Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is Marriage Obsolete?

That was the lede of an AP story about the findings of the Pew Research Center. Of course, it is not really obsolete but not as prevalent as it used to be. Here are some of the findings:

--About 29 per cent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married, a fivefold increase since 1960. Of those 29 per cent, 15 per cent have parents who are divorced or separated and 14 per cent were never married.

--About 39 per cent of Americans say marriage is obsolete. In 1978, the figure was 28 per cent.

--About 44 per cent say they have lived with a partner without being married. For 30 to 49 year olds, that figure rose to 57 per cent.

--About 62 per cent say the best marriage is where the husband and wife both work and both take care of the household and children. That is up from 48 per cent in 1977. (My view is that while it may be the ideal, the wife usually winds up doing more of taking care of the household and the children).

--About 67 per cent were upbeat about the future of marriage and the family.

--About 46 per cent of unmarried adults say they want to get married (I thought that figure would be higher).

So, I thought this would be an interesting topic to discuss. What are your views on marriage? My view is that the majority of people still want to get married. The trick is finding the right person and then hanging in there during the hard times. I also think that sometimes we have expectations that are realistic for marriage. I remember a classic line from the movie "Lovers and Other Strangers" where the son is telling the father he is getting divorced because they're no longer in love and the father said, "What's love got to do with it?''

So I hope you will share your thoughts.



  1. I am not entirely sold on marriage. It's fun to idealize marriage and dream about it when you think you find your "soulmate." But the reality is, and I think many young people will agree, it's difficult to find it. Quite a few of my friends from college are already married. But I have just as big of a group who are on the fence with me in that they wouldn't be opposed to it, but they aren't actively seeking it out. The stat on children in single-parent homes is interesting. I know quite a few people who have parents that are divorced, and for that reason, have a lot of doubts and cynicism when it comes to marriage.

  2. Ahhh, Marriage!

    I'm cynical about it. I've done it twice. Of course, it was within the context of religious beliefs that didn't work for me. In a network of weirdness in terms of the kind of men I could find in that community.

    Now that I'm ex-Mormon, I've found that marriage doesn't really mean anything to me.

    My Master is my soul-mate. He wants to marry me. I think that would be nice.

    But we live together . . . . Both divorced. Mid 40's.

    Every day is my dream. Would marriage enhance that?

    Maybe, maybe not. As we know, commitment in marriage is about as flimsy as the paper its written on.

    I think that we are much more individual-centered than our parents were. It used to be that people stayed married. Period. Love and warm-fuzzy feelings had little to do with it.

    Now, women have careers that allow them to be independent - less likely to stay married for financial reasons.

    People are out for personal pleasure.

    When marriage doesn't provide it, they don't stay. It's a very different standard than being committed to the institution of marriage.

    I believe that since we only have one life, we shouldn't stay in misery.

    Bliss is so much better . . . .

    And Bliss doesn't rely on a marriage contract.

    Great topic!


  3. I was married... wanted to be married... and I guess I would like to be married again. When I think about it, I suppose that I am using a level of affection/devotion/attraction as a barometer for someone that I might would want to marry... when in reality, maybe we would be just as happy living together.

    In reality, the only 'useful' purpose I can see 'marriage' providing is when it comes to having/raising children...

    I can also see it for when a relationship falls apart, and the willingness to work together for dissolution of the 'familial' assets is no longer there...

    I can also see 'marriage' working for spousal health insurance benefits...

    Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I like the 'idea' of marriage, but it really doesnt do anything to confirm commitment....

    Great question and topic!


  4. I believe that marriage has been taken down to a level on non-importance anymore. People get married with the notion that if it doesn't work out...Oh well, I can get a divorce.

    I believe that marriage is sacred. It's not something to be taken lightly. You should be absolutly SURE you want to get married. Possibly couples counseling should be involved before a wedding takes place.

    I also believe that divorces are given too easily. When the going gets tough, people give up. It's sad. I believe there should be counseling before a divorce also.

    With all that being said...I KNOW that not all marriages can work or will work. My mother was married 4 times. I get that. But, I've been married for over 20 years and although there were times we felt like giving up...THANK goodness we didn't. I would have missed out on an amazing person that I love very, very much. Getting married was the best thing I ever did, besides having my kids.


  5. I was married.. for 25 years.. and in the beginning as we raised our children, it was good.

    Was it amazing? No. My children, I thought were amazing.. and what we created together. But, I realized that the marriage wasn't good.

