in defense of marriage
“defense of marriage” is a name given to a u.s. law which discriminates against people by not allowing them to get married based on their gender. it would have been more accurate to call it “discrimination against homosexuals,” but the name “defense of marriage” indicates correctly that something needs to be done to protect marriage, even though legislating discrimination has nothing to do with protecting marriage. what needs to be fixed are the facts that marriages aren't lasting, and some that are lasting really are making the people in them miserable.
in order to solve this problem, the first thing to ask is “why is this happening?” i think the biggest contributor to bad marriages and divorce is that people are getting married for the wrong reasons. two main causes for this are pressure to marry too soon, a distorted view of what love is.
pressure to marry too soon can come from a number of different sources. it can come from a boyfriend or girlfriend who feels ready for marriage even while the other person does not. another obvious one is an unplanned pregnancy, or even losing virginity is enough to make some people feel pressure to marry before they feel ready. another factor is that unmarried couples believe they would be treated more like adults if only they were married, and they're usually right. marriage can also seem like a good way to avoid ending a relationship when the couple sees their lives heading in different directions (for example, after graduating from a university or high school).
these pressures come from many different sources and the general solutions are for couples to get married because they love each other and think they are ready for marriage, and for anyone who could be a source of pressure to make sure the couple knows that if and when to get married is their decision and they will be supported in whatever they decide.
the other main cause is couples who think they love each other mostly because they have been shown a distorted picture of love. movies and tv tend to present infatuation as love. from that also comes the idea that love is something you feel -- if it's really love it will come naturally and won't require any sort of work. the problem with that is infatuation is by nature a temporary thing -- it's related to human nature having an interest in anything that is new and different. apparently studies have been done on this subject, which found that on average infatuation lasts TWO years. love on the other hand is something you DO -- not just something you feel (though if you continue to do it, you are very likely to feel it as a result), and therefore lasts as long as you do it.
solving this problem seems like one of education. another thing that might help is for couples not get engaged until they've been together more than 2 years at which point they would (in theory, at least) either actually love each other or have realized it was just infatuation and moved on. it can be hard to tell love and infatuation apart, even for someone who knows the definition and description of both. it's no good to get married after being infatuated with someone for a year, only to realize a year later after the infatuation fades that the idea of loving this person for the rest of your life doesn't sound so good. that's not to say though that there's always nothing left after infatuation fades! it's just that it's too hard to know how you really feel about loving someone while the infatuation is still there.