There are many who are of the opinion that “traditional marriage” is under attack in America. They cite quite a few reasons, the most prominent among them probably being LGBT marriage, especially after its recent national legalization. I guess I would partially agree with their complaint, though not in a way they would like.
First, I’d argue that the decision for a couple to marry now means more than it ever has, where love is concerned. Marriages of economic necessity are becoming fewer and fewer. As a result, the decision to marry can now be made from the heart more than ever.
So in what way would I agree with those who say “traditional marriage” is under attack? Well I’d have to ask, “What traditions within marriage in the past are you referring to?”
I guess I’ll start with “because feminism” and some of those things that come with it, particularly those things which enable a woman to live in social and economic comfort with relative ease without the need to rely on a husband to provide for her. In many “traditional marriages” the wife would depend largely on her husband to provide for her. Sure, she might be popular socially in her church or whatever, but her husband ultimately held the purse strings… mostly because anything in her purse came because he allowed it. Without a husband, a woman would have an incredibly difficult social and economic future. These days, women can work and play alongside men. We vote, we drive, we own our own vehicles. We make our own decisions, including who we allow to put a ring on our finger and how soon we allow them to do it. Furthermore, we absolutely will shout down any attempt to take these freedoms away from us and put us back 60 years. We would attack such an effort.
Next, I’ll point to increasing awareness of psychological, sexual and economic abuse within marriage, and laws that have been passed regarding such. In the past few decades, it has come to the attention of the public that women are individuals whose rights should not be suspended when the marriage certificate is signed. Now, most people would agree that it’s wrong for a man to abuse his wife (or vice versa). But whyyyy has this trend of passing laws reflecting this only come so recently? Why was it traditionally so ignored from a legal standpoint? Even now, there are those who would say that marital rape is an impossibility due to the Biblical position that a person’s body does not belong to herself after marriage. I’m so glad that it’s becoming more recognized. Any attempt to turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made so far on this issue will be loudly attacked.
I’d say more about LGBT marriages, but since it’s such a popular subject right now, there’s really nothing I could say that hasn’t been said already. Good thing we eventually allowed interracial marriage too.
Okay, the “sexual revolution.” So many people are having sex outside of marriage. They were before, but it was a lot more hush-hush. Now there’s a push against what is known as “purity culture” which tends to have the effect of tying a girl’s worth to whether or not she’s had sex. Supposedly, prior sexual encounters have a tremendously negative impact on one’s marriage. Well, if that’s the attitude of the partners in the marriage, then yes. Attitudes are changing though. Prior sexual encounters are more of a given. In general, we don’t freaking care if you’ve had sex before (plus, you’re amazing, so I totally understand someone else wanting to sleep with you)… now, what else do we need to pick up at the store? milk, eggs, cereal, ice cream, condoms….
I was married to a guy who thought that making it easy for women to get a divorce was a bad thing. He thought marriage should be permanent except in the most extreme cases, and she would need to jump through hoops to get it. Of course he would say that in the midst of him abusing me…. This goes along with the modern awareness of abuse. When there’s a victim, get them OUT. Period. Now. Also, people grow apart. When they start not getting along all the time, resentment builds up, etc. Let them out before they explode. Things are much more peaceful this way. Traditional marriages that remained “intact” because they had to are not a credit to “traditional marriage.”
Making marriage optional makes marriage that much more indicative of how you feel about the person you’re marrying. Broadening the scope of marriage (to LGBT and interracial couples) lets others demonstrate their wish to come together in this way. Enabling easier divorce means that a couple staying together are more likely doing so because they love each other rather than because they have no choice.
Modern marriage has so much more going for it, where love is concerned. We have a ways to go, but I’d definitely go on the non-violent offensive if we started going back to “traditional” marriage…. depending on the “traditions” in question, I suppose. After all…. I do like diamond rings.