Covenant Marriage is Stupid

Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and his wife Janet renewed their marriage vows the other day under Arkansas’ more strict “covenant marriage” law, under which, according to this news story, “couples getting a covenant marriage agree to seek counseling before they wed and before they seek a divorce. A covenant marriage also requires a two-year wait before a divorce becomes final, except in cases of adultery, abuse or imprisonment for a felony.” Huckabee is upgrading (or downgrading, depending on your point of view) his marriage into covenant status in part to draw attention to the concept of covenant marriage, which, to put it lightly, has not been a hit, even in Arkansas: just over two thirds of one percent of Arkansas marriages have been covenant marriages since the new variation of marriage was enacted into law in 2001.

Simple reason for that: As a concept, it’s pretty damn insulting. “Covenant Marriage” implicitly suggests that people won’t stay married unless they subject themselves to onerous governmental restrictions on their personal freedoms; basically, it’s the state telling you that it expects you to get a divorce at some point, unless it makes it too annoying for you to get a divorce to make it worth your while. The State of Arkansas is banking on sloth, apathy and state bureaucracy to keep a bunch of bad marriages together, as if bad marriages are really better than divorce.

On the flip side, going for the covenant marriage seems to suggest that you feel you need that government intervention to make up for your own lack of marital will. And that’s not really a positive attitude to have going into a marriage, is it? Here’s a tip: If you feel you’re going to need a covenant marriage in order to keep your marriage together, you might want to re-think the whole “getting married” concept in the first place. If you really want to bind your entire life to another person, it’s going to be immaterial whether or not it’s easy to get a divorce. It’s like frosting on a cat.

Most people like to think they’re getting married for life; most people don’t want the government poking its nose into their personal business. Add it up, and it’s no wonder covenant marriage is a big fat flop. I mean, it’s nice Huckabee’s renewing his vows to his wife — I applaud that. I think it’s mildly distasteful that as he did it, he tried to sell a brand of marriage that both implicitly demeans the marriages of the overwhelming majority of Arkansans and runs counter to the presumed conservative principles of a smaller, less invasive government. But isn’t that modern conservatism for you.

You know, I got married in California, where getting a divorce is only slightly more difficult than saying “I divorce you!” three times in sequence, and where, of course, all those horrible liberal Hollywood types with their terrible loose morals live. And yet, a married couple in California is rather less likely to get a divorce than a couple from Arkansas. The state that has the lowest incidence of divorce in the US is Massachusetts, which as we all know is so flamingly liberal that they even let the gay people get married, to other gay people, even. What do California and Massachusetts know that Arkansas does not? Whatever it is, it’s got nothing to do with covenant marriage.

If I wanted, I could walk away from my marriage. I could just get up, go, wait an appropriate time and whoomp, it’s done: No-fault all the way. My wife, if she so choose, could do the same thing. And yet we don’t — and we keep not walking away from our marriage every day of our marriage, because that’s not what we want. We don’t want that for the obvious reasons that we love each other and we love our life together, but also because we both understand that marriage is supposed to be work, and that a marriage is a commitment to be renewed on a constant and continuing basis. We work on that, and it’s good work. You could make divorce a 30-second act, as simple as clicking a button on a Web site, and I still wouldn’t divorce Krissy, nor (I rather deeply suspect) she me. The strength of our marriage — the strength of any marriage, I’d say — is entirely unrelated to how easy it is to end it.

“There is a crisis in America,” Huckabee told people at the rally that included his covenant marriage. “That crisis is divorce. It is easier to get out of a marriage than (to get out of a) contract to buy a used car.” Well, yes. It’s also easier to get married than to get a contract to buy a used car, too, so long as you’re willing to marry someone of the opposite sex (and not even that in one commonwealth). But you notice Huckabee doesn’t make mention of that. The crisis is not divorce, the crisis is marrying poorly: Marrying without expectation of what being married requires from both members of a couple, marrying without the appreciation of the consequences, marrying because it’s what’s expected rather than what’s best for either (or both) the people in the couple. The only good thing about Arkansas’ covenant marriage law is it requires couples counseling before the wedding; should covenant marriages actually have a lower incidence of divorce, I’d imagine you’d find the pre-wedding counseling was the key.

Making sure people who are getting married are ready to be married — and married to each other: That’s what’s going to bring down your divorce rate. Do that well enough, you won’t have to try to sell the rather insane idea that making it harder to divorce is going “save” a couple’s marriage. It won’t; it’ll just make them suffer longer for no good reason at all. Making it harder to get divorced is like making it harder to open a fire escape: By the time people get to the point of using it, the damage is already done. Time to let them out.

223 thoughts on “Covenant Marriage is Stupid

  1. The real problem is that most people don’t really take marriage all that seriously. In fact it seems that very few people seem to take ANY responsibility all that seriously.

    It’s not like people (or at least not most people) think “Oh what the hell, if it doesn’t work out I can always get a divorce”, but there seem to be very few consequences to marriage in many peoples minds.

    Maybe we should make it very difficult to get married, and very easy to get divorced.

    Oh, a side note on why Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate. It is by far the most catholic state in the country(40 some odd percent), and it has one of the most backed up convoluted court systems in the country, and some of the most vicious lawyers. Combine all three, and hey, less divorce. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing…

  2. One should also note the Catholic Church is big on couple’s counseling before marriage (due in large part to its doctrinal aversion to divorce).

  3. Ayup, there are even priests recommending that couples live with each other for up to six months before getting married. I guess they figure it’s better to live in sin than end in divorce.

    I happen to agree with that standpoint, but it’s rather unusual to see good sense replace dogmatic absolutism when it comes to our holy mother.

    I call myself a recovering catholic. Being a recovering catholic is like being a recovering alcohilic; If you’re an alcoholic, you’re alway an alcoholic, you’re just in recovery; the same thing goes for being catholic.

    I still have to stifle the impulse to make the sign of the cross when people take the lords name in vain (including myself, something I do rather frequently actually. I occaisonally say hail marys to myself in my head wihout even thinking about it, and I haven’t even been to church in 12 years.

    Of course my recovery has progressed to the point where I also start singing lords of acid or chumbawumba to myself after saying a hail mary (awwwww yeah, blasphemous anarchist slut techno baby).

  4. We told our priest when we went through pre-marriage counseling that we were already married and the ceremony was a formality.

    You can imagine his response.

  5. I distinctly remember the word ‘covenant’ being featured prominently in the sermon at my wedding. Am I missing something? Or did governor whatsisname not originally get married in the church? I also remember the Priest, during pre-marital counselling, telling us he did not expect me to convert because, quite frankly, he had enough non-practicing Catholics in his parish already. I believe it took some minutes to lever my wife’s jaw back up off the floor.

  6. Here in Texas, all that’s required for me & partner to get married is the license fee, our IDs, and a 72-hour waiting period between issuing the license and performing the ceremony. Seems to me that if our legislature is really serious about strengthening marriage, they should stop bickering over same-sex marriage banning amendments and start bickering over a longer waiting period between filing for a license and performing the ceremony, start requiring pre-marital counseling, etc.

  7. Paul, the Catholic idea that marriage is a covenant doesn’t have anything to do with the civil end of things–whether you’re married by a priest or a J.P., you still get divorced the same way, unless you do this new “covenant marriage” thing in Arkansas. It’s a civil variant.

  8. Kate: My problem with it is that it’s a civil variant that co-opts religious language, probably (at least in part) to emphasize the “sacred nature” of marriage.

    Update from MA: Cambridge City Hall is still standing, nine months after the first same-sex marriages, and the Commonwealth has dropped the blood test requirement for all marriages. (The three day waiting period is still in place, but it’s apparently not hard to get a waiver of it if you want one.)

  9. Chris,

    The real problem is that most people don’t really take marriage all that seriously.

    I disagree, unless you think the people in the blue states are much more responsible than the people in the red.

    Nope. The real problem is that normal young adults have a very strong drive to have sex and they’ll do what it takes to “get er done!”

    If that means marrying Billy Bob then by golly, they love Billy Bob and want to spend the rest of their life with him.

    Do you personally know people who do not take marriage seriously, or who have had an easy walk-away divorce? I don’t.

  10. The biggest source of culture shock I had moving from British Columbia to Oregon is that instead of just shacking up and living in sin (as I was accustomed to) many people seemed to have “starter marriages”. In the cultural region where I was from, marriage was a relationship weapon of last resort, reserved primarily for legitimizing children and getting dying grandparents finally of your back. None of my friends in Canada got married before one or both of the couple were at least thirty. In Portland, I was astonished to find just about everyone over the age of twenty-four was either married or divorced.

    Perhaps I’m just biased, but I find it flabbergasting to think of committing to a lifelong agreement before you even really get to know yourself. It makes me wonder if a significant proportion of the divorce statistics are were between people who got married young. Becase, in my mind, those divorces are “gimmes”. Almost like a “young offenders act”. They’re just victims of a chance – stupidity mixing with hormones and unreasonable societal expectation. So, that would support the idea of counselling before marriage.

  11. To go back to something I didn’t comment on earlier (now that I’ve had a few hours of sleep):

    “The real problem is that most people don’t really take marriage all that seriously.”

    Well, no. I think the vast majority of people who want to get married do take it seriously. But this does not also mean that some portion therein may still not be ready. And lets not forget that people can be perfectly match when they’re married and then not be perfectly (or even imperfectly) matched five or ten years later, for whatever reason. A lot of the discussion of marriage seems to assume stasis, which is a pretty dangerous assumption.

    I think pre-marriage counseling would bring down divorce rates; I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point when divorce rates are ever as low as they were when it was very difficult to get a divorce. For me the issue is not so much bringing down divorce rates as raising the quality of marriages that do exist, and that are being formed.

  12. The problem with this solution, is that this solution used to be the problem. Prior to the wide acceptance of “no fault” divorce, there were divorces granted, but only for the reasons listed above (adultery, cruelty, felony) and some others, such as being habitual drunkeness and abandonment for over a year (or other specified time). I mean, its been tried before, and it didn’t work well, so we changed it. Of course there are going to be more divorces if its easier to obtain them. That wasn’t the original question or problem.

    But what if you just couldn’t stand the person you were married to any longer? Stated rather simply, the system required honest people to lie in open court to get a divorce.

    Normally, about the only time we non criminal elements are in court would be probate, divorce, the odd lawsuit, or maybe jury duty. Judges who were around at the time felt that they were being played for suckers, while at the same time undermining respect for the courts.

    Besides, the covenant seems like the worst possible reaction. Its says in essence: Divorce is bad, therefore, no one gets one. Puh-lease.

    How about just allowing for only two marriages? I’d love to the unintended consequences of that.

  13. If that means marrying Billy Bob then by golly, they love Billy Bob and want to spend the rest of their life with him.

    I don’t know if it’s quite that simple. She may feel she’s in love with Billy Bob because she’s sexually attracted to him and/or having sex with him. Having and acting upon lustful thoughts is ‘sinful’, and the only way to make it ok to have/act upon those feelings is to believe you’re in love.

    The end result is often an ill-advised marriage.

    Maybe the reason California has a lower divorce rate is because their ‘looser’ morals don’t compel them to marry a person just because they’re sexually involved with that person. I’m not saying that’s the right attitude to have, but it’s got to be better than marrying someone just to get in his or her pants…

  14. A thoughtful post about a subject close to my heart… and all I can think about is putting frosting on the cat. Here kitty, kitty, kitty….

  15. I think Arizona has covenant marriage, too.

    Well said on everything above, especially that the problem isn’t making divorce easy, but people marrying poorly.

    What matters is that a commitment has been made, and made for the right reasons.

    I’m reminded of the person who said to me (talking about whether that commitment even needs to be a marriage), “Well, if you’re not married, then you’re not going to stay together when things get rough.”

    Well, no. You’re not going to stay together if you either don’t take the promise–whatever way it’s made–seriously, or if it was (or becomes) the wrong promise to make. Whether it takes 10 seconds or 10 years to get out of it.

  16. My wife and I were recently invited to a friend’s wedding in Vegas. Our friend is in his 30s and this his both his and his wife’s 1st wedding. Since both my wife and I had been married once before, this led us to wonder if waiting until you are at least out of your 20s give a couple a better chance at making it.

    We then took a really disturbing little inventory of all the couples we know (family included) and between the two of us we could only come up with one couple that had only been married once (with the exception of those that have been in their relationship for 3 years or less). Of course, that one couple blew my theory of waiting, right out of the water. Her parents were high school sweethearts and are still married.

    When did the increase in the divorce rate really start? Maybe it’s not the result of marriage being taken less seriously. I am sure that many of the same problems that drive couples apart existed way back when marriage was for life.

    Maybe the divorce rate has risen because women have a lot more options now. I would hazard that your average woman would put up with a lot less from a man than say a 25 year old woman in the 1920s.

    Just my 2 cents for whatever that’s worth.

  17. James, jsut thinking abot what you said there, and I came up with a Chris Rock line “A man is only as faithful as his options, a woman is only as faithful as her mans wallet. The bigger the mans wallet, the more options he has, and the more faithful his woman is”

    Cynical, oh yeah, accurate, unfortunately often.

  18. I read this completely differently than John read it. I don’t think the intent is for the government to get in the middle of a bad marriage & try to keep it together. I think the point is to encourage couples that are having problems to work those problems out and not just cut & run at the first sign of trouble. How many divorces could be prevented if the couple took the time to try & work it out?

    Meanwhile, the more interesting part of the story to me was Bush’s comment on it (sorry, to lazy to find the link). Apparently, Bush didn’t weigh in on covenant marriages one way or the other, and said he felt it was an issue best handled by the states.

    Huh? Gay marriage is a federal issue that requires a constitutional ammendment, but covenant marriages are a state issue and the federal government should stay out of it? How does one even *pretend* that isn’t hypocritical?

  19. “How does one even *pretend* that isn’t hypocritical?”

    I don’t think one can.

    I do definitely agree that people need to be actively encouraged to work out marriage issues before heading toward divorce; many of the issues that lead people down that path, for example, relate to money and time . But again, the question is whether that’s best accomplished by making it harder to divorce; I think it’s best accomplished my making marriage counseling more readily available.

  20. “I think the point is to encourage couples that are having problems to work those problems out and not just cut & run at the first sign of trouble. How many divorces could be prevented if the couple took the time to try & work it out?”

    …Meh. Just a kneejerk, here, but if it takes an act of government to make the couple take the time to try and work it out, then that couple probably weren’t ready to be married in the first place. I mean, is the AllFatherState going to have to hold their hand through every spat?

    This isn’t to diss marriage counseling, understand. A successful marriage is made when those involved are willing to work it out; if the work that’s needed is beyond them, that willingness extends to seeking counseling. But an act of goverment mandating counseling is not going to make a marriage successful if those involved are unwilling enough that they have to be coerced into making that effort.

    Maybe covenant marriage is attractive to the macho religious types, those who need to show off their virtue by raising the stakes.

  21. Looks like I goofed with the HTML.

    In the previous comment, envision the first para as

    ed, and the rest of ’em as my own original blathering.

  22. I’m not defending covenant marriages at all, but I can still see the point of agreeing to counseling before divorce up front.

    If you take the case example of a well-meaning couple that wants to make it work, but runs into troubles years down the road (e.g., time & money, as John mentions), the fact that they were clear-headed enough at the beginning to “force” themselves into counseling might save the marriage.

    It seems like people’s objections to this is that the government is forcing people into counseling. I don’t think that’s the case: this is an optional thing. The couple is doing the “forcing.”

    I say let ’em at it, just don’t force me to do it…

  23. Great thread here. In my parents’ generation, giving their “word” meant just that. They valued their words as if their reputations depended on it (which they did). Is that what has happened these days? Our “word” means nothing? I don’t think covenant marriage is the answer to the problem. MAKING couples stay together is a step backwards. Staying together comes from valuing the union and a sincere desire to live as you believe. (It also helps to pick the right person.)

  24. Bravo. I agree with your statement that the crisis isn’t about divorce, but marrying poorly. (Although there are some unfortunate souls who have no idea that they’ve married poorly and who are putting all kinds of effort into making things work because they are so scared of divorce.)

    I may be biased, being a 28 year old single woman from a Mormon background, but I have seen friend after friend get married young, and while none of them have divorced yet, many of them deal with issues that put a huge strain on the marriage merely because they were encouraged by all and sundry to marry the first person who made ’em horny. (Mormons not believing in premarital sex and all that.) I have been on the receiving end of that societal pressure. You date for more than three months and your Mormon relatives are asking when the banns are to be announced. (Well, they don’t put it like that. They say, “When are you going to the temple,” or “If you get married, and then he joins the church, you can go to the temple a year after you get married.” The focus is all on getting married and not necessarily on staying married. No wonder so many young folks accomplish the first part and then wonder why it all went wrong.

    I have a non-Mormon friend who is currently lamenting the fact that the government makes it so easy for people (well, the straight ones anyway) to get married without considering the consequences but you have a lot more paperwork to go through before you can dissolve that same marriage legally.

  25. Great discussion…
    One thing that has not been mentioned is the stigma that it still attached to seeing a therapist. The mindset goes something like this: “If we go to counceling, we will have to admit there is a problem, and that we have failed to live happily ever after.”
    I can think of two couples off the top of my head that have both been married 30+ years, but have so little in common they can barely hold a conversation. Who knows what a little therapy 20 years ago would have done?

    So, how do we as members of all our comunities, encourage people to seek counceling, if they see doing so as a failure of their marriage?

  26. Great discussion…
    One thing that has not been mentioned is the stigma that it still attached to seeing a therapist. The mindset goes something like this: “If we go to counceling, we will have to admit there is a problem, and that we have failed to live happily ever after.”
    I can think of two couples off the top of my head that have both been married 30+ years, but have so little in common they can barely hold a conversation. Who knows what a little therapy 20 years ago would have done?

    So, how do we as members of all our comunities, encourage people to seek counceling, if they see doing so as a failure of their marriage?

  27. Great discussion…
    One thing that has not been mentioned is the stigma that it still attached to seeing a therapist. The mindset goes something like this: “If we go to counceling, we will have to admit there is a problem, and that we have failed to live happily ever after.”
    I can think of two couples off the top of my head that have both been married 30+ years, but have so little in common they can barely hold a conversation. Who knows what a little therapy 20 years ago would have done?

    So, how do we as members of all our comunities, encourage people to seek counceling, if they see doing so as a failure of their marriage?

  28. Great discussion…
    One thing that has not been mentioned is the stigma that it still attached to seeing a therapist. The mindset goes something like this: “If we go to counceling, we will have to admit there is a problem, and that we have failed to live happily ever after.”
    I can think of two couples off the top of my head that have both been married 30+ years, but have so little in common they can barely hold a conversation. Who knows what a little therapy 20 years ago would have done?

    So, how do we as members of all our comunities, encourage people to seek counceling, if they see doing so as a failure of their marriage?

  29. What’s your source for the figures on divorce rates?

    Herbie: I think attitude toward shrinks varies a lot from place to place. In the town where I grew up, having a shrink was something of a status symbol: “I can afford to pay three dollars a minute for something completely useless.” This was even more true for children. Having a shrink for one’s child was simply part of the normal course of raising him, like finding a pediatrician and a children’s dentist.

  30. If marriages in both populations have the same chance of ending in divorce, but the marriage rate is higher in one population than the other, that population will have a higher divorce rate per capita.

  31. The stats you quote have to be understood in light of the fact that lots more people actuallly get MARRIED in Arkansas than in California, hence more divorces. This is the reason for the supposedly higher divorce rate in the South, more marriages instead of just living together leads to higher divorce stats; no one records when you just kick your partner out of the apartment.

    Whoever above made the comment above about the difference between our grandparent’s giving their word and people today giving their word has made the point for supporters of covenant marriage. What used to be assumed in our culture no longer is – debts used to be paid off because it was shameful to owe money, a handshake could make a contract because honor was trusted, etc. Many people get married today, and whether the word covenant is used in the ceremony or not, their word doesn’t mean squat when things get tough – they are out the door, because life is really all about me and my happiness and fulfillment, right – isn’t that what J-Lo always says?

    What’s wrong with voluntarily entering into an agreement that says, when things get tough, we both agree to get counseling before we call it quits? This isn’t the government, it’s a voluntary sign-up. No-fault divorce has been a financial and emotional disaster for women and children in this country, they suffer disproportionately from its effects. Maybe this would help stem the tide for some.

  32. My wife and I were among the last virgins of the 60’s generation at our wedding 35 years ago. We’d dated two and a half years, were deeply in love, though not as deeply as now, horny as all get out but wanting to do the right thing, and both quite serious about seeing our marriage ceremony as vows before God, and therefore not to be either made or violated lightly. We genuinely believed then, and still do today, that we were made to be together.

    We’ve had lots of troubles along with our joys, but both know even in the bad moments that neither of us is leaving. Knowing we can trust each other’s faithfulness even in times of trouble has multiplied our joy in life immeasurably. Sexually-transmitted illnesses, for instance, mean nothing to us, with or without “protection”.

    Our intentionally choosing to love God first, each other second, our son third, jobs and all else below that has helped keep us on track all those years. So has the idea of serving each other, rather than seeking to be served.

    The most surprising aspect of all this is the sex — far better now than when we were first married. I would never have believed that when I was 21.

  33. “What’s wrong with voluntarily entering into an agreement that says, when things get tough, we both agree to get counseling before we call it quits?”

    Not a thing. The question: Why does the government need to be involved in such an agreement?

    “The stats you quote have to be understood in light of the fact that lots more people actuallly get MARRIED in Arkansas than in California, hence more divorces.”

    If you’re talking raw numbers, you are, of course, quite incorrect. If we’re talking percentages, I wouldn’t say LOTS more Arkansans are married than Californians; as of the 2000 Census, 52.4 percent of Californians over 15 were married, as opposed to 58.2 percent of Arkansans, a difference of 5.8% — a noticible difference but not so vastly different as to wildly skew divorce outcomes on a per capita basis.

