Is getting married "instinctive"?


Ok, I’m not married, and that’s why I don’t visit this sub-forum very often. But I wanted to hear the ideas of Catholics living as Catholics, and I thought this thread would be less likely to be hijacked here than in the social justice sub-forum, my usual stomping ground.

Anyway, I am reading a book about marriage, and one of the ideas it puts forth is that marriage is something people need to be encouraged to do, by their culture, and for the good of that culture.

Despite all the evidence that marriage is better for the couple and better for their children (lower rate of separation for the couple, more security for the children), a percentage of Americans are still co-habitating instead of getting married.

Why do you think that is, and what can we as Catholics do to encourage young people to get married instead of indulge in the other relationship choices they are presented with by American culture?


JMHO, not a sociologist or anything, but I have noticed that the surge in cohabitation seems to have followed a surge in divorce. My thought is that my generation, which I think was the first to really embrace cohabitation, was also the first generation where divorce became common. For following generations, divorce became the norm. So, I think the kids who experienced their parents’ divorce value marriage less and don’t see it as something permanent, so for them it’s not so different from just living together.

Also, my dh and I have noticed that fewer and fewer people honor commitments at any level now. People take a job and agree to stay a certain amount of time – leave with no qualms as soon as another offer is made. People volunteer to work at fundraisers, coach a soccer team, whatever, and just no show or cancel at the last minute even if no emergency. It just seems that people feel that their whims must be met, and anything that interfers with what they feel like doing will be dropped, even if they’ve committed to it.

For our part, dh and I try to show our children how happily married we are, how marriage has been one of our greatest blessings, and we also try to teach them they must honor commitments they make.


You may be on to something here. I would just add that the surge in divorce was preceded by the nearly universal passing of “no fault” divorce laws state by state. No fault divorce meant that either party could opt out at any time for any reason, effectively nullifying the “till death do us part” commitment of the marriage vows.


I think the divorce epidemic is definitely part of the problem. There is a small percentage of people like myself, who, after watching the divorce of our parents and having our lives ripped apart at the seams by it, take marriage much MORE seriously. I vowed I would never do that to my children, and therefore was very careful about who I chose to marry. I made sure he was worthy of the commitment of the rest of my life, and that he was someone I both wanted to live with as long as I lived and that I could live with. I made sure that I looked at the relationship rationally after the first blush wore off, picked out where we have recurring difficulties and whether I could accept that those probably would never change. I made sure I never caught him lying or doing anything questionable. Then I decided to commit to him, and I am still completely and totally committed to keeping our family together forever. That was the effect of divorce on me. And there are others like me.

But I think I am in the minority, and that it jades more people and makes them value relationships and promises less. It also makes them close up their hearts to a certain extent, so no one can ever get in far enough to REALLY hurt them. They end up having only superficial relationships because that way they keep that deep dark place where they hide that hurt, destroyed child from ever being exposed or vulnerable again. And of course, they then pass on the attitude that marriage is foolish and unecessary and promises are risky to their own kids, and you go from there…

Also we have the major problem of families that start out with no father anywhere to be seen…there are many roots to that problem, many more than can be discussed here.

I think the way we encourage people to get married is to appeal to their self-interest. Show them how it is good for them, because it is provable that it is. Married people are healthier, live longer, make more money in the long run, and their kids do better, overall, in life. These facts have been proven, we just need to show people how they can apply it to their own situations. I wish we could do it in a loftier way, but the cold truth is that most people just want to know what’s in it for them.


I think getting married is more instinctive for women. And I think a lot of women shack up with men, hoping it will lead to marriage. I think in this day and age, when morals and laws make it very easy for men to not be more virtuous, they can get away with having all the benefits of marriage and none of the obligations.

And when women let men get away with it, it becomes a vicious circle. It becomes harder to find men who are marriage-minded, and so women lower their standards, and men follow.

And you can pick your spouse carefully and think it’s going to be wonderful, but as long as the divorce laws favor the person who wants out of the marriage, then you will have a never-ending supply of new untrusting, wary young people who are afraid to make a commitment.


