How to make a marriage last
I wanted to revisit the article on Hume’s defense of marriage. There was some good stuff buried deep in the link:
Contrary to what some romantics may think, marital happiness and conjugal human love cannot be sustained by amorous or infatuating passions, Hume says, since they are by nature unstable and fleeting. “Amorous love,” he says, “is a restless and impatient passion, full of caprices and variations—arising in a moment from a feature, from an air, from nothing, and suddenly extinguishing after the same manner.” Whatever its value may be, no marriage can be sustained by it.
Hume proposed as his alternative the companionate friendship that is fostered by and preserves marriage. This, Hume says, is an affection “calm and sedate … conducted by reason and cemented by habit, springing from long acquaintance and mutual obligations, without jealousies or fears, and without those feverish fits of heat and cold, which cause such an agreeable torment in the amorous passion.” Abiding friendship and the sharing of life’s experiences and tasks, says Hume, are what render the married state both endurable and happy.
Does the presence of an option for “voluntary divorce” within a marriage negatively affect the cultivation of friendship between the marital partners and hence their conjugal happiness? It does, says Hume, and it does so in a powerful way. If spouses know they can divorce at will and seek their marital bliss with another partner, the relationship dynamics within marriage, he believed, would be radically altered and in such a manner that diminishes marital stability and marital happiness. With no sense of obligation to stick together through thick and thin, they would be less inclined to work together to iron out their differences and keep their conjugal friendship alive. [emphases added]