Con­tract isn’t just a piece of pa­per

Daily Dispatch - - Features - Mo & Phindi

We were watch­ing an in­ter­view about the lat­est trends on mar­riage and di­vorce in SA on one of the news chan­nels ear­lier this week. The in­ter­view was based on a re­port re­leased by Stats SA which says that fewer South Africans are get­ting mar­ried, and they do so much later in their lives.

The an­chor and the re­la­tion­ship ex­pert con­cluded their con­ver­sa­tion about how mar­riage is not only get­ting ex­tinct, but that it’s also “just a piece of pa­per”. At that point, we looked at each other and sim­ply changed chan­nels.

To be fair, it isn’t the first time we’ve heard such ig­no­rance about mar­riage. It’s only that we’ve heard it far too of­ten that it’s now ir­ri­tat­ing.

There are many pos­si­ble rea­sons why mar­riage is on the de­cline in our coun­try.

● These in­clude the in­de­pen­dence of women;

● in­tim­i­dated and con­fused men; a rise in the choice of sin­gle par­ent­ing;

● other al­ter­na­tives to ful­fill­ing the need for com­pan­ion­ship;

● ca­reer pri­ori­ti­sa­tion;

● grown-ups — es­pe­cially men

— that won’t ma­ture;

● mar­i­tal dys­func­tions;

● co­hab­i­ta­tion;

● lack of men­tor­ship and role mod­els;

● as well as the demise of shot­gun wed­dings.

If the pur­pose of mar­riage had any­thing to do with these rea­sons, then the de­vel­op­ments iden­ti­fied by Stats SA are good. It’s much bet­ter to have fewer wed­dings for the right rea­sons than to have a rise in wed­dings for wrong rea­sons.

Fur­ther­more, peo­ple, mil­len­ni­als es­pe­cially, see mar­riage as more of a cap­stone event at the end of a long line of ac­com­plish­ments. They have no com­mit­ment-pho­bia as such, but would pre­fer en­ter­ing mar­riage on their terms and seek to re­de­fine it to suit their lib­eral views. Mar­riage as it stands in many of their eyes is an ob­struc­tion to progress, and progress gen­er­ally means fi­nan­cial free­dom and self-determinat­ion.

The de­cline in the num­ber of mar­riages in SA also ex­poses the shal­low­ness of the tra­di­tional rea­sons we’ve al­ways es­poused for get­ting mar­ried.

Peo­ple tra­di­tion­ally place a lot of em­pha­sis on pro­cre­ation, com­pan­ion­ship and a sup­port­ive base for child rear­ing as the main rea­sons for get­ting mar­ried. Then there are the lesser spo­ken about rea­sons, that of so­cial sta­tus and com­ing of age.

In our li­brary we have ma­te­rial where some au­thors men­tion the con­struc­tion of a sta­ble so­ci­ety, ma­tur­ing of hu­man char­ac­ter, re­li­able emo­tional sup­port as well as the sheer plea­sure of shar­ing life with some­one you like as fun­da­men­tal rea­sons for mar­riage.

We ab­so­lutely con­cur that these are crit­i­cal, and in­deed go a long way to cre­ate a shared mean­ing and con­struct a more peace­able and sta­ble so­ci­ety. But we see them as some of the ben­e­fits of mar­riage rather than rea­sons for mar­riage as these can all be achieved out­side mar­riage.

Us­ing these as rea­sons for mar­riage when they can be ac­com­plished with­out a mar­riage cer­tifi­cate jus­ti­fies the mis­guided no­tion of mar­riage be­ing noth­ing more than just a piece of pa­per. By the way, money is a piece of pa­per too, but peo­ple are happy chas­ing af­ter it for the rest of their lives.

Mar­riage forces you to ma­ture and grow in char­ac­ter, thereby be­com­ing a bet­ter per­son. It taps on your abil­ity to draw on such di­vine virtues as com­mit­ment, loy­alty, trust, faith­ful­ness, giv­ing, self-con­trol, un­selfish­ness and un­con­di­tional love. The ab­sence of these virtues leave you with a so­ci­ety of crime and so­cial ills such as we have to­day, be­cause so goes mar­riage, so goes the fam­ily, and so goes so­ci­ety.

Fur­ther­more, to some­one that be­lieves in God like we do, mar­riage is pri­mar­ily about serv­ing him. It is about re­flect­ing the re­la­tion­ship our Cre­ator has with his cre­ation. Mar­riage is pri­mar­ily pur­posed to mir­ror both the love God has for us, as well as the struc­ture God in­sti­tuted to gov­ern our re­la­tion­ship with him

Mar­riage is based on the fun­da­men­tal truth that men and women are com­ple­men­tary, the bi­o­log­i­cal fact that re­pro­duc­tion de­pends on a man and a woman, and the objective re­al­ity that chil­dren need a mother and fa­ther. Seek­ing to re­de­fine mar­riage to make it ac­com­mo­date po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness as though it’s a so­cial con­struct fun­da­men­tally re­jects these truths.

Mar­riage is so­ci­ety’s least re­stric­tive means of en­sur­ing the well­be­ing of chil­dren. By en­cour­ag­ing the fun­da­men­tal norms of mar­riage — monogamy, ex­clu­siv­ity and per­ma­nence — the state strength­ens so­ci­ety and re­duces its own role. The fu­ture of this coun­try de­pends on the fu­ture of mar­riage. The fu­ture of mar­riage de­pends on the cit­i­zens’ un­der­stand­ing of what it is, why it mat­ters and de­mand­ing that gov­ern­ment poli­cies sup­port, and not un­der­mine, mar­riage.

Some peo­ple may try their hard­est to ren­der mar­riage a prim­i­tive nui­sance that suf­fo­cates peo­ple’s iden­ti­ties, free­doms and progress. But as long as there are peo­ple will­ing to dili­gently learn, ex­er­cise their in­de­pen­dence of thought and that are re­fus­ing to bow to the 21st cen­tury pres­sures of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness, it won’t pre­vail. Mar­riage, as a God-con­struct, can’t be re­duced to a mere piece of pa­per.

Mar­riage forces you to ma­ture and grow in char­ac­ter, thereby be­com­ing a bet­ter per­son

Mo & Phindi are pro­fes­sional mar­riage coaches, and au­thors, to get in touch email: info@moand­ or fol­low them on Facebook: Mo & Phindi or In­sta­gram & Twit­ter: @mo_phindi

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