Love is still overrated
Teacher. Bad grades and behavior problems highly correlated with divorced parents. Divorce tells your kids you love yourself more than them.
A great episode of the old Little House on the Prairie, the community tells a couple they can’t get divorced, because it would wreck the community. Great show to watch as a family.
Also, we take care of an aged family member that we don’t get along with. Moved her in with us. Why? Because she’s family. She drives us crazy. But love demands we care for her. Love isn’t a feeling. It’s work. It’s suffering. Love is a gift to another, not some consumer product you wash down with a bag of Doritos and a trip to Disneyland.
My parents had a few pieces of advice that they repeated constantly that helped drive home these ideas:
1. Marry someone who would make a good father.
2. Don't go to college or take a long-term job somewhere that isn't driving distance from home (we live in the Northeast so this might be easier here than in other places).
I did lots of dumb stuff in my young adulthood, but they always emphasized these two rules, and it meant that when it was time to have a family I was relatively set up for success.
Super interesting insights. Makes me wonder how the trend toward increased estrangements applies to immediate vs. extended family. Take me, for example. My dad moved me, my siblings, and my mom to Germany before I can remember for a job. I ended up being there for 17 years and didn't leave until I went to college. As a result, I never had much of a relationship with any of my cousins, uncles, aunts, or even grandparents (though my parents did make it a point to go back to the US every other year to visit). I think for my dad, it was like "well, I'm going to do what's best for my family even if it means being far away from extended family," which I guess speaks to your last point about designing your life around work vs. family. I think maybe as familial ties weaken in modern society, the nuclear family is like the last vestige of a traditional family network that many try to hold onto. This reminds me of a quote I recently read: "On the surface, the family is still the cell of society, but in reality, the real cell of society in the United States is the individual" (from a Chinese author analyzing America you can find here: https://angelanagle.substack.com/p/america-against-america). Anyway, great post!
On the first part about getting married not *primarily* because you're in love — My husband recently attended the memorial & burial of a good college friend, a guy in ministry who died of cancer at 30. He left behind his wife and toddler girls. My husband and I were talking recently about how if that were me, he'd want me to get married again ("after an appropriate time of grieving, of course!") We then went on to realize that marriage in that situation... between a widow/widower, for example... is probably going to lean more practical and realistic from the outset. We have 3 kids under 3 at the moment, and are coming to terms with just *how* practical marriage is for family life.... as much as we appreciate the romance and all!