Some of you may be thinking about marriage in your future, (and some of you may be thinking about divorce), so I thought I’d take a few minutes and share my thoughts on this subject. Our American culture is so full of misunderstanding and misconception about what marriage means, that I thought I’d share another view.
Marriage in today’s legal world is a very dangerous place for a man. If a man with children gets divorced he divides his bank account in half. He probably loses his house. He will also be making payments for child support and alimony. He may very well lose his children if his ex works to turn them against him. He may also lose his reputation by the ex accusing him of various crimes such as child molestation, domestic violence or just about anything. A relative of mine was falsely accused of molestation, and it was a nightmare for him. So, it can be a real horror show if divorce happens, and divorce happens a lot.
So, I found myself debating myself. Should I be pushing my sons toward marriage which in today’s world may ultimately be very detrimental to their well being? I think the answer is yes, but with a caveat that one had better make sure from the onset that they make that marriage work.
I think some of the benefits of marriage; companionship, friendship, and intimacy are well known and are portrayed in just about every movie and song out there. But one big plus of marriage is often portrayed as a negative, and that is the children that often come out of it. I wanted children, but greatly underestimated both the both the effect, and the reward. Raising successful and happy children has provided me personally a huge, huge amount of personal satisfaction. I’m not saying there weren’t trying, terrifying, and tedious moments along the way but the satisfaction is huge and there were many terrific moments during the whole process. Some couples choose to not have children. My spouse says, yes you shouldn’t have children if you don’t want them. But I think those people are ultimately missing out on one of life’s great joys.
But recognize that once a child shows up, the marriage fundamentally changes. It becomes much more important because the changes aren’t just affecting the people who decided to form a team, but also the people that didn’t get a vote. And divorce really doesn’t help the children. In fact, studies show that children from the lowest socioeconomic group of intact families do better than children from the highest socioeconomic group of single families. So it is extremely important that you work at your marriage for the long haul because once you have children they need your marriage to work.
There is a lot of misinformation, a lot of it from Hollywood and the liberal left about marriage. It focuses on how marriage is a romantic time where you have to find your “soul mate” and then “live happily ever after”. Then they provide you with just about the worst tool ever by telling you “love means never having to say you’re sorry”. FemiNazis say marriage is the oppression of women, which is about as foolish as the other things they say. They say, if you didn’t find the right one the first time, just get a divorce and move on. And like everything coming from the liberal left, this is all bullshit. Marriages were arranged or at least approved of for couples for most of recorded history. Marriages are still arranged in many cultures. And if the vast majority of these arranged marriages can survive, and they do, marital durability must be due to something more than finding your soul mate.
The real tools for marital durability involve trying to be unselfish. You have to recognize the infatuation phase will wear off and then you are just two people trying to work things out and to form a good working team. Recognize now this other person isn’t your soul mate, but someone you like and want to work with. Probably the most important thing is to not let negative things build up. When things go wrong, you have to work through your problems (with a lot of talking) to a compromise of some sort. The church and God are an ally in this as they reiterate the message of self-sacrifice and love. Not romantic love, but the love they talk about in church that means forgiving, work and sacrifice.
So, I am coming down in favor of marriage. But it’s a big commitment that I wanted to make sure you went into with your eyes open to the risks and the rewards. Use all the tools, church, family, communication, the church’s pre marriage course, and your own personal commitment to make the marriage work. And whatever you do, don’t think divorce is the easy way out.