Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why Buy the Cow?

As my mother and grandmother used to say, "Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?" This was a not-so-flattering analogy to a "living together" arrangement, instead of marriage.

When I was a kid, it was interesting to see the different terms people came up with to describe their live-in lover: Cohabitant, POSSLQ (Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters), Significant Other (SO), Lover, Friend, Boyfriend/Girlfriend (though they are more than that), Fiance/Fiancee (really? When's the wedding?)

I lived with someone for 6 years, despite my faith's ban on it. He fluctuated between Boyfriend and Fiance, depending on the status of the mercurial relationship. Of course it could be argued that if it was mercurial, why stay in the relationship? *I* argued that since it was mercurial, it was wise to go no further.

However, I still felt pressure from family and others who share the same faith with me. That isn't a problem facing today's youth, which is why it's no surprise that in "the latest study to probe the minds of America's young men, aged 25 to 33, the study found 10 reasons men won't commit -- from the ease of finding sex partners to the desire to avoid financial risks of divorce."

Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?

But we also need to realize that women are equally to blame in this. Despite the fact that young men are reluctant to commit, it's the young women that are offering up the milk (so to speak). And, as the study points out, "[The men] love their single life and experience few of the traditional pressures from church, employers or society that once encouraged them to marry."

It also needs to be pointed out that the study took place in major metropolitan areas; Chicago, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Houston. It is undoubtedly true that cohabitation is seen as distasteful in the more rural areas (and the Bible Belt).

However, the study makes an assertion that I would like to see backed up with facts: "Marriage is a fundamental social institution. It is central to the nurture and raising of children... and the 'social glue' that reliably attaches fathers to children," noted the authors in their 32-page report. "[Marriage] contributes to the physical, emotional and economic health of men, women and children, and thus to the nation as a whole."

In a relationship where the partners are equally committed, what is the difference between marriage and cohabitation? Of course, I come from the perspective of living in a No Fault Divorce state. If your partner wants out, he's out, whether you like it or not. And if the reason for divorce is that he has sex with multiple partners or a circus goat named Billy, it doesn't matter in the least. In states where Fault Divorce is allowed, perhaps marriage holds more value.

If you have valuable assets and you wish to protect them, you have the uncomfortable agony of asking (or forcing) your fiance to sign a pre-nup agreement to protect those assets. Oh sure, "the glory of love" is a beautiful thing and it's easy to neglect the warning signs until he walks off with half of your hard-earned estate when things don't work out. Isn't it easier to spare yourself the court battles and the troubles?

So, (at least in Florida where No Fault Divorce reigns, and there's no such thing as Common Law Marriage) why should they buy the cow when they can get the milk for free?

Is this the de-evolving or the evolving of society? Will this push us toward stricter divorce laws to show that we take marriage seriously? And will that be better, or worse for us as a society? It is highly unlikely that we can change hearts and minds in order to create a society where marriage is valued once again. To use another of my mom's phrases, "we're shutting the barn door after the horse got out."


The Lazy Iguana said...

Stricter divorce laws?!?! That is a good one! We have had Mr. Family Values / keep vegetables alive / culture of life as Gooberner for how long now, and he did what to make divorce laws stronger?

I have said before that it is THE SYSTEM that is screwing everything up. Faith is fine - but it takes a back seat to the system.

We can either continue to be good little capitalists, running around in our $50,000+ luxury cars and consuming away - or ditch the system and fix all the problems of today.

How do the two relate? Lets see here. What do you do with your $50,000 luxury car in 5 years? Thats right campers you get rid of it for a shiny new model!

Edge said...

Living in Texas ( community property state ) I t hink I have some definite thoughts on this whole marriage thing, as of recent.

1. I take breaking up with my wife MUCH more seriously than I would have breaking up with my girlfriends. so committment and a respect for the institution DO make a difference.

2. The family sturcture ( traditional ) is the ONLY place children can learn hierarchy of society and respect for authority. Breaking that can really start to mess with that respect and view.

3. We've cheapened marriage because we've decided we don't want to be held responsible for out actions. If the penalty for getting divorced was higher, people wouldn't enter marriage quite as hastily especially if the penalty for divorce was pretty severe.


Anonymous said...

I'd just like to point out that women today are different, culturally, than they were thirty years ago: it's now okay for women to be open about wanting sex--but not necessarily marriage. Now that women can make their own money and have their own careers, they don't feel that they need to do any catching--so, "giving away the milk," so to speak, isn't such a big deal.
Sometimes I wonder how necessary marriage is, anyway. I'm happily married, but my husband and I married our finances, and everything else, before the legal marriage. You're either committed, or not.

Miss Cellania said...

Without the government-sanctioned marriage liscence, there is often someone who would be hurt in a split. One partner may become dependent on the other, especially if there are children with financial and daycare issues (not to mention custody). In my case, my husband would have been SOL if we split without being married, because I was the breadwinner and deeded homeowner, while we raisded the kids.

If I had married my late husband when we first started living together, instead of a year later, I would now be drawing social security payments. Also, how long we were legally married affected our adoption process. And if we weren't legally married, I would have had no say over his end-of-life care or his funeral arrangements.

A legal marriage makes you a family. It affects SO many things over a lifetime.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Miss C, the adoption argument might be the best one yet, but singles are allowed to adopt.

As for Social Security, it's about to become obsolete and none of us will live to see it anyway.

