A Therapist's Notes on the Decline of Marriage
Many years ago, during the ancient times of the early part of this century, I provided individual psychotherapy to several adolescents.
Although some stood out, one in particular, a thirteen-year-old, will remain in my mind forever. Every week, dressed in her school uniform, she discussed the issues of family life. Her parents lived apart.
What made this memorable was her lamenting the fact that her parents never married, sharing with me her humiliation when other children discussed their parents' anniversaries or honeymoons.
The sanctity of marriage has been losing its luster since the late 1960s, but until the last decade, not for the middle and upper classes. Living together without "I do" and having out-of-wedlock children remained a blemish. Until 1980, when a young woman became pregnant, hush, hush, and a shotgun wedding or adoption ensued.
By the mid-eighties, teen pregnancies exploded among the lower-middle- and lower-class families, with adoptions decreasing markedly.
Abortion contributed to this, with women using it as birth control.
I recall a coworker laughing about her friend's marriage and pregnancy, telling us how much the friend changed after three abortions and engaging in drunken brawls. I cringed hearing about this lack of restraint.
Although abortion's influence on the disintegration of our moral compass dominated, it wasn't the only culprit. The outrage around single teen parenting subsided long ago, and the public schools accommodated, whether the young woman birthed one or more children.
At one time, even the left-leaning social workers published information about single parenting ramifications. Basically, they warned women about the chances of becoming impoverished with one child out of wedlock. Having two? They set themselves up for a life of poverty.
If you voiced that old-fashioned statement now? Someone might shrug or remind you that it's part of the culture. Get with the program.
We've gone from the scarlet letter to a badge of honor, where baby mamas are celebrated, from the wealthy glitterati to the poorest of the poor. The implicit message is, don't you dare judge, you dinosaur. Or who needs a piece of paper for commitment?
Recently, a famous actor revealed that he and his partner want to have another child.
According to the report, he has no interest in marriage, taking the European style of parenting. At one time, such behavior would've been scandalous. In these so-called enlightened times, marriage and children are no longer entwined. Mind your own business.
Over the last decade, I've heard stories about unmarried relatives raising children with their partners. One client stated that her brother wanted to get married, but his girlfriend insisted on financing other endeavors instead of a wedding. Another client shared that her niece and boyfriend have special needs children and would lose their benefits. Besides, they wanted to put their money into new living room furniture.
Both clients agreed when I expressed the politically incorrect and therapeutic faux pas of disapproval.
About five years ago, I saw a high school teacher who told me that four half-siblings attended school together. They shared the same father with different mothers. I shook my head in distaste. He joined me.
All these Me Too women who puff themselves up with liberation and pro-abortion mantras deny that they'll suffer eventual consequences without the institution of marriage.
Even without children, some young women proclaim no issue for them when their boyfriend avoids marriage. Despite ultimatums, these loyal females remain with their male partners, hoping for a change of heart. Recently, I received a call from an old client, seeking a couple's therapist. Her boyfriend of ten years still won't get married after promising they'd become engaged in early 2020, and she wants marriage and children.
The Marxist Rudi Dutschke coined the phrase "the long march through the institutions." People often forget that this includes marriage. Karl Marx must be laughing at coddled Americans' ignorance and complacency as they celebrate the march away from tradition and fall into the pit of family abolition. Many of us know that marriage is its foundation, and without it, the family crumbles easier.
Throuple, a vogue quasi-synonym for ménage à trois, no longer holds its taboo status. Polyamory, once on the fringe of society, has been celebrated in TED Talks and accepted by my profession as an alternative lifestyle. A few months ago, a colleague reached out on LinkedIn requesting I check out a book about this unsavory practice. I ignored it.
I'm not a social scientist, but for the last thirty-five years, I've served a variety of people, mainly college-educated, and have witnessed this unrelenting cultural devolution.
Family and marital breakdown may be the major contributors to this problem, but there are other issues, including moral relativism, demonization of religion and merit, revisionist history, and lackadaisical parenting.
Any silver linings?
I've heard no talk about abortion in several years. Many young adults don't want marriage and children, so at least, pathetic to say, they're not killing them.
Also, without wearing rose-colored glasses, I believe that a few might eventually reconsider their stance on marriage and raising a family.
St. Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and for those who forget, Valentine's origins are based in the sanctity of marriage. The Roman emperor Claudius II thought he would get more committed soldiers by banning marriage, so he outlawed it. St. Valentine defied this decree and continued performing weddings in secret until he was arrested and executed for this crime against the state. The Catholic Church recognized his valor and sacrifice and eventually canonized him.
With all he endured for the sacred ritual of marriage, one can only wonder how St. Valentine is viewing this cultural malaise from afar. Will America wake up and recognize its blessings, which include traditional practices such as marriage? One can only hope.
Image via Pixnio.