Living Columns & Blogs

To marry or not to marry

Bruce Conn
Bruce Conn

June is the wedding season and many happy brides and grooms will soon walk the aisles. But something different is happening outside the doors of the wedding chapels.

The tide has shifted and the numbers are not good. Prior to the ‘80s, couples married, then lived together. Starting sometime in the ‘90s, it became more common for couples to live together, then marry. The numbers are pretty clear from the demographic studies with multiples angles of analysis.

Direct marriers, or those who married then lived together, had a lower rate of divorce. Those who live together first tend to divorce at a higher rate, if they move on to marriage.

A further evolution of this trend also suggests that as the choice to live together before marriage or “co-reside” increases, the incidence of those transitioning to marriage decreases. Thus we are moving toward a culture of less commitment to long-term relationships and the norm becoming serial co-residers.

This trend leads to disturbing complications on multiple levels. Of course we’re already seeing lots of this in our society.

The gestation period for a human is thought to be 9 months. I would suggest to you that it is about 18 years. Having just graduated our last child and standing at the moment of officially pushing her out of the nest, I believe that it takes a family to deliver a child into a healthy functioning adulthood. That’s pretty much the design, parents care for children who then become parents. If that breaks down, we’ve got a problem.

We’ve got a problem.

Our collective addiction is to an easier, softer way. We like lots of personal choice, lots of indulgent pleasure and low responsibility. These attitudes have morphed into a rationalization that has seized our collective wisdom. Young adults are clearly demonstrating the belief that its smarter to live together first, get to know each other, make sure you’re right for each other.

This is an age-old failure, the failure of belief without action. Love is the cure. Love conquers all. Love never fails. I believe all of this. But maybe love feels a little too good, if it causes people to get lazy.

It’s hard work to form a relationship that can last the lifetime of a child and beyond. Personal growth and maturity are a huge factor. Willingness to see the other person for who they truly are matters too. It’s easy to minimize warning signs when we just want to feel good.

I talked with Terry Tiller at Riverside Ford and he says they’ll let you test drive a car and maybe take it home overnight. But you will have to commit if you want to keep it.

It’s hard to know how important commitment is to a loving life. Falling in love is magical, a mystery beyond understanding, but commitment happens in the real world.

I believe it’s the act of committing to that special other that makes all the difference in the world. Somehow it changes us into that better person that we intend to be.

And that’s a person ready to enter the doors of a long-term relationship. Followed by the door where “before God and these witnesses.” Then the door of a new, shared domicile, the doors of the maternity ward and many more happy doors.

Don’t take the easier, softer way.

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