sometimes, i think arranged marriages are better... think about it... you've never met this person until your wedding day... then you must get to know this person slowly over the course of a lifetime; day by day... there are no excuses... you can't say, "You're not the person i used to know" or "You've changed"... no "Irreconcilable differences" because all you have are differences... and you must reconcile all of them!
too often, people think marriage is when you stop dating and can "be yourself"... but if your spouse married someone other than "yourself", why are we surprised when problems arise?... you get mad when he/she says they don't know you anymore, but it's your fault!... you've been lying to them all along!... it's no wonder divorce rates are so high.
which brings me to divorce... liberals (read: atheists, anarchists, gay marriage proponents, polygamists, and perverts - i'm using this term in the broadest sense) try to use divorce rates as ammunition to promote their own agenda... i'm not going to judge their agenda, only their method of attack... you see, divorce rates are so high because we have given in to the notion that marriage is a personal choice... one which we can change our minds on just because things didn't turn out like we imagined... the joke is usually "a man gets married hoping his wife won't change, and a woman gets married hoping her husband will; both are disappointed"... marriage isn't about personal choice... it's about making a commitment; not with the opposite member, but with yourself... moreover, it's a contract between you and your family, community, and society as a whole... it's most importantly a contract with God... i'll discuss this last point in a minute.
your word is your bond... when you say "I do", you had better... if you change your mind, what you are saying is "I don't follow through on my word, on my sacred honor, and I don't value commitments"... while i would never judge all divorcees, as i don't know who left whom, a person who causes a marriage to dissolve has decided their own word has no value... a person can justify it all they want, but you have broken your most sacred and valuable promise... the only saving grace is if your divorce is caused by the broken promise of your spouse, as a contract can only be whole if upheld by both parties... infidelity is colloquially understood as sexual, but fidelity means loyalty and the strict observance of promises... if your partner is disloyal to your marriage, be it sexual or not, then the contract is not being upheld.
that being said, it's not enough that your partner has been disloyal... you need to discover if you can repair the contract... marriage is about more than your personal feelings being hurt... it's a contract between more than two people.
you promised your family... not only your children (or future children)... you promised your parents... you promised to uphold the traditions of your ancestors... these traditions often seem like trivial things... "liberals" will attack traditions, too; trying to trivialize them... but these traditions are the glue that holds societies together... they are designed, over centuries, to reinforce family values and to strengthen family bonds... we don't send Christmas cards every year because Jesus told us to (he didn't)... we do it to remind ourselves that the people we are closest to are important to us... that they have value... that, though we may not think about them daily, we want them to know we haven't forgotten them.
also, we uphold these family traditions because it gives us a chance to remember... our family has stories, personal stories, that need to be remembered... each member has events which shaped their lives, and if we listen closely, we can allow them to shape our own... often, the harshest teacher we will ever encounter is experience... but not everyone must burn themselves to know fire is hot... stories being passed down, generation to generation, teach us... we borrow experience, and learn from them ourselves... "nani gigantum humeris insidentes" ("dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants")... to paraphrase Newton, we see further from the shoulders of giants.
a broken marriage also hurts society... each marriage is a contract with society, in essence saying "I will promote well-being within my community; I vow to protect others as I would protect myself"... you are showing, by example, your commitment to the whole by your actions in the part... for example, should you not value your own vows, what value can you reasonably expect others to ascribe to their own contracts?... should society, as a whole, devalue the bonds of matrimony, how can any member of that society hold secure those bonds society hold with them?... we trust that our government will honor its commitments to us, but when we don't honor our own, is it really any surprise that governments are inconstant in their promises?
God... we make these vows before God... atheists scoff at this... but even to the atheist, this should be our most solemn vow... "But why," you ask, "should an atheist make a vow before God?"... because this is a vow to our secret heart... we make this promise to ourselves, that should we be presented with an opportunity to be disloyal such that no one should ever know, we vow to remain constant to the promises we made... to a theist, God knows and sees all things, even those kept secret from our families and communities... should we break our pledge, God holds us accountable... an atheist believes in no such authority... so, should opportunity arise, there is no higher authority but himself... but the worst problem with this is the atheist is not omniscient... he has no means of knowing the future and whether his infidelity would ever be discovered... he can reason and justify all of his vows away, but he can't escape the fact that he can never fully know the outcome.
