I have a friend who’s been married three times and he’s getting ready to say “I do” for a fourth. I say, why bother? I am reminded of the words of the great southern comedic writer Lewis Grizzard who said that instead of marriage just find a woman you don’t like and give her a house. Bolstering his argument is this statistic: in 1940 one in six marriages ended in divorce. Today it’s one in every two! Among the millennial generation, being married is now considered an “alternative lifestyle” and instead of “man and wife” the proper terminology is now “persons living cooperatively.” And they don’t even have to be of the opposite sex! This makes me wonder, is traditional marriage becoming an outmoded institution?
I really must ask, were humans really meant to be monogamous in the first place? Did you know that only 3% of large mammals are monogamous? Female black bears detest males of their own species and only get together for one reason, and it’s not to raise the cubs. I used to raise a lot of rabbits and when I put the does and bucks together for a little intimacy I always had to put the doe in the buck’s cage because, even though animals rarely kill their own kind, if I put the buck in the doe’s cage they’d fight to the death. (Or was it the other way around?)
A realtor friend told me recently that one of the hottest trends in housing in urban areas for couples are homes called “two-fers” with separate entrances, kitchens, and bedrooms. I wonder if humans are like rabbits? Does the female involved in this cooperative arrangement always have to go into the male’s bedroom, or if he dares enter the woman’s bedroom does a violent fight ensue?
Ranchers know that after every cow is bred the bulls will separate themselves from the cows, live independently and have nothing to do with raising their calves. Sadly, you see this phenomenon all too often these days with men who leave the nest once the hard work of raising the kids begins. According to women, two of the biggest questions they have before “coupling” with a man is, who will get custody of the money and, “Is this the man I want my children spending every other weekend with?”
Scientists say that animals like cattle are incapable of love and instead they just temporarily bond with another who looks and acts like they do because in the animal kingdom “like marries like.” We are told that domesticated animal’s emotions are simpler and cleaner than humans and love and hate stay separate in their brains. They either hate, or like another being, whereas humans can love and hate the same person. And often do, based on divorce statistics.
The current divorce rate saddens me because I’ve been married only once in my life to the same wonderful woman for 47 years and can’t imagine life without her. I think we have a perfect marriage despite the fact that my father was no role model in how to be a good husband. My parents separated at least three times and actually filed for divorce on three different occasions, the third one finally ending the train wreck. In hindsight I think the marriage ended because my father couldn’t stand my mom when he was drunk and she couldn’t stand him when he was sober. Which, I might add, was an extremely rare occurrence. I got the impression they only stayed together because of the children… neither one of them wanted to get stuck with me.
When I was a kid, divorces were much frowned upon and children of divorced couples were shunned in higher society. And it took a lot more lawyerly work to get a divorce. You had to have a reason and blame had to be assigned in court. Usually it was because the husband wasn’t being monogamous. But boys will be boys, whether it’s bulls or boyfriends. It wasn’t like the Cherokee culture where a woman could divorce her husband simply by tossing all his belongings out the front door. If that was all that was required to get a divorce my parents would not have reached their second anniversary and you wouldn’t be reading this column right now.
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