How would you answer someone who says marriage is pointless and just a piece of paper and not necessary to have a loving, committed relationship?
The reason I ask is I have a cousin, who’s not religious, who just got through with a bad divorce. Now he’s anti-marriage. He’s hurting, so I try to just let it go, but it’s getting bad. Especially when he goes around telling my younger brother never to get married, because marriage is pointless. It’s really starting to bug me. But I just don’t know what to say.
He’s in so much pain. I feel terrible for him, and don’t really want to argue with him, but I also don’t feel right just sitting quietly as he bashes marriage and tries to turn people against it.
So what are some good, preferably non-religious, arguments for marriage? My cousin probably won’t listen, but at least my brother might.
Can you guys also keep my cousin in your prayers? He really needs them.
Obviously, marriage is a sacrament for Catholics and you can get into all the theology.
But more basically, even for non-Catholics, marriage is a commitment. The “paper” is just the official recognition of that commitment for legal reasons. The paper doesn’t matter spiritually, the commitment does. To say “Let’s get together, but not get married” is to say “Let’s live as wife and husband, but not make the commitment.” It’s a fear of giving one’s self. It’s an ill-advised half-measure. It’s lukewarm,not hot.
Now your cousin did make that commitment and probably gave all of himself, and now he’s had his heart ripped apart. It’s pretty natural for him to want to avoid that pain again. He’s not even over the heartache. But in the end, it’s a foolish thing, and he will probably realize it once he’s healed.
Marriage can be seen as a legal contract enforceable at law or as a sacrament of the church, often for Catholics going hand in hand.
From a purely legal framework it has value in many ways albeit its value has decreased in later times. I am speaking of Common law countries and it may differ under the Napoleonic code or the frameworks of varied states within America. Firstly, it automatically dissolves the validity of any wills made by either parties, thus allowing the rules of intestacy to take over protecting the interests of the partner and any children of the union.
Secondly it sets up property rights that can be established under family law in the face of divorce, again to protect the interests of the parties no matter how unjust some of these determinations are. It also protects the children of the union who can dispute the determination of any will that unjustly does not take care of their valid needs within inheritance laws.
It allows for governmental social support based on the needs of the individuals under tax, welfare and other socialist support. It gives concrete status in emergency health situations however these have to be supported under some jurisdictions by health directives and powers of attorney.
In some societies it is seen as the valid framework for the raising of a family, and in some societies is a desired outcome for many women, albeit this is declining within the West.
These are also reflected more formally within the sacramental marriage of the Church and finally is seen by most societies as the closest relationship between people not related by blood.
I can understand your poor relative who is just venting from grief. Be caring.
Your cousin has probably a true broken heart and right now is full of anger and resentment. Arguing or trying to reason with someone in his current mental state is probably pointless, praying for him is the best answer. But, I would also ask him to not make the comments he has made to your younger brother as depending on their relationship he could be influencing him greatly. I will pray for him to be healed of his hurt and guided forward in his life to the place God has planned for him.
• On average, husbands and wives are healthier, happier and enjoy longer lives than those who are not married.
• Men appear to reap the most physical health benefits from marriage and suffer the greatest health consequences if they divorce.
• Married mothers have lower rates of depression than single or cohabiting mothers, probably because they are more likely to receive practical and emotional support from their child’s father and his family.
Marriage and Wealth
• Married couples build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples.
• Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories.
• Married women are economically better off than divorced, cohabiting or never-married women.
Marriage and Children
Children raised by their own married mother and father are:
• Less likely to be poor or to experience persistent economic insecurity
• More likely to stay in school, have fewer behavioral and attendance problems, and earn four-year college degrees
• Less vulnerable to serious emotional illness, depression and suicide
• More likely to have positive attitudes towards marriage and greater success in forming lasting marriages
Marriage and Crime/Domestic Violence
• Married women are at lower risk for domestic violence than women in cohabiting or dating relationships.
• Boys raised in single-parent homes are more likely to engage in criminal and delinquent behavior than those raised by two married biological parents.
• Married women are significantly less likely to be the victims of violent crime than single or divorced women. Married men are less likely to perpetrate violent crimes than unmarried men.
Marriage and Society
• The institution of marriage reliably creates the social, economic and affective conditions for effective parenting.
• Being married changes people’s lifestyles and habits in ways that are personally and socially beneficial. Marriage is a “seedbed” of prosocial behavior.