    Even throwing in differing population demographics in terms of the overall population, it would appear married couples are still getting divorced more frequently in AR than in CA. I don’t see how — with the exception of the pre-marriage counseling, of which I approve — covenant marriages will change that very much.

  34. I don’t think the intent is for the government to get in the middle of a bad marriage & try to keep it together.

    Damn right it ain’t. What this law does is simple: it allows a couple the option of a marriage contract that’s much harder to dissolve. While that may seem ‘silly’ or ‘unnecessary’ to the totally devoted couples here (and they’re always totally devoted, right up until the divorce), the fact of the matter is that for some people this makes a hell of a lot of sense.

    Look: you may think that ‘real’ couples are totally devoted to the end, but that’s not the way it works on planet Earth. People are just that — people — and people tend to lose sight of what’s right in the long term when things get tight, or when you hit the inevitable mid-life crisis, or when that poisonous shrew single and childless Aunt Abby dangles the prospect of subsidized bachelorhood and freedom from the stresses of motherhood enabled by the courts.

    Your wife will think these things at some point in her life, and whether or not there will be any permanent consequences may have nothing to do with you — if any of her regrets or personal demons gets the better of her love for you, even for a moment, and she crosses the Rubicon…it’s over.

    And it can all be due to chance: you go on a business trip, the kids are hell because Daddy’s gone, she’s trying to manage them and backs into the garage door, single Charlene just won’t shut up about her fabulous new guy friend (she’ll be cursing his name next week, but that’s then), and along comes an old flame from her college days…

    Are you sure she’ll put you first? Remember, marriage for women isn’t like it is for men. If you’re male, divorce means hell for your kids and hell for your bank account in all liklihood (and don’t count on that prenup — courts love the ‘inadequate representation’ gambit), so it’d better damn well be worth it, even to consider it for a moment.

    But for women, divorce can be a sweet deal. You get the kids (invariably), you get half the cash (plus monthly support), and you get the sympathy of allllllll your girlfriends. And hey, Sheryl said that guys really dig divorcees nowadays. There’s bad stuff too, but no one ever mentions that.

    You sure you can compete against every problem she’s ever faced and every monkey on her back at any time on any field and win without fail, your head’s full of rocks. And if you don’t, you’ll get suspicious…and that’s its own cup of hemlock.

    Well, to get to the short of it: a lot of these concerns are less pressing if you know she can’t stab you in the back and if she knows you can’t just dump her for some pretty young thing. So there are advantages.

  35. I’ll bring up some arguments which I brought up back during the same-sex marriage debates, but still seem to apply. I strongly feel that marriage as it is now practiced in our society should be reformed so as to more strongly separate the spiritual and legal aspects. Names like “covenant” marriage are simply trying to blur that line further! Oddly enough, the “covenant” isn’t anyting recognized by a church, but only by the state!

    I propose, again, that we separate the spiritual union from the financial and legal unions. You two, whomever you are, can get “married” in whatever church will do so to sanctify your spiritual union in whatever manner is meaningful to you all. You may also file for domestic partnership with the governmant, which is a legal contract, stating in detail financial obligations, breach conditions, subsections which apply only should children result, etc. Neither is required for the other. Dissolving a “marriage” is a spiritual matter reserved to the church in question, and dissolving a domestic partnership is a contractual dispute handled by the courts.

  36. Establishing an option for so-called “covenant” marriage is an understandable and entirely rational response to the dumbing down and devaluation over the last several decades of what we used to regard as an important social institution. It’s simply restoring the concept of that institution as commonly understood before the epidemic of permissive attitudes toward fornication, cohabitation, adultery, divorce, serial remarriage and sexual immorality of every kind. And it’s simply a recognition that you and I mean radically different things when we use the word marriage. If we can’t even agree that a marriage involves a husband and a wife, then whatever it is you’re talking about, it ain’t marriage.

  37. bdg writes:

    “If we can’t even agree that a marriage involves a husband and a wife, then whatever it is you’re talking about, it ain’t marriage.”

    At least one Commonwealth in the union disagrees with you there. Since it’s the one with the lowest divorce rate, as I said, maybe they’re on to something. And even if they’re not, I’m happy to disagree with you anyway.

    Also, thanks so very much for implying that my marriage, and every other marriage for basically the last 30 years, is a base and shallow imitation of the real thing. I invite you to suggest such a thing to my wife; I also then invite you to move quickly out of arms’ length to avoid a broken nose.

    Mr. L: I don’t know what kind of people you’ve been hanging out with, but clearly you need to get with some people who aren’t ready to gut each other like fish at the first provocation. It’s given you a rather appalling estimation of the human race.

  38. “Why does the government need to be involved in such an agreement?”

    When people marry they form a partnership which is, in essence, a contract. When they divorce the state usually has to get involved because property rights and issues concerning children (who the state has an interest in protecting) are often contended. Would that every divorce was amicable but that will never be the case.
    What’s wrong with the state offering degrees of partnership “contracts”? One might be at a very low level: “We only agree to live together and share expenses, when we divorce we only take what is in our individual names and we agree not to have children”. With this low a hurdle everyone who adopts this level of knows how little to expect. Another level might describe sharing all assets equally and describing how any alimony commitments and custody disagreements would be negotiated. Last might be a “covenant” marriage where all the major issues that impact stability would be defined (whether or not to have children, a goal as to how many to have or adopt), where infidelity might be grounds for unilateral divorce with severe financial and custody implications and where counseling and a waiting period might be included.
    What would be the outcome? Everyone entering into these contracts would at least have some idea ahead of time the degree of commitment the other party had to making the relationship work. It might force people to think through these major issues ahead of time (oh the horror!).
    The expectation level, the “performance” level would be set. By forcing couples to really think about these issues wouldn’t both the couples, any offspring and society be better served?
    Society has an interest in creating as many stable households FOR CHILDREN as possible because they are the vulnerable parties in a contentious split. By giving a variety of levels of “commitment” to couples to consider I’d bet a lot of mismatches would be stopped short and the adjudication of future separations would be much more swift, more amicable and less complicated. If the state doesn’t do this, sure, religions or individuals could do the same thing. However, what’s wrong with the state offering some options and guidelines to a situation where there is a distinct possibility the state will be involved in dissolving the contract/relationship in the future?

  39. As someone who was married under Louisiana’s covenant marriage law (the first in the nation), I think you (and Ann Althouse and Glenn Reynolds) fundamentally misunderstand the nature and intent of covenant marriage.

    Covenant marriage isn’t about keeping bad marriages together or (as Althouse says) “showing off” in a my-marriage-is-better-than-yours way. And it certainly isn’t about my needing the government to “restrict my freedom” as you put it.

    What covenant marriage is about is making a statement that marriage isn’t something that you try out and discard if you decide you’d rather be sleeping with someone else. It involves pre-marital counseling so that you know what you’re getting into, as well as counseling before any divorce is granted.

    Covenant marriage is a response to the cavalier attitude toward marriage that our society has adopted. It’s a response to the messages from Hollywood and the left that says that tells people to follow their desires instead of their consciences.

    At the time, the fact that my then-fiancee was willing (eager, actually) to enter a covenant marriage told me that she was marrying me with a real commitment for the long haul and an understanding of the seriousness of what she was getting into.

    What’s “stupid” about that?

  40. jag:

    “What’s wrong with the state offering degrees of partnership ‘contracts’?”

    Whoever said there was? You’ll note I said it’s not surprising that covenant marriage is unpopular because it is insulting, *not* that it shouldn’t be allowed. I’m not opposed to the state offering it, I just don’t ever expect it to be popular, for the reasons I’ve already outlined.

    Now, I don’t believe the state should push covenant marriages over the more common sort of marriages, nor imply that they are “better” (by whatever metric one would like to measure), which I think Huckabee did. Beyond this, implicitly criticizing the marriage status of 99+% of your voting public seems like a not very smart idea.

    Ryan Booth:

    “Covenant marriage is a response to the cavalier attitude toward marriage that our society has adopted. It’s a response to the messages from Hollywood and the left that says that tells people to follow their desires instead of their consciences.”

    You mean to say: Covenant marriage is a reponse to the cavalier attitude toward marriage that some conservatives wish to imply our society has adopted, a point of view which is not particularly bourne out in the stats. The Barna Research Group notes: “Among married born again Christians, 35% have experienced a divorce. That figure is identical to the outcome among married adults who are not born again: 35%.” And again, let’s look at where divorce rates are higher: in the conservative south or in the liberal northeast.

    Indeed, I dare suggest that statstically speaking, I — a somewhat liberal agnostic married in California — am no more likely to get a divorce than a conservative born-again man in Arkansas, all other data being equal. I mean, clearly, given the cavalier attitude of the Hollywood culture and my own God-neutral, liberal ways, I should have been divorced already. And yet here I am, stubbornly refusing to do so.

    The idea that liberals have destroyed marriage, I’m sure, has its appeal, but it’s not exactly true. So let’s not go pinning the presumed decline of marriage on one group when it appears amply clear everyone’s got a beam in their eye on this particular topic. What covenant marriages offer is the not entirely subtle implication that the people who enter them are somehow more married than those who are not, which, naturally, I find more than a little bit insulting.

  41. You couldn’t be more wrong, John, not in what you say, which is almost sensible in a NOW-it’s-time-to-keep-government-out-of-marriage kind of way, but in what you omit. Likewise Glenn Reynolds and Ann Althouse are also mistaken.

    The problem has nothing whatsoever to do with marrying poorly; it has everything to do with marrying in the US of A, at least in the last half of the prior century and now into this one. What the Governor recognizes, in all his stumbling, fumbling backwards Arkansas naievete, is that when the State (to pick on them for a minute) creates vast incentive to dump your marriage — you know, that one where you already said that until-death-do-us-part part — then folks naturally, in this day and age of teevee and consumption and gender rights and instant guaranteed happiness by that same State to adults who are acting like kids, get divorced. Divorce now ends half of all new marriages; this didn’t used to happen.

    So what happened? Well, the State statistically pays moms to unilaterally leave dads to the tune of 80% of all divorces. The State, in fact, statistically also makes it another small step to wreck ole dad with all sorts of Constitutional violations — the most important ones including jail without due process — just for being dad.

    Not that anybody’s counting, apparently.

    Did any of the suddenly libertarian blogs jump on THAT topic oh, say, a decade ago?

    But I digress: With no-fault divorce, family court corruption and acrimony, police oppression, and making big money off the other side suddenly in place, most as the result of FEDERAL mandates that repay states for lost welfare-reform revenues in Orwellian child support pressure that jails single parents and steals their property without due process or equal llegal protection, who wants to stay married, especially in a feminist lobby-driven society?!

    Dump dad, get paid, fulfill all those maternal instincts, and prove how modern and liberated you are.

    Sorry, don’t intend to write a screed but c’mon, get a clue how the system works, John (and Glenn and Ann).

    So along comes the Arkansas governor and rather than uproot the entire legislative process, which obviously he can’t, makes a symbolic show to uphold marriage and strike back at the cheap divorce culture we all created for ourselves…complete with more bogus, anti-constitutional practices and legislation against marriage than any of us can count, none of which he and his re-bride created, or are empowered to change for the better.

    Would that the sudden, one-issue libertarian bloggers would get their heads properly around the cause and effect of American social implosion instead of mouthing off at one man and one woman’s laudable show of moral courage.

  42. “Sorry, don’t intend to write a screed”

    Ah, but you did intend to write a screed, I think, whether it was germane to the topic or not.

    Clearly, having my head up my ass as I do, I’m not entirely sure there’s a direct line between no-fault divorce and men getting screwed by the system simply for being men, particularly when it’s amply shown that divorce is far more economically ruinous to women than man (see here and here for but two abstracts). And while being a father and fully supportive of the rights of fathers post-divorce, I also happen to think a lot of the “father’s rights” stuff I’ve seen is largely offputting misogynistic wingnuttery, like, say, your post. Naturally, you’re free to disagree. However, try to be briefer and less spittle-ly when you do so.

    I think one of the things I’m seeing here is the suggestion that people get married with the idea that it’s not going to last, and they’ll all just get a divorce and go their merry way. Well, you know, I’ve been to a lot of weddings — I’ve officiated several — and I have yet to go to one in which either partner was going in contemplating the idea of doing anything less than giving the marriage their full measure of effort. Nor have I ever personally known anyone to get a divorce as a first, second, or even sixth resort. People don’t like to fail in the things they do, and they particuarly don’t like to fail in marriage. So this presumed culture of easy marriage and easy divorce is one this California-bred agnostic somewhat liberal has yet to actually come across. And you think that if anyone would know of it, someone like me would.

  43. Next up: “supercovenant” marriages, in which newlyweds are permanently chained together at the ankles

    I wanted to post about covenant marriage and why it was such a ridiculous concept, but it turns out that John Scalzi has already done it for me….

  44. “Would that the sudden, one-issue libertarian bloggers would get their heads properly around the cause and effect of American social implosion instead of mouthing off at one man and one woman’s laudable show of moral courage.”

    Okay, I’ll bite. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that there is in fact an “American social implosion” in progress.

    What exactly are the causes and effects that elude me, yet seem so clear to you?

  45. Sorry to get your hackles up, John, and even sorrier to see you escalate your rhetoric in a show of who’s blog this really is. I mean not to be offputting; I mean to be factual in the face of this non-issue.

    Anyway, if you’d like a tit for tat, data-va-data battle, where do I sign up? You can falsely label me a misogynistic wingnut but you can not refute the hard data.

    Simply: The State ruins marriage. Not without private sector aid, to be sure, but in the end, states destroy single parents because other cheap and dishonest single parents figure out how to game it. And do they ever.

    And that ain’t exactly a separation of church and state now is it John? And wasn’t the holy separation of same vis a vis Arkansas governors and their wives the original point?

    Like I keep saying, easy anti-authoritarian issues — like this one — get the airtime because they’re, well, easy. And view well because they include arch stereotypical southern white male (and now female) villans with high school educations…or something more or less like that.

    Meanwhile the real machinery of State churns visibly, factually, and with evidence and available statistics, against marriage, against children, against fidelity, and against personal, civil, constitutional and spiritual rights and sensibilities.

    That’s not opinion…but it’s not particularly politically entertaining either.

  46. “I just don’t ever expect it to be popular”

    John,

    Why does it have to be “popular”? My state requires cars to be inspected (when 99% always pass). That law isn’t particularly popular but enough legislators agreed it was in the state’s interest. I hate this law and, if I were getting married and didn’t want to step up to the BIG commitment level, I wouldn’t like having to explain my lesser degree of commitment to my prospective wife either. However, would you agree everyone would be better served in these instances if a deep discussion of the commitment one has to the relationship took place before the ceremony? It may be a sad fact that it might take a law to influence a discussion of this magnitude taking place between adults but isn’t that as good as a law can get? Influencing better behavior to reduce the chance of an accident (however unpopular)? That would seem to be the idea behind car inspection laws and they don’t seem to be in danger of being overturned on a measure of their “popularity”.

    Maybe Huckeby and his wife are grandstanding. I’ve been married 20 years and agree that its silly to renew vows if you meant what you said in the first place. But its possible he was just trying to emphasize a point he felt strongly about. Was he just being political? Maybe it was political or both, maybe he’s just jerking people around. Who knows?

    I’m glad you agree there is nothing wrong with the state offering options. See, we agree on two things! When Huckabee is caught with someone else or divorces I’ll gladly conceed you were right but until then, in my opinion, he can be given the benefit of the doubt.

  47. NV Dad said:
    Divorce now ends half of all new marriages; this didn’t used to happen.

    So what happened?

    Well, for one thing, women are no longer chattel. Secondly, people are starting to think that perhaps life isn’t all about working, breeding, then dying in short order.

    I submit that a century ago, a nearly identical percentage of marriages sucked just as much as modern marriages, and many of those people would have been better off getting divorced if they had the means to do it. Thus, the increased divorce rate is actually a good thing, if one were to undo their cranial-rectal insertion and stop limiting the definition of society’s success by being neatly paired off into breeding partners.

  48. “Why does it have to be ‘popular’?”

    It doesn’t have to be. Which is good, because rather clearly, it isn’t.

  49. Chattel? And when the women’s right’s pendulum overcorrects and allows widespread and intentional “family law” violations of half the personal rights guaranteed in the US Constitution primarily on basis of gender, and when it then statistically further harms children for want of fathers, what’s the chattel canard got to do with anything?

    This is 2005, not 1940.

  50. Prosecuting child support delinquency often supports court administered kidnapping by custodial parents.

    Children need both parents after divorce. Most fathers and some mothers have been denied this fundamental Constitutional Right. Instead they are pursued more fervently than criminals.

    How often is a custodial parent pursued with tax dollars to enforce visitation or shared parenting? It is as rare as snow in death valley.

    Family court and it’s various administrative arms destroy families for profit.

    Alan R. DiCicco, Founder and President
    Coalition for Family Court Reform
    PO Box 90371
    Henderson, NV 89009
    702-355-1830
    http://www.familycourtreform.org

  51. Simply: The State ruins marriage. Not without private sector aid, to be sure, but in the end, states destroy single parents because other cheap and dishonest single parents figure out how to game it. And do they ever.

    NV Dad, I truly cannot figure out what you are talking about. I’m serious. Can you provide specific and concrete details?

  52. NV Dad:

    “Meanwhile the real machinery of State churns visibly, factually, and with evidence and available statistics, against marriage, against children, against fidelity, and against personal, civil, constitutional and spiritual rights and sensibilities.”

    Oh, I agree. Which is to say, I would agree that the state is working against marriage to the extent that with the exception of one Commonwealth, it’s been spending an inordinate amount of time keeping some people who passionately wish to be married from achieving that matrionial and monogamous state, simply because they want to marry someone of their own gender. If you wish to clasp hands on this matter, then by all means let us do so.

    Otherwise, eh. Dramatic statement but I’m curiously unmoved. Being married, I have yet to encounter a single incident in which the state actively moved against my rights or my children, encouraged me toward fornication or abridged by personal, civil, constitutional and spiritual rights based on my status as a Married American. Indeed, since I get all sorts of tax cuts for being married and having progeny, I would daresay the opposite. Certainly the state hasn’t ruined my marriage, nor the marriage of anyone I know.

    Possibly the government bureaucracy doesn’t work the way you want it to when the marriage dissolves, which is the gist of what I’m getting from you, but that’s another issue entirely, which at this moment I’m not very much interested in addressing, except to say that making it more difficult to divorce vis-avis convenant marriages won’t do much to resolve any of those issues, in my opinion, it’ll just make the process take longer.

    Unrelated to any of the above: as a purely practical matter, I do wonder what will happen when, as is almost inevitable, one of the partners who entered into a “covenant marriage” chooses either to contest the conditions imposed on divorce or, alternately, leaves the state and files for divorce in a state that does not have “covenant” restrictions for divorce. There will be interesting legal ramifications for marriage either way.

  53. NV Dad:

    “Meanwhile the real machinery of State churns visibly, factually, and with evidence and available statistics, against marriage, against children, against fidelity, and against personal, civil, constitutional and spiritual rights and sensibilities.”

    Oh, I agree. Which is to say, I would agree that the state is working against marriage to the extent that with the exception of one Commonwealth, it’s been spending an inordinate amount of time keeping some people who passionately wish to be married from achieving that matrionial and monogamous state, simply because they want to marry someone of their own gender. If you wish to clasp hands on this matter, then by all means let us do so.

    Otherwise, eh. Dramatic statement but I’m curiously unmoved. Being married, I have yet to encounter a single incident in which the state actively moved against my rights or my children, encouraged me toward fornication or abridged by personal, civil, constitutional and spiritual rights based on my status as a Married American. Indeed, since I get all sorts of tax cuts for being married and having progeny, I would daresay the opposite. Certainly the state hasn’t ruined my marriage, nor the marriage of anyone I know.

    Possibly the government bureaucracy doesn’t work the way you want it to when the marriage dissolves, which is the gist of what I’m getting from you, but that’s another issue entirely, which at this moment I’m not very much interested in addressing, except to say that making it more difficult to divorce vis-avis convenant marriages won’t do much to resolve any of those issues, in my opinion, it’ll just make the process take longer.

    Unrelated to any of the above: as a purely practical matter, I do wonder what will happen when, as is almost inevitable, one of the partners who entered into a “covenant marriage” chooses either to contest the conditions imposed on divorce or, alternately, leaves the state and files for divorce in a state that does not have “covenant” restrictions for divorce. There will be interesting legal ramifications for marriage either way.

  54. Kate, assuming our host kindly allows me the space, that subject is vast. Here goes:

    1. No fault divorce is a national given.
    2. Federal mandates to states for child support collections to make up recent lost welfare “reform” revenues create financial incentive for divorce;
    3. Domestic violence assumptions create an impenetrable sexist shield that, despite over half of all DV being committed by women, can be used easily to violate at least four primary constitutional guarantees and essentially steal marital property and legally kidnap children from a statistical male majority;
    4. Family court, at the behest of divorce legislation recommended, amazingly, by the American Legal Assoc and influenced by what our legislators themselves tell us is a mammoth feminist lobby, create a statistical, demonstrable bias against single parents and especially fathers.
    5. These courts then support a circular cash flow between the legal lobby, feminist lobbies, local psychological professionals and lawyers, and themselves, thus reinforcing the trap of post-divorce child custody.

    These are the high points — the family is simply not immune from statist influence. From these items flows divorce and countless violations of every imaginable freedom and right possible. The Governor’s political remarriage is a mere tempest in a teapot.

    My point: Authoritarian statism has already infiltrated the marriage, and anyone with an hour and a lawyer can easily expose the ready, paid escape routes from marriage, provided they strike first and strike hard. In the end, the marriage contract is the only one not recognized by authority. There’s too much money to be made.

