Dr. Ablow and the Wisdom of Cameron Diaz

Marriage is dying! So says marriage expert Cameron Diaz:

“I don’t think we should live our lives in relationships based off old traditions that don’t suit our world any longer.”

First of all, Hollywood entertainers live in a financially insulated bubble-world which operates very similar to a fishbowl. Their wealth creates a situation very similar to the glass bowl that shelters many a pet goldfish-it creates a stable environment for the fish, but limits the fish’s movement and eliminates his privacy, all for the entertainment of the fish’s owner.  Cameron Diaz has earned her spot in the Hollywood fishbowl, which apparently makes her some kind of expert on marriage.
While I find it somewhat absurd that a highly educated and respected psychologist would take the idle rantings of a human goldfish seriously, I agree with Dr. Ablow on some of his points. Divorce rates are too high, and marriage is often a major source of stress in people’s lives. However, Dr. Albow, at least in his article, is basing his opinions of marriage on what he hears in his therapy sessions. Naturally, people who are having emotional or psychological difficulties are going to have a tougher time building a successful marriage. Basing one’s opinion of marriage on people who are have emotional or psychological challenges doesn’t take into account the multitudes of married people who get on fine without any help from the mental health profession. There are also the multitudes of people who live almost exactly the same way as married folk, only without the ceremony. Many of them seem to be getting on fine as well.
I also agree with Dr. Ablow about the involvement of the State in marriage. I think the State’s involvement in marriage should be limited to record-keeping. He makes some good points about getting government out of marriage. However, the argument could be made that promoting a solid family life is beneficial for the State, as well as for the citizens, as solid families tend to produce productive, healthy people who contribute more to society than they require from it. So, from the point of view of the State, successful marriages are beneficial, and should therefore be encouraged.

Where I disagree with Dr. Albow is with this statement:

“And, make no mistake about it, marriage that includes cohabitation is a really tough environment in which to preserve such passion. The vast, vast majority of men and women, in fact, are no longer physically attracted to their spouses after five or ten years (that’s being kind), if they have seen one another most of that time. Human beings just are not built to desire one another once we have flossed in the same room a hundred times and shared a laundry basket for thousands of days.”

Sex is certainly a part of marriage, but it isn’t the only part. I think Dr. Albow has unwittingly hit on the root of the problem, which can claim failing marriages as a symptom. Modern technology has helped us create a culture of instant gratification. There’s an underlying assumption in modern society that since we can do a certain thing, we should. Since we can watch movies on our phones, we should, and if we’re deprived of it for some reason, it’s a problem that needs to be solved. The same can be said for sex. Since drugs and other methods allow us to, for the most part, determine when a women conceives, we can partake without undue risk of pregnancy. However, just because we can do something does not mean we should.  Marriage based solely on sexual gratification (what he calls “passion”) is almost certainly doomed to failure. Strangely enough, studies have shown that happily married people live longer, healthier lives. Apparently, these strange people must be doing something right.

Dr. Ablow ends with marriage’s death sentence:

It’s only a matter of time now. Marriage will fade away. We should be thinking about what might replace it. We should come up with something that improves the quality of our lives and those of our children.

Dr. Ablow’s solution is a sad one. It consists of just accepting a lower standard for personal behavior, of conceding victory to the most destructive forces arrayed against our civil society, and equating pleasure and gratification with real happiness and fulfillment.

I guess I’ll just enjoy my abnormal closeness with my wife and hope that Dr. Ablow doesn’t find out about me and commission some sort of study about my “condition”.