It’s Hard to Make Up Marriage

This month, Libby Anne and Dan Finke are asking bloggers to comment on the purpose of marriage as part of their Forward Thinking linkup.  And, in order to try to speak clearly, I’d like to riff off of a recent Modern Love column in the Times, where the unmarried author shared his experience officiating a friend’s wedding.

Because it was a secular wedding, the officiant and his friends had a lot of flexibility with the how of the ceremony, but the author of the essay seemed to be frighteningly at sea with regard to the what of what he was doing.  He wrote:

There are two sentiments against marriage you’ll hear from certain 20-something wanderers like me. Either marriage is too serious a proposition for them or they are too cynical about marriage to take it seriously. Either they are afraid of how marriage will limit their options or they think you would be a fool to believe that marriage limits anyone’s options, so why bother?

These are contradictory arguments, and yet I find myself susceptible to both. When it came time to prepare my remarks, I wondered how disingenuous it would be for me to harbor such ambivalence and still get up to sermonize…

In marriage sermons, discussing Bible passages is a convention of the form, one unavailable to me. Because I wanted to anchor the proceeding in something more credible than myself, I told the story of the origin of love that Aristophanes gives in Plato’s “Symposium,” which claims that human beings were once powerful eight-limbed creatures until Zeus split us in two for daring to storm heaven, thus dooming us to forever search for our other half in order to be whole.

A bit of a cheat, because it’s a story about love and not necessarily about marriage. And it played well, though I avoided eye contact with the very Christian and newly divorced father of the groom while transforming his son’s wedding into a quasi-pagan ritual.

I love the Symposium as much as anyone (and if you’re not familiar with the myth referenced, you should watch this musical summary of it from Hedwig and the Angry Inch), but I was left in suspense by the question the author raised but did not answer.  If a story about love isn’t necessarily a story about marriage, what remains to be added?

I tend to think that there’s a difference  between love as something you feel and love as something you do, and marriage is the unique act of making an unrelated person part of our family.  The author of the Times piece thought that, if someone said “Marriage limits your options” the two most plausible responses were to say “Not really” or to run.  My response is more “Yes, and isn’t that wonderful?”

You’re choosing to let the love-you-do trump the love-you-feel from now on, because you want to care about this person and will their good, even if, in the moment, you don’t have a surge of emotions to spur you on.  Or, to quote Fosca: “Loving you is not a choice, it’s who I am.”  You’re placing the possibility of abandoning this person out of the sphere of your possible actions, just like flying.

Well, that’s what I mean to do, if I ever get the opportunity, anyway.  Even after rereading the Modern Love piece a few times, I’m still not sure what that couple or their friend think they were doing.  As the essayist writes:

Weeks later I was wondering whether Kate and John felt more officially like an eight-limbed monster. He and I met to play basketball, and I asked him how marriage felt.

“About the same,” he said. “I get to call her my wife. That’s cool. It’s a more accurate description of the situation anyway.”

I walked home that day, cold because I was underdressed, thinking that what John said appealed to me: marriage as a public admission of circumstances, as correct labeling, because the future will be uncertain regardless, and organizing in preparation has to be O.K.

I like the idea that marriage is the recognition of something that has already happened (I would say it’s an amen to and a sealing of a bond, not its creation), but what, exactly we’re recognizing shouldn’t really be left unspoken.  When people lived in smaller, more unified communities, marriage was more of a Schelling point – everyone could be a little more confident that they shared the same basic idea of the institution (whether or not that idea was good).

But our age isn’t just multicultural.  For a lot of people, it’s deracinated.  We’re not rejecting/reacting against a specific tradition when we create new ceremonies and rituals.  That means people may lack a vernacular or system of shared references, which makes it hard have a conversation (including conversations that are critiques of the vernacular you’ve got).  This is why I tried to sidle up on discussions of marriage by using Sondheim as a jumping off point that we could all respond to.  In this “Modern Love” story, the officiant doesn’t seems to have a way to learn from the couple exactly what he should mean when he says “Mawwiage…mawwiage is what bwings us together, today.

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as an Editorial Assistant at The American Conservative by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

  • Alexander Anderson

    The myth in the “Symposium” seem like a very nice parallel to the “two shall become one flesh” Judeo-Christian motif. They both seem to be “getting at” the same truth, even if the Greek version seems to give more room for despair. (which is appropriate for the Greek mythos) But I don’t like the idea of marriage simply putting a stamp on already existing circumstances– except in the extreme or necessary cases. Ideally, marriage should start a brand new life, not simply be a continuation of the old. That is why certain things– sex, cohabitation– should ideally be refrained from until after marriage. Sometimes, you need marriage in order to catch up to an already existing reality, but I think that, again ideally, marriage should stand in front and establish that reality.

  • connorwood

    Interesting post, Leah. The points you make in your final paragraphs seem to match neatly with Peter Berger’s sociological theory in The Sacred Canopy. The “deracinated” nature of modern, pluralistic society is a a kind of anomie – a situation in which no one quite knows what to do – or even how to talk about what to do – when it comes to life’s big transitions, since the touchstones of a shared cultural reality are missing. What we gain from this anomie is a field of wide-open social possibilities, and what we lose is a grounded sense of who and what we are, particularly in relationship to one another. Our modern debates about marriage’s role in our lives – gay or straight – are a struggle to reconcile these opposing tensions.

    • Erick

      I’m not sure if I am phrasing this very well, but to me the purpose of marriage is to bear the responsibility of one’s social function (as opposed to one’s individual function). The ultimate expression of this function is the bearing and rearing of children. It is not the only expression of our social function, but I consider it the ultimate expression, because having and raising children require that we understand and execute the entirety of our being.

      • Erick

        whoops.. meant this to be it’s own comment, not a reply to connorwood.

  • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

    I think the title is the key. Are we making marriage up or are we embracing a reality bigger than ourselves? Christians are firmly on the side of the ladder. Secular people don’t know. This is why they can have contradictory objections. Any given day they may feel it is one or the other. Both have a very different set of challenges and blessings. But in principle they can’t choose one or the other forever. They can only choose for today because choosing for forever implies being sure of some foundational truth. So you get what you get and the best you can do is describe it. Even then the words just feel accurate today. They don’t actually have objective truth behind them.

    • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

      Speak for yourself. I’m a Christian and my best guess is that, if marriage embraces a larger reality, it is still an institution we made for the purposes of doing so.

      • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

        So when Jesus said “What God has put together let no man put asunder” he was talking about a purely man-made institution? Whatever. I know there will always be someone calling themselves Christian who believes pretty much anything. Just like the poll that showed over 20% of atheists said they believed in God. People are strange.

    • Newp Ort

      So long as you’re not under the ladder, I guess.

  • http://www.columbia.edu/~ejc2165/erikcampano/ Erik Campano

    Nice piece, Leah. It’s good to see someone using Sondheim as a springboard for speaking about marriage, particularly on a blog about spirituality. Passion and Company do, indeed, raise a number of existential questions – - such as the value of being alive, or what it means to confront death.

    Is Passion a defense of marriage? No. Fosca and Giorgio’s relationship simply doesn’t last long enough on a time scale to have any similarity to marriage. One can’t extrapolate from Fosca’s behavior and Giorgio’s reaction that these two would be good long-term partners. Indeed, the thread that actually binds them as similar souls is thin; Fosca’s basic argument for their compatibility is “they here drums, we hear music.” That’s pretty much it. Beyond that, what we see in Fosca is a woman who has found a potential outlet for her sexual desire, and, so rarely, if ever, being able to express that in the past, she clings to Giorgio with an intensity that, in her own mind, justifies even sacrificing her life for it.

    One of your commentator’s points about the assymetry of giving is quite insightful. Georgio, handsome and desirable, does indeed learn something about the nature of the desire of someone not as attractive as he is. He comes to see how deep is Fosca’s pain — or that of anyone who is outcast from traditional structures of marriage and family. And he realizes that true love does, indeed, sometimesinvolve clinging to someone regardless of how unloveable they may seem.

    We cannot, however, extrapolate from this that marriage is any better way than not of satisfying the human need for love. Indeed, given that Giorgio’s lover back home is cheating on her husband, the fragility of marriage is made bare. Marriage does not necessarily keep someone in love with their spouse. Clara could very well be in a much deeper love with Giorgio. Just because they are equals in desirability, does that mean that the feelings between them are not real or deep? Is their love “illegitimate” — not from the point of view of society, but from the point of view of human emotions — that is, are they mislabelling what they have, “love”? No. Is it less so love, because Clara is willing to break it off? No — Clara, being desirable, has more potential suitors than Fosca, and so can end her love with Giorgio more easily. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t love, or that she is somehow morally deficient for stopping it. The definition of “love” is so fluid and difficult that philosophers have been debating about it for centuries without conclusion. Let’s not be so arrogant here to try to box Fosca into it and Clara out.

    Even if you want to come at love from a Christian perspective and take the defintion from 1 Corinthians 13, Clara and Fosca both fail to live it out purely. They are at times impatient, unkind, envious, and proud. They dishonor each other. Above all, they are both possessive — Fosca more so, but only because she is less desirable (at least, in society’s eyes), and ultimately “needs” Giorgio more than Clara does. Giorgio, in his desire to please both of them, ultimately comes out the loneliest in all of this — but perhaps the wisest. He’s seen both the tenuousness (Clara) and suffering (Fosca) involved in committed love, and frankly, we can doubt that he’s going to marry anyone in the near future.

    What is the answer to Company? I think it’s Act II of Into the Woods. After Cinderella’s prince leaves her and the Baker’s Wife dies, the whole community rallies behind the Baker in his need to support his baby. Red Riding Hood promises to be Jack’s mother, Cinderella will keep house, and so forth. Familial love in the post-modern, multicultural, deracinated (in the case of ITW, and really the West after WWII, post-apocalyptic) world is observable in fluid, organic, and unofficial relationships between community members of varing backgrounds. There is no “should” anymore about the structure of love; it just happens, and the characters do not judge each other for being willing to express it to anyone, regardless of who they are. Bobby, I think, understands this, which is why he’s so frustrated with the “marriages” (scare quotes because they’re so dysfunctional) around him, and why he ends up feeling lonely and isolated. Neither Giorgio, Clara, nor Fosca really get post-modern love, either, although we can forgive them, because the story is set in the 19th century. If Bobby or any of the three from Passion were to be dropped into the woods after the giant is slayed, they’d find a group of people willing to embrace them, and incorporate them into a more communal support system, which indeed seems as if it will be patient, kind, unenvious, and humble.

  • Niemand

    I’m not sure that there’s enough good in marriage to be worth saving.

    What is “traditional marriage”? It’s been a lot of things, but mostly it’s been about men owning women. It’s been about legal permission to rape. It’s been about taking a woman’s right to own her own property and her own body. Even now, what does the man in the example want. “I get to call her MY wife.” He wants ownership.
    Marriage only appeals to women when you take away all other options. Allow women to have sex without surrendering ownership of their own bodies, make it possible for men and women to raise their children together or apart but not within the narrow limits of marriage, make it acceptable for a woman to be something other than “X’s wife” and suddenly not everyone is married. And, of course, men grumble about traditional values and women who were caught in the trap earlier resent those who escaped.

    • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

      Marriage only appeals to women when you take away all other options.

      Dubious. Citation needed.

      • Niemand

        http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s1336.pdf

        The rates of marriage are going down in places where women are becoming a bit freer and more able to do what they wish without an owner. In places where women already had considerable rights, the rate of marriage is not changing. Also compare the rate of children born to unmarried women versus children in single households: clearly a lot of women who are unmarried and having children do have permanent partners. Just not husbands.

        • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

          This is a good citation to back the weaker claim that “as the menu of lifestyle options expands, some people will choose some of the newly available options.” So what? After the introduction of cable, broadcast networks’ percentage of overall viewership declined. That happens whenever you expand a menu. Your claim appeared to be broader: Marriage only appeals when you take away all other options. There are people in our current society, with our current enlarged lifestyle menu, who enthusiastically embrace marriage: e.g., there have been some articles lately pointing out that celebrities seem to marry younger than us less prosperous folk. Surely celebrities have options? Even in earlier societies, things like becoming a nun were options, so that all other options being off the table is going to be a mighty rare case. Your claim is indefensibly false as formulated. If you want to retreat to a weaker formulation, be my guest.

