Should We Get Rid of Marriage Altogether?

Should We Get Rid of Marriage Altogether?
45 Shares

Lest you think I only post articles with which I agree, here’s an anti-marriage take from The Atlantic called What You Lose When You Gain a Spouse

Instead of making the tired case that marriage is dead (it’s not; only 14% of people say they never want to get married), the author takes the 40,000 foot overview that there is a societal cost to the institution of marriage itself.

But first she starts with a quote she doesn’t believe: “When my friends cite the benefits of marriage, they often point to an intangible sense of belonging and security: Being married just “feels different.”  This is true.

Then again, this is also true: “Compared with those who stay single, married folks are less likely to visit or call parents and siblings—and less inclined to offer them emotional support or pragmatic help with things such as chores and transportation. They are also less likely to hang out with friends and neighbors.”

How can that be? Two completely valid, yet contradictory ideas on the same exact subject? And that, essentially, is my take on Catron’s take. It’s true – and it selectively focuses on half the story – that having a best friend, lover, and partner-in-crime who shares your bed does, in fact, make you less likely to seek out other company.

“…I was surprised that no one seemed to be talking about the isolation of modern romantic commitment. Many couples who live together but aren’t married are likely to experience at least some of the costs and benefits associated with marriage. The expectations that come with living with a serious partner, married or not, can enforce the norms that create social isolation. In the months after Mark moved into my apartment, I enjoyed the coziness of our shared domestic life. I liked having another person to help walk the dog and shop for groceries. I loved getting into bed with him every night.

If you gain more than you lose, it’s a big win. If you lose more than you gain, you’ll be unhappily married or divorced.

But when I looked at my life, I was surprised by how it seemed to have contracted. I didn’t go out as much. I got fewer invitations for after-work beers. Even my own parents seemed to call less often. When invitations did arrive, they were addressed to us both. We hadn’t even discussed marriage yet, but already it seemed everyone had tacitly agreed that our step toward each other necessitated a step away from friendship and community. I was happy in our home, but that happiness was twinned with a sense of loneliness I hadn’t expected.”

Yep. Like everything in life, marriage is a tradeoff. If you gain more than you lose, it’s a big win. If you lose more than you gain, you’ll be unhappily married or divorced.

Catron does make a valid case – made by Eli Finkel in The All Or Nothing Marriage – that we expect too much from marriage. One person is now supposed to provide what an entire community provided in the past. She’s right. And it’s why choosing the right spouse is literally the most important decision you’ll ever make. Pick someone selfish or inconsistent or irresponsible or uncommunicative and you are in for a miserable life, no matter how much fun and attraction you shared the first few years of dating.

That doesn’t make marriage problematic. Marriage is fine. What needs to evolve is our understanding of what makes a GOOD marriage BEFORE you get married. 

The article closes with an interesting question.

Governments, hospitals, insurance companies, and schools assume that marriage (and subsequently the nuclear family) is the primary unit of care. But of course love—and the care it necessitates—is much more far-reaching and unwieldy than that. What if you could share health-care benefits with your sister and her son? Or take paid leave to be with a close friend who had an operation? In a country with epidemic rates of loneliness, expanding our sense of what counts as meaningful love—and acknowledging and supporting relationships in all their forms—could have enormous benefits. Energy spent striving to prop up the insular institution of marriage could instead be spent working to support family stability in whatever form it takes.”

A useful angle, for, indeed, it’s important to have other friends, family, co-workers to round out your life beyond your spouse. But the author’s insistence that marriage is just being “propped up” by society and that we should just move to a marriage-less world? Sounds nice for a thinkpiece; not that valid for those of us who actually like being married.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

Join our conversation (38 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 1
    jo

    My thoughts on the article: Ms. Catron makes many good points, but she also tends toward (you guessed it, my favorite term recently) false dichotomies. 🙂

    Starting with her good points: Yes, the USA has a problem regarding beneficiaries in the health care system and paid leave, and it is unfair that this cannot extend by choice beyond the nuclear family. She is also right that being in LTRs (including marriage) can reduce involvement in community or other social activities. And she is right that even if the couple is not married, it’s harder to get invitations that just involve oneself without also involving the partner. The inviter may be trying to be more inclusive, but her friend may crave time with just the inviter alone.

    Where I think she draws a false dichotomy is around the idea of isolation. She treats it as one monolith, with the opposing monolith being community involvement – and specifically treats isolation as if it were bad. But isolation and involvement exist along a spectrum, and there are many circumstances in which a relative degree of isolation is preferred.

