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Is the whole institution of marriage built on a shaky foundation?


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Old 18th February 2019, 2:15 PM   #1
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Is the whole institution of marriage built on a shaky foundation?

I am still new here, but from browsing the forum, it seems like the heaviest traffic, and highest number of posts, involve serious dating/marriage and the breakups/infidelity that frequently occurs.

For what it's worth, I am married (for many years), with kids, and I have a troubled history staying faithful to my wife. I'll leave it at that for now. I just wanted to fully disclose my vantage point and situation.

I guess my main question is, "Is marriage even a good idea for people anymore, especially for men?"

I keep wondering about this because, while marriage seems to be the "default" path for most people, at least in the US, I wonder if people, again especially men, really think about it and crunch the data, or if most let themselves be carried away by romantic notions of "to death do us part," and the whole white picket fence and 2.3 kids and 1.2 dogs and all of that jazz that the media and social institutions (like churches) try to sell.

I think it comes down to most men are not biologically willing/able to cut off their deep, primal, millions-of-years of programming, instincts to have sex with as many women as they can.

Now if there is a resident biologist who wants to debate this part, please pipe up. But I'm not sure this is really a contested statement.

Men want to bang lots of women. Even if they restrain themselves, they still WANT to do it. They still think about it, and desire it, and on a primal level want to do it. But marriage tells them, "No. One woman. And for 20, 30, or 40+ years, even if as she ages and you see all these younger, more beautiful women around. Only her."

So I mean, isn't this building the institution of marriage on a faulty premise, i.e., that men really want to be monogamous for 40+ years?

*and yes, I'm aware that many women desire multiple partners too, I'm not discounting that.

And the US, where many of us are from, doesn't even have close to the same infidelity numbers as do other countries. Hell, in Thailand, over 56% of respondents ADMITTED that they had an affair on their spouse. Can you imagine what the real number is? Denmark, Germany, Italy, etc., all reported admitted infidelity rates in the mid 40 percents. And again, it is assumed that people underreport behavior like this.

We keep seeing post after post after post ad infinitum with the same fact pattern. Someone cheated. Gasping and clenching of pearls ensues. But why is anyone surprised? I mean, hell I'd be more surprised if someone was married for 20 years and never cheated.

WHY is the whole idea of "just one woman/man, just one commitment, just one person you will always love (which is not true for anyone I don't think)" just a great idea? I mean, isn't it kind of an illogical idea?

It just seems like we are setting up most men (and some women) to fail by society encouraging marriage. Parents nag for grandkids. Mothers nag daughters about why they are single. People tut tut any guy who is a bachelor, like he never grew up or something, or like there's something wrong with him. Think about all of these social norms and the associated pressures.

Wow okay I rambled quite a bit there in a stream-of-consciousness way...

So I guess to narrow down my thoughts and questions...

1) Do you think men are biologically designed to have sex with only one woman for 40+ years? Yes or no?

2) Do you think women are biologically designed to have sex with only one man for 40+ years? Yes or no?

3) Do you think marriage is the right fit for most people? Keep in mind that in 2017 over 50 percent of Americans over age 18 were married. (Pew data) And keep in mind if we would change that to "Americans over 25" or something like that, the percent would probably increase to at least 55 percent (my estimate), so marriage is definitely the choice of the majority of people. But should it be?

4) The most frequently cited reasons for wanting to get married (Pew again) were love and life-long commitment. But does that make any sense? You can enjoy relationships without marriage, and can anyone really fathom what a romantic 'life-long' commitment really is? You are a different person at 20 than you are 35 and then again at 50. Doesn't this "life-long" idea assume you want the same partner at all stages of your life?

I'm curious about the responses here.
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Old 18th February 2019, 2:21 PM   #2
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The basic principle is that IF you want a partner who will stick by you, and who will have sex with you and only you, you generally have to be able to offer it in return. Many people of both genders do want this.

Some people don't, and those people should feel free to do whatever they want, be it engage in poly relationships, or be single and have casual sex, etc. Certainly, nobody should be pressured into getting married or having a LTR.

Quote:
I mean, hell I'd be more surprised if someone was married for 20 years and never cheated.
I know quite a few of those. And yes, I don't mean relatives, I mean people whom I talk to about relationships/sex on an anonymous basis and who have no reason to lie.
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Old 18th February 2019, 2:23 PM   #3
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I don't think monogamy is built into how we human Beings are designed, no.

