Marriage does work

dysfunction

Sometimes you stumble across things that you just can’t let pass.

Yesterday one of those moments happened when I found this:5 reasons marriage doesn’t work anymore. The article is by a 29-year old self proclaimed sex and relationship advisor named Anthony D’Ambrosio. I must confess I’ve never heard of him and as far as I can tell his relationship advice — based on his own nasty divorce — is somewhat questionable. And given his appearance, unless he has a fetish for blind women, I have grave doubts about his ability to give advice on sex.

I don’t claim to be an authority of relationships but right now I’ve had an eighteen year run of good luck that includes being married to the same woman and us having three kids together… in the old fashioned way. So I can speak with some authority on the subject (disclaimer: past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results). In fact, I speak with much greater authority on the subject than the author.

According to D’Ambrosio these are the reasons that marriage just doesn’t work anymore.

1) Sex becomes almost non-existent.

…Instead, we have sex once every couple weeks, or when it’s time to get pregnant. It becomes this chore. You no longer look at your partner wanting to rip their clothes off, but rather instead, dread the thought. That’s not crazy to you?

It’s not just boredom that stops sex from happening. Everywhere you look, there’s pictures of men and women we know half naked — some look better than your husband or wife. So it becomes desirable. It’s in your face every single day and changes your mindset.

It’s no wonder why insecurities loom so largely these days. You have to be perfect to keep someone attracted to you. Meanwhile, what your lover should really be attracted to is your heart. Maybe if you felt that connection beyond a physical level, would you realize a sexual attraction you’ve never felt before.

Writing in Crisis Magazine, Rachel Lu makes the point that many young people today are confused about the role of sex in a relationship. Riffing off a piece in The Atlantic that finds millenials are “sexually conservative,” Lu finds something different:

t’s really quite unconscionable that parents and other “responsible” adults send young people to college with so little insight into the psychological and moral significance of sex. In order to bypass the “consent” roadblock, I sometimes pose the following question: suppose a young woman is starting college and comes to you, a more experienced student, for advice about when she should consent to sex. “I know it’s up to me,” she says, “but I don’t know how to decide when to say ‘yes’. What would you recommend?”

I get a lot of shrugged shoulders at this, but the ones who answer are even more heartbreaking.

“Listen to your heart. You’ll know when you’re ready.”

“Bad sex happens, and most of us have experienced it. It hurts, but that’s part of becoming an adult. Grow up, move on and make better decisions the next time.”

“The main thing is not to gripe about it. I can respect anyone who ‘owns’ their sexual choices, no matter what they are.”

In other words, today’s Millennials aren’t sexually conservative. What they are is sexually clueless. If they ever do get to marriage (Good news! More than 70 percent still think marriage is a relevant institution!) they’ll probably already be scarred by years of heartbreak and betrayal that their elders did nothing to prevent.

If your expectation of sex includes a) multiple partners, b) sex when you want it, and c) porn-like experience you are probably going to be disappointed with monogamy. As one of my favorite high school teachers told me more years ago than I care to remember, “If you start hustling men or women you’re never going to be satisfied, you’re always going to look at someone and wonder what he or she is like.” Treating your sex life as a trip to Six Flags both cheapens the act itself and it has the effect of leaving you unsatisfied. What D’Ambrosio also describes is what I hit on last week. Love is composed of passion and virtue. We are living in an age where love (virtue) is either ignored or the punch line in a joke and love (passion) reigns supreme.

2) Finances cripple us.

…You need to find a job to pay for student loans, a mortgage, utilities, living expenses and a baby. Problem is, it’s extremely difficult to find a job that can provide an income that will help you live comfortably while paying all of these bills — especially not in your mid 20s.

This strain causes separation between us. It halts us from being able to live life. We’re too busy paying bills to enjoy our youth. Forget going to dinner, you have to pay the mortgage. You’ll have to skip out on an anniversary gift this year because those student loans are due at the end of the month. Vacations? Not happening…

I don’t even know what to say to this. If you take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans at some point you need to consider how you are going to pay them back. Wrapped into this is the unrealistic expectation that straight out of college you are going to have the same material things your parents have. Newsflash: your parents worked for decades to get that house and those cars. You might have to do the same.

