Marriage is not dead
Relationship strategists Mo and Phindi say your wedding certificate is more than just a piece of paper
We were watching an interview about the latest trends on marriage and divorce in SA on ENCA this week.
The interview was based on a report released by Stats SA, which basically states that fewer South Africans are getting married, and that they do so much later in their lives.
The anchor and the relationship expert concluded their conversation about how marriage is not only becoming extinct, but that it’s also just a piece of paper. At that point, we looked at each other and simply changed channels.
To be fair, it isn’t the first time we’ve heard such ignorance about marriage. It’s only that we’ve heard it far too often that it’s now irritating.
Generally, it’s a line that commonly goes something like: “We are committed to spending our future together, pursuing our dreams and facing life’s challenges in partnership.”
And there’s also: “We do not need a piece of paper from the state to strengthen our love for one another.”
There are many possible reasons why marriage is on the decline in our country.
These include the rising levels of education for women, economic empowerment of women; people think a lot more independently today, the demise of shotgun weddings, as well as better contraception.
These developments are all good and in a mixed economy like our country, with its political past, these are absolutely necessary.
In addition, cohabitation is generally preferred today. This is despite the fact that our South African law does not accord it any legal status and therefore does not give the partners any rights to the property of the other when the relationship ends.
Moreover, divorce is no longer a taboo, even though it still makes some skittish.
Furthermore, millennials have made marriage a capstone event at the end of a long line of accomplishments.
They do not have commitment-phobia per se, but would prefer entering marriage on their terms and seek to redefine it to suit their liberal views.
Marriage, in many of their eyes, is an obstruction to progress, and progress generally means financial freedom and self-determination.
Decline in marriages in SA
The decline in the number of marriages in SA also exposes the shallowness of the traditional reasons we’ve always espoused for getting married. People, in general, place a lot of emphasis on procreation, companionship, and a supportive base for child-rearing as their main reasons for choosing to get married.
Then there are the less-spoken-about reasons – social status and coming of age.
In our library we have material where some authors mention the construction of a stable society, maturing of human character, reliable emotional support – as well as the sheer pleasure of sharing life with someone you like as fundamental reasons for marriage.
We absolutely concur that these are critical, and indeed go a long way to create a shared meaning and construct a more peaceable and stable society.
However, we see them as some of the benefits gained from marriage rather than reasons for marriage. These can all be achieved outside marriage.
Using these as reasons for getting married when they can be accomplished without a marriage certificate justifies the misguided notion of marriage as a piece of paper.
By the way, money is a piece of paper too, but people are happy to chase after it for the rest of their lives.
Marriage forces you to mature and grow in character.
It taps into your ability to draw on such divine virtues as commitment, loyalty, trust, faithfulness, giving, self-control, unselfishness and unconditional love.
This is all in the context of the security and stability that comes with “until death do us part”. The absence of these virtues leaves you with a society of crime and social ills such as we have today because so goes marriage, so goes the family, and so goes society.
Furthermore, to someone who believes in God, like we do, marriage is primarily about serving Him. It is about reflecting the relationship our Creator has with His creation.
Marriage will never go out of fashion
To us, marriage is primarily purposed to mirror both the type of love God has for us, as well as the structure He instituted to govern our relationship with Him.
And the fact that our Creator has an ongoing relationship with His creation means that marriage can never be irrelevant, or go out of fashion.
Society may try it’s hardest, as is currently the case, to render marriage as a primitive nuisance that suffocates people’s identities, freedom and progress.
But as long as there are people willing to diligently learn, exercise their independence of thought and that refuse to bow to 21st-century social pressures of political correctness, it won’t prevail.
Marriage, as a God-construct, simply can’t be reduced to a mere piece of paper.
That people don’t want to get married anymore and those who do so later in life are quick to divorce is a step in the right direction.
It should force us to ask much deeper and probing questions. It should get us to a point of separating fables from authenticity.
That the human race has over the centuries distorted the meaning of marriage and embraced perversion does not negate the purpose of its Creator. Our individual responsibility is to keep excavating the truth so we can make a positive contribution to society and not perpetuate ignorance, especially over an institution as important as marriage.