    After divorcing.. I swore I would never marry again. No need to. I was self sufficient.. I didn't want any more children. I could still go out and do whatever I wanted. Why marry? Then.. I met Mark. I want(ed) to be with him all the time. Be there when he got home. Watch TV with him.. climb into bed with him and wake with him by my side.

    So... I guess I agree with the fact that.. if you find that one person that makes it all something you long for.. it is the best thing ever.

  6. I'm a believer in marriage. I've had fantastic role models. From my grandparents through my generation there have been 55 marriages and only 5 divorces in all that time. Tons of these folks were married over 50 years and many over 60 years. I always assumed marriage was forever. So I agree with Grace, wait until you know you want to be with this person for the rest of your life before you commit.

    And not trying to take the conversation in another direction, but... if marriage is so obsolete why do so many people pitch a fit that gays and lesbians what to marry. For these people marriage isn't obsolete it's a privilege denied.


  7. Thanks for this FD. Marriage? I am a believer in commitment..whether or not that comes with marriage. Hmmm I can feel another entry in my blog coming on!

    I don't quite understand why people need to be married. Social history shows marriage as a partnership of mutual need. With respect to, and acknowledging cultural difference, women needed financial and social security, men needed social security. Roles were defined and discrete.

    Today, I see people spend 10's of thousands on a day. A celebration of a commitment for sure, but I am not convinced that a commitment in todays social fabric and of such weight, can become solid just by saying the words out loud. I think that a commitment such as this grows over time.

    I am not married but have a commitment with my husband that grew over time and in the recent past has experienced some challenges. We have a family together, we have been together for about 13yrs (i think..I am always unclear about that having no real anniversary date). From an early age I was committed to not being married but committed to finding commitment. Not being a religious person with any affiliation to a god, I recognised the contradiction in asking a god to sanction any marriage I might undertake. A civil marriage..well I don't see that it is the state's business to sanction my commitment either. So for me commitment is the key. And this is only for me..I applaud all people who choose marriage in whatever form.

    Sorry about the book FD..maybe I should have save this for my blog.


  8. I'm still a big believer in the fact that the biggest problem with marriage today is that people marry for the wrong reasons. I think that love is important for a marriage, but it can't be the soul reason for getting married. Marriage is sorta like a business contract and there are certain responsibilities that go with it. Most people tend to think it's just the next step from being boyfriend and girlfriend for given amount of time, but it's really not. It doesn't matter how much you love someone... if you can't work well with them, you won't have a good marriage... and a marriage takes A LOT of work.

    And I'm not even factoring in the raising of a family part... that's a completely separate entity all together. You don't have to be married to effectively raise a family... and you don't have to raise a family simply because you're married. So they're sort of interdependent of each other.

    I think the biggest problem is the vows... people think of them as the thing you say when you get married, but they have no real significance or value to the couple. It's just words that the minister/priest/celebrant has you repeat and then suddenly you're married.

    I think for a marriage to truly work, the two people involved have to really take it seriously and understand what it means to be in a marriage. That love is not enough to hold a marriage together and that it's going to take compromise and sacrifice on the part of both parties to really make it work.

    So if marriage is becoming obsolete, it's only because society has forgotten its true meaning.

  9. I'm definitely pro-marriage! And since I do hold particular religious beliefs (which I admit, I need to act on better!) divorce would only be an option for me in very precise circumstances. I'm not blessed with marriage yet, but when I do start seriously considering it, I need the love part and the business contract part. I'll be required by my church to attend pre wedding counselling, which I really think is an awesome thing. People need to be sure, and so many people aren't now a days.

  10. I read the same report. As a religious person, I think that marriage vows are sacred. I also think that most of us are inclined toward monogomy--I know that's not the prevailing opinion. I also know we don't always live within the boundaries of monogamy, but still I think we value it.

    I think wedding ceremonies are overemphasized with the money spent. But I still think there should be an occasion where two people commit to each other. The fact that it's hard to do, and the fact that we sometimes fail in fulfilling those vows, doesn't mean they're not worth taking.

  11. Marriage isn't obsolete really its just that young adults now a days are clever enough to calculate all those bills being a double rather than a single. Thats it, being wise enough.

  12. FD, I think marriage is taken far too lightly these days and divorce an easy option if it doesn't work out.

    Personally I'm all for marriage but if son came to me and said they were going to live together, fine by me. Do you have to have a piece of paper to commit to each other? No.


  13. I don't think that marriage will someday be obsolete, just nobody really thinks about it nowadays, people are often getting married to divorce in less than 3 years, they are just not taking serious their commitment.