Sunday, February 26, 2006

Marriage Thread

A states' rights issue? A religious issue? A pandora's box? A civil rights issue? A tax issue? Rights? Responsibilities? Legalities? Divorce? Polygamy? Bigamy? Polyandry? Civil Unions? Marriage?



And! A funny thing happened to me at a wedding this last weekend. More on that later.

41 comments:

Patrick Armstrong said...

2. Marriage. I guess that's not what's bringing us together today. I think we've hit this partikkular topic before. It may be a religious institution, but you also have to get a 'marriage license' from the state, just like a driver's license and a hunting license. If you wish to terminate your marriage license, I am sure there are some legal ramifications to be considered also.

When you enter into a 'marriage' there are certain tax and legal rights and responsibilities (that vary by state) that you have/are saddled with.

As long as the state is involved, there will be regulations.

If the thing was purely religious, homosexuals could be married wherever. They could live together, pay bills together, fight, make up, cook, clean, whatever it is that 'married' people do that make them so darned special. Heterosexuals could do this too.

All you would have to do is wave a magic wand and start calling 'cohabitating' 'married.'

But without the state officially and legally recognizing that union, they still bear all the legal, taxable and child custody issues of single people.

Most folks have a problem with the word 'marriage' because it is difficult and awkward to explain to a five year old that Billy at school has two Mommies, and Daddy was a medical proceedure.

But a five year old isn't going to ask why Billy at school's Mommy #1's testimony in criminal court proceedings against Mommy #2 is considered privilidged information.

I betcha a lot of voters wouldn't care about the rights and regulations and liabilites associated with marriage, I betcha a lot of voters just don't want to call it 'marriage.'

That's why Vermont and Hawaii got Civil Unions legally recognized without too much fuss, and, aside from a very few dedicated puritan interest groups, there was very little mainstream or popular culture outcry.

Betcha a ten-spot you could call it 'hoola-hooping' and get all the rights and responsibilites associated with state sanctioned heterosexual marriage.

Why?

Because when religion and morality comes out of it if it is about a legal contract between two consenting adults and a state government. That's boring stuff that doesn't offend too much moral ethos within the American mainstream. (Please see: Southern Baptist boycott, Disney)

If you didn't call it 'marriage' I bet a lot of folks wouldn't even pay attention, and homosexuals could pay dual income taxes all they wanted.

mikey said...

You know, Pat, I must say that I have taught you well.

By the way, that last point was a great one. Everyone take notice: MARRIED PEOPLE PAY MORE TAXES!!! I should know, I’m married and in the middle of doing my taxes right now.

The term “marriage” is first and foremost a religious term. You know how I know? Because people were getting “married” by the church long before there was a licensing authority outside of the church.

The government, federal or otherwise, may not restrict nor may they mandate a religious practice (See the First Amendment). End of discussion. Somebody hand me a beer.

Wait. No? You say it’s more complicated than that?

Well of course it is—the government’s involved.

Ok, so there are inheritance and social security rights involved. And sure a spouse can not be required to testify against his or her spouse. Likewise, with only very special exceptions, even if a spouse does want to testify—they can’t because all conversation between married people has the expectation of privacy and is therefore privileged.
(You know, I really should go to law school one of these days.)

Ok, so how do we decide who’s married and who’s not? Simple, the state (not the federal government) licenses it just like they do businesses and drivers. But, wait, that’s not exactly true either, is it?

Correct!!! In a bunch of states, I say a bunch because I don’t know the exact number, cohabitation can simply equal marriage. (No need for a wand, Pat) All you have to do is “hold yourself out to be married” in the state of South Carolina and, according to common law, you are.

So here’s an interesting situation: Let’s say you have two gay men in a state that does not license homosexuals to be married, South Carolina for example, but those two men co-habitate and “hold themselves out to be married” in fact if not by decree. Then state common law says they are married even-though the governing authority, in this case the county’s probate judge, did not license it. Since common law is enforced by the state, and the license is issued by the county, doesn’t state law trump and aren’t the two people married?

S.A.W.B. said...

1 - if you're running your taxes, and think you're paying more if you're married, you're doing something wrong. Run it through as if you were both single, and see where you come up. Remember, if you own the house, one of you will come up big on interest, the other gets fleeced.

2 - regarding your common-law theorem, my guess is that if you ran it up to the courts, they'd take the established statute over the common-law statute, being that common-law is often used to settle disputes for alimony/palimony between long term 'friends'.

ruby booth said...

At the time when marriage was first and foremost a religious institution, religious intuitions were also legal ones. There was not the separation we presently try to observe between the two.

Now this isn't my subject. Personally, if I had to choose between marriage and a big bear trap, I might get married, but I’d have to think real hard about it. That said: Churches should, in my opinion, be allowed to determine their own doctrine and dogma, but they should not be allowed to restrict my ability to enter into legal contracts.