    • Alypius

      mostly it’s been about men owning women

      Well yeah in some societies it has, practically, meant something like that. All that means though is that some societies haven’t lived up to the ideal. What part of “pour out your life in loving service to your wife, to the point of your own death if need be” (a paraphrase of Ephesians 5:25) bespeaks “ownership” in the one-directional sense you are using it here?

      • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

        Not only that, but it was the Catholic Church that bucked tradition by insisting that the women themselves consent to the marriage. There are a number of female saints of the Church who were martyred because they refused to marry the man their fathers told them to.

    • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

      “Marriage only appeals to women when you take away all other options. ”

      Are you kidding me? I had all those other options, yet I still chose to get married — do I not count in your world view, or am I just deluded?

      Irenist is absolutely right about the effect of more options. I’d also be careful of citing the statistic of more women having children outside of marriage, without a lot of caveats. Some people like to tout that as a big achievement for feminism while conveniently ignoring how many of those women are very young, are undereducated, are underemployed, did not plan the pregnancy, are without any kind of stable long-term relationship, and don’t have the social safety-nets of older upper-middle-class women who choose to have a baby.

    • Alexander Anderson

      Would you have a similar objection if the piece had quoted th wife saying “I get to call him my husband now, so that’s pretty cool.” Would you have thought that the woman was thinking all about ownership? Just curious.

    • Ted Seeber

      Why is there an undercurrent of misandry in this?

      • daneara

        lol before me and my husband became married i use we use to call each other wife and husband.but that was all the way in 2008.but now we are offically married,we became married in 2010.its been 2 years now.congratgulation to you if your gonna be soon to be married

    • Newp Ort

      I like to call my wife “my wife” but she enjoys this, and can call me her husband , and I like that. It is possessing meaning two people who belong to each other, not either of us owning some object.

      Saying the dude wants ownership is a really negative interpretation, especially knowing nothing about the couple in question.

  • Darren

    ”The author of the Times piece thought that, if someone said “Marriage limits your options” the two most plausible responses were to say “Not really” or to run. My response is more “Yes, and isn’t that wonderful?””

    And this is a thing about relationships and marriage that I have just never understood, I don’t get it; not as a moon-eyed teenager bemusedly observing girls scrawl hearts and “Forever”s on their notebooks, not as a middle-aged married guy, not as a Theist, not as an Atheist.

    If I want to be with someone, and I am with them, that = awesome

    If I want to be with someone, and I am contractually obligated to be with them whether I want to or not, and I am with them, I suppose that still = awesome, but the contractually obligated part does not make it any _more_ awesome.

    It is not the limiting of options that I object to, per se, it is that the limiting of options adds nothing.

    I understand, intellectually, some of the psychological angles, the wireheading jolt of pleasure from “making a commitment”, I just don’t seem to experience that jolt. Something I don’t grok in the same way I don’t grok sports fans having “their team”.

    This is not an argument for or against marriage, just a pondering. I have long since concluded that this is just a freakish part of Darren’s computational capacity, whether it is hardware or software, who knows.

    • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com Jake

      Darren said,

      It is not the limiting of options that I object to, per se, it is that the limiting of options adds nothing.

      For once I find myself firmly on the side of the Catholics! I think the limiting does add something- it gives your partner the knowledge that you have chosen to limit yourself.

      I think (in my expertly naive opinion) that by far the most important aspect of any romantic relationship is trust. Trust that the other person has your best interests at heart, trust that they are competent enough to deal with problems and tough decisions that come up, and trust that they’re going to stick it out with you even if things get hard. Comitting to marriage is a promise, meant to increase their confidence in your trustworthiness (and, if you’re the kind of person who honors their commitments, it actually does increase your trustworthiness). I don’t see a compelling reason it needs to be done publicly rather than privately, but tradition is tradition, I suppose.

      • Darren

        I hear you, but the thing is, I have never wanted anyone to choose to be with me. I want someone to want to be with me, that I enjoy, but if it has to be a choice, why bother.

        • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com Jake

          Yeah… frankly, I’ve struggled with this tension quite a bit. Honestly, if someone actively doesn’t want to be with me, then I would prefer that they leave. On the other hand, if we’re going through a rough patch, I’d like to know that they’re not going to bail before we’re really at the point where there’s no hope left.

          I guess I see commitment as kind of a check against overly impulsive behavior. Things are rarely as good or as bad as people think they are, and I think there’s some hidden value in being willing to stick around even when things look bad- because there’s a solid chance they’re going to get better, even if you don’t see how.

          But then again, me having an opinion on this is sort of like these guys having an opinion on birth control

          • Darren

            Jake said;

            ”On the other hand, if we’re going through a rough patch, I’d like to know that they’re not going to bail before we’re really at the point where there’s no hope left.”

            This fits in with my definition of the levels of friendship. How good of a friend I consider someone to be is mostly a matter of how much crap I will put up with before kicking them to the curb… ;)

        • Jesse M.

          “I hear you, but the thing is, I have never wanted anyone to choose to be with me. I want someone to want to be with me, that I enjoy, but if it has to be a choice, why bother.”

          What if they mostly want to be with you, but have some periods of doubt and not feeling very affectionate to you, but if they manage to power through them they go back to wanting to be with you? I think of marriage like a firm decision to power through more superficial annoyances and trust that there’s a deeper bond that got you together that will, soon enough, get you back to seeing what’s great about them. In a way it’s a bit like suicide–if a person has a period of “not wanting to be with” their own life, would you recommend they go with their immediate instincts, or trust that if they stick it out their feelings are likely to change and they’ll be glad they didn’t make a permanent decision to end it? Granted breaking up with someone isn’t totally irrevocable in the same way, people can get back together, but it seems likely that their sense of mutual trust will be damaged.

    • MountainTiger

      On a purely material level, the limitation saves money on car insurance and offers some assurances for financial planning. Not really what most people like to talk about with marriage, but if you’re buying a house having some contractual assurance that your partner plans to stick around seems really useful.*

      *Written by an unmarried non-homeowner. Opinion subject to revision upon experience of those things.

