Monday, March 21, 2011

Marriage After Divorce: Who Needs It?

Columnist Nina Collins has a thoughtful commentary (here) this morning about the new reluctance women are showing for re-marrying. As a newly-single again guy who sees a lot of single women out there, I fully understand her logic in explaining the resistance. And it doesn't just apply to women.

A friend explained the other day that she wasn't about to give up her freedom, but occasionally she yearns for somebody to mow the lawn and maybe do the dishes. "But I dare him to touch that damn remote." Dare, indeed. That's just about as precise a symbol of modern freedom as I know. He/she who controls the remote controls ... etc.

Collins points out that the 2007 census tells us that 52 percent of men and 44 percent of women are likely to marry after divorce these days. I've seen other surveys that had those numbers falling noticeably as the number of divorces increased. There are a lot of us out there with more than two marriages behind us, as well.

She says 60 percent of second marriages fail (no numbers on successive marriages) and 70 percent fail if children are involved. No surprise in that. "Sex on demand is a beautiful thing," she writes, "but having the bed to oneself sometimes is equally a treat." My guess is that "sex on demand" most often ends after a couple of years, as well. Far too often, sex becomes a bargaining chip or control mechanism, losing any deeper meaning it might have had.

There's also something to be said for trying to salvage what was good about a marriage: the initial friendship that sometimes gets buried in all the angst. That's a sad loss. My most recent ex and I have found that saving the friendship has enormous value to both of us in ways we never dreamed and it has made the entire process of divorcing, if not easier, then certainly less stressful.

Still, we have a lot of people talking about the "sanctity" of marriage, even as they visit their lawyers. They want more availability of marriage (between gay people, for example) and continue to make it harder to get divorced than to get married. That should be reversed.

Marriage should require a trial period, six weeks of intense education (six months if there are children involved either now or planned) and counseling for at least two years. My thought is that anybody who wants to get married--and is willing to undergo all that--should receive our mass blessing. Otherwise, no dice, baby. 

Marriage is too difficult an institution to be entered casually. It can be a wondrous union of two people, but it almost never is. My youngest brother and my oldest sister have those kinds of rare marriages. They represent two of the eight siblings in my family. One in four. That's about what I'd estimate the "happy" quotient is for marriage in our society is right now, regardless of which number marriage it is.



  1. I really enjoyed reading this article and agree 100 percent that Marriage is too difficult an institution to be entered into casually. Thanks for sharing.

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