When did marriage become so disposable?

July 11, 2007 9:06 PM

empty-water-bottlesYou’ve probably heard or read stories about people who abandon their pets when it becomes too difficult or too time-consuming for them to look after the animals.

In a very crude way, marriage is treated more and more like that today. In the beginning, it’s all cute and cuddly and everything is brand new. Then reality sinks in and people realise that it actually takes effort and commitment to make it work.

I’m not debating the principle of divorce. Everyone is entitled to their own pursuit of happiness and most times angry and bitter people who are not compatible in the first place, are better off not being together. The question then becomes: why were they even married then?

I feel that because divorce is so common-placed now, the psychological barrier to getting married is also lowered – people don’t treat it as such a serious thing anymore, when the exit strategy is readily and easily available.

That is why many people do not go into it with the right mindset. To them, marriage is like something to try on for a little while, and if it doesn’t fit they can always throw it out later. They go into it without taking seriously the commitment that is required from both parties. They go into it without thinking if the other person is who they really want as a partner, or are they just making a compromise that they will regret later on?

A compounding factor is that society still expects marriage to be a necessary step in life. So everything piles up:

  • Getting married for the wrong reasons.
  • Getting married to the wrong person.
  • Getting married at the wrong time because you’re not financially and emotionally ready.

Having seen what has happened to friends and acquaintances, I should be cynical about marriage. But I’m not. I still think that it’s a great thing if all the wrong reasons above were reversed.

What was it that I said about bad sex, that it is not better than no sex? I think the similar is even more true about marriages. So I’m gonna take my own sweet time, thank you very much. 😉

18 thoughts on “When did marriage become so disposable?

  1. Bryan

    Hi, nice blog. You can reverse the 3 reasons and have an ideal marriage but there’s one problem – time tends to change people. Something perfect at the beginning can become the opposite after 20 years. Could it be that man and marriage are actually incompatible.

  2. Dabido

    In Australia if you seperate within the first year, you aren’t allowed to get divorced straight away, you legally have to go to marriage counselling.
    If you do end up getting divorced, in Australia it is only after being seperated for a minimum time of one full year [actually, that’s when you’re allowed to apply to get divorced … court is about three months later.]

    Ten years ago my divorced cost me $500, not sure how much it costs now.

    Most people who live together before getting married, marry for the wrong reasons. Usually it’s because their relationship starts to fall apart, and they think getting married will somehow fix the problems, and it doesn’t. All it does is makes it harder when the relationship becomes unbearable. Rather than getting married, the couple should seek councilling and fix their issues BEFORE even contemplating marriage.

    Ratio of divorce is something like 80% of people who live together BEFORE getting married divorce, 20% of people who don’t live together get divorced. I was part of the 20% group.

    One of my friends who seperated within the first year of marriage and was sent to marriage councelling complained to me that the coucelling didnt’ work and made them argue all the time.
    I suggested to him that maybe he was looking at the councelling wrong. It is highly possible that the councelling was actually proving that they should never have been together in the first place. They did end up divorcing [not because of what I’d said], and they became great friends again once they were no longer married. [Which was good for their daughter].

    ‘A compounding factor is that society still expects marriage to be a necessary step in life.’

    That is possibly still true in Chinese culture, but in Western culture I’d disagree. Almost everyone I know [other than the truely religiously inclined] actually dispute the need for marriage and think people are crazy to get married. Most I know just live together and never get married. They see marriage as a waste of money.

    Of course, no one marries with the intention of getting divorced, but as you say, it is a very common occurrance now-a-days. As you’ve said, a lot of people won’t work at their marriages. They just expect it to work, and when it doesn’t they want a quick fix [which isn’t forth coming, unless you consider a one year wait quick.]

    I agree with you taking your time. Even taking your time can end in disaster though. I know a girl who got engaged after knowing her BF for two weeks. They got married about one month after that. Their marriage is still going strong.
    I got married after spending years trying to find the right girl, then 2 years of going out to make sure we were compatible and 7 years later it ended in divorce. The old adage of, ‘You can never really know someone’ came to mind. BUT, if the couple in the marriage are open then I don’t think there will be a problem.

    I coud go on … maybe I need to write a post about it! But in Australia divorce is not as easy or as quick as a lot of people think. It is also expensive both financially and emotionally. [All the more reason for people to follow your advice and be careful about who they marry. The only problem is, if the other person is wearing a mask they may never realise that person is wrong for them].


  3. mooiness Post author

    Bryan: true that about time changing people. As for man not suited for monogamy, I think there have been biological studies that have already proven that. 😉

    Dabido: wow – thanks for the very lengthy essay.

  4. bunnygoeszen

    I know a couple of people who are getting married because of “peer pressure”- everyone else around them are getting married. Talk about the wrong reasons, eh?

  5. yurl

    Divorce is a very sad fact of life these days, from my sample set of friends it has no cultural/racial boundaries.
    Its scary watching friends’ marriages self destruct and thinking what if that were me. It’s not just a compatibility thing cos I’ve seen a single moment of weakness destroy 10 years marriage. All I can do is try not to pass judgment and not take sides.

