Modern Attitudes Toward Marriage Lead to Loneliness

Two stories last week (one amusing and one sobering) provided material for (gloomy) reflection on love and marriage in the modern world.

The first came from Auckland, New Zealand, where heterosexual best friends Travis McIntosh and Matt McCormick celebrated their nuptials this last Friday. A radio station competition provided the motivation for their decision to wed. By tying the knot in an official ceremony, the two heterosexual men became eligible to win a trip to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. Many happy returns?

Unsurprisingly, LGBT activist groups were angered by a festivity that, to their minds, trivialized a hard-earned “right,” and mocked the homosexual community. This, however, did not appear to be the two friends’ intention. “We are not here to insult anyone,” said McIntosh to the New Zealand Herald. “We are here to do our own thing and travel our own path.It’s just seeing how far two good mates would go to win a trip to the Rugby World Cup.”

The second story, from here in the US, was a report that, as of last month, more than 50 percent of American adults (over age 16) are now single. What percentage of American adults want to be married? Considerably more than 50 percent. But wishes, it turns out, are not weddings. We live in a world that claims to embrace romantic love as a good and even a “right,” and yet, ironically, less and less people are actually finding their way to love and happiness.

It is not good for man to be alone. And yet, more than ever before, we are alone. We’ve spent decades tearing down every obstacle we could imagine that might prevent people from coming together. Already married? No-fault divorce can take care of that. You and your sweetie are the same sex? Eh, that’s no big thing. Not up for serious commitment? Then try living together, or just hooking up, as a nice a-la-carte way to scratch that I-need-companionship itch.

What if your parents, pastors, neighbors, friends or therapist disapprove of your choices? Well, forbidden love is the sexiest kind, right? As screenwriters have long since discovered, few things thrill modern people like celebrating the romance of illicit love.

Increasingly though, it’s hard to have a forbidden romance, because people hardly dare to disapprove of anything anymore. Nobody likes to be cast as the judgmental one in a romance, and also, we all feel great sympathy for the lovelorn. Escaping that big, yawning abyss of loneliness can almost be a full-time occupation nowadays. When people see a chance at happiness, we’re inclined to say (with songwriter Sheryl Crow), “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”

It’s hard to get our heads around the fact that when it comes to romance, the lack of obstacles might be the obstacle that prevents mature love from flowering.

Consider our happy couple from New Zealand. They don’t appear to see themselves as doing anything subversive or perverted. And truthfully, applying modern standards to their case, I’m inclined to agree. Why shouldn’t a man marry his best friend for the sake of winning a radio competition? Everyone seems to have enjoyed the wedding. Both men’s families were supportive. Most important of all, the couple was pursuing a real and recognizable goal: a shared trip to the Rugby World Cup. I don’t see what right LGBT groups have to be critical; what business is it of theirs what goes on (or doesn’t) in the bedroom?

Their legal union simply brings us to the logical conclusion of long-extended developments in our legal and social customs concerning marriage. LGBT activists were happy to help dismantle all the central pieces that distinguished marriage as a unique relationship. They’re now not in a position to complain when people view marriage as an utterly fluid relationship, which may be entered into for any reason whatsoever.

So, we have best buddies marrying in order to enter a radio contest. What we’re learning the hard way, of course, is that the socially constructed obstacles that we so gleefully destroyed really were not just the product of prejudice. In part, they were protections against rash choices and victimization. Young men and women sometimes have trouble seeing past a lovely face, but their parents and pastors are less easily deceived by skin-deep appeal. More importantly, we once guarded against vice and victimization through taboos on fornication, and the expectation that couples would secure social approbation through marriage before starting their life together. The virtuous and worthy generally don’t mind getting married, but the unserious and the predatory are fairly effectively deterred by the expectation that they stand up in public and make serious commitments before consummating their relationship. It turns out that frowning chaperones and irksome “waiting periods” served an actual, useful function.

None of these preliminaries, however, are quite as important as the one, central change in our perspective on romance: it no longer has a purpose. When romance is understood to be a gateway to family, to new life, and to the continuation of the human race through future generations, everyone appreciates that it matters. To the young, it’s exciting. To the old it’s probably more worrisome and headache-inducing, but when romance has this vitally important function, everyone ultimately has a stake in keeping it sweet. Undeniably, history is full of heartbreak, and the obligations of marriage and family can at times be heinously onerous. Still, it’s hard to see it as a triumph when we lift the burdens of love, only to find that a majority of people just end up alone.

What does this mean for America’s future? More loneliness, of course. Fewer children. Less long-term investment. Single, childless people are likelier to rent than to invest in property. They spend more of their income on their own interests and pleasures, and put less into savings and retirement accounts. They care less about the long-term effects of present policies on the common good, and more often fall prey to addiction, criminality and mental disease. Did I mention fewer children?

