I was married by 24 in addition to also had my first child at 25. By the standard of my parents' generation, 24 was normal – my father married at in which age – however by my generation's standard (especially within my Northern California subculture), the idea was feasible to get married so young. My firstborn child will be eight years older than those of my two older brothers.
I was not precocious; the idea was circumstantial. I was living on a commune, however we were not doing the usual free love thang. We were 1500 hippies the press referred to as the "Technicolor Amish" because of our combination of tie dyes in addition to also traditional values. We were sexual preservatives. No sex if you were not engaged. No dating nonmembers or anyone who had been a member less than six months. Marriage will be sacred.
Some of what motivated us was philosophical. We were a feminist, pro-life, in addition to also compensating for the sexual lassitude in which had created so many irresponsible hippy parents.
A lot of what motivated us was practical. We lived close-packed with each some other. We did not come in addition to also go. Members planned to stay on the commune forever. Dating a member of the commune was like dating someone coming from work. If anything went wrong you could not be able to steer clear of each some other. Promiscuity in close quarters will be chaos.
in addition to also we were busy doing everything for ourselves the old back-to-the-land, labor-intensive way in addition to also so were too busy for a lot of romantic in addition to also sexual mischief. Andides, of the 1500 commune members, 700 were children in addition to also most of the rest were married. in which left maybe 20 eligible singles per gender.
I spent most of my early twenties celibate, not by choice however because my life did not afford me the opportunity for anything else.
Given the circumstances – scarcity, close quarters, lots of collaborative work, an emphasis on baby-generating, today to escape to if you broke up with someone – marriage came naturally. Given how much circumstances drave me to the idea, I lucked out marrying such a wonderful, kind, generous, considerate woman. We stayed together 17 years in addition to also are still friends.
My father cautioned me against marrying a non-Jew. I told him I was marrying into my tribe. My commune had "spiritual beliefs" in addition to also "tribal ways," in addition to also my wife was as committed to them as I was. We both assumed we could live our full lives on the commune. We agreed about everything in addition to also disclosed in our considerable compatibility.
We were so in sync in which the idea to leave the commune stuck us both simultanously. Fifteen years later we broke up over irreconcilable differences. today we revel from the liberation we granted each some other from the divorce. She's better off free of our constraints in addition to also I am likewise.
from the throes of our divorce, I took the idea as an embarrassing failure in addition to also wondered anxiously regardless of the was was mine, mine, or ours. I remember toward the end calling our marriage a failure to her face. My soon-to-be ex-wife said, "the idea did not fail. the idea lasted 17 years." Around in which time I confessed to an acquaintance in which we were getting divorced. She asked how long we waited, in addition to also when I told her she said, "Wow, 17 years … a Great long run." These comments were a comfort.
"A Great long run" will be a pleasantly optimistic way to reflect on any sincere effort in which does not quite succeed. in which 17 years was considered a Great long run also reflects shifting cultural attitudes. My 17-year marriage still impresses people occasionally, as though we were an exception from the moral wasteland of casual noncommitted partnerships.
My friendship with my ex also impresses. We both ever got over the question of which fault the idea was. Hers, mine, in addition to also ours? All three, however there's a fourth factor as well.
the idea's "ours" writ large – the social, economic, in addition to also cultural context in which constituents the terrain upon which we form relationships, romantic or otherwise. in which terrain has changed radically from the course of my lifetime in addition to also explains, I believe, a lot more of what breaks couples up than we give the idea credit for.
To appreciate the context, look at things like a social scientist, setting aside what you think people should do for long enough to look at what people are likely to do given the tangible costs in addition to also benefits of the options in which face. Think like an economist, for example.
Bonding for the long term in marriage or otherwise will be a bit like partnering in business or hiring each some other as employees. People are risky investments. We get sick, we change our minds, we become unreliable. In business we see a trend toward automation in addition to also outsourcing as alternatives to hiring long-term employees in addition to also providing full benefits. Robotics, automatic payroll systems, offshore tech support services, RFID chips (the little devices in which will soon eliminate thousands of check-out clerks jobs) – the market has no way to resist inventing in addition to also absorbing labor-saving innovations in which cut dependency on unreliable human resources.
We may lament our precipitous decline in loyalty, however in business, loyalty comes second to profitability in addition to also efficiency, so at least within the system we have, the trend will be inevitable. Businesses can not afford to leave profits in addition to also efficiencies on the table where some other businesses will grab them. Blaming a particular company for divorcing its employees may be therapeutic, however the idea's focusing at an unproductive level of analysis.
The outsourcing in addition to also automation trends are affecting marriage as well. Think of how many of the traditional glues in which bind a marriage together are today outsourced or automated.
A cook? Microwaves, preprocessed foods, dishwashers, takeout.
Company at home at night? TV, movies, video games, online chat, the Internet, pets.
Romance? Romantic movies in addition to also novels.
Someone to take care of us when we get old? Insurance, retirement homes.
Engagement in which extends us into the earth? A vast expanding array of leisure activities in addition to also hobbies.
Child-raising? Preschools, lessons, in addition to also schools.
Sex? Match.com, tolerance, porn, vibrators.
