Marriage is getting to be an endangered species. If Pew polls are accurate, the institution is at an all-time low; not just in numbers (only about half of U.S. adults are married) but in enthusiasm (only a third of adults feel a successful marriage is one of the most important things in life). That’s the bad news.
Is there any good news? I get excited while making rounds in the labor & delivery suite when I see a young man in the room, presumably the father of the newborn baby. The fact is, however, most of these men are not actually married to the mother of the baby – and married couples raising children is superior to other arrangements; even those where the parents are living together and not married. I’m glad to see men like LeBron James stepping up to the plate and fulfilling their parental responsibilities. It’s certainly better than what most men in such situations are doing.
Children deserve better, however. Marriage is a level of commitment far beyond attending soccer games or PTA meetings. My own marriage, for instance, is more than the legal agreement between my wife and me that we will share assets and responsibility for our children (though it does say that). It’s even more than the public acknowledgment of love and support for the woman I fell in love with some 25 years ago. It’s a statement TO OUR CHILDREN, perhaps the first and most important such statement, that demonstrates how life is about personal sacrifice and commitment, not material success. That’s why divorce, serial monogamy, cohabitation and even polygamy are often so harmful to children. If we teach our children the importance of putting others (specifically our spouse) first, they will learn to do likewise. And THAT is worth more than all the pick-up games and birthday parties in the world.