Is Marriage A Dying Institution
Biblical values regarding marriage and family have long been under attack in our culture, but a recent article shocked me in its blatant anti-marriage militancy. What’s worse, the author, Dr. Keith Ablow, is a member of the “Fox News Medical A Team” and therefore has a broad platform from which to broadcast his ideas.
Here are some of Dr. Ablow’s comments with my brief response to each:
- "Actress Cameron Diaz, 38, was quoted this week declaring marriage a 'dying institution.' Ms. Diaz added, 'I don’t think we should live our lives in relationships based off old traditions that don’t suit our world any longer.'"
To what authority does Dr. Ablow turn to introduce his thesis -- an actress?! What, exactly, does Ms. Diaz know about marriage? She has been linked with a string of high-profile "boyfriends" in her life, but I have yet to find any references to a husband.
- "I'm not certain marriage ever did suit most people who tried it. From what I hear in my psychiatry office, and from what I hear from other psychiatrists and psychologists, and from what my friends and relatives tell me and show me through their behavior ... marriage is (as it has been for decades now) 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."
Dr. Ablow bases his observations about marriage on psychiatry patients and his family and friends. Which leads me to wonder: Is Dr. Ablow drawing conclusions about marriage in general or about his associates? And is marriage the cause of mental/emotional problems, or does the instability of psychiatry patients undermine the very principles that make marriage work? Not exactly an objective focus group, wouldn't you say?
- Marriage ... is a really tough environment in which to preserve such passion. The vast, vast majority of men and women, in fact, are no longer physically attracted to their spouses after five or 10 years (that's being kind), if they have seen one another most of that time. Human beings just are not built to desire one another once we have flossed in the same room a hundred times. ... Very few normal people who live together for long enough want to keep on doing it. Roommates tire of each other. Sons and daughters grow up and move out. Siblings end up at each other’s throats. To give marriage a chance at long-lived passion, couples now need to build in space from one another and time apart."
Dr. Ablow falls back on the argument that humans are not genetically programmed for marriage, and he seems to have no concept of the higher principles of human relationships: commitment, sacrifice, service, etc. He ties passion only to external attraction and likens distaste for marriage to annoying roommates and fussing children. Further, Dr. Ablow is presenting a completely one-sided, biased argument. Note the "loaded" terms: "vast majority," "very few normal people," etc.
- The third reason marriage is a dying institution is because it inherently deprives men and women of the joy of being "chosen" on a daily basis. It's natural to like the feeling of being wanted ... and the fact that leaving a marriage involves 'lawyering up' ... means that most husbands and wives have to wonder whether their spouses really want to stay, or simply don't want to go through the hassle of leaving. If it were a relatively simple process to decide to live apart (and honor a financial contract for the support of children), then we might actually exert more effort to be attractive to our spouses for longer."
Dr. Ablow here is referring to his earlier observation in the article that civil government should have no role whatsoever in establishing or regulating marriage and divorce. In Dr. Ablow’s convoluted thinking, "the joy of being chosen on a daily basis" while knowing that my spouse could leave me at the drop of a hat is an improvement over a lifelong commitment based on trust, character, mutual service and satisfaction, devoted comfort and care and the adventure and discovery of intimately sharing both the joys and hardships of life with a loyal partner. I don't think so!
Just how easy does Dr. Ablow want divorce to be? Did the advent of "no-fault divorce" lead to spouses making themselves more attractive to their mates so that they wouldn't head for the divorce attorney so quickly? Um, no. The divorce rate rose exponentially.
This article was a bunch of claptrap. If anything is "dying," it is not the institution of marriage but the integrity, selflessness, humility and true appreciation for another human being that makes marriage work. The only way to solve that problem is to teach those values in our homes, schools, laws and examples of public figures, and to soundly reject the humanistic thinking of such "experts" as Dr. Ablow.