We must redouble our efforts to impress on the world the benefits of embracing a genuine culture of life. We must help our compatriots to understand this basic truth: when we begin to look beyond ourselves at some further horizon, that is when we will find that we are no longer alone.

 (Photo credit: Courtesy of Shutterstock.)

Rachel Lu

By

Rachel Lu, a Catholic convert, teaches philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota where she lives with her husband and four boys. Dr. Lu earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at rclu.

  • Jamie

    You’re a fantastic writer, Rachel Lu.

    • MollyKees

      She would be a better writer if she knew the difference between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’, which she clearly doesn’t.

  • Daniel P

    “Increasingly though, it’s hard to have a forbidden romance, because people hardly dare to disapprove of anything anymore.”

    Classic.

  • Vinnie

    Seems there’s no seriousness in anything anymore.

  • GaudeteMan

    My wife and I have been sponsor couples for engaged couples for ‘Catholic’ marriages at our church for a few years. Every couple has been cohabiting, few if any even go to Sunday Mass. And the standard FOCUS test continues to ask such important questions like, “are you comfortable seeing each other naked?” If that institution, which pretends to have it right concerning Holy Matrimony, continues to churn out such poorly catechized souls – and sends them into the world and life so ill-prepared – how can we expect non-Catholics to esteem our model of marriage? Should we have loftier expectations from our priests and bishops in this regard?

    • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

      I believe that Catholics married without a FULL understanding of the sacramental nature of marriage and its finality are arguably candidates for annulment – i.e. most Catholic marriages in the U.S.

      • Beachtowel

        And arguably, most Catholic marriages, period. Over the centuries, vast swaths of average Catholics have been largely ignorant, uneducated, often more than a little superstitious and pagan in their beliefs, and possibly even heretics (albeit unknowing ones).
        Once we limit sacramental marriage to those Catholics with a full understanding of the sacramental nature of marriage, it becomes clear that Catholic sacramental marriage has likely been a very rare occurrence over the millenia.

        • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

          Yes, you would THINK so but you are wrong.

          “What is it which renders the institutions of Catholicism, as they existed in the middle ages, so odious to the moderns, that the whole bent of their mind is now to sweep them from the earth? It is their own want of a fixed and decided will. This want alone renders hateful to them the monastic rule, the discipline of holy orders and the inviolable character of the marriage state. Reeds shaken by every wind, they fear the immutability which belong essentially to whatever is Catholic.”
          -Digby, MORES CATHOLICI Vol. 2, Pg 682

      • DE-173

        One is always deficient in understanding the nature of marriage; consider the old saw: Men marry women thinking they won’t change, women marry men thinking they will.
        Since the Church respects marriages by Protestants as valid (where there isn’t an INADEQUATE understanding of the sacramental nature of marriage; but a complete misundertanding, i.e., Luther and Tudor decided it was a civil contract) , that seems to be a tenuous position.
        As a practical matter, the exit (annulment) doors will be even more jammed with those claiming “inadequate understanding”.

    • musicacre

      It’s too bad you had a real chance to say meaningful things to these couples before they embarked on marriage and instead had to recite from some inane, ridiculous pamphlet that someone who wasn’t qualified to speak on marriage wrote. It’s the secular world that says it’s just about sex, but the bad bishops and priests are running after that model as fast as their legs will carry them.

    • Maria J.

      Freedom through Deliverance by Rev.Fr.Carl Schmidt is what every confirmation candidate , young person planning marriage and all the others too need , to remind us what is the power and anointing that we are called to live by and how marriage involves efforts at deliverance for self ,the spouse , families and those around , how being in anointing is the joy that we are called to live in, all of which can be thrown away by wrong choices to destroy what is to be holy !

    • James

      In marriage prep, you have everything from shy and sheltered virgins (yes, they still exist) to long cohabitating couples. They have to cover everything.

      As the Vatican recently pointed out, a cohabitating couple seeking marriage IS seeking to remedy their situation and stop cohabitating. The marriage of a cohabitating couple has long been seen as a sign of penance and amendment.

  • Fred

    The resonance (with my own thoughts) is quite amazing Rachel, sadly in the context of the subject. I think it is especially true about the consequence for raising families. I saw it Europe when I lived there, and now it seems to be catching up here. A lot of lonely, older people without families to bring joy.

    • Ladasha Smithson

      I don’t think most of them are people who sworn off marriage and families. I think the majority of them are people who couldn’t find someone to marry.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    Only so holy a being as Man can experience so terrible and authentic a feeling as loneliness. It was the climactic agony of God become man crucified. Sin is never about ignorance, it is about knowledge. Knowingly we have cheapened and trivialized that which makes us children of God.

