One of the most disarming arguments same-sex marriage advocates can make is to point out the woeful rate of divorce for heterosexual couples. The fact that so many marriages end in divorce clearly diminishes the notion that gay marriage would — could — somehow undermine the institution.
So it’s time we ask ourselves an uncomfortable question: What’s wrong with traditional marriage?
Answering that question, of course, would require a library, not a mere blog post. Still, I’m convinced that, in many cases, the problem is people with unrealistic expectations (perhaps fueled by romantic movies) of what marriage is supposed to be like.
“[M]arriages aren’t just what you see on television,” Sen. Marco Rubio told me recently when discussing his new book. “It’s a full-time, long-term, life-long commitment — and partnership.”
He’s right. And in reading his book, it is clear that this is something he feels strongly about.
As Rubio implies, we make a huge mistake when we look at marriage solely through a romantic prism. Feelings of infatuation recede. Passions cool. Looks fade. But mutual respect, sharing common interests and goals and values, are more enduring.
This is a message that must be taught. The ramifications are huge. When I speak to young people about their careers, I often advise them that the most important move they will make is deciding whom to marry. That’s because your marriage can’t be compartmentalized. There is no “Independent George” or “Relationship George.” There is just George.
A bad marriage can sink a career, and the opposite is also true.
I’m not sure when we started using the politically correct term “partner” for spouse (as Rubio does above), but it’s actually a salutary development. Married couples are partners. Marriage typically involves joining in a huge partnership over an enterprise likely to include the ownership of property — and possibly the rearing of humans.
Don’t engage in this activity with anyone you wouldn’t go into business with.