photo © 2011 Jens Rost | more info (via: Wylio)
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here's this week's!
The hats were plentiful, colourful, and unforgettable. The guests were delighted to be included. The participants were nervous--except for the best man, who looked like he was having the time of his life. And the spectators, at least on this side of the pond, were bleary-eyed and coffeed up.
It was a wedding to be remembered, of which I only watched highlights, because my dedication to cultural moments only goes so far. Nevertheless, I did find the wedding lovely, especially Harry's whispered, "wait til you see her" to his brother, who was staunchly facing straight ahead, just as he was supposed to, while the eyes of two billion people were on his bride.
Her image will now adorn not just books but plates and mugs and spoons and teacups forevermore. And yet as over the top as much of the coverage was, I can't say I was altogether sorry to see a million people lining up to catch a glimpse of the couple, or billions more tune in to see the vows.
We have lived through turbulent days. As I'm writing, our country does not yet know who will win the election. We have witnessed tornadoes and floods and earthquakes and tsunamis and wars and disasters. So it seems fitting that we should, for a time, focus on something as seemingly mundane as a wedding.
After all, the best remedy for much turbulence, I think, is weddings. It is family that keeps our society functioning and strong, even when all around us is falling apart. Government can't do that; it is only family that gives you the sense of belonging, love, and constancy. So William and Kate have the right idea. It is a good thing to find someone to spend your life with, not just because you love them, but because you vow and promise that you yourself will stay true. That commitment changes us, and has ripple effects through the whole culture.
Unfortunately, these effects are growing slimmer as more people eschew vows altogether. Though in the United States 83% of the upper middle class are currently married (and tend to stay married in huge numbers), less than half of working class adults are currently married, and those marriages are less stable. Much of our society no longer believes in the dream of marriage because they have not seen it work. This does not mean that people have given up on love; they have just given up on the thought that love could last forever.
I think that's a tragedy, because marriage brings huge rewards. Married people have the best sex. They're healthier. They live longer (especially the men). The women are less likely to be victims of crime or even domestic violence. They earn more money. They're far wealthier.
Their children are happier, healthier, better adjusted, and more likely to go on to higher education and marriage themselves.
And a society where kids are healthy and make good decisions, and where adults are in stable relationships, is a society where people can use their limited resources, time, and emotional energy to focus on their neighbours, on their communities, on their jobs, and on their hobbies, because there is not as much dysfunction in their lives.
I know not every marriage is perfect, and not every marriage is worth saving. But marriage is still a worthy goal, and for a brief moment last week the world was captivated by it. If that causes a few more little girls to dream of their wedding day again, or a few more little boys to start thinking about the girl that they're going to see walk down the aisle, then maybe the monarchy has proved its relevance once again.
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Labels: cohabitation, columns, divorce, marriage