Nor should a contract valid in one state be disregarded in another. Whether or not you should be able to, in parts of the South you can get married a good deal younger than in other places in this country. However, if I take my boy-husband off to another state, we are still married. As far as I understand, what's a contract in one state is constitutionally obliged to be a contract in all. Of course, I don't have a real deep understanding of the law; so if our more legally oriented folks could weigh in on Article I, Section 10, I'd be much obliged.

The main thing I dislike about the whole “What is marriage?” debate is that politicians who could care less about truly helping married people with the some of the stresses which make marriage so difficult keep using their pro-marriage platform to get elected.

petallic said...

My biggest complaint about the marriage issue is the hypocrisy spouted by the religious purists. If it is a Biblical argument, then sex = marriage. Consummation was the union that formed the marriage. If such is the case, my friend Grady has well over forty wives. Or in the case of most of the Christians I know, they are polygamists, and not just because they slept around in their youths, but because they have since been divorced and remarried multiple times.

And yet they feel qualified to define marriage.

mikey said...

Couple of things:

1. I did the whole, worked the taxes as if we were both single thing last year. We paid less. As for owning a house, gosh…that’s a nice dream isn’t it?

2. There was a separation between church and state before this country. In fact, a number of wars were fought because one king or another didn’t want to do what the church wanted him to do. Let’s not kid each other, just because the church acted like a government, didn’t mean it actually was one.

3. As for my aptly named “common-law theorem” it really is just that, a question I was posing? The fact is I have no idea where to courts would come down though it is my understanding that common-law does still bear significant weight and is often used by judges to determine things like sentencing and parole availability.

My argument for strengthening the institution of marriage is that we should focus less on keeping people from getting married and more on keeping people who are already married stay that way. If the state is going to exert authority over marriage than I say let’s do something about the divorce rate.

It is waaaaayyyyyyy too easy to get a divorce in this country, and that’s a problem. I would like to see divorce hold some real, honest-to-god ramifications like affecting your credit rating, affecting your ability to hold certain government and military positions, and the such.

Now, before everybody gets all up in arms against me on this, let me explain a little bit. I do think divorce is a necessary thing in some cases. If there is actual abuse in the home, then divorce should be an option for instance. But, for me, simply being unhappy is not one of those instances. I truly believe that getting a divorce should hold the same legal weight as declaring bankruptcy. Maybe then people would think a little longer and a little harder before they made a commitment they had no intention of keeping.

Dante said...

A divorce may not affect your credit rating diretly but it generally does wreak havoc with it indirectly, especially if you own a home. Generally both parties in the divorce are going to be reluctant to continue house payments until they know who is going to get the house. The same is generally true for any financed big ticket items. Divorce settlements usually take a while and in the meantime your credit turns to crap.

I do agree though that a divorce is way too easy to get. Some states still give you a hard time though. Texas still only allows two divorces. If you want a 3rd divorce, you have to do it in another state. I do think that the smartest thing Neal Boortz ever said is that the divorce rate in this country is doing more to harm the institution of marriage than homosexual marriage ever could.

As far as taxes for married vs. single folks go, it depends on the situation as to which comes out ahead. Part of that whole simplification idea I'd like to see happen is not making us fill out 3 different forms 4 different ways to see which way works out best. In my case, the standard deduciton has always come out ahead over what I pay in interest on my house plus other deductions I can take so home ownership has been irrelevant.

Patrick Armstrong said...

My biggest complaint about the marriage issue is the hypocrisy spouted by the religious purists.

So your complaint is about neither politics nor policy?

OK....

Honest question: do you spend any time complaining that water is wet? If hypocracy is your complaint, you will never, ever, ever be happy with any decision made by anyone anywhere ever.

2. There was a separation between church and state before this country. In fact, a number of wars were fought because one king or another didn’t want to do what the church wanted him to do. Let’s not kid each other, just because the church acted like a government, didn’t mean it actually was one.

(Except in the case of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, the Holy Roman Empire, the marriage of the Church of England to actual English law, The Kingdom of Solomon, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Afganistan under the Taliban, The Vatican, The Ottoman Empire, the Caliphates of Damascus, Baghdad and Medina, the Sultanates of everywhere and the Puritan government of the Colony of Plymouth Rock, to name just a few...)

I do think that the smartest thing Neal Boortz ever said is that the divorce rate in this country is doing more to harm the institution of marriage than homosexual marriage ever could.

Yup.

mikey said...

Pat, you want to see a good Church vs. State debate, go check out the absolute hell that erupted when Caesar declared himself to be not only Rome’s political leader, but his spiritual one as well. They killed him over it. If you want Biblical references to the debates go check out how many jewish prophets clashed with their kings. Solomon wasn’t a prophet though, I will concede, David was. Herod wasn’t in fact, the priests had to get the government’s say so (either Pilate’s or Herod’s) to crucify Jesus.

Even if you talk about the Puritans. The reverend could accuse someone of being a witch, the judge had to decide guilt and sentence.

The role of the church was to legitimize government, not to govern itself.

Going back to marriage.