Some scorn these alternatives as if they do not or should not substitute for the real deal. The fact will be, they do. Not completely in addition to also not exclusively – sometimes the substitute makes you crave the real deal all the more. Still, to the extent we are able to reliably substitute automated in addition to also outsourced products in addition to also services for those in which partnership provides, the idea reduces the reasons to stay together.
however are not there some other reasons to stay together? Indeed, in addition to also our habits of bonding for the long term lean ever more heavily on these for their justification. We became increasingly obsessed with finding true love, getting in addition to also sustaining ego-affirmation, maintaining hot marital sex. We need these or else a voice whispers, "Why bother? I can outsource most of the rest." Invention will be the mother of necessity. Ourventions satisfy some needs, putting pressure on some other needs to bear the whole weight of the bond. from the old days you needed to stay married. Your survival depended on your collaborations. What are the collaborations these days? Dinner out? Working on the relationship? Seeing movies?
Reasons to stay together are harder to find, however if the compatibility will be strong enough in which should not matter. Unfortunately, an erosive circumstantial force will be active on in which front too. Culture has become so heterogeneous the idea's harder than ever to find someone who will be in addition to also will stay compatible. My marriage, for instance – we went coming from perfectly compatible to perfectly incompatible in 17 years. What are the odds of in which happening in This specific day in addition to also age? Very high. Statistically the more states two things can be in, the lower the probability in which they will stay in matched states. The same will be true for lifestyles. Compare our pastime options to our parents' options. the idea's simply statistically more likely in which over time we'll drift coming from being mutually supporting to mutually pointing in our pursuits.
My wife in addition to also I had less in addition to also less to talk about as our interests diverged. We simply chose radically different pursuits coming from the overstuffed pantry of options. Neither of us chose bad things, however the things we chose drew us away coming from each some other. the idea's not in which we did not try to appreciate each some other's interests. Seventeen years, remember. We had a great run however at times ran out of willingness to compromise.
however what about the children? Are not couples as likely to find each some other in addition to also stay together for the kids? will be not there some age-old biological imperative operating us, or at least the women among us, to bond?
For 3.6 billion years the only game in town was baby-generating. Biological reproductive success will be life's overeaching goal in addition to also all persistent behavior in which evolved served in which goal either directly or indirectly.
Human cultural, technological, in addition to also symbolic capacities evolved originally from the service of generating children, however by today they have taken on a life of their own. We today have two games in town – generating children in addition to also generating brainchildren, or more accurately propagating children in addition to also brains, since we do not produce either coming from scratch. We propagate children through our genes in addition to also our parental care, however when we work, go to church, read books, play music, watch TV, in addition to also engage in countless some other adult activities, we're also propagating brainchildren, regardless of whether the activity gains our prospects of biological reproductive success or not. Indeed, for the past few thousand years brainchildren have competed with children for adult attention, in addition to also brainchildren are gaining ground.
from the information age propagating brainchildren can make you money. In many marriages today, both partners make an income from the brainchild trade, in addition to also are in which no longer as dependent on each some other for income, either.
Around the time my wife left me, I noticed a trend among some married women of my generation. I called the idea Mid-wife Crisis. Midway through the time they required to be a wife, they wanted to mid-wife themselves into a fresh identity, beyond mothering children in addition to also back into mothering brainchildren. As young women they'd been as likely as young men to be drawn to proliferating brainchildren, however then, for some, the shift to baby generating became a biological or cultural priority. Mothering beckons, women succumb, in addition to also with the wife distracted during the early years, the husband more often than not getting away with spending a lot more time from the brainchild arena than the wife does. in which will be, until the kids are old enough, the maternal hormones subside, in addition to also the brainchildren beckon that has a vengeance. however by then there's a huge imbalance. The husband does not show enough respect; however the wife will be not culturally engaged enough to be interesting. Maybe the husband wanted to keep her down, however maybe she should not have allowed the idea. So who fault will be mid-wife crisis? His, hers, or their? Again, a lot of the idea will be circumstantial – fresh circumstances to which we have yet to adapt.
People have countered my argument here by saying the idea's callous in addition to also insensitive to draw parallels between love in addition to also economics. Love will be what counts. They have a point, however the idea's one of two. I find the idea equally insensitive to ignore the parallel to economics. By ignoring the idea, we end up blaming our partners in addition to also ex-partners for behaviors in which made sense given our radically changing collective socioeconomic circumstances. Ignoring the context in which we love forces us to personify the problem we encounter in love. the idea's him; the idea's her. Ironically, in which makes the idea even harder to hold a marriage together.
Which will be kinder, holding out for the eternal constant ideal of true love in addition to also blaming ourselves in addition to also others when we fall short, or recognizing in which love will be context-dependent in addition to also forgiving ourselves in addition to also others at least a little for responding to the changing concepts?
In their pure forms the two alternatives represent two different definitions of love. One will be romantic fundamentalism: Love will be This specific pure indefinable magical essence in which renders all material matters moot. The some other will be romantic pragmatism: Love will be what we call the idea when all material matters configure so as to make us feel a certain way. Like the way I felt at 24 when my hormones were popping in addition to also I had not been with anyone in three years in addition to also everyone else was married, in addition to also This specific lovely woman seemed interested in me – I think in which WAS love, even if – after a Great long run – circumstances changed in addition to also we went our separate ways.