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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Do, I Don't

“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.” Since we were young, these have been the ideal guidelines to happiness. This little rhyme made life seem so simple. Most girls visualized their ideal marriage at an early age. Unfortunately, many of these girls never make it down the aisle. Marriage, for some, may be ideal, but not realistic. In 2002, PBS and Frontline made a one-hour documentary attempting to solve this problem. With the United States divorce rate at approximately 50% and one-third of children growing up in single-parent households, they wanted to know should and if the government could strengthen the institution of marriage.

In different points in the movie, interviewees referred to marriage as “the finish line” and “the icing on the cake.” In Oklahoma, the state government, specifically the Republicans, was pushing for government involvement in marriage. They believed that marriage could be one factor in welfare reform. They claimed that the reason that Oklahoma, home to the second highest divorce rate in American, had many low-income families is because of the lack of marriage and the increase in single-parent households. If more people would get married, then the amount of poverty would decrease. For welfare recipients, they set up relationship classes so people could be better in marriages.

While I understand that the government would like marriage to be taking more seriously. However, I do not think that marriage will do anything to the amount of poverty. In low-income families, as one of the people in the movie pointed out, marriage is not as relevant as other priorities—food, health, safety, and education. With the government pushing for marriage, the foundation upon which marriage was built is lost. Marriage, to the government, is simply an economical solution rather than something that a couple does to illustrate their love and commitment to each other.

Another reason that the government is pushing for marriage is because they claim that having children out of wedlock is not healthy. Although this may be true, I disagree with this assertion. As a Christian, I believe that a happy marriage is the “right” way to raise a child. However, I was raised in a single-parent household, and actually benefitted from having my parents apart. My parents had me in their early 20s and were never married, but my father has always played a huge role in my life. Personally, I preferred them to be apart because they are completely different people. The reason that they are not together is because they were not ready for marriage, and if they did get married, it would not be a happy one. In the movie, the government says that the children are raised in a single-parent household, making people assume that the other parent is completely absent, which is sometimes not the case.

Another flaw of this movie is that they do not include middle and upper class families. If PBS or Frontline was that concerned about the institution of marriage being lost, then they would include families from other social statuses. This, to me, is proof that the main concern in the video is economics rather than tradition. To see marriage for its economic means is imprudent because marriage does not change anyone’s financial standing. If two poor people got married, then it will simply be a union of poor people. Marriage will not get anyone out of poverty. Although I believe in marriage and would like to get married one day, I would rather postpone it for frivolous reasons instead of its convenience.

What is your take on marriage? Should the government have more of a role in such an important personal event?



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