Marriage As We Know It

A reader of The Daily Dose of Reason recently wrote in asking what do I have against marriage.

I actually have nothing against the practice of marriage. Voluntarily consenting adults who enter into a legal and emotional arrangement have every right to do so, and perfectly valid reasons for doing so.

My problem with marriage as we know it stems from romantic love as we know it. And, as I think about it, my problem with romantic love (as we know it, and as it usually is) stems from the attitudes most men and women hold about themselves, and each other.

Much is made about the differences between men and women, but a large number of men and women, it seems to me, share one very large error in common.

This error is the failure to take responsibility for the emotional aspects of their minds. To take responsibility for your emotions means to maintain regular awareness of what you feel, and why, and what you rationally and objectively think of those feelings.

It means to live an examined life.It’s a “habit of the mind,” if you will.

Men, for the most part, ignore this responsibility by ignoring that emotions even exist. “Emotions? What are you talking about? I don’t feel that way. And why should I bother to even think and talk about this?”

Women, for the most part, are aware of their emotions, but often won’t submit those emotions to reason and logic.

I want to emphasize that not ALL men and women are this way, and the extent to which most men and women are is a matter of degree. However, that’s the biggest error I see.

The tendency of women to elevate emotions above reason understandably tends to drive men away. The tendency of men to ignore that emotions even exist, leading them to evade responsibility for their own mental health and the impact this evasion has on those close to them, tends to drive women away.

It’s probably at the root of why most marriages flounder or end.

Good communication, intimacy and loyalty are not sustainable unless psychological responsibility exists in each partner. In some cases the man is more to blame, in other cases the woman, and in other cases both. (The same sorts of themes play out in gay/lesbian relationships, by the way, which is one reason I don’t understand the gay rush to marriage, other than, of course, the legitimate legal concerns over property rights, protection of wills, and the like).

So you see, my problem really isn’t with marriage. It’s with how people, for the most part, interact in marriage. That’s why I put marriage as we know it on the top 3 mistakes human beings have made, second only to religion (#1) and socialism (#2).