I’m not saying that there aren’t indirect consequences to divorce or that some states don’t make it more difficult than others. In South Carolina, you are required to wait one year after filing for divorce before you can proceed any further.

Sill, they are too easy to get.

Let’s talk about cause. When you file for divorce you have to list causes, why you can’t be married anymore. Among those causes is “irreconcilable differences.” For me, this isn’t enough. So what, you don’t get along. I don’t care. You should have figured that out before you got married. It’s a catch-all cause that allows people to get their divorce without having to say what was really wrong in the marriage or if there was anything wrong at all. It’s absolute crap.

Let’s say I join the army, and a year after joining I want to leave because I’m just not happy there. The army and I have irreconcilable differences. Can I get out just like that? No! Why? Because the government says a commitment is a commitment. Why is that any different with marriage?

Because people want to have their cake and eat it too and the government is a pushover for that. In my book, you can’t talk about loyalty, dedication, or commitment ever if you’ve been divorced. That goes for everyone.

Dante said...

Yeah “irreconcilable differences” as a reason for divorce is kind of like “insubordination” as a reason for disciplinary action in a school. If that's the best description you can give of what went wrong, then maybe things aren't that bad after all.

petallic said...

Fair play, Pat, regarding water being wet. No time at the moment for a more thorough post, but touche nonetheless.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Herod wasn’t in fact, the priests had to get the government’s say so (either Pilate’s or Herod’s) to crucify Jesus.

So you confuse the guy who wanted to kill Jesus but couldn't with the guy who didn't want to kill Jesus but had to?

It was Pilate's permission, and Pilate was the Roman magistrate because Rome had conquered Judea. As a matter of fact, the Jewish people had to pay special taxes to the Romans because their religion didn't accept Ceasar as the spiritual leader (the Romans were nothing if not pragmatic in their tactics of Empire Management).

And the religious authority didn't crucify Jesus, they pretty much ordered the Roman Army to do it.

Sounds like a pretty solid wall of seperation, really....

patsbrother said...

Um...they killed Ceasar because he wanted a crown, not a penumbra. Unless than damn Willy Shakespeare lied to me.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Thanks bro, that last one just made you exhibit "A" in the case against double majoring in History and English.

mikey said...

I didn’t confuse Herod and Pilate. I was saying they had to get either Herod’s permission or get Pilate’s permission. The charges were leveled in Jerusalem and all of Judea was under Roman authority. But Jesus himself wasn’t Judean, he was a Nazarene and Herod was his king.

Pat, it really is disturbing that I, the heathen, know more about Christian mythology/history than you, the catholic. Ask your priest, he’ll set you straight (or fondle you either way you win)

As for Pat’s brother—does it bother you that you’re less intelligent than your older brother especially considering how stupid he is most of the time?

Caesar had complete civic authority; he’d had it since crossing the Rubicon. In fact, even Shakespeare points out that the Senate had thrice offered him the crown. It was when he assumed both the civic and religious authority that they killed him.

Come on guys. What do you do when I’m not around to correct you?

Patrick Armstrong said...

(Talk about hijacking a thread...Sprout, you brought up Shakespeare-as-history, you start the "Roman Empire open thread" whenever you want to.)

Mikey, I am absolutely shocked at your comments on this post. I had to go back to the beginning to find out how we got to this point, and I just can't stop laughing.

"Herod was his King?"

O. K.

I'll stop this right here. You're right. Yup, I said it. I'm the problem. I'm so dumb I created this blog site to advertise my stupidity to the world. I revel in my ignorance, really, and my failure to grasp the concept of actual facts is one of my personal failures that plauges my every waking minute.

I thank God that Mikey is around to keep me straight and on topic, and I have waited with baited breath for him to enlighten us here at Hurricane Radio on all the stuff we thought we knew.

Fame and Accolades, buddy.

PS: Herod was dead when Jesus was a toddler.

(In all seriousness, though, we do try to avoid the snarkiness that comes with Priest jokes, and the off topic rants things like that create.)

petallic said...

As far as making divorce harder or working to keep married folks married, I am in favor of the Irish system, where a couple has to be separated for five years before the divorce can be final. For this reason, and others I'm sure, the Irish tend to take marriage much more seriously.

That being said, if my sister had had to wait five years to divorce her first husband, my dad would probably be in jail. Sooooo, I'd like to add a clause to the 5-year Irish plan. If one of the parties can prove fraud (she would never have married a sex addict with a penchant for Mexican hookers), the divorce should be dissolved immediately.

Out of curiosity, why do we think modern marriages have such a low success rate? We know all the reasons suggested by the media (ease of divorce, lack of commitment, longer life span, low attention span [this is my personal favorite], financial problems, lack of focus on family, etc.), but which one(s) gets y'alls vote?

Mikey said...

First of all, Pat. You know I don’t mean to hijack the thread— I just like slapping you around from time to time. I miss it, you know? Besides, there were two Herods: Herod the Great, who rebuilt Solomon’s Temple and ordered the execution of children that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt to escape, and the second Herod who was Herod the Great’s son who was King when Jesus was crucified.

