From Eleanor Barkhorn at TheAtlantic.com:
Overstating and distorting the benefits of marriage is just as destructive as maligning the institution.
Above: The moment Elaine Robinson and Benjamin Braddock realize marriage is not a slumber party, in The Graduate (MGM)
Marriage is in trouble. According to a 2011 Pew study, barely half of American adults are married, a record low. Nearly a quarter of Americans believe marriage is becoming obsolete. Many members of the millennial generation (18- to 29-year-olds) believe being a parent is more important than being married.
So it makes sense that people who believe marriage is good (and I am one of these people) would feel compelled to defend the institution. “People need to start being more honest and vocal about the virtues of marriage,” writes Steven Crowder in a recent Fox News column called “A man’s top 5 reasons to grow up and get married.”
…[He] then paints this absurdly rosy image of married life, based on his own six-month-old union:
Picture coming home every night to your best friend, your greatest fan, and your number one supporter. She (or he) makes each good day better, and each bad day good again. Every day, you get to live what is essentially a 24/7 sleepover party with the greatest friend you’ve ever had.
… Now add sex and sandwiches.
Get married, like, now…
…But this vision misrepresents what marriage is really about. In their excellent book The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy and Kathy Keller discuss the problem of seeing marriage as a vehicle for self-actualization and endless source of happiness.
Both men and women today see marriage not as a way of creating character and community but as a way to reach personal life goals. They are looking for a marriage partner who will “fulfill their emotional, sexual, and spiritual desires.” And that creates an extreme idealism that in turn leads to a deep pessimism that you will ever find the right person to marry…
[Ed. note: Thanks to Becky Rothrock and David Browder for the link! – CWG]