- Parent Category: Relationships
- Category: Marriage & Family
- Published on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:35
- Written by A C Powell
- Hits: 641
How can we ridicule love and glorify pimpin’ | Then get upset when all these men keep on abandoning children? | Furthermore with magazines attacking their self-esteem | How can we expect these young women to grow into queens? | Seems hypocritical | We want ‘em not to be physical | But then it’s like “If you’re not sexual, we’re not feelin’ you!"
– Verso “Runnin’ Away”, Audacious Angel, Vol. 1: Hello to the Good Guy (2009)
We could start by lamenting the fact that a once respectable magazine like Ebony now finds itself chasing trends by labeling its relationship section, “Love & Sex”, but we will not waste time with that. We will simply discuss the 8 February 2012, article by Sil Lai Abrams entitled, “Marriage IS Dead.” Ms. Abrams begins her argument by citing at study done by the Pew Research Center reporting “44% of Milennials, 43% of Gen Xers, and 35% of the Baby Boomers surveyed believe that traditional marriage is rapidly becoming obsolete. “ Abrams asserts that the rising social acceptance of “shacking up”, engaging in open marriages, and having children out of wedlock are cultural shifts in family values that allow for “personal expression within our relationships.” Ms. Abrams goes on to say:
As varied as our lifestyles are today, it is unreasonable to expect everyone to fit into the traditional marriage construct. Let me be clear: I am not against marriage. … I am, however, against the emotional escapism and lack of personal awareness and accountability that’s currently the flavor of love du jour on popular TV, and driving far too many of us down the aisle (original emphasis retained).
Ms. Abrams also decries the “warped beliefs” created by the wanton materialism and infidelity portrayed in many so-called “reality shows” like Basketball Wives. Ms. Abrams concludes the piece with the assertion that marriage must be based upon a spiritual connection as opposed to sex or materialism, on order to survive. This is where Ms. Abrams and so many others who speak on the current state of marriage in America begin to confuse people. Ms. Abrams seems to suggest that open marriages, registering as domestic partners, having children out of wedlock and shacking up are all healthy forms of love and acceptable alternatives to traditional marriage so long as the partners involved share a connection that transcends the flesh and takes on a super natural quality, thereby reflecting the spiritual essence of humankind. This becomes the point where Ms. Abrams and many others seek to separate the “spiritual” from the “religious”. Though this separation serves to advance the cause of freedom in our political affairs, it hinders our ability to develop deeper interpersonal relationships. Again, the result of this separation usually ends in utter confusion; moreover, while many people realize that she is speaking of the materialism-based “love du jour on popular TV” that drives people down the aisle, others will take her comments to mean that openly seeking true love denotes a “lack of personal awareness and accountability”. Furthermore, Ms. Abrams, though likely unintentionally, reinforces many irrational fears some people hold concerning marriage. Finally, when we really get down to it, marriage forms the foundation upon which human societies are built. Advocating for marriage is advocating for something so much bigger than tradition.
Fear, more than anything else, deters people from getting married. Yes; people are selfish, but fear underwrites many of the selfish tendencies that keep people from walking down the aisle. Fear takes on many forms in this respect whether it be the fear of constant bickering, fear of infidelity, fear of sexual boredom, or the simple fear of growing old and losing vitality. For far too many, these fears have living examples in the failed or not-so-great relationships they witnessed as children. In other cases, people fear discovering that they or their partner has an inability to sustain a healthy, loving relationship that will last the rest of their lives. Marriage presents an expectation of finality that becomes almost synonymous with death to some people. Remember the movie Moonstruck? In the movie, when Rose Castorini (Olympia Dukakis) asks Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello) why men cheat, he replies, “Maybe, it’s because they fear death.” Many people do. To some people, the concept of marriage brings their own mortality to the forefront of their consciousness, wherein everyday life with the spouse and children brings them closer to death. So long as they do not get married, they stay alive. Just ask Hancock. Unfortunately for these people, a study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests the opposite.
Unfortunately, some of these fears are not entirely irrational. Marriages do fail at an alarming rate in the United States. In their book, How to Know If It’s Time to Go: A 10-Step Reality Test for Your Marriage (2010), married co-authors, Dr. Lawrence Birnbach and Dr. Beverly Hyman, revive Peterson and Zill’s nine areas in which married couples must work out agreement in order to sustain their union. As recited by Birnbach and Hyman, these areas are:
- Relationships with Extended Family & Friends
- Household Responsibilities & Gender Roles
- Substance Use, including Alcohol & Drugs
- How to Spend Leisure Time
- Career and Job-Related Issues
While we all know that money, lack of intimacy and infidelity form a triumvirate of divorce, we must be ever mindful that in many cases, these elements become “marriage deal-breakers” because of the expectations held by one spouse or the other. For example, a couple marries while one spouse is in medical school. One spouse supports the household while the other earns the professional degree that will secure their financial future. A few after the time and money have spent without any return on that investment, the marriage turns sour. Unmet expectations can erode a marriage faster than anything. Married couples must, however, be cautious and recognize whose expectations are having the most significant impact on the marriage. Family and friends can ruin any chance an otherwise promising union can have to be successful. The epidemic divorce rates in the United States provides for sheer millions of people left in pain over a failed relationship. As misery loves company, these people help their loved ones or friends make astoundingly bad decisions in their own relationships. Though everyone has advice, it is not all to be heeded. Married couples need support. Family and friends should not create enmity between spouses by subconsciously demanding the allegiance of a family member or friend to a prior relationship. Sometimes families simply do not want to let go, particularly when it comes to daughters. In other families, some members grow so dependent upon the role a certain family member plays; they unintentionally sabotage a marriage in order to ensure the role continues to be fulfilled. Married couples should be allowed to develop an “us against the world” comradery.
Marriage promotes stability. Marriage, the union of a woman and man, forms the foundation of the family. Families form the foundation of communities. Communities form the foundation of societies.
Sex generally does not keep people together in the long run; love and mutual affection do. Contrary to the sensational Blackstreet ballad, true love cannot be found in sex. Sex, on the other hand, can and usually does follow from true love; moreover, sex becomes so much more affirming and fulfilling in the confines of marriage. What is even better; if a married couple takes care of one another, they can share a fulfilling sexual relationship for the rest of their lives.
Finally, we cannot discuss marriage without touching on its religious roots. Marriage, as an institution, derives its prominence from various religious beliefs. Several state governments have proven that religion is not required to provide non-religious people with the same rights related to person and property as afforded in traditional marriage. Notwithstanding, it is our religious beliefs that keep the debates surrounding marriage ablaze. Religious or not, we cannot ignore the need for the spiritual connection in the union between two people in order to sustain that union. Still, this in and of itself becomes a, type of “religious” experience. Atheist or agnostic, Christian or Jew, more marriages would last if the spouses dedicated themselves to seeking a mutual understanding of God’s Will for the union, revealed through praying together. While personal expression is probably a good thing in many other facets of our society, unity forms the quintessential element in a successful marriage. Marriage deserves more advocates. Our society derives far too many benefits from the institution for us to ever let it become obsolete.
Amir Clayton Powell is an author, advocate, entrepreneur, father, husband, servant of God, and warrior. By the by, he also happens to be the Publisher of The Old School Journal™ (TOSJ) as well as the Founder & Chairman of A C Powell & Co. LLC. Find A C on Twitter: @AClaytonPowell. Follow TOSJ on Facebook & Twitter.
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