Marriage: a disease curable only by death

By Greg Ellis

“I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.”

-Groucho Marx

Having long ago become agnostic, I only find myself in church for two unfortunate events: funerals and marriages. Although still at a loss to decide exactly which is worse, like anything, it depends on the circumstances. If the passing of a 95 year old who has lived a good life speaks less to tragedy than a young bachelor signing his life away until death do him part. Perhaps that is what’s so startling about marriage, the institution itself uses bold language whereby your only exit strategy is death. Marriage is a prison, an unnatural tradition that hedges on our ability to remain unwavering in our attraction to one person, in a constant state, when nothing around us remains constant. It is, for lack of a better term: foolish.

With a divorce rate climbing over 60 per cent in recent years, entering into a marriage is like betting red in a casino. Would you risk so much with only a 40 per cent chance of winning? The answer is people still do, despite the deck being unfairly stacked against them. Over 28 per cent of all divorces are caused by extra marital affairs. How outlandish, that someone cannot remain monogamous until they die. It would be fitting if at the altar before anyone said “I do,” a coin was flipped to see whether or not the marriage should go ahead and more fairly representing the odds at hand. Can you imagine such poor odds being applied to anything else but a casino? Would you buy a car if there were a 60 per cent chance the brakes were going to fail? Would you take on a job if there was a 60 per cent the company would go bankrupt? Of course not, so why such a push for marriage?

The notion of marriage is grounded on tremendous optimism, and does not reside anywhere near reality. The idea that your passion, your adoration, can remain unchanged indefinitley is simply illogical: nothing remains constant for 50 years. Most people can’t even commit to what they will have for lunch tomorrow, and marriage calls upon the parties to state in accordance with the law, who they will love forever. Marriage is an expression and culmination of a passionate intensity, but that intensity subscribes to the law of diminishing returns. Women marry men hoping they will change, men marry women hoping they will not, so both are inevitably disappointed.

People enraptured by true love resent naysaying as it does not support the fairytale they were told at bedtime as children. The question is not so much whether true love exists, as it assuredly does, the question is whether or not it can last forever, which it assuredly cannot. The expectation to feel for someone how you feel right now is tantamount to you not changing, at all, and the apple of your eye changing even less. It’s an impossible proposition, and if you take away marriages of convenience, reducing distress for the kids, embarrassment and religious reasons, I can assure you that the probability of a successful marriage would mimic the odds of a lottery. In his infinite wisdom president Lincoln put it very well: “Marriage is neither heaven or hell, it is simply purgatory.”


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