    Having been in both states of singlehood and LTRs, I will share that my getting more involved in community activities while single was driven partly by that I would feel lonely otherwise. It didn’t necessarily mean that I was a better community citizen. Sometimes, yes, it was motivated by values, other times it was scratching my own itch to be with others. In healthy LTRs, it can be a kind of relief not to have to keep going out, seeking those other activities. On the outside, it looks more isolated, but if the primary needs for society are met (to a degree) with one’s partner, then it doesn’t feel like isolation.

    She implied feeling closed in. But she is not helpless, and it doesn’t sound as though her partner would stop her from reaching out to others and go out and do those community activities, if that is what she needs. I think it is possible in both the single and LTR states to find the degree of society that is just right for every person.

  2. 2
    Emily, to

    “Or take paid leave to be with a close friend who had an operation? In a country with epidemic rates of loneliness, expanding our sense of what counts as meaningful love—and acknowledging and supporting relationships in all their forms”
    This is a nice thought and I’ve had plenty of friends say something similar, but I’ve never seen their behavior bear this out. Even if they have better relationships with their friends, the relationships with their family always take precedence and they’re willing to do so much more for them, even if those relationships are toxic and unhealthy and all they do is complain about their family. The “Sex in the City” women who, after years of friendship, are still finding time and meeting weekly and supporting each other through breakups, job changes, children, divorce, etc. It doesn’t happen in real life. Maybe 1 or 2 of the four would get together occasionally once they married and, particularly, once they had kids. One or two would float away.

    1. 2.1
      S.

      I almost went to my best friend’s surgery once. I had told my boss I was going and had the days lined up. This was 21 years ago. I was young and I knew it was unusual but I didn’t care. She was my best friend. Then the exploratory surgery turned into major surgery and my friend told me not to come just as I was about to get on Greyhound. She did have her parents near and it was a more serious surgery. I told my boss I wouldn’t be going. Then four days later my friend told me that I could come then. I wish I had had more experience with how to do this. But having had the days off, then not taking them, I didn’t know how to tell my boss I was taking them again. I do regret that I didn’t go and I do feel my friend held it against me later. And I feel she was justified in holding it against me.

      The truth? When my mother was diagnosed with diabetes after being taken in ambulance to the hospital (they thought it was a stroke), I was in the same city. I didn’t leave right away. My sister said she was stable I had been at the same job above only a month. (With my friend I had been there longer.) I just didn’t want to tell them anything. I didn’t know them well enough and well, I didn’t even know anything yet. I waited until 5:00pm and then I left and went to the hospital.

      I feel at work in an emergency I not only have to deal with my fear and panic, but my co-workers and bosses. And sometimes I can’t deal with them and their emotions and questions while trying to manage my own. That their primary concern isn’t me, but what they will do without me and when will I be back. They are most worried about the work getting done. So it makes it difficult for me to be assertive about leave.

      Well, at least it did all those years ago. Now, I’d be out the door. Because the people most important to me are on the other side of that door. So for me, I would do that for a friend. I visited a co-worker in the hospital last year. No one else from the office went to see her.

      But would a friend take paid leave for me? Would a co-worker come visit me? I don’t know if our culture really knows how to honor these relationships.

      1. 2.1.1
        Emily, to

        S.,
        I applaud you for the willingness to help your friend, but I don’t think most people would use FMLA for a friend if they could. They would see that as something of a burden. When I’ve talked with other single women friends about whether or not they worry about the future because they’re not married and don’t have kids, they’ll acknowledge that they do have concerns but not one has ever said, “Hey, maybe we could support each other.” So the options: take care of yourself or get married and/or have kids.

        1. S.

          My mom is 78 and her friends are 95 and 91. Not all of her friends, but she always had older friends. The husbands have passed. I really wish this wasn’t true and I hope that technology and science helps with this. Who is taking care of these women? Their daughters.

          When I look at folks past 75, most of their husbands have passed. 🙁 Women can look after one another if they have to. It doesn’t mean not to get married at all, of course not. And while I’ll put away money for myself for my old age, I don’t doubt that women will be my emotional support to help me through the losses and illnesses I must bear if I reach an advanced age. And I mean that even if I marry and my husband outlives me!
          That’s not everyone, that’s just what I need. I also think your single friends are still young enough to have kids. Single in late 30s is very different than single in late 40s/early 50s. And I can’t say any of the guys I dated was ever careful about his health no matter what age they were.

          One of my favorite couple is the one linked below. Oh, they were wonderful and to live a lifetime together would be grand. But nothing is promised, it just isn’t, even if you find the right man for you. I’m deeply, deeply grateful to my female friendships.

