Now that gays and lesbians have obtained the right to enter into the old and musty institution of marriage, it's time to show them the book of its dark history. Why this book and not the one about all the good things that have happened in this institution? Recall the words of the 19th-century German philosopher Hegel: "One may contemplate [the book of] history from the point of view of happiness. But actually... the periods of happiness are blank pages in it." The book of the happy history of the marriage institution is filled with many blank pages, whereas its unhappy book is packed with story upon story of misery, pain, death, murder, disease, and madness. We can learn nothing from a book with blank pages. Wisdom can be gained only from pages that have words on them. Here are some of those words.

Henry VIII and His Wives

Henry VIII—the ruler of England from April 21, 1509, to January 28, 1547—had six marriages. Two of the marriages ended in divorce, two in beheadings, one in death after the birth of a child; the sixth wife outlived him. After one divorce and one beheading, you'd think the other four would have avoided this man. Just think about it for a moment: Henry VIII beheaded Queen Anne Boleyn, the mother of his daughter Queen Elizabeth I, with no qualms. Soon after Boleyn's head hit the ground, Henry married Jane Seymour. What can we learn from this sad moment in the history of marriage? It's fine to marry someone whose previous marriage ended in divorce. But, as Henry's fifth wife learned, it is not wise to marry someone who had a previous marriage end with a beheading.

Edgar Allan Poe and Virginia Poe

On May 16, 1836, Edgar Allan Poe (the man who invented, among other things, detective fiction) secretly married his first cousin Virginia. He was 27 and she was 13. Though the marriage started off well (Poe was more her teacher than her husband), it eventually collapsed under the weight of rumors about Poe's extramarital affairs. It is believed by some scholars that the stress of these rumors had an impact on Virginia's fragile health. She eventually contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of 24. The lesson? Do not marry someone who is, one, a child and, two, your first cousin. Nothing but misery can be expected from such a union.

Ike Turner and Tina Turner

If Ike Turner had not abused his wife Tina Turner, he would have died being known as a pop-music genius, as the man who invented rock 'n' roll, as one of the few humans to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But now we know him only as the brutally real performance Laurence Fishburne gave in the 1993 biopic What's Love Got to Do with It. (Fishburne played Ike, and Angela Bassett played the woman regularly beaten by Ike, Tina.) Resorting to violence during disputes cost Ike everything. He left the world in shame. To make matters worse, one of his few defenders was Phil Spector, the famous music producer who is currently serving time for murdering an actress in his mansion.

Osama bin Laden and His Fifth Wife, Amal al-Sadah

The problems with this marriage began on its first night: Osama bin Laden, 43 at the time, did not invite Amal al-Sadah, 18 at the time, to her own wedding. Instead, Osama danced, sang, and ate a lamb with his male buddies. The fifth wife was said to not fit in with the big family because she was much younger than Osama's other wives and even younger than some of his sons. The marriage ended the night US Navy SEALs burst into their compound and gunned down her husband. The lesson? Marrying a terrorist is not worth the trouble. recommended