Recently, a fellow blogger had a post line something to the effect of “Is Marriage Today Different from Before?” This got me to thinking about that question and even though it was probably intended as an attention getting lead-in to the post, I feel the need to speak my mind (imagine that!).
First, nothing is now as it was then. Such a simple statement is so complex. I will attempt to explain this in just during my three score of life which in the big scheme of things is minute, but for a lot of people is a large period. When I was young, in the period of the pre-1970’s, marriage was a religious ceremony bringing a man and woman together in holy matrimony for life. It was a period when people valued what they had and when something was broken or had issues, they attempted to repair it. The only time something was replaced was when it absolutely could not be fixed.
During the 1960’s, with the hippie movement, that started change. Whereas pre-marital sex was frowned on before, the younger generation now started to tout it as the new norm. Was this because the WWII veterans wanted better lives for their children than the depression they grew up in and therefore did little to restrain them and teach them values; I don’t know but it is one plausible answer.
With this in the 1970’s, marketing tactics changed to entice people with the concept that even though the Bible teaches us not to covet your neighbors’ things and lifestyle, you could do better than your neighbor with the latest and greatest devices (One of the Ten Commandments bites the dust). If you don’t have the cash right now, don’t worry get it on credit. No longer having to work hard and save for the future, this new instant gratification craze included relationships. People started to believe that they didn’t need to work for something, just grab it because it is convenient.
The next marketing ploy was to make material goods that don’t last and make it too expensive to repair so consumers get in the habit of replacing things just because something else has one more feature than what they have. It also tricked society into believing in disposability. This quickly morphed from just material goods into including relationships. Does the neighbor have a spouse that seems to be an improvement on your own? Why not see if you can’t replace your own with the neighbors’? (Another two commandments go by the wayside).
Starting in the late 1960’s forward, marriage was no longer a lifelong commitment to another person; it was a temporary solution to seemingly improve your life until a better version came along. Whereas marriages were previously ended for the usual adultery or abandonment, now there was the new trend of irreconcilable differences. What is irreconcilable difference anyway? It means in most states that you can get a divorce on a no-fault basis. What absurdity is this? The disposability of a spouse just because?
I have heard some pretty lame excuses for divorce too. Claims like “she wasn’t the same person I married.” No kidding? Your spouse continued to change as they grew older? I suppose you remained the same throughout your time together. “I wanted a better life” in reference to material goods and luxuries. So what did it mean in your vows when it came to “for richer and for poorer”? “We were fighting a lot lately.” So, that other part of “for better and for worse” meant nothing?
I’ve noticed in most cases that people divorcing, one or the other has already separated themselves from their spouse spiritually and are either committing adultery of the spirit or flesh with someone else already. Speaking of which, there was at one time a law in the books in almost every state if not all that made adultery a crime. In some states it was a felony and it not only included a married person having an affair with another, but also a single person having an affair with a married person. Now, there are 21 states that adultery is still on the books, but it is normally not enforced. Again, morality is thrown aside because people want their actions validated without judgment of sin. If those who commit adultery were publically humiliated for their actions, less people would be so blatant about their indiscretions. Maybe that hack at the website for cheating spouses will accomplish this.
If people did not get wrapped up in the instant gratification that has become so commonplace, they would be more patient and actually get to know someone before marrying them and divorce would be less likely. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics data shows that people who marry before their 25th birthday have a greater than 50% chance of being divorced by the time they reach 46 with the average marriage lasting less than 10 years. However, if they have a four year degree when they marry, they have more than a 75% of having a lasting marriage. The data shows that the older you are and the higher your education, the better chance of your marriage lasting. A study conducted by the Barna Research Group showed that people of faith experience only half the divorce rate of those who are not religious. This showed that people with a four year degree and abided by non-secular beliefs only had a 12% chance of getting divorced. Divorce rates among the other age and education categories ran around 30%, but there was a disclaimer that said these stats were based upon people who claimed to be Christian but they did not ask if they were people actively involved in the church or not. It stipulated that people who were active in the church were even less likely to be involved in a divorce. Some claim the divorce rate among active church members to be as low as 1 or 2%.
Since marriage originated as a religious ceremony between a man and a woman, and now involves non-religious persons and now even includes categories of people that are being joined in secular bonds, yes marriage is now different than before. However, true marriages between a man and a woman brought together in Holy matrimony remains the same.