Post # 1
Just read this article and found it interesting. Not only are the percentages of marriages plummeting, but the age in which people have their first marriages are being pushed out.
While I agree that a lot of it has to do with the economy, and with society becoming more tolerant of single parents and cohabitation without marriage, I’m surprised that I haven’t seen any articles yet talking about how people are changing.
In my opinion, the institute of marriage is going to continue to decline even if the economy stabilizes (at least in the more liberal countries). PEOPLE have changed. Comparing stats from 1960 to today is like comparing apples to oranges. In 1960 people were more selfless, and they acted according to social duty and social stigma. Women were expected to complete high school, get married, have children, and be homely. It was their duty, their only duty.
Nowadays people are more selfish (not in a bad way), and are not willing to lock themselves into something that makes them unhappy. They are putting themselves first in a sense that, “I’m better than that, I deserve more than that”. Women have careers now, and the roles have somewhat shifted, and now it’s not unheard of for a man to be a stay at home father. People are no longer willing to put their entire lives on standby for the good of the family. They are now trying to find a more balanced role in the family dynamic. And until this “new age” view stabilizes, marriages will be down, and divorce will be up while you wage the war between traditionalism and modernism. They touched briefly on this in the article, but I’m just surprised that the go-to answer to our marriage “crisis” is the economy, and not the psychology of the individual.
Post # 3
I honestly think you just said it all (and very well).
This is exactly the same reason I think divorce is more common. People were willing to put up with a lot more bullshit back in the day. It just isn’t happening now.
Post # 4
Your “selfishness” argument is not new, and there are better ways to say it that do not imply that women who no longer ascribe to the “retro” view you describe are now “selfish.” Anyway, that article is builty entirely on one study. There is an economic view of marriage, but that’s just one side of it. Also, there is a lot of evidence that delaying entry to marriage is not necessarily reducing the rate of people EVER marrying. A lot of the delay is related to overall trends in delayed entry to adulthood; that is, people are going to college and many are waiting to marry until after they graduate, establish careers, etc. It used to be that marriage was THE marker of adulthood, and now it is just one step (often a “capstone”) after other markers are achieved. And to be honest, that article has a fear-mongering tone of “oh noes, we’re not getting married anymore!” but I don’t see why that’s necessarily the problem they expect readers to just accept. I bristle at any talk of the “decline in the institution of marriage,” which is sociology buzz talk for “let’s go back to the male-breakwinner/female-homemaker model,” which excludes families that do not fit that mold.
If you’re really interested in the topic, I suggest readings by Andrew Cherlin, particularly The Marriage-Go-Round (in which he cites a study by Edin and Kefalas in constructing marriage as a capstone). He outlines the competing marriage culture in the US with our culture of individualism, which I think says what you wanted to say but with more depth.
Post # 5
@Amaryllis: WHAT?! I totally had a response prepared! What happened? 5 hours later…
I don’t want you to mistake when I say “selfish” for the negative connotation that it so often brings. I mean it in the simplest of terms – putting yourself, wants, and desires first. I think being “selfish” is a very necessary part of life, albeit, in controlled portions. Anywho…
I get what you are saying about delaying of marriage. I think that the article was very deceiving, and like you said, portrayed a “woe, where is marriage going?” attitude, and it’s articles like this that get me all in a huffy. Just because people are waiting longer to get married, or because divorce is up, doesn’t mean that it’s losing value. If anything, I think that people are looking more clearly at marriage, and not taking it for granted.
In contrast though, I can’t help but wonder what comprises the divorce rate. Is it young people who are just like “screw it, let’s get married” and fail miserably as so many believe, or is it the older couples, who up until now have been living in an unsuccessful marriage, and as society has evolved is reevaluating themselves and their relationship?
I just found this article, and like this one much better. Less emphasis on the economy, and more emphasis on the people.