Saturday, April 4, 2020

Pair Bonds and Marriage

After I received my undergraduate degree, I continued to taking classes part-time for several years. I had maxed out my government student loans but, because of the weird rules at the time, if I continued as at least a half -time student, I could defer paying the loans off and the longer I deferred the less I had to pay back in real dollars due to inflation. Basically, it was free for me to continue taking classes. But that was a rational. I liked going to school. And without much of a plan I took classes that interested me. I took a few computer classes, which oddly ended up becoming my career, but mostly I took anthropology classes. I essentially ended up taking all the classes required for a masters and toyed with the idea of formally entering the program but the idea of spending a couple years doing research for a thesis was daunting financially. And then, through sheer luck, I was hired as a programmer despite my limited computer science training.

I never lost my interest in anthropology however. For years I read extensively on evolution, genetics and human cultures. I still do in fact. 

Which is why I so like the article on Aeon, Is Marriage Over?

With a few really interesting exceptions people in all human societies form pair-bonds, usually formalized in the institution of marriage.  Yet, to quote Bob Dylan, "the times they are a changing."

As marriage provides fewer and fewer financial benefits and more and more disadvantages, it has become less prevalent. At my company, there is no difference between adding a spouse or cohabiting partner to your insurance. On the other side, if you are reading this site, you know how divorce can ruin people financially and all the pain, suffering and crime it can cause.

So what is happening? Marriage is declining and pair-binding, although strong, is becoming for more serial than forever.

In Iceland more than 70 per cent of births in 2018 were outside of marriage, however, the vast majority of nonmarital births in Iceland are not to single mothers; they’re to cohabiting couples.

People still couple up, still live together, have sex, rear babies, pool resources. They’re just not getting married

Pair-bonding is not just another name for marriage mainly because of the ease of breaking the bond and forming a new one. 

In the US, the number of heterosexual cohabiting couples rose from 1.6 million in 1980 to 8.5 million in 2018.
when women rely less on their sexual partners, pair-bonds become weaker
The only way to save the institution of marriage is to evolve it. How so? Primarily by getting rid of the negative aspects of marriage. Specifically, there should be no financial differences from being married or cohabiting. Either in the formation of the bond or the dissolution of it. The advantage to society will be great. The divorce industry with all the pain, crime and financial drag on our economy will be gone. Dependency and all the discrimination it brings will be reduced.  People will be happier.

Maybe need to go further. Why not remove marriage as a civil institution? Make it a religious or secular ceremony.  In the end we would be far better off as a society if the term husband and wife just referred to who you are cohabiting with not some legal arrangement. Counterintuitively  this would actually strengthen relationships not weaken them as it would remove money, (which has been called the source of all evil) from the equation.

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