Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Marriage and Divorce Entitlements

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

I was discussing the topic of gay marriage with one of my christian friends, and then he said something like, "Marriage exists because it binds you and your partner to each other and to God.." or something like that. So that got me to thinking about why marriage exists at all. (Or rather, why it should exist.) I know that there's legal benefits to it: getting tax and employment benefits, visiting your spouse in the hospital, making life-death decisions if he's in a coma, getting assets after he's dead, etc. But would marriage be necessary in a free market society? Couldn't most of these things could be accomplished by living together and writing a will?

And now that divorce rates are so high.. what is the Oist position on divorce entitlements: rehabilitative, lump-sum, permanent, and reimbursement alimony, child support, and "dividing the assets"? (These can vary by state. In Indiana there isn't alimony, but something very similar called 'spousal maintenance.')

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 221
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Marriages sure are similar to other types of contracts, like wills. The governments role in marriage should be to enforce such contracts and create certainty regarding legal interpretation. So it make

Fixed. The opposite would be, "Gay people can practice Objectivism, but they can't be called Objectivists."

Because it has no bearing on the concept of marriage - Sexual organs, nor any other random part of physical appearance like height, weight, or skin color, has any effect on it. It is unessential, and

Marriages sure are similar to other types of contracts, like wills. The governments role in marriage should be to enforce such contracts and create certainty regarding legal interpretation. So it makes sense that there will be vanilla/common marriage contracts that the state recognizes, which would include standard provisions for dissolving the marriage. I can't speak to any particular provisions, but that's the gist.

Link to post
Share on other sites

And now that divorce rates are so high...

Divorce rates are high for the same reason voter turnout is low; apathy. Speaking as a 3rd decade marital survivor who's been continuously hated for having a good one, all I can say is, it's pretty hard to defend something that society is trying so hard to kick down. Marriage IS a contract, yes indeedy, but those who focus on the fine print too often miss out on what's written between the lines. Remaining happily married is a work in progress; and one, quite frankly, most people today aren't suited for... and that's a genuine shame for those who never will experience one.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Today's definition of marriage is quite flawed, to the point where rational people should look for alternatives (other kinds of contracts) when available, instead of getting married.

The notion that a healthy person should want and be given the contractual right to part of his former spouse's income or property, for instance, is deeply immoral. That includes alimony, huge sums of money in child support (as opposed to a reasonable amount actually needed to care for a child), and the splitting of assets earned by only one of the spouses, be it before, during, or after the marriage.

Prenups are a way to avoid some of those obligations, but not all, and from what I heard they're not guaranteed to work. Unless chidlren are involved, my suggestion would be to just shake on whatever commitments a couple makes to each other, and leave it at that. I'd rather trust the person I love to do the right thing than I am any current government. (With children, custody decisions ultimately end up in the courts anyway, and the father will likely only be treated fairly if he's married to the mother - so, in most cases, it's probably better to get married before having children).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Remaining happily married is a work in progress; and one, quite frankly, most people today aren't suited for... and that's a genuine shame for those who never will experience one.

You could say the same of relationships in general, whether you're married or not. But I wonder what you think is so special about marriage. The honeymoon? Go on vacation. Babies? Make them while you're there. Living together? Easily done. I don't see the point of it, except for the huge ring and stuff. I don't know many married couples, but from what I've seen, marriage doesn't make you more committed or loving towards your spouse, in the long term. There seems to be this unwritten notion that your partner becomes prince charming the moment he says 'I do.' I take that back, it's been written: see 50 shades of grey. But really, if (s)he isn't that before marriage, then (s)he surely won't be afterwards. And if you decide to divorce, and you make more money than your spouse, get ready to pay alimony.

The notion that a healthy person should want and be given the contractual right to part of his former spouse's income or property, for instance, is deeply immoral.

