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Nov 19, 2010

Marriage: What's It Good For?

Now, listen to this lady. ( She is on fire!... )

Anony has commented 19/11/2010 05:33:23 > The problem with marriage today is people don't want to work at it.

That only makes sense if you actually mean relationships. Marriage is a civil contract. You sign it, that's it, it's in force until or unless you officially change that state. No work required. It's in a file drawer somewhere, and probably a few computers as well.

Relationships, however, contain all of the things one needs to work at -- and they do so no matter if you are married or not.

> People revere marriage because they realize what it represents.

Oh, yes? And what would that be, outside of who gets to visit who in the hospital room, or who will be accepted on the insurance contract?

My *unmarried* relationship has lasted many years longer than any number of current marriages, and is still very strong indeed. I am at a loss as to what marriage "represents" that would be of value to me (other than those state-arbitrated benefits I gave examples of.) Please enlighten me.

> So, they play house, have live-in lovers, have kids who they DO screw up

Hmmm. We (she, actually) own this house, no mortgage; we built the interior into it ourselves; it took years of co-operative work. I own two other homes elsewhere in town. Are we "playing house"? We are completely faithful to one another; are we just "live-in lovers"? All three boys have degrees (one has three), all three are in comitted relationships, two of three have children, all are ranked martial artists, all are kind, intelligent and funny, and are socially and financially quite well off. Did we screw them up?

On the other hand, I can point at innumerable marriages that are horror shows worthy of their own "point-and-screech" reality series. Marriage isn't what you think it is. In fact, the mistake many people make, thinking that marriage will "improve" their relationship in any interpersonal fashion, is one of the first rocks most people's ships founder against. If you're married, that's fine, but there is not one whit more or less care you need to exercise in maintaining your relationship (not your marriage, the county clerk maintains that) than do any random unmarried couple.

I would also counter: Relationship is the word you want to pay attention to here, not love. Love is a component; the relationship is a much broader thing, requiring great care on many other fronts as well.
Anony has commented 19/11/2010
You have failed to answer the questions, M. That's no way to be taken seriously.

Anony has commented 19/11/2010 04:53:22
Marina (and Mindy), I own many suits and a few hats, as it happens, and do wear them. I also wear a formal uniform when the occasion calls for it (less often these days), and I have an entire collection of almost 19th-century formal politenesses I very much enjoy applying to life. Opening doors, hand-writing notes, etc. My partner is the #1 recipient of all of this, of course, and she reciprocates with a sensuality, playfulness and passion that puts the vast majority of today's women into a "couldn't possibly compete" category with no doubt whatsoever. Among other things, she runs a lingerie shop and is gifted with exquisite feminine taste; I'm almost embarassed to admit how much better I have it than the average fellow.

To both you and Mindy, as for masculinity, here's my thinking. Be almost agressively feminine. From there, show your interest in those you consider to be masculine, desirable, interesting. In this way, you can encourage the adoption of that which you think is worthy. I suspect that you would be far more successful in such an undertaking if you forego the jeans. Most fellows are very prone to notice what the sexiest lady in the room is interested in, and we do take mental notes and adjust our behaviors.

> A woman that is feminine, will be so in pants, jeans, dress, heels, flats, hair down, hair up, nails red, nails natural, what have you.

I don't think that follows. Take it to the extreme to see why the idea fails: Is a man or woman dressed in rags, dirty face, shoes with holes, as generally sexy as one in evening dress (by which I mean, the way someone dresses when they're out with someone they *really* want to "catch")? I think if you're being honest, you'll admit that such is rarely (if ever) the case. If you're still with me, we've established that there is a line somewhere between rags and evening dress that when approached, one's interest becomes more likely to perk up. You are contending that the very things that women have the most leeway in remain irrelevant -- dress, heels, hair, nails, makeup -- thus effectively moving the presumed location of the line towards the rags; I submit that this is the wrong direction. On the contrary, I think you want to move the line towards the evening dress, because this is where I perceive the peak of attractiveness to be. In my outlook, one should not only try to dress to attract one's mate, but also to keep them. Just my 2c.

