The state of families in America today has me concerned about the future. Is divorce just too easy or is it that marriage is too easy?
The only people who think divorce is easy have never been divorced. The process itself can take anywhere from 24 hours to many years. Even then, it isn't the process that's particularly difficult – it's the aftermath.
An 18-month waiting time for a marriage license is a good idea, and doing away with common law marriage is one step better. Studies of human biology back this up as it takes an average of 18 months from the time a (heterosexual and fertile) couple meets until they bring a child into the world. For many, it is at this point that the marriage/relationship begins to break down – not because a child has entered the picture, but because the attraction that brought them together in the first place has cooled. While a child may not enter a homosexual relationship, the cooling off comes at about the same time.
Other factors (finances, responsibilities, travel, or in-laws) surely complicate the matter, but the crux of it is a premature jump on infatuation instead of waiting to see if the relationship is really one of love and not just lust. This is not to say lust is a bad thing. It is to say that many misconstrue the intense feelings of lust for love. All that connection and vitality is common in the less than 18-month-old relationship. Statements like "I've never felt this way before” roll easily off the tongues of those who are just sure they're in love.
The longer-lasting relationship speaks not just of trust and love, but also of experience with it. This relationship doesn't say "I've never felt like this before." It says, "I've felt like this before, but this time I've felt it for a long time."
If the relationship has withstood no misfortune (financial strain, familial interference, or ill health), there is no way of knowing whether either party really has the stamina for marriage. The current fifty percent divorce rate is, in large part, due to those who married before their infatuation (wrongly referred to as "love") was allowed to run its course. While many couples grow naturally into love after infatuation has cooled, many others do not.
A waiting time before getting married would not prevent anyone from living together, but it would help to insure those who are in it for the long haul are the ones afforded the opportunity.