You’re thinking of Herod the Great and I’m talking about Jr.

To comment on what Petallic was saying, I tend to come down on ease of divorce.

I had a religion professor tell me the other day that roughly two thirds of Americans describe themselves as Christian and about half of them identify themselves as Evangelical Christians. I pointed out to him how ironic it was that in a period of such religious fervor in this country, when so many people professed to believe and worship God, that so few felt the need to uphold their vows to that God.

The problem is that divorce is simply accepted as a fact of life. Apparently when we were all told in High School that we were likely to have at least three careers in our lives, we carried that theory into our homes as well and figured we’d have at least two or three spouses as well.

Once upon a time there was a social stigma that went with being divorced. If you got a divorce it meant you weren’t trustworthy. You had a harder time getting a loan, you couldn’t get commissioned as an officer in the armed forces, and you couldn’t get a high-level civil service job.

That stigma is pretty much gone now. In the media, being divorced is portrayed as a punch-line rather than a failure.

Though I agree that this is a good thing when you’re talking about being able escape an abusive relationship or protect yourself from financial ruin, I believe that, in general, it is a very bad thing.

If it was more difficult to get out of a marriage, if it held some real consequences, then people would think longer and harder before getting into one in the first place. When my wife and I got married, the pastor that performed the ceremony required us to undergo months of pre-marriage counseling. I don’t understand why this isn’t mandatory for everyone. If there were honest-to-god consequences, it might be.

By the way, I briefly toyed with the idea of adding “lack of commitment” in my answer here, but I’m finding that commitment in a very general sense abounds in this country. After all, people were committed enough to American Idol to ignore the Olympics.

Patrick Armstrong said...

I think modern marriages have such a low success rate for several reasons. (Good question, BTW Petallic, thank you for reestablishing the track.)

I'm going to tackle these one comment at a time, because they can be large:

1. Alienation. I've seen a lot of relationships straight up fail once the couple A.) moves to a new area or B.) interacts with a new group of people.

With the rise of the nuclear family and information technology, many folks are able to live their entire lives in bubbles. Small cults of personality exist everywhere. Most people I know met their significant others through family or friends. If that group of friends & family is insular or exclusionary, folks may not be exposed to a variety of people. Lonliness combines with social stigma ("when are yew gonna bring home some grandbabies?") so that couples form up only based on the available individuals at the time. Compatability doesn't really matter, access does.

This can also be the case when you add geography to the mix. If there are only a small number of folks in town, and you never get out of town for more than a few days, or don't have family and friend networks elsewhere, you will accept the 'best fit' out of your possible choices.

If that relationship started under such circumstances without true compatability, it will easily break once the limiting factor (geography, personal interactions) is removed.

Alienation is the absolute leading cause of failed marriages that I have witnessed. The couple moves to a new place, and undiscovered hobbies and behaviors come out that were before limited by geography. For example, if I was to get married to someone in South Georgia, and then we moved to New Orleans where I could go out and see live music every single night, my behvior would be radically different. (And you can ask anyone here who knows me the truth of that statement.)

Or: the couple's group of friends is given an injection of new neighbors or old friends or just something that changes the social dynamic of their lives. For example, if I got married in South Georgia and an old flame - or a new friend - of mine or hers - shows up in town and wants to hang out. That person may be or just seem more compatable to someone in the relationship, no matter how good an idea that relationship seemed without the X - factor involved.

Sounds far fetched, but I've seen it happen. Alienation = limiting factors & rewards access over compatability. Marriages formed under such auspices more easily fail when the limiting factor is removed.

Dante said...

Alright, I'll bite on this divorce topic. There are many reasons relationships fail but reasons alone won't get you divorced. Actions will. If you're really wanting to make sure people stay married, then you need to keep them from cheating.

Screwing around is the most difficult thing to overcome in a marriage and often the dealbreaker that results in divorce. I do realize that it's only the symptom of bigger problems but I'd think your time would be well spent attacking a symptom that is so common for so many relationship troubles. Cheating seems to be a critical mass of sorts that takes relationship problems to a new level and drastically reduces the likelihood of resolution. There really aren't enough consequences for the cheating spouse or the 3rd party involved in the cheating.

mikey said...

You know, I like to think that I can be a romantic. But I have to say some of the best advice I ever got on this topic was also the most pragmatic. Like I said before, when my wife and I got married, we underwent a series of pre-marriage counseling sessions (for anyone out there hoping to get married one day, I would highly suggest sessions like these).

Anyway, the pastor doing the counseling pointed that there were probably about a thousand people in our little town alone that I would be just as compatible with as my wife and vice-versa. That being said, according to him, the personality tests he had us take, and anyone who knows us, my wife and I are VERY compatible.

The point was that even though there were all those people out there I could love just as much and be just as happy with, I had chosen her and she had chosen me. The point here is choice. I don’t care who I meet from here on out and how much I may think I love them, I am married and that, as they say, is that. I’ve made my decision.

