Why I Don’t Believe In Marriage
- Posted by Leigh Drogen
- on March 29th, 2011
What exactly is the point of marriage? Who created the institution of marriage? Does marriage work?
By now I’m used to writing things here which a decent percentage of readers will disagree with or maybe even vehemently hate. This is a personal blog as much as it is a market, technology, and political blog. As much as this has been a great place for me to hash out my ideas around trading, it has been so for my personal life, and I’m comfortable with sharing that, to an extent, we all need some walls.
My parents were divorced when I was 17, many of my friend’s parent’s are divorced, my girlfriend’s parents are divorced, the two before that were as well. Almost 50% of all marriages in the US end in divorce. Why is an institution built on the back of the saying “until death do us part”, so prone to, well, not lasting that long?
Because the arrangement of marriage for love makes little to no practical sense. And don’t tell me it doesn’t have to be practical, when you get married you are entering into a contractual obligation, you better have your damn head on straight. And how exactly is that possible when you’re in love, to have your head on straight. The answer, it’s not.
And there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s amazing.
Let’s take a practical argument, that you get married to someone you love to prevent them from going elsewhere. Well I’d say the fact that 50% of people get divorced discredits that thesis. The fact is, if two married people, or even one married person doesn’t want to be with the other anymore, they’ll get divorced. Getting married for love is one of the dumbest decisions I believe you can make, it has little upside. The downside, you’ve commingled your assets and will need to go through a messy legal process when you no longer want to be with that person, a coin toss event. The upside, ummmm, you tell me, what exactly can you do when you get married that you can’t when you aren’t?
I can think of one thing, get treated by the government in a different way when it comes to taxes and healthcare, kids, and a few other things they tend to give married couples a break on. I will come back to this later.
Which brings us to the crux of this argument. The utility of marriage has never been in connecting two people who are in love. Marriage started out as a social contract between families, to unite people, to pass on assets, it was never meant as a contract that binded two individuals for love. And I’m not going to argue against the utility in some of that. Now I would never condone two people being forced to marry each other, that’s a direct breach of basic human rights. But marriage for money, power, status, or any number of things other than love does makes sense. You see, if you are going to sign a contract, at least sign it because you are getting something that can’t be taken away from you at any time, love. More on this later as well.
So how did it end up that way, at least here in the US? Pretty simple, we live in a country founded on Christian values. The Christian church controls people through laying out a whole bunch of sins you can run afoul of if you do things without being married. And then after that, they lay out a whole bunch of sins you can commit if you do certain things while married. Seems that the church has lost just about every ounce of credibility it ever had, but then again, when did it really have any to begin with.
Yea, the same people who put Galileo on trial for revealing the church was wrong about the earth not being the center of the universe are going to tell you that you’re going to hell if you have sex before you get married, ok. Maybe you want to be that ignorant, but I’ll choose to think for myself.
So now, in all practical sense, we’ve got this really old custom left over from a time when people followed the church like little lemmings, and 50% of people don’t pay any attention to it after the fact, why exactly do we keep it around? Probably because thats what happens to customs, they stick around way after their use has gone. And of course because our government was founded by Christians with Christian values, so there is legal upside to being married.
So why not just play along? Well primarily because I don’t like doing things simply for the customary value, especially when those customs aren’t my own, I’m a Jew. Yes Jews have marriage, but we don’t have a hell you go to if you commit adultery. Also, getting divorced isn’t a big deal. In fact, in Jewish law, marriage really is a contract, in fact, there actually is a contract, it’s called the Ketubah, you literally sign in before you “get married”. Today the signing of the Ketubah is largely ceremonial, no one is exchanging cattle or gold. Even still, I’m not getting married any time soon to acquire or share assets with anyone, so there’s no point there.
I’m not making any kind of an argument that people aren’t meant to be monogamous, although I could make a good one if I wanted to. I believe people can do whatever they want to do, if you want to live with one person and one person alone for the rest of your life, you will. The truth is, most people don’t, and that’s fine too. Even more, people’s wants change, you may want to live with one person for the rest of your life now, and figure out that’s not the case tomorrow. Nothing wrong with that. Why have a legal document making it harder to effect that split? If you want to split you’re gonna split. Is it healthy to stay in a relationship with someone where one or both people are no longer happy? The answer is no.
I wish anyone who decides to make the commitment to live with one person the rest of their life the best of luck, seriously. And at the end of the day, you do have a 50/50 chance of it working out, look at the glass half full. I honestly hope to make that decision some day, not to get married, but to make a commitment like that to someone.
So can I think of any reason to get married? No.
Well there’s one. If you’re in love with a girl who wants to get married, you’ll probably end up getting married, because people in love do irrational things, and that’s life.
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Leigh Drogen is the founder and chief investment officer of Surfview Capital, LLC, a New York based investment management firm employing an intermediate term long/short momentum strategy. More »
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