  6. mooiness Post author

    bunnygoeszen: yes that’s definitely a wrong reason to get married. Perhaps with a good foundation, hopefully it will work out good anyway.

    yurl: basically it’s a crapshot if we want to be truly cynical about it. And yeah definitely don’t pass judgement – like all relationships, they may get back together and then you’d look the fool.

  7. sourrain

    People grow and evolve at all times. They mature,they change. What you like now might not be what you liked two,three years ago.

    Marriage, like friendships, need to be constantly nutured, and the evolution of the couple needs to be going towards the same direction.

    Ok, easy example. When A & B started dating,they both like straight sex i.e. missonary la.Then so happy happy joy joy they got married. Mana tau, four years into the marriage, B met a accquaintance who introduced him to S&M…then B realized, eh, quite fun. So he tries to rope A in. A, now a mother of two, is extremely horrified and chases B out of the house for thinking such drrrrty thoguhts. So B, being deprived an S&M session, SUMMORE got chased out of the house, SUMMORE the wife look at him like he is a sicko…slowly falls out of love.

    And I think if B die die also like S&M but A die die also think that he is sick in his head, it is better if they part ways.However, if this was 30 years ago, the shame and embarrasment of a divorce would force A to submit to B’s S&M tendencies, thus making her angry, unhappy,depressed and feeling abused. S&M between consenting adults may be fun, but if you are not part of the S&M revolution, it would be more like abuse and torture.

    Of course not all divorces happens this way.Some are due to outright cheating because lets face it; the same sex after a few years is frankly boring.

    Ok,I need to stop now before churning out a self-righetous essay on marriage.

    PS: I am not into S&M k.Dont know anyone who is

  8. mooiness Post author

    blur ting: very true what you said. Worse still when there’s a child (or more) involved. Which could be another topic altogether: having kids to save a marriage is bad, mmkay?!

    sourrain: wah lau eh. I thought we agreed no essays!

    But yeah I agree – people will change but as long as there’s a concerted effort to move in the same direction at least, and make compromises and maybe even sacrifices along the way, it should be ok. But that’s an ideal assumption. 😉

  9. sourrain

    Sorri ler..I started typing about S&M and my fingers wouldnt stop..I even had to use the edit function after that.

    Marriage seems disposable nowadays (in my short opinion) because there is no longer a stigma associated with being divorced. Women now have the option to leave their partners because they can afford to feed themselves, whereas in the past, I think there are more unhappy marriages than you might think.

    Esp those of us who grew up knowing that grandpa has a couple of mistresses/second wives stuffed somewhere 🙂

  10. mooiness Post author

    herman: with the wrong person, it can be. Heheh.

    sourrain: true that about the stigma, and also regarding there possibly being more unhappy marriages in the past. Cultural shift I guess, because I’m pretty sure that even in those kinda marriages where the man openly has mistresses, the number 1 wife most time accepts it and do not divorce, because she has financial security etc., and the man does not necessarily love her less.

    I think this is a topic that we can keep going round and round with. Hehe. No essays!

  11. girlstar7

    Interesting topic. As I am only 23, I haven’t yet watched any of my friends get divorced (or even get married yet!). But I am a child of divorce myself, and have watched my parents go through it. Trust me, to all those people out there whose parents are reasonably happily married and haven’t watched their parents go through a bitter divorce, you are SO lucky! After seeing everything my parents have gone through, it really puts me off marriage and makes me think, ‘what’s the point?’ I am terrified of commitment now, and am compltely cynical about the idea of marriage. There are a lot of divorces in my family and a lot of my parents’ friends are also divorced.
    BTW when you talk about your friends getting divorced, if there are no children involved, be grateful. And if there are, spare a moment to be sympathetic towards those poor children who are caught up in the middle of the whole ordeal. It is not their fault that their parents’ had a shitty marriage and often they are the worst affected in the long run.
    Sorry, this has been a bit of an essay but just my two cents worth!

  12. mooiness Post author

    girlstar7: You may not have friends who are divorced but you have seen your fair share of divorces yourself! And I don’t blame you for being cynical. Sometimes I think the act of marriage is like a leap of faith – if you are sure of each other, have a good foundation/relationship, then you’d just take the plunge.

  13. van

    My parents’ marriage disintegrated into a mess and while divorce is quite common, the result of the divorce to my parents, my mother especially has been heartbreaking. It has made me cynical and sometimes a bitter opponent of that institution (marriage that is), but more importantly, I know that I don’t want to ever have children unless I can promise them that I will never be involved in a divorce that could cause so much heartbreak, and that I will never disintegrate into the mess that is my mother.

    Since one cannot possibly promise such things, I think the possibility of me getting married is slim at best. *plaintive sigh*

    Good post though marcus. I am watching my friends getting engaged, married and pregnant and I don’t know how they could even come close to making such a decision. Take your time I say… 🙂

  14. mooiness Post author

    van: wow, you are also from a broken home. Even more reason why marriage, having kids and divorce should not be taken lightly. As for those who have taken the plunge and are happy, I admire them.

  15. sourrain

    divorces are just like the plastic bottles in the picture…you can get rid of it,but it will never disintigrate and will continue to haunt you for the rest of your life.

    Another view from the children of divorced parents is two happy but divorced parents is better than two stay-together unhappily married parents.


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