Yes, that's the point I wanted to discuss. Alimony seems to be the equivalent of, 'You're the one who married her, now it's your job to support her.' But is it fair in some cases? If you've been a stay-at-home mom for 20 years and your husband decides to leave you and the kids, it'll be really hard to find a well-paying job and afford daycare, rent, food, etc, without any other supplement to your income. In this case, as the ex-wife, do you deserve anything from your ex-husband? (In movies the woman would say, 'I was married to that no-good (expletive) for 20 years!!' and think that because she put up with all his crap, she deserves a blank check.) I guess this would play out a little differently between rational adults, but it would be extremely hard on the woman nonetheless.

Edited by mdegges
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, that's the point I wanted to discuss. Alimony seems to be the equivalent of, 'You're the one who married her, now it's your job to support her.' But is it fair in some cases? If you've been a stay-at-home mom for 20 years and your husband decides to leave you and the kids, it'll be really hard to find a well-paying job and afford daycare, rent, food, etc, without any other supplement to your income. In this case, as the ex-wife, do you deserve anything from your ex-husband? (In movies the woman would say, 'I was married to that no-good (expletive) for 20 years!!' and think that because she put up with all his crap, she deserves a blank check.) I guess this would play out a little differently between rational adults, but it would be extremely hard on the woman nonetheless.

I agree with child support, as long as it's not exploited as just another excuse to split the other party's income, precisely for this reason: if someone has been staying at home, raising the kids, they are entitled to and should want to have the child support payments necessary to continue that job until the kids are grown up.

And, don't get me wrong, if someone willingly enters a contract that entitles them to more than that, then they are entitled to more. All I'm saying is that such a contract is immoral. Neither side should want it, and I wouldn't want to marry someone who wants such a contract.

Unless it's because you're raising children, growing dependent on your spouse for your livelihood is immoral, and current marriage laws are unfortunately designed to facilitate that immoral practice. Even worse, they do so implicitly, rather than force couples to agree to those terms explicitly.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@ mdegges,

What is so special about marriage, is the integration of 2 individuals into a durable living partnership founded on faith and commitment. That you don't see the point of it suggests you aren't ready to enter such a relationship, and reminds me of my own attitude just prior to finding the person I married; if/when you meet the right individual, the point becomes obvious. What you've seen, looking from the outside in, is about as instructive as buying a car based on commercials instead of going for a test drive.

Marriage is more an argument for monogamy and dedicating yourself to maintaining a life long relationship that may, or may not, include raising children, than a personal financial investment. Prenups are a consideration of course, but if your primary concern is about the money, stay single ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

You could say the same of relationships in general, whether you're married or not. But I wonder what you think is so special about marriage.

You're over thinking this my man: You marry someone because you love them. It might be a simple way to formalize a relationship and yes it comes with certain legal benifits since you share a life together, but you do NOT do it for practical reasons. You do it for romantic reasons.

Think art, not law, and you'll go down the right path. You'll figure it out when someone special makes you want to keep them in your life forever.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I couldn't agree more. Maintaining a healthy, long-term relationship requires love and monogamy. But I don't need to sign a contract to commit to someone, or to feel secure in my relationship.. And I question the judgement of any person who needs marriage to get that reassurance.

Edit: You guys are coming from the position where marriage is a social norm, and it's just something you do when you fall in love. But that position doesn't make a sound defense of the practice, or explain why it would be necessary to continue in a fms.

Edited by mdegges
Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, well a couple of minor points...

The position that marriage is just something you do when you fall in love contributes as much to the divorce rate as the position that marriage is pointless. Also, marriage is a choice, but not a necessary choice; one doesn't starve, or go homeless for want of being married. It's a pursuit of happiness, but like any other pursuit, not a guarentee of happiness; living happily ever after is a fairy tale.

If your position is that marriage is a quaint custom that's no longer relevant in today's society, as is the prevailing position being promoted these days (and I suspect for the last several generations), then I say pfui!! Dismissing the possibility of entering into, and maintaining, a good marriage, because of divorce rates or contractual disputes, is throwing out the baby with the wash.