And I don't know why people get married when they already know that the vows, promises and expectations do not align with their personal views, desires and psychological make-up,
and/or would put limitations or restrictions on how they actually want to run their lives.

Then again, I also don't know why people don't or can't understand that other people have entirely different views about and expectations for their marriage or committed relationship, especially,
whether we understand it or not, or like it or not, for sexual and emotional fidelity.
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Old 18th February 2019, 2:34 PM   #4
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Ronni_W, as to your second point, I truly think most people are socialized to view marriage as "the norm." And it can be very exhausting, even ostracizing, to take the path less traveled.

I spoke about the social pressures from family and friends. They are real.

I'm sure some women who married later in life, or who never married, can speak to the pressure/questions from others while in their 20s and 30s of "why aren't you married? Don't you want to settle down?"

One of my main contentions is that marriage is probably only the right answer for a relatively small percent of people. I mean, for two people to each 100% want life-life commitment, no outside sex/relationships, and to agree to stick together even if one or both of them fundamentally change over the years is a VERY rare combination in my view. Yet we treat it like it's a relatively easy combination to find.
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Old 18th February 2019, 2:42 PM   #5
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Additionally, "biological programming" cannot fully explain human choices and hasn't been able to explain them for hundreds of years. We have evolved enough as social and intellectual creatures that lots of "biological, primal, evolved for millions of years etc etc" urges don't quite apply anymore.


If we were truly still creatures of pure biological programming, we'd all be running around naked, pooping in public and murdering our rivals. How many of us actually want to do that, or are attracted to a person who does?
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Old 18th February 2019, 2:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by CantGetEnuff View Post
One of my main contentions is that marriage is probably only the right answer for a relatively small percent of people.
My point is that if you are the kind who is going to sooner or later cave to external pressure -- that is,
will feel that they were powerless, helpless victims who were forced to just do what they were told -- then the reasonable and logical thing to do would be to seek help to become more assertive.

Having been married yet childless by choice, believe me I know the type of pressure that you're trying to use to justify self-defeating, selfish or destructive decisions, choices and behaviour.
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Old 18th February 2019, 2:49 PM   #7
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@elswyth, can you think of examples of institutions that we have set up that fail as often as does marriage?

I mean the institution of marriage just flat out doesn't work based on the data. And hell, we aren't even counting the miserable marriages where no one is cheating but they only stay together for the kids and basically become roommates. We are treating those as "successful" here, when really they are anything but.

I mean, think of a friend you made when you were like 25. And then think about just living with that friend, nothing sexual, just putting up with the friend's daily crap. And then think about living with that friend for 50 years, putting up with their daily crap, which will likely change and get more annoying.

How many friends do you have where the friendship could survive under those circumstances?

And remember we aren't even including the complicating factors of romance, or kids, or combining finances. We're just talking about putting up with someone's annoying habits for 50 years. Hell, that is a huge obstacle in itself.
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Old 18th February 2019, 3:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by CantGetEnuff View Post
we aren't even including the complicating factors of romance, or kids, or combining finances.
But, if one is so inept or undeveloped or under-developed as to not be able to figure out the 'complications' of adult life and relationships,
then it still behooves to get all of that fixed before taking the very adult step of marriage.

As I said above, using the external pressure that family or society might want to exert to force us to do things 'their way', against our own will and desires, is just an excuse.
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Old 18th February 2019, 3:02 PM   #9
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1) Do you think men are biologically designed to have sex with only one woman for 40+ years? Yes or no?

Yes for those who want it, no for those who don't.

2) Do you think women are biologically designed to have sex with only one man for 40+ years? Yes or no?

Yes for those who want it, no for those who don't.

3) Do you think marriage is the right fit for most people? Keep in mind that in 2017 over 50 percent of Americans over age 18 were married. (Pew data) And keep in mind if we would change that to "Americans over 25" or something like that, the percent would probably increase to at least 55 percent (my estimate), so marriage is definitely the choice of the majority of people. But should it be?

Marriage was the only fit until recently. Now it's become one option among many. Some societies are still hanging on to that idea - those who still have religious moors, basically. The pushback against different family setups from religious zealots in most corners on this issue is real.

