“Is Marriage Becoming Obsolete?” was the name of the article that caught my eye last week. According to the article, 39 percent of people think marriage is on its way out. I was intrigued, and immediately began to ponder this question. I started to look up statistics regarding marriage, which proved to be dismal. Almost 96 percent of adults within the United States have married during their lifetime; however, 50 percent of first, 67 percent of second, and 74 percent of third marriages end in divorce, with women initiating divorce over 60 percent of the time.
Has society’s rules changed faster than the rules of marriage can keep up? For thousands of years, marriage was a business agreement between two families, encompassing property rights, and politics; ultimately ensuring survival of family and offspring. You may have noticed today’s rules of survival are not what they were thousands, hundreds, or even fifty years ago. Women’s liberation played a large role in the changing institution of marriage. Since they won the right to vote, and were forced into the work force in the early nineteenth century, they no longer needed men to survive. The dynamics of married life was further redefined after the sexual revolution; better birth control options and abortion rights liberated women from the confining roles of a homemaker. More men are choosing to be stay-at-home dads, while numerous women are choosing to further their education and career goals. Today, women are empowered more than ever before; they have the choice to enter or end a marriage.
Perhaps the unions that marriage provides is not becoming obsolete, but society’s institutional rules are. Today, less people are marrying for survival needs as more marry for love, and the fulfillment of their sexual, emotional and spiritual needs. Many brave couples are forging a new standard of marriage; one not based on society’s outdated institutions built on the submissive role of women. From a dominating role of food gatherer, hunter and protector of the family, men will need more time to adjust to the contemporary role of an equal partner. The dynamics of married life will continue to be redefined as men and women are sharing in the so-called exclusive domains reserved for women (cooking, washing, parenting, housekeeping etc.). The biggest challenge now lies in how to balance these roles within a marriage, and what they mean to each individual couple–not what society thinks they should mean. After all, it is you and your partner that have to live day in and day out together, facing the world and all of the challenges that come along.
1. Langley, L. (2010, December 2). Is Marriage Becoming Obsolete? In AlterNet. Retrieved September 16, 2011, from http://www.alternet.org/sex/149069/is_marriage_becoming_obsolete/
2. (n.d.). In Divorce Statistics . Retrieved September 16, 2011, from http://www.divorcestatistics.org/
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