Marriage – the Competitive Advantage

U.S. Captain for the victorious 2008 Ryder Cup team, Paul Azinger in an interview on the make-up of his team indicated that he used Mayer Briggs personality tests in assessing the fit for the members on the paired section.  Marriages need different strategies in that they require a serious commitment over a long period of time. People change, their income generating status may change, and concessions must be made on both sides. Marriage is not always a “we like each other”, and “we can always get a divorce” option. The fact is that it is one of the most sensible and rewarding avenues to engage in companionship, develop oneself, raise a family, invest and increase assets, and pay off debt.

When things are good, with few commitments, even two fools in love can have a great time. The rewards of a sustainable marriage however come with a lot of work, and the sacrifice of personal freedom and time. The mindset of a married couple differs from the mindset of someone engaged in the singles scene.  The concept of “being together” requires a much less complicated framework than the concept of “staying together”.

It would seem however that there are certain criteria that should be inculcated early in the value system of the young adult. These include,

a)    Avoid teenage pregnancy,[1]

Teenage Pregnancy Trends and Totals

b)    Get a good education,[2]

Increase of Salary with Education Level

c)    Stay out of Jail[3]

Incarcerated Persons by Race

This simple list is neither extensive nor exclusive, but sometimes children need to hear and see the benefits of following these simple “rules” as they develop their own value system. Ignoring any of the above simply makes for a harder road in life.

In collecting African Tribal Art, and researching the culture of African Tribes (nomadic or otherwise) the singular most common factor is the importance of the institution of marriage. Whether tribes follow matrilineal or patrimonial systems, marriage is extremely important to the sustainable development of the family and the community.

From a resource perspective marriages bring people together, but they also bring families together. It doesn’t always happen like that, but one can’t blame the system because people fail to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in the system. The Tax code, insurance rules, and even religious organizations offer married couples advantages over single and other civil designations. There are tangible carrots out there, but there are also intangible benefits as well.





Marriage, Family, and Community.

Marriage, Family, and Community

We take many aspects of marriage for granted.. very much like the Federal backing of a Ginnie Mae mortgage backed security, or the FDIC guarantee for bank deposits not exceeding $100k…. we assume that God has an implicit spiritual guarantee in place for people who faithfully adhere to the tenets of marriage and monogamous living. Ironically this represents an enormous leap of faith and diabolical logic.

Baule : Spirit Partner

One of the most interesting quotes I came across was that marriage may have began as an institution to adequately access nubile women… this made sense,  since who would want warriors killing each other in their quest for companionship! [1] Another interesting point was that around 600 years ago no priest was required for a European styled marriage, which was basically sealed by a promise. The modern marriage came into effect around 1556, after the 1553 Council of Trent.[2]

It may come as a shock that marriage in and of itself does not bring God’s blessing and it is by itself a spiritual nostrum. Almost any crook, murderer, or thief, can get married in the finest church and walk out as husband and/or  wife.

This is not to say that the social construct that is marriage is useless… far from it. Nor would I rank the payment of taxes (another construct) on the same spiritual level that some marriages clearly attain, but I refrain from linking deep personal intimacy with spirituality.

Bambara Maternity Statues

Bambara - Maternity Statues

Within the context of a community, and raising a family, different types of marriages clearly work better than others.

If any one wedding tradition might be said to be indicative of the African continent it would be the importance of family. An African wedding is, more than anything, the bringing together of two people as a single family, or the combining of two families or even the mixture of two tribes into one family unit. The concept of family is one of the unifying ideas of the African continent.

There are more than 1,000 cultural units in Africa and each culture, each tribe has its own wedding and marriage traditions, many of which can trace their origins back hundreds or even thousands of years.

Divorce is rare in African marriages. Problems in a marriage are often discussed with both families and solutions found. Often entire villages join in to help a couple find solutions to their problems and keep a marriage from failing. [3]

A good marriage can provide a “win win” situation where both sides find love, and companionship, as well as raise a family. It remains hard work and it would seem that some Western societies do not provide adequate training for the task, yet the freedoms afforded the Western females are such that they are not disadvantaged to  as great an extent as in Eastern and African societies.

It is clear that the most important part of the marriage is the love and commitment of the couple to each other.  A marriage represents the legal, spiritual, union of two people but can easily devolve into a basic contract on paper, and an amazingly complex hell on earth.





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