When my kids were babies, we had cloth diapers. Disposable diapers were available at the time; we just couldn’t afford them. No, we did not indulge in those fancy throwaway diapers; we had the good ol’mess’em and clean’em later diapers. You put them in a diaper pail, a delightful little plastic container where a lovely, pungent brew of baby poopies would slowly stew until you got around to washing them so they could be reused. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I do not miss cloth diapers. God bless the person who invented the disposable diaper! (I know, I know, they are bad for the environment—landfills and all that—but cloth diapers were bad for the environment where I lived, so I welcomed the invention of throwaway diapers.) But I do have a problem with throwaway marriages—relationships that are tossed aside because they get some “poo” in them.
We need to develop some “cloth diaper” marriages—marriages that you stick with no matter how crappy they get. Relationships that you hold on to—yes, you need to learn how to wash and dry them, and maybe use some fabric softener to make them nicer to touch and smell—but you don’t toss them away. Sadly, what we have instead is a culture of quick, no-fault divorce that fosters throwaway marriages—disposable love. It’s amazing, but some folks hold on to their underwear longer than their sacred vows of matrimony, and they didn’t even pledge to the underwear, “Till death do us part.”
We live in a throwaway world. We throw away everything. When I was growing up, repair shops were not hard to find. Shoe repair, television repair, appliance repair, and watch repair ships were commonplace. Today that isn’t true. When was the last time you had a pair of shoes fixed? Who repairs torn socks anymore? Unless you have an expensive watch, you just throw away the one you have when it quits working. We throw away everything today—even the things that should never be thrown away, things that are designed to last for a lifetime, like marriages.
What contributes to throwaway marriages? I think it’s bad thinking. Somewhere along the road, we need to ask ourselves: What’s the point? What should one expect out of marriage? Why should a person get married in the first place? Our answer to these questions is critical.
Consume, Consume, Consume
In our consumerist society, we like to get things that make us feel better, make us look better, or promise to make us happier. Since the late 1940s, Madison Avenue advertising firms have been striving to get Americans to purchase items under the premise that a particular product or service will make our lives bigger and better. And we believe them.
Before consumerism became so dominant, people generally acquired things because they needed them. And they bought things that were practical and durable and dependable. Today people tend to buy things, not so much because they need them, but because they want them. And they don’t buy practical things to use; they buy things that project an image. Why? Because in a consumerist culture, the things people possess define who and what they are. Products are the stuff of identity. Next time, I will discuss how this consumerist mindset negatively impacts marriages in our culture today.