  55. You know what — let’s not make this thread a forum for custodial issues and grievances. Marriage is not exclusively about parenting, and more to the point, a substantive discussion of that topic is not in my opinion germane to the issue ostensibly under discussion. If you want to talk about how awful the family court system is for guys made to pay child support, go kvetch about it elsewhere. When I want to discuss it, I’ll post an entry about it.

    In the meantime, for this discussion, it’s done.

  56. You know what — let’s not make this thread a forum for custodial issues and grievances. Marriage is not exclusively about parenting, and more to the point, a substantive discussion of that topic is not in my opinion germane to the issue ostensibly under discussion. If you want to talk about how awful the family court system is for guys made to pay child support, go kvetch about it elsewhere. When I want to discuss it, I’ll post an entry about it.

    In the meantime, for this discussion, it’s done.

  57. No worries, Kate (or NV Dad, for that matter). It’s just a topic that takes us far afield from the one this entry is about.

  58. No worries, Kate (or NV Dad, for that matter). It’s just a topic that takes us far afield from the one this entry is about.

  59. NV Dad said: “Anyway, if you’d like a tit for tat, data-va-data battle, where do I sign up? You can falsely label me a misogynistic wingnut but you can not refute the hard data.”

    And yet, while John posted links to actual studies backing his point, you don’t. You haven’t posted anything other than your opinion yet. Where’s the hard data?

    As for the whole “maybe counseling pre-marriage and pre-divorce will reduce/eliminate divorces”, I know of at least one state that mandates pre-divorce counseling if there are children in the marriage (Oregon). In fact, the process to get a divorce in Oregon becomes extremely difficult in general if there are children involved. And they didn’t need a “covenant marriage” statute to do it.

  60. To be clear, I do advocate pre-marriage and pre-divorce counseling, although probably not so far as to mandate it via the government (although if the state wanted to subsidize such counseling, I probably would lump that in as “tax dollars well spent” particularly in light of the cost of divorce).

  61. To be clear, I do advocate pre-marriage and pre-divorce counseling, although probably not so far as to mandate it via the government (although if the state wanted to subsidize such counseling, I probably would lump that in as “tax dollars well spent” particularly in light of the cost of divorce).

  62. Being married, I have yet to encounter a single incident in which the state actively moved against my rights or my children, encouraged me toward fornication or abridged by personal, civil, constitutional and spiritual rights based on my status as a Married American.

    Well said, and I’ll clarify my position.

    Obviously, at least so far, traditional marriage is not under direct, legislated assault; it’s protected, contractual status however, is, which is my point.

    In other words, there’s been a sea change in marriage in the last 50 years, and while it’s attractive and politically correct to call that a victory for equal gender rights, reality shows that nothing of the sort is today’s reality.

    Yes, you won’t be induced to wreck your marriage, at least not directly. But when an enormous statistical majority of divorces are unilateral, and when an enormous statistical majority of divorces are accompanied by sexist ruin, the issue of government incentive and its ready protections for such offenses becomes paramount.

    Government — by way of special interest — has absolutely paved the way for opportunistic, ruinous divorce, provided it is pulled off in the most hostile, most acrimonious way possible. Aside from marriage, government has literally created entire inner cities of professional mothers. Breeding has replaced marriage and government helped.

    In this respect government, as with all it’s failed domestic programs, has once again aided compromising the private citizen’s honor and integrity. You are correct in that it’s still our fault, John, but the conflicts of interest are so broad and so inescapable that one wonders just how we came to be so not only as a society but as a nation of free states.

    I applaud the Governor, not for his public personna or office, but for his show of personal integrity while his legislature apparently can do nothing to stem the breakup of the family.

    Should marriage regain its firm contractual status? Do states ever need to recognize marriage in the first place? Are vast numbers of partners trapped in agonizing lives while married? The answers go to whether we’re better or worse off then we were when divorce was rare.

  63. NV Dad:

    That was a not bad post, aside from this choice bit:

    “Aside from marriage, government has literally created entire inner cities of professional mothers”

    Which, again, aside from being far afield from the issue under discussion, suggests the government promotes illegitimacy rather than, say, the idea that children of single mothers should not be allowed to starve, and rather conveniently sidesteps economic and social issues in urban areas not related to marriage (such as education and employment). It also implies that the issues of single motherhood in urban areas are somehow unique, which, being someone who lives in a substantially rural area, I assure you they are not.

    But again, an aside, and please do try to refrain from trying to shoehorn that aspect of your agenda into every discussion.

    Marriage is indeed a contractual issue, but I can certainly think of any number of contracts in which the partners can enter or leave it at will — indeed, as an independent contractor I have several of them in my file cabinent, which state that either I or the party to whom I’ve contracted can end our (business) relationship at any time, for any reason. This sort of contractual relationship is not unusual.

    Now, the difference here is that marriage is not the average contract, to which I think you would agree. However, I don’t see that it would necessarily follow that divorces should not be made unilaterally; rather it should be made clear to the people entering the contract what their right and obligations are regarding marriage (this would be the pre-counseling). I also wonder how much of any major issues could be resolved via pre-nups. In any event, I certainly agree that more information about marriage before marriage is vastly preferable to the alternative. And if after looking over information, prospective marriage partners want to enter into a pre-nup and/or “covenant”-like marriage status, that’s fine with me.

    Just as a curiosity: If we assume that marriage is substantially a contractual issue, do you have a problem with that contact being granted between people of the same sex? After all, very few other contracts are limited to parties of separate gender.

  64. NV Dad:

    That was a not bad post, aside from this choice bit:

    “Aside from marriage, government has literally created entire inner cities of professional mothers”

    Which, again, aside from being far afield from the issue under discussion, suggests the government promotes illegitimacy rather than, say, the idea that children of single mothers should not be allowed to starve, and rather conveniently sidesteps economic and social issues in urban areas not related to marriage (such as education and employment). It also implies that the issues of single motherhood in urban areas are somehow unique, which, being someone who lives in a substantially rural area, I assure you they are not.

    But again, an aside, and please do try to refrain from trying to shoehorn that aspect of your agenda into every discussion.

    Marriage is indeed a contractual issue, but I can certainly think of any number of contracts in which the partners can enter or leave it at will — indeed, as an independent contractor I have several of them in my file cabinent, which state that either I or the party to whom I’ve contracted can end our (business) relationship at any time, for any reason. This sort of contractual relationship is not unusual.

    Now, the difference here is that marriage is not the average contract, to which I think you would agree. However, I don’t see that it would necessarily follow that divorces should not be made unilaterally; rather it should be made clear to the people entering the contract what their right and obligations are regarding marriage (this would be the pre-counseling). I also wonder how much of any major issues could be resolved via pre-nups. In any event, I certainly agree that more information about marriage before marriage is vastly preferable to the alternative. And if after looking over information, prospective marriage partners want to enter into a pre-nup and/or “covenant”-like marriage status, that’s fine with me.

    Just as a curiosity: If we assume that marriage is substantially a contractual issue, do you have a problem with that contact being granted between people of the same sex? After all, very few other contracts are limited to parties of separate gender.

  65. Thank you, Mr. Scalzi. I’ll honor your request and resist the urge to respond to NV Dad et. al.

    But I will say: It’s not the strictures of the law or fear of an angry deity (which neither my husband nor I believe in) that keeps our marriage together. It’s the love *and* the work that we put into our relationship that has kept it going these past seventeen years, through economic hard times and problems with drugs and alchol.

  66. John,

    Re: if its a contract should gays have the same right?
    I think they should. I just wouldn’t call it, from a state perspective, “marriage”. Call it a “union”, “partnership” whatever. It just isn’t a “marriage”.
    It isn’t the “same”. It may have a lot of similarities but it does involve some profound differences.
    Would I call every heterosexual union “marriage”?
    Not if there were the options I described above. I’d save “marriage” only for those heterosexual couples who intend FROM THE OUTSET to create (or adopt) children. That “ideal” arrangement is what the state should support. As to any other partnerships, without kids, who cares what they are called? They only involve adults.

  67. John, while a point of semantics not easily resolved, to claim that government has little or no effect on a variety of private sector issues, of which marriage and its individual and collective end and demise are somewhat at topic here, is not a complete thought.

    The governor’s public remarriage was the original point, for which he was roundly criticized for what? Publicity, office, personal or political intent, or personal or political effect?

    The only practical fallout of his little soire was and could have been nothing more than to make certain, may I say, inconsistent political types uncomfortable. He has no authority to alter marriage, or his legislature’s treatment or lack of treatment of it, or the federal government’s heavy-handed mandates to his state to act in certain ways when dealing with the family, husbands and wives, and the children, all part and parcel of, naturally, marriage.

    Therefore harm done is nil yet criticisms are thick in the public forums?

    Why?

    Because it serves our antiquated and somewhat holier than thou separation whims, that’s why. As if god-neutral (to use your term) could exist, which obviously it cannot; philosophically it’s impossible to claim no philosophy.

    Again, I digress, but the point is that there is little or no reason to get up at arms about the governor’s event because it has no ramifications, no substance, and even no really offensive sentiment or intent.

    But getting back then to marriage as a state-recognized legal entity, when the state recognizes marriage and then allows, aids, and abets it’s harmful and statistically unilateral destruction with tools of said trade (literally, a trade) then it HAS effected marriage in ways Arkansas public covenant marriages can never and will never duplicate. Not in their wildest dreams.

    About business contracts this cannot be said, unless they are specifically and by prior agreement worded and termed to allow unilateral disengagement.

    That said, perhaps the State, then, has no right authorizing, and by the same token granting harmful tools against, the marriage “contract” with its own endorsement/recognition/what have you. By that not unwise reasoning marriage is and was never a state’s contract — I can accept that if only for reason of it’s being somewhat more honest.

    Ergo, marriage, as with all familial matters, has no place in the State, hence neither would child support, “starving children”, alimony, unilateral property division, or any other private concern that impairs personal freedom. I mean, where does it end? As a wise man recently said on a similar matter, if authoritarian state programs were the only way to solve problems, tyranny would have long proved itself successful by now.

    It’s all degrees, John. Degrees of government management of the private sector, the family, our children. There ARE entire populations of welfare dependant households where, naturally, government folly has created the will and the means to destroy traditional marriage, or at least render it practically obsolete. There ARE millions of single parents utterly disenfranchised by the state without recourse.

    Likewise, now, the rest of society suffers the constant overhang of statist incentive to leave marriage.

    There is a chicken-and-egg principle here, to be sure. But the debate can no longer realistically be expected to apply only to a nation of otherwise sensible partners suddenly throwing down their marriages in these statistical numbers and ratios simply because they collectively became enlightened about their horrible domestic situations.

    Were that the case, we’d need none of the harmful, enabling, anti-marriage tools government has, in its infinite wisdom, provided! In fact, were we all acting en masse on a brand new enlightenment that suddenly made marriage obsolete, social government applying to it wouldn’t be needed at all. If it weren’t all about the money and the power, the money and power wouldn’t be being abused in these numbers!

    Obviously, we’re a far more divided nation concerning marriage and divorce than that. The great irony is that while we’re complaining about public officials making a stand in support of their own marriage, we’re ignoring the harsh reality that the same state that suddenly has no business being involved in such things already provides willing tools for people to destroy their ex-partners, and with them, their children.

    For what?

    With regard to this event, we have a problem of perspective, not of public policy.

  68. John, while a point of semantics not easily resolved, to claim that government has little or no effect on a variety of private sector issues, of which marriage and its individual and collective end and demise are somewhat at topic here, is not a complete thought.

    The governor’s public remarriage was the original point, for which he was roundly criticized for what? Publicity, office, personal or political intent, or personal or political effect?

    The only practical fallout of his little soire was and could have been nothing more than to make certain, may I say, inconsistent political types uncomfortable. He has no authority to alter marriage, or his legislature’s treatment or lack of treatment of it, or the federal government’s heavy-handed mandates to his state to act in certain ways when dealing with the family, husbands and wives, and the children, all part and parcel of, naturally, marriage.

    Therefore harm done is nil yet criticisms are thick in the public forums?

    Why?

    Because it serves our antiquated and somewhat holier than thou separation whims, that’s why. As if god-neutral (to use your term) could exist, which obviously it cannot; philosophically it’s impossible to claim no philosophy.

    Again, I digress, but the point is that there is little or no reason to get up at arms about the governor’s event because it has no ramifications, no substance, and even no really offensive sentiment or intent.

    But getting back then to marriage as a state-recognized legal entity, when the state recognizes marriage and then allows, aids, and abets it’s harmful and statistically unilateral destruction with tools of said trade (literally, a trade) then it HAS effected marriage in ways Arkansas public covenant marriages can never and will never duplicate. Not in their wildest dreams.

    About business contracts this cannot be said, unless they are specifically and by prior agreement worded and termed to allow unilateral disengagement.

    That said, perhaps the State, then, has no right authorizing, and by the same token granting harmful tools against, the marriage “contract” with its own endorsement/recognition/what have you. By that not unwise reasoning marriage is and was never a state’s contract — I can accept that if only for reason of it’s being somewhat more honest.

    Ergo, marriage, as with all familial matters, has no place in the State, hence neither would child support, “starving children”, alimony, unilateral property division, or any other private concern that impairs personal freedom. I mean, where does it end? As a wise man recently said on a similar matter, if authoritarian state programs were the only way to solve problems, tyranny would have long proved itself successful by now.

    It’s all degrees, John. Degrees of government management of the private sector, the family, our children. There ARE entire populations of welfare dependant households where, naturally, government folly has created the will and the means to destroy traditional marriage, or at least render it practically obsolete. There ARE millions of single parents utterly disenfranchised by the state without recourse.

    Likewise, now, the rest of society suffers the constant overhang of statist incentive to leave marriage.

    There is a chicken-and-egg principle here, to be sure. But the debate can no longer realistically be expected to apply only to a nation of otherwise sensible partners suddenly throwing down their marriages in these statistical numbers and ratios simply because they collectively became enlightened about their horrible domestic situations.

    Were that the case, we’d need none of the harmful, enabling, anti-marriage tools government has, in its infinite wisdom, provided! In fact, were we all acting en masse on a brand new enlightenment that suddenly made marriage obsolete, social government applying to it wouldn’t be needed at all. If it weren’t all about the money and the power, the money and power wouldn’t be being abused in these numbers!

    Obviously, we’re a far more divided nation concerning marriage and divorce than that. The great irony is that while we’re complaining about public officials making a stand in support of their own marriage, we’re ignoring the harsh reality that the same state that suddenly has no business being involved in such things already provides willing tools for people to destroy their ex-partners, and with them, their children.

    For what?

    With regard to this event, we have a problem of perspective, not of public policy.

  69. John,

    How does the fact that born-again Christians are just likely to get divorced make the left and Hollywood any less culpable for the decline in the institution of marriage? Do you think that born-again Christians don’t go to movies and watch soap operas? Christians are unfortunately just as influenced by popular culture as everyone else. Are you really going to try to pretend that the “sexual revolution” and “free love” pushed by liberals in the 60’s and 70’s had no effect? If that didn’t have any causal effect on our society’s divorce problem, then what did?

    I mean, clearly, given the cavalier attitude of the Hollywood culture and my own God-neutral, liberal ways, I should have been divorced already. And yet here I am, stubbornly refusing to do so.

    I never said that one needed to be a Christian to have a successful marriage — you put those words in my mouth. Marriage is obviously an institution that is universal across cultures, races, and religions.

    I also still don’t understand how my decision to enter into a covenant marriage can make you can feel “insulted,” and I particularly don’t understand how you can maintain that view while at the same time holding that you don’t have a problem with covenant marriages being offered. Either you do have a problem with them or you don’t.

    If anyone here has the right to feel “insulted,” I would say that your calling my marriage decision “stupid” would qualify me for that honor.

  70. Just as a curiosity: If we assume that marriage is substantially a contractual issue, do you have a problem with that contact being granted between people of the same sex? After all, very few other contracts are limited to parties of separate gender.

    No, on the face of it I do not. Deeper issues eventually come to mind, however, such as the fact that statistically, gay-marriage-tolerant cultures suffer much poorer socio-economic performance — check with the gay marriage researchers at NRO.

    But should there be a legal impediment to gay marriage? No constitutionally. But there WILL be serious issues (not unlike the one you raise about covenent marriage) the inevitable divorces, the custody wars, the ruin-by-state, and the other legal ramifications of authoritarian involvement.

    Again, state’s involvement in the prior contract and then again in the contract voiding will occur regardless of gender.

  71. Wow, what a load of hooey.

    First, there is absolutely no evidence that in the ‘good old days’ people were better at keeping their word. Prove to me that is true.

    Second, the myth that in the ‘good old days’ people were more faithful, I don’t buy that either.

    And I think John demolished “Most people (meaning what, liberals?) think of marriage as a throw-away option to be discarded at the first sign of trouble.” The truth is EVERYONE wants their marriage to last forever, and divorce is a painful option.

    And anybody who thinks the state should not be involved in contract law is nuts. Geez. Everyday people (and corporations) make contracts and break contracts.

    Here is my view. If you feel you need the power of the state to keep your wife married to you then be my guest. I’ll even let you call it a ‘covenant’ marriage, although I was taught covenants were made with God, not the government.

    But you are fooling yourself. The government may force your wife to attend ‘counseling’ but they can’t force her to listen. The government might even force your wife to remain ‘married’ to you, but they can’t force her to love you. The thing is, there are no guarantees. Anyone who marries, whether in front of God or a Judge or both risks divorce, either de jure or de facto, and no law will change that.

  72. Wow, what a load of hooey.

    First, there is absolutely no evidence that in the ‘good old days’ people were better at keeping their word. Prove to me that is true.

    Second, the myth that in the ‘good old days’ people were more faithful, I don’t buy that either.

    And I think John demolished “Most people (meaning what, liberals?) think of marriage as a throw-away option to be discarded at the first sign of trouble.” The truth is EVERYONE wants their marriage to last forever, and divorce is a painful option.

    And anybody who thinks the state should not be involved in contract law is nuts. Geez. Everyday people (and corporations) make contracts and break contracts.

    Here is my view. If you feel you need the power of the state to keep your wife married to you then be my guest. I’ll even let you call it a ‘covenant’ marriage, although I was taught covenants were made with God, not the government.

    But you are fooling yourself. The government may force your wife to attend ‘counseling’ but they can’t force her to listen. The government might even force your wife to remain ‘married’ to you, but they can’t force her to love you. The thing is, there are no guarantees. Anyone who marries, whether in front of God or a Judge or both risks divorce, either de jure or de facto, and no law will change that.

  73. It’s interesting to consider the “libertarian” position here (and Reynolds and Althouse):

    Gay marriage = good
    Covenant marriage = “insulting”

    Hypocrisy, no?

  74. So, Tripp, I assume that you think we should all be able to divorce Islamic style, right? You don’t think that a lot of people would get mad, get divorced, and regret it in a short time? What about the broken families and heartbreak that such a system would put everyone through? Not to mention the fact that no one could ever really feel secure in their marriage because a divorce could only be a moment away.

    Why do you think that Islamic women seem to put up with repeated physical abuse? It’s because they know that if they complain, their husbands can divorce them in an instant.

  75. Not to mention the fact that no one could ever really feel secure in their marriage because a divorce could only be a moment away.

    Dude, the kitchen knives are even closer. Run! Run!

  76. So Tripp, if the state reverted to divorce needing to be justified on grounds, if it didn’t pay one gender to take the children, the property, and the freedom of another, if family court didn’t sleep with the lobbys that elected them, if bad feminism didn’t dominate the issue in state’s legislatures, if the law association hadn’t advised the lopsided divorce/custody laws to the same legislatures who owe them their elections, and if there weren’t literally billions of dollars at stake in the legal/psychological industry lapping up all the divorce/custody cream, tell me, would divorce statistics improve?

    Assuming a drop in divorce rates and the attendant documented harm it creates in children was an improvement, that is.

    Or are we really just protecting our sexist, old-fashioned, politically correct sacred cows when we, as the previous poster pointedly observed, find great offense in inconsequential long-term heterosexual marriage vows by public officials while defending with our lives gay marriage, the latter of which has so far acquited itself rather poorly on the national landscape?

  77. Ryan Booth:

    “How does the fact that born-again Christians are just likely to get divorced make the left and Hollywood any less culpable for the decline in the institution of marriage?”

    By suggesting, among other things, that the left and Hollywood are no more culpable for the putative decline of the institution of marriage than anyone else. I could as easily imply that the high divorce rate in the southern states is related to the rise of NASCAR as a popular sport, or, for that matter, the rise of the Republican party to power in particular states (Hint: look at which states have the highest divorce rates). However, correlation is not the same thing as causality, which is a datum with which many people have a hard time.

    I understand it’s convenient for conservatives to blame someone else for their own moral failings; if you can pin the blame on lax modern standards and your political opponents than you don’t actually have to assume responsibility for your actions yourself. However — call me old-fashioned, nay, conservative this way — I pretty much believe that people are responsible for their own actions and moral decisions. When born-again Christians end their marriages, it’s not the pernicious influence of licentious modern society that compels them to that course of action, it’s because they don’t want to be married any more. To suggest, as you seem to do, that television has more influence on these people lives than their own pastors, family and church seems awfully belittling to the religious life of these people.

    “I also still don’t understand how my decision to enter into a covenant marriage can make you can feel ‘insulted,’ and I particularly don’t understand how you can maintain that view while at the same time holding that you don’t have a problem with covenant marriages being offered.”

