Seth: Has marriage lost its meaning? Well in 1950, 2.18% of the American population over 14 had been divorced. In 2006, that number was 9.78%. A more telling statistic is the marriage rate itself. In 1950 66.64% of the population over 14 was married; in 2006 that number decreased to 54.87%. So has marriage lost its meaning? I say yes.
Marriage simply does not mean what it used to. I’m not taking a position either way, but having children out of wedlock used to be seriously discouraged, and even hidden. Now it is not. In fact, I recently heard of a 26 year old man who has seven children by seven different women, and another on a way by an eighth woman. The fact that he only “took care” of 3 of them notwithstanding, his answer to the obvious question was “children are a blessing.” I would agree with him, but what kind of life do these 7 children have to look forward to? What kind of rearing can he offer them?
I think nowadays, we can get away with what we loosely call romantic relationships because the pressure of marriage is less than what it was in the past. While people may or may not enter into marriage more hastily today, they surely feel less obligated to preserve the union “till death” than ever before. Today, marriages come and go. And I’m not saying there aren’t people out there who tried as hard as they could, but for me divorce won’t be an option. If more people had that mindset, then maybe they would be a bit more selective and thoughtful when choosing a life partner because it would be just that: a life partner.
And while I think marriage has lost its meaning, I don’t think it’s lost its importance. Successful marriages is the bedrock of family, from which many good things in society grow.
Ray: I’ll admit that I don’t know how marriage is treated in the rest of world, but in the US, the value of marriage has certainly gone down. The divorce rates in the US are amazingly high and the number of “broken” families has significantly increased since the time of the Baby Boom generation.
Seth was absolutely right to ascertain that marriage was meant to solidify the union of two life-partners. This union then becomes the foundation to the traditional family structure. But in today’s world, the traditional norms of the collective society seem to be losing grounds to what’s convenient to the individual.
In my opinion, I think the problem is that people rush into marriage without fully being prepared to deal with the married life. I can’t tell you how many times I hear from older married guys that I should avoid getting married as long as possible. Rarely do I find one who tells me that marriage is great. In fact, I can’t remember one time when someone actually stood up for the sanctity of marriage after being married for a number of years. This leaves little doubt to why the divorce rate is so high in America.
In my observations, the men that I speak to are unhappy primarily because they have unfulfilled dreams. They often blame their marriage and children for reasons that they have not reached the levels of success that, in their minds, they should have. They always tell me that if they were in my shoes (being 24 years old, tall, dark, healthy, and handsome 🙂 that marriage would be the last thing on their minds.
Thus, I have come to realize a few things about marriage:
1. You must find yourself before you can find your life partner – If you have goals, dreams, and aspirations, you should pursue them immediately. Do the things that you want to do now. Sometimes to do so requires that you’re single (and I mean not even having a boy/girlfriend).
2. Having children fundamentally changes the relationship – Everyone will experience different things when they have children, but from my observations, it’s better to enjoy some time alone with your partner before you bring another life into the world. Really get to know each other and enjoy the great pleasure in life that is youth.
3. Financial stability greatly enhances the chances of sustaining a happy marriage – Issues relating to finances (or lack there of) are amongst the highest reasons for divorce. I think that it’s better to have money in the bank and a great sense of financial security before getting married. Personally, I don’t want to start a family until I am financially able to provide for them the type of life that I envision for them.
These are just my own observations. Many of my friends that I have known since childhood are married or are about to get married in the near future. Because of them, I have given a lot more consideration about the idea of getting married. I also thought that maybe something was wrong with me because everyone else was getting married and I had no intention of doing so anytime soon.
Not only am I not in a position to get married (being single is the first obstacle), but I also realized that I don’t want to get married. At least not yet. There are many things that I need to do before I am ready to settle down and start a family. I am still discovering myself and pushing myself to do things that I never thought was possible. I am not ready to stop this pursuit of finding myself yet and that’s ok.
I’m not in a hurry to get married and I don’t feel pressured to do so. I want my marriage to last forever. Marriage isn’t just a longer-term relationship, its a permanent commitment between two soul-mates who vow to love and support each other until death. It’s a uniting of two lives and all that comes with them. It’s accepting and loving a person’s complete package, not just the aspects that you find attractive. Marriage is a “thank-you” gesture to God for creating the perfect mate to experience the rest of your adult life with. At least that’s what it means to me.