We know that for most people, couples, loyalty is a major bonding element. Without loyalty relationships can crumble. For couples in both a dating relationship and a marriage, an important contributor to a satisfying relationship is an understanding that a partner will help the other achieve his/her dreams.
That’s huge for married couples but in the married relationship, it is even more substantial that the partner upholds his/her part of the commitment pledged before taking vows. In other words, the feelings of being loved and supported that people use to judge who makes a good girlfriend or boyfriend may not be completely trustworthy in deciding who makes a good husband or wife.
Those feelings may only partially capture the emotions that will determine your satisfaction with the person you marry. Even as boyfriend and girlfriend you are subject to inaccurate thoughts, feelings and of course behaviors and opinions. Loyalty does, or at least should, reach a higher level of true loyalty after a commitment to each other in marriage.
Man is a social animal – utterly dependent on forming and maintaining relationships with other people. A person who has always been truly alone is one who will be emotionally dead. Of all of the relationships into which people enter, the family is the most important. We are raised by parents, confronted with siblings, and introduced to peers through our familial roots.
Marriage, of course, is the supreme form of that commitment. When we make marriage less important, character suffers. In addition to the fact that married people are happier, wealthier, and sexually more satisfied than are unmarried persons or those cohabiting, it turns out that married people and their children are less likely to commit crimes.
You see, loyalty in a family covers a lot of ground. It is not limited to just being faithful. It also means that I promise not put this family in any danger and when possible not any financial strain or unnecessary stress. For a husband to be completely loyal in every aspect requires strength, for a wife, not only strength but to also be nurturing and compassionate.
Let me distinguish, therefore, between two meanings of the term. Loyalty can mean doing one’s duty (obeying the law, honoring promises, paying taxes, serving faithfully in the military) or it can mean a commitment to valued friends and family. In this second sense almost everyone is loyal to someone because they partake of the necessary sociability of mankind.
No one can exist without being sociable to some degree; a human who lives life without any contact with other people will not be able to speak or perhaps even to think in some meaningful way. Why does marriage beget loyalty when cohabitation does not? The difference is that marriage follows a public, legally recognized ceremony in which each person swears before friends and witnesses to love, honor, and cherish the other until death parts them.
Cohabitation merely means shacking up. Of course, many marriages end in an easily arranged divorce, but even in this new era of no-fault divorces, they still must be done before a magistrate and be accompanied by a careful allocation of property and children.
Perhaps because of the acknowledged impermanence of their condition, cohabiting couples, compared to married ones, are more vulnerable to depression, have lower levels of happiness, experience more cases of physical abuse, are more likely to be murdered, are more likely to be sexually unfaithful, and more likely to be poor.
Children living with cohabiting parents are, compared to those living with married ones, much more likely to witness their parents’ relationships end, to have emotional and behavioral problems, to experience educational problems, and to be poor. With the fact that loyalty seems be more identifiable, and more adhered to in marriage is a good thing.
I think it means commitment to a marriage is still taken more seriously. As for just cohabitating, well, I think the point was made. I wonder if moving from one relationship to another hinders growth in the ability to be loyal in children.