Marriage: an Unnatural Union

Marriage is not a natural human relationship. Rather, our society has collectively decided (and most of us would agree) that children are best reared in the setting of a monogamous commitment. Unfortunately, our natural traits tend to undermine and disrupt these good intentions.

The romantic, "can't get enough of each other" phase of marriage is often fleeting and, in some cases, is over before the vows are exchanged. It is followed by the "what have I done?" phase, when we begin to pay more attention to annoying traits of our partner and come to resent our loss of independence. The arrival of children usually rescues the marriage, as parental pride and the shared responsibilities of nurturing our kids rekindle the romance. Once they are teens or young adults, however, other threats emerge, including discipline issues, Oedipal jealousies and nostalgic yearnings for the freedom that our progeny enjoy.

Perhaps the greatest threat to the stability of marriage occurs when the children are finally independent, often coinciding with the boredom of our middle age lives. Men, naturally attracted to fertile females, have a tendency to stray while many women, having sacrificed careers for their children and now facing entrenched societal discrimination, come to resent the advantage that their spouse has enjoyed; if not rescued by communication, compromise and the trust to extend individual freedoms, the relationship often disintegrates. Those couples who make it through this stage have generally learned to respect the human need for personal space and, if luck holds, they finish out their lives together.