I have never understood why being married more than once is disgraceful and reason to be judged, but having a series of live in, monogamous relationships is somehow more socially acceptable.
In my experience you are judged for two things in regards to marriage. The first is being married and divorced more than once. A second marriage is more acceptable now, but you go into a 3rd or 4th and people look at you like a you have leprosy! The other side of that is a man, in particular, who hasn’t been married by the time he’s 40. There’s something wrong with him that he never married or that no one wanted him. The assumptions that I’ve heard are atrocious! Please take my age into account reading this. I’m nearly 50, so my experiences are vastly different from a younger generation.
Not long before I married #3 I had occasion to run into my BFF from high school and the early part of my 20’s. In our catching up he told me about all of the women he lived with and the long term relationships. Serial monogamy is the term for that. He never married any of them and in his eyes (and others I’ve talked to) this is somehow better than being married and divorced.
This begs a moral question to me. I don’t judge people who opt not to marry. Some of the strongest and most committed relationships I’ve seen in my life are unmarried couples. The piece of paper doesn’t change the commitment. I’m not religious, so to me marriage is nothing more than telling the world and your family and friends that you’re celebrating choosing to share a life together. That’s no difference than a couple who opts not to get married. The commitment is the same! So tell me, why does having multiple failed live in relationships weigh less heavy than having more than one failed marriage?
I don’t know a single couple who’s ever moved in together or gotten married with a plan for their relationship to fail. I know couples who’ve known each other a few days or weeks before committing and those who have been together for years before moving in or getting married. The relationships commitment to being together long term is always the goal.
I think that marriage is one of the few social constructs which still holds the puritanical Christian values of days past for many in our society. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had make comments like in pride that they’ve never been married, but have a string of seriously failed committed long term relationships following them. Why is one form of commitment more valuable than another? Why is failure at one worse than another?