Date: May 11th, 2017
Motion: THB that parents are greedier than singles
Role: Rep. (gov.)
Assemblage, Chair, Ladies & Gentlemen,
We have been wondering what the cause of divorces is and what to do about that and what next. I’d like to present my own view on the mechanism of easy marriage and easy divorce. And do not draw any parallels of this with brexit. Britain’s divorce from the EU was not an easy one. The UK had a liaison, relationship, and finally a marriage with the EU for over 40 years.
OK, that was the comic relief. Now, back to business.
First, there are two people who are strangers to each other. Then they start seeing each other. This deepens into dating. They start liking each other. This deepens into co-habitation. They start doing each other favours, i.e. pleasing each other. This deepens into engagement. They start planning ahead. This deepens into marriage. They start loving each other. This deepens into a marriage with children. They start thinking of themselves as one Family Unit. This deepens into…. Divorce. (They start hating each other.)
Many people see divorces as failures in a linear progression from the neutral to the good to the bad, but I’m claiming that a divorce was in the cards anyway, as these people were not entirely honest and/or mature to begin with.
What I’m saying is that people who go from singlehood to single motherhood or single fatherhood have not sorted out who they are and what they want from life.
On the one hand, they want the freedom that is associated with being eligible but not taken, the freedom of being untidy, of spending one’s leisure time at will, of travelling to faraway places, of holding the strings of one’s own purse, of being mysterious.
On the other hand, they want the security of family life, the tight schedule imposed by work and children, the restrictions to debauchery and the comfort of sharing a bed with someone who might want to get intimate once a week as well.
What all of this boils down to, is that in the end the irresistible pawn in the game are the children. Having a child or children brings social capital to a given average citizen. A lot of grown-ups have surplus energy that they can put into taking care of other people. Nurses, for example, have to take care of a far wider collective of inmates on a daily basis; feeding them, clothing them, giving them activities and putting them to sleep (which is what life with children is often about). This ability to foster and nurse life is so ingrained in so many of us that a lot of people view having children as a ”no-brainer”, a deal that has mainly pros but not cons. They want children and the easiest way to obtain children is to be together with someone for a while and then go for a divorce.
After a divorce, the children are still blood relatives to the father or mother, and they are forever linked to him or her. Thus, that person will have amassed a LOT of social capital, compared with someone who does not have children. What is different with the earlier situation is that now there is also the freedom of singlehood that beckons. Compared with nuclear families, divorced parents with children enjoy aspects of both family life and the singledom. In an odd week they can live like hedonists (as the children are not there). In an even week they must live like monks or nuns (since the children are there). For twenty years in a row. What a Blast.
Easy and fast divorces are signs of a society where grownups have still not made up their mind about whether they want freedom or tradition. Because we live in capitalism, they need to gather capital, in this case of a social kind, in the process, for all that.
If you want to read more about the subject, here’s a column by a foreign correspondent who has been mentioned at least once on this blog before. She writes about the same subject (in Finnish):
She got a response right thereafter as a letter to the editors (in Finnish):
Arvio: Puheessa tökitään murtuvia liittoja. Aloite on suhteellisen tasapuolinen kummankin puoliskon edustajille; on ehkä hauskaa olla tälläkin puolella, vaikka edut eivät ehkä heti näytä ilmeisiltä. Toivon mukaan edelliset ovat jo ladanneet tiskiin rankan puoleisesti taloudesta, ekologiasta ja ylikansoittumisesta.