      • Darren

        There are tax and health insurance advantages as well.

        Not many people run credit checks on their intendeds, though. (maybe they do now)

        • MountainTiger

          Now I want to find a trend story on this. It must exist.

        • Theodore Seeber

          If they don’t, they should. Gay marriage has reduced civil marriage to being nothing more than a business contract- and you should *always* know the credit worthiness of business partners.

    • Erick

      Darren said,

      ==If I want to be with someone, and I am contractually obligated to be with them whether I want to or not, and I am with them, I suppose that still = awesome, but the contractually obligated part does not make it any _more_ awesome.==

      Marriage isn’t for everybody :)

      • Darren

        True…

    • Alypius

      If I want to be with someone, and I am contractually obligated to be with them whether I want to or not, and I am with them, I suppose that still = awesome, but the contractually obligated part does not make it any _more_ awesome.

      Very good (and frank) musings, Darren.

      “Contract” is, I think, a poor word for marriage, with “covenant” being much better (I think Leah would wholeheartedly agree with this!), but that being said, either word conveys a certain exclusivity and permanence that doesn’t exist before someone enters into that kind of bond. So when it comes to the “limiting of options” part and your ponderings as to the connection between that and how it’s supposed to increase the awesome factor, it seems to me you’re looking for it too much in the psychology of the act (the “wireheading jolt of pleasure” that you referred to). It’s not really that aspect of this that matters at all; rather, it’s the act of free will involved (and what that actually gives the partner) that matters.

      Because, only when I freely say, “I am limiting my options to you, and will do so forever, even if someday it doesn’t feel as good as it does right now” and then actually follow through on that, day in and day out, what I’m giving to my partner is not a constant supply of benefits that she needs (affection, companionship, etc) in each specific moment of the relationship but I’m actually giving her a person (that is, myself). And when she does the same for me, she gives me herself. Now that = AWESOME.

      • Erick

        ==“covenant” being much better (I think Leah would wholeheartedly agree with this!), but that being said, either word conveys a certain exclusivity and permanence that doesn’t exist before someone enters into that kind of bond. ==

        Yes, or as me and my friends elegantly put it to each other:

        If my spouse and you are drowning in the ocean, I’m saving my spouse, not you.

        Indeed, the spouse won over everybody but the children in all of those scenarios we played out. Although a couple of the wives did pick family pets over their husbands haha.

        • Niemand

          Although a couple of the wives did pick family pets over their husbands haha.

          I hope that they were joking or, at least, were expressing their confidence that their spouses were so competent at swimming that “saving” them would be a waste of time and they might as well go for the pets. Because otherwise there is something BAD wrong in that relationship.

      • Darren

        Alypius;

        Thank you for the compliment.

        ”Because, only when I freely say, “I am limiting my options to you, and will do so forever, even if someday it doesn’t feel as good as it does right now” and then actually follow through on that, day in and day out, what I’m giving to my partner is not a constant supply of benefits that she needs (affection, companionship, etc) in each specific moment of the relationship but I’m actually giving her a person (that is, myself). And when she does the same for me, she gives me herself. Now that = AWESOME.”

        There are all kinds of things I’ll share, joy, desire, pleasure, pain, contentment, but I’ve never wanted to own them, and the thing I especially never wanted to own was another person.

        Also, I suppose I have always been a reductionist – no such thing as forever, just a whole lot of right now.

        :)

        • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy

          It is not about owning but about giving. We always tend to turn it around and imagine it becoming abusive. That is a problem with us and not a problem with marriage.

          • Darren

            You assume the pejorative.

            Where I give something, it is no longer mine, I no longer own it, the person to whom I gave it does.

            Where I retain ownership, that would be, by the dictionary of Darren, sharing or loaning or leasing, depending on the other conditions.

      • leahlibresco

        “Contract” is, I think, a poor word for marriage, with “covenant” being much better (I think Leah would wholeheartedly agree with this!)

        I do!

        • grok

          The hymn from today’s (Sunday 4/14) evening prayer seems apropos:
          http://divineoffice.org/

          HYMN (Covenant Hymn)
          Wherever you go, I will follow, Wherever you live is my home.
          Though days be of blessing or sorrow,vThough house be of canvas or stone,
          Though Eden be lost to the past, Though mountains before us so vast,
          You won’t be alone, I have promised Wherever you go, I am here.

          Whatever you dream, I am with you, When stars call your name in the night.
          Though shadows and mist cloud the future, Together we bear their light.
          And now together we stand With only a promise in hand.
          But lead where you dream: I will follow. To dream with you is my delight.

          And if you should fall, you will find me, When no other friend can you claim,
          If foes beat you down or betray you, And if others desert you in shame.
          If home and dreams aren’t enough, And if you will run away from my love,
          I’ll raise you from where you have fallen. Faithful to you is my name.

          And when you will die, I will be there To sing you to sleep with a psalm,
          I’ll sooth you with tales of our journey, Your fears and your doubts I will calm.
          We’ll live when this life done Forever in mem’ry as one.
          And we will be buried together, To waken and to greet a new dawn.

          Wherever you go, I will follow. Behold! The horizon shines clear.
          The possible gleams like a city: Together we’ve nothing to fear.
          So speak with words bold and true The message my heart speaks to you.
          You won’t be alone, I have promised. Wherever you go, I am here.

          “Covenant Hymn” by Melinda Kirigin-Voss from her album “The Power of His Love” available from Amazon.com

    • Theodore Seeber

      The limits create the freedom. Because I am married- because I am limited in my sexuality- I am MORE free to have friendships with people of both genders. (I still only admit to two real genders, and still believe that the rest are as much mental illness as my own Asperger’s, and that we’d all be happier if we just admit that).

      Thus, I have more *real love* in my life with marriage. Less eros, but eros was never really love to me anyway- just a means to an end of having children.

      • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

        The limits create the freedom.

        Great point, Ted.
        One doesn’t become a great pianist by refusing to learn how to keep time with a metronome b/c the metronome would be a limitation of one’s rhythmic options. To attain to the joys of the deep, deep friendship known as marriage requires working within limits. Tangential, similar examples:
        1. In his essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” T.S. Eliot talks about how the weight of tradition bearing down on a well-educated artist exerts a pressure akin to that which turns coal into diamond. Eclecticism might make that pressurization process harder.
        2. Somewhere, I read the Dalai Lama complaining about Westerners who flit from spiritual path to spiritual path instead of just submitting to the guru-ship of one of them and sticking with it long enough to actually grow. So marriage is the opposite of syncreticism here.

        • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

          “So marriage is the opposite of syncreticism here.”

          No, no. Marriage is the opposite of frequent conversion. Syncretism proper (usually) involves a melding of two, perhaps three, religious traditions with a potentially deep exploration of each. The Dalai Lama is complaining about is like serial womanizing (or…gentlemanizing?). Syncretism is more like polygamy.

      • Mike

        Yes great point about limits creating real freedom.

  • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

    It is not the limiting of options that I object to, per se, it is that the limiting of options adds nothing.

    Among other benefits, the limiting of options is a self-imposed paternalist “nudge” to fix the problems in your relationship as they arise rather than just leaving. It’s a “pre-commitment mechanism” in that sense: a dieter might clean out all the junk food in the house for a similar effect: when the dieter gets hungry at 3 am, the noshing ends up being carrot sticks and hummus instead of chips and cookies. Leave the decision until 3 am, and it won’t be made as well in the moment.
    .
    TL;DR: Humans aren’t entirely rational. Commitment can be a patch for that.

    • Val

      > Humans aren’t entirely rational. Commitment can be a patch for that.

      If this were Twitter, that would get faved.

    • Darren

      Irenist said;

      ”It’s a “pre-commitment mechanism” in that sense: a dieter might clean out all the junk food in the house for a similar effect: when the dieter gets hungry at 3 am, the noshing ends up being carrot sticks and hummus instead of chips and cookies. Leave the decision until 3 am, and it won’t be made as well in the moment.”

      I like the dieting example, but in that case those are options that I want taken off the table, or options I want made less convenient so that at 3 am my lizard brain does not subgoal stomp my hominid brain. This makes a lot of sense, it just so happens that, for me, the options typically limited by relationships and marriage are not options that I ever wanted off the table to begin with.

      But, I can at least conceptualize it a little better, now.

    • Darren

      Irenist said;

      ”It’s a “pre-commitment mechanism” in that sense”

      New question.

      I can understand why a Consequentialist or a Deontologist might find this useful, but is not our hostess a virtue ethicist?

      For all that she might find it _usefull_ to have the Ho ho’s safely locked in the Piggly Wiggly at 3 a.m., should she not aspire to calmly walking past the ho hos on her way to the celery?

      I think this is the thing that has struck me as odd when she has said similar things in the past.

      • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

        A virtue ethicist need not be unrealistic about her current failings. Ideally, pre-commitment might not be necessary. Given our evolutionary heritage and/or original sin and its freight of concupiscence (I pick “and” rather than “or”), even virtue ethicists don’t realistically expect themselves to become fully virtuous in their lifetimes, as Leah’s old posts on virtue ethics point out.

      • James Kennedy

        No, in fact it’s a mark of virtue to anticipate future failings of the will. The will doesn’t become stronger by setting a goal and failing, but by setting it and succeeding, which is why in the case of dieting, it is more virtuous to anticipate future lack of will, and protect against it, than to attempt to face the will destroying ‘ho-ho’ and fail. In Catholic practice, it’s known as ‘avoiding the near-occasion of sin.’

        • Darren

          Odd.

          Seems kind of like making sure I do not go on a killing spree by having my wife hide the keys to the gun safe instead of, you know, not being a mass-murdering lunatic.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            It’s more like knowing that you’re a mass-murdering lunatic if you go off your meds, so being really conscientious about taking them. As James Kennedy says, guarding against known failings is a virtuous act in itself.

          • Darren

            I was just being cheeky with that one; of course James Kennedy and you are completely right.

            It just sounds like that is more a Consequentialist or Deontologist view of virtue, that is all.

          • Darren

            Sorry, I should elaborate, and perhaps this is more a reflection of my poor understanding.

            From a virtue ethicist standpoint, my understanding would be that the primary concern would be being the sort of person who would not eat the hohos, actually not eating them being a secondary concern.

            Whereas for the other two, the primary concern is actually not eating them.

          • Val

            I don’t get it. Not actually eating the HoHos is the only way of being the kind of person who wouldn’t eat the HoHos.

          • James Kennedy

            I’m not an expert of ethics, but my understanding of virtue ethics is that not actually eating the ho-hos leads one to be the sort of person who is no longer tempted to eat them. (which seems to square with human nature, we are frequently creatures of habit, but we can make acts of will to change our habits).

          • Darren

            Maybe.

            I can say that I would love to be the sort of person who would not eat the hohos.

            It has actually been years since I had one, but for all of those hundreds of days of not eating them (because they were not within arms reach), were I to buy a box on my way home they would not see the dawn…

            Alas, I am no closer to my goal of being the sort of person who would net eat a box of hohos, though I have achieved my goal of being the sort of person who knows his limitations and avoids buying hohos…

            And everyone who buys a box of hohos this weekend owes me a dollar! ;)

          • Val

            Sooo… fake it ’til you make it?

          • James Kennedy

            You are already the sort of person who doesn’t eat ho-ho’s, precisely because you are the sort of person who doesn’t buy them. They’ve probably been within arm’s reach dozens of times when you’ve been in the grocery store, but you don’t notice them because you don’t buy them. You’ve minimized the temptation to the point where it doesn’t actively afflict you. I bet that you could resist buying ho-hos the next time you see them in the store. By the time you’ve bought them, you’ve already decided your course of action.

            Similarly, I have struggled with masturbation, I avoid the near occasion of it, but if I was to start touching myself or using pron (*I have never actually used pron), I would inevitably complete the act.

          • James Kennedy

            And that coincidentally is why we avoid the near occasion of sin, because often it allows us to sidle up to an act which our will would not choose under normal circumstances. The near occasion of sin, often becomes the point where we choose to complete the act of sin itself.

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com Jake

            …I think I’m gonna owe Darren a dollar :/

        • Ted Seeber

          Hard to buy ho-hos anymore. They went out of business.

          I sure wish non-procreative sex would suffer the same fate.

