Monday, February 14

Love, Marriage, and Valentine's Day

This is the day set aside (by our balladeers and Hallmark) for secular worship of Love. For the last century and a half Western society has decided that love should be the primary reason for marriage. This seems to be a good as a day as any to consider if this is as good a thing was we might suppose.

Has this made us (collectively) a happier more contented people? Are our marriages improved over the past centuries? Granted, the skyrocketing divorce rate of the last few decades may have an additionally wrinkle to throw in the mix. But that divorce rate in the first place is only possible in some measure because we assume that because the "light of love" has gone out of the relationship, it might as well be terminated.

Now, it is certain that the young unmarried people in our midst, will not think highly of "the alternative". Arranged marriages during the age of teenage rebellion (or the post collegiate years) will not go over well with one's conceptions of independence and familial responsibility (or lack thereof). But that is not the alternative I would propose. Instead, I would counsel not necessarily looking to your parents to select your spouse, but that instead don't consider "love" to be the primary reason to marry.

For further reading I highly recommend the commentary and primary source material on this subject collected by Leon and Amy Kass, Wing to Wing, and Oar to Oar. My (unfortunate?) children will, alas, have to read this text prior to joining in the dating scene.