The True Benefits of Marriage

Theo Hobson has a very interesting comment on the benefits of marraige--and how and why our culture display a very different (and inaccurate view) of marriage:

In a brilliant article in today's Telegraph, Rowan Pelling considers the poor image of marriage. The problem is that defenders of this institution make it sound dull, dutiful and socially responsible. To the average singleton, she writes, it sounds like "a domestic penitentiary".

She adds: "What nobody evangelises is the incredible liberation many people find within marriage. Most unwed people under 40 are a seething mass of insecurities. They may be free to go backpacking in Goa at a second's notice, but they're imprisoned by self-doubt and vulnerability."

The stability of marriage, she goes on, "provides a platform from which risky and exhilarating enterprises can be launched". She concedes that the psychological security of a strong relationship is also possible outside of marriage, but "few of us have the self-discipline to create such a complex and enduring world without structure and strictures."

Well, I agree. I am reminded of one of my favourite Dostoevsky quotes: "Marriage is responsible for three-quarters of human happiness." The effective celebration of marriage seems a pretty major cultural task. Not because it's good for the feckless masses, but because it makes one happy. Grown-up human beings generally seem to flourish when their love lives are settled by means of this ancient public contract.

The problem is that our culture is addicted to a teenage pretence otherwise. People who should know better collude in propping up the old cliche: singleness is dynamic and cool; marriage is early death. Another difficulty is that it sounds sort of smug to celebrate marriage in this way. People are scared of seeming to boast about being happily married. But this fear must be overcome: what is good must be celebrated.

Read it all here.

I think this nails it--at least from my perspective.


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