3) We’re more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time.
…We’ve developed relationships with things, not each other. Ninety-five percent of the personal conversations you have on a daily basis occur through some type of technology. We’ve removed human emotion from our relationships, and we’ve replaced it colorful bubbles…

4) Our desire for attention outweighs our desire to be loved.
…Love is supposed to be sacred. You can’t love someone when you’re preoccupied with worrying about what others think of you. Whether it be posting pictures on social media, buying homes to compete with others or going on lavish vacations — none of it matters…

5) Social media just invited a few thousand people into bed with you.

We’ve thrown privacy out the window these days.

Nothing is sacred anymore, in fact, it’s splattered all over the Web for the world to see.

Everywhere we go, everything we do — made public. Instead of enjoying the moment, we get lost in cyberspace, trying to figure out the best status update, or the perfect filter.

In fact, where D’Ambrosio lists five reasons, there is in fact only one. selfishness. Or maybe two: selfishness and confusion…
The fact that D’Ambrosio can’t connect the last three items to the first is sort of baffling. But his article could be summed up as follows:

stupid

Marriage is hard work. There are a few couples out there where everything just clicks on every level and with every issue but damned few. Marriage is vile hard work and it only succeeds when the compromises and concessions you make are done so in a spirit of charity. In our age of self-worship, it is increasingly hard for people who were raised as special snowflakes to have the degree of self-abnegation necessary to live with another human. When one looks at the Marriage Rite in the 1559 Anglican Book of Common Prayer one finds a much more mature view of marriage than we see in society today?

DEARELY beloved frendes, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of his congregacion, to joyne together this man and this woman in holy matrimony, which is an honorable state, instytuted of God in Paradise, in the time of manes innocencie, signiflyng unto us the mistical union that is betwixt Christ and his Churche: which holy state Christe adourned and beautified with his presence and firste myracle that he wrought in Cana of Galile, and is commended of sainct Paul to be honourable emong all men, and therfore is not to be enterprised, nor taken in hande unadvisedly, lightly or wantonly, to satisfye mennes carnall lustes and appetytes, lyke brute beastes that have no understandyng; but reverently, discretely, advisedly, soberly, and in the feare of God, duely consideryng the causes for the which matrimony was ordeined. One was the procreation of children, to be brought up in the feare and nurtoure of the Lorde, and praise of God. Secondly, it was ordeined for a remedy agaynste sinne and to avoide fornication, that suche persones as have not the gifte of continencie might mary, and kepe themselves undefiled membres of Christes body. Thirdly, for the mutual societie, helpe, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, bothe in prosperity and adversitye, into the whiche holy state these two persones present, come nowe to be joyned. Therefore if any man can shewe any just cause, why thei may not lawfully be joyned together let hym now speake, or els hereafter for ever holde his peace.

And the couple goes on to pledge:

I N. take the. N. to my wedded wyfe, to have and to hold from thys day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for porer, in sickenes, and in healthe, to love and to cheryshe, tyll death us departe; according to Gods holy ordinaunce, and therto I plight the my trouth.

Then shall they louse their handes, and the woman takyng againe the man by the right hande, shall saie.

I N. take the. N. to my wedded husbande, to have and to holde, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickenes, ad in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us departe, accordynge to godes holy ordinaunce: and therto I geve the my trouth.

Then shall they again louse theyr handes, and the man shal geve unto the woman a ring, laying the same upon the booke, with the accustomed dutie to the Priest and Clerke. And the Priest taking the ryng, shal delyver it unto the man, to put it upon the fourth finger of the womans left hand. And the man taught by the Priest, shal say.

WITH this ring I the wed: with my body I the worship: and with all my worldly goodes, I the endow. In the name of the Father, and of the Sonne, and of the holy Ghost. Amen.

So marriage works just as well today as it ever did. It requires work. It requires two people willing to compromise in good faith and to work together selflessly. It doesn’t work if you allow your marriage to become merely an additional possession, something to brag about on Facebook, a block to check off as something you’ve accomplished.