Dr. Ablow’s Ridiculous Article on Foxnews.com

Dr. Keith Ablow agrees with the actress Cameron Diaz that marriage is a dying institution that has outlived its usefulness, if it ever had any to begin with. Since Dr. Ablow is a part of the “Fox News Medical A-Team,” you might think that he has some significant arguments to make to support this rather bold assertion. But you’d be wrong.

In a recent article on Foxnews.com Ablow argues for the dissolution of marriage as we know it today. But before he gets to his “arguments,” he seems to make a case from experience. And his experience with marriage hasn’t been very good. He writes, “…marriage is (as it has been for decades now) a source of real suffering for the vast majority of married people.” Again: “…I would venture that 90% of the married patients I speak with would rank their marriages in the top two stressors in their lives….”

One more quote from Dr. Ablow: “As a healer, I can’t help looking askance at anything that depletes energy, optimism, mood and passion to the extent that marriage does. It is, without a doubt, one of the leading causes of major depression in the nation.”

The only thing that Dr. Ablow doesn’t include is any evidence. Wouldn’t a doctor value evidence? If you’re more interested in evidence than the good doctor, you might check out the research cited by Mary Gallagher on the relationship between marriage and personal well being. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find: “Many studies have established that married people fare better than their never-married counterparts in terms of psychological well-being.”

Here are Dr. Ablow’s four reasons that “marriage causes so much pain.”

1. The government’s involvement. The doctor proposes that the state should have no involvement in marriage including giving preferential tax treatment to married couples. His reasoning is that “Getting government out of our marriages would do a lot to make them feel less confining.”

While we can debate the role of government in the lives of its citizens, we can’t debate the fact that the society as a whole has a real interest in recognizing privileged relationships. In fact, there are no major modern societies that exists without marriage. It is a defining part of human culture.

2. Oral contraceptives. Dr. Ablow believes that the pill offers liberation (you can sleep with whomever you want without any consequences) and marriage kills sexual passion. He writes, “The vast, vast majority of men and women, in fact, are no longer physically attracted to their spouses after five or ten years (that’s being kind), if they have seen one another most of that time.”

Does that sound right to you? Do you find that those who sleep around exchanging one sexual partner for the next are the happiest people you know? Of course not.

3. I’ll simply quote Dr. Ablow otherwise you’ll think that I’m making it up. “The third reason marriage is a dying institution is because it inherently deprives men and women the joy of being ‘chosen’ on a daily basis.” He goes on to say that “…most husbands and wives have to wonder whether their spouses really want to stay, or simply don’t want to go through the hassle of leaving.”

So Dr. Ablow is proposing that we live in a world in which every day you reevaluate your relational commitments according to your feelings and needs at the moment. That is going to make husbands and wives feel more loved? Would he argue that the same approach should be taken with children?

4. Hypocrisy. Here Ablow is on to something when he says that, “The fact that millions of Americans take vows to stay in marriages for life, then leave those marriages–once, twice, maybe three times–has so trivialized and mocked those vows that many silently chuckle to themselves while listening to them.

What’s the common theme of Dr. Ablow’s critique of marriage? What do his comments say about him and his worldview? He represents a pop psychology of self esteem and self improvement. He believes that life is about pursuing your own happiness regardless of the means or the cost. His definition of the good life doesn’t include commitment, perseverance, sacrifice or being a servant. When difficulties and challenges arise in a relationship (and they always do), his advice is to move on and find another person to be involved with. Do whatever makes you feel the happiest right now.

Biblically defined, life long marriage requires that you grow up as a person, learn to think of others before yourself, stand by your word, serve when you’d rather not, delay gratification, cooperate with another person, forgive and seek forgiveness, admit that you have a lot to learn, etc…

Now I think that I’m starting to understand the real reason Dr. Ablow doesn’t like marriage.

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