A World Without Courtship is a World of Divorce

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Single Moms, Single Parenting, Sociopath on September 18, 2009 at 11:13 pm

A World Without Courtship is a World of Divorce

by Colleen Hammond on September 17, 2009

A Washington Post column with real world statistics showing that there’s a lot of damage to people and society in 20-somethings’ sexual wasteland.

Full column here.

There is a segment of society for whom traditional family values are increasingly irrelevant, and for whom spring-break sexual liberationism is increasingly costly: men and women in their 20s.

This opens a hormone-filled gap — a decade and more of likely sexual activity before marriage. And for those in that gap, there is little helpful guidance from the broader culture. Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, argues that the “courtship narrative” in the past was clear: dating, engagement, marriage, children. This narrative has been disrupted without being replaced, leaving many 20-somethings in a “relational wasteland.”

The casual sex promoted in advertising and entertainment often leads, in the real world of fragile hearts and STDs, to emotional and physical wreckage. But it doesn’t seem realistic to expect most men and women to delay sex until marriage at 26 or 28. Such virtue is both admirable and possible — but it can hardly be a general social expectation. So religious institutions, for example, often avoid this thorny topic, content to live with silence, hypocrisy and active singles groups.

In the absence of a courtship narrative, young people have evolved a casual, ad hoc version of their own: cohabitation. From 1960 to 2007, the number of Americans cohabiting increased fourteenfold. For some, it is a test-drive for marriage. For others, it is an easier, low-commitment alternative to marriage. About 40 percent of children will now spend some of their childhood in a cohabiting union.

How is this working out? Not very well. Relationships defined by lower levels of commitment are, not unexpectedly, more likely to break up. Three-quarters of children born to cohabiting parents will see their parents split up by the time they turn 16, compared with about one-third of children born to married parents. So apart from the counsel of cold showers or “let the good times roll,” is there any good advice for those traversing the relational wilderness? Religion and morality contribute ideals of character. But social science also indicates some rough, practical wisdom.

First, while it may not be realistic to maintain the connection between marriage and sex, it remains essential to maintain the connection between marriage and childbearing. Marriage is the most effective institution to bind two parents for a long period in the common enterprise of raising a child — particularly encouraging fathers to invest time and attention in the lives of their children. And the fatherless are some of the most disadvantaged, betrayed people in our society, prone to delinquency, poverty and academic failure. Cohabitation is no place for children.

Second, the age of first marriage is important to marital survival and happiness. Teen marriage is generally a bad idea, with much higher rates of divorce. Romeo and Juliet were, in fact, young fools. Later marriage has been one of the reasons for declining national divorce rates. But this does not mean the later the better. Divorce rates trend downward until leveling off in the early 20s. But people who marry after 27 tend to have less happy marriages — perhaps because partners are set in their ways or have unrealistically high standards. The marital sweet spot seems to be in the early to mid-20s.

Third, having a series of low-commitment relationships does not bode well for later marital commitment. Some of this expresses preexisting traits — people who already have a “nontraditional” view of commitment are less likely to be committed in marriage. But there is also evidence, according to Wilcox, that multiple failed relationships can “poison one’s view of the opposite sex.” Serial cohabitation trains people for divorce. In contrast, cohabitation by engaged couples seems to have no adverse effect on eventual marriage.

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    The famous American child psychologist Bruce Perry wrote “We live in strange times. Modern Western society has benefited from advances in technology, communications, transportation, social justice and economies beyond the dreams of our ancestors. And yet our society seems to be incapable of ensuring that our children grow up safe in safe, predictable, relationally enriched, humane environments”.

    Personally, I think this is caused entirely by the undeniable brainwashing every person gets from the media; everything – films and television in particular, as well as print media of every type.

    People collectively have little or no knowledge about the science of psychology – that’s how brains work- just to clarify things. Many people simply dismiss the idea of psychology as mumbo jumbo nonsense. That is just the same as dismissing the primitive discoverers and early users of electricity in the 1800’s. Then, electrical appliances were a bit of a joke. They suddenly became deadly serious when the light bulb was invented and immediately transformed human civilisation completely.

    It is a simple fact that our brains are programmed with the software of our upbringing. This shapes how those brains think and work, take decisions about everything and determines the daily behaviour and the entire rest of the life for that individual.

    The media fabricates an unreal world where advertisers, who do not dismiss psychology because they know how to harness it to manipulate people into spending money, make their victims believe in a false and imaginary world that has never existed and cannot ever exist.

    So, alcohol advertising specifically targeted at teenagers makes them think it is ‘cool’ to drink themselves into oblivion in nasty, uncomfortable bars where they are deliberately forced to stand in order to encourage faster and greater consumption of booze. Film and television constantly break new barriers of fantasy and violence which blurs the boundaries of reality.

    Newspapers and Print media of all sorts produce a make believe, child-like world of ‘celebrity culture’ which tries to convince readers it is a real world they can and should aspire to become part of themselves.

    Young first time jobseekers when asked what work they want to do in life vacuously just say they want to become ‘famous’ and a ‘celebrity’ – as though that is some particular, real, way of earning a living. How pathetic.

    This is a dangerous and nasty world we have fashioned where we are squandering all the benefits of increased wealth and advances in technology gained in the last two hundred years or so.

    This is why so many families are being destroyed and feral, violent, aggressive children roam the streets in bored packs seeking thrills in drugs and random, meaningless violence.


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