Saturday, March 10, 2007

Til' Death Don't Us Part


A ring. A princess dress. A dull tuxedo. A place of worship. A bunch of ladies in matching, colorful dresses. A reception. A big cake. A drunk Uncle. A honeymoon. Even those with severe learning disabilities associate these buzz words with weddings. Every pretty little American girl dreams of growing up and having "Daddy" spring for a lavish wedding, spending enough money on a 6-hour event (including reception) to save the lives of hundreds of impoverished people. But what the hell, ladies and gentlemen, brides and grooms... Ya' only get married once! And those folks from Darfur should pick themselves up by their bootstraps...once they can afford boots. Or even straps.

Actually, more than 50% of marriages end in divorce (ironically, it's a much higher percentage in red states) and, as we all know, well over 50% of the remaining "successful" marriages are studies in strain, stress, and barely-controlled homicidal tendencies. So why is marriage such a big deal? Why is it such a revered institution? Because it represents what most of us truly want, a lifetime spent in bliss with someone who spiritually lifts us up and (at night) allows us to touch their "naughty bits." Nothing wrong with that, dadgummit.

Marriage is such an important aspect of (accepted) American life that many people who come to detest each other will stay together for decades rather than face the surly glances of their fellow (unhappily married, jealous) constituents. Politicians who wish to be elected have plenty of explaining to do if they were divorced in the past (though it didn't stop Ronald "AIDS doesn't exist" Reagan, the ONLY divorced President ever!). Divorced politicians are considered to be (mostly by tiresome conservatives) morally weak and unwilling to commit to their holy wedding vows which trumpet "til' death do us part." But those who remain married have no obligation to show supporting evidence that their unions are based on love, respect, and blissful sexual compatibility. It is simply assumed that these people are morally superior when in fact the vast majority of them are unhappy (the above statistics support this)! How very, very odd and how very, very American. Suffering is better than truth.

Of the 50% of Americans who remain married, probably half of them remain unhappily married "for the kids." The assumption here is that Jimmy, Lucy, Trent, Sally, Butch, Felicia, Carole, One-Eyed Joe, Brad, and (adoptee) Soon-Quee are better served by two parents who detest each other than two parents who live peacefully apart. Huh? This notion that kids are too naive to recognize tension and misery in their parents is pure hogwash. Kids can always tell and demonstrating to them that marriage represents an ungodly, inescapable trap is a disservice of the highest order. Frankly, it's a form of child abuse.

Many tiresome folks (again, usually red staters) will sniffle, "Since the 1950's the institution of marriage has been in steady decline. Bullshit. Perhaps people these days don't work hard enough on their relationships but at least those who absolutely SHOULD divorce are doing so. Fifty years ago women were almost entirely dependent on their husbands for financial stability and social acceptance. Divorce was considered a humiliating failure and neighbors and clergymen alike would gather in musty coffee shops and speak poorly of the shattered woman's character. This absurd notion that people should stay together through thick, thin, thinner, and translucent is destructive and smacks of ancient religious nonsense. People simply grow and often in entirely different directions. Respect the truth and move on, regardless of how painful it may be in the short term.

Sure, people should work hard on their unions (married or not) but shit happens. If both parties are miserable and cannot alter these feelings, they should ignore their stuffy, sex-starved priests and follow their hearts! Have a sit-down with the kids and carefully explain to them in loving terms that the gig just ain't working. Assure them that its not their fault, promise to be there for them and begin packing hubbie's battered suitcase for his extended stay in "The Grimy Bachelor Apartments" (at the corner of Sinner Street and Bible Boulevard). Of course it is the religious folks who always are quickest to condemn those who divorce. But are they being just a teensy bit hypocritical? Let's learn some fun facts....

States with highest divorce rates: Nevada, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wyoming, Indiana, Alabama (ALL RED STATES!).

States with lowest divorce rates: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, (ALL BLUE STATES!).

-Bachelor Paul


Hon said...

You just had to shell out for a wedding gift, didn't you?

Every homely little American girl dreams of growing up and having Daddy spring for a lavish wedding, too.

Rich said...

While it is true that the "institution" of marriage is waning, as you point out, it represents what a lot of people want...especially touching the naughty parts!

I work with a bunch of Europeans and it's very common for them to live together (with their respective partners, not the whole of Europe, which would make for a long line for the morning loo!) before considering marriage. Often, they have children together, purchase properties and in general are representative of people that are married.

It is an interesting set of statistics that you yield like a butter knife at a cotillion, but what is it that you're saying?

The notion of "til death do us part" is both no longer a realistic notion in our times, nor is it something that we, as a society, make it easy to realize. Most don't have good role models that show how to deal with the troubled times (Josef...?), instead, Americans consume a steady diet of "American Idol", Survivor LXIX, et. al. and have come to believe that everything is "zero sum" - if the dishes aren't washed, then vote 'em off the island! Our propensity for the overly simplistic answer to a complex and dynamic thing such as a [gasp!] relationship makes us wanna quit quickly. Conversely, we often enter into such a relationship with nothing more than a euphoric rush of endorphins fueled by salty snacks and smooches!
It should be "Til Salty Snacks run out we do part!"