What's left to keep us together?
In today's world, it's astonishingly easy to get married and divorced.
It seems that marriage is undertaken with less forethought and research than buying a car. But traditional marriage is apparently on its deathbed. Notable psychotherapist Esther Perel suggests that children are actually the last remaining tether to traditional marriage.
So, should we get (or stay) married for the sake of children?
The evidence is sketchy on whether children are better off with married parents, in that, when all variables are carefully considered, children are actually better off with educated, upper middle class parents — not necessarily married parents. If marriage isn't the key ingredient to raising happy, healthy children, should we even bother?
The history of traditional marriage is a tainted one, given that women were once viewed (literally) as property.
Women were gifted or sold to men like chattel, in order to increase the economic stability of the men involved in the transaction. Certainly, we want to move away from that model of marriage, but the modern day "marry for love" model doesn't seem much better, since divorce and unhappiness are common.
If marriage was simply a 'financial transaction' in the past and a 'romantic impulse' in the present, it's no wonder people seem leery to walk down the aisle these days. If we aren't getting married for the kids, or for economic reasons, why would we get married at all?
What if we chose marriage in order to enhance our lives?
What if we looked for a true companion to spend our days with? What if we actually researched our future spouse, in order to understand how we might be compatible and how we could help each other through the complicated and often messy stages of life? What if we looked beyond the physical attraction of a future partner and instead, looked at each other's value system and life goals?
Modern day marriage could easily be the finest version of commitment we've ever seen in human history.
Two adults, fully developed and independent, coming together to build a stronger more loving family (by first being stronger, more loving versions of themselves). Children wouldn't be the sole bond that holds a marriage together, but rather the result of two people who love each other mindfully choosing to bring children into their lives deliberately. Children would neither be responsible for keeping a marriage together or tearing it apart.
What if we got married for all of the right reasons like love, companionship, personal growth, shared values, and life's dreams?
What if we had a mature and realistic vision of marriage, one that isn't syrupy romance or jaded cynicism? Maybe the history of marriage, with all of its mistakes and failures, will lead us to a new and improved vision of marriage. Not for the children or finances but for mature and equal love and connection.