  • publiusnj

    I had seen an article in National Review on Line regarding this and put in a positive comment about guys getting governmentally married to one another for non-sexual reasons such as a desire to go to a Rugby game for free. I then added a final paragraph that said that my comment was made tongue in cheek. What I was essentially saying is that Government messes up when it tries to define marriages; it can’t do much positive and should therefore retreat to its corner.

    The rugby tickets marriage situation is an example of how utterly unserious is Governmentally defined marriage. If marriage is not related to procreation as gays and politicians insist, why should it have to be related to sexual attraction? IOW, what do you get when a bunch of judges, lawyers, legislators and politicians start defining marriage? A spoiled broth called Gay Marriage and soon polygamous marriage and then incestuous marriage and who knows what else.

    I believe the Catholic Church should go on the attack against Government defined marriage by saying that Government defined marriage is utterly unserious and leads to Rube Goldberg-esque results precisely because it is not based on considerations of the nature of love and the results of sexual intercourse but on the basis of political considerations. By contrast, Catholic Marriage which is far older and wiser than Governmentally-defined marriage deals with the real needs of people trying to live in light of God’s commands. Any such campaign will require courage and a carefully crafted message, but it is a lot better than the piecemeal retreat the Church is presently involved in. Letting a gay group into the St. Patrick’s Parade is just leading to demands for more groups to be able to get in. Give them an inch….

    • DE-173

      ” What I was essentially saying is that Government messes up when it tries to define marriages; it can’t do much positive and should therefore retreat to its corner.”

      Government never relinquishes power voluntarily; and the problem is Messrs Luther and Tudor gave government this power, and it’s now an ossified custom.

      • publiusnj

        I agree. Politicians see an issue and they have an opinion…because there is always a way to gain more power by coming down on one or another side of an issue. And, according to them, there are no limits to their power.

        We can’t expect them to retreat to their corners for altruistic reasons, so we need to shame them into doing it by showing just how much of a hash they have made out of marriage issues (not just Gay Marriage, but No Fault Divorce, etc.) and continue to make out of them. Back in 1993-96, they told a very angry public that “don’t ask, don’t tell” would NEVER lead to Gay Marriage, and when they weren’t believed, they went so far as to pass a Defense of Marriage Act with Republican and Democrat support to prove they meant it. LIES. Now they are telling us that Gay Marriage is not going to lead to plural marriages and other abominations. That will prove another lie and someone needs to call them out on that. The only insitution that can is the Catholic Church…at least if Papa Bergoglio doesn’t go down the slippery slope of Communion for Divorced/remarried people.

  • Homosexuals, by excluding the other gender, are still alone.

  • montanajack1948

    “Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do…An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”

    • DE-173

      “An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.”
      Well, things seem to have changed.

      Today there’s three dominant classes of unmarried women.

      1.) Those who have no time for anything because they are tryinng to raise children with only the help of the federal government’s financial support (a really cheap counterfeit to a devoted husband and father).

      2.) The single women who have way to much time because they wish to be devoted to the bizarre notion that that empowered when they are door handles rather than wives so they yell blessed are the breasts that never nursed. (Sandra Fluke).

      3.) Those single women who quietly aspire to those things (home and hearth) that society tells them is diminishing and oppressive, so they dare not seek them with full force and will, so they live in an extended state of what they think is searching, but really is wandering.

      • MollyKees

        You’ve forgotten about the single women, of whom there are *many*, who desperately (and quietly) LONG to be married to a good and loving man, but have long since given up because they are older than 28, and they don’t look like a Barbie doll or a runway model.

        • DE-173

          See No. 3, and the explanation below.

        • Liberty

          This is exactly it. And the fact that we’re looked at as less than women who have gotten married, often by self righteous men who think we’re not perfect enough. Married Catholics who used to participate in the general community and bring their single friends together now exclude us for not being married. It’s very hard.

          • slainte

            Liberty writes: “…And the fact that we’re looked at as less than women who have gotten married, often by self righteous men who think we’re not perfect enough….”
            .
            I have not found most men to be self righteous and judgmental; many are just shy and sensitive and some bear the wounds and scars of heartbreak and betrayal and are thus guarded in their demeanor and afraid to be hurt again…just as women may be.

            I would suggest that men are often attracted to a woman who takes pride in her appearance, and who radiates, through her words and actions, a kind demeanor, an empathetic spirit, and an internal joy.

            Have faith that God, who made us to love and be loved, will bring the right man to you when you are ready.

        • Ladasha Smithson

          So funny. When we’re in high school the girls refuse to date guys their same age, he has to be older. Then when we’re older, he can finally date the age group hes always wanted to.