The same goes for cheating. Dante is right on. You may be attracted sexually and spiritually to a person, that doesn’t make you cheat. You choose to do that yourself. Likewise, no one makes you get married. You choose to, and after you make that choice you should stick to it.

I asked my mother a while back what made her and my father’s marriage such a good one. She said a few things. One of them was that they say what they mean and mean what they say (good advice even outside of a marriage). But the most important thing was that they decided to have a good marriage. It was work and both of them had to work at it, still do, I imagine. But regardless it was their decision.

Something else my mother pointed out that I feel like I should as well. She said that they never had to bury a child. Though, Dante, I agree with 99% of what you’re saying. I think the death of a child is probably harder to live with than infidelity. That’s just my opinion, having never had to bury a son or daughter and never had my wife cheat on me.

Sorry guys, I go off a little one this particular topic a) having once upon a time been a guy who didn’t much care what happened to the relationship he was in at that particular moment and b) having to deal all day with people who feel like they are somehow entitled to effortless happiness.

Let’s not make the mistake of confusing relationships with marriages though, okay? They’re not the same thing. I have a relationship with Pat. I have a bed and a joint bank account with my wife.

The Lady Marsha said...

Please comment on my blog on The Deciminalization of Bigamy.

Buzzzbee said...

Ok, I'm single and NonChristian, therefore my opinions on marriage are either those of an insightful outsider or completely irrelevant. Regardless, I’m happy to share them with you.

On the issue of gay marriage, I’ll say that as straight guy I don’t get this argument. I have liked girls my entire life. I even remember the first girl I had a crush on. I don’t remember her name, but she was in my Kindergarten class at White Bluff Elementary. It seems that we have decided as a society that it is not ok to deny someone anything because of something they cannot control. So, how we can deny someone marriage because they are gay doesn’t make any sense to me. Now, some of you may be saying, “but Robert”…well actually I think Patrick is the only one who knows my first name, so I guess most of you would be saying…”but dude, homosexuality is a choice.” I say this is not the case. I think all real Heterosexuals know that homosexuality is not a choice, because it is a choice that we could not make. I could never look at another dude and get an erection. I’m just physically incapable of doing it. We heteros have a word for guys who sleep with women and believe sexual orientation is a choice: Bisexual. If you believe you are straight because of a choice you made in puberty, I suggest you reevaluate your orientation, because a real heterosexual isn’t straight because he chose to be, he’s straight because god made him that way.

On the issue of divorce, I’m rather torn. On the one hand, when people start trying to tell me that what I can and cannot do, i.e. get a divorce. I get that “you should mind your own damn business” attitude. On the other hand, I believe the family is very important to our society only because of child-rearing. If you took that away, I wouldn’t believe in marriage at all. In reality however, children do much better in all aspects in a stable, two parent household. I think a lot of the problems we face as a society today, stems from poor parenting. Broken homes have become the norm, and while mom or dad is out trying to put food on the table, the kid is left to be raised by Mtv. My solution, however, is not to make divorces more difficult to acquire, but rather to make couples more ready for marriage to start with. Trying to keep two very unhappy people bound to each other just seems ridiculous. Instead, I think we should get off of this “no premarital sex” trip, and encourage prospective couples to move in together first. Let them test the waters. Then, if after an extended period of cohabitation, they still love each other, and love being around each other enough to get married, then I think they would be ready. I also think they would be less likely to eventually get a divorce, and would be in a better position to eventually start a family. In addition, I think a more intelligent sex education program would go a long way towards helping remedy this situation. We’re so concerned about trying to make people stay virgins until they’re married that we’re really shooting ourselves in the foot. If we, instead, taught the budding young adults how to avoid, among other things, pregnancy, I believe we would see less of those “for the baby” marriages, and also a higher % of children being raised by two parents. I mean, if you empower young people to control their reproductive systems, they can have children on their own terms, like…I don’t know…in a stable marriage.

In regards to the Herod thing, I'll just let you guys handle that one.

Dante said...

"Instead, I think we should get off of this “no premarital sex” trip, and encourage prospective couples to move in together first. Let them test the waters. Then, if after an extended period of cohabitation, they still love each other, and love being around each other enough to get married, then I think they would be ready."

Yeah, last I looked it was 2006. As much as it may sadden me, Three's Company was ended a long time ago and that whole cohabitation stigma left with it (if not before it). Couples living together first is already happening pretty regularly. It's not necessarily encouraged, but it is common. For what it's worth, it's not changing anything with divorce rates (unless it's making them go up).

patsbrother said...

I consider myself the minority on this issue as the vast majority of the parents of those who are important to me are: still married; were married until death; or were never married. I would describe most of these people as emotionally kosher. No major problems, kind of laid back, have fewer relationships as well as much stronger and longer-term relationships. (Once again, I am describing my circle of friends, and doing so generally. There are of course exceptions.)

Contrary to the majority, many (but certainly not all) of my friends whose parents have divorced are or have been crazy or emotionally unstable in the way you typically don't joke about.

