It’s tempting to think of marriage as old fashioned.
Why not just live with someone and be done with it?
What need for a public ceremony? Why the weird traditions
为什么要有教堂 寺庙 赞歌 誓言和祷告？
all those churches, temples, hymns, vows and prayers?
Marriage must be a silly relic from the religious childhood of humankind,
not designed for the more logical morden world
And yet it survives. The essence of marriage is to tie our hands,
to frustrate our wills, to put high and costly obstacles in the way of splitting up.
Why do we do this?
起初 我们告诉自己是上帝希望我们能够维持婚姻的状态 但到了现在
Originally, we told ourselves that God wanted us to stay married. But even now,
when God is not invoked, we keep making sure that marriage is rather hard to undo.
For one thing, you carefully invite everyone you know to watch you say you’ll stick together.
You willingly create a huge layer of embarrassment where you ever to turn around
and admit it might have been a mistake.
Furthermore, even though you could keep things separate,
marriage tends to mean deep economic and legal entanglements.
You know it is going to take the work of a phalanx of accountants and lawyers to prise you apart.
It could be done, but it will be ruinous.
It’s as if we somewhere recognise that there might, rather strangely,
be some quite good, though uncomfortable, reasons why making it difficult to split up a union
can be an advantage for its members.
The Marshmallow test was a celebrated experiment in the history of psychology
designed to measure children’s ability to delay gratification
and track the consequences of being able to think long-term.
Some three-year-old children were offered a marshmallow, but told they would get two
if they held off from eating the first one for five minutes.
It turned out a lot of children just couldn’t make it through this period.
It was too tempting. the less immediate benefit of gobbling the marshmallow in front of them.
was stronger than the strategy of waiting.
最关键的是 观察显示 这些孩子的人生会持续因为不能控制自己的冲动而饱受挫折
Crucially, it was observed that these children went on to have lives blighted by a lack of impulse control,
and fared much worse than the children who were best at subordinating immediate fun for long-term benefit.
情感关系大概也是如此 这里也是这样 很多事情感觉很紧迫
Relationships are perhaps no different. Here too, many things feel very urgent.
我们发火 想要逃跑 我们对新的对象感到兴奋 恨不得尽快甩掉现在的伴侣
We’re angry, want to get out we are excited by new person and need to abandon our present partner at once.
And yet as we look around for the exit, every way seems blocked.
这需要花费很大价钱 这样会十分窘迫 这需要花费很长时间
It would cost a fortune, it would be so embarrassing, it would take an age.
This isn’t a coincidence. Marriage is a giant inhibitor of impulse
它是被我们的道德心建立起来以约束我们好色的 不知感恩的 野性的 欲求不满的自我
set up by our conscience to keep our libidinous, ungreatful, wild, desiring selves in check.
What we are essentially buying into by submitting to its dictates is the insight that we are (as individuals)
likely to make very poor choices under the sway of strong short-term impulses.
To marry is to recognise that we require structure to insulate us from our urges.
It is to lock ourselves up willingly, because we don’t trust ourselves.
It’s a very unusual marriage indeed in which the two people don’t spend a notable amount of time fantasising
that they weren’t in fact married. But the point of marriage is to make these feelings not matter very much.
It is an arrangement that protects us from what we desire
然而在我们比较理智的时候 我们其实知道自己不需要 甚至不想要的东西
and yet know (in our more reasonable moments) we don’t truly need or even perhaps want.
最好的情况下 情感关系使我们试图成长 变成熟 变得“完整”
At their best, relationships involve us in attempts to develop, mature and become ‘whole’.
We often get drown to people precisely because they promise to edge us in the right directions.
But It is too easy to seem kind and normal when we keep going out with someone new.
The truth about us, on the basis of which self-improvement begins,
only becomes clear over time.
Chances of development increase hugely when we don’t keep running away
to people who will falsely reassure us that there’s nothing too wrong with us.
Over time, the argument for marriage has shifted
It’s no longer about external forces having power over us:
What we are correctly now focused on is the psychological point of making it hard to throw it all in.
For the last fifty years, the burden of intelligent effort
has been on attempting to make separation easier.
The challenge now lies in another direction: in trying to remind ourselves
why immediate flight doesn’t always make sense,
and trying to see the point of holding out for the second marshmallow.