Put A Fork In It: Marriage Is Dying
And I’m not just declaring it so because I’m no longer getting married and am bitter in some way. No, marriage is dying because the studies say so. According to new census figures analyzed by The New York Times, married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades, have finally slipped into the minority. So while it may seem like you can’t find any single friends to go bar crawling with, chances are a small majority of all those couples you know aren’t married and probably won’t be in the future. This makes me positively stoked — even before I was someone’s fiancee, I was never super rah-rah marriage. Maybe it’s because my parents are divorced or I was still still reeling from Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s split, but marriage never seemed like the end goal of a relationship for me. I always saw children as being the big payoff of monogamy, not a ring or a wedding. And even after I got engaged — and was truly happy about it — I believed in marrying that man, not marriage in general. So now that I’m not marrying that man (for whom, I found out, children were not the big payoff), I’m back to thinking that marriage is nice for some people, but not the end all, be all for happy coupling. Sure, marriage makes sense for a lot of people from an economic perspective — tax incentives and all that. And for others, marriage is a really romantic notion — I’m sure there are women and men that do exist that have been planning their weddings since the day they emerged from their mom’s uterus. I just don’t know them. Another reason marriage is dying? Because divorce is so much more popular. Seriously, people are embracing divorce with much more vim and vigor than marriage these days — and studies show that divorce benefits men in the end. Contrary to the popular myth that women takes men for all they’re worth in divorce settlements, a new study has show that men actually benefit financially after a divorce! Getting un-married makes men more rich! So why get married in the first place?
All of this does not say, however, that monogamy is dying. On the contrary, many long-lasting relationships are between couples who never tie the knot. Do those relationships have more longevity than married relationships because there’s something about wedded bliss than ain’t so blissful? To a certain degree, I think it’s a matter of attitude. When my fiance and I broke up, I sincerely felt like I was getting a divorce. Our possessions were split, I suddenly was living alone, and I was handling the responsibility of a dog by myself. I lost my best friend and my lover and my family in one fell swoop — certainly real divorce couldn’t have felt much worse, aside from additional soreness that comes with anything that means getting the law involved. But I don’t think it felt like a divorce for my fiance. I think it felt like a regular ol’ breakup. I think our attitudes about the relationship, the depth of commitment, was different — and that wasn’t going to change regardless of whether we had a traditional marriage or not.
So maybe more people are opting out of marriage not because the lack commitment, but because they don’t think marriage is the ultimate symbol of commitment anymore. The fact that people are considering what commitment truly means, rather than going along with tradition for tradition’s sake, is a great thing.