Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Marriage Trap

Now that we have two states that have sanctioned same sex marriages and one that has been in effect for four years in Massachusetts, what do we know about how gays are responding to marriage? While it is still early in the process, I think there are some trends that we can see beginning to take shape. Before I continue, in the interest of disclosure I have to admit that while I personally for religious reasons do not condone the practice, I would not begrudge anyone the opportunity to partake of wedded bliss. Why should we heterosexuals be the only ones to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?

What many married gays are learning is a lesson any married heterosexual could have told them from the beginning; that marriage is hard work. It is not for the faint of heart or to be entered into lightly. After Massachusetts enacted the law to allow same sex marriage I was immediately curious if gays would fair any better than heterosexuals at marriage. With about 50% of all heterosexual marriages ending in divorce, I thought it wouldn’t take a lot to do better than we have managed to do. While this may come as a shock to many wing-nuts after the initial wave of marriages the numbers have trended downward ever since, for many gays marriage is not the answer. Understandably when you have been treated as an outcast and your relationship seen as rebellious and vilified it is difficult to all of a sudden become mainstream and a lot of those that did have found the terrain treacherous.

For some, the marriage learning curve is steep.

“It’s been a mixed bag,” said Jacob Venter, a 44-year-old child psychiatrist who married Billy Boney, a 36-year-old hairdresser, a month after it became legal to do so. They have disagreements over money, the in-laws and whether to adopt children or have their own.

“Nothing turns out the way you imagine,” Mr. Venter said. “There are no role models for gay marriage.”

One thing is for sure that whether you are heterosexual or gay, marriage requires a lot of work and a commitment on both sides. As a society we no longer value commitment as we once did. We have become accustomed to disposability in not only our food, toys, gadgets, but also in our relationships. As we have become a more mobile society we have lost connections to people, places, and things. As the data begins to be assembled I believe that gays will prove to be no different than the rest of us in many of those regards. I believe that gays will marry and divorce at roughly the same rights as heterosexuals. Marriage is a reflection of us as a society and reflects our attitudes toward ourselves and one another. It reflects those things we value and those things that we easily discard. The problem is that in a marriage those things being discarded like so much of yesterdays garbage are people.

Too often today people are getting married for the wrong reasons. The biggest threat to heterosexual marriage today is not same sex marriage but divorce. We as a society must do more to strengthen the bonds of marriage for all of us through support and encouragement. I know in my community participation in marriage is at an all-time low and the prospects appear to be getting worse. I agree with my wing-nut counterparts that marriage is under attack, but it is not from the gays. It is under attack from a society that values the individual more than the group. A society that promotes selfishness over sacrifice and ego over humility. For all of us, a marriage based on these things will not last.

It has been written that gays demonstrate a lack of commitment to relationships and that many are sexually active with multiple partners thus making marriage a tenuous proposition at best. I am not completely sold on this analysis and I think as marriage becomes more accepted in the gay community the numbers will suggest that gays are for the most part just as monogamous as the rest of us. The thing that I have taken away from the data that I have seen is that we all suffer from the same pitfalls and pressures of marriage. The gay experience will prove to be no more successful or will fail no more than any others in marriage. Shockingly marriage works about the same for all of us. We all suffer the same pressures, disappointments, and joys of marriage regardless of our sexual preferences. I guess that is why we are all human.

“Lesbian and gay couples get divorced for the same reasons that heterosexual couples do,” Ms. Kauffman said. “Honestly the only thing that is different is that some people rushed to get married without thinking it through just because they could. It was an incredibly heady historical moment, and some people probably made the decision hastily.”

“I knew there was an issue with us prior to the marriage,” Mr. Bettencourt said, “but we thought maybe this is the thing that will help us stay together. Stupid, obviously. It was almost like I needed the marriage in order to consummate the relationship in order to break it up.”

Sound familiar? I thought getting married would fix what was broken in our relationship is a common refrain from heterosexuals as well. I guess that doesn’t work for anybody; gay or straight. Whether you are gay or straight, marriage is nothing to take lightly and with all the euphoria floating around with each new milestone it is easy to get caught up in the moment. Welcome to marriage. Abandon all hope those who enter here…



Aliyah Kennedy said...

Hey Dad! I like this blog but i don't truly understand it. But i have my own blog! its at check ur email!

Aliyah Kennedy said...

You took Pre-law? but im reading alot of your blogs and theyre really cool. How do you get your inspiration? said...

Hello there!

You said:
Before I continue, in the interest of disclosure I have to admit that while I personally for religious reasons do not condone the practice, I would not begrudge anyone the opportunity to partake of wedded bliss.

It is an interesting confession.

Christianity is not a religion. It is a faith. Many Christians have defined Christianity as a religion. If they truly looked at what a "religion" is then they will decide that Jesus was not interested in His followers advancing a notion of "religion"....the Sadducees and the Pharissees were actively promoting "religion"...

I do not believe that the U.S. should be "a Christian state" because I have seen what occurs in countries where it is illegal to exercise free thinking on spiritual beliefs and the dangers are MUCH GREATER (in my view) than attempting to legalize one value system.

I am committed to equality for all persons as long as the expression of equality is not diminishing the equality of others.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Forgiven said...


It is funny that you wrote what you did, I had been thinking about it this week and I am afraid I used the term religion for its universal acceptance in place of faith.

I couldn't agree more with your analysis. My recent thoughts have led me to believe and I have been contemplating an essay concerning this issue, but that the religious zealots are the new Pharisees. Instead of being in love and devoted to God they are devoted to their rules. They worship the created more than the Creator. No where does Jesus speak of converting anyone to anything. He stated that we are to simply tell a story (the Gospel) to anyone and everyone...that's all. What happens after that is between the Spirit of God and that person.

They proclaim their faith in God as they sit in their nuclear armed bunkers. They want to kill the people to save the people-how Biblical. Jesus said and taught suffer all things in love. Could he not have destroyed his captors, but He said it was for this purpose He was sent. Our example is not to destroy our brothers, but be willing to sacrifice ourselves for them. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.

I wonder how many of those evangelicals sitting in their crystal cathedrals have sacrificed for their brothers? And they have the nerve to criticize the faith of others. Woe to you hypocrites....

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