The recent column by the ladies from LAC covered the current status of the marriage industry, a subject often brought up in newspaper columns, much better than usual and remains increasingly true. Yes it is a lawyer’s heaven, money for old rope and add to this multiple mediators who climb in on the act usually to little effect beyond claiming their fees. Of course the more conflict they create the greater the antagonism and the bigger the fees!
Even the totally uncontested split requires a legal turkey despite the specified simplicity of the process if one party admits to beating up the partner, knocking off the best friend (sexually of course) or has physically deserted, whether it is true or not! And naturally it is almost always the man who is in the wrong. Trying to prove the old lady’s ability to commit mental abuse, an art evidently passed down through the female gene, is almost impossible; regular good old nagging mixed in with a few financial barbs and reference to the “in- laws” is always a great way to stir up men’s anger.
But lighting the flames of intransigence is not wrong, only the consequences. A sort of legalised marital arson – light the fire and stand back for the house to burn down. Hence their support of the “irretrievable breakdown” option has merit and nobody has to lie! Mix this with a simplified process avoiding lawyers is now practice in some countries, would mean lawyers and their hangers-on would lose millions. Unsurprisingly our lawmakers, as lawyers themselves or in the patronage laden pockets of the wealthy legal profession, continue to stall a easing the pain of marital failures.
It then seems clear that the current approach, while having a very, very distant chance of becoming law, needs a rethink! I thus ask the very basic question, “is marriage a useful institution in this day and age?”. Let’s look back. In the Christian world the Catholics still ban divorce and priests are celibate (!), Protestants allow it and even allow in some cases same sex marriage, the Jewish faith (and others) frown or even worse castigate cross religious marriage and Islam, as I understand it, again with some others, allows multiple partners of their faith.
And many other permutations beyond for all. Some even allow divorce through a simple, unsupervised ritual where the old lady is simply kicked out! Namibia even has those who think that wives should be treated by “pass the parcel” and shared around their mates. In the Protestant world, marriage as an institution, or let’s be a little cynical, as an investment, seems a pretty poor bargain, a multiple statistical outputs over the years show that over 50% of marriages fail, another 30% continue under stress (as the LAC notes) or worse, usually with the wife living a life of complete misery and fear while the old man does his thing; or, sometimes, the reverse.
How does marriage come about and what is it trying to achieve? The aims seem to originate from primitive societies wanting to protect their offspring in days where life was dangerous and preservation of the tribe was uppermost. This developed over centuries as social systems became sophisticated and laws developed within religious frameworks. Some literature even suggests that the basic driving threesome behind man’s reproductive behaviour were lust, love and later boredom and marriage, as an inescapable agreement, was necessary to preserve order and prevent “immoral behavior”. Marriage developed into an agreement that was “until death do us part” and “to honour and obey” (by the wife of course). Once in, never out!
Henry VIII of course changed this for England when he broke away from the Papist church to marry some more wives and to steal the Catholic wealth to make war; even some head chopping. Naturally at the lower scales, the 10 commandments held greater sway. Over subsequent centuries as governance and law have emerged marriage has been under pressure as societies have changed, ethics and morals have been eroded and financial and property matters have assumed top priority as materialism has itself almost become a religion! Ouch.
The “omy’s”, monogamy, polygamy, sodomy, bigamy and a few more even less tasteful ones, have emerged. That marriage is about continuity of the tribe has gone out the window. I witness both in my country of birth and Namibia a massive tide of religious and moral hypocrisy as leaders reduce marriage to an optional extra, rarely taken. The product of multiple kids from “passing” relationships, which although technically not so, are often, in my mind, are a product so close to prostitution as to be …
Thus it is not difficult to suggest that, as a general practice that is declining rapidly and where it happens shows dramatic failure rates, social binding should consider a new format. The prime problem now is the raising of generations of single parent kids that result from casual relationships at best and are turning into lost generations.
I look at my own marriage, which for the years raising kids was great even though working to support them kept me away much of the time. Maybe I did not see many of the problems because of this as my wife did such a good job? However, once the kids were away at boarding school for much of the time the relationship faded and eventually we lived apart- and still do.
It was not due to a leadership failure as we had worked well as a team while not altering the fact that I was the primary bread winner and she ran the home, me and the 3 kids (starting after 2 years of marriage). It was a slow erosion of common interests and division of aims. However the kids were raised successfully and all entered the real world on their own legs.
The question is therefore, should we replace marriage with some form of civil partnership based upon material provision by parents, whatever their circumstances? I suggest that marriage itself has become an inevitable trap in our new hightech world where gender policies and the desire of women to climb the work ladder to a later age. Is marriage a redundant concept in itself? Should start some sort of response, I hope!