This week in Sociology we’re going to be learning about families and marriage. I read the assigned chapter from the textbook today. And now I’m depressed. =P At least three quarters of the chapter focused on the bad things about marriage. The reasons marriages fail. Child and spouse abuse. Divorce. Cohabitation. Gay and lesbian marriage, and how those are generally even less stable than heterosexual marriage. The consequences of re-marriage. So many bad things. The heading for that section was titled “The Dark Side.” It was a good eight pages long.
The section titled “The Bright Side” was only about two pages long, and most of it wasn’t even good, it was just less bad.
The book said that about 43 to 46 percent of marriages end in divorce. That’s almost half. It spelled out all the things that can lead to separation, and said that the children of parents, and even the grandchildren of grandparents, who are divorced are more likely to get divorced as well. It talked about the trauma divorces cause in the lives of the spouses and the children. The messy relationships that result when you live with your dad, his third wife, your step-brother, and your half-sister, and you have several sets of cousins who are not really related to you at all.
The book talked about cohabitation. It said most couples who are married today chose to cohabitate before they married. Couples who are cohabitating do it because they don’t want to commit. They want to “try marriage out” without actually doing it. They want to be able to separate without the messy legalities of a divorce. The couples who do marry after cohabitating are far more likely to get divorced than couples who don’t cohabitate. Cohabitation means more than dating but less than engagement. No one is committed; no one has to feel bad when it “doesn’t work out.”
The book talked about child abuse and spouse abuse. The numbers of children living in abusive situations is…painful, to say the least. The number of women living in abusive marriages is similar. And yet they don’t pull out? One of the biggest reasons they continue in abusive marriages is because they don’t think they deserve any better? What?
Then the book talked about the “future of marriage and the family.” Pretty much, not looking hopeful. Same-sex marriage rates will (according to the book) continue to rise, men and women will continue to have their first (not to be confused with their second and third) marriages at later and later times in their lives, couples who cohabitate instead of marrying will continue to rise, divorce rates will continue to grow, and less and less children will actually live with both of their parents. It’s a vicious cycle.
But I believe in more than that.
I believe in fairytales. I believe in lives that don’t end in separation. I believe in love that really is strong, and that really does last. I believe in happy endings.
I believe that there’s a man out there for me who will love and protect and care for me, for life. I believe that I don’t have to be a statistic. That I can have a life, and my children can have lives, that are more than just more chaos. Relationships, be they romantic or friendships or relationships with family members, are not just superficial things we have because we feel like it. Relationships are important. Relationships last. Forever. If not in actuality, at least in memory. And I want happy memories. I want beautiful memories. And I know those are possible. I know they exist. And there are still people out there who have them. Lord willing, I will too.
Maybe I’m being too optimistic. But even if I am, who cares? I still believe it.
This is me, shaking my fist at my Sociology book and shouting challenges to the statistics. Because I’m going to defy them.