2012년04월19일, 목요일 아침: last night, i spotted an interesting article in my google news feed, but i didn’t get to finish reading it until this morning:
“the downside of cohabiting before marriage” by meg jay, published in the new york times on 2012년04월14일
this morning, i was trying to find that article via a search in google news, but first only came up with articles that were written in response to the original:
- “cohabitating: questioning the decision to move in before marriage” by maura judkis posted in “the style blog” of the washington post on 2012년04월17일
- “cohabitation and happily ever after: a response to meg jay” by meg mcdonnell in international business times on 2012년04월18일
- “the case for cohabitation” by hannah seligson, published in the daily beast on 2012년04월18일
apparently, i have arrived on this topic really late; but the reference authors all arrived on this topic late. the controversy over cohabitation is nothing new at all. i have been hearing it in church for at least the past decade or so. i mean… i guess i only returned to church after the beautiful kaela hwang and i got married, but there was a big, relevant reason for that: i’ve honestly been a bit shy at times to mention in the church crowd (even to this day) that kaela and i cohabitated before marriage. honestly, at times, when telling some church friends about our history, i hoped that they wouldn’t notice a time gap in my narrative. cohabitation is a bit controversial, and even the idea of couples traveling on overnight trips without others (friends or family) is also controversial. as much as i insist that the “christian church” today is not the ridiculously conservative institution that the so.called “liberal” atheist keep trying to paint it as, i have to admit that i notice that in most asian.american, evangelical church communities issues that touch upon premarital sex are still sticky when it comes to actual real, live people in one’s own circle of “christian” friends. still, the modern christian church is not that screwed up and understands biblical forgiveness in a modern world. for example, i have heard pastors say that they will perform weddings for couples and have them go through premarital counseling in which the pastor will ask if the couple has been cohabitating or traveling alone together (i.e. traveling together without anyone else in the party). if the couples has, then the pastor will basically say something like “that’s okay; but from now until your wedding, i don’t want you to cohabitate or travel alone together.” sure, that’s not a message borne out of the sexual revolution. however, we really live a post.post.modern world. this is no longer the 1960s. i personally aim to subvert the dominate paradigm and tear down all preconceptions of “liberal” versus “conservative.”
i really don’t know how long i have heard in the church community (via sermons, bible studies, etc.) that cohabitation before marriage is not a good idea and that the population of couples that cohabitate before marriage have a higher divorce rate. i’m pretty sure i heard it back in the days before i was married, like when i was in college. my gut feeling is that if i had been “plugged in” to a church community at the time when kaela and i moved in together, we might not have done so at the time. however, part of why kaela and i connected so well right off the bat was that we found ourselves in very similar spiritual situations: we both had been in church communities in the past, but we were both a bit burned out and confused. to this day, i’m simply so happy that we met a friendly pastor and his wife while on our honeymoon in korea and that their words and actions showed a compassion and forgiveness that was so true to the teachings of jesus. that encounter was enough to bring us both back to church. at one point, for the sake of insurance or some other benefit which might have been something so trivial as a discount on membership to the martial arts program, i lightheartedly suggested to kaela doing an official “domestic partnership” since heterosexual couples can do that, not just homasexual couples. however, in the end, i popped “the question” soon enough, and we were en route to making it really official.
[later] 오후: most of the articles and blog posts that were written in response to the original article want to “stick up” for cohabitation. the daily beast article was the most defensive and took the whole stance of “it’s those d@mn conservative christians against ‘us.’” that author acts as if the original author totally bashed cohabitation, when that totally not true. rather, the original author rather objectively pointed out flaws in the way young people go about cohabitation. she concludes her response with the following: “as for downsides of living together, they pretty much mirror what they are for marriage. for women, more housework and more calories. for men, well, like with marriage, it’s pretty much all upside.” i’m sure she’s just joking; but, man, i’m honestly almost “offended.” do you realise how much time i spend every single morning on housework?! again, i’m sure she’s just joking, but it makes me so mad when people perpetuate the false stereotype that modern men are like the men of yesteryear and don’t do at least their fair share of housework and parenting. if you remember, a few days ago, i posted a link to an article about facebooks coo (chief operating officer / chief operations officer) sheryl sandberg: “5 ways to close the ‘ambition gap’ for girls” by samantha ettus on forbes.com on 2012년02월02일. in that article, the author says that one big problem in gender relations today is that “working moms are apologizing” for working. well, you know what? there’s a huge flipside. a big problem in corporate relations today is that working dads are apologizing for being dads! i’m so sick of this $#!+ about how if you’re not working at least 90 hours a week then you simply don’t have passion for your job and no company needs that kind of “passionless” worker. it’s such b.s.