          • http://www.nolenortho.com Darren

            Ah for the good days of Comstock and “Kinder, Kirche, [and] Küche”.

            You would have liked Ceauşescu, too.

          • Theodore Seeber

            I used to worship the people who did away with those guys, until I realized what they were trying to protect us FROM. The sexual revolution was the mistake that killed America- the fiscal revolution is just the obvious result.

    • Darren

      BTW, I really like the food analogy.

      I know that I am _not_ an alcoholic because I have an unopened bottle of wine given to me as a Christmas gift running on four years ago.

      The life expectancy of a box of Oreos in my house, though, is measured in hours… :)

    • Alan R

      Individuals may not always act rationally but rational acts are what makes an act human. Homo Sapien is a term for our species where the distintion between homonides is the rational act as apposed to some other. Perhaps it could be said that non-rational acts fall under homo and other mammels and rational acts under homo sapien ie human.

      Some other species pair-bond for life but we would not call it marriage. I believe marriage would be better viewed as natural pair bonding by rational creatures perfected by grace. Would desiring a lesser ideal be anything other than desiring to be a less human?

  • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com Jake

    I’m curious if this model of marriage makes provisions for divorce? For example, in the case of spousal infidelity, or abuse, or some major betrayal of a non-sexual nature?

    That has always seemed to me like the hardest part of defining marriage. Particularly if marriage is simply love-as-action, I can’t see a justification for leaving if someone cheats on you. You might feel angry, but your committment and your ability to act out love remains unchanged, no?

    • Erick

      ==I’m curious if this model of marriage makes provisions for divorce? For example, in the case of spousal infidelity, or abuse, or some major betrayal of a non-sexual nature?==

      The Catholic response:

      No. We are meant to try and fix brokenness in our marriages. It’s a matter of love that one not abandon a terrible situation, but instead transform it to a better situation.

      The one exception, which we call annulment, is really a judgment that either party or both parties were really _not_ engaging in marriage at all when they made their vows. This usually determines that a deceit or incapacity was involved somewhere in the process.

      • Val

        > It’s a matter of love that one not abandon a terrible situation, but instead transform it to a better situation.

        Sometimes it really does just only get worse.

        • Erick

          In which case, a separation is perhaps the best option.

          We define divorce to basically be a “license to marry someone else”. That is really not an option, unless there is an annulment.

        • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

          The Church recognizes that, and does allow for separation and even civil divorce if that is what is necessary to protect the spouse and/or children. The separated couple are still married in the eyes of the Church, however, and if an annulment is not an option, the spouses are not morally allowed to marry other people. I guess the way the Church sees it, divorce is a drastic step to protect yourself, not to let you marry someone else.

      • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

        The other exception is a separation without a divorce. That is when there are serious reasons why the couple cannot be together but they still see themselves as married. So they are not open to another spouse. They live as a celibate unless or until their spouse dies or the situation changes and they can get back together. This is actually more common in countries where they don’t give out annulments quite as easy as they do in the US. It does give couples a stronger incentive to fix their current marriage. Still there is no sin or shame in separating if things break down completely. The stats on second marriages are not good anyway.

      • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com Jake

        There were provisions in the OT for divorce, but presumably the Catholic line on those is the same as the evangelical line (They wanted to do it, so God let them, even though it wasn’t the ideal plan- same way he let them have a king). But Matthew 5:31-32 seems fairly clear that sexual immorality is a valid basis for divorce. How does the Catholic church deal with that verse? Or would that fall under the annulment category?

        • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

          The word for sexual morality there is not the typical one (pornea). It is rather a word used to denote couples who acted as married but did not follow the proper Jewish marriage procedure. The 1st century equivalent of “shacking up.” So Catholic tradition says this refers to the annulment case. That is not couples sacramentally married who cheated but rather those who were never properly married.

          • MountainTiger

            Maybe I have what you are saying backwards, but the Greek there is porneia. Link. Overall, it’s a pretty strong limitation in any reading, though.

          • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

            Sorry, I read a paper a while back on this and remembered the details wrong

            http://socrates58.blogspot.ca/2007/05/biblical-evidence-for-prohibition-of.html

            The word is pornea which is never used to refer to adultery. The word for adultery is moicheia. So the word choice would imply a state of concubinage or some other illicit union. That is the kind of marriage the church would consider annulling.

          • Darren

            Randy;

            I found the link interesting; “a valid sacramental marriage is indissoluble” sounds pretty clear.

            True to form, though, we have the built-in NTS clause. In this case for an annulment “a declaration that the proper conditions for a valid, sacramental marriage were not present from the beginning”.

            Now, what I am curious about, is if there is any way of knowing, when John and Jane Catholic say their “I do’s” in front of Fr. Joe whether or not, at that instant, they have or do not have a valid sacramental marriage?

            It would seem to save a lot of uncertainty, later, if they could just get a certificate or something before they left the cathedral…

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            Randy, I think it’s spelled “porneia.” If you keep dropping the “i,” it makes it look like you and MountainTiger are arguing over whether it’s “porneia” or “pornea,” when in fact you’re just making a typo. (I wonder if this comment gets past the spam filter.)

          • MountainTiger

            Randy: Porneia/Moicheia makes sense as the distinction you were remembering. I think your source overstates the distinction (porneia can mean just about any kind of bad sexual conduct), but it is an interesting feature of the text.

          • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

            That is a problem. The truth is Moses let people have a divorce because their hearts were hard. We are not really as far above that as we think. We intend to go into marriage for real. Many of us today still think divorce is an option. Can John and Jane be sure they are truly married. Sure. Can the church be sure even in the case that John and Jane come back a few years later and tell a different story? Not really. The church gives the benefit of any doubt to the couple. If they want to lie they can lie. But they need to understand that they can’t claim to have a wife and an ex-wife who are both alive. It means their view of marriage is not Catholic. That is why they are barred from communion in that situation.

            Personally my wife and I said that we would never go the annulment route. If we split up we would be done. No more dating. No remarriage. That is the kind of thing you are looking for. It is just a choice you make. I am of sound mind and making an informed decision and I am never going to claim it was anything else.