        • carledgar

          I think that’s a meme, Molly (now that I’ve finally learned what a meme is). Although I’m admittedly middle-aged I’d be surprised if there weren’t large numbers of bright, educated men who would run a mile from a Barbie doll or glamour puss (my spelling gives away my somewhere-in-the-British Commonwealth of Nations location).

          Qualities I look for (while admitting that I like a woman who basically looks acceptably attractive but more importantly quick and alert) include:

          is she an inveterate reader

          does she play scrabble

          Can we do crosswords in bed together

          is her repartee rapier-swift

          does she revek in the unpardonable tautology ‘the reason is because’

          and it goes on in that vein for awhile

          I think you’re too pessimistic Molly

          Carl in Ottawa

          • carledgar

            revel

      • MollyKees

        AND, what in blazes is “seek them with full force and will” supposed to mean? What are we to do, pray tell? Sally forth and kidnap eligible God-serving men off the street? Idiot.

        • DE-173

          I am sensitive to your frustrations. I lived them. There was a “4” in my age when I married.

          It means to have the ability and RIGHT to engage a family, friends (and society at large) that supports the support for a husband (to beat the bushes in my late grandmother’s parlance) and who knows them personally and who can identify and make them aware of the existence of decent and compatible men.

          Today, this support structure has evaporated, as has the discretion involved.

          I went through this when I was single, and I got really tired of explaining why I wasn’t interested in divorced women-especially with kids, women who had no interest in children, women who had cohabitated (especially recently, since it signaled rebound-I was ce “fixed up” with multiple women who spent too much time talking about their “ex”), women who hadn’t darkened a Church door since they were 14, and women who were religious, but utterly dedicated to the notion that I just needed to read the Bible and I’d quit being Catholic or other things.

          My “friends” would stammer “WHAT’S WRONG WITH HER” as though I was offering the objections of a kid being served meatloaf for dinner.

          The ironic thing is that I did meet a few decent women along the way but I became so jaded and cynical, I exaggerated concerns without seeing if they weren’t real impediments.

          If you were thinking I was offering a criticism of “all the single ladies”, I’m not. These frustrations exist among men as well, although they are far less likely to realize or vocalize them.

          As for not being “Barbie”, stop dwelling on that. Most men aren’t Ken, either.

      • Liberty

        How about “3.) Those single women who quietly aspire to those things (home and hearth) that society tells them is diminishing and oppressive, while smug married-with-children Catholics exclude them, belittle them, and dismiss them because they aren’t married with children.” That’s actually the state of things.

        • DE-173

          What you regard as “exclusion” is concentration and common affiliation.

          Married people with kids have different priorities than singles. They aren’t excluding any one, they are busy in their vocation. I lost touch with countless friends after they wed, because their priorities become each other and their kids, but that’s they way it is.

          On those rare occasions when they socialize, married couples are often looking to share advice on things like getting a good plumber, getting little Johnny to stop shoving peas up his nose, dealing with the in-laws, small and frustrating things that just aren’t in a single person’s experience.

          This is something where Parish life is failing. Where are there parish dances or some other kind of mixer anymore?

          • Ladasha Smithson

            In my experience most parish events are based around children, and if you don’t have children, they don’t want you volunteering. Those few events that are not based around children almost without exception are for “married and engaged couples only”.

            • DE-173

              If there’s such resistance, you know why.

  • JP

    As the late Allan Bloom once wrote, “Couples don’t have love affairs anymore; they have relationships.”

    • Slainte

      With “partners”, not husbands or wives.

  • Beachtowel

    The importance of romantic love to marriage is a rather recent development–for centuries, your average man and woman was not expected to be romantically “in love” in order to get married. In fact, romantic love was rather looked down on as a basis for marriage in some places and times–after all, it can wax and wane or even dissipate altogether, never to return to a relationship.
    Expectation that your spouse would be your best friend–or even, ideally, your “soulmate”–is rather new, too. I’m not so sure that marriage was the cure to loneliness over the centuries; other social networks that were in place seem to have been equally, if not, more important, than the marital relationship for preventing loneliness.
    I’d suggest that the loneliness of being alone pales next to the loneliness of being in a bad marriage. Human nature being what it is, lots of people have and will continue to do marriage badly. In a world in which we don’t have to be married to survive (women can support themselves theses days, and with modern conveniences, both sexes are perfectly capable of working all day and still maintaining a home—gone are the days of time-consuming chores like washing the clothes by hand, churning the butter, or cooking from scratch), it’s going to be harder to convince people to enter into a relationship that is anything but a sure thing.
    Living in a world where there are all sorts of other interesting things to do—travel, entertainment, internet–makes it even harder. I’ve read that in Japan, young people can’t even be bothered to have sex anymore, much less think about getting married and raising a family. Too many more interesting things to do, sex is a bother, and the consequences can be even more of a bother.
    Not sure what the answer is, but I am pretty sure the cure to our marriage crisis does not lie in romantic love or even the nearly long-lost forbidden aspect of sex. Once humans have choices, many are going to choose the easier path. And marriage is definitely not that.