          I know I’m in the minority. I always am in the minority here. But as the quote says, I may be one but I still am one. It still matters that I was willing to support my friend. And if there is one, then there are surely more who would do the same, just aren’t on a board to say so, I suppose.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4dqrjiAWCQ

        2. Emily, to

          S.,
          “Single in late 30s is very different than single in late 40s/early 50s. ”
          Actually, none of these women are in their late 30s. Most are in their 50s. Some have children; some don’t. Some are divorced and some have never married.
          There was an article in the NY Post about 7 Chinese women who bought a house together to retire in. But they are all in their 30s. It’s a nice sentiment but I don’t see it playing out 30 years from now. Some will have married, had kids. They’ll want to move near their families.
          Yes, you’re right that husbands can always pass away first and you can certainly get emotional support from your friends, but are those women in the daily trenches of your life? Do you call them up after a bad day at work to vent? Are they in your life enough to know when you’d have an anxiety-inducing doctor’s appointment? I’m asking. I don’t know. When I’ve had friends like that, they’ve eventually floated away. Life happens.

          https://nypost.com/2019/07/03/seven-chinese-girlfriends-buy-mansion-to-retire-and-die-together/

        3. S.

          “Are those women in the daily trenches of your life? Do you call them up after a bad day at work to vent? Are they in your life enough to know when you’d have an anxiety-inducing doctor’s appointment? I’m asking. I don’t know. When I’ve had friends like that, they’ve eventually floated away. Life happens.”

          For my mom, the answer is yes. When I think of my extended family the older women and daughters did all of the things you describe. It was a joint effort. Now, here’s the thing. Those women do change as you age. It’s not the same women! In my mom’s case, in all seriousness, some of her close friends, like my godmother, died. Sooo . . . I think you have to always be making new friends. People grow, change, move, it’s inevitable. But my mom is great at making and keeping friends and it’s a skill I picked up from her without realizing it. She also invests in the community and not always specific folks within the community. I should try to learn from that.

          For example, I was so willing to support my friend. And she was there for me when my mom was ill. But we are no longer in each other’s lives. Another friend was there for me for anxiety appointments but she moved to another country. She became ill there and had new acquaintances to support her and help her navigate that health system which I’m glad of.

          This is life. Things ebb and flow. The women with the shared home, it may work for them now and not later. That doesn’t mean it’s not successful. It’s successful for its time. When I think of living into my possible 90s I realize as difficult as it is for me (and I’m only speaking for me), I have to let go that anything will remain the same. Things always change even if it takes a long time. And I believe that things are supposed to change, life is supposed to . . . happen. 🙂

        4. Emily, to

          S.,
          “The women with the shared home, it may work for them now and not later. That doesn’t mean it’s not successful. It’s successful for its time.”
          But no one says that about relationships with family. “Oh, yeah, my relationship with my dad was successful for its time.” Most people expect that relationship to be forever. I’m not knocking friendship. I value it highly. I wish other people valued it more. I’ve been closer, felt more supported by and better known and understood by close friends over the years than I have by any family member, but the relationship with those friends was, as you say, for its time. So my point is … putting too much emotional energy into friendship is probably not good. Unless you are lucky to have close, supportive extended family, it’s kids or a husband. It’s how our society is structured and you have to go along with the program. (It pains me to say that. I hate going along with any kind of program.)

        5. Mrs Happy

          “So my point is … putting too much emotional energy into friendship is probably not good.”

          I’m with you on this one Emily, to. Friendship in general is more nebulous than I’d like it to be. Especially my friendships with women, they don’t last the distance over the decades, and it seems they wane or stop over trivial stuff that my male friends (and I) just wouldn’t be bothered too much about, minor hurt feelings instances between various women in a group etc; expected walking on eggshells behaviour that puts me on edge.

          I wish others prioritised friendships more. What I see is it’s always family first, then work, then housework, then exercise and hobbies, then if there is a crumb of energy left, time for friends. Having said that I do have some great friends now.

          I spent my teenage years onwards abandoned by family, and having to rely on romantic relationships and friendships to survive, so I placed great worth on these connections. Over the decades I’ve been saddened to realise others just don’t.

        6. Emily, to

          Mrs. H.,
          “Especially my friendships with women, they don’t last the distance over the decades, and it seems they wane or stop over trivial stuff that my male friends (and I) just wouldn’t be bothered too much about.”
          My male friends didn’t go the distance, either, and every male friend I had eventually hit on me, with the exception of the one I have left who is so low energy, so ambivalent about women, he doesn’t have the juice to hit on anyone. But our “friendship,” such as it is, is texting, emailing and calling, and though we communicate almost daily, we never hang out. I keep my expectations for friendship fairly low.
          “What I see is it’s always family first, then work, then housework, then exercise and hobbies, then if there is a crumb of energy left, time for friends. ”
          You forgot the dog! Friendship is always below the dog.
          “I spent my teenage years onwards abandoned by family, and having to rely on romantic relationships and friendships to survive, so I placed great worth on these connections.”
          I hear you. Family was the last place I would have gone to expect any emotional support, with the exception of one cousin. And my people, on both sides, are a joyless people. They weren’t people you enjoyed hanging out with you.