Then there are those friends whose parents were never married: admitedly, this is a small class of individuals, but every one of them appears squarely on the level.

What rule do I draw from this possibly tautalogical, likely offensive list of generalizations?

If one of you gets preggers, that's not a reason to marry.

Stay together by all means, perhaps get married in a year or two. Getting hitched "for the child" is a bad idea, and counterproductive to your stated goal. It's far better for a child to witness a wedding at the age of five than it is to witness a divorce. If the child never witnesses either: that's cool too.

petallic said...

I do wonder how much of the changes in marriage are simply inevitable byproducts of industrialization.

Or how much can be attributed to our modern search for self, constantly redefining ourselves every ten to fifteen years? The ease of travel, relocation, reinvention?

Buzzzbee said...

"Yeah, last I looked it was 2006. As much as it may sadden me, Three's Company was ended a long time ago and that whole cohabitation stigma left with it (if not before it)."

I'm not going to call you naive, but that statement definitely is. Maybe for guys it's not so bad, but for chicks, especially in my neck of the woods, and especially from parents, there is a lot of pressure to at least keep up the appearance of virginity. In some strange way, they seem to want some sort of plausible deniability. If you're living together, it's rather hard to deny you're sleeping together. If a chick starts living with a guy before marriage she is still considered a whore. At least she still is down here in South Georgia.

You sound like a conservative, so I would suggest you ask some of your like-minded friends how they feel about premarital cohabitation. More left leaning folks like Pat and I might agree that it’s perfectly acceptable. Talk to conservatives and you will undoubtedly hear the word "sin" among other less friendly words.

It is true that things are much different than they were in the days of Threes Company, but there is still a very real, very strong social pressure that says living together before marriage is unacceptable.

Dante said...

"I'm not going to call you naive, but that statement definitely is. Maybe for guys it's not so bad, but for chicks, especially in my neck of the woods, and especially from parents, there is a lot of pressure to at least keep up the appearance of virginity."

According to the numbers from the CDC, about 1/4 of all females ages 20-25 are cohabiting but not married. 50% of women ages 40 and over have lived with someone in a relationship outside of marriage. Premarital cohabitation isn't something that's celebrated and the parents and grandparents might still not like the idea but it happens and it happens a lot.

Considered a whore? By who? That must be something that stuck around in the southern part of this great state. I see some grumbling from time to time up here over the issue but nothing along the lines of that kind of name calling.

"You sound like a conservative, so I would suggest you ask some of your like-minded friends how they feel about premarital cohabitation. More left leaning folks like Pat and I might agree that it’s perfectly acceptable. Talk to conservatives and you will undoubtedly hear the word "sin" among other less friendly words."

Lumping all conservatives in with the religious right? And you called my comments naieve.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Even Tucker Carlson had to chime in on the marriage thing this week:

"Twenty years from now, polygamy will be legal in the United States. How do I know this? Because there's no longer a good argument against it. Gay marriage has made polygamy inevitable.

Confused by the connection? Here it is: Once we agree that it is unreasonable to limit marriage arbitrarily to one man and one woman, what is the argument for limiting marriage to two men or two women? There isn't one.

But, wait, you say. Polygamy is immoral. It's icky and weird. It's never been legal before. And you may be right. But those aren't arguments. They're reactions. And they're not good enough. In the absence of a rational justification for banning something, it becomes legal. That's the rule in America."

Patrick Armstrong said...

Oh, and there are still some pretty harsh words that can be exchanged in South Georgia, though I live over here in much more permissive Island City.

Hell, I worked at Mullet Bay (or Hedonism North, as some might call it).

But I do know folks who were run out of small communities around here for 'sinful' behavior, real or percieved. I also know folks whose definition of the family was only strengthened by live-in relationships.

I guess, like most things, that can cut both ways.

petallic said...

Buzzzbee, I know exactly what you're talking about, and I'm from the northernmost tip of Georgia. My sister paid $490.00 a month for three years to "keep up appearances" for Mom and Dad. A whole separate apartment just for her furniture. Absurd.

I'm not sure if it's any better for men. My brother has schtupped half the women in the tri-state area, but has he lived with any of them? No way. He won't even drink a beer or smoke a cig in front of Mom & Dad. Living with a woman would admit to them that he's having sex, and that would get him disinvited from Thanksgiving. He likes broccoli casserole too much for that.

Cohabiting may be the norm, but it's still something to be properly ashamed of...just like sex. Doesn't matter that "everyone's doing it"; unless it's in the bounds of holy matrimony, it's still perceived by many as shameful and dirty.

As to polygamy, it probably should be legal. Sociologically, I find it misogynistic, offensive, and ultimately damaging to a woman's sense of worth and a child's ability to value her mother as a worthwhile human being, but that's not illegal. The thought of a parent/teacher conference with ten moms makes my entrails tighten, but again that's not a reason to keep it illegal.

patsbrother said...

Regarding polygamy:

Though Tucker Carlson may think otherwise, there is a very principled legal argument why marriage should not be limited by gender but should be limited by number.

