Categorized | Marriage, Relationships

Put a Ring on It? Why marriage is still valuable today.

I just read a provocative article in the Atlantic Monthly online magazine by Kate Bolick called All the Single Ladies: What, Me Marry?

In the U.S., there is an overall decline in the rates of getting married across race and social economic groups. Bolick argues that the downward economic condition of the last ten years and what she calls the second-wave of feminism are behind this marriage trend.

I’m not surprised by the statistics on marriage. Just ten short years ago, although people in the U.S. were still getting married at the same rate as they did in 1950, they divorced at a higher rate and much sooner than in the past. Five years became the new measure of a long marriage.

What strikes me most is the conclusions that Bolick makes with regard to women and men, romance, and marriage. Her facts are compelling. But, the meaning she gives to these facts is what causes me concern.

For example, she argues that women find marriage less appealing today, because they no longer have to marry upward for social and financial security. Women have begun to see marriage as dispensable, she says. Perhaps, what’s more true is that women today have more options with regard to who they want to marry than to find marriage of no value to them.

What really challenged my sensibilities, however, was Bolick’s few good men argument. Women, she says, no longer marry as much as they used to because they have to marry downward to do so.  Statistics show that men today are down and out in several ways. They make up less of today’s workforce, have been hit economically hardest by the recent recession, and have less graduate education than women today. Because of this, she says, women are having to date downward that makes partnering less appealing to them.

Bolick treats her interpretations of the data as if they are fact. She tells us that it is time to “Embrace new ideas about romance and family and acknowledge the end of ‘traditional’ marriage as society’s highest ideal, as the economy evolves.”

I’m concerned about the readiness to accept interpretations of what one observes as fact, and to make wide-sweeping recommendations from this. We have to ask ourselves deeper questions as to what these facts really mean to us as a culture. What is the benefit and fallout to the conclusions Bolick draws from these data? Are there other meanings we can draw? Is there a reason for people to marry outside of the financial and material changes that Bolick mentions?

While I won’t try to answer all these questions here today, I can see one very important reason why marrying is still valuable to us as a society. In life, we are continually faced with tensions having to deal with opposite energies. These opposing forces challenge and develop us psychologically and spiritually. If we eliminate such dichotomies, we stifle our growth as persons and as a culture. Can you imagine a world of just democrats or just republicans? It would be boring. It’s good to have to be forced to understand differences, no matter if it is politics, religion or gender that we are talking about. Differences force us toward enlightenment.  Happily, women and men are different, so the relationship among them is developmentally valuable.

I’m glad that we have come so far as women. I wouldn’t change that for anything.  We are surely struggling to redefine what we want from each other in this brave new world. This doesn’t mean however that there’s isn’t great developmental value to marriage. Remember, a lotus flower can grow in mud. The legal constrictions of marriage encourages us to find meanings in shared development that leads to wisdom that is larger than one person alone.

If you like my post today, please say so by selecting the Like icon that immediately follows. Also, I welcome your thoughts and comments on today’s post. Thanks for tuning in to my blog today. Deborah!

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7 Responses to “Put a Ring on It? Why marriage is still valuable today.”

  1. Thank you Deborah for another thought provoking article Im shocked that a long term marriage would be only 5 years now

    I do remember seeing other articles regarding happiness that describe men being happiest and healthiest in marriage. Its ironic that many men seem commitment phobic despite this. Women on the other hand were described as being happiest being single. I also remember seeing a book called The Second Shift which referred to women having a second job once they came home. Id be surprised if the burden is still not much heavier on married women with children than their husbands.

    Though I enjoyed being married for 20 years, and the transition to being single was difficult, I cant imagine getting married again. …… At least not yet LOL!

    • Thank you for your thoughts Kathleen. I know you have experience and wisdom here. I agree, the work doesn’t stop when women get home when they are married and raising children.

      I’m glad people have many choices today in how they want to live their lives.

      I think women and men have so much to learn and benefit from each other that I hope when the transition dust all settles —they find ways again to feel more hopeful and positive about finding fulfillment with each other without losing themselves in the process.

      I cherished being single (which I was for many years) and the experience of being married. So many different lessons and experiences in both. LOL back Kathleen, thank you again for your ongoing support. Deborah!

      • Yes Deborah Im so grateful we have those choices!

        That is an inspiring and wise message. Much appreciated

        …and that made me remember, a few weeks ago I started talking to a stranger who unexpectedly read my palm… and told me Id be married within the next two years …. 🙂

  2. avatar ShScott says:

    It’s not only women choosing not to marry. Read any men’s discussion board and many many refuse to marry. They feel that even though they marry and have children, if they choose to divorce that they’re raped financially. It’s sad, really, how certain generations hold no accountability for their offspring or life choices.

    • avatar drdeborahkhoshaba says:

      Yes, I know many men feel that way today. I agree with you, it is sad that many men and women today feel taken advantage of by each other. Divorce can be damaging
      in so many ways on the children especially. You make such a good point about being accountable for our life choices. This not only matures us, but also develops our ability to find ways to be fulfilled and happy despite our choices. If we keep taking the easy way out of everything, acting as if we have no responsibility for our living choices, we limit our growth and creativity.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Deborah!

  3. This is awesome and you do a excellent job. Thanks again.


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