Yes, of course, you are right. Women used to have an unspoken agreement with each other and would uphold standards for the benefit of all.

Now, being the girl who won’t “give it up” is likely to leave you alone and with no prospects. Even men who might normally be willing to follow the “old” contract find they don’t have to, so they don’t bother with the women who would make them.

Finding a quality, old-fashioned man is getting a lot harder. They have to choose to be that way in defiance of their own culture, and how many people do that?

Many women hate hearing this, but we really do have most of the power. We have to choose to use it the right way. One of the best quotes I ever heard was, “Men only do what women let them get away with.” Please, guys, don’t get offended by that. Think, on a greater social level, how very true it really is. And women, I know that being held up as the “guardians of moral virtue” has cost us a lot in the past, but I think there is a way to reclaim that role and not give up the advances in equality we have achieved in the greater society.


May I politely ask, what are some of “the advances in equality”?

Thank you,


Well, the right to be educated on par with a man. The right to earn a fair wage for the same work. The right to vote. Those are just for starters.

But my motto is “Why stoop to equality?” :wink:


Let’s face it, there are bad sides to the new system and bad sides to the old system as well. The new system doesn’t promote respect for women even though it does provide for a comparable wage, education, career prospects and whatnot. The problem with the old system is that it sometimes degenerates into a schizophrenical situation in which the woman is nearly worshipped but doesn’t have much power or opportunity. A more feminist approach to the old system results sometimes in views that men are inferior to women (who are evolutionarily higher, devoid of the male ego, not driven by testosterone etc) and courtesy is twisted into subservience. It turns into a disaster when such a view is presented by an early education teacher left alone with a co-ed class or when strong female figures following that philosophy aren’t balanced by male figures in a child’s upbringing. I’ve seen it degenerate into such situations that a schoolboy’s word would matter less than a schoolgirl’s (word vs word, imagine :rolleyes:), he would be expected not to be merely courteous, but to obey his female classmates’ whims and show not just respect but also deference or else the lady teacher would show him. Trust me, as much I dislike the lack of manners in the current world, I shiver at the memories from school.


Feminist Gloria Steinem married a man:

My mom was not above painting a house, mixing cement and laying linoleum. I think the schizophrenia part comes in when feminists like Steinem bad-mouth marriage and then get married.

By the way, women still earn less money than men, which I agree, is wrong.

God bless,


I keep hearing this, but I have never yet come across a job opening that had different pay scales for men and women.

(When I first started job hunting many decades ago, I DID come across jobs that had different pay scales for married men vs single men.)


Women usually earn less because of their own life choices. Most women make the choice to compromise their career in order to be the primary caretaker for children. That has consequences for your earning power. I, for one, willingly accept that, because my children are so much more important than any paycheck. It’s not fair to expect an employer to pay someone the same who has 10 fewer years of experience or skills development in the workplace. But also, women tend to take degrees in less technical fields where the pay grades are less, and to take less demanding jobs in the same fields as men, again in order to accomodate family.

A little research usually puts paid to silly notions like this. Women with comparable education, work experience, skills development, and career paths, make the same as do men. If they didn’t, the EEOC would be a lot busier than it is, because do you think women who have worked that hard would sit back and take that?

P.S. As for the feminists, look at the founding statement of the National Organization for Women. It was written by Betty Friedan on a restaurant napkin during a meeting originally, and it stated that the demise of the traditional family was necessary for women’s liberation. Denying that feminists are anti-family is like denying that the KKK is anti-black.


Ed, you’re a smart guy so I am kindly suggesting you read the book “Women Who Make the World Worse”, by Kate O’beirne. Just 4 bucks on Amazon!

The book will dispel the myth of less money for equal work. It’s a lie that’s been effectively perpetrated for almost 35 years. Time to let it go.