My Property professor put it best:

"Don't be piggy."

mikey said...

I think you guys may be missing Dante’s point about co-habitation. He’s not saying that EVERYONE accepts it, he’s saying that it is a generally accepted social norm…and he’s right.

My wife’s parents are two of the most Southern Baptist, Right-Wing, Bush voting
(and donating) folks I’ve ever met. Considering that I live in the great state of South Carolina, whose state motto might as well be “First in Secession,” that’s saying a lot. But when we moved in together, they were incredibly supportive even though I’m a card carrying, New Deal loving Democrat.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to tell me that the vast majority of parents today are living under the delusion that their sons and/or daughters are going to remain virgins until their white wedding day. You want to know why? Because I’ve been to a middle school lately, and I’ve seen the way those girls dress. If those parents think that those daughters are still virgins, it’s the worst case of mass stupidity I’ve ever seen.

Just because a child does not participate in certain behaviors in front of their parents does not mean that the parents believe it’s not going on when they’re not around. I’ll give you an example. I smoke. I’ve smoked for years. I smoked when I lived with my parents. Does that mean I smoke in front of my parents? I mean, come on, I am, in the words of Bernie Mac, a grown-ass man. I’m 27 years-old. They know I smoke. They give me a hard time about it. But, even given all that, have they ever seen me smoke? Nope. Why? Do I think I’m fooling them somehow? Nope. It’s about respect. It’s about acting right in front of your folks.

Are some parents fooling themselves? Sure, but they’re in the smallest of minorities. By and large, parents aren’t stupid. They may be lazy. They may be tired. They may not want to deal with all the stuff their kids may or may not be doing, but they ain’t stupid.

petallic said...

Mikey, notice we never said the parents are ignorant of the behavior. We're merely saying the behavior is generally tolerated, not condoned. My parents also know I smoke, but it is far from condoned. My parents know my brother gets his freak on, still isn't condoned.

No one in my family can cast the smoking stone since most of the women smoke, but my parents are old school when it comes to sex. Yes, they may know it occurs, but it's far from socially accepted among the older crowd. My 42-year old cousin still kept up the appearance of living at home even though she and her fiance of 14 years were unofficially living together. The only reason they finally got married was because they wanted a kid and figured the only way to get the family to acknowledge the kid was to get hitched. Find the right circles, and you'll find social ostracism when it comes to pre-marital sex.

Since NOBODY can tell you that parents are deluded, I won't bother telling you that as a high school teacher, I can assure you that PARENTS ARE DELUDED. I mean, I'd tell you that if you had an open mind to anyone else's opinion, but since you don't I won't bother. Parents don't look at their daughters in a sexual manner. When they see her in a miniskirt and low-cut blouse, they don't see sexuality. They see a little girl. If love is blind, parenthood is blinder.

petallic said...

Anyway, back to the topic of polygamy. Patsbrother, I was thinking about that yesterday and wondering why gluttony isn't seen as sinful to polygamists. Furthermore, is gluttony punishable under law? Doubtful. I'd love to hear that I'm wrong on this one though.

Why can't marriage just be defined as "a consenting civil union between two people"?

S.A.W.B. said...

I was hoping to not get back into this thread...but 35 posts says I need to at least weigh in on some of the later points.

Buzzzbee - You are the first person to bring up choice into this issue. Neither Dante, nor myself, being the two bastions of conservativism on this blog, have even thought to mention it. Why you brought it up, and then lumped all 'conservatives' into that pile, is your prerogative, but know that currently, you're the only one ringing that bell.

With regard to your co-habitation comments, if it's a stigma still where you live, move. It's that simple. Parents get over things, and if they don't, screw 'em. I have a deep, deep understanding of this issue.

Mom wasn't real happy when SWMBO and I moved in together before we got married, but we were already engaged, and we both agreed that before we went through the legal rigamorole of getting married, that we needed to live together to figure out if we were going to kill each other or not.

At the same time, requiring couples to live together first to make sure they are compatable is absolute lunacy. Try as you might, you can't socially engineer out everyone's problems. I know lots of people who were great as a dating couple, as a co-habitating couple, and as an engaged couple, who changed completely once they got married. Most of those folks are no longer married.

Women who sleep around = whore, and Men who sleep around = stud is a long standing social stigma, and it isn't going away anytime soon. What is changing are the attitudes of the parties involved. Women don't tend to get bogged down by the labels of the older generations, or of the labels of their friends as much anymore. If they did, girls wouldn't walk around here in a backless top, miniskirt, and platform sandals while it's sleeting.

Regarding polygamy, as it got dragged in via the other thread, I'm not a fan of the idea, but hey, if you can get the appropriate Federal/State statutes changed, more power. However, much like with any of the other 'hot-button-social-issues-that-I-should-care-about-because-if-I-don't-I'm-just-another-horrible-neocon,
don't come knocking on my door for support.

petallic said...

I just realized that I hugely contradicted myself in a single post. Lovely. Hm, what to do...but qualify.

