A popular complaint seems to be that the value of marriage is deteriorating, that it’s rapidly losing all meaning and importance. Well, to lose value, it’s implied that it had some in the first place, so I can only assume that those who voice this common gripe would rather that marriage go back to the way it was before modern depravity sunk its fangs into the institution, in the same way a mangy cat maims a dove. Unfortunately, it’s as of yet unclear to me what part of “the good ol’ days” folks are longing for in regards to holy matrimony. Perhaps it’s marriage pre 21st century that so many desperately miss—and who wouldn’t miss a partnership in which one person was viewed unequal, as property, even? I mean, until the 21st century the entirety of the United States hadn’t even outlawed marital rape; that means that marriage was literally a free pass to rape a woman. Or maybe the state of holy union our country needs so desperately is the style that was so popular before the Industrial Revolution—marriages that were formed out of convenience and in accordance to social status, none of that “love” or “compatibility nonsense back then!” Or we could go back even further, to when it was the rare individual who decided for themselves who they wanted to marry—no, matches were made by the victim’s happy couple’s parents, because of course it’s absurd to let someone choose their own partner. Yes, the institution of marriage has clearly changed over the years—and I say thank God for that.
At long last, marriage as a whole has become a willing partnership, at least in the United States. Finally, men and women can choose if they want to wed, and who they want to get married to without the forced influence of family members, match makers or anyone else who has no rightful say in the matter. That alone has transformed marriage from something ugly into something that is absolutely beautiful, because there is nothing sacred about a forced union in which one or both partners are beautiful, but to willingly and happily make that commitment? That is something wonderful.
From what I’ve heard, the biggest factor that has allegedly soiled the integrity of Holy matrimony is the dramatic rise in divorce that is sweeping the country (well, there’s also the issue of gay marriage, but that’s a whole ‘nother game that we’re not even going to play today). Yes, it’s true that the divorce rates have raised by over 40% since the 1970s. Clearly, this is a drastic change. However, when I see this rise in divorce across our nation, I see no reason to despair and accuse marriage as a whole to be void of meaning—I see a reason to celebrate. If divorce rates are rising, doesn’t it stand to reason that the percentage of unhappy marriages must be falling? Every divorce could mean that one less woman is going to stay with a man who abuses her. It could mean that one less man is going remain tied to a woman who will not work, no matter their financial difficulties. Or that one less couple is going to spend the rest of their lives suffering for their mistake rather than correct it. Divorce signifies the elimination of a partnership in which one or both partners are unhappy— and any marriage like that is more of a discredit to the institution as a whole than any divorce could ever be.
In any case, to even say that the fact that some marriages fail or are made for the “wrong” reason devalues the entire institution is a fallacy in logic—something that applies to certain parts does not necessarily apply to the whole. And something that applies to certain parts certainly doesn’t apply to other parts—what I mean by that is that no marriage affects any other one. The beautiful thing about marriage today is that it is something you choose with someone you choose. And because of that, marriage belongs not to a generalization or to a statistic, but each one to a specific couple. No one and nothing can devalue or disgrace that institution other than those who are a part of it. My suggestion is to stop worrying about what other people are doing with their lives and their marriages—we’ve evolved passed the point in which we must see something so personal as a community decision. Let’s all focus on our own lives, our own relationships, our own happiness.
Marriages worth saving should be cherished, but don’t be afraid to celebrate the freedom of divorce, either.