The National Review Online’s (NRO) Kathryn Lopez interviewed Hilary Towers, a developmental psychologist, about “how we can better support and protect marriage as a culture and in communities.” The resulting article, “A Guide to Saving Marriage,” provides some surprising and many insightful results.
A recurring theme from Towers is that successful marriages demand hard work: “Young people, in particular, deserve to hear the truth about what to expect from a vocation to married life at this time in history. It can be the most fulfilling, joyful part of your entire life, and yet it is so very hard! At some point (and for many couples, extended periods of time), it will hurt if you’re doing it right. It will hurt because a part of yourself will be continually dying in order to give life to your spouse, to keep the marriage alive and thriving.”
Towers continuously challenges the status quo, or so-called conventional wisdom, including the two most common views of divorce, “either as two impetuous adolescents in adult bodies who argued too much and made the best choice to move on, or as two unfortunate souls who simply ‘fell out of love.’” Instead, she believes there is a third, more accurate view for the prevalence of divorce and its negative impact on culture, particularly our children: spousal abandonment.
She describes the cycle: “A couple is married with children. One spouse is frequently…from a home where one parent abandoned the other. Their level of conflict is within the range of normal. There are no red flags that the marriage is floundering until around the time when an adulterous relationship begins, and at some point is revealed.” She goes on to point out that the family of the offending spouse then encourages—tacitly if not explicitly—to abandon the marriage, thereby perpetuating a cycle of abandonment.
Cohabitation before marriage? Towers tells Lopez that it makes the eventual nuptials more unstable, “…cohabitation before marriage is associated with higher divorce rates, a greater proneness to infidelity…Cohabitation is the common thread of instability that runs through each of the alternatives to a lifelong, monogamous married life.”
Pornography and same-sex marriage are also covered in K-Lo’s eye-opening interview with the developmental psychologist, who unequivocally states that the former has no redeeming value to a marriage, “The verdict is [in] on pornography: Nothing good can come of it. Its sole effect is to destroy happiness and love.”
And on same-sex marriage, Towers is equally clear, “This debate isn’t about whether gay people deserve to be married. It’s about what marriage is. As Ryan Anderson says, one can’t really be in favor of a ‘square circle.’” But she explains the need to speak the truth in love to those with same-sex attractions saying, “…We love you as daughters and sons of God; that we respect your right to be treated with dignity and respect. But in the recent words of Washington, D.C.’s Cardinal Wuerl, marriage is a ‘human community that predates government. Its meaning is something to be recognized and protected, not reconstructed.’”
You can read the whole interview here.