America's obsession with high-profile marriage flameouts — the Gosselins and the Sanfords and the Edwardses — reflects a collective ambivalence toward the institution: our wish that we could land ourselves in a lasting union, mixed with our feeling of vindication, or even relief, when a standard bearer for the "traditional family" fails to pull it off.She goes on to argue, rightly, that marriage is not primarily about the adults' happiness, but about raising children.
I believe that Flanagan is right about the ambivalence that many people feel about marriage. I don't want to agree with her, but I have to admit that she is right. I don't want to agree because ambivalence kills.
So I see an additional conclusion to draw: people who promote marriage, like me, should school ourselves against feeling any sense of vindication when the marriages of family values hypocrites fail. It is just sad. These failures hurt the good cause. Feelings of Schadenfruede may be unavoidable, but we should not revel in it.