    • NN

      “I’d suggest that the loneliness of being alone pales next to the loneliness of being in a bad marriage.” Having viewed my parent’s marriage, I have the instinct that you’re right: marriage done badly is so bad precisely because marriage done well is so exalted and exalting.

      I think there are a lot of reasons why people are less eager to jump into marriage at an earlier age than they do (or at all): the feminist message that to be ‘complete’ a woman needs to establish a career before being ‘tied down’; the feminist message that men are accessories, something we obtain to please ourselves, like new shoes or a nice purse; the consumerist message that you’ve got to ‘have it all’ – which means never having enough and always seeking that moment when your life looks just like in the latest magazine; the fact that you don’t have to ‘buy the cow to get the milk’ (everyone gives their bodies away to whoever wants them); divorce that has wounded so many young people, making them afraid of attempting marriage or holding them back from investing themselves 100% in marriage.

      Many of these things contribute to economic circumstances that make marriage seem too huge an expense to enter into: 5-figure weddings, impossibly expensive houses and mortgage rates, the notion that you have to have enough money in the bank to send your children to an excellent university – or you shouldn’t have them. And it seems to snowball: all those unmarried people with lots of disposable income; all those couples with no children can afford to spend more than a family can for the basic necessities of life. And so prices are driven ever upward, making young people think that they can’t afford to get married. A young couple I know, who were determined to remain chaste before marriage and certainly to live apart, were encouraged by the boy’s devoutly (even a bit fanatically) Catholic parents and the girl’s nominal Methodist parents to live together because it would be cheaper and they could save up for their own place more quickly. When they patiently explained the moral problems they had with that, as Catholic Christians, the parents suggested they move in together, but sleep in separate beds. The couple suppressed their sighs and didn’t attempt to explain to their parents about the near occasion of sin. Why didn’t the parents applaud their children’s moral standards and offer to help them with the rent on separate flats or offer to help them with a down-payment on a house?

      The whole culture is sick and I don’t know if there’s any way to cure it across the board. I’m reminded of Pope Benedict’s notion that the Church would have to get a whole lot smaller before it blossomed into a new springtime. I suspect that a similar phenomenon is going to have to happen with Christian marriage: the few who recognize the beauty of it and the exalted purpose of marriage, who treat the sacrament with reverence and respect before and after the wedding ceremony, are the ones who are likely to have more kids and to raise them in homes where charity and love prevail, setting an example and instilling a hope that marriage can be everything that God wanted it to be – a foreshadowing and an image of the communio that we will enjoy with the Holy Trinity. Those children will be like the green growth in a burnt-out forest; the progress will be slow, but eventually marriage – like all good things – will re-establish itself.

      When I look at the destruction that a bad marriage (my parents’) can sow in the hearts and souls of children; when I see the destruction caused to children of divorce (two of my four married siblings), I’m sick at heart and I don’t know if anything can bring about a generalized healing. We can only pray with all our hearts for those in bad marriages to trust in God and persevere while making their best efforts to improve the marriage; and pray for those poor wounded ones to be healed by Christ’s love so that their own marriages can be successful.

      It is truly a sad situation we see around us – the walking wounded from the ‘battle of the sexes’ and the ‘me generation’. Truly the sins of the parents are visited upon their children in the damage done to their hearts and minds and souls. God help us. And hurry.

      • DE-173

        “Having viewed my parent’s marriage, I have the instinct that you’re right: marriage done badly is so bad precisely because marriage done well is so exalted and exalting.”

        Who are you to judge? Observers of a marriage are as knowlegeable to it’s complexities, as the bare-chested guy guy with body paint screaming in the stands is about the actions of the coaches and players on the gridiron.

        • Ladasha Smithson

          “Who are you to judge? Observers of a marriage are as knowlegeable to its complexities, as the bare-chested guy guy with body paint screaming in the stands is about the actions of the coaches and players on the gridiron.”

          Who are YOU to judge. Know wonder people don’t look to people priests for marriage counseling anymore, people like you belittle their advice simply because they aren’t married!

          • DE-173

            it’s “No Wonder”.

        • Anna

          You miss the point, DE. When a marriage is about the creation of a family from two existing ones, one is no longer solely dependent upon a purported “soul mate” to stave off loneliness. The antidote is distributed among children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews of both sides of the family.

