By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.

We live in a world of mixed messages. Our world is neither black nor white. The world we live in is full of powerful emotions. And the truth is, the world we live in is complicated – so very complicated.

And for those of us who have lived in this world for a long time – well, everyday poses new challenges to our worldviews – to our “traditions.” At this stage of life, being open-minded is a virtue. On the other hand, being open-minded at this stage of life is difficult – it is complicated. It is like turning out the lights in a dark room – you think you know where you are going but you are not so sure!

But the truth is, as you get older, the world becomes more complicated, not less. The world we grew up in becomes less certain and more challenged. Those things we hold close to our heart are sacred, but are they right? And just when we thought that the aging process would bring stability to our thoughts and our beliefs, along comes a new idea – along comes a challenge to the beliefs we have held true to our heart for so long.

Which leads us to the question – what is this thing we call marriage?

In the Judeo-Christian sense, marriage is between a man and a woman. And as the reader knows, we have studied traditional marriage for nearly 26 years. We report our findings about successful marriages in our book Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage. Trust us when we say, we know what makes marriage work!

In our book and subsequent writings, we have reported our findings about successful marriage, and the reactions from the folks out there have been supportive and gratifying.

As you know, we know a lot about traditional marriage – marriage between a man and a woman. But the question for us in recent days has become, “What about marriage in the non-traditional sense?” What about marriage between two people of the same sex? Is this really a marriage? Now life and traditions become complicated!

Over the centuries, marriage has been a stabilizing force. In fact, one could argue that marriage has contributed more to social order in the United States and around the world than any other single institution. Through marriage, we raise children, promote their education and character development, accumulate property and pass it along through the generations, share the joys and burdens of life with someone we love, and provide social stability. Marriage is and will continue to be an important instrument of social order. And it seems, the vast majority of Americans still embrace the values and traditions of marriage.

It goes without saying, however, that there are contemporary challenges to the institution of marriage. While many hold on to the time-honored traditions of marriage – marriage between a man and woman – others argue for a broadening of the definition of what constitutes a marriage. And such arguments raise questions – questions many are unwilling to face. But questions we feel that we must address.

Over the years, there have been arguments about what constitutes a marriage. Many of those have been settled. For example, society used to frown on – in many cases condemn – marriage between people of different religions. And while making cross-religion marriages work is a challenge for many, most people have come to accept that this kind of marriage is acceptable. After all we say, if two people love each other, why should their religion matter?

There was a time when people argued that people of different races or ethnicities should not get married. In fact, until only recently in an historical sense, have we begun to accept that such marriages are acceptable. Most would probably now agree that a prohibition against people of different races getting married is silly. To prove our point, look how “brown” the world is getting due to the racial and ethnic integration of marriage and the resultant offspring. Again, most of the folks now say, “If they love each other, what difference should race and ethnicity make?” Great question, huh?

Our point in sharing these two examples is to illustrate that marriage has evolved over time and the notions of what constitutes an acceptable one have changed considerably. Many notions about marriage that are commonly accepted today were not heretofore.

Which brings us to the main point of this essay. As the traditions of marriage have changed over time – practices that were once taboo are now commonly accepted – perhaps, it is finally time to address same-sex marriage. This open debate in the public forum has a relatively recent origin. In many places today, the arguments are loud, emotional, and very heartfelt on all sides of the issue. To some, allowing same-sex marriages to occur would destroy the traditions of marriage. They argue – how can a marriage be between a woman and a woman or a man and a man? Others proffer the notion that “What difference does it make? If two people love each other who are we to judge whether it is appropriate for people of the same sex to marry.” Some, on the other hand want to compromise, offer a middle solution. They say, “What about something short of marriage like a civil union?”

There is no question that there is a lot of emotion on all sides of this issue. We have struggled with these notions for many years ourselves and truly now wonder, who are we to argue what constitutes an “acceptable” union between two people? Who are we to stand in the way of two people who love each other and want, like most of us, the opportunity to spend their lives with someone they love. And we bet, if we were to study successful same-sex relationships as we have successful traditional marriage, we would discover strong similarities between both. Our gay friends agree.

In the end, isn’t it more important to have people in love sharing their lives together throughout a lifetime, than denying them what we have come to believe is a basic human right – the right to be with the one you love irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual preference. Food for thought.

The simple things do matter. Love well!

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
"the marriage doctors"
Authors of Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage
Winner of the 2008 INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book

Author's Bio: 

Now you can order the Doctors' award winning marriage book, Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or www.GoldenAnniversaries.com, the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Medal Winner for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book. With 26 years of research experience on successful marriage and their own 42-year marriage, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz know what makes marriage work. From their hundreds of interviews with happily married couples, representing 15,000 years of marriage, they've discovered the seven pervasive characteristics present in all successful marriages. Their book exposes the secrets for success through these poignant, real life stories.

Get started with America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts by taking their Marriage Quiz or asking them a question at Marriage Advice or downloading their FREE eBook at Salad Recipes For Love and Health.

During their distinguished careers the Doctors have received some 65 local, state, and national awards; published nearly 350 articles and manuscripts; delivered over 1000 speeches, workshops and public presentations; traveled throughout the world; and appeared on radio and television and in the print media. Dr. Charles D. Schmitz is Dean and Professor of Family and Counseling Therapy at the University of Missouri in St. Louis and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz is President of Successful Marriage Reflections, LLC.

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