anyway, the other two “response” articles are more objective. they mostly clarify what the original author said and emphasise that the author never said cohabitation for marriage is certain doom, but that young couples need to do it right. doing it right includes not taking the decision lightly but treating it as a big deal something “ceremonious.” young couples need to realise better just how hard it is to get out of a cohabitative situation. it can’t be just for the money (savings). it can’t be just for convenience. it must be based on true, deep, meaningful love.
what is my opinion of all this? well, as i kind of allude to earlier, this article is a bit less accusing than what i’ve heard in the past amongst the more conservative, asian.american church crowd, which can sometimes treat cohabitation before marriage as such a scandal, which i’ll admit even though i refuse to let those belligerent, anti.christian atheists get away with saying all christians hold such views. i won’t go as far as to take the humanist’s relatively wishy.washy but dangerous viewpoint of “oh, as long as the two people love each other, nothing is a sin.” (it was so easy to get sucked into the ways of the religion of humanism in the environment i found myself in during my last years in berkeley.) as nice as that sounds, that’s not true, but neither is that the point. it goes back to my rant on how the media loves to keep jabbing christianity in the ribs with the gay marriage issue: sure, the bible says in “literal” terms that homosexuality is a sin, but so are a lot of things; so the whole fight against gay marriage is just a mean.spirited exercise in all that is non.beneficial. do you serve the lord through that? do you win people to his kingdom through that? obviously not! it’s all legalism especially in the sense that a heterosexual person might have all sorts of perverted and twisted desires and practices, but two homosexual people that simply love each other enough to want to make an official commitment get so bashed. similarly, why keep poking at (heterosexual, mature) couples that really love each other deeply and cohabitate or even engage in premarital, sexual relations? sure, it’s not ideal according to the bible; but we as a community of followers of jesus could use our energy for other things that would give so much more glory to god. forgive, have compassion, move on.
all that being said, let’s consider how i’m now a parent. i have a son. furthermore, what if i someday have a daughter? how would i feel about a son or daughter “shacking up” with a significant other before marriage? you know, i was talking to a much older coworker back in 2001년, and i was telling him about how kaela and i were moving into a new apartment together. actually, he was my manager at the time, not just a coworker. he might have simply asked me how my weekend was, or i might have asked for something like time off to move or employment verification for the property management company or something like that. anyway, i was speaking as one adult to another; but i came upon a realisation during the conversation. he asked something like, “are you getting married?” i said that we weren’t yet getting married. he then asked, “so you’re just ‘shacking up’ together?” i hadn’t thought about that term before he said it. then i remembered that he had a daughter that was just a little younger than i was at the time. i’m felt confident that he approved of my character as an engineer and his direct report. however, i realised that, in his mind, at at that moment, he was worried about if his daughter would ever want to live with a guy before marriage. well, what if i were in that situation right there, if i were the dad of a son or daughter that was about to “shack up” with a significant other?
i hate to admit my male chauvenism or sexism, but i honestly think i would worry more if it were a daughter. in all honesty and openness, i’ll admit that i can’t help but succumb at times to the notion that a guy’s manhood are dictated by 1) his relationship, i.e. to his wife or girlfriend etc. and 2) the relationship of his daughter if he has any. i don’t think i’m turning this into a total elektra complex thing, but wouldn’t you say society has a notion that a girl picks her man/guy/husband at least somewhat based upon the characteristics she likes or dislikes about her father? while hearing in my head all the “father daughter dance” songs i’ve played at weddings over the many years, i think about how a lot of dads probably think, “if my daughter picks a husband that is similar to me, she must like me. if my daughter picks a husband that is nothing like me, then she must hate me.” of course, it’s pure nonsense; but, you know, guys are vulnerable to those kinds of insecurities.
in any case, son or daughter; i would want my kids to think of cohabitation as something almost as serious as marriage although i want them to treat marriage as the most serious relationship and commitment. i want them to treat it as something more serious than just “going out” or dating (obviously), something more serious than just “being in a serious relationship,” and, well, for lack of a euphemism something more serious than “just” being in a “sexual relationship.” as pleasantville as people would want to say i am with all the bible this, jesus that; i do live in the real world.
how about myself and my past? how do i feel about cohabitation in my past. well, i’ll say this: i’m glad that the only girlfriend that i ever cohabitated with is the one i married. today is our 105th monthversary. ironically, we don’t get to spend it together under the same roof since kaela is off in south carolina for her chiropractic seminar.
i spotted this article in my google news feed today: “popular sunnyvale nightclub owner killed sj murder-suicide” by chris roberts on nbcbayarea.com on 2012년04월19일. emma nguyen was the owner of the abyss nightclub in downtown sunnyvale. a bunch of us took kaela to that club on her birthday a few years back. *sigh* just another example of why guns are not ideal.