Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Making the Case For Marriage

I used to waitress at the Cheesecake Factory. One day, a man and his father sat at one of my tables.   As I greeted them, the father asked, "Are you married?" I responded that I was; he then replied "Will you convince my son to get married?"

The son looked to be in his thirties, well-groomed, appearing to be a professional in the work force.  He lived with the mother of his two or three children, but they were not married.  I came up with something like "Marriage is great! I highly recommend it."

"Are you religious?"

-- "Yes"

"Well, that is why then."

I have thought over this conversation a great deal over the last four and a half years and have been led to ask the question…If he is a committed father, what could be the reason he chooses not to wear the ring?

Statistically, marriage doesn’t do too well; the divorce rate is over 50%.1  Maybe he doesn’t want to enter into something so breakable.

A broad-based international study of the levels of happiness before and after “major life events” found that, on average, persons are far more successful in recovering their level of happiness after the death of a spouse than after a divorce. 2

To be at risk for divorce, couples must first be married.  So maybe he wondered, why risk it?

I believe in marriage. When my husband and I married, we made a commitment to last longer than the bliss and infatuation--longer than this life even. Our commitment is for eternity.  We were married and sealed in the temple of God, and we made a covenant to God, to each other, and our future family to remain faithful to each other.

This is the kind of marriage I wish for my friends and the people I love.  A marriage where husband and wife work together toward this goal, which is to be worthy of eternal life, and an eternal union, together in God’s presence.

This is an eternal relationship, not a temporary relationship.  When our view changes in this way, we plan differently, our attitudes and actions toward family members change.
“In all of this, we should realize that a good marriage does not require a perfect man or a perfect woman. It only requires a man and a woman committed to strive together toward perfection.” 3

Living together is the common trend; “cohabitation precedes 60 percent of marriages.” 4  Many want to "try it on for size" first, by moving in together.  Sounds logical…

But statistics say otherwise.  Couples who live together before marriage are at a greater risk for divorce than non-cohabiting couples. 5
“Couples who cohabit before marriage have greater marital instability than couples who do not cohabit. Spouses who cohabited before marriage demonstrated more negative and less positive problem solving and support behaviors compared to spouses who did not cohabit.” 6

Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), I believe “God has established an eternal standard that sexual relations should occur only between a man and a woman who are married.”7

This is a religious reason, yes, but even a study in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology found tangible, non-religious benefits for couples who waited until marriage to start having sex.

“Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction,” the study’s lead author Dean Busby said.

Benefits include the following: 
-    Relationship stability was rated 22 percent higher
-    Relationship satisfaction was rated 20 percent higher
-    Sexual quality of the relationship was rated 15 percent better
-    Communication was rated 12 percent better8

In other words, sociologist Mark Regnerus said, “Couples who hit the honeymoon too early – that is, prioritize sex promptly at the outset of a relationship – often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy.”

So I waited to have sex until I was married.  I married my husband in the temple, and we were sealed--a contract that is completely unique from any other on earth, in that its terms do not end at death.  We love each other, and we are committed to each other for the long run.

Without our commitment to this eternal goal, I imagine it might be tempting to split when the hard times come.  But we have made a commitment, we are keeping it, and life is good.
“The Savior’s way of life is good. His way includes chastity before marriage and total fidelity within marriage. The Lord’s way is the only way for us to experience enduring happiness. His way brings sustained comfort to our souls and perennial peace to our homes. And best of all, His way leads us home to Him and our Heavenly Father, to eternal life and exaltation.” 9

1. American Psychological Association, available at http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/

2. Richard E. Lucas, “Adaptation and the Set-Point Model of Subjective Well-Being: Does Happiness Change after Major Life Events?” Current Directions in Psychological Science, Apr. 2007, available at www.psychologicalscience.org.

4. See The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America, 2012 (2012), 76.

6. Cohan, C. L. and Kleinbaum, S. (2002), Toward a Greater Understanding of the Cohabitation Effect: Premarital Cohabitation and Marital Communication. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64: 180–192. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2002.00180.x

7. “We believe that, as an essential part of His plan of salvation, God has established an eternal standard that sexual relations should occur only between a man and a woman who are married.”   Church Apostle Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “No Other Gods”, October 2013, General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

8. American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology, via BYU News

Published by: McKell


Post a Comment