    • Fred

      All the consequences of serving mammon and not God. Me first, I want to travel and see the world, I want a nice new car and house, I don’t want to be denied that great job which isn’t compatible. I was of the “2 child” mindset when we were child bearers (much to my wife’s chagrin). Now later in life we’ve been blessed to get to know large Catholic families at our new church and my heart aches now for not having more. Yes it’s messy and certainly not for everyone, but when we are together there is nothing but a fullness of life and love on display. I love my wife with all my heart and I couldn’t imagine life without her. I wish that feeling for all married couples, and pray our children experience that someday as well.

      • Trish Browning

        I, too, regret the “two and done” mindset of our younger marriage, when I saw additional babies as being too expensive, too messy, and too much of a barrier to the “good life”. In all fairness, we were never told NOT to opt for sterilization by our pastor, who only told us to “be sure we didn’t want anymore kids.” It is far too late now to change, but I hope younger Catholic couples don’t make our mistake….

        • guest

          Fred and Trish, I am so glad I stopped at two, no regrets. For me, two is a real family, and quite enough, even now that they are grown, in fact, especially now. I am so glad we did not have that third one we briefly considered. What this means is that we all are different. So sorry both of you have regrets.

          • DE-173

            The interesting part of this is that people think they will always have all the kids they started with-it doesn’t always work that way. In my family, I can think of three people in my family who outlived one of their children.

            Talk to us if you lose one of those two. Purposely rejecting the gift of a new life is foolish.

    • Pablo

      When I read the title of the article, I thought it was going to be about what you said: the loneliness of a bad marriage. As a young man who wants to get married one day, this worries me. I have so few examples of decent marriages (I live in a house with two divorced men) and am not getting much encouragement from those who are married. Any advice?

      • AnthonyMa

        Seek out a religious girl, Pablo, stay away from the secularists. Most of these girls will be suspicious of your motives and you’ll have to be patient. Treat them the way you’d want someone to treat your sister and be respectful to her and her family. Even then, time changes people and trouble can come, but if you both have strong faith and can get past the bickering that will occur, you might get lucky.

      • Beachtowel

        Hi Pablo,
        If there is one piece of advice I would give to anybody seeking marriage, it would be to marry somebody who is genuinely kind. The virtue of kindness makes a huge difference over the years of marriage.
        I am very blessed to have met a men who was both Catholic and kind; we’ve been married nearly 23 years (six kids to show for it!), and I still regard marrying him as the best decision of my life. I would have married him even if he weren’t Catholic, though–Christ’s love would have shown through his goodness no matter what religion he was.
        His love, more than anything else in my life, makes me feel in a very concrete way the love of God for us.
        Try not to let others’ bad experiences make you feel hopeless. I come from a very long line of very miserably married people (my own parents divorced, their parents and grandparents all stuck it out but were quite unhappy over the decades), and I consider them all to have given me a huge gift—I watched and learned what NOT to do, and there is a lot of value in that. Being happily married is a continual choice, and it starts with having your priorities straight about what to look for in a spouse. Kindness, generosity, fortitude, honesty–essentially, signs of good character–these virtues really matter when the rubber meets the road of years of sharing life’s struggles, joys, and sorrows.
        One other secret to joy: my motto in marriage is, “I’d rather be happy than right.” I’ve just seen too many couples be right all the way to divorce court, but I’ve never known a couple who was happy all the way to court.
        Happy marriage is a wonderful thing, indeed–don’t let people discourage you from it. There is nothing quite like it in the world.

      • Sam Schmitt

        If you can, try to get to know happily married couples and their families. As a single man I learned more from hanging around my sister, her husband and their large family than all the books on marriage put together.

  • Jay

    My parents were married for over 30 years but they were for most of them. My biological father died in a car accident when I was two, and my mother was left with myself and my older sister. She met another man, married and he raised me as his son (although never legally adopting me). My up-bringing was okay, but I knew my mother wasn’t happy. She later admitted that she married too quickly after my father was killed. Just over a year-ago they divorced. My mother is seeing a guy now that “makes her happy.” I don’t know how to really handle this. She’s protestant, I’m Catholic and so I have a very different view of marriage. She committed a grave sin. She never once apologized to us, her children. I have a lot of anger towards both for divorcing. But…my mom is happy for the first time in a long, long, time.

    • Tamsin

      God’s peace be with you, Jay. We can learn from other people’s mistakes, and try not to make the same mistakes.

    • DE-173

      “My mother is seeing a guy now that “makes her happy.” I don’t know how to really handle this. ”

      Wait and pray. New brooms always sweep clean. The over-under on such relationships is a couple years.

