A CBS News poll indicates seven in 10 people believe the institution of marriage is weakening. At the same time, this poll reports the vast majority of people – nearly 80 percent – say they want to get married one day.
Could it be people are fascinated with the notion of getting married, just not excited about staying that way?
The old song told us, “Love and marriage…go together like a horse and carriage.” In modern society, it seems many contend the refrain should be rephrased, “go together like oil and vinegar.”
But reports about the demise of marriage, apparently, are premature – if not totally exaggerated. Chuck Stetson, who chairs the Let’s Strengthen Marriage campaign, gave this perspective:
"I'm a business guy, and I look at research. And the research shows here that people who are married live longer, they're healthier, they have a lot more wealth, and they're happier. I don't think that's 'obsolete.'"
Of course, those arguing that advocates of the institution of marriage should be institutionalized would disagree. Who’s right?
My wife and I have been married more than 36 years. I can honestly say my love for her today is much deeper – and more genuine – than when we exchanged “I do’s.” We’ve had our share of struggles (my bride understandably might think more than her share), and coped with adversity in various and numerous forms. But those hardships have strengthened our relationship – just as intense, rigorous exercise makes an athlete stronger.
The problem, I believe, is couples don’t want to engage in the hard work necessary to establish a relationship to weather the storms.
We watch romantic comedies in which boy and girl overcome humorous conflict, but by movie’s end they sail into the sunset, happily ever after.
In real life, “happily ever after” lasts a few minutes, maybe a half hour, until the next crisis. But it’s the hard work, accepting the “worse” as well as the “better,” that forges true love. Too often, couples enter marriage with unrealistic ideals and when the going gets tough, they decide it’s time to get going – apart from one another.
That’s why the classic Bible passage, oft-quoted at weddings, reminds us, “Love is patient, love is kind…does not envy…does not boast…is not rude…not self-seeking…not easily angered…keeps no record of wrongs…always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).Tough words for an “It’s all about me” culture.