a theist resists infidelities even in the mind, knowing that God knows a man's heart... adultery in the mind is as detestable as adultery in the flesh... justifying one legitimizes the other... and i can hear the arguments already... "Just because I imagine it, doesn't mean I condone acting on it"... and that's true, one doesn't cause the other... but allowing your heart, in secret, to be disloyal to your vows grants you the first support for being disloyal in all other actions... "If no one ever knows, there isn't any harm"... how often do you hear, "No harm; no foul"... but when we justify one indiscretion, we open the floodgate for all others... you cannot open Pandora's box and only extract hope... either we maintain our vows, in public and in secret, or we find any reason to dissolve them.
and we often presume that our infidelities are secret and never known... we, fallible creatures as we are, will never know the end result of our actions until it is upon us... if we are not steadfast and stalwart in our vows, in secret and in public, we open ourselves up to the unknowable... for example, should we allow ourselves to be disloyal to our vow of "for richer or for poorer", should financial difficulties arise, we have allowed ourselves the latitude to place blame... once we have placed blame, in secret and in our heart, we will unknowingly change our behavior... there is nothing quite so hurtful as a slight roll of the eyes, thereby firmly announcing our placement of blame... we have been disloyal in our heart, and, without our conscious consent, we have displayed it to the world.
a firm commitment to our vow to an almighty God is our greatest protection against our own frailties.
wow... i've spent a lot of effort on fidelity... that wasn't where i was going with this... but, i suppose, you can't go anywhere without a firm foundation... once you have that, you have something upon which to build.
and how do you build on a marriage?... first, forget what everyone has told you (except this, of course)... marriage is never what you expect it to be... mainly, it isn't fun... oh, it can be... but that isn't what a marriage is... more often than not, it's a lot of work... it is compromise and often doing what you really don't want to do... and doing it with a genuine smile... yes, genuine... you have to decide for yourself that you will do that thing, which you would rather not do, because it is good for your marriage... doing something half-ass or begrudgingly is decidedly detrimental to a marriage... either do it completely or don't do it at all... dragging your feet like a hurt child only does damage to a marriage... playing games like "I'm-only-doing-this-because-I-have-to" or "If-I-do-this-you-owe-me" is childish at best, and does nothing to promote unity and growth... it's simply poisonous.
but being a push-over is equally poisonous... letting your spouse win every argument does nothing to grow a marriage... sure, it builds his self-esteem, but at the expense of your own... something as simple as what to have for dinner can build a marriage... even though many wives say they don't care what to have or where to go for dinner, this is often disingenuous... they care... but they often will let you chose for them as a gesture of kindness... men, notice this... it's fine to chose your favorite restaurant or meal... but, on occasion, chose what they would like... show them that you understand their gesture, and give them one back... if you go to a sports bar for wings and beers, take them out for sushi and cocktails (or whatever their personal preference is)... offer to cook dinner, and make something they like.
i'd make the same observation for women, but often they're better at this than men... however, they're not so good at it as they think they are... women like to spend time with their men, and men do to... but men want quality time, not necessarily quantity... you see this in the advent of the "man cave"... it's funny, but even back in the day when men spent 12 hours in the fields, they would come home only to go spend another 4 or 5 in the yard, barn, garage, or wherever they could... it isn't that they don't want to spend time with their wives, but they don't often get to spend time with themselves.
we're just wired differently... each of us needs to understand our own wiring and that of our spouse... we need to adjust our own minds to accommodate that of the other.
at the end of the day, we are each individuals... we know ourselves best... for us to have a successful marriage, our spouse must know us, too... and while many men would claim their wives are psychic mind-readers, none of us are able to delve into the depths of another's mind without a guide.
communication... this is the true pitfall of all marriages... "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Driftwood (1857)... how do you know a secret history?... the only way to see it is through the lens of the viewer... i say "lens" because often even the person who lived it has colored it some... we don't like to remember our own faults and failures, but they are as much a part of our makeup as our merits and successes... if we don't communicate everything to our spouse, is it their fault when they stumble over a tender subject?... if wounded, ask yourself, "Could they have known?"... often we fight over things that the other could never have guessed was an issue... it is a rare case when a person intentionally wounds their partner... even if they do, there surely is a reason behind it... the point is simple... communicate.
so often you hear the accusation, "They rushed into marriage"... i think that's a poor excuse... arranged marriages often turn out to be the strongest... and it's not that those who set them up were excellent match-makers... far from it... but from the outset, these couples understand that they are entering unknown waters... their futures, fortunes, and very lives depend on how cautiously they enter into these vows... (a man can be as overbearing as he likes, but he must sleep sometime... he must eat... even the most docile creature attacks when cornered)... when the health of your marriage determines your future, you treat it with more reverence and respect.
