The big lie about marriage

Dear Dissonance,

The week or so long flush of relief your patient now feels from breaking off a relationship that made her unhappy will soon be replaced by anxiety and even better, bitterness.

Trust me. With the right prompts, she will be yours again in a matter of weeks. For years she was told that marriage was just another lifestyle choice, and if she wanted it, the right man would magically appear like a personal fulfillment genie, which, of course, is not the case. If she doesn’t meet someone – the someone – quickly, it will be back to the love-the-one-you’re-with repeat cycle that she hasn’t been able to turn off in a quest to drown out the sneaking suspicion she wasted more than a decade on the sideline of her own love life.

The funny thing is there are so many women now in her same position, but it is as if they have doubled down on the proposition that they don’t need men. Even raising the suggestion that marrying early – and well, like one of those old WASPs or Jewish mothers and grandmothers – puts one into the intellectual outhouse. Remember what happened last year to Susan Patton, the Princeton graduate who wrote to her alumni magazine that female students should look for a husband before they graduate?

Pure excoriation. I could almost see the spittle on the blog posts and opinion pieces by angry feminists dissecting her argument as if she had decreed women must wear girdles and put on fresh dresses for their husband’s arrival home each evening from work. (Maybe that’s not the best analogy because women spend more now on the euphemistically named “shapewear” than they ever did in the last century.) But it seemed as if no one could even imagine the possibility that Ms. Patton had students’ well-being in mind. As a side note, that is what I love about political discussions these days. It’s as if opposing sides see one another as aliens from outer space and can’t understand why the other person might think as they do, even if they disagree with them. It’s a communication art form invented by Our Father!

He, BTW, doesn’t really care when people get married, or if they do — just about their state of mind. Marriage used to be a less favorable arrangement for us than it is now because self-fulfillment ranked lower than raising a family, which by default requires the ugly virtue of self-sacrifice. Even a waft of it makes me have an asthma attack. Today, however, fewer and fewer married couples are having children and for America’s wealthy it is about finding an equally educated spouse to accessorize one’s prestigious academic degrees and million-dollar-plus annual earning potential. That’s why I say marriage is on neutral ground with other marital states, because when a spouse ceases to fulfill his or her raison d’être – making his or her partner a fully realized individual, the marriage can easily be dissolved.

But, on the other hand, we don’t want people to enjoy the kind of love –early or ever – that points to a greater love that the Enemy tried to relate at the Cross that sometimes arises through marriage. To be frank, I don’t get why anyone would ever want to contractually obligate themselves to another person for a lifetime. Even the thought of having to negotiate with another being over what to eat for dinner, share my bank account or Our Father forbid, change a Depends, makes me gag. But some humans still insist on such anti-human nature project.

Perhaps that’s why we tempters fail to prevent so many happy marriages that do exist out there. We just don’t get them.

But the key here is to make her angry that what she was taught was not true and to remind her of the years she will not get back. It will make her feel powerless, even if that is not actually the case. It’s really annoying that so much of our work hinges on deception. It would be nice to be out of the closet, so to speak. But that tactic hasn’t been a very effective recruitment tool.

Your affectionate aunt,


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