On marriage and divorce

Nov 072006
Authors: Ryan Speaker

Over the weekend a young woman posed a question to the group I was in: When does marriage fever hit men?

It, perhaps coincidentally, occurs roughly the same time young women catch the “I want a diamond or I’m leaving you” fever.

The average age of a woman getting married for the first time is 25, and for men, 27. So maybe that is when marriage fever hits.

However, a study published by the New York Times last month found married couples make up just 49.7 percent of American households, putting married couples in the minority. It also found that Utah County, Utah, which includes Provo, had the highest percentage of married couples: 69 percent.

Why are people not getting married? Marriage often accompanies the idea of parenthood, and who would want to raise a child in this world? This country wants to prevent scientists from working on the leading edge of medical breakthroughs. We proudly declare “home of the free” but have added a little asterisk: “But only if you’re a heterosexual Caucasian.”

We somehow continue to fight in Iraq, despite having lost the war. Our government has authorized the president to decide who is an enemy combatant and what constitutes “torture” (the Military Commissions Act of 2006.) The Justice Department is trying to prevent those who were questioned using Bush’s “aggressive interrogation tactics” (if it smells like BS, it probably is; he means torture) to be unable to talk about their experience; the methods are matters of “national security.”

And the current administration, disgustingly, has done nothing to help the environment. They say it will hurt the economy; I doubt they saw the recent report in the UK that said if we do nothing, global warming could reduce annual worldwide economic output by a full 20 percent. A report by the World Wildlife Fund last week said if current consumption levels continue, we could face massive ecosystem collapses by 2050. And another study last week said if current trends in fishing and water pollution continue, most, if not all, ocean species will be gone by 2048.

Lots of bad, bad things are going on in the world; the possibility of being unable to take a future wife out for a nice lobster dinner on our 40th anniversary is enough to keep me away.

Plus, let us not forget that marriage solidifies nothing. President Clinton had an extramarital affair. Rep. Mark Foley sent text messages to male pages about his erections. And Rev. Ted Haggard, one of this state’s and this country’s most influential evangelical leaders, all but confessed to having a gay, extramarital affair.

Depending on the study (and the year they were published,) between 40 and 55 percent of all marriages end in divorce. That doesn’t hold much incentive.

As a man, the idea of trusting another person that much is simply too much; perhaps being a child through two divorces has biased me a little. The whole idea is each person brings one-half to each marriage. But if it ends in divorce, and if the partners cannot be resolve their issues like civil human beings (which often seems to be the case,) then a judge gets to decide. More often than not, the man is leaving with less than half of what he brought into and acquired during the relationship. That isn’t fair.

In fact, I’ll be so bold as to declare it right here: divorce laws are sexist against men.

So, young woman probing about marital desires in men: It doesn’t hit. At least I don’t ever expect to feel it. Well, maybe after the male discrimination stops and America starts acting like a truly free and proud world leader.

Ryan Speaker is a senior history major. His column appears every Wednesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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