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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Marital Ups and Downs

First the positive:

* Congrats to Sine Metu and Mrs. Metu on the recent baptism of their second daughter ("Mini Metu II"). She was baptised at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church, on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, in the presence of several of the Fumarati. Offer up an Ave or two in thanksgiving for the burgeoning Metu clan!

* While you are saying those Aves, keep Susan Torres and her family in your prayers too. Susan, whose story was recently discussed here, is considered brain dead but is being kept on life support while her unborn daughter is in gestation. According to USA TODAY, delivery may need to occur in the next few weeks because Susan's cancer is spreading throughout her body. Despite the $1500 a day hospital costs, Susan's husband has not wavered since making the decision weeks ago to do what his wife would have wanted and try to save the couple's baby. The sacrifice of this University of Dallas alumni couple and their families is nothing short of heroic, and I hope word continues to spread about this example of the importance of just one pre-born life.

And now for a downer or two:

* Today's McPaper of Record, USA TODAY, also carries a full-page feature, Cohabitation is replacing dating, on the growing number of cohabiting couples in the United States. The piece is disheartening, in that it gives short shrift to studies that show a correlation between cohabitation and increased divorce rates, and states that those number seem to apply only to "serial cohabitors," those who move from partner to partner...literally and figuratively. This dismissiveness, though, ignores both the title of the article and the statement, just a paragraph earlier, that serial cohabitation is on the rise as well. No mention is made of the extensive Rutgers University study of marriage, The State of Our Unions: The Social Health of Marriage in America, which has been annually updating these very numbers and which -- in the most recent (2004) update -- had this to say:
The belief that living together before marriage is a useful way "to find out whether you really get along," and thus avoid a bad marriage and an eventual divorce, is now widespread among young people. But the available data on the effects of cohabitation fail to confirm this belief. In fact, a substantial body of evidence indicates that those who live together before marriage are more likely to break up after marriage.
Further inconsistency arises when Sweden is held up as an example of cohab "success," with it's 28% cohabitation rate and relatively low divorce rate. Only in passing is Sweden's steadily-rising divorce rate mentioned, and nowhere is the obvious inference that the divorce rate is low because cohabs never marry, rather than "marry better," discussed. As one who has had his share of family court motion calls, and witnessed countless marriages "dissolved" with a barely-audible "I find that there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship such that the bonds of matrimony have been destroyed," this article is particularly disheartening. And I live in state where cohabitation is supposedly illegal!

* Our country's respect for marriage appears to be reflected in the crude Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn vehicle The Wedding Crashers, which opened second after Marilyn Manson and the Chocolate Factory this past weekend. Not without its humorous moments, the movie attempts an eleventh-hour pro-marriage redemption that comes nowhere close to undoing the licentiousness of the first two hours. It would be tempting to recommend the movie for what it is: bawdy, irreverent, hilarious in places, and ultimately empty and unsatisfying. But in the present environment, where respect for marriage is already at such a low, a strong box office in the coming weeks is not what this movie needs. Four thumbs down (I saw it with someone else who agrees wholeheartedly).