You’re lumping all feminists together in one, there has never been much of a general consensus among feminists except in a general positive attitude towards women, Feminism varies all the way from ‘Separatist Feminists’ who believe that men and women should be entirely segregated and men have nothing to offer (some have even advocated the extermination of men just as soon as scientists can work out cloning) all the way through to women who identify themselves as feminist and advocate a very traditional model of the family and claim that women have power within their own home and through their moral influence on their husbands. In between there are a lot of Liberal feminists who believe that small changes in relationships will bring about equality, things like providing childcare for women who work and encouraging men to take more responsibility for home life.
Being pro-woman does not mean being anti-family, I don’t see why men shouldn’t share responsibility for taking care of their family (and not just in a financial way). I’ve seen families where mum and dad both shared the responsibility of taking care of their kids and doing household chores and to me those fathers had a much better relationship with their kids than those who took a much more traditional view that they were there to earn money for their family and their wife was there to take care of day to day concerns, these fathers often didn’t know about their kids lives except what their wife told them because they were so busy working providing for their family financially they didn’t spend time with their kids.


Ed, That is a persistent myth fueled by feminists.

Many high paying jobs are also undesirable jobs to most women. Men are willing to do them, and take both the risk *and *the reward.

For example, last week USA Today had an article lamenting that “women continue to lag in construction jobs despite the increase in transportation funds spent on roads, bridges and mass transit and the national building boom, according to a Saint Louis University study out today.”

My first thought, as a woman, was “duh, most women don’t **WANT **construction jobs”

As a manager, I have never hired a person and paid them less because they were a woman. Maybe because they had less experience, but not because of their sex. But, currently the women reporting to me make more than the men reporting in the same position.


The feminist movement, which has permeated every minute aspect of our culture, is not and was not ever, pro-woman. It is and always has been anti-male. It is and always has been pro-“power”. It is anti-family and anti-children.

Anyone who has ever worked in the pro-life movement has seen how “pro-woman” the feminist really is. :rolleyes: Women who have chosen to stay home and have children, eschewing the lie that fulfillment comes with work and “power” gained outside the home, have seen how “pro-woman” the feminist really is. :eek: Women who choose to have more than the prescribed 1.5 children can report how pro-woman the feminist really is. :mad:

You may think there are different positions for feminists to hold but any Christian woman who self-identifies with this movement or it’s high priestessess should know exactly who and what she is aligning herself with.


I want to apologize to OP (sorry Urban!) for taking this thread off track!

Back to topic!:wink:


I think that these topics, although slightly tangential, are actually part of what the OP is talking about.

How much does culture influence marriage, or is it “instinctive”?

I would not frame it in those terms. Marriage is a natural estate, created by God. Adam and Eve lived in this state. It is more than merely a Christian, or Jewish, institution. More than a secular institution. Yes, I think it is “instinctual” in the sense of written in God’s law on our hearts.

The reason that co-habitation does not ultimately satisfy is because it is not what is written in our hearts. Our hearts yearn for fidelity, indissoluability, and committment.

But, if it ultimately fails to satisfy why do so many do it? THAT is where culture, feminism, and false promises of the current secular culture come in to play.



Feminism has urged women to become virtual men—and then they complain that they can’t find men.

They work as hard as men, earn as much, buy their own houses, and live with their dogs. They need nothing.

So what would a man want with a woman who doesn’t need him?



You are correct in your observation if you look at it that way. Some careers don’t advertise the pay though either.

Another way to look at it is, what jobs do women have and what jobs do men have? If you look at the government type jobs ( the area I know best for myself anyways ), many clerical jobs are occupied by women. The clerical workers are paid much much less than other adminstrative type jobs. Why is this? Because they don’t work as hard and their education levels are not beyond high school? Or is it because women mostly occupy these jobs and women’s work is not as highly valued as men’s (being very general here ). Men are still seen in many job areas to be the main bread winners, and so their work is valued and must be compensated. Women are still sometimes seen as secondary income earners and the work isn’t as valued.

Women like myself also tend to flock to jobs where there are higher maternity benefits and flexible time, like one day off every two weeks or part time work. I also like stability in government work. They pay isn’t as high and the risk of losing one’s job is less.

But have you ever wondered why admin assistants don’t make as much for their work as others, like in IT or whatever? I mean, is one job really more work intensive than the other or do you think the admin assistants are paid less because they are women, and it is highly regarded as a woman’s job so not as valued?

(ceteris paribus)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit