Marriage Is What Brings Us Together Today

Well, not really. The institution of marriage has not been bringing people together as of late.: Fewer American adults are married: than ever before, and: men in particular: are passing up the opportunity. Perhaps the most tragic news is that marriage rates are especially low among the poor, who, ironically, would be helped most by settling down and getting married, instead of merely shacking up. According to ananalysis: from the liberal Brookings Institution, we could reduce the poverty rate in America by 25% if we had 1970s-era marriage rates today. Also, part of the reason nonwhites still face an achievement gap is because they: trail: whites in the marriage rate. The marriage gap is dividing our country; marriage is becoming something that only the wealthy do.

Obviously, there are hundreds of reasons for marriage’s downturn, and no one is going to be able to explain them all. A few stand out: the Obama economy (you probably can’t get married if you don’t have a job), the social acceptability and popularity of cohabitation, and the ongoing crumbling of traditional Christianity. These are among the causes of the decline of the marriage culture in our nation cited by the numerous commentators who are: braveenough to: talkaboutthissubject. Surprisingly, even: our ultimate nemesis: himself realizes the problem and has offered support for our position.

But there is another reason why the wheels are coming off the marriage train. When you turn on the TV and see how marriage is portrayed, you just aren’t seeing anything that exists in the real world. It’s all about Barbie and Ken, the Kardashians, and the rich and famous. Her wedding dress costs a hundred thousand bucks; they go on a yearlong honeymoon to the South Pacific. Not only does the modern portrayal of marriage in the media contribute to the prevailing narrative that only the richest of the rich, the hottest of the hot, can get married, but it also helps bring about perhaps the most devastating, most frustrating part of the downfall of the marriage culture: our society now devotes countless more hours of preparation to the: wedding,: not the: marriage!

This remarkably prescient recent: piece: hits the nail on the head. Of the author’s eleven friends who got married lately, ten “attended meetings with their wedding coordinators, to ensure their wedding day would be flawless. Only one of those friends attended pre-marriage counseling.”:  I can relate a hundred percent; anyone who claims not to have witnessed this phenomenon is pretending. Our societal desire for instant gratification over long-term happiness now includes a bizarre obsession with perfect, flashy weddings rather than solid lifelong marriages.

How many millions of people woke up at three in the morning to watch the Royal Wedding a couple years ago?:  I hate to break it to you, but you’re not going to have a wedding like that.:  You’re not going to get married in Westminster Abbey on international television.:  Nor will rumors of your engagement dominate tabloids. And you know what? That’s okay. Just because you won’t literally be rescued from your castle by Prince Charming and carried off to a honeymoon in Narnia doesn’t mean you can’t participate in the tradition of marriage, too.

Let’s put an end to this nonsense about spectacular, flawless weddings that have nothing to do with happy marriages, and let’s recommit ourselves to the principle that marriage helps both individuals and our country’s culture in general.:  Marriage is good for men and women, and is especially good for kids.:  It builds our culture up and elevates our country’s economy.

If we continue our dumb fascination with expensive weddings that produce pretty photos and nothing else, Americans will continue to be turned off by the idea of marriage. Also, people who do get married will eventually become upset that their marriage isn’t as perfect as their wedding was.:  But if we treat marriage with the seriousness it deserves and drop our obsession with Hollywood-style weddings, marriage will do what it’s meant to do: bring us, as husbands and wives, as families, and as a culture, together.

This blog post was originally published on: Counter Cultured’s “Upholding Marriage”: column.

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