    • Fred

      Let the anger go unless you know of a serious flaw that she may be overlooking which we all know can happen when you find something new, it only hardens your heart. Whether protestant or not is less important than whether Christ is at the center of both their lives and relationship – and if not, then pray for it.

  • DE-173

    “Unsurprisingly, LGBT activist groups were angered by a festivity that, to their minds, trivialized a hard-earned “right,” and mocked the homosexual community. ”

    Funning thing about how when something can mean ANYTHING, people are shocked by just how vast a space is boundless.

    I’m so tired of activists and their contrived indignities.

    • Fred

      The final destination for political correctness having run its course (if it has) … everyone is offended at everything so nobody can say anything except … how’s the weather. Good luck progressing as a society with that. “How vast a space” would properly characterize the vacuous cavity of the cranium for these jabberwockies.

      • Martha Renner

        That’s where you’re wrong, Fred! The weather can lead to a horribly un-PC discussion on climate change. Let’s stick to smiling at each other absent-mindedly.

        • Beth

          Yes, Martha, an absent-minded smile because then I would be following the advice of the holy father, specifically #1, #3, #4, #7, #8 AND #9: BINGO!

          The Pope’s 10 Tips for a Happier Life
          1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this
          principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”
          2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said,
          because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”
          3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image
          from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.
          4. A healthy sense of leisure. The Pope said “consumerism has brought us anxiety”, and told parents to set aside time to play with their children and
          turn of the TV when they sit down to eat.
          5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.
          6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs
          for young people. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.
          7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’”
          8. Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly
          about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead
          of picking myself up I have to cut others down,’” the Pope said. “Letting go of
          negative things quickly is healthy.”
          9. Don’t proselytise; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one
          grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’
          No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church
          grows by attraction, not proselytising,” the Pope said.
          10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call
          for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet,
          but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.Courtesy of
          the Catholic News Service.

    • Tamsin

      I’m kinda glad that the two Australian guys illustrated the problem of companionate marriage so peacefully, so civilly in their disobedience to the gay narrative of “marriage equality” here in America.

      • DE-173

        And they also demonstrated that militant homosexuals don’t want to share in marriage, to open it, but to close and own it.

  • brucenyc

    I believe there will be more and more stories like the one you mention from Australia. Men will feel no need to have any sexual relationship with their same sex “spouse”, but rather garner whatever economic/social benefits might be available from the state’s conferral of a marriage license, then just walk away through no fault “divorce” when something better comes along. My wife would never enter into, or put up with, any proposal like that.

    • DE-173

      They say anything that starts with the premise of unlimted personal autonomy ends in complete tyranny, perhaps the same applies with sex, where unlimited sexual license ends in a complete absence of sex.

  • Scott

    I am really glad to see this article.

    There are are least one and probably two generations of lonely single Catholics who can’t get married at this point no matter what we do.

    Sure, the people who have been cohabiting get big church weddings and everyone welcomes them.

    But the people who don’t cohabit and will not engage in pre-marital sex cannot get married in our society. End. Of. Story. It’s a disaster out there. And we are getting no help whatever from the Church.

    • Episteme

      As one of those lonely chaste guys in the back pew* who’s not going to get that fatted calf of a big wedding when I’d show up with the hypothetical woman who I’ve been cohabitating with, I often make wry jokes about the Parable of the Prodigal Son and how the homilies never actually look at the loyal Older Brother’s reaction from *his* point of view…

      (*when not in one of a bunch of ministries or apostolates — that’s what we singles have to do in the parish; in a packed church of couples, it astounds me that I can sometimes need to lector, usher, and serve communion all in one single mass)

      • Ladasha Smithson

        So I’m guessing you church pushes everything off and makes the singles do it uh? My parish is like that, they want singles to serve and think we have no problems or need to be served.

      • Genevieve

        Episteme, It is the same at my parish. I led RCIA for three years,along with lectoring and serving communion, and begged for catechetical help from other parishioners who were not also single women, already exhausted from carrying too many loads in the parish. One person took the class for one week. End of story. I also became weary of the cohabiting candidates who wanted the quickie catechesis so they could get married “as Catholics” in a few months. I stood my ground. Pastoral leadership? Nil. I resigned. Proud of that because it brought attention to the problem. I’d go back in a heartbeat with real pastoral leadership.

    • genevieve

      Bless you, Scott. It’s so refreshing for this 56 year old celibate woman to hear a man say this truth. God will honor you! I speak from experience.

  • Mary Pat Kengmana

    Um, sorry, but Auckland is in New Zealand not Australia and the two men are Kiwis (New Zealanders).

  • Stephen Hitchings

    Some very good points, Rachel. I don’t really have anything to add, except one small correction. Auckland is in New Zealand, where same sex “marriage” has been legalised. So far, we have been able to keep it illegal in Australia, though I don’t know how long we can keep it out.

