Marriage – A Good Idea?

“A person who has always been truly alone winds up being emotionally dead.”

James Q. Wilson of Pepperdine University reveals important data that support the institution of marriage and it’s effect on families, children, and individuals.  Here are excerpts from his studies:  

(Read the full article “Marriage and Commitment” which contains data.)

“Of all of the relationships into which people enter, the family is the most important one. . . Gordon B. Hinckley. . . has written, ‘There is no environment more conducive to the development and enactment of virtue than the family.’ . . .

Wedding Cake

Some countries, and some people in every country, recognize the importance of social commitments, but hope to maintain them without what they regard as the inconvenience of marriage . . . To see what is wrong with these views, whether expressed by the political left or the political right, shift the analogy away from marriage and toward a business enterprise.  Suppose that two people decide to make and sell bread, They can do so by having an oral agreement, or they can enter into an enforceable contract.  If they rely on an oral agreement, when one or the other becomes bored or greedy or distrustful, that person can walk away from the arrangement with whatever that person can carry.  But if they insist on a written and enforceable contract, ending the partnership will require the agreement of the other party and the approval of the law.  As a result of the power of contracts, marriages and business both use them.

The analogy also extends to those who live together.  Men and women who cohabit have only a weak incentive to share their resources and to put up with the inevitable emotional bumps and grinds that accompany a married life.  In this country, at least, the data show that among cohabitating couples, each member of the couple tends to keep a separate bank account.  This means that they keep their perusal wealth apart and do not share it.  When tow members of a cohabitation couple have unequal incomes, they are much more likely to split apart than when a married couple has unequal incomes, or as is the case with many married couples, where one has no income at all.

In a marriage, we share both our feelings and our wealth, and we know that because we share our love, we share a dependency one with the other . . . Marriage means making an investment in another person.

The difference between marriage and cohabitation is that marriage follow a public, legally-recognized ceremony in which each person swears before friends and family and witnesses to love, honor, and cherish the other person until death does them part.  Cohabitation merely means sharing a bed . . .

Human character arises out of the commitment people make to one another, and marriage is the supreme form of that commitment.  When we make marriage less important, we make character less likely . . .

The problems our society and any society faces is the need to reconcile personal freedom, which we all value, with character.  The reconciliation is not impossible in principle.  There are many who have struck an appropriate glance between freedom and character, and have found that this balance produces a life that is much more rewarding than either the blind pursuit of freedom or the slavish admiration of character.

For the good life, mere freedom alone is not sufficient.  It must work with and support commitment, for out of commitment arises the human character that will guide the footsteps of people navigating the tantalizing opportunities that freedom offers . . .”

Excerpts from an article written by James Q. Wilson titled “Marriage & Commitment” 2005

READ an interview with James Wilson on PBS FRONTLINE

WATCH James Wilson speak at Brigham Young University

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