Thursday, March 19, 2009

Making Marriage Ordinary is the Best Role Model of All

Merlene Davis writes a column for the Lexington, KY Herald-Leader. She writes homey, sensible pieces about her husband and children, jobs and schools, their local neighborhood, and sometimes about larger issues. Most papers have a middle-aged mom writing a similar column. I like her column and read it regularly. Davis is black, so often takes an explicitly African-American take on these universal themes.

In today's column Davis has a nice piece about the quiet 25th anniversary celebration she had with her husband recently. She notes that there are many public benefits to marriage. Communities in which marriages are the norm are safer, richer, happier, and more giving. Married people are richer and healthier, too. But the main reason she is married is because she loves her husband, and likes him, too. The feeling, she says, is mutual. The public benefits are gravy.

These micro and macro benefits of marriage are universally true. She says the Davises don't deserve any particular notice for making it to 25 years. Their parents and couples in that generation routinely enjoyed mariages twice that long and then some.

What struck me most in Merlene Davis' column was her modest assessment of how she contributed to the public good:

Through it all, I've never considered us to be examples for younger couples. We are rather run-of-the-mill. Most of our friends, black and white, are ancient, and most have been married much longer than we have.

Davis notes, though, that black America passed a tipping point in the past generation. Marriage is not the norm for most black Americans. This is not true of any other ethnic group. She praises the upcoming annual Black Marriage Day. She and her husband should be role models, encouraging young African-Americans, including their own children, to aim for marriage. And the best role modeling is to make a community where marriage is a normal, "run-of-the-mill" institution that regular people join in. For themselves and for the public good.


Anonymous said...

Doesn't politics excite you anymore now that the election is over?

Gruntled said...

Family is always my first love, and politics is leaving family alone at the moment.

pencilnpaper said...

I really want to write a book and title it
"What every woman should know about those things"

There is a book in Croatia with that title.

One of my favorite socialist homemaker books is titled "A book for every woman." I like the book and bought copies to give as gifts. Also a great party game is to ask a question, and to open a page of the book at random and read it as the answer to the question. Yes, I took the trick from a Mike Leigh Movie.