That being said, you should only get married when you can't talk yourself out of it... and then hang on for the ride of a lifetime. The best defense of the practice is a golden anniversary :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Social norm? Actually, I was thinking of when I proposed to my wife many years ago and the reason – I loved her, I wanted to sweep her off her feet, I was bound and determined to keep her and in no uncertain terms made sure I was the only one who could lay claim to that fact. Marriage was a very selfish way for me to say “mine”. It might be a traditional way that has become established (i.e. identifiable) but it was not out of some social conformity. It was a selfish and romantic claim to what I consider one of the greatest values I had to work to gain. She deserved nothing less than to be treated like the prize she was and still is.

Link to post
Share on other sites

"I consider marriage a very important institution, but it is important when and if two people have found the person with whom they wish to spend the rest of their lives—a question of which no man or woman can be automatically certain. When one is certain that one’s choice is final, then marriage is, of course, a desirable state. But this does not mean that any relationship based on less than total certainty is improper. I think the question of an affair or a marriage depends on the knowledge and the position of the two persons involved and should be left up to them. Either is moral, provided only that both parties take the relationship seriously and that it is based on values." ~ Marriage, Ayn Rand Lexicon

I read the combination of, "an affair or a marriage" as an either/or proposition, but I'd be curious to know what is the Objectivist position on extramarital affairs is these days? :whistle:

Edited by Devil's Advocate
Link to post
Share on other sites

I was bound and determined to keep her and in no uncertain terms made sure I was the only one who could lay claim to that fact. Marriage was a very selfish way for me to say “mine”.

Sounds like slavery to me. You can literally say "mine" if you own a person. Honestly, this phrasing sounds terrible. People aren't prizes, not even metaphorically. You don't need to make sure you're the only one who can lay to claim to your wife, since that's almost like a fear of yours that she'll leave you for someone preferable to you, so you want to force her to stay with you forever. More importantly, it's not like you can only be properly in a relationship with one person at a time, either, if such an event happened.

I'm a little confused on that quote too, DA, but I read it that "affair" here just means nonmonogamy, not an affair like sneaking out at night to see someone else and lying about it later.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If your position is that marriage is a quaint custom that's no longer relevant in today's society, as is the prevailing position being promoted these days (and I suspect for the last several generations), then I say pfui!!

Married people.. :shrug: I don't have a position yet. I'm just questioning the claim that there's *something* marriage offers that living together+writing a will does not. Everything you've said about romance and love can be said of unmarried couples as well, so I don't know what all the fuss is about. And on top of that, it seems fishy that you guys get tax breaks and all these other incentives for 'formalizing your relationship' when unmarried couples don't. It's like the government is providing incentives for people to get hitched, when it shouldn't be involved at all.

...so you want to force her to stay with you forever.

I think our generation missed out on all that "let's make it official by signing the papers in blood" romance. ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Social norm? Actually, I was thinking of when I proposed to my wife many years ago and the reason – I loved her, I wanted to sweep her off her feet, I was bound and determined to keep her and in no uncertain terms made sure I was the only one who could lay claim to that fact. Marriage was a very selfish way for me to say “mine”. It might be a traditional way that has become established (i.e. identifiable) but it was not out of some social conformity. It was a selfish and romantic claim to what I consider one of the greatest values I had to work to gain. She deserved nothing less than to be treated like the prize she was and still is.

Ok, so why not just tell her those things, and treat her that way? Why also engage in an arrangement defined by priests and politicians?

Link to post
Share on other sites

@EIOUL: Good lord you are being too literal lol. I was taking artistic license in how love can make you go the extra mile in grand gestures, which marriage or any commitment is all about (and frankly should be about). In this case marriage is about you and your loved one committing to each other so the courtship should reflect your desire to do that.

Obviously I was not trying to enslave my future wife and trust me she would not put up with the notion, then or now. Chased? Sure. Trapped? No.

@Nicky: As for actually getting married, who said anything about an arrangement defined by politicians or priests? We don’t let them define my ethics so why would we let them define other aspects of our life? Outside of a few courtesies to family members (which is for them, not the priests) we did this our way.

Marriage is about you and the person you love. Make it yours.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm just questioning the claim that there's *something* marriage offers that living together+writing a will does not. Everything you've said about romance and love can be said of unmarried couples as well...