    Well, there are lots of things that I feel are perfectly idiotic that I have no problem with being completely legal, Ryan. It is possible to dislike or even disapprove of something and yet allow others to do it. I think “covenant” marriages exist primarily as a way to let certain people make a largely unnecessary political statement and to feel as if their marriage is somehow better than everyone else’s: I tend to think that’s pretty smug. However, inasmuch as your “covenant” marriage doesn’t actually change the status of my own marriage, why should I care? Be my guest and get yourself a shiny “covenant” marriage. Mazel tov.

    “If anyone here has the right to feel ‘insulted,’ I would say that your calling my marriage decision ‘stupid’ would qualify me for that honor.”

    Well, I don’t recall suggesting your decision to be married is stupid, Ryan — indeed, I wish you great joy in your marriage; getting married was the best thing to happen to me, and I sincerely hope you’ll feel the same way. Just don’t go about working on the assumption your marriage is better than my own because it’s got the word “covenant” in front of it and mine doesn’t. If you can manage that, I suspect we’ll get along fine.

    “Why do you think that Islamic women seem to put up with repeated physical abuse? It’s because they know that if they complain, their husbands can divorce them in an instant.”

    And it might also be that in many Islamic states, women have only slightly more rights than a lamp. Comparing such a situation with a similar situation here in the US is not likely to give you similar results.

  78. Ryan Booth:

    “How does the fact that born-again Christians are just likely to get divorced make the left and Hollywood any less culpable for the decline in the institution of marriage?”

    By suggesting, among other things, that the left and Hollywood are no more culpable for the putative decline of the institution of marriage than anyone else. I could as easily imply that the high divorce rate in the southern states is related to the rise of NASCAR as a popular sport, or, for that matter, the rise of the Republican party to power in particular states (Hint: look at which states have the highest divorce rates). However, correlation is not the same thing as causality, which is a datum with which many people have a hard time.

    I understand it’s convenient for conservatives to blame someone else for their own moral failings; if you can pin the blame on lax modern standards and your political opponents than you don’t actually have to assume responsibility for your actions yourself. However — call me old-fashioned, nay, conservative this way — I pretty much believe that people are responsible for their own actions and moral decisions. When born-again Christians end their marriages, it’s not the pernicious influence of licentious modern society that compels them to that course of action, it’s because they don’t want to be married any more. To suggest, as you seem to do, that television has more influence on these people lives than their own pastors, family and church seems awfully belittling to the religious life of these people.

    “I also still don’t understand how my decision to enter into a covenant marriage can make you can feel ‘insulted,’ and I particularly don’t understand how you can maintain that view while at the same time holding that you don’t have a problem with covenant marriages being offered.”

    Well, there are lots of things that I feel are perfectly idiotic that I have no problem with being completely legal, Ryan. It is possible to dislike or even disapprove of something and yet allow others to do it. I think “covenant” marriages exist primarily as a way to let certain people make a largely unnecessary political statement and to feel as if their marriage is somehow better than everyone else’s: I tend to think that’s pretty smug. However, inasmuch as your “covenant” marriage doesn’t actually change the status of my own marriage, why should I care? Be my guest and get yourself a shiny “covenant” marriage. Mazel tov.

    “If anyone here has the right to feel ‘insulted,’ I would say that your calling my marriage decision ‘stupid’ would qualify me for that honor.”

    Well, I don’t recall suggesting your decision to be married is stupid, Ryan — indeed, I wish you great joy in your marriage; getting married was the best thing to happen to me, and I sincerely hope you’ll feel the same way. Just don’t go about working on the assumption your marriage is better than my own because it’s got the word “covenant” in front of it and mine doesn’t. If you can manage that, I suspect we’ll get along fine.

    “Why do you think that Islamic women seem to put up with repeated physical abuse? It’s because they know that if they complain, their husbands can divorce them in an instant.”

    And it might also be that in many Islamic states, women have only slightly more rights than a lamp. Comparing such a situation with a similar situation here in the US is not likely to give you similar results.

  79. [deleted because NV Dad does not listen to directions]

    You’ve already been asked not to make this thread a forum for custodial issues and grievances, NV Dad. Don’t do it again.

  80. [deleted because NV Dad does not listen to directions]

    You’ve already been asked not to make this thread a forum for custodial issues and grievances, NV Dad. Don’t do it again.

  81. Apologies, John; I’ll watch it.

    (Please do note that in the last post, only one point is exclusively parental. I herewith edit the last line to read just “Have a hostile ex…”)

  82. Thank you, NV Dad.

    Now, earlier you wrote:

    “But should there be a legal impediment to gay marriage? No constitutionally. But there WILL be serious issues (not unlike the one you raise about covenent marriage) the inevitable divorces, the custody wars, the ruin-by-state, and the other legal ramifications of authoritarian involvement.”

    Undoubtedly the bad will come with the good in such a situation. Thanks for responding to the question.

  83. Thank you, NV Dad.

    Now, earlier you wrote:

    “But should there be a legal impediment to gay marriage? No constitutionally. But there WILL be serious issues (not unlike the one you raise about covenent marriage) the inevitable divorces, the custody wars, the ruin-by-state, and the other legal ramifications of authoritarian involvement.”

    Undoubtedly the bad will come with the good in such a situation. Thanks for responding to the question.

  84. States with the highest divorce rates also generally have the highest marriage rates, and states with the lowest divorce rates also generally have the lowest marriage rates. Once you control for marriage rates, there is no family-value-state hypocrisy. And once you control for income, education, age at marriage, race, etc., the states where family values and tradional marriage are political buzzwords (Texas, Arkansas, etc.) have lower divorce rates than California, Massachusetts, and the rest. Do the math.

  85. Ryan,

    Sorry to break it to you, dude, but divorce really could be just a moment away, and there is nothing you can do about it.

    And you better stop reading right now, because I’m saying something even scarier.

    Death could be just a moment away, too.

  86. House of Payne,

    Oh no you don’t! You’ve made the assertion. You back it up.

    And, since you mention this also, I’d like to see the correlation between divorce and income, education, age at marriage, and race.

  87. House of Payne,

    Oh no you don’t! You’ve made the assertion. You back it up.

    And, since you mention this also, I’d like to see the correlation between divorce and income, education, age at marriage, and race.

  88. NV Dad,

    Whew, what a load of hooey. You asked a question which was really a paragraph full of wild assertions. You also made the assumption that the fewer divorces the better.

    Is this how you behaved with your wife? Do you suppose that had anything to do with your divorce?

  89. House of Payne writes:

    “Once you control for marriage rates, there is no family-value-state hypocrisy. And once you control for income, education, age at marriage, race, etc., the states where family values and tradional marriage are political buzzwords (Texas, Arkansas, etc.) have lower divorce rates than California, Massachusetts, and the rest.”

    You clearly missed the conversation upstream in the thread where I showed that even accounting for variation in marriage rates between Ca and Ar doesn’t account for the disparity in divorce rates. Also, of course “controlling” for all the factors you suggest would spit out meaningless statistics, as they would have no reflection on the real world. Try again.

  90. Tripp:

    “Is this how you behaved with your wife? Do you suppose that had anything to do with your divorce?”

    Now, now, Tripp. Play nice.

  91. Tripp:

    “Is this how you behaved with your wife? Do you suppose that had anything to do with your divorce?”

    Now, now, Tripp. Play nice.

  92. I disagree with government involvement in even so much as directly influencing the marital climate, which is why I struggle in understanding the great harm of the rather meaningless one-off Huckabee re-marriage versus the real foundational role of government in collective American marriage as an existing policy. Is it our appearances-centric culture that sneers at such, um, backwards symbolisms as this?

    Or is there bona fide harm in even so much as the appearance of a linkage between public office and some sort of vague, quasi-religious statement on private sector values?

    Let’s contrast the Huckabee fallout to other forms of direct influence by government on marriage. John, you wrote,

    The only good thing about Arkansas’ covenant marriage law is it requires couples counseling before the wedding; should covenant marriages actually have a lower incidence of divorce, I’d imagine you’d find the pre-wedding counseling was the key.

    “Only good thing.” If it is now admirable to involve government in marital engineering, how is this 1) constitutional, even in tone, and 2) legally (and practically) less offensive than the original separation issue re: Huckabee’s personal marriage and his public office? As governor, he is allowed to possess personal values, yes?

    I mean, even Maggie Gallagher, who’s ostensibly pro-marriage Bush-Administration goings on I despise, has completely valid, sound, and essential points about marriage and the family, backed up with reams of data supporting traditional, long-term marriage.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean anyone would be wise advocating a government stance on marriage if it means state involvement. Keeping church and state apart is what the Huckabee bruhaha is all about, right? Or is it that he just looks goofy espousing values that time has already proven to be in the best interest of the family?

    So…what’s the functional balance point between condemning awkward public Arkansas arena marriages for appearances, and defending the rest of the already entrenched marriage meddling courtesy of Washington DC?

  93. NV Dad,

    How can you expect government to stay out of marriage? There are property issues that may come up during divorce or for sure at the death of one of the spouses, and then there is the issue of what happens to any minor children.

    Geez, I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘family issues’ were one of the first things put before a ‘judge.’

  94. What an interesting thread. I’m glad I got the chance to read all the opinions about covenant marriage. At first I thought it is some right wing moralizing, but I can see its benefits. I don’t think it creates two classes of marriage or allows people to be more smug about their marriage. I don’t know why some people are getting insulted about it. Maybe it’s the religious right overtones that casts a shadow of smugness or self-righteousness. Covenant Marriage sends the message of either being truly committed to a relationship (“we probably will never need to use this”) or more insecure about the marriage working out (“we’re going to need all the help we can get to stay together”).

    I truly believe (on some level) people want to see their marriages succeed. I have seen people not right for each other enter into marriage. I don’t believe their marriages would have lasted longer they had married under a covenant marriage. They would have done the counseling and then gotten divorced. It might have prevented a few people from divorcing and remarrying each other – they might have just worked it out in counseling. But then, maybe they needed the time apart?

    Had there been a covenant marriage when I married, I wonder how that conversation would have gone. We are still happily married 13 years later. We can not imagine divorcing one another and we would probably go to counseling before opting for divorce. Would we have chosen the convenant marriage as proof of our commitment, or as a way to keep the other person from just leaving the relationship? (what happens in covenant marriages when one person takes off? Do they have to stay married because there was no opportunity for counseling?)

    I don’t see how anyone can say making divorces easier is ruining marriage. Those easy divorce laws are on the books because they are supported by citizens. I’m sure there are people who could have worked harder to save their marriages. By far, the people getting divorced are people in very unhappy situations who have come to the conclusion to Dear Abby’s question: “are you better off with him/her or without him/her?”. Maybe we should be making it harder to get married. That might prevent divorce. I know that when I was getting married I would have been extremely insulted by laws that assumed I didn’t know what I was doing.

    My parents divorced after 35 unhappy years. I think counseling and a 2 year waiting period would have just prolonged the torment. It would have prevented my dad’s goofy rebound marriage, but that had unexpected blessings as well. Let’s just say he won’t be doing THAT again (she has passed away).

    I agree with the comments about divorce being influenced since the equal rights movement. That probably has played a large role as women came to define their lives differently and expect different things from marriage.

    I support gay marriage – and it should be called marriage. Anything less is discrimination. Since we don’t have that yet, I think that “domestic partnerships” should be limited to homosexuals. If straight people want the benefits of being married (i.e. health insurance, property rights, next of kin rights…) then they should get married. I really don’t see the difference in the commitment. Maybe someone can enlighten me there.

    I also don’t understand the comment that someone made about children being better off in “traditional” families. Certainly children are better off in families that aren’t faced with financial trouble, which are mostly single parent households. Divorces are hard on the children but in some cases, they are better off when the fighting stops. Ultimately, they are best in homes where the parent(s) are happy and the children are loved. Loving homes doesn’t exclude homosexual parents.

    Just my opinion.

  95. What an interesting thread. I’m glad I got the chance to read all the opinions about covenant marriage. At first I thought it is some right wing moralizing, but I can see its benefits. I don’t think it creates two classes of marriage or allows people to be more smug about their marriage. I don’t know why some people are getting insulted about it. Maybe it’s the religious right overtones that casts a shadow of smugness or self-righteousness. Covenant Marriage sends the message of either being truly committed to a relationship (“we probably will never need to use this”) or more insecure about the marriage working out (“we’re going to need all the help we can get to stay together”).

    I truly believe (on some level) people want to see their marriages succeed. I have seen people not right for each other enter into marriage. I don’t believe their marriages would have lasted longer they had married under a covenant marriage. They would have done the counseling and then gotten divorced. It might have prevented a few people from divorcing and remarrying each other – they might have just worked it out in counseling. But then, maybe they needed the time apart?

    Had there been a covenant marriage when I married, I wonder how that conversation would have gone. We are still happily married 13 years later. We can not imagine divorcing one another and we would probably go to counseling before opting for divorce. Would we have chosen the convenant marriage as proof of our commitment, or as a way to keep the other person from just leaving the relationship? (what happens in covenant marriages when one person takes off? Do they have to stay married because there was no opportunity for counseling?)

    I don’t see how anyone can say making divorces easier is ruining marriage. Those easy divorce laws are on the books because they are supported by citizens. I’m sure there are people who could have worked harder to save their marriages. By far, the people getting divorced are people in very unhappy situations who have come to the conclusion to Dear Abby’s question: “are you better off with him/her or without him/her?”. Maybe we should be making it harder to get married. That might prevent divorce. I know that when I was getting married I would have been extremely insulted by laws that assumed I didn’t know what I was doing.

    My parents divorced after 35 unhappy years. I think counseling and a 2 year waiting period would have just prolonged the torment. It would have prevented my dad’s goofy rebound marriage, but that had unexpected blessings as well. Let’s just say he won’t be doing THAT again (she has passed away).

    I agree with the comments about divorce being influenced since the equal rights movement. That probably has played a large role as women came to define their lives differently and expect different things from marriage.

    I support gay marriage – and it should be called marriage. Anything less is discrimination. Since we don’t have that yet, I think that “domestic partnerships” should be limited to homosexuals. If straight people want the benefits of being married (i.e. health insurance, property rights, next of kin rights…) then they should get married. I really don’t see the difference in the commitment. Maybe someone can enlighten me there.

    I also don’t understand the comment that someone made about children being better off in “traditional” families. Certainly children are better off in families that aren’t faced with financial trouble, which are mostly single parent households. Divorces are hard on the children but in some cases, they are better off when the fighting stops. Ultimately, they are best in homes where the parent(s) are happy and the children are loved. Loving homes doesn’t exclude homosexual parents.

    Just my opinion.

  96. Oi….buncha people hit this thread since the last time I posted in it.

    I didn’t get much further than Mr. L’s lovely rant–he said something that just makes me want to spit:

    Are you sure she’ll put you first? Remember, marriage for women isn’t like it is for men. If you’re male, divorce means hell for your kids and hell for your bank account in all liklihood (and don’t count on that prenup — courts love the ‘inadequate representation’ gambit), so it’d better damn well be worth it, even to consider it for a moment.

    Nice one, bucko. That statement is so steeped in misogyny, I don’t know where to begin: the presumption that women don’t care how divorce affects the kids or the man they married, that men are the only ones who suffer during divorce, that women are totally incapable of abiding by a prenup, or even indeed, that either parties need one at all. How does a person get so cynical? (I can make a few guesses, but try not lay the blame for the actions of one or two people at the feet of an entire gender.)

  97. If you’re done ridiculing me, I’ll answer this:

    How can you expect government to stay out of marriage? There are property issues…

    Same way they don’t offer all the sexist ruins of citizens in, say, mortgage contracts. Or car loans. Business contracts.

    Only family law wrecks folks like that.

    Oh, about misogyny; that’s a cute, engendering, antique notion for the remnant feminist culture but in today’s world, it doesn’t apply. I can give you three to six news stories a day about divorce-inducing family law gender bias, and then I can cite weekly personal experiences in my local legal system.

    Multiply that by 200 cities, and by 50 countries. Face it: Divorce pays.

  98. NV Dad said:
    “Oh, about misogyny; that’s a cute, engendering, antique notion for the remnant feminist culture but in today’s world, it doesn’t apply. I can give you three to six news stories a day about divorce-inducing family law gender bias…”

    Yes, but you haven’t. Every single one of your posts has been a thinly veiled screed unsupported by either hard facts or evidence. You offer nothing but unsupported hysteria. You add nothing to the conversation.

    Misogyny: n. Hatred of women

    Anybody who says: Remember, marriage for women isn’t like it is for men. . . But for women, divorce can be a sweet deal. . .
    is expressing nothing less then the abject hatred for one-half of the human race.

  99. NV Dad said:
    “Oh, about misogyny; that’s a cute, engendering, antique notion for the remnant feminist culture but in today’s world, it doesn’t apply. I can give you three to six news stories a day about divorce-inducing family law gender bias…”

    Yes, but you haven’t. Every single one of your posts has been a thinly veiled screed unsupported by either hard facts or evidence. You offer nothing but unsupported hysteria. You add nothing to the conversation.

    Misogyny: n. Hatred of women

    Anybody who says: Remember, marriage for women isn’t like it is for men. . . But for women, divorce can be a sweet deal. . .
    is expressing nothing less then the abject hatred for one-half of the human race.

  100. Ah Kevin. The thinly veiled screed, is it?

    Out of respect for our host’s advice, which is precisely why I’ve intentionally not blown these ignorant notions about the state and the fam- I mean, marriage out of the water, how about you get permission for me to do what I tacitly promised not to.

    I.e., post about 500 pages of references; federal, state-by-state, independent, media, and then personal. Be careful what you ask for.

    Anybody who says: “Remember, marriage for women isn’t like it is for men. . . But for women, divorce can be a sweet deal. . .” is expressing nothing less then the abject hatred for one-half of the human race.

    The abject hatred. Seriously, and with as much respect as possible, who are you playing to?

  101. Ah Kevin. The thinly veiled screed, is it?

    Out of respect for our host’s advice, which is precisely why I’ve intentionally not blown these ignorant notions about the state and the fam- I mean, marriage out of the water, how about you get permission for me to do what I tacitly promised not to.

    I.e., post about 500 pages of references; federal, state-by-state, independent, media, and then personal. Be careful what you ask for.

    Anybody who says: “Remember, marriage for women isn’t like it is for men. . . But for women, divorce can be a sweet deal. . .” is expressing nothing less then the abject hatred for one-half of the human race.

    The abject hatred. Seriously, and with as much respect as possible, who are you playing to?

  102. Gov’s Covenant Marriage Bashed

    Law Professor blogger Ann Althouse of the U. of Wisconsin School of Law (I graduated there) is bashing Governor Mike Huckabee for publicly renewing his wedding vows via Arkansas’s

  103. Gov’s Covenant Marriage Bashed

    Law Professor blogger Ann Althouse of the U. of Wisconsin School of Law (I graduated there) is bashing Governor Mike Huckabee for publicly renewing his wedding vows via Arkansas’s

  104. NV Dad, please be clear: The misogyny issue is not about anything you said. I was responding to “Mr. L,” whose post suggested that women enjoyed destroying families and tearing their marriages apart. Suggesting that a whole group likes to do unconsciounable things indicates a hatred for that group. If he described all black people that way, that would be racism. If he described all lesbians that way, it would be homophobia. He described all women that way. Hence, misogyny.

    Also, I apologize for the bombastic tone of my post. Sometimes I’m not able to self-edit fast enough.

    As far as facts and hard figures go, however, I can’t speak for the host of this fine website. However, anybody who says: . . .

    Actually, I was going to find a claim that you made, and ask that you support it with evidence (a website address would be fine). However, I had a hard time finding any actual claims that you made. Most of your comments are similar to this:
    With no-fault divorce, family court corruption and acrimony, police oppression, and making big money off the other side suddenly in place, most as the result of FEDERAL mandates that repay states for lost welfare-reform revenues in Orwellian child support pressure that jails single parents and steals their property without due process or equal llegal protection, who wants to stay married, especially in a feminist lobby-driven society?!

    I think you’re trying to say that the government encourages people to get divorces. But there’s no actual claim there. Nothing along the lines of “Studies show that 29% of women considered their financial position post-divorce prior to marriage.” If you would like to make a solid claim, and then support it with evidence (again, I’m sure a URL wouldn’t be objectionable), then there might be grounds for a discussion.

    K

  105. NV Dad, please be clear: The misogyny issue is not about anything you said. I was responding to “Mr. L,” whose post suggested that women enjoyed destroying families and tearing their marriages apart. Suggesting that a whole group likes to do unconsciounable things indicates a hatred for that group. If he described all black people that way, that would be racism. If he described all lesbians that way, it would be homophobia. He described all women that way. Hence, misogyny.

    Also, I apologize for the bombastic tone of my post. Sometimes I’m not able to self-edit fast enough.

    As far as facts and hard figures go, however, I can’t speak for the host of this fine website. However, anybody who says: . . .

    Actually, I was going to find a claim that you made, and ask that you support it with evidence (a website address would be fine). However, I had a hard time finding any actual claims that you made. Most of your comments are similar to this:
    With no-fault divorce, family court corruption and acrimony, police oppression, and making big money off the other side suddenly in place, most as the result of FEDERAL mandates that repay states for lost welfare-reform revenues in Orwellian child support pressure that jails single parents and steals their property without due process or equal llegal protection, who wants to stay married, especially in a feminist lobby-driven society?!

    I think you’re trying to say that the government encourages people to get divorces. But there’s no actual claim there. Nothing along the lines of “Studies show that 29% of women considered their financial position post-divorce prior to marriage.” If you would like to make a solid claim, and then support it with evidence (again, I’m sure a URL wouldn’t be objectionable), then there might be grounds for a discussion.

    K

  106. Kevin,

    There’s a saying, probably common to all industries, and certainly to government that says you don’t discuss problems you can’t fix. Or with government, that you yourself made. Add decades of habit to this denial and you end up so far removed from your original goals, principles, and justifications that you give up on them.

    That’s family law in the US.