      2. 2.1.2
        S.

        @ Emily

        My day passed fifteen years ago. So I think it was a relationship for its time. Again, I think of time differently than others. I didn’t always. And I still don’t always but when I catch myself, when I can, I try to see the bigger picture of time.

        I can’t really get into what others do or think. I act with my own integrity. I visited that woman in the hospital because it felt right. No one at work knew or even cared. Another co-worker said she thought about it but when push came to shove she didn’t go. Do I wish others would do things like that? Sure. But I have only control over me.

        “So my point is … putting too much emotional energy into friendship is probably not good.”

        In a way, relationships in general are similar. Yes, you have to put good energy in to get good energy back. You have to observe if the other is investing time and energy as well. The problem is expectation. I have high expectations. But when I lower them, when I don’t expect anything back, I don’t mind the energy I put in. Hell, there are few things in life that give me back the energy I put into them. Cooking, working, my yoga practice. Wait, actually yoga and meditation are things that give me much back. 🙂 But general, I have my own moral compass and I go with that.

        There are so many things in this culture that aren’t appreciated. Life itself. The land. Those of us with privileges like heat and indoor plumbing. I can’t make anyone care about those things. I can only care for them myself. It’s not easy to march to a different beat. It’s lonely. But it’s real and it’s me and there isn’t another way to be.

        So I try to find my tribe although the tribe changes as I age. I change. I try to be graceful with that. I’ve been blessed with some wonderful friends in my life. And I will have wonderful friends again. I always have so I don’t really have doubts about it. And when I reach the end of my life, I will have wonderful friends then.

        I’m glad you made this comment as it made me realized what I do have. I may not have it right this second, but if I wait a while, I will. Most of my very good friends? Never ever forgot me. I may see someone I knew as a child and they remember everything about me. Who knew? I think people care but they are just so busy and don’t have tools to be that good a friend. Or they really have other interests. One acquaintance of mine just likes to be in solitude. That brings them peace. Another likes just family, her kids, her sister, her parents. That’s it. I don’t wish them to be different. That’s what makes them happy.

        Do we really want everyone to be the same? Or is it about doubting that people love one enough? I think people love me a lot, they just don’t know how to show it in a way sometimes that I recognize. (And this has nothing to do with Love Languages, thank you.)

        My task is to rest in the love. It is there. It exists. And eventually I’ll find people who better know how to show it to me. I’m not trying to start a friendship revolution but I’ve never gone with the program, either, when it came to friendship. Middle grounds are a thing. 😉

  3. 3
    Michelle

    Very interesting and thanks for sharing this Evan. Being relatively newly coupled after decades of being single with a wide network of friends, it did impress upon me how much energy needs to be directed toward your relationship versus the friends and activities you may have had while single. I moved to another town to be with my partner and although I get along well with my work colleagues and we have a few friends we see for dinner from time to time, I don’t put much energy into new friendships. Fortunately for us (and why I chose him) my partner and I are best friends. We genuinely love spending time together, and being in my mid-40s I don’t have FOMO about meeting new people or activities I did when I was single (for example, I love scuba diving and it’s readily available in our town, but my partner isn’t interested, and it’s not a big deal for me to do another activity that we both enjoy instead – it wouldn’t be the case in my 20s!)

    Helen Fielding created the archetype of the Smug Married, and hopefully I won’t turn into someone who makes single people feel inadequate. But being in a serious relationship has given me some insight into it!

    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Well said, Michelle. There probably is such thing as “Smug Married,” but it exists in equal proportion to “Bitter Single Trying to Convince Everyone She’s Happy Being Single and Resenting Her Married Friends for Being Content With Each Other.” I don’t believe most married people are necessarily smug, per se, but couples are often focused on their families, which has the capacity to unintentionally make single folks feel left out.

      1. 3.1.1
        Michelle

        Agreed! I am genuinely happier in my soon-to-be married life. I also have no regrets about the spontaneity, adventure and occasional bad behaviour of my single days either – having found the right man at the right time has granted me the best of both.

    2. 3.2
      GUY BLAISE

      Bonjour Michelle
      Life will be boring if your partner was a “clone” of you. Being together by being different is great! We are French and it is important not to feel suffocated in a relationship…
      Bonne chance madame!

