Do We Need Marriage Anymore??


Yes, yes, absolutely yes! Why? We must protect the opportunities we have to “deepen” love with “commitment.” Why? Because only through commitment does love deepen, really deepen.

Now this is not to say commitment has to mean marriage. I believe it is entirely possible to commit to someone you never marry. People do this all the time.

However, I happen to believe it’s harder. Why? We could talk about things like lust, sexual attraction, the belief we are animals and not meant to settle down with one person, whatever (regardless of what the pigeons are doing, right?).

We don’t have to get too fancy here, we could just say that a formalized commitment makes a promise easier to keep. Why? OK, because it’s harder to walk away. It’s easier to walk away from problems when they occur between two people. Easier yes, but there is no growth in it.

It’s harder to work out problems with someone. But vastly more grow enhancing for everyone involved. If being married makes you work out problems that result in a deeper and more intimate relationship with someone, beautiful. Who can say that’s not worth it?

Of course there’s also the issue of rearing a family. Now if you’re going to raise kids, you’d want to raise them in a family environment that’s intimate and committed, right? I think most people would agree with that. You might also want to teach your kids a little something about resolving problems in a relationship.

Staying together, and working out differences in a committed relationship between parenting adults is the best emotional context within to bring up stable and maturing children. For these reasons my vote is that we should keep the institution of marriage and struggle with the evolving 21st century version of it.

How about this one, people often complain about the “divorce rate.” They get surprised when I don’t share their upset. You might be surprised to hear me say, I think our 50%+ divorce rate is a good thing. What?! Think about it, years ago people stayed together for the kids, for churches, for money, for power, for status, because of fear, and of course, for their families of origin.

Personally I wouldn’t stay married for any of these reasons. I think the only reason to stay married is for the “L-word.” Love. If that could become the general rule, that we stay together only for love, we’d be much better off. It would go like this, if you’re in love you’re committed and married. If you fall out of love or love ends for some other reason, you let go of your marriage thus freeing you and your spouse to continue finding yourselves out there in the greater world.

Of course, knowing myself, I’d probably think a lot about how to boost that percentage of people who stay together because they love each other. But that’s me.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan


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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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