Anony has commented 19/11/2010 03:51:13
All relationships count.

I reject your assertion that he would have been less committed outside of marriage. Unless he says otherwise, I assume that his success is the result of their efforts as a couple. Anything else is outright insulting.

Anony has commented19/11/2010 03:35:35
Who does? I don't - and I certainly am not under any impression that the erosion of this particular social artifact is in any way responsible.

Very poor educational standards, rampant superstition, out of control wages and home ownership costs, a government wildly out of constitutional compliance, irrational wars, security theater... these are some of the fundamental problems with large negative social consequences. The decline of marriage, in sharp contrast, is one of the better things going on right now.

Anony has commented19/11/2010 03:27:52
> if marriage is obsolete then why do the majority of gay people want the privilage of being married?

Gay people want the same opportunities as anyone else. Marriage presently incurs numerous technical consequences such as insurance eligability and hospital visitation rights; that's part of the reason. They're also very much looking for social validation - the gay community suffers much predudice and the natural response is to look for formal support. It's really no surprise if you think it through. And of course, they don't like the government-sponsored implication that hetero relationships are of higher value than gay relationships. And I can certainly see their point(s.)

> Obamacare

I don't think those numbers mean what you think they mean. Nor do I think you can count on either congress or the judiciary to do anything useful, much less constitutionally compliant. But it (banning marriage) was a lovely thought, thanks for voicing it.

Ideally, validating, and/or enforcing and/or adjudicating any contractual agreement between consenting individuals would be the government's role; while any formal woo-woo in the realm of superstition would be strictly limited to that of the religion(s) involved, if any. Unfortunately, that kind of clarity is far beyond the collection of ineffectives and syncophants in the various legislatures.

Anony has commented 19/11/2010 03:10:27
Way to completely miss the point, son. Received an "F" on a lot of written essay questions, have you?

My point to him - which he will likely understand where you didn't - was that his relationship isn't what it is because he is married. It is what it is because he's made it that way himself, and because of the relative merits of his partner, and what she sees in him. I asked him those questions to illuminate the fact that his wonderful situation isn't a consequence of the county having a record: it's far more interesting than that.

Remember: ready, fire, aim is not a successful life strategy.

Anony has commented 19/11/2010 03:02:56
>This is about what children need and they need parents with the same last name and who agree to stay together.

Neither of those things are unique to marriage. Neither of them are correct, either -- but that's a minor point, given the irrationality of your position in the first place.
No one with half a brain cares about what someone's last name is. Truly.
Second, what kids need is love and support and supervision and education -- these things, and other things like them, are very concrete touchstones in a young person's life. They key isn't freezing an environment in place; it is simply making sure that whatever the environment is, it is made to fold rationally and supportively into the child's world view and experience.
The proof is in the existence of many children of single parents who have grown up to be stable, happy persons. If this were controlled by last name or the presence of the same two people, it would not happen. But it does, and quite commonly.
The opposite is also true: There are many unhappy, unstable individuals who come from married households where the biological parents have stayed together.
The task of raising children isn't magically "fixed" by artificially nailing down the parent's prospects. Quite the contrary; when parents aren't happy, the kids almost always know. And it does them no good at all. Few things make people as unhappy as being married to someone who no longer holds up their end of the relationship.

Anony has commented 19/11/2010 02:49:45
So you're saying she would be worth less to you if you hadn't signed a particular piece of paper? That your relationship would not have lasted? That your love would be less? That you wouldn't take as good care of her? How is anything you said a defense of marriage, as opposed to a defense of your relationship?

