This year’s season of The Bachelor is over. http://abc.go.com/watch/the-bachelor/SH559030/VD55179146/week-10 Courtney got the rose from Ben to everyone’s shock and disdain. The news emanating from this show—on internet news outlets, in newspapers and magazines, at times put the latest Ben headlines right up there with tsunamis and market crashes. What is the pull of this show? To me, it seems so blatantly artificial…but then do I really think reality television has reality
in it? I liken reality show love and marriage to a butterfly in a jar. Nice to look at, but will it live and breathe as real love and especially a durable marriage, which can dodge the divorce bullet? What are the odds?
My reflexive conclusion about this made-for-TV method of spousal selection:
it has to be more likely to result in divorce than the ‘usual’ methods
mentioned below, college dorms, online dating, people met at dodgy dungeon like
clubs (JK- for me anyway)… I mean, how ridiculously artificial, all
these suitors vying to bed the bachelor(ette) like sperm cells trying to
penetrate an ovum, and doing it in front of an audience of millions. It
seems like a cross between gladiatorial bloodsport and chick flick audition,
but not real dating or relationship building. If the odds of a ‘normal’
marriage ending in divorce are 50-50, then wouldn’t the odds of a
Bachelor(ette)-manufactured marriage ending in sudden bachelorhood be closer to
Not so fast. For one thing, who is a twice-divorced guy to say that a
highly artificial method of choosing a spouse is more likely to lead to divorce
than what we consider to be more ‘natural’ methods? The ones I have used in the past, like meeting people at college, in bars, through friends or online dating, all result in the
coin flip divorce stats we now contend with, so no need to get all huffy about
seemingly arbitrary methods.
And another thing- people of my parents’ vintage, as well as people in
arranged-marriage cultures, have frequently married under at least as
artificial circumstances with less knowledge of their spouse-to-be than the
Bachelor had of his suitors. 50-year marriages have been founded on a
few dates, or the fact that the families knew each other, or were the “right”
families. Marriages have often rested on pretty slim reeds and guess
what? There’s not much evidence, at least to the naked eye, that an “artificially”
generated marriage has a worse shot at longevity than one borne of love and/or
passion (that’s right, two different things).
My takeaway? Bachelor(ette) is a hokey show and a worse premise for a
marriage, but what is a better foundation for a marriage to beat the divorce stats? Marriage and selecting your spouse is like that ubiquitous Churchill quote about government: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” Same for how we choose life partners.
I won’t let the statistics I hear about Bachelor(ette) marriages
(significantly less than 50% make it apparently) deter me from my point, which
is: marriages based on romantic notions likely rest upon a foundation almost as
sand-like as artificially based marriages. If true (it does beg statistical research), then maybe we need to think about what really is the least likely divorce-generative scenario unclouded by overly romantic notions or, on the other side, overly artificial or practical goals. Sure. We can do that. My start down that road:
• Marry when you’re thirty and less likely to succumb to passion or sex as the dominant motive, both are unreliable indicators of longevity. Make that 60.
• Marry with concrete goals in mind, not romantic ones. Yeah, I know. Believe it or
not I’m a romantic. But in my only slightly jaded view, the place for romance is in the bedroom, not at the altar.
• Marry your best friend, not your best girl or boyfriend. Yes they should be attractive at least to you; yes, you should have great sex. But I submit that friends
with benefits are better than benefits without friendship, even if there’s romping, fantasy-worthy sex involved in the latter equation.
In other words circling back to the question, what is the spousal selection
method least likely to line the pockets of divorce lawyers? Damned if I
know, but at least let’s try and jettison our kneejerk pre-conceptions?