Articles From the November 1995 Unification News


Marriage: an Institution Essential to Society

by Haven Bradford Gow

In his book The Moral Animal (New York: Vintage Books), Robert Wright, a senior editor at The New Republic magazine, explains how-from a Darwinian perspective-the institution of marriage and monogamy benefit society and deter antisocial behavior. Mr. Wright notes that "an unmarried man between twenty-four and thirty-five years of age is about three times as likely to murder another male as is a married man the same age."

Marriage, says Mr. Wright, has a "pacifying effect" on males; and unmarried, and therefore unpacified, males are more likely to engage in risky, antisocial conduct. As Mr. Wright points out, the unpacified male not only is more likely to commit murder; he also is "more likely to incur various risks-committing robbery, for example-to gain the resources which may attract women. He is more likely to rape. More diffusely, a high-risk, criminal life often entails the abuse of drugs and alcohol.... This is perhaps the best argument for monogamous marriage, with its egalitarian effects on men: inequality among males is more socially destructive-in ways which harm women and men-than inequality among women. A polygynous nation, in which large numbers of low-income men remain mateless, is not the kind of country many of us would want to live in."

Unhappily, despite what Mr. Wright claims is the social necessity of monogamous marriage, we find that broken marriages, broken homes, broken families, divorce and remarriage are common, everyday realities in the United States. Is the institution of marriage out of date? What are the ingredients of a happy, successful and enduring marriage?

In his new book The Secrets of a Lasting Marriage (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books), marriage and family counselor Dr. H. Normal Wright says "friendship love" is indispensable to a happy, successful and enduring marriage. Friendship love, he explains, is "an unselfish dedication to your partner's happiness. It's when the fulfillment of his or her needs become one of your needs. It's learning to enjoy what he or she enjoys [so] you can share the enjoyment together." He adds: "Friendship is part of God's intention for marriage. There is a vow of trust. You don't become selfishly competitive, but wish your partner the best. You share each other's happiness and rejoice in it almost as much as the other does."

Dr. G.H. Wang, a scholar and president of a cultural affairs foundation in Chicago, tells us that "Happy, successful, enduring marriages involve the recognition of both partners of the sacredness of sex, marriage and family. Such marriages also require compatibility, that is, a man and a woman should have similar interests, temperaments, lifestyles and concepts of life." Dr. Wang adds: "The reason why there are so many divorces in America today is the heavy emphasis on self-centered individualism and gratification; too many people are selfish and do not want to make sacrifices for their spouses or for their children."

Joseph W. Gow, a dedicated and loving father in Arlington Heights, Ill., says: "When you get married, you have to make up your mind that you are marrying that person for a lifetime. Even if that person becomes sick or crippled, you have to remember you loved that person enough to marry him or her." Mr. Gow adds: "You should love your mate so much that you will never think of being unfaithful to her or him. When people live together and have premarital affairs and babies out of wedlock, they are contributing to the breakdown of the family and society itself."

Simon Zhou, a good family man in Quincy, Mass., observes: "No matter how much money you have or how many material goods you possess, you cannot buy a happy, successful and enduring marriage. Good marriages have more to do with the spiritual side of life and faith in God."

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