There are all kinds of suggestions these days about what children should learn in school. Computer coding. Mindfulness. Social Justice. The list goes on.
But according to a prominent UK divorce lawyer – who worked on several high-profile celebrity divorces, including the Prince of Wales – there’s one thing that many schools should be teaching, but aren’t. That subject? Marriage.
The Telegraph explains:
“Baroness Fiona Shackleton said that education about marriage is ‘severely lacking’ in schools, as she urged them to ‘devote just a little time’ to the issue.
She said that schools make time to teach children about alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sex and ‘goodness knows what else’, but fail to address ‘what is the most important decision they make, which is basically, who they breed with or from’.”
As the Baroness went on to explain, young people have a false impression about marriage. To a great extent the focus is on feelings rather than the real, nitty-gritty aspects of building a home and family. In order to have a successful marriage, the Baroness implies, one must go into the relationship with eyes wide open:
“Children must be taught about the importance of considering the character traits of their prospective spouse, as well as realising that fundamentally people do not change.
‘If they think about these things, not about the white dress, not the love element, the practicality, before they enter into it then I would probably be doing myself out of a job more often,’ she said.”
C.S. Lewis made a similar observation in his classic work, The Four Loves. Lewis likely would have described genuine love, or the desire for the beloved, as Eros. But as Lewis is quick to point out, “The times and places in which marriage depends on Eros are in a small minority.”
Unfortunately, many young people (and mature people, for that matter) don’t realize this, and expect the high-flying feeling of Eros to be a 24/7 experience. They fail to recognize that natural selfishness soon rears its ugly head and interferes in a marriage. But according to Lewis, the lapse of Eros and the natural rise of selfishness does not have to spell the doom for a marriage that so many today seem to think it does:
“[T]hese lapses will not destroy a marriage between two ‘decent and sensible’ people. The couple whose marriage will certainly be endangered by them, and possibly ruined, are those who have idolized Eros. They thought he had the power and truthfulness of a god. They expected that mere feeling would do for them, and permanently, all that was necessary. When this expectation is disappointed they throw the blame on Eros or, more usually, on their partners. In reality, however, Eros, having made his gigantic promise and shown you in glimpses what its performance would be like, has ‘done his stuff.’ He, like a godparent, makes the vows; it is we who must keep them. It is we who must labour to bring our daily life into even closer accordance with what the glimpses have revealed. We must do the works of Eros when Eros is not present. This all good lovers know….”
Are Lewis’ insights about marriage truths that all students need to learn? If so, is there a case for giving basic marriage instruction in school, particularly when so many of today’s families are already broken and not providing a healthy example to follow?
[Image: CCO Creative Commons]
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.