While the tired debate over gay marriage consumes endless media attention, the real issue goes unreported: Marriage itself is a failed institution.
Marriage is an outmoded idea reinforced by religious leaders, perpetuated by the media, and dragged out by a bunch of societal values that no one actually believes in anymore.
The proof is in the numbers.
A whopping 90% of Americans surveyed believe that adultery is morally wrong, yet more than 80% of both men and women admit to regularly flirting with someone at work. Even worse, more than 45% of married women and nearly 60% of married men will consummate that flirting with extramarital sex at some point during their relationship.
It does not end at cheating, either.
The U.S is Still the Best at Something
A study of divorce rates around the world shows an enormous bias toward developed nations. The United States leads the world in divorce rate, and other developed nations follow closely behind. The top 10 are:
1. United States
2. Puerto Rico
4. United Kingdom
6. New Zealand
And where in the world are there extremely low divorce rates? Impoverished nations: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Libya, Vietnam, India, El Salvador, Belize, and Bosnia.
There is an undeniable correlation between a country's wealth and its divorce rate.
Sense to Commit For Life, When You Only Live to 28
Wealth is only one driver of divorce; the other is life expectancy.
We often forget that we have made huge strides in life expectancy in an extremely short period of time. Until 1,000 years ago, life expectancy was only 20 years. In 18th century London, 75% of children died before the age of five. It was only the advent of modern medicine and public health in the last 100 years that doubled our life expectancy from 35 in the early 1900s to more than 70 years today.
As Chris Rock once said, "People think life is short. Oh no! Life is long, especially if you make the wrong decisions."
A Brief History of Marriage
While we like to envision that marriage has its roots in love, it was actually borne out of wealth retention and opportunism.
Marriage was invented around 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, around the same time private property rights emerged. Marriage was a mechanism for clans to increase their wealth. It was also usually polygamous.
Religious guidelines were created several hundred years later to keep a church from losing wealthy followers by preventing them from marrying into another religion.
The one thing marriage wasn't: romantic. That didn't come for another 4,000 years.
Over the last 300 years, the goals of marriage began to change. No longer was marriage a mere financial contract, it was also supposed to provide companionship, and be the exclusive vehicle for intimacy and sex.
Now, marriage is changing once again. The "sanctity" of marriage is being warped by reality television shows and cheating websites, while infidelity is being made easier by the Internet and mobile devices.
All of this begs the question: What is the future of marriage?
The Answer Lies in a Secret Language
In the 1960's, an elderly woman passed out at a train station in the Hunan province in China, scattering dozens of odd papers and accidentally revealing an incredibly secret. For the last 1,700 years, the women of Jiangyong County had been using a second written language called Nu Shu, which was not understood by men. This language contains more than 2,000 unique characters and a vocabulary of more than 20,000 words.
Women printed Nu Shu on fans and paper, and embroidered it on handkerchiefs and quilts. They used it in letters to communicate secretly between each other, and chanted it at festivals and gatherings.
The women of Jiangyong were brave, operating within an oppressive regime that prevented women from being educated and forced them into arranged marriages. Much of the Nu Shu communication was focused on suffering caused by their marriages, and the tribulations of life as a woman in feudal China.
Today's women of Jiangyong found no use for Nu Shu, as they are now educated and no longer forced into arranged marriages. In 2004, the last remaining woman proficient in died, taking much of the knowledge with her.
Marriage shares a lot in common with Nu Shu. Both were borne out of necessity thousands of years ago, and both lost relevance as the world changed around them.
It is only a matter of time before it too fades into the past.