Has Marriage Run It’s Course?

We read it in the tabloids every day…”Insert Celebrity Couple Here Calls it Quits.”  Demi and Ashton, Peter Facinelli and Jennie Garth, David Arquette and Courtney Cox–even the couples you think will last split up at some point.  Sure, you can say that these are celebrities and they do not represent the real world but in reality, they do.  My parents are divorced.  Many of my friend’s parents are divorced.  In fact, while nationally the marriage rate is 6.8 per 1000, the divorce rate is 3.4 per 1000 which begs the question–has marriage run it’s course?

I was reading an interview with Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meister and she stated that she doesn’t think she ever wants to get married.  While it used to be that girls grew up dreaming of their wedding day, I now know more and more women who do not care if they get married or not.  Girls grow up thinking about their careers and dreaming of success not thinking about their wedding day and dreaming of their husband to be.  I’m not saying this is a bad thing but one has to wonder how the dissolution of the nuclear family impacts today’s youth and tomorrow’s adults.  Will they be more adjusted to handle conflict and adversity?  More wise when it comes to relationships and thus have lower divorce rates?  Or will they have given up on the institution of marriage all together?  I can’t help but wonder if 20-50 years down the road we will see marriage rates drop, divorce rates skyrocket, and other statistics change dramatically.

I’m not one of those women who believes the mom should stay at home and that if a child has a nanny or goes to day care they will not grow up well…in fact if I ever have kids I fully intend to be a working mom.  Yet, I do wonder how the change in the American family system has changed our youth and thus our future leaders.  I also wonder how divorce impacts them.  It’s never easy for a family to split apart and a child to have to suddenly go from seeing both parents every day to getting some sort of arranged custody agreement in which they only get allotted time with their respective parents.  At any age, divorce of one’s parents is never easy.

I was reading today about the breakup of Peter Facinelli and Jennie Garth and it inspired this article because I really cannot help but wonder if marriage is dying.  I know I still want to get married but not for the typical reasons everyone tends to marry for.  I don’t necessarily want to have kids but would with the right man.  Marriage for me is more about spending my life with someone, not being alone, and sharing my life with the one I love.  A husband is your best friend and the only person you have sex with, and both the physical and emotional connections are very important to me.  Most people who get married do so so that they can start a family and feel that you need to be married to do so.  Yet, now, so many people are having kids and not even bothering to get married because to some it is just a ring and a piece of paper and someone’s word that they will be there with you forever should be enough.  This is not necessarily my opinion but I know many people who feel this way.

Marriage was originally more of a financial transaction where men (suitors) vied for a woman and when a couple was wed it was not for love but rather money as the bride brought a dowry to her marriage.  People married for money and family, not love, and I can’t help but wonder if that still holds true, if marriage has become about money or familial obligations or perhaps just because the two people were dating for so long that it seemed like the next logical step.   It seems to never be because two people really love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together though and that makes me sad because, to me, that’s what marriage should be.

It almost seems illogical though that two people would be able to be forever until death though since people change so much as they grow.  People often get married when they are newly adults, just discovering themselves and forming their identities.  By the time ten years pass their careers have evolved, their adult personalities have developed, and they are more settled in who they are and that just might be incompatible with who their partners are.

I see couples who have been together for 50 years and wonder how they do it and if they are still happy.  Often I feel as if those old couples stay together just because they feel too old to get a divorce or as though they had invested too much time that it is too late to start over.  I wonder if they really want to be together because they still make each other happy or if they have just grown so ingrained in each others lives that divorce wouldn’t even seem like an option.  But being dependent upon someone or used to someone is not the same as truly being in love with someone and enjoying spending your days together.  It’s kind of tragic really because we spend our youth working and scrimping and saving so that we can eventually retire and finally have the time to travel and relax and by then our marriages have dissolved and we either spend them alone or with someone we no longer love.

So I have to ask, does anyone really get married for love anymore and, if so, can it really last?  What are your thoughts on marriage?


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