    I don’t think anyone here thinks government is the perfect nanny state many dependent wanabees would like it to be. Consider public education, public health, welfare, and just about any federal program filtered down through the states. Do any of ’em really work?

    So, right out of the gate, we’ve no realistic, defensable claim to support government suddenly making a success out of our nation’s enormous divorce and fatherless rates when it’s botched everything else. Those divorce statistics exist and nobody disputes them. We also all know government has financial compensation, alimony, domestic violence, custody, mental health, education, and other “services” specific to ex-spouses and single parents.

    Now. Take the statistic that shows approximately 80% of all single parent households are operated by mothers. Add that over 80% of divorces are initiated by women. Unilaterally. Stir in a liberal misconception that domestic violence is a male-only problem — it’s anything but — and what do you suppose you end up with?

    Now, for good measure add feminist and drug lobbies. Lawyer lobbies. Now where are we?

    Add “best interest” ambiguity and autonomy to family court decisions — how we got to those 80%+ mother-run households — and do so realizing that family law has no obligation to the usual courtroom procedures, rights, or protections. Add federal programs mandated to collect support almost by any means.

    See where this is going? And we haven’t even gotten to the hard facts yet, which would overwhelm this page. The evidence; the documentation and statistics. My point is that a simple mental experiment shows us the holes in the common, everyday System. It’s not exactly a mystery.

    The US has no meaningful restraint when it comes to anything else domestic, why would it magically when it comes to divorce?

    If you want to view hard data, search for divorce and parent’s rights topics and be prepared to spend days researching.

    For a reasonable summary in a daily news log, click my link.

    Good luck in your work.

  107. Take the statistic that shows approximately 80% of all single parent households are operated by mothers. Add that over 80% of divorces are initiated by women.

    See, now that’s a good start. But if you’re going to throw out statistics, you have to tell us where you get those statistics from. If you want to convince somebody to your point of view, you need to make it easy for them. Just a web address would be fine.

    Assuming, arguendo, that the statistics are true, what do they mean? The person who initiates the divorce proceeding isn’t necessarily the one at fault. In fact, it seems to me just the opposite. If a spouse catches the other one cheating, which one is going to file for divorce? If a spouse gets tired of the other not having a job, and not doing work around the house, which one is going to file for divorce?

    As far as the number of single-parent households operated by women, here’s a statistic I’d like to see: How likely is the husband to get sole custody if he chooses to fight for it? Just curious.

    K

  108. Take the statistic that shows approximately 80% of all single parent households are operated by mothers. Add that over 80% of divorces are initiated by women.

    See, now that’s a good start. But if you’re going to throw out statistics, you have to tell us where you get those statistics from. If you want to convince somebody to your point of view, you need to make it easy for them. Just a web address would be fine.

    Assuming, arguendo, that the statistics are true, what do they mean? The person who initiates the divorce proceeding isn’t necessarily the one at fault. In fact, it seems to me just the opposite. If a spouse catches the other one cheating, which one is going to file for divorce? If a spouse gets tired of the other not having a job, and not doing work around the house, which one is going to file for divorce?

    As far as the number of single-parent households operated by women, here’s a statistic I’d like to see: How likely is the husband to get sole custody if he chooses to fight for it? Just curious.

    K

  109. Kevin, for someone requiring proofs, you venture far out on a particularly unreasonable limb to defend your biases: Men cheat on women more — 80 vs 20 — and THAT results in divorce?

    Your stats defending this, Kevin? (And in your attempt to justify superficial divorce, notice your feminist views about income and lifestyle?)

    Anyway, have you checked the sources I suggested?

    How likely is the husband to get sole custody if he chooses to fight for it?

    The proof is in the pudding: We know that the sum total of fatherless children households is well over 80%. The real question is how many fathers fight for equal shared parenting and are denied.

    If you want more than this on parenting you’ll go it alone. I wish to limit my comments to marriage and divorce as much as I can.

  110. Kevin, for someone requiring proofs, you venture far out on a particularly unreasonable limb to defend your biases: Men cheat on women more — 80 vs 20 — and THAT results in divorce?

    Your stats defending this, Kevin? (And in your attempt to justify superficial divorce, notice your feminist views about income and lifestyle?)

    Anyway, have you checked the sources I suggested?

    How likely is the husband to get sole custody if he chooses to fight for it?

    The proof is in the pudding: We know that the sum total of fatherless children households is well over 80%. The real question is how many fathers fight for equal shared parenting and are denied.

    If you want more than this on parenting you’ll go it alone. I wish to limit my comments to marriage and divorce as much as I can.

  111. Men cheat on women more — 80 vs 20 — and THAT results in divorce?

    Those are your statistics, not mine. Don’t you go putting words into my mouth!

    We know that the sum total of fatherless children households is well over 80%.

    No, we don’t! You keep saying it, and expecting us to take it as an article of faith. I’m not making any assertions about divorce in this country. I’m asking you to back yours up with facts and statistics.

    Anyway, have you checked the sources I suggested?

    What sources???? You said: For a reasonable summary in a daily news log, click my link. That’s the only source you’ve listed. And I went there. An interesting aggregation of news sources. But I was unable to find links to the statistics you quoted. Perhaps you could list a URL for them?

    (And in your attempt to justify superficial divorce, notice your feminist views about income and lifestyle?)

    I’m not even sure what that means. I never made any claims about income and lifestyle. Moreover, I never said anything pro or con divorce. Don’t go putting words into my mouth again.

    K

  112. Men cheat on women more — 80 vs 20 — and THAT results in divorce?

    Those are your statistics, not mine. Don’t you go putting words into my mouth!

    We know that the sum total of fatherless children households is well over 80%.

    No, we don’t! You keep saying it, and expecting us to take it as an article of faith. I’m not making any assertions about divorce in this country. I’m asking you to back yours up with facts and statistics.

    Anyway, have you checked the sources I suggested?

    What sources???? You said: For a reasonable summary in a daily news log, click my link. That’s the only source you’ve listed. And I went there. An interesting aggregation of news sources. But I was unable to find links to the statistics you quoted. Perhaps you could list a URL for them?

    (And in your attempt to justify superficial divorce, notice your feminist views about income and lifestyle?)

    I’m not even sure what that means. I never made any claims about income and lifestyle. Moreover, I never said anything pro or con divorce. Don’t go putting words into my mouth again.

    K

  113. Kevin said:

    Assuming, arguendo, that the statistics are true, what do they mean? The person who initiates the divorce proceeding isn’t necessarily the one at fault. In fact, it seems to me just the opposite.

    Then:

    Those are your statistics, not mine. Don’t you go putting words into my mouth!

    And? It’s not the statistics (which are available from the DHHS; go get em) it’s your assertion, based on thin air, that IF they are what they are, that they, gasp, must be evil ole men cheating on their dear wives.

    You straighten it out, Kevin.

  114. Kevin said:

    If a spouse gets tired of the other not having a job, and not doing work around the house, which one is going to file for divorce?

    Then:

    I never made any claims about income and lifestyle. Moreover, I never said anything pro or con divorce.

    My mistake, then. What did you say?

  115. Kevin said:

    If a spouse gets tired of the other not having a job, and not doing work around the house, which one is going to file for divorce?

    Then:

    I never made any claims about income and lifestyle. Moreover, I never said anything pro or con divorce.

    My mistake, then. What did you say?

  116. Sorry. “Arguendo:” For the sake of argument. I was willing to discuss your statistics as though they were true, but without admitting anything, in an effort to make a point. And the point is this: Your “statistics” don’t make the point you think they do. However, I’ve just realized what apparently more people realized earlier, which is that you are a bag of hot air and anger. This will be my last post on this thread.

    K

  117. NV Dad,

    Same way they don’t offer all the sexist ruins of citizens in, say, mortgage contracts. Or car loans. Business contracts.

    Thank you for answering my question. It helps me understand your position. I can see that you are not a capital “L” Libertarian, which is really an anarchist wiht a new name.

    So you agree that government should enforce contract law, and that one aspect of marriage is a legal contract, as it should be.

    I can see from your numerous claims that it is not possible to dispute you point by point. I doubt either of us will change our minds.

    I’ll simply say many of the claims you make are wacky to me. One quick example: I think that public education is a success. Maybe you should move from NV to MN where we have excellent public education, and are trying to keep it that way.

    I don’t think there is any chance of me knocking you off your (in my opinion) highly skewed world view. You must have been hurt very badly to see so many villians around you.

    Getting back to the ‘covenant’ marriage thing, I want to say this. I’m a Christian – married a Catholic girl so went through the pre-marriage counseling. It was pretty lame, but I give them credit for trying. We are both now Methodist, married for 23 years.

    I truly suspect, as someone hinted above, that there is a big correlation between increased divorce and poverty and relatively young age at marriage. Instead of attacking these causes, which might have really made a difference, Arkansas, influenced by Leviticans, took the so-called ‘Christian’ route of making divorce harder. I’m glad they made it optional. I’ll give them that.

    This is ‘faith-based’ policy at its worst! Instead of doing what works they do what they think their faith requires. It is not much different from the ‘abstinence-only’ sex ed classes. Presumably the goal is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, but instead of using policies that work, they use a policy that increases the number of unwanted pregnancies! That is either disengenuous or downright stupid.

    I don’t have a problem with ‘faith-based’ policy if it works, but I have a big problem with it when it doesn’t work, causes harm, and yet is still supported as a matter of ‘principle.’

  118. NV Dad,

    Same way they don’t offer all the sexist ruins of citizens in, say, mortgage contracts. Or car loans. Business contracts.

    Thank you for answering my question. It helps me understand your position. I can see that you are not a capital “L” Libertarian, which is really an anarchist wiht a new name.

    So you agree that government should enforce contract law, and that one aspect of marriage is a legal contract, as it should be.

    I can see from your numerous claims that it is not possible to dispute you point by point. I doubt either of us will change our minds.

    I’ll simply say many of the claims you make are wacky to me. One quick example: I think that public education is a success. Maybe you should move from NV to MN where we have excellent public education, and are trying to keep it that way.

    I don’t think there is any chance of me knocking you off your (in my opinion) highly skewed world view. You must have been hurt very badly to see so many villians around you.

    Getting back to the ‘covenant’ marriage thing, I want to say this. I’m a Christian – married a Catholic girl so went through the pre-marriage counseling. It was pretty lame, but I give them credit for trying. We are both now Methodist, married for 23 years.

    I truly suspect, as someone hinted above, that there is a big correlation between increased divorce and poverty and relatively young age at marriage. Instead of attacking these causes, which might have really made a difference, Arkansas, influenced by Leviticans, took the so-called ‘Christian’ route of making divorce harder. I’m glad they made it optional. I’ll give them that.

    This is ‘faith-based’ policy at its worst! Instead of doing what works they do what they think their faith requires. It is not much different from the ‘abstinence-only’ sex ed classes. Presumably the goal is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, but instead of using policies that work, they use a policy that increases the number of unwanted pregnancies! That is either disengenuous or downright stupid.

    I don’t have a problem with ‘faith-based’ policy if it works, but I have a big problem with it when it doesn’t work, causes harm, and yet is still supported as a matter of ‘principle.’

  119. I see when faced with the authoritarian family law mess, of which millions have had their fill, sadly Kevin issues a last insult and leaves. “Cognitive dissonance” comes to mind but seems too easy a label. Still…

    Tripp gives it a go but ends up with,

    I don’t think there is any chance of me knocking you off your (in my opinion) highly skewed world view. You must have been hurt very badly to see so many villians around you.

    Highly skewed. In like kind I could say that a MN big-government Methodist liberal with obvious fish to fry in the church/state issue must have a seriously challenged God-view to so tacitly beg higher-power statism like this (“attacking divorce,” says Tripp in reference to the State, later) his Catholic wife and Christian upbringing and all. Maybe I could throw in a barb about Garrison Keillor’s shrill, biased, Minnesota big-government ignorance, but that too would be too easy.

    See, some posts ago, Tripp got all personally offensive and winded and now comes back with a telling comment implying he has no intention of defending another Christian’s public show of solidarity and integrity. And expects it to stand simply on its own merits, having never once argued the point.

    It must be that holy, assumed separation of church and state:

    Instead of attacking [divorce and poverty] which might have really made a difference, Arkansas, influenced by Leviticans, took the so-called ‘Christian’ route of making divorce harder. I’m glad they made it optional. I’ll give them that.

    This is ‘faith-based’ policy at its worst!

    Attacking divorce. Last time we attacked evil the left got all, um, up in arms…

    Anyway; yeah, Tripp, we can’t have public officials going to the very core of the personal responsibility and ethics that have a direct influence on marriage, poverty, children’s health (look it up) academic performance (look it up) crime (look it up) psychological state (look it up) and a myriad of other, er, state-functioned life success criteria, now can we? I mean, we can’t have people going around and showing these messy religious tendencies in, gasp, public office. It might rub off. On the chilldren.

    What a, as we used to say around of here, load of hooey.

    Appearances-centric, mealy-mouthed, politically correct abject refusal to tie cause to effect for want of enough guts to stand up and have a point of view that makes sense.

    For marriage. For the children.

    but I have a big problem with it when it doesn’t work, causes harm, and yet is still supported as a matter of ‘principle.’

    You’re big on statistics, Tripp; name one supporting this fear-mongering. Or are we posturing to the separation crowd…whether external or internal?

    Anyway, all that I could say, not because I’m “hurt very badly” (which countless single parents are thanks to this Orwellian State of ours. It only kidnaps our children, panders to the very worst of feminist sexism, drugs our kids, destroys our bank accounts, and has, oh, one of us taking our own lives statistically every 38 minutes) but because it’s wrong. It VIOLATES every Constitutional norm even you MN liberals THINK you value so much.

    Of course, the only quasi-right you really worship is that sorry appearances-centric keep-those-loony-religious-nuts-off-my-statism.

    Yes, what a bunch of hooey. What a bunch of selfishness.

    All that’s how I could respond. In kind.

    And you have the brass to suggest that we’re not going to change each other’s minds. That, point by point, we can’t even talk.

    Problem is, friend, that you can’t face the facts. You haven’t seen them. lived them, researched them, taken a stand to correct them.

    But yet you have a bias you will protect at all costs.

  120. Correct me if I am mistaken, but Oregon doesn’t exactly mandate “pre-divorce counseling.” When the law originally passed, it required divorcing parents to take classes about the effects of divorce on children and how not to be assholes about custody and visitation and so forth.

    That’s not at all the same as “can this marriage be saved?” marital counseling. It’s silly to try and force divorcing couples to do *that*. Ask anyone who works in the field of domestic violence prevention if you can’t guess why.

    I would like to learn how divorce pays, too, because I seem to have missed that part when I got divorced, as did any number of my divorced friends.

  121. Correct me if I am mistaken, but Oregon doesn’t exactly mandate “pre-divorce counseling.” When the law originally passed, it required divorcing parents to take classes about the effects of divorce on children and how not to be assholes about custody and visitation and so forth.

    That’s not at all the same as “can this marriage be saved?” marital counseling. It’s silly to try and force divorcing couples to do *that*. Ask anyone who works in the field of domestic violence prevention if you can’t guess why.

    I would like to learn how divorce pays, too, because I seem to have missed that part when I got divorced, as did any number of my divorced friends.

  122. One more point. When Tripp says,

    So you agree that government should enforce contract law, and that one aspect of marriage is a legal contract, as it should be.

    Actually, I do not agree that “government” should enforce contract law, because such a loose wording allows errors, errors which allow abuse by the State.

    To be clear, I agree that in a society of laws, order, and personal responsibility, contracts should be offered, accepted, and enforced. Such enforcement is carried out by the courts, a division of government, and not its policy.

    I also do not think government should manage marital contracts, except to enforce their legal strength. When unilateral divorce is the 6:1 favorite, we have a problem.

    Remember, the “Reno divorce” started as a divorce industry-driven rarity. Today it’s national policy.

    It may seem a minor point but it is entirely germane to this discussion. Government — at the legislative and executive levels — has influenced public policy to a degree literally redefining life in America.

    Such modifications filter down to every major private sector, familial, educational, and personal category, and with the results we see around us.

    As I’ve tried to point out here before is that we have a problem of perspective; a boiling-the-frog point of view that prevents us seeing much more, evidently, than these non-issue sorry backwards officials who have the audacity to co-mingle the appearance of the horrific church/state involvement we have made our lone constitutional battle cry.

    Freedom of religion is not freedom from religion.

    Meanwhile our kindly secular humanist government (there’s still some debate whether or not the US Supreme Court once ruled secular humanism a religion) has contaminated virtually everything it’s touched and it is, indeed, our nanny. Because we lack the will and clarity to have replaced its presence with a principle it cannot attain. Because we lack the courage and integrity to observe the original principles of free personal sovereignty this country was built upon.

    While the real religion of state manages the country, Governor Huckabee’s public marriage is a convenient scapegoat. A non-issue. Our problem is our want of a larger perspective.

  123. How does divorce pay? Seriously?

    1. File divorce. Unilaterally. Be female if at all possible.

    2. Allege domestic violence. (States mostly have mandatory arrest policies now, so even if you haven’t been smacked around, the cops will haul him to jail. They have to.)

    3. Immediately file a DV report and go for a TPO. Temporary Protection Orders are given out like candy (again, try to be female) and they buy you 30 or more days alone. Many of them run 6 months.

    4. Use the freedom to issue a motion for custody (kids help) and then simply claim the family property. He can’t come back home, which means you have custody. Custody = child support, no questions asked.

    Nobody will force you into messy stuff like proving guilt or actually splitting the property. It’s all “best interest” stuff, where your tears on the stand are all that counts.

    Presto. A few weeks work and you’re free, alone, have the kids, his income, and his house.
    ____

    Sorry to be flip about it, but this is indeed family law reality. Yes, kids help. Yes, not being the guy helps. But it’s a proven strategy and a feminist lobby and their legislative pressure plus the general tone of our time concerning presumption of male DV and guilt all play into it.

    Government influences public policy. Hell, it is public policy. You can use it — provided you’re a personality disorder or something — to immediate and great benefit.

  124. How does divorce pay? Seriously?

    1. File divorce. Unilaterally. Be female if at all possible.

    2. Allege domestic violence. (States mostly have mandatory arrest policies now, so even if you haven’t been smacked around, the cops will haul him to jail. They have to.)

    3. Immediately file a DV report and go for a TPO. Temporary Protection Orders are given out like candy (again, try to be female) and they buy you 30 or more days alone. Many of them run 6 months.

    4. Use the freedom to issue a motion for custody (kids help) and then simply claim the family property. He can’t come back home, which means you have custody. Custody = child support, no questions asked.

    Nobody will force you into messy stuff like proving guilt or actually splitting the property. It’s all “best interest” stuff, where your tears on the stand are all that counts.

    Presto. A few weeks work and you’re free, alone, have the kids, his income, and his house.
    ____

    Sorry to be flip about it, but this is indeed family law reality. Yes, kids help. Yes, not being the guy helps. But it’s a proven strategy and a feminist lobby and their legislative pressure plus the general tone of our time concerning presumption of male DV and guilt all play into it.

    Government influences public policy. Hell, it is public policy. You can use it — provided you’re a personality disorder or something — to immediate and great benefit.

  125. It’s occurring to me that the Covenant marriage is really a different name for and type of pre-nup. It’s hammering out details of how one will spend one’s time if there’s a divorce instead of one’s money but it’s still an agreement of what to do if this thing that happens to a lot of people happens to us.

    How it’s being marketed is not like that, clearly. I think it’s the marketing that’s more objectionable than the content, if one finds pre nups to be objectionable.

    ValHowells makes an interesting point about having the phrases marriage and domestic partnership distinguish between opposite gender and same gender marital unions. I don’t think we should opt for that because I think marriage is a word with historical meaning that is much different than domestic partnership and to say that, because of the similarity in gender of the participants, the union is emotionally and mentally different isn’t true. But, I do think that it could be seen as devaluing if opposite gender couples have a choice between a domestic partnership and a marriage. It highlights the difference between those 2 concepts and says that some couples aren’t capable of one, which is something that I don’t believe to be true.

  126. NV Dad,

    Dude. Now you’re raving. I mean really. No “Orwellian State” has drugged my kids. You’ll have to trust me on that.

    Why are you going on so much about this?

    Personally I think we should find a middle ground between church/state. I’d like to let Christmas Carols back into school concerts. I’d accept a brief prayer before a football game. Sometimes little things can mean a lot. I don’t want freedom from religion. I’m not a strict separatist.

    I’ve got religious faith, but I evalutate policy based on how well it works. It is as simple as that. I don’t mind the Arkansas law, if it is optional. Give it a try. Will it work? It doesn’t seem to have worked so far, but if it truly produces more good marriages then more power to it.

    I’ve personally seen my schools. They work. Could they be better? Well, everything could be better.

    I’m not simply saying things for appearance. You’ll have to trust me on that, too.

    And I like Garrison Keillor. If that bothers you, tough.

    Near as I can tell, here are the following things you think, and which I disagree with:

    Divorce is evil.
    An Orwellian state is doing terrible things to our children.
    I’m simply not facing facts.
    We have a secular humanist government.
    Said government has contaminated virtually everything it has touched.
    Public education doesn’t work.
    Public health doesn’t work.

    If I have mischaracterized your position I apologize.

  127. Dad,

    My raving comment was directed to your post at 10:18. I hadn’t seen your post of 11:35.

    It seems you speak of a personal experience. The divorce I am most familiar with is a family member’s that is occurring right now. It has some of the aspects you mentioned, but it has dragged on for more than a year now, and there have been numerous court appearances before a judge.

    I’m curious why you refer to “the kids” and yet “his income” and “his house?”

    Also, how can I use government to immediate and great benefit? So far I haven’t had much luck with that.

  128. Dad,

    My raving comment was directed to your post at 10:18. I hadn’t seen your post of 11:35.

