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  • It's tempting to think of marriage as old-fashioned.

  • Why not just live with someone and be done with it?

  • What need for a public ceremony?

  • Why the weird traditions, all those churches, temples, hymns, vows, and prayers?

  • Marriage must be a silly relic from the religious childhood of human kind.

  • Not designed for the more logical modern world.

  • And yet, it survives.

  • The essence of marriage is to tie our hands, to frustrate our wills, to put high and costly obstacles in the way of splitting up.

  • Why do we do this?

  • Originally, we told ourselves that God wanted us to stay married.

  • But even now, when God is not invoked, we keep making sure that marriage is rather hard to undo.

  • For one thing, you carefully invite everyone you know to watch you say you'll stick together.

  • You willingly create a huge layer of embarrassment, will you ever to turn around and admit it might've been a mistake.

  • Furthermore, even though you could keep things separate.

  • Marriage tends to meet deep economic and legal entanglements.

  • You know it's gonna take the work of a phalanx of accountants and lawyers to prise you apart.

  • It could be done, but it will be ruinous.

  • It's as if we somewhere recognize that there might rather strangely, be some quite good though uncomfortable reasons.

  • By making it difficult to split up a union, can be an advantage for its members.

  • The marshmallow test was a celebrated experiment in the history of psychology.

  • Designed to measure children's ability to delay gratification.

  • And track the consequences of being able to think long term.

  • Some three-year-old children were offered a marshmallow.

  • but told they would get two if they held off from eating the first one for five minutes.

  • It turned out a lot of children just couldn't make it through this period. It was too tempting.

  • The less immediate benefit of gobbling the marshmallow in front of them was stronger than the strategy of waiting.

  • Crucially, it was observed that these children went on to have lives blighted by a lack of impulse control.

  • And fared much worse than the children, who were best at subordinating immediate fun for long term benefit.

  • Relationships are perhaps no different. Hereto, many things feel very urgent.

  • We're angry, and want to get out.

  • We're excited by a new person.

  • And need to abandon our present partner at once.

  • And yet, as we look around for the exit, every way seems blocked.

  • It would cost a fortune, it would be embarrassing, it would take an age.

  • This isn't a coincidence.

  • Marriage is a giant inhibitor of impulse.

  • Set up by our conscience to keep our libidinous, ungrateful, wild desiring selves in check.

  • What we're essentially buying into by submitting to its dictates, is the insight that we are, as individuals.

  • Likely to make very poor choices, onto the sway of strong short-term impulses.

  • To marry is to recognize that we require structure, to insulate us from our urges.

  • It's to lock ourselves up willingly. Because we don't trust ourselves.

  • It's a very unusual marriage indeed, in which the two people don't spend a notable amount of time fantasizing.

  • That they weren't in fact married. But the point of marriage is to make these feelings not matter very much.

  • It's an arrangement that protects us from what we desire.

  • And yet know, in our more reasonable moments, we don't truly need, or even perhaps want.

  • At their best, relationships involve us in attempts to develop mature and become whole.

  • We often get drawn to people, precisely because they promise to edge us in the right directions.

  • But it's too easy to seem kind and normal, when we keep going out with someone new.

  • The truth about us on the basis of which self-improvement begins, only becomes clear over time.

  • Chances of development increase hugely, when we don't keep running away to people who will forcely reassure us.

  • There is nothing too wrong with us.

  • Over time, the argument for marriage has shifted. It's no longer about external forces having power over us.

  • What we are correctly now focused on, is the psychological point of making it hard to throw it all in.

  • For the last fifty years, the burden of intelligent effort has been on attempting to make separation easier.

  • The challenge now, lies in another direction.

  • In trying to remind ourselves, why immediate flight doesn't always make sense.

  • And trying to see the point of holding out for the second marshmallow.

It's tempting to think of marriage as old-fashioned.

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B1 UK marriage marshmallow willingly tempting impulse term

Why Bother With Marriage?

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    Hsin posted on 2016/09/14
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