We knew that some conservatives have a boner for (heterosexual, of course) marriage. But did you know they get equally hard for stopping couples from being able to divorce? As Scott Keyes writes in a must-read piece for The Washington Post, politicians in over a dozen states have introduced bills making it harder for a couple to end their union.
Various methods introduced in legislation to make divorce more difficult include requiring counseling courses, limiting what a couple can split, mandating longer waiting periods before a divorce can be granted, and pushing back against “no-fault divorce.”
Their logic makes sense in a twisted, social conservative kind of way: if couples can get divorced — as so many of them do — it hardly makes the institution of marriage look as quote-on-quote sacred as they’re always claiming it to be. But on this matter, they are missing the point (of course). A marriage is just a piece of paper, a legal recognition by the government with a set of rights and privileges to go with it; a commitment is the part that is sacred. Many people make their sacred union official with a marriage, but not everyone does (I’m thinking of gay and lesbian couples who are denied the right to marry but have committed relationships their whole lives, like Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer). If social conservatives, through legislation, can prevent couples from getting a divorce, then they can easily turn around and lie to everyone that marriage itself is “sacred” and that’s why divorces have reduced. How convenient for them!
But the part that doesn’t make sense to reasonable people is the common sense of forcing unhappily married couples to stay together, especially if they are parents. Married parents are not inherently better than divorced parents; an amicable divorce is far better for kids than a miserable union. Ask any child who has listened to their parents who ‘stayed together for the kids’ how grateful they were listening to their parents screaming at each other for 18 years straight and there you have your answer. And who wants to be married to someone who cheats, abuses, rapes, stalks, or just plain disrespects them?
I think marriage is lovely and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants rights and privileges to go along with their commitment. But I wouldn’t want to be trapped in a marriage that was harming me and I don’t think most people would. Making divorce more difficult could actually deter people from getting hitched in the first place. Maybe when lifelong cohabitations increase, social conservatives will finally back off.
Email me at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.
[Image of divorced couple via Shutterstock]