Marriage: An editorial
Much has been talked about over the last few weeks regarding what is being called, “political adultery”. There are many people out there who have taken this opportunity to talk about the changes in society toward marriage itself. For a long time, people have believed that marriage is becoming less and less important. They say that as the next generation reaches the age of marriage they think less of the commitment and meaning behind it.
I am only thirty-three and not married. I do not profess to be an expert on anything regarding marriage. What I can tell you, first of all, it is not completely accurate to look back at marriages from say the fifties and compare it to today.
Far too often we look back on our history with rose colored glasses. People seem to forget that just because there were laws put in place to give people rights that did not mean that in the home that was what transpired.
Even as women gained more rights in the eyes of the law, in the eyes of their husbands, friends and peers, the change was extremely slow. The idea of an unwed woman over thirty was still unbelievable to many. If a woman was also a mother they were often shunned and ridiculed. Something was wrong with you if you did not at least have a husband and this forced many into relationships that today would never have been.
Once married, there was little women could do. While there were many pioneers and women who were able to accomplish great things, there were also many whose only purpose was to serve the man and take care of the children.
There was little outlet for women to explore education or professional pursuits. An argument could be made that the opportunity was there, but it is one thing to have it available and an entirely another to be able to reach it.
With little to no support by family, friends and their own husbands, many women were forced to just accept their role and deal with such issues as adultery and abuse. Even those who lived lives without such worries were never encouraged or received support to achieve much outside of the home.
To ask for a divorce was unheard of. Many women had no place to go, no outlet. Other women and even family members would encourage wives in horrible marriages to stick with it out of nothing more than how people would perceive them.
A man could walk away from his wife and family with little to no repercussion from his peers, but this was not true for women. Often no matter the reason, the burden was placed upon the wives to do whatever it took to keep the marriage together.
With little chance to make a living and barely any support outside the home, women had no alternative but to remain behind and fight the good fight. I cannot say what the divorce rate would be back then if women had the same opportunities as today, but I think it would be much different than it was.
Today, women have much more chances to make it on their own be it single, married or divorced, but we are not yet out of our embedded mindsets that I believe have lead to marriages that should have never been and divorces that were inedible.
We are still bombarded with the idea that one should be married before age forty. It is understandable that if you wish to have children then being married and actively trying to conceive before age forty makes sense.
However, this can also pressure many into a marriage they are not yet ready for. I have heard many people plan their lives with marriage being on the list of things to do before age thirty. There is nothing wrong with goals, but I believe many, when they near age thirty, feel they must rush things which again can lead to a mistake.
There are women who do not wish to conceive any children, but feel that as they get older they will not find someone they would want to spend their lives with. Often women and men for that matter, feel that dating in their mid and late thirties will only bring in people with baggage, issues and kids from previous relationships.
This has caused many people to look for their marriage partners while in college. They feel it is the best place to find someone the most compatible. I personally know quite a number of people in happy marriages where they found their soul mate in college. The key is communication.
Communication amongst your significant other is paramount, but it is also important with those around you, especially your family. Another cause of what I call, premature marriages, are demanding parents. Due to their beliefs and history they want to see their sons and daughters married and with kids before they are too old or pass on.
In many cases there is nothing wrong with feeling this way and they only have the best interest of their children in mind. However, there are cases were overbearing parents pressure their children into marriages they were not ready for.
I will skip the part of arranged marriages and religion playing a part and return to communication. I have noticed that once someone is married they are much less likely to tell their spouse they have fallen out of love.
Now this happens in all relationships, but it seems that once married the idea of telling someone you vowed to spend the rest of your life with that you no longer love them and want out is much too hard to do.
In the public spotlight this can be even more difficult. As I said before, being looked down upon by your family, friends and peers can cause people to stay in a marriage they would have normally left. It is not honorable to remain in a marriage only to cheat and lie and hide things from your spouse. Even when children are involved, in the end you will end up causing more harm if you remain in a loveless marriage only to dishonor the mother or father of the children.
We as a people have become much more able to walk away from so much more. We can cut ties on many things if it is not working out. When it comes to marriage, many of us cannot cut those ties and instead remain until it causes more pain and suffering than being honest and upfront.
Till death do you part should be reinterpreted to mean until the death of your love for one another. It’s not easy to accept or even think about. Perhaps people believe you have to fight to keep a marriage together. I can understand this to a point, but when you are about to commit an act that dishonors your vows anyway it would be better to sit down with your spouse and talk it out. If in the end the best course is to walk away then so be it.
Many can come to the brink and pull themselves back to live happily ever after. I would hope most could achieve this, but just like standing before a battle you rather not wage, it is better sometimes to just walk away. I believe you can keep the sanctity of marriage by parting on the best terms possible. Sometimes you cannot win them all, but at least you can leave with your honor and the respect of the one you once loved.