Quote of the day

If marriage was a manufactured product it would be promptly banned in many countries due to its outrageous failure rate and the damage caused by the failures.

‘Doug’, here.


January 13, 2010 - Posted by | marriage, Quotes/aphorisms


  1. “There are two dilemmas that rattle the human skull: How do you hang on to someone who won’t stay? And how do you get rid of someone who won’t go?” – Danny DeVito

    Comment by Plamus | January 15, 2010 | Reply

  2. I’m pretty sure there are more than “two dilemmas that rattle the human skull”. But it’s a good quote all the same.

    Comment by US | January 15, 2010 | Reply

  3. Neither of those are dilemmas, but anyway.
    You can ban ‘marriage’ as a legal contract all you want, but it would be very difficult to ban exclusive sexual relationships or, indeed, love.
    These failures are a function of our psykology – not much anyone can do about that.

    Comment by Nemo | January 19, 2010 | Reply

  4. I prefer to think of these aspects as part of our biology, not our psychology, and I certainly don’t consider them failures; without these biological mechanisms (the (female) preference for exclusive sexual relationsships, the love of ones partner/children and others which carry gene combinations similar to your own), there wouldn’t be billions of people running around on earth today.

    “You can ban ‘marriage’ as a legal contract all you want, but it would be very difficult to ban exclusive sexual relationships or, indeed, love.”

    I have no intention of banning anything, as I am sure you know.

    Comment by US | January 19, 2010 | Reply

  5. I am unconvinced on the merits of marriage, with a tilt towards considering it a failure, but also would not think of banning it, just as I would not think about banning religion, as long as it does no infringe on my property.

    I see marriage as an institution that is quickly becoming obsolete. It arose a few millennia ago as a way for physically dominant males to ensure their progeny was actually theirs. Thus, it was suited to conditions at that time – when, for example, “till death do us part” meant on average 10-15 years or so (enough to bring up a few children to age where they can hunt or bear children of their own), not 60+ years, and the bulk of those in non-childbearing age. Furthermore, we now have tests for paternity to help ensure exclusivity for males, and birth control for women who may want to marry a man’s earning potential, but not bear his children. As to the benefits of marriage to the upbringing of the children, I can see some merit there – balance the presence of a male and a female parent – but how is this really superior to, say, two mothers and two fathers? Polygamous families among the mormons in the US were quite robust historically.

    All in all, judging by the demographic trends in developed countries, marriage has a cul-de-sac in its usefulness, and seems doomed to die away slowly.

    Comment by Plamus | January 24, 2010 | Reply

  6. Apologies: “marriage has a cul-de-sac” should read “marriage has hit a cul-de-sac”.

    Comment by Plamus | January 24, 2010 | Reply

  7. Plamus:

    In 2001, 45 % of all children in Denmark were born out of wedlock. The 2001-estimate is the most recent number I have seen, and I’m too lazy to look for an updated estimate, but I don’t think it’s much different today – if anything, I think the number is higher today. Marriage is not as big a deal in Denmark (and the rest of Scandinavia) as it seems to be in a lot of places in the US. My big brother has had the same girlfriend for more than half a decade; if he’d lived in many parts of the States, they probably would have gotten married a long time ago.

    Comment by US | January 28, 2010 | Reply

  8. I believe I have read somewhere, that the trend in Denmark these years is that more people are getting married than the previous decades (but I am lazy too), which probably would affect the number of children born in marriage in a positive manner. But marriage is still not a big deal and the 2001-number has probably not changed significantly.

    Comment by info | January 29, 2010 | Reply

  9. Thanks for your comment info, I didn’t know that.

    Btw., one important cultural difference I didn’t mention in my comment above is that a lot of Danish marriages take place some time after the (first?) child is born. The fact that 45 percent (or whatever) is born out of wedlock doesn’t mean that these children are raised by single mothers; most of these parents are in a (stable long-term?) relationship and a lot of these couples will get married later on. Just the same way that a lot of the couples who were married before having the child will get divorced later on…

    Comment by US | January 29, 2010 | Reply

  10. I had too back my claim up with some facts. Laziness isn’t a virtue in combination with vague memories. So heres the documentation:

    Illustration 1.4 clearly shows, that the trend for the annual number of marriages in Denmark was downwards from the mid-60ies to the early 80ies, where the trend turns and is upwards until now, possibly stabilizing during in the previous decade.

    The population of Denmark has increased over the same period, so I’m not sure that this necessarily means, that the relative number of people living in wedlock are increasing or falling, and therefore it is uncertain how the relative number of children born outside marriage is affected. But the number of annual divorces have been a constant since the seventies, so I strongly suspect that the absolute number of people living as a married couple must have increased from the 80ies until today (even though other trends as eg. a still rising average age of first marriage pulls in other directions).

    Comment by info | January 31, 2010 | Reply

  11. A marriage license should be renewable every 2 years by law

    Comment by Rene' Descartes | February 5, 2010 | Reply

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