Marriage in America Today


Marriage in America Today

The number of people getting married is declining. Experts say the marriage rate today is lower than it was in 1880, another time when extreme differences in income affected the social landscape. Though marriage is touted in America and many societies as helping to preserve the social order, the atmosphere with which we operate is far from conducive in promoting it. In the original Gilded Age as Mark Twain called it, a new class of industrialists slashed wages and with it the prospects of workers of marrying age, mostly male factory workers. Sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin at John Hopkins University wrote that one difference today is many are choosing to cohabitate and have children without a marriage license filed away in the family home. That would never do in the 19th century. But today it’s quite common.

One problem is the gatekeepers to pop culture, the TV and movie writers, musical artists and others have failed to keep up and give us an image we can hang onto for this new state of affairs in how long-term love should be.  Zoë Heller at the New York Review of Books says films today and other cultural milieu are filled with simplistic plots and clichés about love, without delving into the complicated minutia of modern relationships and how best to navigate them. They don’t reflect what people are actually experiencing, nor do they give a strategy for which to encounter the prickly paradigm of modern love. Supporters of traditional values decry the end of marriage as it once was. But couples staying together longer show greater stability, know each other better and perhaps can best negotiate differences. The expense of a wedding, weakening norms and lack of financial benefit may result in a further decline in marriage, experts believe. On the upshot for advocates, statistics show that those who are getting married stay together longer. Also, the divorce rate has dropped dramatically. In fact, since the 1980’s, divorce has been in deep decline. 70% of those who married in the 1990s celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary today. That’s 5% higher than those who married in the 70’s and 80’s. Those who tied the knot in the new millennium have an even lower divorce rate.

According to economist Justin Wolfer at the University of Michigan, two-thirds of married couples today stay together. For those cases where divorce does occur, two-thirds of the time it’s the wife who wants it. The reason is women’s expectations for marriage have vastly changed. Gender roles in America saw a dramatic paradigm shift over the past two decades due to the Feminist movement. This in turn affected how both sexes interact with one another. Today, marriage isn’t only about raising a family or having financial support. It’s about love and partnership. People also want someone who will help lead them into personal growth. They want to grow and better themselves and they look to their partner to help them complete their metamorphosis. A lot of times, when we feel as though we are in a stale relationship and the well has gone dry, we feel it’s time to move on. The baby boomer generation remains the one with the highest rate of divorce. People are living older nowadays, and so when the children have moved out and they still have decades of life left, they want to make the most of it. That sometimes means leaving someone they no longer connect with in order to enjoy those years with someone they do. For more on this topic read, The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today by Andrew J. Cherlin.

Dating a Feminist Man has Advantages


Dating a Feminist Man has Advantages

Feminism was originally thought to be the realm of women. But as more and more men grow up in the shadow of the many feminist movements, particularly the one that took place in the 1960’s and 70’s, there are more male feminists inhabiting the landscape. Though they may have much in common with their other male counterparts, lots of women find that dating a feminist man has many advantages. For instance, lots of men in more male dominated societies feel as though they own a woman’s body. It is his as a right through marriage. But dating a feminist man means that he has more respect of a woman’s body. He understands it but places no ownership on it. In fact, he supports her autonomy and the decisions are ultimately up to her regarding sex and fertility. Traditional gender stereotypes put women in the role of running the household and raising the children. This has been turned upside down by the feminist movements but also by the great recession. Many women today are more educated than the men they marry, and there are those who even earn more. Feminist men however understand that they share equally in all parts of a couple’s life together. They will share in child rearing, caring for the household and working to sustain the household.

If you hate sexist jokes dating a male feminist is definitely for you. If you have daughters or plan to have kids a feminist dad is great in helping to raise them. He won’t try to instill gender stereotypes in his daughters but instead will allow them to find their own path in life. He will empower them and teach them that the sky is their limit. If you are a feminist you can feel free to discuss openly and honestly women’s rights and not be laughed or sneered at. You can both attend rallies and fight for the cause, feeling disheartened with a loss and overjoyed with a win. Feminist men understand that the bedroom and the living room are two different realms. Just because a woman has inclinations toward unequal power roles, being submissive and even objectified in the bedroom doesn’t mean she wants that in the living room. These are two different spheres. Men sometimes have difficulty understanding this concept and so mess up in one realm or the other. But a feminist man is in tune with this and knows how to operate smoothly in both realms. A feminist man accepts the changes that happen to a woman’s body over time, due to pregnancy and other factors. He doesn’t buy in to the media generated ideal of beauty but loves his significant other for who she is and what she looks like. So the next time you are considering a guy who has potential, see whether or not he’s a feminist before you see if he’s right for you. To learn more about feminism read, Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters by Jessica Valenti.

Why Wives File for Divorce More often than Husbands


Some have been curious as to why wives file for divorce more often than husbands today. Part of it has to do with changes we’ve seen in society. Traditionally women depended on men financially. Getting divorced then could mean a woman’s financial ruin, or a steep decline in her standard of living. Today with so many highly educated career women, wives don’t have to depend on their husband’s support. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “More working women than men have college degrees.” Another reason, there used to be a social stigma against divorce in the U.S. There was thought to be something wrong with someone who was divorced. But today, with the divorce rate so high and people at various ages finding themselves single again, the stigma against being divorced has plummeted. It was the creation of “no fault” divorce laws in the 1970’s that saw a dramatic increase in divorce. Previous to these laws a serious reason had to accompany a divorce such as abuse, infidelity or even abandonment. Today the divorce rate for baby boomers is around 50%, while for those groups that came after it’s approximately 40%.  Lots of women however still take divorce to heart. They feel like it is a symbol of failure. But the majority of the people in the U.S. are single today. So these attitudes are also changing.

Women’s empowerment and equality since the feminist movement, particularly that of the 1970’s, has seen more powerful women in positions of leadership both in the government, the military and private industry. Women used to feel less powerful and so at the mercy of their husbands. Today lots of powerful women in Hollywood, the corporate sphere and even in the government have endured divorce and are still viable, vibrant members contributing heavily to our society. Gender roles too have changed dramatically. Women no longer feel subservient to their husbands. They feel instead as if they should be their equals. If they aren’t treated as equals or aren’t getting what they need out of the relationship, women feel more empowered to leave the relationship than they have in the past. Still, even in today’s world women still generally do more of the housework. Men may stay longer in dysfunctional marriages only because the lifestyle is far easier than living alone, while a woman doesn’t necessarily have this consideration unless her husband is the one who stays at home. Finally, some men are reluctant to leave a marriage due to their children. They don’t want to upset the children. These men also know that usually the mother gets custody of the kids while the father gets visitation rights. Some men have a close relationship with their children and can’t cope with seeing them less often. This is one of the reasons why shared custody today is far more common than in the past. For more on this topic, read A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce by famous actor Alec Baldwin.