Anony has commented 19/11/2010 02:45:20
> It is a God ordained union between a man and a woman.
Oh, please. Humans have been forming relationships and mating for tens of thousands years or more. Your middle-eastern religion is barely two millenea old. How can you sit there with a straight face and babble about your imaginary friend being the cause, much less the arbiter, of our particular society's flavor of legalistic pair bonding?
When this kind of mythological nonsense is trotted to the fore, it's always a failure in some combination of the following three areas:
o critical thinkingo gullibilityo fear
Please try and get a grip. Science continually reveals more of the reasons the world works as it does. Religion reveals nothing.
Marriage in the US is a legal state of affairs. There are social aspects, notably peer pressure and religious overtones, but these add little, if any, value to the actual relationship. The relationships that work well are not driven by the fact that there is (or isn't) a signed piece of paper, or an imaginary man in the sky cheering them on. It's a matter of continuous care and nurturing of each other. Nothing else will work. Every time you try and convince someone that relationship success is part of your magic belief, you have done them a huge disservice by misdirecting them from the actual task at hand.

Anony has commented 19/11/2010 02:22:18
I'm in a stable, non-married, very loving monogamous relationship with a lady two years older than I. We've been together for a decade, and we are happy. She is the beneficiary on my insurance, is the owner of the completely paid-for house, has power of attorney, and is the primary individual named in my will. I am similarly situated. No one is at risk. This is a relationship designed, rather than dictated. She is secure; I am secure; lawyers need not apply. My observations were not made on the basis of my personal situation; I put continuous effort into my relationship so that it will thrive, as does my partner, so despite your optimism, I desire nothing from your, or anyone else's, 17-year old.

My observation is simply that because society limits these young ladies to relationships with young men their own age, their marriage prospects are bleak at this point. There is a strong tendency for them to become parents anyway, as their hormones drive their behavior despite their parent's intent. So instead of creating young, dynamic families with a breadwinner they can depend upon, they often create unsupported, single-parent children, while at the same time reducing their eligability for future relationships to those kind souls who willingly parent another's child(ren) and are willing to deal with all the ancillary issues as well. Either that, or their future relationships fail.

But - I do appreciate you trying to divert the conversation by attacking me instead of the points I made. Nice.

Anony has commented 18/11/2010 22:09:11
So, what you're saying, is that you support relationships that are actually dead inside, but are forced to remain legally intact despite that? The happiness of the children and the spouses, that should be irrelevant? No need for love, we have law? Your sex life is strictly rote, rare, or non-existent, but "oh well"? Mommy and daddy hate each other, but the kids should just learn to "duck and cover", like the civil defense turtle? That because a committment is public, it should have more value than otherwise? What's that idea based on? Embarrassment? Fear? Can you really believe that is even *slightly* healthy? Barring full body paralysis, what legitimate reason could there possibly be for "the sex going away"?

Your version of marriage is a trap. Lure someone in, and they're caged, even when the situation is nigh unto intolerable.

A healthy relationship has many human to human components, all actively nurtured by all participants. Let something go, and it'll come back to bite you. Pretend that a piece of paper can stand in for them, and *that* will bite you. Conversely, if you're being mistreated, you should be able to either speak up and address it until the issue is resolved, or decline to suffer the mistreatment. To the extent that a marriage certificate obstructs these things, it is a travesty.

Anony has commented 18/11/2010 21:33:01
>It has been proven over and over again that children need a mother and a father if they want to grow into mature, responsible adults.

No, it really hasn't -- that's purest nonsense. There are plenty of mature, reponsible adults who grew up in single-parent households, which pretty much destroys your claim. You should learn what "correlation is not causation" means.
Further, marriage does not ensure that either parent will be around; and lack of marriage does not ensure that both parents will not be around. Marriage is paper. Real relationships aren't about paperwork. They're about real acts and issues. Anyone who thinks a marriage certificate and/or handwaving will stand in for actual work done in an actual relationship is a dimwit.
>Kids growing up with a different step-parent every few years have no continuity in their lives; no solid foundation.
What they have is truth, instead of the lie of the stagant, unwanted relationship, bereft of love. And again, correlation is not causation. You're looking in the wrong place for your villain(s.) A single parent can provide an excellent foundation. When they don't, you can be sure there are other factors, which can range from poverty to illness to alcoholism to religion. All of these provide a weak (or worse) basis to raise a child under... none are limited to either side of the marriage question. And those are just the tip of the iceberg.

