Ah, it's a beautiful morning, after a solid month of record rain... what better time to take another shot at the sacred institutions of marriage and parenthood and get the hard-liners and the hunkered-down mad at me again.
I'm spinning off an article about the upside of avoiding marriage, written by Bella DePaulo, author of "SINGLED OUT" and the "LIVING SINGLE" blog.
Here's a clip from Bella's post:
"I don't equate being married with being loved; my view of love is far broader and less hackneyed. So the question I actually do address is this: Who is happier, physically healthier, psychologically stronger, less lonely, more likely to live longer, and more engaged with neighbors, friends, and family - people who got married and then got unmarried, or people who stayed single? The answer, in just about every study I've ever reviewed, is people who have stayed single."
By the way, Bella, an ex-mother-in-law I knew didn't equate being married with being happy either. When explained to her that her daughter and husband were splitting up because they weren't happy together, she admonished as if the young couple were naive, saying: "Happy?! What's happy got to do with marriage?!"
Right. But what about the children, Bella?
"As I've noted here and in Singled Out, there are even ways in which children from single-parent households do better than children of married parents. I'm not arguing that you should create a single-parent household for the good of your children, but let's also not pretend that the children of single parents are doomed. Consider, for instance, what Melissa Harris-Lacewell (whom you may have seen on the Rachel Maddow Show) has said about Barack Obama in her thoughtful essay in the Nation: 'Had his father been present he might have had less adolescent angst, but then again that angst was part of what sent him into a world of books from which he emerged a formidable intellectual. Part of Barack Obama's greatness is his fatherlessness."
I would add that if you've ever watched "The Actors Studio" with James Lipton, you've often heard him remark on the phenomenon of great stars frequently arising from "broken" homes - homes where both parents weren't present due to divorce or death.
Whew! I can here the long-suffering, toughing-it-out-for-the-kids married folks with plateaued sex lives hissing now. But let's put aside our frozen "traditional" beliefs for a moment, and our resentful needs to believe that there's some greater good that comes from sacrificing happiness, and just examine what's evolved and what might be going on today.
First and foremost, marriage is indeed an institution, meaning, it was created and instituted as a societal entity to serve a purpose for the societal entity that created it. In other words, marriage, as an institution, with rules and contracts and socially dictated behavioral norms and structures and rites, did not evolve organically.
In fact, early on, love didn't even have anything to do with marriage.
Marriage served the purposes of diplomacy or maintaining property rights not that long ago, especially among the ruling classes, and still does in some regressive cultures. It also served as a means of creating cheap labor - i.e. - children - for the purposes of serving agricultural society. And finally, marriage served the dual purposes of fidelity (mainly mandated for women) and consumerism, both of which served as a means of control by churches and capital-based governments.
Secondly - and I'm speaking from many years of experience and thousands of therapy sessions with individuals, couples, families and children - a vast majority, and I mean a vast majority of people who get married do so because they are insecure about getting older and "being alone" or insecure about their financial well-being or insecure about how they'll be seen by others if they don't "succeed" at landing a spouse and having kids. You can do a search on this blog or on any search engine and you'll find innumerable articles on all the wrong reasons people get married.
Is there a right reason?
Well, the paradox is, if you are truly in love with another, blessed with a high level of love, Eros and sex with a partner that you're also really compatible with as a personality, you most likely feel that getting married is not a pressing priority. You could do it - for the fun and pomp and public announcement of your joy - but you know you don't need to. If you've ever really been in love, you know what I'm talking about here, right?
Okay, then - the kids?
Don't get me started. You can find a hundred articles on this blog alone about the damage that parents do to kids. I have said often that the least qualified people to raise kids are their parents.
Well, first of all, for many of the same reasons listed above as the dysfunctional reasons born out of insecurity that we get married. We try and live through our kids. We hope that they will boost our sagging self-esteem by loving us unconditionally, and raise our outer esteem in the eyes of others by how well they play soccer or guitar. We imagine that by having kids, we'll never be alone.
Hello? It should be easy to see how all of that kind of dependency on our kids damages them, but you'd be amazed at how ignorant most parents are of the negative effects of their own subconscious acting out.
But perhaps even worse than the above damage from dependency is that caused by the vice-grip of a bind that parents put children into by making them live in a 2-parent home where the passion, romance and sex has flattened out or died. It is this that led Alexander Lowen to once say that "99% of all children are abused."
The gulf in love, Eros and sex between two parents playing out the string creates a vortex, a black hole that children cannot help being sucked up into. This is the real cause of eating disorders, depression, OCD and all the so-called alphabet learning problems that kids are labeled with. It's not brain chemistry or genetics that are causing kids to be distracted, hyper or angry. It's that they have to give up being their true selves because they are being used as pawns in their parents' desperate attempts to fill a void they don't want to deal with through some tough self-work.
No wonder that so many great people came from single-parent homes. They only had half the burden and abuse to deal with.
So, come on folks, send me your protests. But understand, I understand that we are all on a continuum here, towards being fulfilled and healthy and wise. As always, my point is that we all have problems, but if you're not doing something about it for real, then you are the problem. And please, try not to waste our time pointing out that there are exceptions. Of course there are. There are happily married people having great sex-lives, enjoying their careers, and raising kids without any expectations of them fulfilling any unmet needs from the parents' childhoods. I know that there are fully self-actualized, married parents out there.
I just haven't met any yet.