  4. 4
    BBQ

    Marriage will never die. At it’s base it’s a contract between individuals regulating what happens financially when a pair is coupled (and divorced) and the rights of parents to children inside said couple, then enforced (by force if need be) by the state.
    Kind of a big deal, no wonder people want to dress it up pretty and celebrate it.

    Even if you get rid of marriage as it is, a new form of law surrounding couples and children would arise and (given it’s serious ramifications) would be likely to be marked with some form of celebration as well. Just marriage by another name basically.

    Whether you agree with current marriage laws or care about the wedding day (and I do neither), the original reasons for marriage remain and will always remain very important (until were all replaced by drones and 3D printers).

    Article sounds like it was written by some wannabe communist feminist.
    Actually on second thoughts, I’d love to see all marriage contracts voided and go unenforced, and watch these types jump over themselves to protest for it’s return.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      “At it’s base it’s a contract between individuals regulating what happens financially when a pair is coupled (and divorced).”

      If this is your view of marriage, I think it’s best that you don’t get married. And – just curious – if you’re a man who doesn’t want to get married, what exactly are you doing posting on a blog that gives dating advice for women who do?

      1. 4.1.1
        BBQ

        You misunderstand me, it wasn’t meant in a cold or bitter way. There can be some wonderful things that happen within a marriage or that flow from it. That contract can give a sense of security that those things valued about what marriage provides are also valued by society and will be protected. And so those entering into it (assuming it is mutually satisfactory) can gain a sense of security and confidence to move forward with their lives together. Is pointing that out so wrong? (or wrong when a man does it?)

        For instance, if a woman in a marriage stays home to look after her children while they are young and forego’s career opportunity and a man decides to dump her for some younger woman while said children are still young, she will have certain protections under the law. Do you think it wrong that someone that places themselves in a vulnerable position should seek some protection under the law?
        ie – a marriage contract?

        If said contract is satisfactory to both
        parties and both feel protected within it to move forward with their relationship and lives together is that not something worth celebrating
        ie – a wedding?

        As for this blog, I stumbled on it and found it interesting, I didn’t realise it was targeted specifically at women, I just enjoyed reading the comments (even if I don’t agree with many) which are a little more articulate than most places.

        As for marriage, I only said I didn’t agree with (some) current marriage laws, not that I hated marriage or thought it was totally worthless. What is so wrong about that?

        I’

        1. Mrs Happy

          “As for this blog, I stumbled on it and found it interesting, I didn’t realise it was targeted specifically at women, I just enjoyed reading the comments (even if I don’t agree with many) which are a little more articulate than most places.”

          BBQ, this was exactly my experience, stumbling on this blog then after a while being surprised to be told it was for single women. I think a wide variety of people from all walks of life, gender and relationship categories posting here so articulately is what makes this place interesting. I too never saw it as a place only for women wanting to marry to communicate, though I appreciate this blog is tied to Evan’s business which is modelled primarily around such.

          And you are absolutely right, marriage is a legal and social contract. It’s interesting, I once overheard 2 men talking about how they’d like 10-year revolving relationship (marriage-like) contracts to be re-assessed every so often and both parties able to walk without rancor or consequence. They seemed surprised to hear from my interjection that I wouldn’t do a variety of things in such a contract, that I’d do in a marriage. Asked for examples, I explained – I wouldn’t live with a man, have children with him, combine assets or bank accounts, sacrifice in any way my career progression for his, or my social life and hobbies for his, support him at any great cost to myself, prioritise forming good/sacrificial relationships with his family or friends e.g. to the point of not buying the Christmas presents for his parents and siblings for him if I wasn’t a wife, etc. etc. The looks on their faces. (I didn’t say I wouldn’t be as faithful, but that’s another reality.). Listing all that out I feel compelled to state I wasn’t usually a bad girlfriend, but there is a large amount of sacrificing that comes with society’s expectations of a spouse, and boy- or girl-friends don’t have the same burden to bear.

          Because basically without a marriage contract, the man is just a boyfriend, and much more …. tenuous? I’m trying not to use the words replaceable or disposable because that’s not the vibe I want to portray, but to be really honest, boyfriends are these things, and husbands, for me, not so much. And it’s only because of the social and legal contract, for me. I realise others are different and others view de-facto relationships as equal to marriage. In my country they are legally equal in every way after 2 years of living together, but for me, the emotional “we’re all in, because we’re married, and this is really long term, aiming for life” is the important factor. The contract solidifies that.

      2. 4.1.2
        Yet Another Guy

        @Evan

        At its core, marriage is a legal contract between two people that is enforced by the state. It is not until one decides to divorce that this reality truly hits home. The state has a financial interest in ensuring that children and/or a spouse do/does not become ward(s) of the state. That is why marriage law exists. Marriage law provides protections to married couples that are not available to non-married couples. While adults benefit, those protections exist mainly for the welfare of the children.

