A few weeks ago I read an article in Our Sunday Visitor, "How 'no-fault' divorce has fractured U.S. society". It contains a gem of a statement made by Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "Marriage is the attempt to love one other person the way God loves everyone, and that's hard. You need the support of a community, of a culture, to make it work. If people could do that on their own, we wouldn't need marriage." When Gallagher speaks of community support, she is referring to how no-fault divorce laws do not foster a culture that supports marriage.
I think this speaks to a profoundly overlooked truth about marriage: that marriage is instituted in part to protect its members from each other. Scary, but true. It doesn't exist just because two people are completely mushed-face over one another and are going to blissfully stay that way forever and ever. I think Gallagher hits the nail on the head here: if we could love perfectly, we wouldn't need marriage.
The contract of marriage between two people exists, in part at least, as a fall back when one or both parties would really rather not be married. And of course, no-fault divorce pretty much has wiped that idea off the map, even though the article sites that 4 out of 5 divorcees opposed their divorce. We as a culture are so used to the idea of no-fault divorce, that we almost don't know what marriage is for anymore. It's common to divorce merely because "I'm just not as happy as I think I should be". And because our culture is rife with divorce, marriage no longer means what it is supposed to mean: permanent commitment.
I think there is one other party that marriage is made necessary to protect: children. If laws are created in the first place to protect the innocent, then I can think of no other more appropriate law than the legal contract of marriage. Children are better off when they live with married parents, plain and simple. I could come up with a long list of statistics and anecdotes to prove this point, but I think it's so obvious that I don't need to. I could also write a really long post on this topic, but today is not the day for that. Happy Memorial day, everyone!