I do agree your hubby would've been SOL if you'd split up and he couldn't have half of your property. But is someone really entitled to half of what another person earns, unless they helped earn it?

I realize in your case that he helped earn it by having and raising kids. But what if you hadn't had kids, and you'd come to the relationship with a house and other high-ticket items and he'd only been renting an economy apartment with a couch and little else? Would it be right to have him cheat on you (in a no-fault divorce state) and leave with half your property that YOU rightfully earned prior to the marriage?

ActonBell, I agree; commitment is a state of mind.

Jef, but...

1. Why do you take breaking up with the wife more seriously? Is it because you love her more, and that's why you married her in the first place? Is it because divorce is messier? Is it because it's harder? Is it because it's seen as social failure?

2. And why do you think the family is the only way kids can learn to respect society and structure? I've known lots of kids from single-parent homes that are more conservative than the ones from dual parent homes. Of course, I need to add that I come from a dual parent home and my parents are still together, so (to some extent) I'm just being Devil's Advocate.

3. I agree entirely.

Lazy Iguana, Definately agree with you. Jeb didn't do anything to strengthen the marriage of the average Floridian family. And there's no doubt that the system (and materialism) is largely to blame for the dissatisfaction of the American. "The grass is always greener on the other side" is the mentality, so very few wish to commit to someone, when they feel they could probably "do better".

Jenn said...

That last phrase of your mom's is very appropriate.

js said...

I think that shacking up is by far worse for the females. I assure you the people I know who shack up are far more likely to cheat than those who are married. It's an awesome deal for the guy. Hell he gets it at home and then doesnt feel nearly as compelled to stay fathful either allowing him to get strange milk too. It no doubt contributes to the thoiught process and eventually leads to more divorce, more single parent households, more fatherless kids and that in turn leads to more crime, shittier education and on and on. I really could care less how or what other folks do but I do believe that kids from a 2 parent (their father and mother) family are far far ahead of the others. I guess I could go back in time and try to figure out when it all started going downhill but the result would anger folks. Look back, check it out. When did stds become prevalient? when did divorce rates skyrocket? when did single parent fams become the norm? then see if there is any movement sociatal or political that coincides?

R2K said...

I love that got milk image, it is very topical and relevant, I will download it for futher study.

And if anything is mercurial you need to drop it because it is a toxic heavy metal.

But to be serious, There is nothing wrong with buying a cow and investing in your future. Its not just about the milk, cows are very nice and can be great pals. They lick you, and are very sweet animals. Same with women.

~Deb said...






That girl and her...ummmm.....nice....set....of....


You know, I always hated introducing my 'girlfriend' as my 'partner'. I went to the bank to do some transactions with my 'girlfriend', and the teller says, "Oh Deb! Who did you bring with you today?" And I said, "Oh this is my partner."

"Oh really? What business are you in?"

Totally missed the point. So what then? LOVA????? LOL! So lame.

So, if I call her my "girlfriend", then people will think she is my "gal friend". Get it?

I don't know why I just went on and on about that- but it was a subject that hit home for me.

Oh so dramatic I am!

I need my meds!

LOVED this post!

Nihilistic said...

Some awesome pictures for this post!!

Senor Caiman said...


I still have my tooth brushing stool that says "kisson don't last, good cookin do."

green said...

From a Biblical perspective, marriage is designed to be a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, and any sexual relationship outside of marriage is adultery and therefore not good.

Then again, the Bible generally frowns on divorce, especially in the NT, so that leaves me no room to judge...

But you are right, marriage is of lesser value in society today than it was 10-20 years ago, which is a sad commentary on the traditional family unit and where we are heading in this country in that area.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm in agreement with the iguna man, but I'm not quite sure what he said exactly.

Personally, I don't think enacting "moral" laws will help anything. You cannot legislate morality, and if we could then I'd be all for it. If we Christians really want to heal society, we need to bring the love of Jesus, not the law of Moses.

QUASAR9 said...

Funny shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.

I faintly remember a time when getting married (for men) meant you had it at home to come to
and didn't need to go out looking for it

Alas though - the grass is always greener on the other side, and the unknown is exciting.
What's at home becomes commonplace

But whether you are man or woman
If you keep your partner interested why would they be looking elsewhere ...

Perhaps that is the trick, not contracts, not obligations, not divine retribution, but knowledge that your partner is one you can trust, be at ease with and not be jealous of - because they've found their 'mate'

All those multi-partner, multi-marrriage people are still looking for their soul mate, ask Liz taylor if not

But people tend to jump into relationships and try to change the partner, rather than finding the partner and building the relationship.

After all if you don't work on this one, you'll only have to work on the next one... and so on

Granted some cannot be worked on, some are beyond redemption.
Having said that
Hope you find what you are looking for

Edge said...

My answers:

1. I take it more seriously because of a few things. First I made a committment to stay with her hell or high water. 2. I have a kid I live with kids from broken homes and I don't want that for her. yes, I love my wife more each day, so stay. Work out your problems like a man, that's a good reason. Divorce is messy and most problems are solveable except death. Social failure isn't as big, but it's there, but it's mostly because I gave my word to stay with her.

2. Family is not the only way, but you have to admit single parent homes have a harder time modeling traditional male female roles - which are changing, but still important. It's harder to be single parent home, but not impossible and good kids can be raised by good parents, but modeling is VERY important.