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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Till death do us part or we get bored – whichever’s 1st

    The institution once known as marriage is officially dead. Back in 2004, Britney Spears knocked marriage into a debilitating coma with her 55-hour marriage to Jason Alexander. But marriage survived, albeit in a weakened state and kept alive with a ventilator and a feeding tube. Now, though, the slow death is over some four years later.

    The deathblow came from an unexpected source: former “”Saturday Night Live”” funnyman and current Z-lister Chris Kattan. His marriage, to a model named Sunshine Tutt, appears to be a marathon by the standard set by Britney. It took all of eight weeks for the sun to set on this blissful union. What ever happened to “”until death do us part””?

    No longer is marriage the ideal for which to strive – if anything, marriage denotes the next step when a relationship reaches a certain maturity, when the use of “”boyfriend”” or “”girlfriend”” becomes trite and boring. Or even worse, marriage arises out of sheer impulse, as in the case of Britney and countless more.

    However marriage comes about, many of these unions dissolve like rice paper caught in a monsoon when the honeymoon loses its luster. While the actual divorce statistic in the U.S. varies from source to source, it is clear that the U.S. has one of the most dismal divorce rates in the world.

    Spears and Kattan only highlight the current state of marriage, though, and by no means do I think they single-handedly killed marriage; I wouldn’t give either that much credit. But their stories are like so many nowadays. Divorce is so commonplace that three or four marriages is no longer the exception but the norm. Zsa Zsa Gabor, for instance, has had nine husbands. Nine!

    Prenuptial agreements signal the clear death of marriage as a viable institution. After all, if marriage were truly forever, would prenups exist? Little more than plans for failure and recipes for disaster, prenups make marital collapse a looming possibility from the get-go. They insulate husband and wife and often eliminate the repercussions of divorce. What happened to the leap of faith that marriage once required?

    Many couples today enter matrimony with a shaky foundation. They lack the resolve to make their union succeed, despite the odds and whatever the cost. Marriage, once a sacred vow, has become a vow that can be done and undone countless times, a trying-on of the quintessential fairy tale glass slipper. And even glass slippers, no matter how perfect the fit, can be painfully uncomfortable and utterly transparent at times. It requires special determination to work through the blisters that undoubtedly accompany marriage.

    But Britney crushed the glass slipper with her heavy sludge hammer of a foot with her first nuptials, which, by most counts, was a whim brought on by the glitzy Vegas lights – an epileptic seizure of sorts.

    The recent news of John Edwards’ unfaithfulness demonstrates the ease with which technology outs an affair as well. Quickie marriages and stories like Edwards’ get more mileage in the media, and as a result, they become the norm and not the exception. The actual Chris Kattan wedding was not mainstream news in June, but his quick filing for legal separation piqued the attention of the major media outlets. If anything, his separation from his wife of eight weeks actually elevated his star profile. Could it be, gasp, a publicity stunt?

    Perhaps I’m being hyper-cynical, though, and maybe marriage isn’t dead. Perhaps marriage retains a faint heartbeat in spite of the drab news. Even so, matrimony plainly doesn’t carry the same heft it once did.

    As marriage takes on its new meaning, so too should the marital process evolve. I propose a punch card for each citizen. Each person would be allowed three marriages, no questions asked. Three is still a high number, but I’m accounting for the epileptic seizures of Vegas and unexpected deaths and infidelity. In extreme circumstances, one can petition for an additional marriage, but the case must be heard before a panel of judges. Maybe then, the quickie weddings will end and marriage will regain its reputation as a sacrosanct union.

    But for now, marriage remains nothing more than another checkmark on the to-do list. Below it the divorce chore remains unchecked – unchecked for now, anyway.

    – Justin Huggins is a senior majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology. He can be reached at letters@email.arizona.edu.

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