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Saturday, April 03, 2004

Is marriage rotten? Is it okay?

Psychology Today is pretty bad about being reactionary alot of the time. And there's alot of that in this article, for instance, the focus on marriages that break up because of infidelity. They play up the stereotype of the marriage falling apart because one partner, stereotypically the husband, has a roving eye. Last time I checked, though, I do believe most marriages are broken up by the wives. The high divorce rate coincided with the rise of feminism. While that doesn't necessarily prove a causal relationship, it's not useful for feminists to tiptoe around the issue. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that women just got tired of putting up with crap and start walking out in large numbers. Conservatives have grabbed onto this to demonstrate that women need to be subservient in order for marriages to work. Feminists need to quit avoiding the issue and state outright that no, unless men can learn to treat their wives respectfully, they will continue to lose out on the benefits of marriage. That men benefit even more than women from marriage is detailed in this article.
I have trouble believing men, and yes, women, who have a roving eye are really the cause behind the high divorce rate. In my experience, for what it's worth, roving eye types tend to avoid commitment to begin with. Even in this article, the man they found who walked out because he was afraid that he might not get to bed another woman ever did so when his girlfriend pressed for marriage. Not that people don't cheat; they do. But married people cheat for a whole buffet of reasons and it's rarely the boring old fear that their lives won't be exciting enough.
Nonetheless, this article's main message is critical. The most important factor in a solid relationship is not a set of compatibility factors. It's the level of commitment that the individuals feel towards each other. I can't think of better advice for keeping a marriage together than just simply making the commitment a priority. If the first thing you picture when tempted to cheat is how badly it will devastate a loved one, you will be more likely to refrain, I would think. Some things really are pretty simple.

Thanks, Diotima.


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