    It seems you speak of a personal experience. The divorce I am most familiar with is a family member’s that is occurring right now. It has some of the aspects you mentioned, but it has dragged on for more than a year now, and there have been numerous court appearances before a judge.

    I’m curious why you refer to “the kids” and yet “his income” and “his house?”

    Also, how can I use government to immediate and great benefit? So far I haven’t had much luck with that.

  129. NV Dad,

    Okay, I’ve given up on the hope of you actually providing evidence for any of your claims (hint: saying “look it up” doesn’t count — you’re advancing the argument, it’s up to you to provide support for it). Several people have asked you to do this, but you seem to be unable or unwilling to do so (despite hectoring Tripp for statistics).

    So, how about a more philosophical question? One of the things that comes up again and again in your posts is the practice of “unilateral” divorce. From your tone, I gather that you think this practice is (at the very least) overused. So, do you think that such divorces should be allowed? If so, do you have any concrete suggestions to make to reform the practice?

  130. If I’m raving, rebut me with something, anything, other than proving negatives. Like this:

    No “Orwellian State” has drugged my kids.

    For that I am genuinely grateful, but foundational government policy is my point, Tripp, not how you haven’t (yet, hopefully not) experienced its ruin.

    I understand that you have no parallel to my reports to the contrary. But consider that just this month, for example, Utah, presumably in response to public demand on their capitol, introduced legislation making it illegal for the state to force psychiatric drugging on kids, especially as a condition of their receiving public education. The bill is online. Point being, Tripp, it wasn’t illegal prior.

    Similar legislation was, for now, enacted by the federal government during Bush’s first term, although our Orwellian friends are attempting again to get big drug lobby interests enacted into mandatory psychological testing for every American schoolchild. By government, naturally. This legislation is also online.

    You then ask about my position:

    Divorce is evil.

    Not by definition. Abusing people is evil. Intentional harm is evil. Government corruption and violating constitutional rights is, I believe, evil. Legal kidnap is evil. Ruining parents by State is evil. And the divorce culture and industry, intentionally or otherwise, and aided by the state, does all of this about as often as divorce solves legitimate partnership problems. Plus, divorce almost always harms children, a favorite it-takes-a-village ruse from the left.

    Hence; evil. Psychology now recognizes evil as a diagnosis for severe cases; who are we to opine that divorce isn’t a handy battleground for such disorders? Again, opinion and lack of experience does not constitute proof.

    An Orwellian state is doing terrible things to our children.

    The State — not as a rule but as a statistic — takes kids from custody on various legitimate and illigitimate grounds, institutionalizes them, denies them education on basis of “medical” condition, occasionally finds them sick, abused, or dead while in temp protective custody, drugs them, moves them endlessly, and can therefore easily harm them.

    Obviously, so can the private family. But I question 1) the State’s legal right, considering that 2) it has created so many of the problems it now seeks to fix. I maintain that as horrible and destructive as that awful family and traditional marriage may become, the State’s involvement is neither constitutional nor wise, it’s claimed best intentions notwithstanding.

    We have a secular humanist government.

    First Google hit: “Secular Humanism is an ethical philosophy that emphasizes a world view based upon naturalism: the belief that the physical world or nature is all that exists or is real. As such, it emphasizes scientific inquiry and rejects revealed knowledge as well as theistic morality. Secular Humanism is increasingly influential in politics, ethics and morals, as well as education.”

    Given that it’s illegal to voice religious thought from tax-paid property, I’d say secular humanism is certainly in the top running for state “religion”.

    Secular humanism, if not as an active, defined philosophy, must functionally be the default for a society not able, by law, to publicly adopt “revealed knowledge as well as theistic morality” (this despite the fact US law is based on essentially Christian moral principles. You know, theft, murder, etc.)

    Said government has contaminated virtually everything it has touched.

    Domestically? Concerning marriage? I think that’s a completely valid assertion. I can’t think of any domestic endeavors government has been definitively shown to have excelled at when compared to its private sector counterpart. Marriage maintenance certainly included.

    Public education doesn’t work.

    This is getting far afield from the marriage topic, but public education works fine…depending on what you use as your yardstick. What I think is that there is substantial and credible thinking that supports the notion that government 1) has no constitutional place in education, and 2) is running and will always run a poor second place to private schooling…which could be affordable and accessable if the public school tax system and private responsibility were corrected.

    Public health doesn’t work.

    Too controversial for this forum, if you don’t mind, but with regard to divorce being railroaded courtesy of the State, the medical/psychological component regularly crops up, especially with regard to children, and does about as much harm as good.

    Back to the point: Can you show me where government was ever granted the legal authority to institute policy concerning any aspect of marriage (and from there, the family and children)? Or where government — nearly to the point of the original complaints against Huckabee as governor — should be associated with public policy concerning marriage?

  131. Tripp asked:

    I’m curious why you refer to “the kids” and yet “his income” and “his house?”

    Good observation. The kids, at least as ruled by the Supreme Court*, are joint “rights” (to say nothing specific of the fact that research indicates clearly that children need both parents).

    “His income” is just that: his wage, withheld by the state largely regardless of the cause for, or many times the equal terms of, the divorce.

    “His house” may be appropriate if it really is his, or if he paid for it, although he, I believe, clearly owes his children a maintainable upbringing. However, in cases where the house is community property — NV, where I live, being a community property state — that should read “their house.”

    Nevertheless, “their house” can quite easily and irrevocably become her house, and on very rare occasion, his house, simply as the result of the fact that the first one to the courthouse steps typically wins; statistically mothers.

    As far as your requests for data, I haven’t been ignoring them. I can link you to data supporting everything I’ve claimed, but I’ll be deleted and banned. I think we owe John a word of thanks for his genorisity so far.

    What do you suggest? John, shall we make this another topic one of these days? I will be happy to send you my phone number…

  132. *

    Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (U.S. Supreme Court 1982)
    Doe v. Irwin, 441 F Supp 1247; U.S. D.C. of Michigan, (1985)
    Wallace v. Jaffree, 105 S Ct 2479; 472 US 38, (1985)
    Elrod v. Burns, 96 S Ct 2673; 427 US 347, (1976)
    Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 US 356, (1886)
    Santosky v. Kramer, 102 S Ct 1388; 455 US 745, (1982)
    Matter of Delaney, 617 P 2d 886, Oklahoma (1980)
    Langton v. Maloney, 527 F Supp 538, D.C. Conn. (1981)
    Reynold v. Baby Fold, Inc., 369 NE 2d 858; 68 Ill 2d 419, appeal dismissed 98 S Ct 1598, 435 US 963, IL, (1977)
    In the Interest of Cooper, 621 P 2d 437; 5 Kansas App Div 2d 584, (1980)
    Bell v. City of Milwaukee, 746 F 2d 1205; US Ct App 7th Cir WI, (1984)
    Mabra v. Schmidt, 356 F Supp 620; DC, WI (1973)
    May v. Anderson, 345 US 528, 533; 73 S Ct 840, 843, (1952)
    Stanley v. Illinois, 405 US 645, 651; 92 S Ct 1208, (1972)
    Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 or 426 US 390; 43 S Ct 625, (1923)
    Quilloin v. Walcott, 98 S Ct 549; 434 US 246, 255-56, (1978)
    Kelson v. Springfield, 767 F 2d 651; US Ct App 9th Cir, (1985)
    Bell v. City of Milwaukee, 746 f 2d 1205, 1242-45; US Ct App 7th Cir WI, (1985)
    Carson v. Elrod, 411 F Supp 645, 649; DC E.D. VA (1976)
    Franz v. U.S., 707 F 2d 582, 595-599; US Ct App (1983)
    Matter of Gentry, 369 NW 2d 889, MI App Div (1983)
    Palmore v. Sidoti, 104 S Ct 1879; 466 US 429
    Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 US 479, (1965)
    Fantony v. Fantony, 122 A 2d 593, (1956)
    Brennan v. Brennan, 454 A 2d 901, (1982)
    Wise v. Bravo, 666 F 2d 1328, (1981)

  133. “What do you suggest? John, shall we make this another topic one of these days?”

    One day, perhaps. Today, not so much. I do thank you, however, of sticking within boundaries when they were set. You’re not in danger of being banned.

  134. Many thanks, John. This is a delicate subject, and keeping it civil and within bounds isn’t easy. Thanks too to Tripp for his character in debating the matter.

    John, if/when gender equality in divorce makes radar (it’s a vast international topic right now) and if I can in some way comment, I’ll probably eventually get a mail you send to the org in my link. Thanks again.

  135. Many thanks, John. This is a delicate subject, and keeping it civil and within bounds isn’t easy. Thanks too to Tripp for his character in debating the matter.

    John, if/when gender equality in divorce makes radar (it’s a vast international topic right now) and if I can in some way comment, I’ll probably eventually get a mail you send to the org in my link. Thanks again.

  136. NV Dad,

    I was really hoping you would tell me how to use government to immediate and great benefit. Oh well.

    I’m not going to point by point rebut someone who is raving, and by raving I mean your stream of conciousness grab bag of name calling and global assertions.

    The thing is if you would have started off stating, for example, that sometimes divorce court can screw men I would have been willing to listen. I’m sure there is truth to that. My own personal experience with civil court has left me feeling less than satisfied, but I imagine the guy who sued me is feeling the same way.

    But you go all over the map with this big conspiracy thing involving politics, religion and gender and it takes away from any case you try to make.

    You ask me if I can point you to where government was ever granted the legal authority to institute policy concerning any aspect of marriage? I’m no lawyer. I know there is something in the Constitution about promoting the general welfare. But even if there really is no such assertion in US law – so what? You yourself mentioned a slew of court cases, presumably involving marriage. From a practical matter the government does have the right to make laws concerning marriage. They have stood the test of time.

    Frankly making the point that the government doesn’t have the right to make marriage laws sounds a lot like the tax evaders that claim that the government has no legal right to collect taxes. It sounds wacky and self-serving.

    And one last point. You implied that I, being a fellow Christian, should have supported you on principle alone.

    I’m not going to do that. I have just as much a right to the label “Christian” as you do, and that is not something I am going to debate.

    I’m proud to be a MN Methodist liberal, so put that in your pipe and smoke it!

  137. Best to be done with this now.

    First, a correction: I never implied you should do anything concerning me, except research the topic of statism in the family for yourself. OTOH, I more than implied that as a Christian, maybe you might evaluate why the Governor’s public marriage makes you uncomfortable. It was he I suggested you stand with, not me.

    As far as government’s immediate and great benefit, I don’t know what that means in the context of marriage. It simply offers none.

    About raving, I’m sorry to lose you in the complexity of the topic compounded by my limitations in expressing it. I’m also sorry to have to stoop to suggesting the equivalent, presumtive personal remarks I could have made pursuant your insults upon me. Such sarcasm was ill considered.

    I thought we were making headway, actually.

  138. NV Dad,

    The Govenor’s public marriage doesn’t make me uncomfortable. It does lessen my opinion of him, because it looks to me like grandstanding, and from a Christian perspective a bit like the Pharisees. Covenant marriages don’t make me uncomfortable, either, but in my opinion they are legislation done mostly for show which really does not get at the root of the problem of a high divorce rate.

    Regarding government’s immediate and great benefit, yes, I am afraid I did get lost in the complexity of what you were saying. In many ways I am a simple man. I hope you can bear with me. I was specifically referring to what you said:
    “Government influences public policy. Hell, it is public policy. You can use it — provided you’re a personality disorder or something — to immediate and great benefit.”

    When you said “You can use it . . . to immediate and great benefit” I was trying to figure out what “it” was. Looking back it seemed “it” could be either “Government” or “public policy,” but you stated that the two are the same thing, so I selected “Government.”

    That gave me “You can use it (government) — provided you’re a personality disorder or something — to immediate and great benefit.”

    I wasn’t sure what to make of the “provided you’re a personality disorder or something” part. I’m pretty sure you didn’t mean someone could actually be a personality disorder. No. So then I figured you meant either “provided I have a personality disorder” or “provided I don’t have a personality disorder.”

    I don’t have a personality disorder, as far as I know, but I am a passable actor, if I do say so myself. So I’m fairly confident I could fake a personality disorder if needs be.

    With all that said, I took from your message that I could use Government to immediate and great benefit. Since I’m all for benefits, especially personal ones, and double especially immediate and great ones, I wanted to know how to do this.

    Unfortunately, I now guess (and please tell me if I’m wrong) what you meant was something like “In a divorce be the first to court and be a woman.” I can’t do much about the woman thing, but I’ll keep the “be the first to court” thing in mind.

    I suppose there isn’t much left to say.

    As a bleeding heart liberal I really am sorry that things didn’t work out for you.

  139. You missed the context of the post preceding that line, Tripp? It’s, if you want to ruin somebody, use family law and the state. “Immediate and great benefit is”, ah, sarcasm.

    Unless you’re whacked, at which point who cares? In today’s America, there we go. (Utopians can never conceive of how social programs could possibly be abused…)

    As a bleeding heart liberal I really am sorry that things didn’t work out for you.

    Yeah, good to know you’re on it.

    But seriously Tripp, as a bleeding heart liberal, shouldn’t you take more interest in the utopian State? I mean, it doesn’t work. It hurts people.

    That makes my heart bleed…

  140. For those of you who bash Covenant Marriages You need to take a closer look at “NO FALT DIVORCE” In these postings I read comments that Covenant Marriages need laws to keep them together – I beg the difference. “NO FAULT DIVORCE” IS TOTALLY Unconstitutional. It takes two people in agreement to get married but in NO FAULT DIVORCE it only takes one. The other spouse has no choice, no say, NO RIGHTS. No Fault Divorce is a racket for the Attorneys and the only one that wins is the attorneys. I will take a Covenant Marriage Any Day – if for no other reason then to be free of the current day divorce laws. Marriage is a gift from God, a Blessed and Holy Sacrament and according to God’s Holy Law – the only Real Law of Marriage – Marriage is for life – what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. My marriage could have been save had it not been for the NO FAULT FAST TRACK DIVORCE LAWS of my state. It robbed me of the one person I loved with all my heart, my most beloved husband. Additionally, supposedly under NO FAULT DIVORCE, one has the right to object, that the marriage is not irritreviable broken – thats a joke – I was over ruled – my attorney refused to present to the court that my marriage was not broken, My attorney stated that if he presented on my behalf that the marriage was not broken, he would get laughted out of court – so I FIRED and presented my case to the court myself. Needless to say, the court ignored my pleadings and did as they wished.
    DIVORCE is what I got – to date both my EX and Myself suffer the aftermath of divorce.

  141. After reading your comments, Anonymous, I have just a couple of things to say. Or, perhaps, to ask, since most of these end up being questions.

    First, why is no-fault divorce “unconstitutional”? The reasons you give seem to be various forms of either ‘two people to get married, one to get devorced’ or ‘God’s law > human law’, neither of which are covered directly in the Constitution.

    Second, the ‘two people to get in, one to get out’ argument doesn’t work so well for me. It seems that the same reason that calls for both people to want to get married–namely, the work and respect needed to hold a marriage together having to come from both partners–would hold for one person wanting to get out. If half the marriage isn’t willing to put in the time and effort, shouldn’t they be allowed to leave, rather than making everything else about the marriage a mess?

    Third, your comments about ‘marriage comes from God’ only works if your target audience believes that marriage is primarily a religious institution. This is something that I don’t really agree with, and, therefore, I’m not really convinced by it much in your argument, either.

    Part of me wants to ask for an explanation of your comment that your marriage could have been saved if it weren’t for the fast-track divorce laws, but a much larger part of me thinks that would be tacky and intrusive, so I won’t (and please don’t consider the above an actual request for information; I included it merely to point to another question I had about your argument).

    Oh, and NVDad? I’m just a little bothered by your “Utopians can never conceive of how social programs could possibly be abused…” bit. It seems to me that the opposite is also true: the violently anti-state have a really hard time seeing how it can be useful as well.

  142. After reading your comments, Anonymous, I have just a couple of things to say. Or, perhaps, to ask, since most of these end up being questions.

    First, why is no-fault divorce “unconstitutional”? The reasons you give seem to be various forms of either ‘two people to get married, one to get devorced’ or ‘God’s law > human law’, neither of which are covered directly in the Constitution.

    Second, the ‘two people to get in, one to get out’ argument doesn’t work so well for me. It seems that the same reason that calls for both people to want to get married–namely, the work and respect needed to hold a marriage together having to come from both partners–would hold for one person wanting to get out. If half the marriage isn’t willing to put in the time and effort, shouldn’t they be allowed to leave, rather than making everything else about the marriage a mess?

    Third, your comments about ‘marriage comes from God’ only works if your target audience believes that marriage is primarily a religious institution. This is something that I don’t really agree with, and, therefore, I’m not really convinced by it much in your argument, either.

    Part of me wants to ask for an explanation of your comment that your marriage could have been saved if it weren’t for the fast-track divorce laws, but a much larger part of me thinks that would be tacky and intrusive, so I won’t (and please don’t consider the above an actual request for information; I included it merely to point to another question I had about your argument).

    Oh, and NVDad? I’m just a little bothered by your “Utopians can never conceive of how social programs could possibly be abused…” bit. It seems to me that the opposite is also true: the violently anti-state have a really hard time seeing how it can be useful as well.

  143. Without actually jumping into the pool with both feet, I’d like to point out something that I think is silly.

    Kevin Q said, “If a spouse catches the other one cheating, which one is going to file for divorce? If a spouse gets tired of the other not having a job, and not doing work around the house, which one is going to file for divorce?”

    That’s not the bit I think is silly. That’s the bit that sounds pretty darn rational.

    Here’s the bit that I think is silly.

    NV Dad then went on to characterize Kevin Q’s argument as “Men cheat on women more — 80 vs 20 — and THAT results in divorce?” and “it’s your assertion, based on thin air, that IF they are what they are, that they, gasp, must be evil ole men cheating on their dear wives.”

    I think NV arrives at this interpretation thusly:

    1) Kevin accepted NV’s “80% of all divorces are initiated by women” stat as true for the sake of the argument (but did not accept it as fact),

    2) NV inflated Kevin’s point as somehow claiming that ALL divorces are about cheating spouses, and

    3) NV applied that to his own 80% claim: “All divorces are about cheating; 80% of all divorces are initiated by women; therefore 80% of all divorces are initiated by women because their husbands cheated on them” AND

    4) NV put his own twisted logic and unlikely conclusions in Kevin’s mouth, because otherwise he wouldn’t have a reason to get all righteously indignant at Kevin.

    That’s what I think is silly.

    Like I said, not jumping in the pool. Just makin’ an observation, which I guess would be sticking my hand in the water and splashing about a bit.

  144. It takes two people in agreement to get married but in NO FAULT DIVORCE it only takes one.

    That’s because marriage is a legal agreement. It only takes one person to file a lawsuit to end a legal agreement. Did you miss that part when you filled out the marriage license?

    No-fault divorce is anti-lawyer.

  145. “Eighty percent of the divorces in this country are unilateral, rather than truly mutual, decisions.” Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr. and Andrew J. Cherlin, Divided Families: What happens to Children When Parents Part (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991)

    Post-separation custody advantages mothers, approximately 7:1. http://www.fathersforlife.org/millar/custody.htm http://www.proactive-coach.com/divorce/statistics/custody.htm http://www.divorcepeers.com/stats17.htm

    No-fault divorce is anti-lawyer.

    Incorrect. No fault raises divorce levels substantially, leading to more employed lawyers.

    In a 1989 study by Justec Research in Virginia on the effects of no-fault divorce in 38 states, the findings revealed “very strong evidence” that no-fault increased divorce in eight states and “some lesser evidence” for increases in eight more. The study’s author, lawyer and sociologist Thomas B. Marvell, concludes that “on the average, the no-fault laws increased divorces by some 20 to 25 percent.” In none of the states studied did no-fault decrease divorce.” -Brian Willats, Breaking Up is Easy To Do, available from Michigan Family Forum, citing Thomas B. Marvell, “Divorce Rates and the Fault Requirement,” Law and Society Review 23 (1989), p. 544. Cited in Bryce J. Christensen, “Taking Stock: Assessing Twenty Years of ‘No Fault’ Divorce”, The Family In America, September 1991 , p. 4.

    The overwhelming legal authority in custody cases, at least, is that equal shared parenting or joint physical custody is the presumption only if parties agree, an amazing opportunity for legal acrimony. Presumption of equal custody states, on the other hand, experience 25% fewer divorces and divorce in them declines up to four times faster. http://www.divorcereform.org/why.html

  146. “After falling for several years the [Canadian divorce rate reached] an all-time high following passage of the Divorce Act of 1985, which allows divorce after one year’s separation, regardless of the cause.”
    The Abolition of Marriage, by Maggie Gallagher p. 148, citing Gertrude Schaffner Goldenberg, “Canada: Bordering on the Feminization of Poverty,” in The Feminization of Poverty: Only in America, ed. Gertrude Schaffner Goldenberg and Eleanor Kremen (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990), 77.

    “Two recent studies independently concluded that the effects of the new divorce laws (no-fault) have increased the divorce rate in some jurisdictions 20 to 25 percent.”
    The Abolition of Marriage, by Maggie Gallagher p. 148, citing Thomas B. Marvell, “Divorce Rates and the Fault Requirement,” Law and Society Review 23 (1989): 557. Martin Zelder, “The Economic Analysis of the Effect of No-Fault Divorce Law on the Divorce Rate,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 16, No. 1: 241ff.

    “No-fault divorce increased the divorce rate among certain families with children, in particular.”
    The Abolition of Marriage, by Maggie Gallagher p. 148, citing Martin Zelder, “The Economic Analysis of the Effect of No-Fault Divorce Law on the Divorce Rate,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 16, No. 1: 241ff.