  • Liberty

    “Single, childless people are likelier to rent than to invest in
    property. They spend more of their income on their own interests and
    pleasures, and put less into savings and retirement accounts.” Yet another smug, married Catholic writer implying single people are simply living hedonistic lives, spending “more of their income on their own interests and pleasures” as though all of us waste money on $2,000 handbags and $40,000 cars. Maybe you were living the high life of wasteful spending before you got married but I certainly haven’t. I’m constantly trying to make ends meet. Single people pay more in taxes and have to spend more money on things than married people: http://www.learnvest.com/2012/02/single-vs-married-which-lifestyle-is-more-expensive/ We have to pay for everything (housing, healthcare, and plenty of other things) on our own and do everything on our own and if we lose our jobs we don’t have dual incomes or spouses who can go to work: http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/01/the-high-price-of-being-single-in-america/267043/2/ We’re also paying for your children’s public schools and other things.

    Instead of including single people and treating as equals smug, married Catholics of this generation have a superiority complex and believe themselves more knowledgeable, wise, and important than single people. Rather than inviting us to participate in community they exclude us, dismiss us, and tell us we don’t know anything since we aren’t married with kids. They don’t invite us to things, which means they aren’t bringing their single Catholic friends together anymore. There are rarely groups for single Catholics over 30 at parishes or in diocese (maybe it is different in bigger diocese but in many, no).

    This all means that in order to meet possible spouses (or frankly even friends) we have to spend money on what you’ve termed our “own interests and
    pleasures.” Otherwise we would just be sitting home alone when not with family. What else are we supposed to do? Where are we supposed to meet possible spouses and people willing to be our friends?

    And who are you to judge how we spend our money?

    • Asmondius

      You raise some good points, but I believe the thought was directed at those who are quite happy and content being single.

      • Ladasha Smithson

        Some of us ARE happy being single, but we aren’t worshipers of mammon like the author pictures us.

        • Asmondius

          Oh – you are the official voice of all single people?

          • Ladasha Smithson

            Are you saying if singles are happy, they are living in sin?

            • Asmondius

              I don’t see the word ‘sin’ in my comments.

              • Ladasha Smithson

                You said that the scathing comments toward singles (which implied they are living in sin) are directed toward “happy” and content singles.

                • Asmondius

                  The comments are simply a concern over the number of people who choose freely to opt out of the human condition. Don’t exaggerate

                  • Ladasha Smithson

                    They are not opting out of the “human condition”. Jesus was single and it is a legitimate life choice.

                    • DE-173

                      Jesus knew He was going to be nailed on the cross.

                    • asmondius

                      Oh – are you on a par with Jesus?

                    • Ladasha Smithson

                      How about Paul, who says it is better to remain single than be married. Being single is a very valid vocation in the church, even if it’s unconsecrated.

                    • asmondius

                      Get thee to a nunnery…..

                  • MomChooseLife

                    I’m sorry to be blunt, but your comment is lacking in charity and sensitivity. The number of people who are unmarried aren’t people who’ve sworn off marriage. About half of marriages end in divorce. You can bet a large number of them had every intention living out the married life but were abandoned.

                    • asmondius

                      ‘I’m sorry to be blunt, but your comment is lacking in charity and sensitivity.’

                      Thanks for the fine illustration of contradictive thought.

                      We’re speaking of singles who were not yet married here – not the divorced. Hope that helps your confusion.

  • Joe

    Has anyone given thought to the fact that much of the decline in valuing marriage is similiar to the younger brother? What did the father do? He let him go, with his inheritance in hand- and knew he would find out just what a mistake he made. And sure enough he came back, repentant. This is all happening in God’s time. God does not desire this, yet he allows it. In due time, the pendulum will have swung too far, and society will come back, recognizing the enormity of its errors. The Church is trying to say, and rightfully so, don’t do it. But the message is falling on deaf ears. The father in the parable knew better- he couldn’t stop his son from leaving. The Church needs to spend more time devoted to the older brother, the one who stays, so that the younger brother might some day want to come back to a happy home. The Church needs to do more to support the faithful families it has, supporting home school associations, reducing the cost of Catholic schools, devoting more parish resources to strengthening marriages, and doing more to support families- especially large one- overall. When the lost son returned home, did he find it in dissaray? Surely not, or he would have left again. The Church must make it MANIFEST that the Catholic way of raising a family is the BEST way, and not just say that it is. There will always be younger brothers who stray, it’s our job to keep the house in order while they are gone.

    • Ladasha Smithson

      In the parable is was the foolish young son who suffered, but here it is the ones who don’t play the hook-up game who are suffering instead.

MENU