Seth Adam Smith said he was “astounded” when his widely shared blog post, “Marriage Isn’t for You” went viral over the weekend and also sparked a fair bit of debate. In the opening line, Smith admits that he’s been married for only a year and a half, but says, “I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.”
This admission certainly captured readers’ attention, but the blog post isn’t what some might initially think. Rather than a proclamation against marriage, it’s the opposite. Smith wrote that the institution should be entered into selflessly, with a focus on one’s partner instead of his or her own self interests.
Now he’s getting hammered by detractors, not because of his clever headline pun, but because some believe he’s simplifying the meaning of marriage.
“A true marriage (and true love) is never about you,” the post reads. “It’s about the person you love — their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, ‘What’s in it for me?’, while Love asks, ‘What can I give?’”
Smith told TheBlaze in a phone interview Tuesday that he was motivated by some difficulties to write the blog post for ForwardWalking.com, a self-help website he edits. He called penning the personal post, which focuses on lessons he has learned in his own marriage, “a cathartic experience.”
“Recently my wife and I had gone through a rough patch. … That was on my mind a lot,” Smith told TheBlaze.
After coming to what he called a “beautiful resolution,” he decided to take what he learned in his own life and write about the value of selflessly focusing upon one’s spouse.
In the post, Smith admitted to having some concerns prior to marrying Kim. Mainly, he wondered if they were both ready to take such a monumental step, so he turned to his father for advice. Smith wrote:
My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.
My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.
While not getting into specifics, Smith said he had recently caused his wife pain, yet she still showed him love, looking beyond herself and the anguish she felt to help him overcome some personal problems. He said Kim’s love showed him that he was being selfish and had forgotten his father’s advice.
“Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others,” Smith concluded in his post.
Not everyone agrees with this assessment though. While many praised the blog post’s central tenets, some said Smith oversimplified the marital dynamic. While he said it’s not possible to launch into a multi-page analysis and that blog writing requires a concise subject matter, he stands by his original, general ideas.
“This article made a good point about how important it is to be giving and unselfish in marriage, but I don’t totally agree with everything it says. Marriage IS for you, but it isn’t ONLY for you,” one commenter wrote on his blog.
“This is reaaaaallly dumb. Anyone familiar with the basics of biology (see: ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins) knows that truly altruistic behavior doesn’t exist in nature,” another added.
Overall, Smith said there’s another theme he’s noticed among those who are less than enthralled with his marital views.
“I’d say that the other negative argument that I get more than oversimplification is this counterargument that says, ‘No, no, no. If you love someone and devote to much you become co-dependent and lose your identity,’” Smith told TheBlaze.
He said he disagrees with this sentiment and that he and his wife are wildly different people, but that the more they have invested in one another, the more it helps bring out unique characteristics in their personalities.
Smith, a devout Mormon, also told TheBlaze about his past struggles with depression and a 2006 suicide attempt. Earlier this year, he shared this emotional story with KSL-TV:
From that suicide experience, Smith said that he learned something about himself that rings true again in light of his recent road bumps and his viral blog post on marriage.
“I’m so much happier when I am concentrated on other people,” he said.
While Smith told TheBlaze he never anticipated that his story would go viral, he’s hoping that it inspires others to give of themselves in relationships, believing that doing so “is always going to bring life back to yourself.”