  5. 5
    Mrs Happy

    Catron writes,
    “But when I looked at my life, I was surprised by how it seemed to have contracted. I didn’t go out as much. I got fewer invitations for after-work beers. Even my own parents seemed to call less often. When invitations did arrive, they were addressed to us both.”
    and I’m left thinking – well I’m sure if she had invited people over, and called her parents, and organised outings and after-work drinks, all these connections would be near identical before versus after co-habitation. It was primarily her behaviour, rushing home to almost-spousey and excluding other activities, that saw her world contract, and then she postulates the institute of marriage is at fault.

    Seriously, autonomous free people, who isolate themselves in a marriage, who cut off or limit other connections that could enrich their lives, have only themselves to blame. Passivity and abdication of responsibility for your own situation are rather irritating.

    I think people want marriage because it’s just EASIER. It’s easier, if you’re male, to have sex on supply that the average man wouldn’t achieve if single and not regularly paying a prostitute. It’s easier, if you’re a woman who can’t earn much to support herself and the kids, to marry someone who will shoulder the greater financial burden so you can devote more time to wrangling the kids and housework. It’s easier to share all the numerous tasks of running a household with a partner. It’s easier, when you get sick, or are vulnerable in any way, to have an on-tap available shoulder to lean on. It’s easier to have the increased resources the in-law family brings rather than just relying on your family of origin. It’s easier to have more supports c.w. fewer. Humans go for easier in life, every single time, with few exceptions.

    Reading the linked Finkel Evan thread made me smile ruefully because every regular commenter engaged in their usual dance. Down to GWTF arguing with YAG and both so clearly enjoying it, YAG educating us all about erections (because the women on here have seen so few? or could in any way be naive about this topic?), Jeremy telling me I’m wrong (re Austen! Jeezz JJ) and how we should strive to achieve future nebulous happiness, S giving due consideration to all areas of a topic, ETO interjecting to talk about women’s sexual satisfaction, Marika challenging, Adrian asking questions … does anyone change?

    1. 5.1
      Emily, to

      “does anyone change?”
      No. That’s why we need new commenters. 🙂 I mean, in 6 months, we’ll also be able to predict what they’ll write before they even post it, but we’ll have had “shiny and new” for a while.

    2. 5.2
      S.

      “S giving due consideration to all areas of a topic”

      Hey, I resemble that remark! Hee! I have no intention of changing if this is how I’m seen here. 🙂

      I was about to give due consideration here, literally was going to type that out but then I thought, “do I even need to?” It seems so clear that there are so many different people and so many different relationships. No one is wrong if it’s right for them and they aren’t causing anyone pain. Live and let live.

      Also: I don’t think I go with what’s easier. I respect that others do. But easy for others isn’t as easy for me. I would have been a piss-poor wife in my 20s. Even in my 30s. I had to grow up first. I think it as an institution is not going anywhere anytime soon. One thing I do like about these times is the definition of family, of long-term relationships, is growing wider and more fluid. That’s okay too. I don’t begrudge anyone their happiness. I do appreciate the author finding what works for her. It’s okay for her to miss her singleness and *still* be happy with her partner.

      Also: some people really do want their friends as family. Some don’t. I feel like the song, from Into The Woods, No One is Alone. “You decide what’s right. You decide what’s good.” Yes, I like showtunes. 😀

      We each just decide what’s right for us. I guess, Mrs. H., I mostly try to advocate for empathy. For feeling. It’s certainly not easier, but my opinion is the world would be better if we can start there.

      That old thread makes me nostalgic. Though it probably wasn’t that long ago since I just started giving up gluten last year (2018) I thought . . . Hmm. I’ve been eating healthily longer than I thought!

      Thanks, Mrs. H. 🙂

      1. 5.2.1
        Mrs Happy

        “Also: I don’t think I go with what’s easier. I respect that others do. But easy for others isn’t as easy for me. I would have been a piss-poor wife in my 20s. Even in my 30s. I had to grow up first.”

        But S, that’s exactly what I meant; you did what was easiest for you at that stage – being a wife would’ve been really hard for you during your 20s, so you went with what was easier.

        It’s nonsensical to waste resources doing something the hard way, thus we haven’t evolved to do extra, if a shortcut can be devised. Sir Edmund Hilliary and Tenzing Norgay were unusual; most people barely get off the couch. Throughout time, the people who did extra, had a lower chance their DNA would propagate – basically minimalism was bred into us.