          • http://sylvietheolog.wordpress.com Sylvie D. Rousseau

            Darren said:
            is [...] there is any way of knowing, when John and Jane Catholic say their “I do’s” [...] whether or not, at that instant, they have or do not have a valid sacramental marriage?
            It would seem to save a lot of uncertainty, later, if they could just get a certificate or something before they left the cathedral…

            The usual interpretation of Canon Law concerning marriage annulment is that the sacrament is valid till such time it is pronounced null, meaning that the sacramental grace is there for all the duration of the marriage, even if reasons for annulment are suspected by the spouses themselves. It also means that in a Church trial, only the marriage itself is on trial and not the spouses. The very personal questions examined by Canon lawyers serve only to determine if the consent was valid.

          • Darren

            This sounds rather incredible to me.

            I had asked the question:

            ”Now, what I am curious about, is if there is any way of knowing, when John and Jane Catholic say their “I do’s” in front of Fr. Joe whether or not, at that instant, they have or do not have a valid sacramental marriage?”

            If I am understanding Randy and Sylvie D. Rousseau’s replies correctly, then the answer is “No”; there is no possible way for anyone to know if anyone is really married or not. The best that can be done is to _assume_ that someone is really married, until it turns out they are not.

            That is rather amazing to me.

            Do all you other Catholics know about this?

        • Erick

          ==But Matthew 5:31-32 seems fairly clear that sexual immorality is a valid basis for divorce.==

          Exactly as the verse reads: sexual immorality is a valid basis for _not_ considering the spouse a _victim_ of adultery.

          • Erick

            Meant to be tough in cheek… but forgot the :)

            I just learned how to :) so I forgot to add sometimes.

        • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com Robert King

          Jesus (e.g., Matthew 19:7-8) explicitly accounts for the OT permission to divorce, and rejects it.

    • Ted Seeber

      Shouldn’t betrayal rightly be met with forgiveness?

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  • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com Robert King

    … marriage is the unique act of making an unrelated person part of our family.

    This is perhaps the most succinct description of the classical/traditional understanding of marriage. I would only add that, unlike adoption, which adds an unrelated person to an existing family, marriage creates a new family when it connects unrelated people people into a union of the families from which each comes.

    This is closely related to the classical/traditional understanding of the family – rather than the individual, as most post-Enlightenment theorizing assumes – as the basic unit of society.

    • Emily

      Agreed. As an anthropologist, I think this is also one of the most broadly applicable definitions that’s come into play in this discussion so far – it allows for cross-cultural variation in definitions of “love,” “the family,” and the religious basis of marriage while still retaining enough of a meaningful core to be useful. How we define a family in terms of kinship relations, household structures, incest/intermarriage rules, gender roles, etc., is definitely going to differ between a small hunting and gathering society, a somewhat larger tribal society, medieval Europe, and an industrialized Western nation, and a lot of them aren’t going to look like nuclear families with two heterosexual parents and their biological children. (I think this is theologically important in arguments about “human nature,” because if you only look at Western cultural contexts you’re kind of missing out on a lot.)

      Anyway, marriage basically fulfills that same role in all of them, so I don’t really understand why people in their 20s feel like they have to reinvent the wheel. For me, getting married didn’t “feel” as different as getting engaged, because that was when we decided to commit our futures together, but the wedding itself brought our families together and made us a family unit in legal, social, and religious terms.

  • Theodore Seeber

    When I was in marriage prep, the priest reminded me of the fact that a Sacrament in general is an outward sign of inward grace. He said in our case “that has already occurred” could easily be added.

    That my little Christopher would come along eventually, felt foreordained, even though we had to wait 4 years for that to happen. There was a reason I bought a house with more than one bedroom.

    But, it occurs to me: homosexual marriage simply doesn’t fit this “eight limbed monster” scenario- because it would like joining two right shoes or two left shoes. Just doesn’t work.

    • MountainTiger

      Ah, but Aristophanes tells us that it does work, and that the men who were once eight-limbed monsters with each other are, in fact, the best men in society. Checkmate! :)

    • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

      homosexual marriage simply doesn’t fit this “eight limbed monster” scenario

      In Plato’s scenario in the Symposium, some of us were men sundered from women, some men sundered from men, etc. The guy was an ancient Greek, Ted.

      • Mike

        I’ve never read it, is that true that some where from men and some from women? Is that made explicit and in a romantic sense?

        • MountainTiger

          Yep. He starts with three types of people (man-man, man-woman, and woman-woman). After (IIRC) attmpting to overthrow the gods, these primeval humans are separated into our current forms. Eros is the longing for one’s lost half.

          • Mike

            Thanks.

          • Niemand

            I seem to remember the “seeking one’s lost half” thing as something the speaker was supposed to have come up with when he was drunk. In other words, not something to be taken too seriously.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            What about in vino veritas, Niemand?

          • MountainTiger

            The speaker was also the most prominent comic poet of the 5th century, notorious for his parodies of mythological stories, so some care in interpretation is certainly advised, Niemand.

      • Ted Seeber

        True enough, and apparently the ancient greeks never did figure out how to get children, which is why the Romans defeated them.

        • ACN

          Nuh uh! My favorite superhero is WAY better than your favorite superhero!

    • Brandon B

      I don’t this idea of marriage as a ratification of an existing bond is harmonious with the Catholic idea of marriage as a sacrament. To be sure, there are all sorts of problems with trying to get married without any existing relationship, but a sacrament is something that dramatically changes people in a spiritual way. Thus, “The two become one flesh”, and “What God has joined, no human being must separate.”

      Of course, folks having a secular wedding aren’t inviting a spiritual change, and the only options I can think of are thinking of marriage as a secular contract or thinking of marriage as a ceremonial ratification of an existing relationship. The contract view seems to invite an expansion of who may be married – there can be more than two parties to a normal contract, after all – whereas the ratification view seeks to conform to some sort of community norm. The ratification view is what I think of when I hear homosexual couples saying they want legitimacy and acceptance. The flaw I see in the ratification view is that it’s vestigial: it tries to conform to a traditional idea, but discards the reasons that led to the traditional idea. It has no foundation, so it’s unstable. If there’s no reason to have a wedding other than that weddings are traditional, forward-thinking people will stop having weddings.