What marriage offers, is a chance to have faith in something tangible; another person. Contracts are fine, but contracts basically presume distrust. Personally, I don't think a marriage ceremony requires much more than jumping over a broom together. Having experienced both living together and marriage, I can say that living together doesn't even equate to marriage lite. Roommates live together; a spouse changes your life forever. The only other experience that even comes close, is having a child.

So far as legalities go, why shouldn't government regulation taint marriage, just like it does every other aspect of human relationships. Committed couples ought to be allowed the same legal protection married couples get. My only issue here, is that marriage ought not to be reduced and regulated as a business partnership; it isn't. As Spiral Architect suggests, it's more art than science... and by the way, I fully understand SA's perspective as expressed, which has nothing to do with enslavement.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@EIOUL: Good lord you are being too literal lol. I was taking artistic license in how love can make you go the extra mile in grand gestures, which marriage or any commitment is all about (and frankly should be about). In this case marriage is about you and your loved one committing to each other so the courtship should reflect your desire to do that.

I understand artistic license, but I don't understand why that's the artistry you use! Your artistic license makes marriage sound like slavery to me, even if you didn't intend anything negative.

Marriage in terms of a "commitment ceremony" is fine to me, but in terms of an actual contract, I find marriage profoundly distasteful. Any explanation I've seen for wanting marriage is that it binds a person to you forever. Bottom line, I'm only pointing out why I think marriage is at best unnecessary. and It has no advantage other than government support, which is improper.

Edited by Eiuol
Link to post
Share on other sites

@Nicky: As for actually getting married, who said anything about an arrangement defined by politicians or priests? We don’t let them define my ethics so why would we let them define other aspects of our life? Outside of a few courtesies to family members (which is for them, not the priests) we did this our way.

Marriage is about you and the person you love. Make it yours.

The thread is about the legal arrangement called marriage. It's not yours, and it has nothing to do with your relationship. It's a legal arrangement that's exactly the same for everyone, and is defined by the government.

When I used the word, that's what I was referring to. Not your relationship. I have nothing against your relationship, I have a problem with choosing the institution of marriage to define your relationship.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Marriage in terms of a "commitment ceremony" is fine to me, but in terms of an actual contract, I find marriage profoundly distasteful. Any explanation I've seen for wanting marriage is that it binds a person to you forever. Bottom line, I'm only pointing out why I think marriage is at best unnecessary. and It has no advantage other than government support, which is improper.

The key term is commitment, Eiuol, and that is the primary focus of the two individuals choosing to share the rest of their lives together; the rest is so much red tape. Marriage only becomes necessary as a recognition of commitment. The contract only becomes necessary if the commitment is lost, and even then the value of the contract is questionable. The State taints marriage by requiring its involvement to be recognized, as it does with everything else it regulates. I believe the State's involvement is improper, because it acts like an interloper.

The thread is about the legal arrangement called marriage. It's not yours, and it has nothing to do with your relationship. It's a legal arrangement that's exactly the same for everyone, and is defined by the government.

The legal arrangement called marriage, and the voluntary commitment called marriage, are two separate issues; the latter isn't dependent on the former, and the latter definitely belongs exclusively to the individuals choosing the commitment. In terms of the former, I agree (if this is your position) that marriage ought to be deregulated.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
Link to post
Share on other sites

The thread is about the legal arrangement called marriage. It's not yours, and it has nothing to do with your relationship. It's a legal arrangement that's exactly the same for everyone, and is defined by the government.

When I used the word, that's what I was referring to. Not your relationship. I have nothing against your relationship, I have a problem with choosing the institution of marriage to define your relationship.

If someone chooses to define themselves and their relationships by tradition and/or religion then I agree 100%. I get where you’re coming from here - Marriage as a relationship between you and God(s) is a perverse thought indeed. Minaja trinity? Ugh.

You can choose any other way to define a relationship or call it what you will too. I honestly don't care. I'm just defending marriage since it is like any other tradition, Christmas for example, which serves a purpose and you can make it your own. Instead of writing it off because of its origin and you easily take the good and give it a proper premise to serve you.

