Marriage For Better Or Worse Essay

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Love helps make sense of marriage emotionally, but it is not terribly important in making sense of marriage from the point of view of social policy.

If love does not define the purpose of secular marriage, what does?

There are few if any behaviors that automatically end a marriage.

If a man beats his wife, which is about the worst thing he can do to her, he may be convicted of assault, but his marriage is not automatically dissolved.

Traditionalists say: marriage is for children, and homosexuals do not (or should not) have children, therefore you should not be able to marry.

That, unfortunately, pretty well covers the spectrum.First, marriage depends on the consent of the parties. Call it a Hayekian argument, after the great libertarian economist F. Hayek, who developed this line of thinking in his book The Fatal Conceit.In a market system, the prices generated by impersonal forces may not make sense from any one person’s point of view, but they encode far more information than even the cleverest person could even gather.But religious doctrine has no special standing in the world of secular law and policy (the “Christian nation” crowd notwithstanding).If we want to know what and whom marriage is for in modern America, we need a sensible secular doctrine.At one point, marriage in secular society was largely a matter of business: cementing family ties, providing social status for men and economic support for women, conferring dowries, and so on.Marriages were typically arranged, and “love” in the modern sense was no pre-requisite.Whatever else marriage may or may not be, it is certainly falling apart.Half of today’s marriages end in divorce, and, far more costly, many never begin—leaving mothers poor, children fatherless and neighborhoods chaotic.Because Japanese couples don’t expect as much emotional fulfillment as we do, they are less inclined to break up.They also take a somewhat more relaxed attitude toward adultery.


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