Anony has commented 18/11/2010 21:12:11
> Friendship, companionship, love, sex, children, family, joy, sharing, some sorrow, consolation ... and stability.

The problem here is that ALL of those things can be had outside of marriage. And more. So now what is marriage good for?

Anony has commented 18/11/2010 21:09:21
In return, let me ask: Why should we have to get a prenup? You're saying, make marriage safer by throwing up some legal boilerplate. Then, if you're lucky, the lawyers won't hurt you as bad.

How about, instead, if you set the relationship up the way you want it, and don't expose yourself to lawyers at all?

Writing a prenup is like wearing body armor. It's a sign you're doing something dangerous. Maybe you should rethink it.

Anony has commented 18/11/2010 21:03:43
Any healthy culture will evolve. When something becomes troublesome or toxic to the culture, it will fall by the wayside. This is what is happening to marriage: legislation has changed the climate, "lib" has changed the climate, and the rising tide of secular sanity is changing the climate. Relationships will have to stand on real merits instead of paperwork. Scary, isn't it? Especially since part of the social climate now is that many people are too lazy or too busy to nurture those merits. Rough waters ahead.

Anony has commented 18/11/2010 20:58:58
People can, and do, stay together for the benefit of children without marriage. They can, and do, also have children without marriage. Marriage is not about children; children are strictly incidental to the condition, unless the married people suffer a delusion that prevents them from seeing the reality of the situation. Yeah, I'm looking at you, religion.

Anony has commented 18/11/2010 20:54:33
>Why should men and women even get together at all?

Seriously? Aren't you being disingenuous here?

The answers are easy. Mutual support; two people are more powerful than one. Procreation; so far, kids require both sexes, though science may eventually put that one to rest. Most people like kids, and want to have them at some point. Affection; most people aren't satisfied with just a pet's simple adoration or being alone; and last, but not least, sex: As long as heterosexuality continues to be a strong personality component in most people, males and females will seek each other out for pleasure, and be inclined to stay as long as they find the situation to their liking and sufficient to their desires.

These are powerful drivers... and they will always trump the arguments.

The casualties (appropriately, I might add) are the social conventions that get in the way of these things, and frankly, marriage has become exactly that: something that is in the way (and that's really understating the case.) This is not a bad thing unless or until those social conventions are perfected so they no longer erode relationships... and we are clearly in no danger of that at the moment. Right now, marriage shows every sign of a convention that exists on little more than social inertia, often with superstition thrown in for added flavor. And to continue the metaphor without stretching it in the least, the resulting soup is poisonous.

Anony has commented 18/11/2010 20:38:44
> Marriage is a sacrament

...only for the superstitious. It's pitiful, really.

> it creates a family based on love and committment
No, it doesn't -- it is trivial to demonstrate that families based on love and committment exist without marriage; and also that families that have little to no love and/or comittment exist in married states.
You want love and comittment, then YOU are responsible for creating, nurturing, and protecting those things - marriage doesn't, and won't, serve in that role in any way. In fact, as soon as you start depending on marriage to do it for you, you're probably already sunk.
> The decline of marriage is a direct result of a lack of true committment, self- control, and respect for oneself and the person you love.

No. It is a direct result of marriage having little value in and of itself, as well as having become a dangerous minefield for the man. Relationships are only as good as they *are*; they are not enhanced by paperwork. You want to create a strong family, it really has nothing at all to do with marriage. Pretending it does simply avoids the real issues: loyalty, fidelity, sexuality, procreation, child-rearing, sharing, homemaking, bread-earning. Not one of those is actually related to marriage. If someone has a fine relationship, I *guarantee* it's because they worked for it, not because the pastor, priest or JP said "woo-woo" over their heads.

