Do you know why nearly every parent doesn’t eat right and doesn’t exercise enough? Answer: Marriage. Kids.
Do you know why most adults are self-medicating with alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs? Answer: Because married life sucks and single life sucks just as much. (Single life sucks because society is organized for marriage.)
Do you know why so many adults can’t get the training they need for a job? Answer: Marriage and kids. Not enough time or money left over.
Now look around at your friends over thirty and ask yourself which ones have financial problems. Is it the divorced ones? Yes, it is. Marriage leads to divorce about half the time, which often leads to emotional and financial ruin.
I suspect Scott Adams is trying to rationalize his divorce. Nonetheless, his complaint illustrates a common blind spot in the modern way of thinking.
Marriage is an institution, and like all institutions, its efficacy is predicated on the commitment of those who join it. Also, like all institutions, it has a very specific form, purpose, and organization.
Most of that which is considered institutional failure is not actually institutional failure. Most institutional failure is actually personal failure.
To wit, a marriage consists of a husband (male) and wife (female) who are joined in marriage for life for the purpose of producing and rearing children. The husband is the head of the household and the woman is his helpmeet. The children live in submission to their parents. When the man and woman who are joined in marriage are committed to the roles the institution demands, success follows. Success happens by definition because success is adherence to the institutional form and purpose. Thus, dedication to the form and purpose is success.
An institution is simply an arbitrary way to organize and focus human behavior. Institutional success, then, is simply a measure of how disciplined the organization is and focused its collective behavior is. Institutional success is more processional than consequential.*
As such, condemning marriage for causing depression is simply asinine because marriage as institution is not concerned about parental emotional states. Moreover, blaming marriage for divorce and financial ruin is even more asinine because marriage isn’t supposed to end in divorce.
The real issue is that people are joining an institution without being completely dedicated to its form, purpose or organization. Consequently, they fail at marriage because they are not disciplined in its organization, nor are they focused on its behavior.
Some marriages fail because the man does not commit to the role of husband, and thus do not take full responsibility for the duties of the position, nor do they focus on the behavior of their wife and children. They simply go through a few of the motions, and defer their responsibilities to those considerably less suited to carrying them out.
Some marriages fail because the woman does not commit to her role as a wife, and thus does not take full responsibility for the duties of the position. She does not focus on the behavior of her husband and complement it, nor does she focus on the behavior of her children. She simply goes through a few of the motions and defers her responsibilities to those considerably less suited to carrying them out.
Marriage works. Marriage works as an institution. The failures attributed to marriage are really failures of people who are not committed to the institutional roles and responsibilities of marriage. Thus, marriage does not need to be fixed or changed. Rather, it is the people who would wish to join in it.
* The reason why institutional success is more focused on process than outcome is because a) there are too many factors impacting outcome that exist outside an institution’s control and b) if outcomes were the most important factor, there would be little point to establishing any sort of order since the most logical course of action would simply be to take the easiest path to attaining an outcome with complete disregard for all external consequences.