Supporters of "Traditional" Marriage Should Provide More Support

In the wake of President Obama's support for same-sex marriage, opponents of gay marriage are mobilizing. The media has been filled with activists outlining the ways gay marriage is harmful to society. One particular danger cited is the negative impact same-sex marriage will have on "traditional" marriage. The problem with this argument is that marriage has been in trouble for years. A divorce rate that hovers near 50%, an increase in the choice of cohabitation over marriage, and the growing belief that marriage is obsolete are some of the factors that have had a tremendous impact on the institution. Common relationship issues such as money problems, failure to communicate, and infidelity continue to tear apart marriages. Personally, I've struggled in my marriage, known others who have struggled,and have many friends and family members who have divorced. The reasons have never been remotely related to gay people or gay marriage.

As forces mobilized in states like California (over Prop 8) or recently in North Carolina, time, energy and millions of dollars were spent on anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives. Millions more will likely be spent in the upcoming months. Meanwhile, the heterosexual marriages these activists are alledgedly protecting continue to languish. Military marriages, for example, are facing unprecedented strain with multiple tours of duty and rampant PTSD. How many of those marriages could be helped if some of those anti-gay resources went to organizations that support military families such as Project SanctuaryComing Home Project or National Military Family Association? Both military and civilian marriages could be helped by greater awareness of marriage education and counseling services, and the opportunity to take advantage of such programs without undue financial hardship.

Instead of fighting against gay marriage, I wish people were investing more of their time and money actually supporting all marriages.

Have We Misjudged the Kardashians?


 After the spectacle of a wedding and short-lived marriage of Kim Kardashian, there was great speculation that this was a case of unholy matrimony. Many believe Kim orchestrated the marriage for publicity and money, both of which she received in great quantities. It furthered the opinion that marriage is just one more thing the Kardashians will exploit to grow their empire.

If you believe Khloe Kardashian, this is not true. Recently Khloe and her husband, professional basketball player Lamar Odom announced they have suspended their reality show Khloe & Lamar until his basketball career is back on track. As an NBA fan I am well aware of Odom's disappointing performance after being traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks. He was asked to step away from the Mavs mid-season amid speculation that the reality show was a distraction. At this time his NBA future is uncertain. 

Kardashian has said that stopping the show will mean less pressure on the couple. She said, "I'm a modern girl, but you should put your husband first, I like to think divorce is not an option." While I would never expect to be in the role of Kardashian-defender, I do think this is the right move. Although one can question the initial decision to subject a marriage to all that a reality show brings, at least Kardashian and Odom seem to be taking the step that may have helped other couples who tried to mix marriage and reality TV with disastrous results.  

"No Cheating, No Dying" by Elizabeth Weil


  Dewey Nicks for The New York Times

"By trying to make their good marriage better, Elizabeth Weil and Daniel Duane tested it."


In December of 2009 Elizabeth Weil wrote a piece in the New York Times about her marriage. "Married (Happily) with Issues" was both revealing and relatable. In the piece Weil discussed her "pretty good marriage" but she admitted it could be better. She decided that she and her husband should apply themselves to their marriage in the same way their pursued other endeavors in their life. As Weil wrote:

The idea of trying to improve our union came to me one night in bed. I’ve never really believed that you just marry one day at the altar or before a justice of the peace. I believe that you become married — truly married — slowly, over time, through all the road-rage incidents and precolonoscopy enemas, all the small and large moments that you never expected to happen and certainly didn’t plan to endure. But then you do: you endure. And as I lay there, I started wondering why I wasn’t applying myself to the project of being a spouse. My marriage was good, utterly central to my existence, yet in no other important aspect of my life was I so laissez-faire. Like most of my peers, I applied myself to school, friendship, work, health and, ad nauseam, raising my children. But in this critical area, marriage, we had all turned away. I wanted to understand why. I wanted not to accept this. Dan, too, had worked tirelessly — some might say obsessively — at skill acquisition. Over the nine years of our marriage, he taught himself to be a master carpenter and a master chef. He was now reading Soviet-era weight-training manuals in order to transform his 41-year-old body into that of a Marine. Yet he shared the seemingly widespread aversion to the very idea of marriage improvement. Why such passivity? What did we all fear?


The couple took marriage education classes, did various forms of therapy and even swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco. Now Weil has written a memoir about their journey. I'm sure the book, like the article, will cause many people to question their own pretty good marriage.


"Meet the Marriage Killer"

According to a recent Wall Street Journal post by Elizabeth Bernstein, nagging is "more common than adultery and potentially as toxic." The piece has good information about why nagging occurs and how to break the cycle. Although Bernstein indicates that women nag more than men, she is quick to point out that women are more likely to be in charge of the household and are therefore more aware of what needs to be done to keep things running smoothly.