Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Marriage, Affairs & Economics

On my day off I usually like to read through many of the news publications that I don't often have time to read. Time, Newsweek, and the like. There was a particularly interesting article, at Time, that caught my attention. It is about the state of the American marriage.

I found this to be interesting because as I was reading other news about the various senators and their extramarital affairs it got me thinking.
How much easier it is for these guys, who have unlimited funds to find easy ways, and have the funds to do so, cheat and do it for longer periods of time and not get caught.

Now, bear with me here, I am not thinking about it myself, but just realized how much harder it would be for the poorer of us to find ways to do such a thing. In order to cheat you must be able to go places, where you think you can not be discovered and when finances are quite limited that is not an option. One must have various electronic gadgets to communicate with said dalliance and if you are poor you might just have a basic cell phone with limited technology. Yes, technology would also seem to be important when one is considering an affair.

You must also have the ability to travel and/or get to out of the way places or countries where you risk less chance of being seen by friends, neighbors and colleagues. This would require sums of money. When one is barley able to afford McDonalds or a cheap bottle of wine getting out of town, let alone out of the country, city, or state, is out of the question.

What is the point? The Time article asks the question why do people still get married. It's not like it was in the old days when people were in arranged marriages, or needed to have many children to toil and till the family farm. Today you can choose to live together without the legal ties of marriage.

"The fundamental question we must ask ourselves at the beginning of the century is this: What is the purpose of marriage? Is it — given the game-changing realities of birth control, female equality and the fact that motherhood outside of marriage is no longer stigmatized — simply an institution that has the capacity to increase the pleasure of the adults who enter into it? If so, we might as well hold the wake now: there probably aren't many people whose idea of 24-hour-a-day good times consists of being yoked to the same romantic partner, through bouts of stomach flu and depression, financial setbacks and emotional upsets, until after many a long decade, one or the other eventually dies in harness.

Or is marriage an institution that still hews to its old intention and function — to raise the next generation, to protect and teach it, to instill in it the habits of conduct and character that will ensure the generation's own safe passage into adulthood? Think of it this way: the current generation of children, the one watching commitments between adults snap like dry twigs and observing parents who simply can't be bothered to marry each other and who hence drift in and out of their children's lives — that's the generation who will be taking care of us when we are old."

I never asked myself that question before John & I got married. This week we will have been together for 16 years. It wasn't for the continuation of a family name, or just to have kids, you don't really have to be married for that. It was because we were both tired of the "dating" scene and wanted someone to "be with". Not someone different every night, week or month. We were both tired of everything else that was out there and now we are beginning to share the other side of life. The part where your crap starts to fall apart and the aches and pains begin. We have also seen each other through several down cycles and poorer times. Another which is due to begin in a few weeks when he returns from what is supposed to be his last job.

We are now so comfortable together that we have become quite similar in thoughts and actions. I am still more outgoing and he more introspective, but the way we react to the outside world is becoming quite the same. Maybe that is what marriage is all about. That the two people involved become really one. Maybe that is why it is so much easier if you do have less in the way of money and possessions. This way you do not yearn for things/people that you do not or can not have. You become happy and content with the things you do have and recognize their intrinsic value as opposed to yearning for the bigger, better or best.

I know many younger people who are still marrying or planning to marry. Yet, many can not tell you why. Aside from the fact that they want the fairy tale wedding or because it is what their parents or God want/expect them to do. I am not sure that I would again. I am not sure that it is even necessary. You can, and I would, still live together within the same boundries that I am living now. There would still be the commitment that I have now. There would just be no legal paper stating that fact. Although that does raise questions of ownership and other misc. if the partner should become ill etc. Insurance is another issue altogether.

No, in this day and age I am not sure that marriage is as important or as necessary as it used to be.


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