Monday, February 21, 2011

What We Put it Through...

I feel compelled to write something about the subject of marriage. With so many people I know either dead set against it or having already been through the life crushing nightmare that is a divorce, maybe some of this aimless rambling can help some of you in one way or another.

Recent statistics are hard to come across for 2oo9. I'm sure 2010 stats aren't done being figured. There's no constant figure that I seem to be coming across but the latest figure from 2008 that I come across frequently is around 40 percent divorce rate. Jumping from about 18 percent in the 70's. That is quite a jump for only 40 years. So, is marriage an overrated and outdated institution? Well that is for each individual to decide, but I aim to present an argument explaining how people have, do, and always will make excuses to avoid it.

It's no surprise that marriage is a huge commitment. You have to want to do it, you have to want to struggle sometimes. You have to know that it's largely about compromise, and you must know how to compromise. So what's wrong with a less serious form of commitment? I will now pick apart the cohabitation argument.

When two people in a relationship live together, it allows for you to see the other person in a fairly new light. There's no more impressing them or hiding anything from them. Unless you're really good at that. There is often no more doing what you want, or going where you want when you want. Cohabitation, however, is the popular choice for people who don't want to deal with the legality of marriage. But, let's look at the downsides.

Regardless of opinion, living together is a commitment. It is something with which you will have to compromise. You have to consider another person's opinions, wishes, feelings, etc. So, this is different from marriage how? Well, no divorce proceedings, no lawyers, and less money lost. But in my experience, most people who cohabitate before marriage expect the relationship to fail. A friend of mine had once told me that he set aside money for when he knew the relationship would be over. This is just ridiculous. Nowadays, we EXPECT relationships to fail. And this is a cause of trying to take the easy ways out. The messed up thing about it is that we know the other person could leave at any point, but so could we. It's kind of an illusion of control or a reactionary upper hand. But illusions usually look better than consequences.

Now, everybody seems to think their relationships will stick. Even with no real intent to commit. Why do we think that because we want it to, yet we refuse to put effort into something, it will succeed? Another friend of mine asked me if I thought love really existed. I, of course, said yes. The truth of the matter is that love does exist, because there is proof of it in the world. Real, true, life changing love exists. The only reason some of us don't think it does is because we think that love should be able to survive what we put it through.

Would you like to know the true thing? Love absolutely CAN survive what we put it through. It's us who can't survive what we put each other through.

Maybe we should be considering this when we start a new relationship or work on keeping an older one more fresh. In a sense, the institution of marriage is just a piece of paper, in the sense that we should be treating our relationships like they will last forever. But when we consider that marriage is really a living, breathing, organism that needs to be nurtured, it brings a new perspective to an old idea.

An NYU student did a local study about people who cohabitate before marriage and how long the relationships last. She also cohabitates, mind you. She discovered that within three years, 50 percent of those couples will marry, with most of them ending in divorce. The remaining 50 percent end up lasting, or dissolving. I would say that statistics local to NYU would be the same just about anywhere. It's not a geographical problem, it's a stupidity problem. And there's no shortage of that. Living together puts your relationship on a fast track either to break up or to marriage. But why rush either of those things? The popular saying that life is about the journey, not the destination applies pretty well here.

In conclusion, marriage is, to me, an institution worth respecting. It is something worth reaching for. And those of us who don't see it that way usually have poor excuses to justify that. Without marriage, what we're left with is a huge percentage of the population who cohabitate serially and will never really commit because it's too hard, or because people don't want to try. Why don't we try? Why don't we want to prove our worth? Because of the prospect of failing? That is weak, and those of us who harbor those opinions WILL fail. Those of us who want to try at life may actually succeed. Sounds like trying has the better success rate.