Thursday, October 4, 2007

Why Marriage?

Ideally (in my view) a marriage is a union between two people who want to spend the rest of their lives together, accompanied by legal support of various kinds that encourages them to do so, partly but not entirely to provide a stable environment to raise children, and to reduce (if not eliminate) the instance of fatherless children, the spread of sexual diseases, and societal unrest and violence due to sexual jealousy.

Unfortunately, in the past in most places and in the present in many, marriage has often been a legal excuse for a man to abuse a woman and get away with it.

Unfortunately, in many Western countries today, the pendulum has swung the other way, and marriage often means, for the man, "find someone you don't like and buy them a house, leave, and then pay them half your earnings for the rest of your life", which is also a distinctly abusive situation.

Somewhere, I think there is room for a legal structure that provides the (in my opinion) good bits from the first paragraph, while treating BOTH members of the arrangement as adults, and expecting adult, not-abusive behavior from both. This may involve mutually agreed "term limits" of 5, 10, 20 or so years.

Until such things are settled, the idea of marriage presents significantly scary prospects to one or both participants, and the notion of simply "living together" where the relationship is sustained by mutual benefit and respect (and just possibly love) may seem, and be, more attractive.

I do think marriage has good aspects and advantages, not least some of the ones from the first paragraph. It won't work, though, unless both people are willing to work at it, through thick and thin.

When that works, it's a beautiful thing.

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