1. First I stated, "We're merely saying the behavior is generally tolerated, not condoned." This was in reference to grown adults' perspectives on their own grown child's behavior.

2. Then I stated, "I can assure you that PARENTS ARE DELUDED." This was obviously in reference to younger parents' perspectives on their pre-teen and teenage children.

The distinction is indeed important. Just thought I'd point out my own failure to clarify.

Buzzzbee said...

You know, I didn't expect to post on this thread again either, but, having been misquoted yet again, I feel it necessary.

So, to start, I don't advocate "requiring" people to live together before marriage. I feel that it something as a society we should encourage. Also, I don't really care what people think about my behavior. Many people, however, do. That's what I'm talking about. It's something that's socially unacceptable...you know what, I'm not going to sit here an Re-explain it. I feel like I've already done that. If you're unclear on what I said, it's here on this page.

When it comes to Choice, I bring that up because it's the only perspective of yall's on this issue that makes any sense. Rationalize all you want, but if you believe homosexuality is not a choice and you hold your current position, you're doing nothing more than picking on someone because they're different. You're insisting on denying them something, because they aren't the same as you. Maybe I'm just hoping that's where you're coming from.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Y'know, I don't think someone's sexuality is a choice. I think that gettin' married is. (Theres a lesson in that somewhere...)

I think if we gave marriage to man + woman relationships, civil unions to man + man, woman + woman relationships, and just called polygamy 'a severe alimony arrangement' or 'babies mamas drama,' everyone would be happy.

Another big reason I think a lot of marriages fail (and a lot of parents like to pull the wool over their eyes regarding their children's sexuality, and how a lot of people act in a relationship or during a divorce, etc, etc) is maturity.

It is very easy to be rigid in your beliefs if you haven't experienced anything. It is very easy to be rigid in your beliefs if certain situations don't affect you. It is how you act when they do affect you that matters.

Like what SAWB says, "Parents get over things, and if they don't, screw 'em." Of everyone I know who has done something awful and judgemental regarding someone else's relationship, they are outweighed by the number of people I know who have stepped up, acted mature and done right.

mikey said...

Allow me to make something abundantly clear. I have never, nor will I ever, underestimate a person’s ability to convince him/herself of anything. My argument isn’t that all parents completely understand what is going on in their children’s lives. My point is that the vast majority of parents have a clue. Whether or not they choose to act on it is another point entirely.

This notion that parents, especially fathers, don’t see implied sexuality in their daughters’ manner of dress is, for me, about the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. You know how I can say that? Because I can think of a number of occasions where a concerned father took me aside when I went to pick up his daughter and said, “I don’t care how she’s dressed. Don’t get any ideas or you’ll have to answer to me.”

Are there some fathers who see their daughters wearing a skirt that barely covers her waist and a t-shirt with the playboy logo on it and thinks their daughter just looks hip without any idea of the sexual connotation? Sure. Are they in the tiniest of majorities? ABSOLUTELY!

By the way, “Find the right circles, and you'll find social ostracism when it comes to pre-marital sex.” Of course, you’re right. But if I “find the right circles” I can find ostracism when it comes my dislike of cannibalism—does that make it the social norm?

Besides, you made my point for me. When a behavior is “generally tolerated” it means that, generally speaking, people aren’t getting ostracized for it.

Petallic, it’s not about me having an open mind. I can be convinced of a point if a good argument is made. You just failed to do that. Don’t get mad at me; come up with a better argument.

petallic said...

"Are some parents fooling themselves? Sure, but they’re in the smallest of minorities. By and large, parents aren’t stupid. They may be lazy. They may be tired. They may not want to deal with all the stuff their kids may or may not be doing, but they ain’t stupid."

I've been thinking about this argument over the last few days, discussing it with friends of mine who are parents, and I may have to concede that you make some sense here. I don't necessarily like your style, but allowing for a more moderate platitude here is surely a good thing rather than my blanket statements.

I meet with parents all the time who are clueless to their childrens' behavior. They have no clue when I tell them their children are sexually active, involved in drugs, etc. Parents ARE tired and overwhelmed, but sometimes they're just clueless. I can concede that those parents may be in the minority, not the majority.

I do wind up fussing with parents on a regular basis over their childrens' clothing. I'll never forget the first time one of my 9th graders showed up in class with a visible thong. It was 1999. I immediately called her mother, expecting her mother to be as shocked as I was. I was so naive; it was my second year of teaching, and I was 22. The mother informed me that her daughter's underwear choices were none of my concern, and that her daughter was just expressing herself, not expressing her sexuality. When her daughter turned up pregnant, her mother was furious and shocked. Or when I had to call a mother and tell her that her daughter had just returned to class with ejaculate in her hair after having sex with three boys in the woods behind the school.

This stuff stays with me, man. For me, ignorant parents are far more common than knowledgeable parents, but you're right, my personal experiences aren't evidence and don't make a valid argument. They're just the rantings of an 8-year teacher.

And no, I'm not being sarcastic. Scout's honor.