      • Theodore Seeber

        My form of the ratification, was acknowledging that a spiritual change had occurred.

        But beyond that, you’re quite correct, which is why I have grave doubts about homosexual marriage (and just about any secular marriage, and the serial monogamy present in Protestantism) being anything about the couple involved.

  • Mike

    Isn’t marriage also supposed to be transformative? Shouldn’t it change the couple, fundamentally? Re-orient their lives to something beyond, to children? To a new home? To a re-purposed existence in mutual self-giving? It’s got to be more than a label, an indicator of emotional intensity or commitment. It’s almost like it should be seen as a sacrifice, an end to one way of life and the start of another. I don’t know but it seems to me it has an inherent purpose.

  • deiseach

    What interested me was the author of the piece saying he had no idea what to say about marriage, he had no experience of it, that his longest relationship was four years. But what about his parents’ marriage? Unless he grew up in a home where his father and mother were not married, then that’s a base experience of marriage there.

    • Theodore Seeber

      Less than 50% of the Millennial Generation has such a base experience of marriage.

  • grok

    Thanks Leah- nice post.
    I love the idea of Schelling Points. I clicked through to the wiki article you linked
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focal_point_(game_theory)
    “Schelling describes “focal point[s] for each person’s expectation of what the other expects him to expect to be expected to do.” This type of focal point later was named after Schelling. He further explains that such points are highly useful in negotiations, because we cannot completely trust our negotiating partners’ words.”

    and then clicked through to this youtube video on the results of a TED experiment on Schelling points:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sT_zaofuuE

    there is also this paper
    http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/23474/1/MPRA_paper_23474.pdf

    I’m still trying to get my head around all those “expecteds”. I think Schelling might perhaps say that Schelling points are useful even in marriage because communication in marriage is sometimes not 100%.

    cheers,
    grok

    • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy

      I like the Schelling point idea. I don ‘t think it is the essence of marriage. It certainly makes marriage easier on one level. Less strife. But does it make marriage better. It might make marriage too easy so you don’t really step up the the challenge of helping each other grow in holiness. The temptation would be to just go through the motions rather than really becoming one in the most profound way possible. If you don’t agree on what a husband should do and what a wife should do then you can’t do that. You have to get intimate or you won’t make it.

      • grok

        Agree. I would nice to see more examples, case studies on the idea (Schelling Point) with respect to marriage. I get the example of a natural default meetup in New York city (noon at Grand Central Station under the clock) But it would be nice to see it fleshed (no pun intended!) out in a marriage situation. Again I’m still trying to get my head around all those expecteds!

  • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

    “I like the idea that marriage is the recognition of something that has already happened (I would say it’s an amen to and a sealing of a bond, not its creation), but what, exactly we’re recognizing shouldn’t really be left unspoken.”

    Agreed with the first half. As with the second … I would argue that this is something that ultimately needs to be decided by the couple. Marriage is a cultural-institutional form; the form is better at doing some things than others, but that doesn’t mean it can or must only do one thing. (It might help if you think of “form” as “genre.” A romcom is better at expressing some ideas than it is at others, and a horror flick is maybe better at expressing some things than a romcom is, but that doesn’t mean that all romcoms or all horror flicks need to say the same thing.) The form isn’t free of content, but an individual instance of the form is free to carry a lot more content than the form itself provides.
    I would argue first of all that it is simply true that couples need to decide between themselves what their marriage means, whether or not there is a real objective definition of marriage, because we’re all quite capable of ignoring that definition. Only the couple can make their marriage work, and that requires that they share an idea of what marriage is (and only the two of them need to share it). But I would argue second that, you know, there really isn’t a single complete definition of marriage that applies to all people anyway. (Most people here are Catholic, even if I’m not, so maybe it will help to say that there is no definition that covers both sacramental and civil marriages.)

    • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy

      I like the idea that marriage is the recognition of something that has already happened

      So what about arranged marriages? In modern society we tend to wait a long time for marriage. We act like we are married for years before we actually get married. That is not really healthy.

      I like the comparison the church makes of marriage being like the priesthood. They call them both vocations. A priest does give himself to God before his ordination but the sacrament does not take effect until it is actually performed. A change occurs. We go from being together because we like each other to being together because we are husband and wife. That makes sex make sense. It makes children a blessing. It makes divorce unthinkable.

      • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

        “So what about arranged marriages?”
        I’m well aware that many marriages aren’t recognitions of a pre-existing state, but I like it when they are. (And arranged marriages sometimes are recognitions of pre-existing states anyway, but I concede that many are not.)

        “It makes divorce unthinkable.”
        Not unthinkable by me. Changes are reversible.

  • Visitor

    I don’t really see anything wrong with the wedding as described in the article. As long as the couple are happy. It seems like they knew what they wanted. My sister said similar things about getting married; she changed her name to his, but they already owned a house together, which in many ways is a much bigger commitment, and they’d been cohabiting for years. Nothing practical changed. It was just a public affirmation of what everyone already knew. They’re now expecting their first child together.

    I don’t think I could ever say honestly that abandoning someone wasn’t an option. If my partner became violent, for example, I hope I’d have the strength to leave right away. I certainly wouldn’t feel it was my duty to stay just because we were married. If my partner was unfaithful, abused our children, took a knife to our pet cat…there are lots of potential dealbreakers, for me. I think marriage is a serious commitment, but not so serious that there aren’t legitamate reasons to go back on your word. It does imply that you’ll try to overlook their faults harder than you might in a casual relationship. It also implies faithfulness, to me- some people make open marriages work and good luck to them, but that’s not for me. It implies a long-term commitment.

    I think ideally you would be ‘willing the good’ in any relationship you were in. I wouldn’t marry someone who hadn’t already shown, to some extent, that they had my best interests at heart.

    • Ted Seeber

      It seems to me that abandonment is rarely strength.

  • Fr.Sean

    G,
    Let me know if you would like to have a discussion.

  • Pingback: Forward Thinking: The Purpose of Marriage

  • Brandon B

    This seemed relevant: ‘ “Relationships are meant to constrain,” Schwartz told me, “but if you’re always on the lookout for better, such constraints are experienced with bitterness and resentment.” ‘

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/04/relationships-are-more-important-than-ambition/275025/


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