Anony has commented 18/11/2010 20:24:43
If marriage only has meaning in the context of superstition and delusion, or in the company of those who share those delusion, then it would have little meaning at all.

But in fact, marriage is defined by the effects it has on a relationship. The problem now is that the vast majority of those effects have become highly negative, both short and long term. And yes, that absolutely includes the superstitious aspect. If you want to succeed at any undertaking, you'd better have a lot more practical reason for it than "people who read a book about the imaginary man in the sky think I should."
Anony has commented יום חמישי 18 נובמבר 2010,19:32:43
(continued) The "norm" for married sex life can be summed up succinctly: evaporation. Less... and less... until it's once a month or rarer. But even in the face of this egregious abandoning of obligation, we're supposed to stay faithful. Of course, we're eventually not inclined to, nor is it reasonable to expect us to remain faithful in the face of our supposed partner's sexual abandonment. Women have lost sight of core relationship values. Fidelity, like respect, is an earned condition. But it gets worse. Women are being convinced in droves to abandon the signals that say "feminine." Dresses are rare and pants are the replacement du jour. Makeup is even rarer. Hosiery, if you can even find it, is sweatbag pantyhose instead of the sensuality of stockings. Shoes are flat or simply sneakers. Hair is cut short, nails are pallid, flirting a legal nightmare, age an even worse nightmare... still, some people wonder why we don't want to marry, or why they can't even seem to get a date. Well, if you haven't figured it out by now, I don't think you ever will. The only remaining hope is that many social trends tend to go in cycles, and I hope, for the sake of future generations, that women will generally come back around to embracing their femininity. Maybe then the fellows will regain an interest in settling down with them. If it hasn't become illegal by then to express an interest, that is. Oh, and legally speaking? Marriage has become a welfare program for lawyers - a financial beartrap, with the man typically in the role of the bear. It only takes one divorce before you realize that marriage, as construed by society today, is ultimately a life wrecker. That needs to end as well.

Anony has commented 18/11/2010 19:32:32
Good grief. The article blithely notes that we "used" to marry secretaries and nurses... and ignores the fact that society has gone shrill and worse about 'sexual harassment" in the workplace; a fellow can't even express an interest without fear of legal action. So the heck with that, and too bad for the secretaries and nurses, eh? Not to mention everyone else who has the misfortune to be a co-worker. But it doesn't stop there. Listen to the songs of the 50's; hear all those pinings about "you're too young, girl" (Drells, etc.)? Now, instead of characterizing finding an older, experienced fellow as a fairy tale for the young girl, society foams at the mouth and runs the male out of town on a rail, not to mention hanging him out to dry for life as unfit for employment. Whereas a 17 year old girl used to be considered as in the prime of her life for romance, marriage and children, now she's socially toxic. So those opportunities for young girls... are gone. And so are the healthy young mothers they turned into. And so are the active young families they created. Instead, these same young ladies are getting pregnant by teenaged boys who are wholly unprepared to support them, much less the children. The legislation that causes this is destructive -- that age gap was highly functional in *both* directions. The things marriage used to be, it has largely lost: There's no homemaker role for the middle class and lower; the wife has to work. The kids are raised by the television, or, if you're really fortunate, an illegal. Homes are typically so expensive that life is centered around paying for them instead of family. Sex lives are damaged by the crushing of femininity orchestrated by bewildered granolas; Would she want me to show up in a dress? No? Well, ok, why should I pretend to like her in pants? Why is it, exactly, that women have become convinced that in order to be smart, educated, successful, they now have to look -- and act -- like men? And why in the *world* would I want to marry someone like that? Good grief, if I wanted to cuddle a man, I'd move to San Francsico or at least hit a gay bar. I wouldn't be looking for a woman who was trying to dress like a man. (continued next post... 3000 character limit)

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