Jul 29, 2009

Marriage versus Freedom

Marriage, what is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.
Let me begin to speak about the union we call marriage.
Marriage in America to be more specific.
Marriage stems from religious doctrines written during the 16th and 17th centuries.
English Puritans and Catholics had their own views on what constitutes a marriage.
Both brought their beliefs to America and the rules and regulations of a couple’s relationship were born.
The Puritans wanted marriage to be secular; which means a marriage is performed by a justice of the peace instead of a minister.
The Catholics demanded all marriages to take place before a priest and two witnesses. This was to eliminate any informal or secret marriages.
With each doctrine was another rule on how things should be done between men and women and it was written as law.

The obvious flaw I see with the concept of marriage is the laws that were written from 16th century religious Englishmen still are the laws that apply to 21st century American couples.
From biblical days to the 1950’s, it was a husband’s duty to provide for his wife. The wife’s duty was to provide sex, children, and housekeeping.
A major social shift happened in the beginning of the 20th century. Gender roles in America began to change. During World War II while men were at war, women began to work blue collar jobs. Once a homemaker; the wife and mother is now needed in the workforce to help keep both their families and America afloat during a time of war. When the war was over, the men were put back to work, and the women were pushed back into the kitchens.
This obvious act of second class citizenship towards women may have been the push needed to begin change in America to show what women are capable of.

Women no longer have the pressure from society to be married. Single motherhood is no longer taboo. The attitude toward marriage has changed because of this. In past decades a woman would marry for economic support, family alliances, children, or to fit into society. The wedding ring was enough status to feel accomplished for a woman back then. Now that a woman has free choice to have sex, economic support, shared residence, and have children; the needs for a husband has diminished to more of a want than a need. The want has also translated the act of marriage with the word love instead of a needed arrangement to survive in society.

The 21st century husband’s role has changed dramatically. His role is to not only be the provider for the family, but is now expected to share and contribute towards the family’s responsibilities. It is almost impossible for a middle class family to survive on one household income. The problem with this new way of life and marriage is the expectations of the spouse are the same. The wife is expected to work full-time or part-time, manage the household, and take care of the children. The husband is expected to work full-time, but now that their defined role as provider is taken away they have to redefine their masculinity and find their purpose in the modern day American family.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead once suggested that monogamy is the hardest of all human marital agreements.
It has been reported that most men demonstrate infidelity because of emotional detachment from their wives. The emotional stroking of a man’s ego is sought by their spouse as it was when they first began dating. A man’s role as a figure head that provides for his family is disappearing, and the woman’s independence from her husband leaves little thought to positive appreciation to her husband for the things he does contribute toward the family. The wife is now more overwhelmed than before juggling being a wife, mother, and career worker. She does not see that her husband may feel useless and underappreciated. In turn, the man may gravitate toward another woman who will satisfy his emotional need to feel important. Interdependence in marriage is the main difference from earlier marriages when men and women were more dependant on each other.
50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.
To be a wife or husband to someone is not a natural birth right. Marriage is not for every person, so to expect it to work with every couple is absurd. A person regardless of gender needs to accept obvious changes that will happen when they decide to be a pair instead of a single. One must give up some of their independence with accommodation and compromise along with deep commitment and strong-willed perseverance. If living under the constraints of selfless love sounds like a plausible attraction, then marriage could be the right choice for you. 90% of Americans marry at least once in their lives, and those who divorce marry again in 3 out of 4 cases.
The everlasting chase to find love is for those who can tolerate it the longest. How long can a dog chase its tail? Until he gets tired and tries again later.

The late Puritan John Milton in 1643 wrote his doctrine and discipline of divorce. He even advocated self-divorce without involvement of either church or government. For him, marriage rested entirely on the full compatibility of both partners. Where mutual love was lacking, marriage was a sham and had to be dissolved. His philosophy was ahead of its time.
A man or woman should have their free choice to whomever they decide to pair up with. It is natural for humans to pair and procreate hence the feeling of attraction toward certain people. People will always mate, have children, and sometimes stay in relationships for many years until they either lose interest or die. The act of love and companionship is not what I am debating. I am debating the need for the institution of marriage during the 21st century. Ideals of marriage is not what it use to be, and people are not who they once were. The time has changed enough for the covenant union between two people should be a free choice without obligated laws, and religious and government constraints. Life will be a lot simpler if democratic freedom would be enough obligation to love who you choose throughout your lifetime.