Edited by Spiral Architect
Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand artistic license, but I don't understand why that's the artistry you use! Your artistic license makes marriage sound like slavery to me, even if you didn't intend anything negative.

Marriage in terms of a "commitment ceremony" is fine to me, but in terms of an actual contract, I find marriage profoundly distasteful. Any explanation I've seen for wanting marriage is that it binds a person to you forever. Bottom line, I'm only pointing out why I think marriage is at best unnecessary. and It has no advantage other than government support, which is improper.

Outside of making sure the future Mrs. Architect knew that I was in love with her and wanted to be with her there was no fowl. You are thinking in terms of bondage instead of just a romantic courtship where the lady likes to be chased and caught. Your loved wants to be desired.

You don't get married to bind someone, you commit yourself to someone so they know they are so important to you life would not be complete without them. You can choose any method of doing this but in my mind a courtship and proposal is certainly more romantic then asking for a contractual civil union of mutual trade.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You are thinking in terms of bondage instead of just a romantic courtship where the lady likes to be chased and caught. Your loved wants to be desired.

My dispute in the post was how you chose to describe marriage as you did, even metaphorically. (And you used another description here that I don't like: "where the lady likes to be chased and caught".) Taking artistic license reflects what your examples remind you of, so since I doubted you really want to make marriage sound like slavery, you should describe marriage in wholly different terms. Either that, or you've got premises you should question which led you to come up with your description. I actually don't exactly believe you even can describe marriage as anything but co-dependency, with negative connotation and all. Mostly, the good stuff people mention is commitment, which does not require marriage. People don't say marriage to refer to the ceremony, but a whole lot more - including what you described as "It was a selfish and romantic claim to what I consider one of the greatest values I had to work to gain." What do you mean by claim? Why did you choose to say claim as opposed to any other word? In what ways is this even desirable in a romantic relationship? I'm not attempting to nitpick; I'm attempting to see what your premises are.

Traditions can be good or bad, and I think marriage is a bad tradition. Ceremony, great. But the tradition is historically based on economic survival need, hence "until death do us part" - divorce (or simply never getting married) would put you in financial ruin and strained to survive. When romantic relationships become part of an economic tradition, problems arise, especially since it is possible for men and women to have independent economic security these days. Even if you want to talk about only symbolism, I find the symbolism to reflect unconditional love and distrust.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If someone chooses to define themselves and their relationships by tradition and/or religion then I agree 100%. I get where you’re coming from here - Marriage as a relationship between you and God(s) is a perverse thought indeed. Minaja trinity? Ugh.

You can choose any other way to define a relationship or call it what you will too. I honestly don't care. I'm just defending marriage since it is like any other tradition, Christmas for example, which serves a purpose and you can make it your own. Instead of writing it off because of its origin and you easily take the good and give it a proper premise to serve you.

You can make Christmas your own. You can go out and celebrate Christmas by doing what Jesus hated most of all: shopping for sex toys coated in gold. No one will stop you. You're the one defining what Christmas is, for yourself, you're just using the same name the Church uses.

You can't make marriage your own. Marriage is a legally binding arrangement defined by the state. You're not the one defining what it is, the government is.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You guys are hopeless. If you were here I’d take you out for a few drinks and get to the bottom of this.

I blame modern music. We need another Frank Sinatra or Barry White stat in this Country.

@Eiuol: You’ll figure it out when you find someone you love so much you want to make them a permanent part of your life. By the way, I got the chase part from my wife since she was the one that actually made it point to run into me (literally) the second time we met, just to make sure I noticed her. I had to laugh later when I read how Rand tripped Frank to get his attention.

@Nicky: I have no idea what the “Government definition” of marriage is, outside in Michigan it reads “a union between and man and a women” nonsense. I’d be curious to know what part I’m missing besides some basic legal structures on property rights when the couple does not define it themselves.

Gold plated sex toys? I guess that is one way to insure an objective standard of orgasm.

Thank you. Thank you.

I’ll be here all weekend.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...