Thursday, November 12, 2009

Does marriage "work"?

This opinion piece on deals with the importance of marriage in raising healthy children. It cites the Obamas as a great example of a family enjoying the fruits of marriage.

I will not say much about the article itself, but about the comments at the bottom of the page. Whenever I see an article like this, touting the benefits of marriage, there are invariably "commentators" who say, "marriage does not work these days," or they cite all of the examples of bad/abusive marriages they have seen in their lives.

Two things come to my mind whenever I see such comments:
1) Let's assume that what these commentators say about marriage is true - that marriage does not work, that there are tons of bad marriages out there. Then how do you reconcile that with the fact that, despite all of this bad stuff, children with married parents still do better, on average, than children from the family structures that are replacing marriage? What does that imply about these replacement family structures?

2) That leads to my second thought -- why doesn't anyone ever make a comment like, "Cohabitation just does not work today." In other words, why doesn't anyone ever criticize the family structures that, according to decades of research, are actually failing children (on average of course)? After all, if marriage does not work, then cohabitation, by these commentators' very own standards, works even less - cohabiting relationships are less stable, last less time, have more child and partner abuse, etc.

It seems there are people who are so ideologically opposed to marriage that they have a huge blind spot when it comes to the faults of "replacement" family structures. Sure, marriage has its faults, but why pretend that whatever replaces it has none of the problems that marriage has and all of the benefits?


  1. Reminds me of this sad storefront spectacle I passed and twitpic'd Sunday:

    So cheap to split!

    Also this longer reflection on holding it together, on occasion of our 10th anniversary:

  2. I too have been hitting my head against the wall regarding cohabitation and its benefits on children. I often wonder about the positive spin the media generally portrays about the institution of marriage. Tabloid and gossip findings about affairs appear to engage readers across the globe which means a committement by a couple would not sell a single magazine these days. So what do we value?

    Are we so desperate to cling onto a secular idea of monogamy and marriage that we don't take notice that it is time to change the rules or eliminate previous ideals?

    Culturally, socially, technologically, spiritually..for the good and bad...society has changed. The ideals of marriage and its benefits are not adjusting to those changes accordingly. If the positive comments should be displayed, than examples to foster a marriage in the 21st century should also appear.

  3. Hello, Carrie. Thanks for your comment. I am not entirely clear what you were trying to say. Could you clarify for me? Thanks. -- Vince


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