  147. Congressman Tim Penny: “I did not expect divorce rates would rise so dramatically. I did not foresee the approximately one million American children now affected annually by divorce, twice the number of 30 years ago…I now know these things. Consequently, I have concluded that we must replace the legal standard of “no-fault” with the higher standard of ‘hold harmless.’* ‘No-fault’ divorce has too often harmed children. This must change.” quoted in the summer 1996 newsletter of the Center of the American Experiment.

    *hold harmless” is a legal term meaning that the person who breaks a contract must be liable for any harm to the other party.

  148. Congressman Tim Penny: “I did not expect divorce rates would rise so dramatically. I did not foresee the approximately one million American children now affected annually by divorce, twice the number of 30 years ago…I now know these things. Consequently, I have concluded that we must replace the legal standard of “no-fault” with the higher standard of ‘hold harmless.’* ‘No-fault’ divorce has too often harmed children. This must change.” quoted in the summer 1996 newsletter of the Center of the American Experiment.

    *hold harmless” is a legal term meaning that the person who breaks a contract must be liable for any harm to the other party.

  149. Ah, yes, divorce, from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man’s genitals through his wallet.
    -Robin Williams

    And on that note, I wish you all well.

    NV Dad

  150. Incorrect. No fault raises divorce levels substantially, leading to more employed lawyers.

    Er, no. I realize you did the no-tagbacks thing, but for the people still hanging around (and perhaps unswayed by the scholarly gravitude of Maggie Gallagher…)

    A lack of no-fault divorce means that you *need* a lawyer to divorce. Period. Divorce is a lawsuit, in all cases, and fault-based divorce means that you must prove the other party is at fault for the divorce, by a preponderance of the evidence. Wanna try that one without a lawyer?

    (If you think that battles over custody keep lawyers fat and happy, imagine preceding those battles with another fight over whose fault the divorce was, if it was at all, and whether the marriage should be ended, with spouses presenting one person’s Internet porn viewing or the other’s long hours at work as evidence. In open court. Whee!)

    The pro-covenant-marriage folks also seem to have the same difficulty with causation as NV Dad; that is, they assume that no-fault divorce CAUSES marriages to end, that one simply wakes up, looks at one’s spouse, and says “Hey, I’m outta here” and that’s that. It betrays an astouding ignorance of how divorce works, which one would not expect of people who have actually gotten divorced.

    I wonder what’s going to happen when a “convenant marriage” person moves out, becomes a resident in another state, and files there.

  151. Incorrect. No fault raises divorce levels substantially, leading to more employed lawyers.

    Er, no. I realize you did the no-tagbacks thing, but for the people still hanging around (and perhaps unswayed by the scholarly gravitude of Maggie Gallagher…)

    A lack of no-fault divorce means that you *need* a lawyer to divorce. Period. Divorce is a lawsuit, in all cases, and fault-based divorce means that you must prove the other party is at fault for the divorce, by a preponderance of the evidence. Wanna try that one without a lawyer?

    (If you think that battles over custody keep lawyers fat and happy, imagine preceding those battles with another fight over whose fault the divorce was, if it was at all, and whether the marriage should be ended, with spouses presenting one person’s Internet porn viewing or the other’s long hours at work as evidence. In open court. Whee!)

    The pro-covenant-marriage folks also seem to have the same difficulty with causation as NV Dad; that is, they assume that no-fault divorce CAUSES marriages to end, that one simply wakes up, looks at one’s spouse, and says “Hey, I’m outta here” and that’s that. It betrays an astouding ignorance of how divorce works, which one would not expect of people who have actually gotten divorced.

    I wonder what’s going to happen when a “convenant marriage” person moves out, becomes a resident in another state, and files there.

  152. “I wonder what’s going to happen when a ‘convenant marriage’ person moves out, becomes a resident in another state, and files there.”

    I asked that upstream in the thread, and so far no one’s posited an answer for it. I think it’s a fascinating question, myself.

  153. I’m not familiar enough with choice-of-law issues regarding family law to say for sure, but I’m guessing the ‘covenant marriage’ thing goes out the window, because one would be legally filing for divorce under the non-covenant-state’s laws.

  154. Thought I’d stop back once more and try not to get drawn in again. Wrong. mythago assumes much:

    …the scholarly gravitude of Maggie Gallagher…)

    Despite the $640T DHHS playing both sides of the issue — establishing problematic family, custody, welfare and support plans and procedures that as often as not conflict with one another — MG, a Bush shill to some inconsequential degree, and having no actual right recommending the Bush Admin’s statist management of marriage, at least as far as I can see and as far, presumably, as shocked liberal minds here can see, has more hard data on the topic than probably anybody on earth. The budget is stupendous.

    And she’s heavily favoring marriage as a primary — as the primary — way to improve personal social performance in every category, which makes government money. Beyond rhetoric, it simply has nothing to do with GWB’s (or Huckabee’s) personal views. Sorry, Democrats.

    All of which supports a number of hypothesis: That she realistically claims that NF elevates divorce levels (I already quoted here from one of scores of qualified opinions, but who’s reading); even moderately “happy” dual-parent homes enhance every success parameter you can list, and single-parent and single-parent welfare households fall far behind in those same parameters.

    A lack of no-fault divorce means that you *need* a lawyer to divorce. Period. Divorce is a lawsuit, in all cases, and fault-based divorce means that you must prove the other party is at fault for the divorce, by a preponderance of the evidence. Wanna try that one without a lawyer?

    A valid but as yet uncorrelated point. Data shows that NF increases divorce, but does it show that lawyer-assisted divorce drops? Those numbers would be handy, but they’re up against that approximately 25% increase in divorce across the board as the result of NF. And with that wretched in-tolerable Arkansas covenant marriage, divorce drops another three times as a statistic. (Such makes conservative zealot wingnuts like me and Huckabee happy…and should endlessly thrill non-partisan liberals with an insatiable need to have government generate more money to pay for things. Well, social things anyway…)

    With regard to NF divorce with children, in and of itself, NF may not impact whether or not you need or choose a lawyer. Millions of with-children NF divorces require lawyers, and state’s laws naturally ensure it: Having been recommended by the ALA to the federal custody law engine, the imbalance in the law is just enough to not only call into question their constitutionality concerning gender discrimination, equal protection, paternal rights, and the like, but to keep lawyers in work forever.

    A useful statistic would be the total number of divorce and custody cases versus the number of lawyers on the job plotted over time. Divorce is somewhat down since the early 80’s, yet family law lawyers appear to be more plentiful.

    (If you think that battles over custody keep lawyers fat and happy, imagine preceding those battles with another fight over whose fault the divorce was, if it was at all, and whether the marriage should be ended, with spouses presenting one person’s Internet porn viewing or the other’s long hours at work as evidence. In open court. Whee!)

    Well, open court would tend cut down on the instances of divorce for the very reason you imply…

    But again, this isn’t correlated to actual statistics. Your logic was behind the original NF proposal decades ago, yet NF has not proven its ability to reduce divorce rates; all evidence I’ve seen, plus all qualified comment strongly suggests otherwise. No fault simply should be elevated to hold harmless, which is not fault.

    The pro-covenant-marriage folks also seem to have the same difficulty with causation as NV Dad; that is, they assume that no-fault divorce CAUSES marriages to end, that one simply wakes up, looks at one’s spouse, and says “Hey, I’m outta here” and that’s that. It betrays an astouding ignorance of how divorce works, which one would not expect of people who have actually gotten divorced.

    More unsubstantiated opinion, and wrong at that. “Causes” infers power to an inanimate object; “aids”, “facilitates” or similar would be more accurate, and clearly, NF would seem to play into the fact that ~70% of all divorce is unilateral, a relatively recent phenomenon, and one that has cropped up post NF divorce became policy.

    Practically, talk to a hundred divorcees and tell me if you still believe the NF myth. An easy three quarters of the ones I’ve spoken with indicate that a unillateral decision prompted their divorce, and out of that, half of them simply agreed out of having no other option. If this is consistent across the board, unilateral divorce — with the divorce decision aided by needing no mutual decision — may be higher if statistics have been impacted by no-contest divorce cases that were not mutual.

    This is a very important point, since if the unilateral/mutual divorce statistic is taken from actual divorce cases — cases where parties “agreed” to divorce when one had taken the initiative and the other had no choice — than unilateral divorce may be far higher than approximately 70%.

    I wonder what’s going to happen when a “convenant marriage” person moves out, becomes a resident in another state, and files there.

    Same as it does today: The covenant marriage, unless it includes language keeping jurisdiction in the original state, falls apart in the larger NF environment.

  155. Excuse me; the Dept of Health and Human Services is not a “$640T” operation, as I wrote. It’s budget is $640,000,000,000, as in $640B. It’s 2/3T

    Also, I didn’t italicize the final excerpt in my previous post, the second paragraph from the bottom. Apologies to mythago.

  156. Re: Bush administration having a huge budget for research. Why should this make me believe their statistics? They had a huge intel budget before the war in Iraq as well, and managed to discover some amazingly untrue things. This makes me question almost anything that they support with data that the government supplies: if they’re willing to lie about something that will kill our soldiers, I expect they’ll lie about something that’ll merely upset some folks.

    Also, your whole argument is based around one premise: that divorce increasing is bad. What happens if I believe that being forced to be part of a bad marriage (wether as a pseudo-willing participant or as a completely locked-in child of that marriage) is worse than having the option of leaving that situation? You keep saying that “no-fault divorce has increased the number of divorces, therefore it is bad,” but wouldn’t it be better to ask if allowing no-fault divorce has improved quality of life for our country?

  157. Thought I’d stop back once more and try not to get drawn in again. Wrong.

    Oh, I expected as much. If I cut off a finger for every Internet discussion where somebody’s said “I’m outta here” and wasn’t, I still wouldn’t be able to pass for a member of the Yakuza.

    yet NF has not proven its ability to reduce divorce rates

    The point of NF is not to reduce divorce rates. Why would it? The point of NF is to avoid protracted court battles which drain both parties, not to mention less-onerous and previously time-honored methods of getting out of a marriage, such as abandonment or homicide. (For your daily RDA of quaint, go read some ‘vintage’ detective novels, where the sultry villainess or the evil cad persuades a lover to collaborate in homicide, because their spouse “won’t give” them a divorce. Can’t do that now.)

    Lots of other things lead to divorce, e.g. it is not as necessary for a woman to marry in order to assure financial well-being as it was decades ago, nor is there as much stigma surrounding divorce. To suggest that no-fault divorce ‘encourages’ it is to say that millions of happy couples are diverted to the sinister path of divorce by the siren song of easy paperwork. (As if divorce was ever ‘easy,’ just because there were fewer forms involved.)

    A spouse could *always* divorce unilaterally, before. Unless you really believe that it took a mutual decision for one person to drag the other into court claiming he was an adulterer.

    As for lawyers, again, you are not getting the notion that less court time = less lawyer fees. Today, a couple agreeing to split up can get a divorce without a lawyer; they don’t have to call each other names or prove one or the other a wrongdoer in court.

    Frankly, the only reasons to oppose no-fault divorce is because you see that most divorces are filed by women and you want the bitches punished, or because you really believe that the only thing preventing a solid marriage from exploding into divorce is a few thousand dollars in legal fees.

  158. Thought I’d stop back once more and try not to get drawn in again. Wrong.

    Oh, I expected as much. If I cut off a finger for every Internet discussion where somebody’s said “I’m outta here” and wasn’t, I still wouldn’t be able to pass for a member of the Yakuza.

    yet NF has not proven its ability to reduce divorce rates

    The point of NF is not to reduce divorce rates. Why would it? The point of NF is to avoid protracted court battles which drain both parties, not to mention less-onerous and previously time-honored methods of getting out of a marriage, such as abandonment or homicide. (For your daily RDA of quaint, go read some ‘vintage’ detective novels, where the sultry villainess or the evil cad persuades a lover to collaborate in homicide, because their spouse “won’t give” them a divorce. Can’t do that now.)

    Lots of other things lead to divorce, e.g. it is not as necessary for a woman to marry in order to assure financial well-being as it was decades ago, nor is there as much stigma surrounding divorce. To suggest that no-fault divorce ‘encourages’ it is to say that millions of happy couples are diverted to the sinister path of divorce by the siren song of easy paperwork. (As if divorce was ever ‘easy,’ just because there were fewer forms involved.)

    A spouse could *always* divorce unilaterally, before. Unless you really believe that it took a mutual decision for one person to drag the other into court claiming he was an adulterer.

    As for lawyers, again, you are not getting the notion that less court time = less lawyer fees. Today, a couple agreeing to split up can get a divorce without a lawyer; they don’t have to call each other names or prove one or the other a wrongdoer in court.

    Frankly, the only reasons to oppose no-fault divorce is because you see that most divorces are filed by women and you want the bitches punished, or because you really believe that the only thing preventing a solid marriage from exploding into divorce is a few thousand dollars in legal fees.

  159. mythago sums up another diversionary smokescreen, admits obvious misdirection and failure, and resorts to bigotry and rhetoric all in one convenient, prejudicial, intolerant paragraph:

    Frankly, the only reasons to oppose no-fault divorce is because you see that most divorces are filed by women and you want the bitches punished, or because you really believe that the only thing preventing a solid marriage from exploding into divorce is a few thousand dollars in legal fees.

    Quite a showing. And you wanted to discuss what?

  160. mythago sums up another diversionary smokescreen, admits obvious misdirection and failure, and resorts to bigotry and rhetoric all in one convenient, prejudicial, intolerant paragraph:

    Frankly, the only reasons to oppose no-fault divorce is because you see that most divorces are filed by women and you want the bitches punished, or because you really believe that the only thing preventing a solid marriage from exploding into divorce is a few thousand dollars in legal fees.

    Quite a showing. And you wanted to discuss what?

  161. Covenant marriage or, as I see it, “Marriage Deluxe(TM)”, is about as tacky as paying extra for gold badging on a new car: Bling-bling flashy, but totally worthless. What was Huckabee thinking?

    I say we just abolish divorce. Period. Sounds radical I know, but vows should be honoured (they’re not “vows” otherwise, are they?). With the escape route removed, people might actually counsel themselves (ie, *think* really, really hard about it) before jumping into marriage. Yeah, it’ll be bloody awful for those stuck in the middle for a while, but that might deter others from making the same mistake.

  162. Quite a showing.

    Thanks! Let me know when you have something substantive in reply.

    rayyy, you aren’t removing ‘the escape route’ by banning divorce. You’re just removing the least awful one.

  163. Let me know when you have something substantive in reply.

    Again? Sure:

    “Margaret Brinig and Douglas Allen found that women file for divorce in some 70 percent of cases. “Not only do they file more often, but . . . they are more likely to instigate separation.” Most significantly, the principal incentive is not grounds such as desertion, adultery, or violence,
    but control of the children. “We have found that who gets the children is by far the most important component in deciding who files for divorce” (2000, 126–27, 129, 158, emphasis in original).”

    From Stephen Baskerville’s “Is There Really a Fatherhood Crisis.”

    http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?issueID=13&articleID=35

  164. NV Dad,

    Are you aware that the “Independent Institute” is known for publishing papers favorable to its donors?

    They took money from Microsoft and defended them during the anti-trust thing, and apparently took money from Exxon to dispute global warming.

    Who funds them to produce opinions about ‘divorce?’

    I’m not sure I would trust a corporate sponsored think-tank over my own observations.

  165. NV Dad, that doesn’t really say much about fault vs. no-fault divorce.

    I’d note that the gold-standard bit of research for the social conservatives–“Dan Quayle Was Right” (Barbara Defoe Whitehead, if I recall right) also came out against stepfamilies, finding that children were far more depressed in ‘blended’ families than single-parent households.

  166. NV Dad, that doesn’t really say much about fault vs. no-fault divorce.

    I’d note that the gold-standard bit of research for the social conservatives–“Dan Quayle Was Right” (Barbara Defoe Whitehead, if I recall right) also came out against stepfamilies, finding that children were far more depressed in ‘blended’ families than single-parent households.

  167. I’m not sure I would trust a corporate sponsored think-tank over my own observations.

    Your imperial views (evidently also out of phase with my 9 years research) supercede private secto- oops, I mean, naturally questionable “corporate” data?

    Interesting conclusion, especially in the face of very real, very hard parallel data from the federal government — so you know you can trust them — backed up with equally hard data on the social performance (the kind that pays taxes, by the way, so you know it’s important to them) on everything from the successes of traditional marriage to the increase in divorce due to no-fault, to the tragic mess of welfare families.

    Look Tripp, government programs built on failed assumptions are falling like the house of cards they are. It’s neither mystery nor does it run afoul of common sense.

  168. No, mythago, as always it isn’t precisely what you may have expected, but it is, if you can back up the page just a little, relevant to the discussion about taking kids and getting paid handsomely for it, which plays right into that divorce statistic thing, which is what Huckabee is all about. I’m pretty sure Huckabee couldn’t care less about the spectacle; it’s the social impact he’s after. And as governor, good for him for having the courage.

    (Regarding my excerpt, Baskerville has a mature, seasoned grip on the issue that may shock some, but it is exactly what’s going on. Unlike Tripp, my personal observations are dead parallel to his. What can I say?)

    Again, this isn’t hard: Dangle a carrot and people will bite. Have government dangle the carrot and a lot of people will bite for 30 years…and insist they are not.

  169. …children were far more depressed in ‘blended’ families than single-parent households.

    Very true. Remarriage with children is a trigger for a lot of bad things for kids as identified by solid research. The Brady Bunch this ain’t.

  170. NV Dad,

    naturally questionable “corporate” data?

    Only a fool accepts data at face value from corporations and their “think tanks.” Most recently look at Vioxx.

    federal government — so you know you can trust them Likewise with the government. There are plenty of examples of our government paying supposed “independent” voices to “sell” the public. Bush censors science and uses stealth Madison Avenue marketing to “sell” his agenda.

    government programs built on failed assumptions are falling like the house of cards they are.

    Another vague but sweeping generalization that I don’t see. You want a vague analogy? Try “Successful government programs (like SS) are being constantly attacked by privately funded ‘think tanks’ which have their own hidden agendas.”

    Now, if you want to talk about your own personal experiences then that is fine with me, but if you are using this forum to spout vague slogans tested in front of focus groups to try to convince me that up is down then I’m not buying it.

    You hint that you’ve had a divorce but also mention shadowy research you’ve done and a connection with a right wing “think tank” that clearly has its own agendas.

    I’m not going to waste my time talking with someone who is on the corporate PR payroll. Go sell your snake-oil somewhere else.

  171. Bush censors science . . . on the corporate PR payroll . . . hidden agendas . . . spout vague slogans . . . focus groups . . . up is down . . . right wing “think tank” . . . Go sell your snake-oil

    You wanted facts, I supplied about 5% of what I know about the subject. At your rate of collapse Goodwin’s Law is due up next, and so I’m not going to waste my time either.

    Thanks for the space, John.

  172. Bush censors science . . . on the corporate PR payroll . . . hidden agendas . . . spout vague slogans . . . focus groups . . . up is down . . . right wing “think tank” . . . Go sell your snake-oil

    You wanted facts, I supplied about 5% of what I know about the subject. At your rate of collapse Goodwin’s Law is due up next, and so I’m not going to waste my time either.

    Thanks for the space, John.

  173. You missed a major point of covenant marriage. It is a verbal and witnessed pledge of two hearts agreeing to place their marriage as the highest priority, and the constraints only serve to affirm how much effort they are willing to commit to for the sake of the relationship. That the relationship is that important and worthy of the commitment. It is a beautiful expression of love between to people. Remember every glass that is half empty is also half full it is a matter of perspective. Respectfully

  174. You missed a major point of covenant marriage. It is a verbal and witnessed pledge of two hearts agreeing to place their marriage as the highest priority, and the constraints only serve to affirm how much effort they are willing to commit to for the sake of the relationship. That the relationship is that important and worthy of the commitment. It is a beautiful expression of love between to people. Remember every glass that is half empty is also half full it is a matter of perspective. Respectfully

  175. Thanks for the perspective, Lynn. I don’t miss the point, I just fail to see to see it as relevant. Everything you mention about covenent marriage is also applicable to conventional marriage, when it’s done right.

  176. Thanks for the perspective, Lynn. I don’t miss the point, I just fail to see to see it as relevant. Everything you mention about covenent marriage is also applicable to conventional marriage, when it’s done right.

  177. Hello to you all,

    The Covenant Marriage is not a simple one and is not one to take light heartedly. Neither is the conventional marriage. All in all, they are both the same in the Lords’s eye.
    Marriage is the union of two becoming one and we all (men and women) need to practice and study what the Lords view is on marriage. It is also up to our Pastors, Priests and one another to educate and promote the wonders of a covenant marriage. This means teaching the real meaning of marriage…Simply said “What can I do for my partner?” This is the thought we must have at all times. Wives must submit to their husbands, husbands need to love their wives as they love themselves. When we instill these into our daily lives, marriage becomes that much more possible and stronger. Hold strong to your marriages, don’t let Satan make you think otherwise. Good luck to all and the Love of Jesus in your marriage.
    Theresa

  178. Theresa:

    “Wives must submit to their husbands”

    Uh-huh. Try that one on my wife and see how far you get. And yet we’ve been married 10 1/2 years. Go figure.

