By Nadia Persun, Ph.D. and Alicia La Hoz, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologists and Managing Partners of Family Bridges
Newsweek recently posted an article online entitled “The Case Against Marriage” – here’s our response to the article. (You can view the original Newsweek article at: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/06/11/i-don-t.html)
I guess I could have been just sitting on the couch with him one way ten years ago, watching a sitcom and sipping nice chilled Chardonnay. Feeling loving and sentimental, I’d just tell him in the spur of the moment: “Hey, I’ve been thinking about us. I love you and want to stay with you, hopefully for good.” He’d agree to my casual proposition: we wanted to be together. Wearing jeans, we’d exchange our informal vows and skip dealing with legalities, costs, and ado of a gown and a tuxedo party. However, we’ve opted out of the “promise of the couch” option and had a small wedding ceremony with friends and family supporting and celebrating our decision, thus creating memories and traditions that we now cherish and share with our children. Many things were to follow: becoming better friends, learning to share, compromise, and forgive, and figuring out that marriage is not easy but worth of effort.
Yes, I could support myself financially. After graduate school, I’ve landed a job that is both, fun and well-paying. However, I needed him to cheer me up through the hurdles of being a student and share both, delights and problems, of launching and building my career. He is my family, supporting and cheerleading, in thick and thin. Yes, I could probably get away without some of his help in the house. I do have expensive appliances in the house that make chores easier. However, my top of the line washer and dryer don’t give me a back rub when my muscles are sore, and my high end French door fridge does not listen and cheer me up when I feel sad. I don’t believe that modernization and affluence can replace deep human need for a life time partnership with commitment and stability coming with marriage.
No, I did not have guarantees when marrying him that later I am not going to meet another “better suited” partner. I just genuinely liked him and desired to be together. So much that I vowed to make him a member of my family. Just like I’ve never attempted to exchange my sister during our disagreements for another, easier to get along-with human, I’ve extended the same no-expiration and no- exchange policy to him. No, I have never considered formal celebrations and tangible tokens of connection, such as rings, a wedding, and a marriage license, as redundant. I’ve heard cynical comments about marriage being just a piece of paper. However, history and experience show that some papers (think of the Constitution) are timeless, priceless, and capable of providing an irreplaceable foundation for creation of stability, deep meaning, and greatness.
Yes, there any many choices these days. It’s easy to get cynical and overwhelmed by variety, struggling with finding patience and ability to manage stress of life-long decisions. Just like many become shopping bulimics, buying, returning, exchanging, and upgrading goods in the land of material abundance, some try to apply same principles to intangible commodities, such as love and commitment, only getting increasingly overwhelmed, confused, and discouraged. Genuine love is not about staying together during a transient period of coincidental convergence of interests, ending upon expiration of passion and patience. Untainted definition of marriage includes life time commitment and loyalty, along with creation and preservation of a family tradition. It’s hard, and sometimes it does not work out. But you are darn lucky if it does. Why promote and foster marriage resentment? How about getting better at relational skills, overcoming marriage phobia, and learning to contend with and appreciate both, labor and fruits of grand yet great life decisions?