4) The most frequently cited reasons for wanting to get married (Pew again) were love and life-long commitment. But does that make any sense?

Yes for those who want it, no for those who don't.

Until we stop seeing divorce as a failure (it isn't - it's just a relationship gone wrong), we will constrain ourselves with living under unrealistic standards.
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Old 18th February 2019, 3:10 PM   #10
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From a biological point of view, there are animal species that mate for life, so it would be untrue to say that, since we are ę animals Ľ weíre not program for monogamy.
In my entourage, I have many failed marriages that didnít end because of infidelity, so the cheating point of the question is irrelevant. And I have many marriages that are working after 30+ years. My best friendís parents have been married for 40 years and they are the most loving and caring couple Iíve met. They still look at each other with affection and passion.
My boyfriend wants to get married someday (maybe not with me, who knows what the future holds) and, marriage or not, he intends on having a family and working on his relationship to make it work, even during hard times. He hates the idea of cheating and canít even understand why someone would do this to another person.
Regarding the reference to frienship. My soulmate isnít my boyfriend, itís my best friend that Iíve know since I was 2 years old. And yes, I would be able to live with her and put up with her ę daily crap Ľ for more than 50 years. In fact, Iíd probably be more tolerant towards her than any other person in my life.

Is marriage for everyone?! Nope. But I do believe that it is for many people and that some still respect what the institution of marriage is.
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Old 18th February 2019, 3:13 PM   #11
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There is a simple solution....

Make it like a drivers license...

Every 4 years a marriage license will need to be renewed with both parties in agreement...If not, the marriage is voided and the only thing a lawyer would be needed for is to divide assets attained up to that point...If there wasn't any disagreement, then you wouldn't even need the lawyer...Just pack up and move on...

The great thing about this is it really has no downside...Happy in your marriage? Great!, Sign on for another 4 years and have a "mini wedding" to celebrate the event...

If people are uncertain, then its a much simpler and less burdensome event to just walk after 4 years...No divorce necessary, just leave after the expiration of the license..Done...

If its so bad you cant wait the 4 years, then just get a conventional divorce..Lot less to worry about due to the short duration..

As for kids, its simple ...the same rules of child support/custody would apply as they currently do now..

With this scenario, there will be far less infidelity, less kids in the middle of a divorce, far less stress, far less people staying in bad marriages with seemingly no way out, etc...The ridiculous fees paid to attorneys would almost be diminished to nothing, etc..

it seems to make all the sense in the world to anyone you talk to, I don't know why its something I don't hear more of...

TFY
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Old 18th February 2019, 3:21 PM   #12
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TFYís idea has been suggested for years.

The thing is, someone like OP would keep on renewing his original marriage contract with his partner while having many affairs on the side because: 1. he doesnít want to be the bad guy (when his partner wants to keep staying married to him), and 2. he doesnít want his partner to be with another man.
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Old 18th February 2019, 3:24 PM   #13
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SophieG, I googled and got results that show of about 5,000 different kinds of mammals, only 3-5 percent of them mate for life (beavers, otters, foxes, wolves, etc.).

And apparently even of those, one partner sometimes 'steps out' or quickly recovers in the case of the partner's death. The article even notes how males are 'hardwired' to spread their genes.

And the smartest animals, like chimps and dolphins, have allll sorts of sex with lots of different partners.
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Old 18th February 2019, 3:26 PM   #14
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@thefooloftheyear,

Can you imagine the tense discussions that would take place under that system?

(1 week before marriage license either lapses or renews)

Spouse 1: So, are you signing up for another four years?

Spouse 2: -awkward pause- Umm...well are you?

Spouse 1: Wait, I asked you first.
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Old 18th February 2019, 3:35 PM   #15
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Talking

My point was that there are some species that mate for life... I never said it was the majority.
Iíve read most of your post and I feel like youíre trying to justify your behavior (biologically men arenít made to be monogamous for 40+ years, itís normal to be attracted and wanting to f*ck your female friends).
Truth is, maybe you should have stayed single and continue sleeping with any female you want. Some people arenít made for a monogamous relationship, so they should stay away from those. Period. I donít think thereís any logical and valid explanation to your cheating. You canít imagine sleeping with the same person for the rest of your life?! Shouldnít have gotten married in the first place.
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