        I too like how definitions of family are expanding. It’s horrid how narrow the ideas have been for so long, how exclusionary to some the conservative model has been. I’m also amazed at how much gender identity is expanding; positions unheard of during my adolescence are practically mainstream amoung the teenagers I interact with now. There’s no excuse to be narrow anymore.

        1. S.

          That’s true. And I’m not saying it was easy. Just eas”ier”, I suppose. Though I could have been a bad wife and not cared about it! I’m just not that way, I guess.

          I don’t think of it in terms of ‘easy’. No choice one makes is easy. It’s just the result of your conditioning and experiences. I think I made a good decision for the me at that time. I actually do do difficult things, but chose not to add this one to the list back then. I think we all pick and choose. So I while I see your point, I don’t see the world as making ‘easy’ choices for themselves. Just trying to pick what they can live with from the choices that are out there. That’s how I see it. Using the word easy has a tinge of judgment to it that isn’t how I see it.

          There’s no excuse to be narrow anymore.
          Exactly! Though if people want to be, they can. As long as it’s not oppressing others, I say, do you, people! I think marriage will remain alive and well. But so will long-term, non-married partnerships. So will a variety of partnerships and configurations. And that’s how I see the article. Not bashing marriage but a woman trying to find her way through in a way that works for her.

          Heh. I find it far less difficult to give people in print the benefit of the doubt, than I do with real life people I know. 🙂

    3. 5.3
      Jeremy

      “Does anyone change?”

      I recently ran into a guy I went to high school with. Back then he was a wild, long-haired, hedonistic party animal. He is now a reserved, mild-mannered rabbi with a doctorate in education, headmaster of a local Hebrew school. When I ran into him we chatted for a while, and when the time came to leave he smiled at me and said, “I can’t believe it Jeremy, you haven’t changed a bit. You’re exactly the same as when we were in high school.” In the quarter second it took me to process the implications of that statement I considered the most appropriate response, subtle in its chastisement :” Neither have you, ” I replied. He looked down at himself, at his modest clothing, the tassles of his religious garb protruding from under his shirt, his short hair, his demeanor, and glanced back up at me incredulously as if to ask, “What are you talking about, can you not see that I’m nothing like the boy I was?” I smiled encouragingly back at him, trusting that he is intelligent enough to eventually understand. If so for you, how not for me?

      It is as I wrote to you back in that thread, Mrs H. We are each bodies floating in space. How would we not be affected by each other’s gravity? How would we not alter course, if only by a fraction, due to the influence of what we’ve learned from others? Are you the same person you were when you quoted Austen to me then? [smiling encouragingly]

    4. 5.4
      jo

      Mrs Happy, I agree with nearly everything you wrote except the issue of blame. Yes, Catron may have blamed an institution rather than herself, and maybe there are many people in LTRs (let’s please expand this to LTRs, including marriages) who either blame themselves or ‘the system’ for going out less. But there is a huge proportion of us who do not blame ANYONE, because we’re thankful to be going out less. Here, I will invoke that Austen quote you shared in the other thread – that many of us prefer the company and conversation of one good partner, to multiple parties and other social-community gatherings where it’s hard to have deep conversations. Heck, many of us do that more easily HERE on this blog than in a social gathering. 🙂

      Come to it, that’s also relevant to your point about marriage or LTRs being easier. It’s easier if you prefer the company of one or a few, rather than the swinging back and forth between lots of people vs. aloneness. The latter describes the situation of many singles.

  6. 6
    MilkyMae

    Marriage is form of inequity in the eyes of some people. Married couples, especially straight couples, still get a societal dividend. One author called it prestige. Moreover, marriage tends to reward partners that are comfortable with gender roles. Some people think this is unfair so they want to devalue marriage. I think some of original authors need too stop viewing the world with college campus goggles.

    1. 6.1
      Emily, to

      MilkyMae,
      “I think some of original authors need too stop viewing the world with college campus goggles.”
      What do you mean? I often think we should look at the world more with college campus googles. But when I think of “college campus,” I think of questioning everything. But you might have meant something different.

      1. 6.1.1
        MilkyMae

        Yes. Question everything especially if the tradition could be considered elitist. Now marriage is unsustainable.

  7. 7
    Michelle

    I think marriage doesn’t have to follow the traditional model. Far as I can tell, once coupled your life does get smaller; you get smaller in a way. It’s now about your family unit and kids; there is a contraction with most of the marriages I have seen on every level; what you talk about, how you travel and where you go, how you explore and experience the world. It’s been perceptable with all my friends who get married. There is this kind of mundane day day to existence that sets in. It’s hard to relate to them, with exception of a couple that still maintain their interest, friendships, curiousity about life.
    Married life is comfortable and there is security but at what cost? Adding kids to the mix takes that cost a step further. Marriage is not for everyone. For myself, what I would have to give up, is not worth the cost to me, for the security and soft place to fall every night. My family is much bigger, made of friends, peers, mentors, lovers and even acquaintances who all collectively provide an amazing, loving support system. I would consider marriage but a different model; one that allows alot of space and freedom and individuality. I have seen few examples but they do exist and they are something to strive for. I think the traditional model doesn’t really fit the way that people live, work, and thrive today. Maybe it’s time for a change.

