The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday January 29th

Our Culture Should Not Dismiss Lifetime, Exclusive Relationships

Traditional marriage has been assailed by popular culture, which portrays it as banal and oppressive.

The same goes for you, ladies.

At least that's what today's society would have you believe.

Instead of this "welcome to Hell" imagery that is sometimes used to depict marriage, in reality, the union of two into one remains a very beautiful and amazing phenomenon.

However, the lifelong commitment of marriage seems to have received a bad rap with today's popular culture, which instead glorifies casual sex and promiscuity.

Many would argue that marriage enslaves a couple.

True, there is a certain loss of freedom associated with committing yourself to another for the rest of your life. There is a trade-off though. In return, a marriage based on true love brings stability, emotional support and happiness. Oh yes, and better, more enjoyable sex.

Better sex?

Yes, assumptions that one's sex life only goes downhill after the honeymoon remain completely unfounded.

According to the National Sex Survey (done by the University of Chicago), married men and women have sex twice as often as do single men and women.

More importantly, 42 percent of married women report to be "emotionally and physically satisfied" with their sex life, as compared to only 31 percent of single women. Married men, too, find sex within marriage more fulfilling, with 48 percent of married men reporting satisfaction as opposed to 37 percent of single men.

More and more, divorce seems to be becoming the easy way out of many marriages.

Many times, I wonder whether America really understands the gravity of the marriage vows.

From the spontaneous, short-lived marriage of Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra to the philandering of countless politicians and Hollywood celebrities, it seems as though nobody agrees anymore with this notion of "till death do us part."

For example, Catherine Zeta-Jones gets $1.5 million for every year she stays hitched to the much older Michael Douglas.

Also, Douglas agreed to include a "straying fee" in the pre-nuptial agreement, which states that Zeta-Jones will receive $5 million if Douglas (a self-confessed recovering sex-addict) cheats on her. This, coupled with our country's sky-high 50 percent divorce rate, suggests that no married individual actually expects his or her marriage to last.

It is becoming harder and harder for young people to believe in marriage when the media focuses on failed marriage, sometimes even promoting it.

What ever happened to the idea of growing old together?

A social pattern is emerging of older men leaving their wives of more than 30 years to pursue younger women.

What ever happened to each spouse acting as an emotional refuge to the other?

More and more marriages are torn apart by stress in the workplace and by personal troubles which, in an ideal world, should bring the two closer.

Yet, despite these alarming social trends, there remains no substitute for the unique union of man and woman in marriage.

According to Genesis 2:24, directly after the creation of the world, God outlines the holy plan for marriage by saying, "A man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."

Is it just me, or does this image of joining together into one flesh appeal to the mind as one of strength, passion and stability?

Few people would disagree that the ideal situation in which to raise children lies in the stability and support of a traditional heterosexual marriage.

For the most part, children raised by monogamous, married parents tend to be happier and more successful in life.

Of course, this is not to discount the efforts of single mothers or fathers, but the ideal situation for children remains in the traditional family.

A strong marriage even contains a certain medical power.

Professor Harold Marowitz of Yale University found that divorce is as dangerous to a man's health and life expectancy as a pack-a-day cigarette habit.

Gone are the days of "Leave It to Beaver" and the traditional nuclear family.

But maybe our generation can reverse these trends of divorce and end the media's negative portrayal of marriage.

Instead of venerating the status of the "player" and believing assumptions that a marriage destroys individuality and career, let us instead realize that, yes, marriage is tough.

It will always be hard for people to selflessly commit themselves to their mates in an act of matrimony. The lifelong union of two people that follows, though, is marvelous, miraculous and holy.

Let us live our lives, cognizant of the fact that there is someone, somewhere, who is right for us, keeping in mind that, in marriage, one pledges to "to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part."

Nathan Cherry is a freshman business and political science major from Virginia Beach, Va. E-mail him at

ncherry@email.unc.edu.

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