• Marriage generates social capital. The social bonds created through marriage yield benefits not only for the family but for others as well, including the larger society.
Sources: Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-Six Conclusions from the Social Sciences (Institute for American Values); Healthy Marriages, Healthy Lives: Research on the Alignment of Health, Marital Outcomes and Marriage Education (California Healthy Marriages Coalition); Testimony of Dr. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, National Marriage Project, before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children and
Thanks everyone! You gave me a lot of good advice.
It’s hard because I know it’s an emotional time for him, so I don’t really want to argue, but I also want to maybe help him see that just because his marriage failed, that doesn’t mean marriage itself is pointless.
But you all are right, prayer is going to be the most effective solution at this point.
Looks like everyone else covered most of it. The idea of marriage as a prerequisite for children aside I think there is a very valid concession that needs to be made. It’s been my observation of others that when marriage works it is the best thing ever. But when it fails it can be catastrophic.
Perhaps the real lesson should be to choose wisely so they too can enjoy the benefits mentioned by others here. In a real sense, perhaps point out family and friends married for decades and their happiness.
Say what you just said. Tell your cousin you love him, you realize he’s hurting, and you don’t want to argue with him. But you also don’t feel right sitting quietly as he bashes marriage and turn your brother against it. Tell him you understand he is in pain, and you’ve held your tongue because of it. Ask him to be more restrained in his feelings while he is having these strong emotions.
And then have a conversation with your brother. Tell him everything you said here, tell him your cousing is hurting. Tell him that he is lashing out in pain, and to take what he says with a HUGE grain of salt.
This is a personal family problem. We don’t know the circumstances - and this is non-religious - his pain and suffering does not apply to everyone. As difficult as it is for him, and not knowing what happened, he’ll have to come to terms with this. No single person can turn marriage into something unnecessary. Give him some time to get perspective. Since his current emotional state appears to have compelled him, pray and be there for him.
In the meantime - speaking generally - the Hippies and Anarchists who denied their own Church and their own parents, were deceived by a bunch of Hippie radicals. I was there. A Hippie friend of mine told me: “I don’t need no piece uh paper tah live with my old lady.” It was if he had just walked out of Hippie boot camp. Whatever the other Hippies did, he copied. He bought the deception totally. Yeah, you can walk out the door at any time. There’s nothing illegal, back in the 1970s, about it. Yeah, they wanted people, including everyone, to know what they were doing was right. Their tribe was right. God? Church? Repressive laws? "Leave us alone !!! We’re grown adults !!! We’ll live how we want !!!
Yeah, all the members of the tribe dressed alike, talked alike, smoked dope alike and became a tribe. Mom, dad, – who cares what anybody thinks? The Tribe has given us permission! FREEDOM! to commit sin.
Oh yeah. In California, a year or two back, those in charge of a certain city told the Hippies they didn’t want them holding their annual parade along public streets. Why? They would puke and urinate by building entrances. They were stoned, high and…
Anyway, it was suggested they use a local park. To which one of the parade leaders said, “You think we’re freaks or something?” I heard it back when, they wanted to be called freaks. Right back to the Fabulous, Furry Freak Brothers who exemplified the tribal lifestyle.
An actor recently ended a 5 year relationship with a woman. A comment he made: “We didn’t need no piece of paper.”
Radical individualism. The Church is concerned about that.
But the above examples mean something to us, don’t they? It’s not so much a question of the paper itself - its physical, material composition - having value, but rather what that organic material represents. It is a symbol of something permanent, and an affirmation of commitment to which one has ideally given much thought and consideration, and therefore it gives greater value to the words and verbal promises we speak.
The reason some people take a flippant attitude is because *we *are failing marriage these days, making a mockery of what it entails. Marriage is not failing us.
The same would happen if people just decided to back out of contracts, and the courts did not expect us to honor our obligations and would not hold us accountable in any way; pretty soon, you’d hear people saying “My landlord should just *trust *that I’m going to pay him every month. I’m just as honorable a person as the guy who signs a one-year contract, and I feel offended that he doesn’t recognize that. After all, what is a lease agreement if not “just a piece of paper” anyway?”
OP, your cousin is understandably still hurt over his divorce; I imagine the reason he feels betrayed is precisely *because *of that piece of paper. He thought it meant something special, and evidently it was not treated that way in the duration of his marriage. Pray for him, and show him that our poor behavior in no way reduces its worth.