Wednesday, June 4, 2014

For life

Marriage pundits drive me bonkers.  This article, in particular, makes me insane.  It is a piece about how awful it is that people have divorce parties and how if everyone was just dedicated to marriage that divorces wouldn't happen.  The author, after all, is dedicated to his marriage and obviously everybody who gets divorced must therefore be lazy and weak.  If they were just committed and willing to work at it then everything would be fine!  After all, he has been married for three years and he is sure it will last sixty more.

Hogwash and bullshit, to put it mildly.

First off, divorce parties are not, as anyone who thought about it for five seconds could attest, about celebrating the breaking of a vow.  They are not about being happy that poor decisions were made or about a glorification of giving up.  They are about being happy that an unhappy time in life is ended.  Divorces, it should be noted, are *not fun*.  They are hard, divisive, expensive, and heart wrenching.  Being done with them and finally being able to get someone toxic out of your life is a fantastic feeling.  A divorce party is about celebrating the end of lawyer visits, moving out, negotiations and pain - a worthy thing to celebrate if there ever was one.

In the article another person makes the point that people change and that sometimes that means you should get divorced.  The author counters by saying that we should just accept and work with change, after all, his wife likes different things now than she did when they got married.  Again this argument is willfully missing the point.  Change doesn't mean liking golf instead of hockey as nobody breaks up over trivialities like that.  It often means things like

-My girlfriend that you didn't know about (or you were pretending to not know about) is pregnant
-I don't plan on ever having sex with you again
-I have taken up a new religion and expect you to focus your life around it
-I need to spend years away from you following a dream I have just discovered I have
-I have become an alcoholic
-I am gambling away all of the money we have and then plunging us into incredible debt

To suggest that people just need to suck it up and continue slogging along through such things is absurd.  Oftentimes when people divorce the reasons are as serious as these and to compare them to insignificant changes in taste is insulting and ridiculous at best.  Assuming that all those divorces you read about only happen to bad people is flat out victim blaming.

Even if nothing as serious as the things above happens, sometimes divorce is just for the best.  The success of a marriage is defined by the happiness it brings not whether or not someone dies.  If all you care about is making sure mortality occurs go marry someone with a terminal disease who only has months to live.  I can virtually guarantee a successful marriage in that case!  The only reason to celebrate marriage is if it promotes human flourishing and staying in a miserable match does not accomplish that.  At the end of a marriage we should evaluate its success by the joy it brought; whether it ended by death or by contract is irrelevant.


  1. I always tell these people the same: "Ok, so your wife says she does not want to have children after all. Now what?". Not that I think it is a deal-breaker (albeit it might, and perhaps should, if that is what you want from life) but all these 'family men' will say they'll put with anything... as far as it is anything they are happy to put up with. And that shuts them up. Well, some :)

    Not that it takes from your points, but logic is deflected usually in these debates. The children point goes straight to the heart of what most people (certainly most people that have this black and white views) think marriage is *all* about.

  2. You make a good point. Children (or lack thereof) is a huge dealbreaker for many people. One of the most common ones, I would expect.