When I was 5, my parents got divorced. We were at a barbecue. Then, my mom said we were going to run an errand. The office building she took me to had colored white out that I played with while she mumbled with a man in a suit. We took a plane across the country that day, and I didn’t see my daddy for a long time.
I grew up with a lot of anxiety. I was nauseous every day, on the way to school. The doctor said it was “nervous stomach.” I was skinny. Didn’t eat much of anything. And those emotional responses wound up becoming more complicated ones as I got older. I didn’t go the promiscuous route, but I would have married my first grade boyfriend if he’d asked. I was desperate for a man to love me.
Would I have had other issues had my parents stayed together? Sure. Everyone’s got issues. But, its undeniable that divorce shatters a child’s sense of security and leads to problems they may deal with for their lifetime.
So, can government fix it for us, like it fixes everything else?
Iowa thinks so. Their proposed legislation would make it illegal for parents with kids under 18 to get a “no fault” divorce. Divorces would only be granted if a spouse committed adultery, went to prison, abused someone in the family physically or sexually, abandoned the family for at least a year, or if the couple had been living apart for two years.
Rep. Ted Gassman, one of the Republican sponsors of the bill said, “My attempt with this bill is to keep families together, to keep moms and dad in the same homes with their children and to have those children raised by a mom and a dad.”
Rep. Marti Anderson, a Democratic opponent to the bill, said she grew up in a home thick with tension until her parents divorced.
Throughout our country’s history, marriage was a private institution. Marriage was done through the church and by exchange of marital vows. If a couple said vows, the Catholic Church recognized it as a valid marriage.
Government-issued marriage licenses didn’t appear everywhere until the mid-19th century, with only some tracing back to the 17th century. Massachusetts was the first state to require a license starting in 1639 and gradually the requirement expanded outward. And, get this, their original intent was to prevent interracial marriages.
Libertarian policy analyst, Julie Borowski, says that our forefathers would have been furious had they learned that we had made the most private of institutions government regulated.
The way I see it, taking the government out of marriage, would solve a lot of problems. Take gay marriage. The reason I’m against it is because of the way it is stamping out religious freedom. I don’t expect Bill and Gary to live by a Biblical standard they don’t believe in. But, I do not want the government deciding that its ok for them to get married – and therefore deciding that my kid’s public school is going to tell her that its normal – going against the Biblical foundation I’m setting for her, at home. If Bill and Gary have a private ceremony and then moved in next door, that wouldn’t affect my life one bit. It wouldn’t affect the morals I teach my kids. Privatized marriage would solve this problem.
But, alas, marriage is government regulated.
So, I think Iowa should do what its people want. If they want to make you jump through hoops to become a divorcee, then they should be able to. I’m not against that. I just think the best solution to all the tricky marriage issues in our country is to get the government out of it.
As Reagan said, “Government is not a solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”
Understandably, the 5-year-old me at the BBQ wonders how my life would have panned out sans the daily nausea, romantic desperation, and panic attacks. What if my parents had stayed together because the state government made it too much of a hassle to split up? Hmmm…
Divorce is a complete nightmare for a child. But, an over-involved government is a complete nightmare for a society. I think that Iowa has good intentions and I’m relieved that this isn’t a federal story, but rather a state story. Decisions should be in the hands of the people and if the people of Iowa decide that they want a law like this, then I’m thinking they probably have every right to.
If you lived in Iowa, would you support this legislation going forward? Do you think it will help children by keeping families together?
Or, do you think the government needs to get its nose our of our personal lives?