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Wedding Prices and Marital Success

Phone calls from journalists get me thinking. And I have gotten a few of them in the last few days about … the Kardashians.

Now, all I know about that is that someone named Kim has a show on television where people are trying to keep up with her. Apparently she got married recently, and it didn’t last very long. That was news to me.

Journalists have been calling with various questions. Mostly to ask if this is not proof that two guys or two gals should be able to get married to each other, seeing how heterosexuals have made such a farce of marriage. Regardless of whether Mr. and Mrs. Kris Humphries are actually indicative of anyone, yes, heterosexuals have not done well with marriage. We redefined marriage with no-fault divorce to say marriage is really no longer about “till-death-do-us-part” but rather “as-long-as-one-of-you-is-completely-satisfied-and-happy,” for under no-fault divorce, anyone can walk away from any marriage, essentially, no questions asked. (Quiz: Which U.S. Governor enacted America’s first no-fault divorce law in 1969?)

And this redefinition of marriage has not been healthy for marriage, nor for the children and adults involved. So why does this indicate that we should embrace more redefinition of marriage to say that the husband/wife part of marriage isn’t important?

Same-sex marriage advocates are wise to make their argument on the merits of what they bring to the table, not on the failure of those already at the table, those failing to be faithful to the original ideal itself. And again, are Kim and Kris really indicative of anyone? Yes, heterosexuals do all kinds of crazy things with marriage: divorce at disturbing rates and for frivolous reasons as well as sky-diving weddings, Star Wars weddings, scuba-diving weddings, etc. These advocates want us to know they will take marriage more seriously than Kim and Kris, which I don’t doubt for a moment, for such statement isn’t saying much. But not serious enough not to have one of their weddings on the Conan O’Brien show. It was there that Conan’s costume designer (no seriously!) married his boyfriend and the Right Reverend O’Brien officiated the event. Conan does nothing seriously.

But one journalist asked me if I thought there was a connection between money spent on a wedding and marital health and longevity. It’s a very interesting question, and I have thought about this a good bit. And while there is no research on this that I know of, I would bet that this thesis is more true than not: Marriages where the wedding itself was a big, over-the-top extravagant hoop-la tend to be weaker and shorter-lived than more sober weddings where the bride and groom worry over their flower budget.

A huge, glorious wedding is not a security deposit on wedded bliss and success. In fact, couples who are so focused on making the big day a bigger-than-life deal are usually focusing their marital attention on the wrong thing. What about when the wedding is over? The pictures, memories and praises of your guests about how fabulous the buffet was are not going to see you through.

I am a big fan of more organic “less is more” weddings, because it allows the couple to focus more attention, resources and energy on the marriage, which is something very much more different and important than the wedding itself. And that has to make a difference.

What are you thoughts?

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About the Author

Glenn Stanton

Glenn T. Stanton is the director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family. He debates and lectures extensively on the issues of gender, sexuality, marriage and parenting at universities and churches around the country. Glenn is the author of four books and a contributor to nine others. He’s a huge Bob Dylan fan, loves quirky movies, and picked out and bought the first piece of clothing for himself when he was 28.

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