living together first. Though everyone will still be on their best behavior at the beginning, it could prove to be a real eye opener once they settle into a routine. Great topic and helpful advice Lee!

  42. Hey Lee, I just read your response to my comment and I would like to respond back (although I usually don't do this).

    I would never want to marry anyone for any other reason than love. I don't want to "learn to love" a person. I want to love a person and marry him. Not the other way around. The other way around seems horrible to me, for many reasons.

  43. Julie - Living together can tell a lot, but it may also be chipping away at the sacred nature of relationships. Easy to get out of a live-in relationship might make it seem easier to escape a disillusioned marriage.

    Sabrina -- I understand what you're saying, but I also do believe that love is a learning process that changes as time goes by. The way a couple may love each other at 50 years may be very different in many ways than a couple at 5 years. True love should grow though what we learn about our partner and the nature of true love itself.


  44. Hey Lee,

    I entirely agree! What I was aiming at is marrying a person for economic or social reasons, and learning to love that person as you go. What I meant was that I would much rather love someone, marry that someone and learn to love him better :)


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