"They're too young"... balderdash... it's not that they're too young... it's that they're ignorant... ignorant of what the commitment truly is... oh, they think they know... but they don't... how could they?... they believe what they see around them... they believe that they can simply walk away if they don't like it... because that's what a devalued marriage is these days... it's simply a personal choice... if at first you don't succeed, try, try again... bullshit... this is the most important decision you will ever make in your lifetime... because it will forever alter your life... young people don't take this seriously, because, for them, a lifetime is merely eighteen years... eighty years is unthinkable... it might as well be a thousand... when your most far-seeing goal is "what am i going to do with my life", you don't dwell much on who will feed you on your death-bed... the most anyone can project their lives forward is equal to the years they have lived... at eighteen, you can't imagine forty... (hell, at forty you wonder what forty-one might bring)... too young is really too naive.
got your attention now, don't i?... the devaluation of marriage is the single greatest reason for the rise in teen pregnancies, single mothers, and crime rates... sex is the cornerstone of the problem.
sex has consequences... oh, i know the common "liberal" responses... they'll talk contraception and abortion... women's rights... personal choice... sexual identity... but what it really comes down to is simply, "I'll make up any excuse to do what feels good"... forget personal responsibility.
well, here's the reality of it... sex is final... that's right; once you've had sex, it can't be undone... insert your own joke about how you can unscrew a light bulb... so what?... what's the big deal?... well, the unintended consequences are many... let's start with promises... when you have sex, you are implying to the opposite party that all results of the sex are agreeable to both members, intended and otherwise... you may not actually mean it, but don't get hung up on the details... the opposite member may not see it your way... neither will you, should you contract an STD... you'd have every right to be upset... and if you got pregnant, you'd have every right to expect the other member to be at least 50% responsible for it... but, let's be realistic... does that happen?... no, of course not... to quote President Obama, often girls are "punished with a baby" and left to their own devices by a dead-beat boy/dad.
but let's assume you've avoided the baby issue... and even the STD issue (which, by the way, you can still get no matter what protection you use)... you can't avoid the emotional issue... sex creates an emotional connection, whether you want it to, or not... men can usually get over this (again, we're wired differently)... but for women, it can be more difficult... this isn't necessarily their fault, either... sex releases oxytocin in the brain... this drug is so powerful that, in a 20 second hug, a woman can produce enough oxytocin to bond her to that man... during sex, dopamine is also dumped into the body... dopamine is highly addictive... but men aren't let off the hook easily, either... they get hit by vasopressin... this causes pair-bonding (read: monogamy)... that's right, guys... if you have sex, you might never have sex with anyone else... ever. (horror)
but a good, strong-willed "liberal" would be able to overcome all that neurochemistry, right?... of course... and that's where it all goes wrong.
like any good drug, you get hooked on it... you've had it, so you want it again... and what's wrong with that?... well, if you continue to avoid all the other pitfalls stated above, there's only two things left to avoid... addiction and resistance... sexual addiction is a well documented phenomenon (and videos of said documentation can be purchased at you local adult video store)... seriously, it's a problem that does not need to be expanded on here.
resistance, however, is another problem that is rarely discussed... but, like any drug, once you begin to use it, it takes greater doses to achieve the same result... for women, they just want the sex to last longer so they get the same oxytocin/dopamine fix... men also want more sex to get the same dopamine high... but men get resistant to vasopressin... they build up a tolerence to "monogamy"... sex, of any duration, doesn't bond them any greater... so, you have a dopamine fiend who has lost the pair-bonding requirement... wonder what happens next?
does this sound familiar?... man #1 has "played the field" before getting married... lots of sexual partners... avoided getting anyone pregnant, contracting an STD, or being shot by the girls' fathers... finally, he 'decides' to settle down... he finds 'Miss. Right' and marries her... well, the new Mrs. Right finds she has a sexual dynamo and expert lover... lucky her!... she gets all the oxytocin and dopamine she can handle... everything is grand!... but Mr. Right is drifting further and further away... he gets his 'Mid-Life Crisis'... buys a sports car (also a dopamine addiction)... suddenly, Mrs. Right finds out Mr. Right has had an affair with Miss Wrong, as well as his secretary, Miss Mediocre, and also Mrs. Satisfactory from down the street... and we wonder what went wrong.
we could discuss the benefits/costs of sex before marriage, but this is neuroscience... sex outside of marriage is detrimental to your future marriage... and when (not if) the vasopressin begins to fade, you had better be prepared to honor your vows and make good on your promises... because the next marriage will be (chemically) more difficult than the first.
so, all you "liberals"... there may be very good reasons to not believe in Biblical teachings... but these ancient rules now have modern science giving you the same answers... marriage is sacred, no matter your beliefs... sex outside of marriage is detrimental... devaluation of marriage and of sex directly leads to societal ills.
this is the most important decision of your life... do it right.