The Institutions I Love

The traditions of the Western world are based on time honoured institutions. There is an old joke that goes something like this: A man says “Marriage is a great institution.” His friend says “Yeah, but I never liked being in an institution.” I never felt that way. In fact, after being married for 28 years, I can honestly say that they have been the best years of my life.

Not My “Partner.” My wife.

When I describe my marriage to others I don’t exaggerate its qualities. I don’t need to. My wife is a good person and we have a great marriage. But, like many other boomers, I didn’t feel this way when I was younger. In fact, before I met my wife I lived with another woman for ten years. Nowadays people would have called her my “partner,” and therein lies an important point. What kind of partner are we talking about, business partner, living partner, partner of convenience, buddy, friend? It’s a meaningless term.

Marriage a Sacred Union.

A wife or husband is different. The qualitative difference between my relationship with my wife and that I had with my former partner is immense. Why? Because behind my marriage there is a cultural institution and a formal commitment. My “relationship” did not have that. A couple of years ago I was talking to someone who had broken up with her common law spouse after being together for twenty years and having had two children. When I asked her how she felt about it, she shrugged and said, “Well, it’s not like I was married to him or anything.” After twenty years and two children! That’s how little she valued the relationship.

Another Point Here.

But maybe there’s another point here. Perhaps she understood that she had not entered into a truly solid relationship, a full commitment bound by a formal institutionalized contract. Her statement may have been shocking, but at least it showed that, on some level, she got it.

The Real Difference.

In the end the real difference was that she wasn’t married, and marriage is sacred.  Living together isn’t. For me, now a conservative, (thank goodness for that by the way) marriage is a thing of great value. I will never throw mine away on a whim, and the fact that marriage is an institution with all the commitment that implies is part of the reason I feel that way.

Not Just Marriage.

Other institutions are equally important. One of them is education. Ideally, it should be fair, rich in knowledge and accepting of different viewpoints. It should never be reduced to a vehicle for social engineering, indoctrination or political propaganda. And yet,that is what is happening. Students around the world, and in Canada too, are marching against free speech and the rights of the individual, because, since kindergarten they have been indoctrinated in far left ideology, an ideology that tells them the “collective” is more important than any individual’s rights.

The Value of Education.

The value of educational institutions has been taken from them and replaced by a strident and ugly ideological aberration. Unfailingly and unfairly liberal, it diminishes their rights and force feeds them viewpoints they might never have accepted on their own. Education is too important an institution for us to allow this to continue. Like marriage, it is sacred and  shouldn’t be re-defined according to the whims of a small, left leaning, self interested elite.

Other Examples.

There are other examples as well. The fundamental building blocks of western society are based on  traditional institutions that have developed over the last two thousand years, but especially the last five hundred. We should never tamper with them. If one day we wake up to find ourselves without the benefits of the Magna Carta or our Judeo Christian values we will find ourselves no longer a free or worthwhile people.

Traditional Values.

Our entire civilization is inextricably linked to  these values. They are not only the boundaries and demarcation line of our society, but our insurance policy against  collapse. An inescapable part of that insurance policy is the value of the Judeo Christian outlook on life, but that’s a topic for a future blogpost.

The Main Point 

The main point I am making here is that by not recognizing and honouring our time honoured  institutions we put our civilization at risk. They are essential to all that we are, and now is the time to support them because, believe me, there are many people who would like to see them dismantled. Count yourself amongst those who oppose these people, not those who support them.

By Perry Foster





  1. Great points and you are a gifted writer.

    One small comment:
    re: “..there is a cultural institution and a formal commitment.” Yes, it is that but this does not make it sacred.
    What makes it sacred is ones vows that express an eternal covenant before an Awesome Creator and witnesses.
    For Marie and I divorce was never an option, so that helped us get through the first year in which we tried to remake our spouse. 🙂


  2. The solidity of a relationship is not necessarily dependent on the act of marriage. It is dependent on how close the two people are – how much they love and care for each other. This woman you speak of clearly did not have a very close relationship with her common law husband in order for her to say what she said. If they had been closer, she likely would have been just as heartbroken by it as if they had been married. I have met common law couples that were extremely happy and fulfilled, and I have met married couples where at least one spouse felt trapped and/or unhappy. I also think it’s extremely important that someone can exit a marriage if they need to – for example, if there is abuse or they are no longer happy. Marriage is a valuable institution, I agree, but it is not the one thing that makes all the difference. What makes the most difference is the care and love you have for the other person, and the effort you invest into the relationship. Without that, you don’t have a relationship of value, married or not.


    1. I’ve heard Jacob’s arguments before, and I don’t buy them. A common law relationship lacks the vital ingredient: a social commitment. Without that, it’s just a hook up.
      It might also be germane to point out that neither Jacob nor anybody else is qualified to judge the quality of somebody else’s relationship. Making excuses is not the same as reasoning.
      Perry is absolutely right: marriage is a sacred institution. Why else would gay couples fight so hard to join it?
      (We will celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary in July. So there.)


      1. Common law relationships definitely have social commitments. They are a commitment. Don’t tell me that two people who have been together for 30 years but are unmarried are just “hooking up”. That’s not an accurate label. I’m not saying that marriage isn’t valuable, however I am saying that common law couples can be just as close and committed as married couples.
        No. You’re right. No one is qualified to judge. But it is definitely true that some married couples are unhappy. Some partners in married couples are abused, whether it is the woman or the man. And some common law couples are very happy and fulfilled. You don’t need the marriage in order to have a valuable and fulfilling relationship. Although it does add to the quality of the relationship, it is not the defining factor in the quality of the relationship.


  3. I think the point is being missed here. No one is saying that some people are not unhappy in marriage and that some people are not happy in other arrangements. Happiness isn’t the issue. Some people are happy never having any kind of commitment of any kind in their life. Ultimately, that is their choice. The quality of marriages also varies depending on the individuals involved, and a lot of other factors like mental illness or hidden substance abuse etc., but those things do not degrade marriage as an institution. They are due to deficiencies in the individual, and failed marriages also involve the factor of how seriously people take the formal commitment of marriage.

    The implication that because people are sometimes miserable in marriage it is somehow unnecessary, a trap, (how can it be with no fault divorce) or living hell for many, does not hold up as an argument either. People are now implying or outright stating that marriage is unnecessary, but let’s face it, that is an extremist point of view.Their objective is possibly to end marriage as an institution, but Marriage is an extremely valuable institution and must and should continue. Formal commitments seal agreements, encourage the commitment of individuals and have a lasting value. People who are committed to actions and agreements have a tendency not to shrug them aside. It means more.

    Our society is suffering from a contemptible lack of commitment, identity and personal courage. Divorce is devastating our social structure and has a terrible effect on children. In my former profession I saw it every day. These days you can hook up with anyone, and I think that is the point here. Again, I saw it in a sexual and marriage related sense and it was degrading and sad to observe.

    Also, let’s be fair here. Many people who enter common law relationships are abused, abandoned and deeply unhappy. This is not only true of some married couples.

    While you may not feel you need to have a marriage to have a valuable and fulfilling relationship, that does not mean that there is absolute equivalency between marriage and “living together.” The two are not the same. I doubt if they ever will be, and that, in the end, I think, is the main point.


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