    1. 7.1
      BBQ

      The type of change your talking about would just make getting or calling yourself married in the first place totally pointless. Many people that get married will have kids and want to have continuing access to those kids, how are they gonna have that with a partner that wants a lot of space and freedom and individuality and to place an equal value on their many lovers and friends and mentors and even acquantinces?

      Marriage law isn’t working right now but calling yourself married to someone (or a wide group of people lol) and having it be totally meaningless is gonna be a even bigger disaster.

      If the idea of marriage as it is is so opposite to what is best for you, just dont get married or worry about the definition of what being married is. Just live your own life of freedom (as you see it) and be happy with that. Laws around marriage can be changed, but based on your comment it seems the only type of marriage that would satisfy you is some kind of marriage to the commune. There’s probably a cult or hippy group somewhere that can marry you to the community at large, but in reality this isn’t something most people are looking for.

      I cant speak for women but I can say what your talking about has virtually no appeal to the vaaast majority of men. They dont want to live or work the way your talking about and certainly cant thrive like that. Perhaps you should just say marriage isn’t for everyone and leave it there.

    2. 7.2
      Yet Another Guy

      @Michelle

      ” Far as I can tell, once coupled your life does get smaller; you get smaller in a way. It’s now about your family unit and kids; there is a contraction with most of the marriages I have seen on every level; what you talk about, how you travel and where you go, how you explore and experience the world.”

      I believe that this experience is more common for women than men. I have yet to meet a non-married woman who does not have a large support network of girlfriends. The same is not true for most men after their mid-twenties. Speaking for myself, my social network expanded when I married, and I traveled a lot more as a married man than I do as a single man. Sure, vacations were centered around what my children wanted to do, but I would not trade that experience for anything available in the single world. It is a rich life that is unmatched in the single world. For me, being a married father gave me a purpose that no other life choice has even been able to match.

      1. 7.2.1
        Michelle

        Yet another guy, looks like you found the right balance. Per above was not suggesting a commune or any other crazy nonsense, just a little bit of space in the marriage to thrive as an individual. I don’t see that in a lot of marriage.

        1. BBQ

          You mentioned “lovers” as in the multiple, that’s pretty crazy to most people.

          What exactly are you talking about if not some kind of poly- amorous, separate living type situation?

          What were the examples you saw which you think marriage should be changed too?

        2. Yet Another Guy

          @Michelle

          Marriage has never been about the individual. Marriage is about the family. Show me a marriage between two people who keep individual lives, and I will show a marriage that will not stand the test of time. When one marries, one surrenders himself/herself to his/her partner. A marriage is greater than the sum of its parts. That is the thing around which most people who have never been married cannot wrap their heads and why I refused to date women who had never been married after divorcing my ex-wife. The reality is that most single people are more selfish than most married people. Selfishness cannot survive in a marriage. It is not my money or her money. It is our money, and that goes for couples where one partner earns substantially more than the other. At any given time, one partner may find himself/herself displaced at work. The other partner needs to be prepared to carry the load for both people for the period of time that takes the displaced partner to secure a new income stream (that is why a couple should never live on their entire combined income). Anyone who cannot handle this reality should never marry. After children arrive, the focus is on them. Children teach parents to be selfless.

  8. 8
    Girl in the Midwest

    I don’t think friends would ever sacrifice and prioritize each other as much as (functional) family and spouses and children. No matter how good friends I’ve had, they go home at the end of the day. My family is my home. It’s healthy for humans to be selfish to an extent. And my self interests are tied up with my parents, spouse (through financial, through our children), and my children (through evolutionary wiring of wanting to pass down my DNA).

    Of course there are exceptions, but they are by outliers, not the norm.

  9. 9
    Harry Palms

    I think marriage is the only way a family should exist. I also think 2 common reasons marriages that start in their 20s fail is that

    1) Neither spouse has achieved their full potential yet. I know several coworkers that are struggling trying to attain their degrees AFTER the kids were born.

    2) Rushing into ‘lock it down’ in less then 2 years. Raising my hand and guilty of both counts.

    Of course, with age comes wisdom (hopefully). Being 51, I can can more easily see the tree in the tree in the forest now.

    If I had waited 2 years, I never would had married. And that’s ok.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *