reason may be that being needed, by either your children or your wife, is better for health than having someone to lean on.
The trouble with marriage.
Marriage: the new blue-light case of the week. Everyone is terribly worried about its condition: can it be cured? Or, has the time arrived for drastic measures - just putting it out of its misery?
Euthanasia is a dirty word but, frankly, the prognosis is not so great for this particular patient, a stalwart social institution is now scabby and infirm, gasping for each tortured breath.
Many who had once so optimistically pledged to uphold its vows are fleeing its purported satisfactions.
In the US, a well-publicised 50 per cent failure rate hardly makes for optimism. Certainly there are happy marriages - no one disputes that - and all those who are happily married can stop reading here.
And there is always serial monogamy for those who can't face up to the bad news - yes, keep on trying until you get it right, because the problem couldn't be the institution itself or its impossible expectations.
For these optimists the problem is that they have somehow either failed to find the "right person" or have been remiss in some other respect.
If only they'd put those socks in the laundry basket instead of leaving them on the floor, everything would have worked out. If only they'd cooked more (or less) often. If only they'd been more this, less that, it would have been fine.
And what of the growing segment of the population to whom the term "happily married" does not precisely apply, yet who nonetheless valiantly struggle to uphold the tenets of the marital enterprise, mostly because there seems to be no viable option?
A 1999 study reported that a mere 38 per cent of Americans who are married described themselves as actually happy in that state. This is rather shocking, so many pledging to live out their lives on earth in varying degrees of discontent or emotional stagnation because that is what's expected from us, or "for the sake of the children", or because wanting more than that makes you selfish and irresponsible. So goes the endless moralising and finger-pointing this subject tends to invite.
Is there any area of married life that is not criss-crossed by rules and strictures, from how you load the dishwasher to what to say at dinner parties?
Let us contemplate the everyday living conditions of this rather large percentage of the US population, this self-reportedly unhappily married majority, all those households submersed in low-level misery and soul-deadening tedium, early graves in all respects but the most forensic.
Regard those couples - we all know them, perhaps we are them - the bickering, the reek of unsatisfied desires and unmet needs, a populace downing anti-depressants, along with whatever other forms of creative self-medication are most easily at hand, from triple martinis to serial adultery.
Yes, we all know that domesticity has its advantages: companionship, shared housing costs, child-rearing convenience, reassuring predictability, occasional sex, and many other benefits too varied to list. But there are numerous disadvantages as well, though it is considered unseemly to enumerate them, most of which are so structured into the expectations of contemporary coupledom that they have come to seem utterly natural and inevitable. But are they?
Consider, for instance, the endless regulations and interdictions that provide the texture of domestic coupledom. Is there any area of married life that is not crisscrossed by rules and strictures about everything from how you load the dishwasher to what you can say at dinner parties, to what you do on your day off, to how you drive, along with what you eat, drink, wear, make jokes about, spend your