Wednesday, 07 August 2013
The State of Relationships
By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other
A few evenings ago I watched a black-and-white TV show from the 1960s. Interestingly, the wife in the program was a junior partner in the union; whenever wanting to buy something she had to beg for the husband’s permission.
Were most wives of that era really so submissive? My mother was completely dominated by Dad. She was not allowed to buy anything or to make any kind of decisions without his approval. However, even as a little kid I didn’t feel that this was the normal marriage arrangement.
There is no way that my wife Bev would put up with such nonsense. If I ever tried to dominate her I’d probably get a skillet over my head!
Neither of us will make a large purchase without consulting with the other but neither Bev nor I am the boss of this family. Perhaps a better way of saying it is that we are the co-bosses in our marriage. We talk things over and reach a compromise before we do what she wants (just a joke).
Today’s equality among the sexes is a good thing. The lady in the above-mentioned TV show was treated as if she were a child, incapable of making mature decisions. That’s ridiculous and unfair.
On the other hand marriages, for whatever reasons, are on shaky ground these days. About half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Does this mean that back in the 1930s and 1940s, when most people stayed married, we had a bunch of miserable people living together?
When I was a child, it was still a good bet that if little Bobby’s last name was Smith then both his parents were also named Smith. Just about every kid I knew had his/her Dad and Mom living together.
Were those parents secretly miserable? Did they grow to hate each other’s guts? Did people stay together only because of societal pressures and expectations? I wonder.
Of course, there is an alternate explanation. Perhaps today we are too spoiled. Perhaps we expect more from a marriage than is realistic. Are so many marriages in this country really broken beyond any chance of being repaired? Do we put much effort into saving them?
Maybe, in the final analysis, it is not that big a deal when parentless couples decide to go their own way but how about when children are involved? Whether you think marriage is a divine creation or if you believe that it is merely a societal invention, the fact of the matter is that all things being equal, it is the best way to rear children.
Studies show that children from one parent homes are much more at risk of low self-esteem, suicide, juvenile delinquency, poor school performance and about every other negative factor of which you might conceive.
In most divorce cases, our courts don’t do our children any favors. Usually, “in the best interests of the child,“ one parent is given full custody while the other one is more or less pushed out of the child’s life.
If both Mom and Dad are decent, loving folks, then the child benefits most from having both parents actively involved. However, the courts usually look for the easiest ways to settle such cases, not the best ways.
Often the custodial parent is given all the decision-making powers which is like giving one parent an atomic missile and the other one a peashooter. The parent with the power often uses it like a sledgehammer to get back at the former spouse.
If the court did what was actually in the child’s best interest, it would give some decision-making power to the non-custodial parent.
Let’s say, for example, that Sue and Bill are divorced. Sue has custody over their five-year old son, Sam. As in many cases, Sue wants Bill completely out of the picture. His total responsibility, from her point of view, is to provide the money needed to raise the child.
Of course, the court should not be concerned about what the parents want; it should focus upon what is truly best for the child.
The court should be encouraging Bill to retain an active role in his child’s life. To do so he should have some decision-making powers. For example, he could be in charge of taking his son to the dentist and buying school clothing. In most cases this kind of parenting would be in the child’s best interest.
Is marriage headed for extinction? Perhaps. More and more folks from every adult age group are deciding to live together without having a marriage certificate. I imagine that many of these people simply see marriage as too big of a gamble to take. Let’s face it; unless you’re a major league hitter, a fifty per cent chance of success is not that great.
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