“If I get married, I want to be very married.”
- Audrey Hepburn
A recent article in the NY Times summarizes some very important research about marriage. The findings are from the National Marriage Project report. One key finding that Times columnist Tara Parker-Pope wrote about was:
Sliding versus deciding. Couples who make intentional decisions regarding “major relationship transitions” are more likely to flourish than those who slide through transitions.
Apparently when couples treat their relationships as a big deal, when they decide to get married and go through with all the formalities, when they invest time, emotions and even wealth into their commitment to one another – their relationship tends to flourish.
Don’t you love it when science confirms common sense? What we invest ourselves into ultimately grows in value. It reminds me of one those online dating commercials. The guy asks this woman how she goes about finding someone to date and she gets this confused look on her face and says, “well, I just bump into people.” Or something like that.
Casual relationships don’t produce lasting families or fertile habitations in which to nurture children. Cautious love is always ready to fall apart. It waits for it around each and every crisis. Rather than clinging together when the storms come, spontaneous lovers are always looking over their should to be certain the other person hasn’t jumped out of the lifeboat.
Our culture now values casual sex as a way to appease our appetites. Just sit down one evening and watch a little TV. Casual sex is the norm now. All stigma have been removed from sexual promiscuity. (I’m not even sure that it’s possible to be promiscuous anymore, regardless of how you behave.) There are no more sexual deviants in our popular culture.
But we have always had deeper needs for relationship, commitment, and security. There’s just not a selfish way to make these come true. Popular culture gives us a laugh and erodes our common sense. It’s a bag of potato chips. Wonderful to sit down with but we all know it’s never going to give us any nourishment. What’s on next?
Yet decisive relationships are never free from injury or pain. Thoughtful relationships can hurt us deeply whether they are investments into the lives of people, career, or dreams. These days we are so afraid to risk. We have witnessed too much brokenness and bitterness a la the freak show that is now reality TV. Who wants to stick their neck out? Perhaps it will turn into a noose?
“If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.” – Clint Eastwood
But that’s what life is meant to be, a risk. Because if you hang on to your life, your hopes and every little dream, they will turn to dust. You have to stick your neck out. You have to dream big and never stop hoping.
“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
– Langston Hughes