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Religion: Catholics, marriage and happiness
Before I came to the US I was an expert in such important matter as Catalan dialects. It seemed to me unscholarly that courses on marriage and the family were given in American universities (So much for scholarship). It is perhaps the most important problem the US faces today.
I posted a statement saying that in my experience the happiest marriages were among genuine (not nominal) Catholics. A WAISeress who wished to remain anonymous strongly endorsed my remark.
However, Hank Levin was not convinced:
"The message from this WAISeress is sincere and very well-written. However, her generalizations about Catholic families being more affectionate will come as a surprise to all of my Irish friends. My roommate in college came from Ireland, and his family was very warm with me. However, I never saw much hugging and kissing and expressions of love within the family. As I got to know a larger and larger circle of his friends and their families, I began to see a similar pattern. In fact, those most assimilated to American life seemed to feel more comfortable in expressing their love openly to spouse, children, and siblings than those who had been brought up in Ireland and emigrated. We need to watch our generalizations".
Marriage is 1+1=2, an undisputed generalization. Hank is talking about open expressions of affection. I was thinking primarily of a Catalan Catholic family I knew well. They were affectionate but not demonstrative. Opera singers are the most demonstrative in their declarations of love, but life is not an opera. I would be frightened of marrying an opera singer.
A highly esteemed WAISeress, who wishes to remain anonymous, comments on my observation that sincereCatholics seem to have happy marriages: " I am not Catholic, but there is a mind set here concerning marriage. Please understand I am speaking in generalities, and from personal experiences. This could all be argued until doomsday. Catholics are taught that the church does not allow divorce, therefore, I have often observed that both men and women are far more careful about marrying. If you know that there is no such thing as divorce, your mind is immediately at ease, you do not have to worry about it, you can spend your time and energy building a family and a life together. Most people marry today with the idea that if it does not work out they will divorce. Heaven forbid that they should work on their marriage. Our divorce rate in this country is now 60% of all marriages, so I think our way is not very successful.
I also believe in arranged marriages. The parents work very hard in determining a good match for their child, in education, financial condition, temperament, life goals. Usually the couple meet, and if one or the other takes an immediate dislike to his or her intended, the parents go back to the drawing board. When finally a satisfactory match is found, the children marry, and although they scarcely know each other, they have expected this all their lives, and know that the longer they are together, the more experiences they share, the love will grow and become very deep. To me it is obvious that four parents in their forties are better able to choose a mate for their children than two eighteen year olds can choose each other. People who work together tend to become very fond of each other simply by being together all day. This is simply human nature, so I feel that this is what happens in an arranged marriage.
I cannot tell you how many unmarried women I know who want to marry more than anything in the world with the white picket fence and children. These are charming women, well educated, good careers, independent, very attractive in every way. They simply cannot find the right men. Their clocks are ticking and they are very worried. All this could have been solved had their parents arranged a marriage. I understand the internet is now trying to solve this problem. Somehow or other I would prefer that my parents choose a proper husband for me than the World Wide Web, with its dangers. Look at Stanford Magazine - in the classified ads there are always fabulous women looking for equally fabulous men. I suppose I should not criticize this, since with the Web one is able to contact zillions of men and women, but it still seems not quite right to me.
Catholic families tend to be larger, warmer, more affectionate, closer. They have been brought up to this, so they, in turn expect to create the same kind of family. Catholics are expected to go to Mass each and every Sunday. This can only be a good thing for their spiritual life. Non Catholics try to at least put in an appearance on Christmas and Easter, thus endangering the foundations of the protestant churches. Catholic families expect to take care of their elderly relatives, and there are usually many more children to share the care. In many cultures the elderly are looked upon with tremendous respect and reverence.
The Women Libbers have done nothing but destroy and ruin the man-woman relationship. Men want feminine women, not masculine women, and women want strong, masculine men to take care of them. That is how we are created. I opened the paper this morning, and saw an article by Sumana Chatterjee,. The headline: Women are generally happier than men worldwide. She goes on to say that the happiest women in the world compared with the men are in Japan, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Argentina. since arranged marriages are the norm in Japan, India, the Philippines, and Pakistan, I feel that this proves my point.
Concerning happiness, Stedman Graham's formula for happiness is as follows: Write on a piece of paper everything you love. Look at your list of everything you love, and build your life around it. I think this is one of the most profound things I have ever heard. It may be incredibly simple, but I find it incredibly true.... One must have something you love to do, someone to love, something to look forward to. To summarize that, one must have passion and sacred fire..I am a cradle Episcopalian, and love the church, and shall always be one, but if I ever changed, it would be to the Catholic church".
Well, yes and no. I have seen arranged marriages in France, and they were often a disaster. The parents arranged the marriage, a marriage contract was signed, usually involving money, aand the young man and woman wwere introduced to each other. That was the way royal marriages were arranged in the bad old days. As for the countries listed in terms of happy women, it reminds me of the happy Nigerians. When my wife and I were in Japan, the wife was clearly subject to the husband. We were invited to dinner at the home of a history professor. The wife stayed in the kitchen and acted like a servant. Admittedly he was conservative; we did not observe that in the homes of younger Japanese. India is the land of child marriages and suttee, which still persist in rural areas. Pakistan? Are wives in Muslim countries happy?
There is more to religion than a happy marriage. And the trouble with Catholic priests is that they do not have a happy marriage. The Catholic Church as an organization treats women like second-class citizens. I will omit here the question of dogma. Finally, the percentage of sincere Catholics to nominal Catholics is very low. Despite my caveats, there is much WAISdom in the musings of our WAISeress.
Ronald Hilton - 12.01.03