They Say Marriage is a Dying Institution: What's Really Dying is Love
With what, exactly, shall we replace Love?
The pronouncement came from actress Cameron Diaz and psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow last week: marriage is a dying institution. Dr. Ablow blames its demise on government, contraception, disappearing passion and the mockery of divorce. What he never mentions is Love. Marriage will only die if we give up the struggle of love.
Dr. Ablow gave a detailed analysis of the reality of marriage and the reasons why it should and will soon disappear from society. His eulogy for the cornerstone of civilization as we know it was depressing to say the least. (I could envision him walking up to the casket in order to smack the dead body upside the head and say, "Good riddance, ya lousy thief. You shoulda died a long time ago.") He suspects the reason marriage doesn't suit us now is because it never has.
Marriage, he says, takes so much from us. It is "a source of real suffering for the vast majority of married people." "As a healer, I can't help looking askance at anything that depletes energy, optimism, mood and passion to the extent that marriage does. It is, without a doubt, one of the leading causes of major depression in the nation."
Yikes. When and how did marriage become such a terrible thing?
First he calls the government's involvement in marriage a "colossal mistake." He insists government "should have no role in marriage, whatsoever." "Laws should exist, instead, that simply commit parents to financially support their biological children." Forget about parents making a home for their kids; forget about forging a family for them; forget about showing them what it means to keep promises and put someone else first. Forget about commitment, fidelity, honor, security, and all those other foundational virtues. All that's necessary is financial support, and I guess you're off the hook entirely if your kids are adopted.
Surprisingly, Dr. Ablow agrees (unintentionally, I think) with the Catholic Church regarding his second reason marriage is dying: oral contraception. Whether he meant to or not, he illustrated that the Church has been right all along: contraception corrodes marriage. Sex is meant to be both procreative and unitive and when you separate the two, disaster ensues. Of course, Dr. Ablow put it differently: "Once human beings understood that they could express themselves emotionally, romantically and sexually without necessarily creating multiple families and perilously diving their assets, the psychological pain of living without sexual passion (even by choice) was significantly intensified."
I'll rephrase: Once people realized they could have sex with a different person every night with much less "risk" of making a baby, therefore less "risk" of disrupting their life and losing their assets, they soon found no reason at all to remain faithful to anyone, including their child. All that mattered was lessening their "psychological pain" and increasing their sexual passion. Pleasure trumps everything.
What a pile of sand. No wonder the foundation of the family - marriage - is crumbling.
Conspicuously absent from Dr. Ablow's bruising verdict that marriage is passť was even the slightest mention of love. He speaks passionately about passion, sex, good feelings, physical attraction, freedom, the hassle and expense of divorce, but has nothing whatever to say about love. So it's no surprise he comes to the same self-serving conclusions as Ms. Diaz and every other prognosticator spreading doom and gloom about marriage. Marriage surely is doomed to failure without love.
I'm not talking about being "in love." I'm talking about Love. And guess what? Love is hard work. And that's good! We self-absorbed humans need daily, plentiful opportunities to look beyond ourselves and stretch our sacrifice muscles so that, with time, we learn how to love. We have to learn how to love when the good feelings have vanished. We have to learn how to love when the passion has chilled. We have to learn how to love when there doesn't seem to be anything in it for us.
We have to be reminded what love actually is: Love is patient, love is kind. Love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Did you see where it said love is passion, or love is easy, or love is physical attraction? Me neither. Did it say love is a ...
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