  179. Hello John,

    Maybe if you explain to your wife that “submission” means: She must submit thoughts, ideas, plans and goals to you…you have the more difficult task/repsonsibility to take your families actions to Lord for submission. So us wives have it quite easy (so to speak). You, as the husband are head of the household and are responsible to God for your actions and your families. I recommend the book Covenant Marriage, to get clear views on what the Lord says marriage is. Never what man says it is. We live in a very selfish world, and as individuals we need to get back to the basics of His plan….to be humble, selfless, and put ourselves last.
    Have your wife come online, so we can chat!
    Theresa

  180. Hello John,

    Maybe if you explain to your wife that “submission” means: She must submit thoughts, ideas, plans and goals to you…you have the more difficult task/repsonsibility to take your families actions to Lord for submission. So us wives have it quite easy (so to speak). You, as the husband are head of the household and are responsible to God for your actions and your families. I recommend the book Covenant Marriage, to get clear views on what the Lord says marriage is. Never what man says it is. We live in a very selfish world, and as individuals we need to get back to the basics of His plan….to be humble, selfless, and put ourselves last.
    Have your wife come online, so we can chat!
    Theresa

  181. Theresa:

    “You, as the husband are head of the household and are responsible to God for your actions and your families.”

    Leaving aside the fact that I am agnostic (so being responsible to God is not something I worry about) and that marriage in this country is a civil ceremony and that my wife has the same rights in marriage that I do, and because of all of the above the religious aspect of marriage is non-applicable to us in any way — even if my wife were amenable to submitting to my role as head of the household, which she is not, why would I want that? My wife is smarter, more competent and more organized than I; if we had to pick one of us to be head of the household, it should be she.

    However, we don’t have a “head of household,” we have a situation where the two of us jointly make decisions, and it works quite well. In any event, I find the idea that men should be in charge of things just because a presumed God has a presumed preference for testicles to be a dubious bit of reasoning at best. So I feel free to ignore it, as does my wife, and it won’t be something we teach to our daughter either. Nor do I think you’ll make much leeway in our thinking to this respect. Sorry.

    My wife, incidentally, declines the invitation to chat, with the comment that “the conversation would start with pity, and if she were rude, would lead to fury.” Neither of which you would want (which is not to suggest you have been at all rude so far). Suffice to say it seems we appear to see marriage, and spousal roles within it, differently than you do, and leave it at that.

  182. Most of what the “surrendered wife” mentality comes from the Apostle Paul.

    One of the reasons I ditched organized Christianity for a more personal form of spirituality is because Paul was largely full of shit.

  183. Most of what the “surrendered wife” mentality comes from the Apostle Paul.

    One of the reasons I ditched organized Christianity for a more personal form of spirituality is because Paul was largely full of shit.

  184. John,
    For most situations in life, I agree and say “to each his own”. However, the only reason I bring the covenant marriage to the front lines is how people nowadays don’t take marriage seriously. You here too much complaining of “I this, I that. or my husband/wife doesn’t do this etc… Get the picture? and divorce has been mostly for the selfish reasons.

    I agree that marriage is a partnership, and yes both make the decisions however the bible does say that the husband is the Priest of the home, the teacher etc.. and that he must submit to God. Like it or not, agree with it or not, that is up to you and I respect your thoughts. As well, for the most part I make most of the decisions and I am the organized one just like your wife, and I do let my husband know/feel that he is the head of the household and if he says no about certain things-I do argue them as well, but he has the last say in the matter.

    With this, he knows then that he has to submit that to God himself. I don’t. So, if he makes the wrong decisions, we all suffer the consequenses. It’s a shame that you called Him a “presumed” God. Have you not noticed how wonderful life can be when you submit it all to someone else? (to the Lord)

    I find it very comforting knowing someone else is always watching out for me and my family at all times. One step ahead of us at all times and when problems do arise, I have someone that gives me the right advice every time. Even with financial struggles, we (in our minds) literally walk to the cross and lay our bills there. Actually, we lay everything negative there. Sounds quite dramatic, I know, but life is so beautiful and bearable and it allows us to love everyone we come into contact with.

    Anyhow, marriage is very serious, and it is important to those who Love Jesus to obey his fathers commands as directed to in the bible.
    He walked this earth once, died and rose again. He promises he’ll be back to get us. All of us!

    take care
    Theresa

  185. “Have you not noticed how wonderful life can be when you submit it all to someone else?”

    This is the one of the traps of faith, in my opinion. Doubt, uncertainty and responsibility for oneself are hard and painful. Surrendering to certainty is blissful. Submitting to authority (biblical or otherwise) by surrendering responsibility for either your actions (doing what you’re told) or your thoughts (believing what you’re told) feels blissful.

    But it feels that way because it’s easy, not because it’s right. Doubt is not a sin, it’s a moral duty. And even if you accept the religious terms, the duty to exercise free will should counter-balance the requirement for faith.

  186. Theresa:

    “Have you not noticed how wonderful life can be when you submit it all to someone else?”

    No, not really.

  187. Theresa-
    Spiritual beliefs aside, Covenant Marriage is tantamount to legally enforced virtue. Do you think that true virtue can be enforced by the laws of man, or does it have to grow from within our own hearts? If you believe the latter, then the point of John’s initial post should be true in everyone’s eyes (including God’s). Covenant Marriage is stupid. Forcing people to live moral lives by law is not true morality or virtue because it is not the individuals choice.

  188. Hello Darren,

    Just wanted to mention to you both, that my messages where not based on the Arkansas legal document “Covenant Marriage”. I’m not even familiar with it. I don’t believe we have such a document here in Canada. I am refering to God’s word. When we developed a close relationship with our creator, we then became aware of what the “Covenant Marriage” was referring to. John seems to have blown it way out of proportion, and maybe I just don’t know how to write it properly via internet. Actually, their marriage ways, are the exact as ours. I run the household, our 3 children, my own business, our finances etc… My husband is the labourer, the “jack of all trades” around the house, but to walk in here, I am the domenant one. However,we choose to make the Lord a very important part of our marriage, and daily life. Which includes His ways on what a marriage is. Both the roles of a husband and a wife. And yes, wives were made from the mans rib so we stand beside our husbands as equals. Mutual respect in ALL areas. Just like a queen does with her king.

    I don’t know how else to explain the importance of obedience to God, other than one of the comments that was posted on another blog page of John’s….it read something like “when disaster strikes Dover, don’t call on God”.

    My question is, if Johns wife or daughter were dying….would he pray??? to the “presumed God” and if he did, I know the Lord would still listen. He loves us all and just wishes we ALL would welcome Him into our homes on a more regular basis, not just in crisis’.

    That is all from this end…may the Lord shine in your daughters eyes, your marriage and in all that you do.
    Theresa

  189. Hello Darren,

    Just wanted to mention to you both, that my messages where not based on the Arkansas legal document “Covenant Marriage”. I’m not even familiar with it. I don’t believe we have such a document here in Canada. I am refering to God’s word. When we developed a close relationship with our creator, we then became aware of what the “Covenant Marriage” was referring to. John seems to have blown it way out of proportion, and maybe I just don’t know how to write it properly via internet. Actually, their marriage ways, are the exact as ours. I run the household, our 3 children, my own business, our finances etc… My husband is the labourer, the “jack of all trades” around the house, but to walk in here, I am the domenant one. However,we choose to make the Lord a very important part of our marriage, and daily life. Which includes His ways on what a marriage is. Both the roles of a husband and a wife. And yes, wives were made from the mans rib so we stand beside our husbands as equals. Mutual respect in ALL areas. Just like a queen does with her king.

    I don’t know how else to explain the importance of obedience to God, other than one of the comments that was posted on another blog page of John’s….it read something like “when disaster strikes Dover, don’t call on God”.

    My question is, if Johns wife or daughter were dying….would he pray??? to the “presumed God” and if he did, I know the Lord would still listen. He loves us all and just wishes we ALL would welcome Him into our homes on a more regular basis, not just in crisis’.

    That is all from this end…may the Lord shine in your daughters eyes, your marriage and in all that you do.
    Theresa

  190. “my messages where not based on the Arkansas legal document “Covenant Marriage”. I’m not even familiar with it.”

    “I don’t know how else to explain the importance of obedience to God, other than one of the comments that was posted on another blog page of John’s….it read something like “when disaster strikes Dover, don’t call on God”.”

    So no on making covenant marriage the law of the land, and yes on unleashing God’s wrath on those who oppose teaching philosophy in science classes?

  191. I’m getting the impression that we dont have a lot of believers on this website. Covenant marriage in my eyes is a greater act of commitment to some people than others. If you are happy being married to someone then that is up to you. If you would like to have a covenant marriage than that should be up to that person as well. I was married 10 years ago in a normal everyday marriage ceremony. We decided that at 10 years we would renew our wedding vows. When we heard about the covenant marriage it was exciting. To me, covenant marriage is proving to someone that you dont want to take the easy way out when the going gets tough. Others dont really care. I want to tough it out and make it last. You can still do that with a normal marriage. Unfortunately, Wyoming doesnt have this option so we cant do it, but it isnt going to change the love I have for my husband. There are people that get married and arent willing to work it out because divorce is much easier. Deciding to do a covenant marriage is a personal decision not something people should feel like they are forced into doing. No one is required to have this done.
    As far as God is concerned, it is like having a father. God is someone that watches over us and takes care of us. Dont get me wrong, He gave us a brain to make decisions as well. But, God gives us guidance and protection and John 3:16 states that Jesus Christ was given so that we may have eternal life if we know Him accept Him as Lord and Saviour over all. When you need Him, He is there and waiting. He never leaves us, we leave Him. All the times that I have backslid and went back in to the pornography and doing things I know I shouldnt be doing, He is right there waiting for me to come back to Him. It is amazing what you feel when you put the control in someone else’s hands. Someone who is better capable to handle the tough times. It will change your life.

  192. I’m getting the impression that we dont have a lot of believers on this website. Covenant marriage in my eyes is a greater act of commitment to some people than others. If you are happy being married to someone then that is up to you. If you would like to have a covenant marriage than that should be up to that person as well. I was married 10 years ago in a normal everyday marriage ceremony. We decided that at 10 years we would renew our wedding vows. When we heard about the covenant marriage it was exciting. To me, covenant marriage is proving to someone that you dont want to take the easy way out when the going gets tough. Others dont really care. I want to tough it out and make it last. You can still do that with a normal marriage. Unfortunately, Wyoming doesnt have this option so we cant do it, but it isnt going to change the love I have for my husband. There are people that get married and arent willing to work it out because divorce is much easier. Deciding to do a covenant marriage is a personal decision not something people should feel like they are forced into doing. No one is required to have this done.
    As far as God is concerned, it is like having a father. God is someone that watches over us and takes care of us. Dont get me wrong, He gave us a brain to make decisions as well. But, God gives us guidance and protection and John 3:16 states that Jesus Christ was given so that we may have eternal life if we know Him accept Him as Lord and Saviour over all. When you need Him, He is there and waiting. He never leaves us, we leave Him. All the times that I have backslid and went back in to the pornography and doing things I know I shouldnt be doing, He is right there waiting for me to come back to Him. It is amazing what you feel when you put the control in someone else’s hands. Someone who is better capable to handle the tough times. It will change your life.

  193. Covenant marriage not a solution for domestic violence cases or adultery cases in divorce, but restoring accountability of alimony and child support may be helpful to offset the cavalier attitudes of marriage and divorce that leaves women and children in poverty while men engage in sequential marriage and create multiple families.

    Equitable marriages value both spouses for what they bring into a marriage and create during the marriage, including children born to the marriage, and exits cannot be graceful without recognizing that status.

    Allowing states to subsidize male preference by leaving women and children in poverty, by disguising alimony as child support because of its deductibility is a travesty of the marital concept, and encourages both fraud and deception by both parties and attorneys handling separations and divorce.

    Marriage was never meant to be entered lightly, nor exited lightly, and in theory, the reason it was designated the foundations of social stability for communities. If it cannot continue in that function, alternatives to social stability must be found to favor tax treatments as encouragement for stability.

    The system that deprives women of alimony unless married 10 years leaves women at their most vulnerable periods, times when young children are most likely to be present in marriage, and the period most likely to have produced all children of a marriage, leaving her exposed to all risks. By most standards, not being supported unless after 10 years could only be seen as gender harassment and a deprivation of equal protection since all advantages accrue to the male spouse in such instances. Where alimony is not dispensed in recognition of the marriage, the practical outcome amounts to sexual slavery and domestic servitude as the disparate consequence of male privilege, made legal by the state and by custom.

    Women are entitled to alimony and child support, neither of which should be taxable as income earned. Because the choice of how to distribute earnings once earned, neither deserve preferable tax treatment, and are the sole choice of fathers to avail themselves of. Expenses operate the same whether married or divorced, ending the preference for and advantage of divorce. The alternative is to remain single for either men or women.

    The state should not be subsidizing divorce, or allowing income earned subject to taxation at the source of earnings to be renamed as earnings to the wife, and taxed, if at all. Because her earnings are considerably less, generally, she is unlikely to be subject to taxes, therefore, burdening the state with both reduced taxes and the risk of welfare costs – a double expense for the state because of the choice of divorce which has little or nothing to do with the state except the proper allocation and distribution of income, assets, and taxes.

  194. pbr:

    “Covenant marriage not a solution for domestic violence cases or adultery cases in divorce, but restoring accountability of alimony and child support may be helpful to offset the cavalier attitudes of marriage and divorce that leaves women and children in poverty while men engage in sequential marriage and create multiple families.”

    Restoring accountability for alimony and child support would be rather more simply achieved with laws that deal with those things directly, I would think.

  195. pbr:

    “Covenant marriage not a solution for domestic violence cases or adultery cases in divorce, but restoring accountability of alimony and child support may be helpful to offset the cavalier attitudes of marriage and divorce that leaves women and children in poverty while men engage in sequential marriage and create multiple families.”

    Restoring accountability for alimony and child support would be rather more simply achieved with laws that deal with those things directly, I would think.

  196. I think it should be harder to get into marriage and harder to get out. Children need parents who have the integrity and backbone to enter a marriage that is truly as binding as they say it is and stay true to their promises to seek the best well-being of the family. That is the kind of love that the couple promise when they marry.

    What bothers me is the way so many people lack the common sense to know that it’s cruel and unfair to deprive children and faithful, loving spouses of their RIGHT to live together full time and enjoy the shared family assets. If someone wants to play the harlot or be an abuser, let that person take the consequences and loss — not the rest of the family. I get really sick and tired of judges and attorneys getting rich pimping for the unfaithful and wrecking the lives of the faithful and their children and the citizens who will not stand up and say this is wrong and refuse to put up with it. I’m sick of the faithful being dragged into court where they and their children are threatened with the loss of everything precious and some attorney holds out his or her hand for tens or hundreds of thousands in protection money like some mafia thug.

    A better solution to this daily atrocity would be to turn the no fault divorce laws back into the laws they were meant to be where the couple had to agree on the terms of the divorce before it could be no fault. That way the faithful spouse can tell his or her abuser, “Now, we can do this divorce the easy way or the hard way”, and the abusive and unfaithful spouse would have a strong incentive to make it easy on the rest of the family and be fair. This business of tormenting the faithful is about as cowardly and repugnant and it makes it impossible for our nation to be either the home of the free or the brave as long as this unjust law remains. As long as it remains, we remain the home of the wimps, the cowards, the liars, the lazy, the apathetic, the incompetent, the unfaithful, the abusers, the harlots, the pimps, and such, and it’s no wonder we find people going postal around this nation.

    It’s no wonder suicide rates and depression is high. It is no wonder so many children join gangs to recover lost feelings of family love and security. It’s no wonder teen pregnancies and teen violence are as high as they are these days and that academic performance drops and people are afflicted with so much poverty. It is no wonder so many people drink themselves into oblivious or drive drunk or go on drugs to get away from the pain. It is no wonder so many go crazy and kill their families, their lawyers, their judges, or blow up buildings, and such when they lose all hope of recovering into a healthy life once again.

    If we would just give up our cheap dime-store weddings and make our commitments real rather than hypocritical, our world around us would change dramatically.

    The notion that commitment will result in women being pinned into abusive marriages is really not a very brilliant hoax when a person takes more than a second to think about it. If her husband is abusive or adulterous, he stands to lose everything, and for good reason. Why? Because there is a possibility of a fault based divorce. So, would an abuser agree to a no-fault divorce on terms favorable to the more faithful and loving spouse? You bet.

    Furthermore, statistics show that live in lovers are several times more likely to abuse than natural parents. And, as for violence, divorce does not stop violence. Separation does. Would you hold up a divorce paper to protect you from a rushing hungry lion? Why not? Probably because it doesn’t protect very well. Wouldn’t you rather get out of reach of that lion before it eats you? This really is common sense, isn’t it? It’s not rocket science.

    But, the important thing is to protect the children and the faithful and loving parent from being thrown into the family court hamburger grinder.

  197. I think it should be harder to get into marriage and harder to get out. Children need parents who have the integrity and backbone to enter a marriage that is truly as binding as they say it is and stay true to their promises to seek the best well-being of the family. That is the kind of love that the couple promise when they marry.

    What bothers me is the way so many people lack the common sense to know that it’s cruel and unfair to deprive children and faithful, loving spouses of their RIGHT to live together full time and enjoy the shared family assets. If someone wants to play the harlot or be an abuser, let that person take the consequences and loss — not the rest of the family. I get really sick and tired of judges and attorneys getting rich pimping for the unfaithful and wrecking the lives of the faithful and their children and the citizens who will not stand up and say this is wrong and refuse to put up with it. I’m sick of the faithful being dragged into court where they and their children are threatened with the loss of everything precious and some attorney holds out his or her hand for tens or hundreds of thousands in protection money like some mafia thug.

    A better solution to this daily atrocity would be to turn the no fault divorce laws back into the laws they were meant to be where the couple had to agree on the terms of the divorce before it could be no fault. That way the faithful spouse can tell his or her abuser, “Now, we can do this divorce the easy way or the hard way”, and the abusive and unfaithful spouse would have a strong incentive to make it easy on the rest of the family and be fair. This business of tormenting the faithful is about as cowardly and repugnant and it makes it impossible for our nation to be either the home of the free or the brave as long as this unjust law remains. As long as it remains, we remain the home of the wimps, the cowards, the liars, the lazy, the apathetic, the incompetent, the unfaithful, the abusers, the harlots, the pimps, and such, and it’s no wonder we find people going postal around this nation.

    It’s no wonder suicide rates and depression is high. It is no wonder so many children join gangs to recover lost feelings of family love and security. It’s no wonder teen pregnancies and teen violence are as high as they are these days and that academic performance drops and people are afflicted with so much poverty. It is no wonder so many people drink themselves into oblivious or drive drunk or go on drugs to get away from the pain. It is no wonder so many go crazy and kill their families, their lawyers, their judges, or blow up buildings, and such when they lose all hope of recovering into a healthy life once again.

    If we would just give up our cheap dime-store weddings and make our commitments real rather than hypocritical, our world around us would change dramatically.

    The notion that commitment will result in women being pinned into abusive marriages is really not a very brilliant hoax when a person takes more than a second to think about it. If her husband is abusive or adulterous, he stands to lose everything, and for good reason. Why? Because there is a possibility of a fault based divorce. So, would an abuser agree to a no-fault divorce on terms favorable to the more faithful and loving spouse? You bet.

    Furthermore, statistics show that live in lovers are several times more likely to abuse than natural parents. And, as for violence, divorce does not stop violence. Separation does. Would you hold up a divorce paper to protect you from a rushing hungry lion? Why not? Probably because it doesn’t protect very well. Wouldn’t you rather get out of reach of that lion before it eats you? This really is common sense, isn’t it? It’s not rocket science.

    But, the important thing is to protect the children and the faithful and loving parent from being thrown into the family court hamburger grinder.

  198. Hats off to the gov for leading the way in covenant marriage.

    I am a protestant pastor who has married many young couples who go into marriage all starry-eyed, but who see little value in doing any pre-marital counselling to help them make it work. Few, if any of them, understand marriage as a covenant. Most of them see it as a contract, which can be broken if necessary.

    Covenant is a pledge between two parties or more to keep this bond intact. When it involves a third party (such as the state or the church) it is agreeing to allow that third party to hve a say in the marriage.

    This was the common approach to marriage for many decades in North America. A big public wedding wasn’t just to show off a marriage ceremony, but was seen as covenanting with God and those present to keep the pledge “till death do us part”, and allow those third parties a say in the health of the marriage.

    Today’s approach to marriage is so self-serving and “individualistic” that most couples who hit the inevitable bump in the road bail out because “this growing heartache is no longer serving my best interest anymore”. The only third party many of them want involved is the divorce lawyer and the judge who will grant them a divorce. Kind of sad.

    We’ve lost our sense of accountablility and commitment in this culture, which is why the Gov’s approach is so refreshing.

  199. I haven’t the slightest problem with making it clear to couples what the commitment involved in marriage entails; indeed, I encourage that, and I think that it’s excellent that many religious denominations require pre-marriage counseling before allowing a ceremony in their denomination. However, I do have a philosophical problem with giving a third party a say in the internal workings of the marriage, once the marriage is performed. My marriage is no one else’s business but mine and my wife’s.

  200. I haven’t the slightest problem with making it clear to couples what the commitment involved in marriage entails; indeed, I encourage that, and I think that it’s excellent that many religious denominations require pre-marriage counseling before allowing a ceremony in their denomination. However, I do have a philosophical problem with giving a third party a say in the internal workings of the marriage, once the marriage is performed. My marriage is no one else’s business but mine and my wife’s.

  201. If we really care where life began we would rather cherish Covenant marriges. Unless you believe in Evolution as opposed to Creation then you will agree with me that God created man and woman and “officiated” the first marriage of Adam and Eve.A covenant marriage means commitment, love and care.Companionship in all our lives is important and a covenant marriage can be the place to give it. Careless people dont like commitment. They dont care about the children that result from their relationship.

  202. Well, Peter, in point of fact I’m agnostic and think the idea of God marrying Adam and Eve is really rather silly. And I think evolution is swell. So you’ve completely and totally lost me. Have a nice day!

  203. Well, Peter, in point of fact I’m agnostic and think the idea of God marrying Adam and Eve is really rather silly. And I think evolution is swell. So you’ve completely and totally lost me. Have a nice day!

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