People vow to live with each other for the rest of their lives, giving little thought to whether, in the long run, marriage really makes sense. Not surprisingly, most marriages end in divorce or disappointment. People select a mate based to a large extent on physical attraction, yet physical attraction is only a small part of what is necessary to sustain a long-term, day-to-day relationship.
Most people do not have the virtues necessary to sustain a happy marriage. Intelligence, a variety of interests, a sense of humor, character — all these abstractions become quite real when living with someone day-to-day. Put simply, marriages cannot be any better than the people who are married.
Despite omnipresent evidence about the difficulties inherent in marriage, most people still get married. For those who intend to have children, this makes great sense, as children need two parents: The marriage vow indicates the agreement, or at least intention, of husband and wife to stay together and fulfill their role as parents.
What accounts for the continuing attraction of marriage, even among those who don’t intend to have children? Some would cite the influence of family, morality, or religion. But I believe an additional force is important — the desire to create the illusion of permanence in an impermanent world. Many people believe that the legalities and formalities of the marriage ceremony make their relationship more permanent. This may be true from a legal standpoint, but no ceremony can permanently bind people’s affection, or attraction, to each other. In fact, the illusion of a binding tie may have the opposite result, by lessening the incentive to be attractive, physically or otherwise, to their mates.
We hope you've enjoyed your free preview of Chapter 15: 'Marriage' of Living Sanely In An Insane World. Buy the full book to read:
...and strategies for coping with 34 other everyday situations in our insane world!