The most dangerous phrase in the language is, “We’ve always done it that way.”
Marriage, in its current state, is not working.
Don’t believe me? Look at the stats.
With anywhere from a 40% – 50% divorce rate (depending on who you talk to) and a 23% decrease in numbers of those marrying from 1960 to today, it’s obvious that lifestyle trends are shifting away from “forever after” unions.
Should we sit back and do nothing more than watch the institution die a slow death? Or should we mobilize to take action?
If marriage had nothing to offer, it would be fine to let it go by the wayside. But an updated version of marriage could offer couples and families quite a lot in the way of social and emotional stability, financial well-being and more.
Some of you may be thinking, “Change marriage? We can’t change marriage! There are religious edicts and legal statutes that have been in place for years—centuries even!” Therein lies the problem. We continue to think we’re all supposed to fit into a size “Small,” yet we live “Medium,” “Large” and “Extra Large” lifestyles. Not to mention that we also live longer these days than we did in 1215, when “until death do us part,” got added to the vows.
On September 18, The Census Bureau released new data showing that, despite including same-sex couple stats with married couples (in its largest household survey to date), there was no reversal in the long-term national decline in marriage.
Kim Parker, director of social trends research at the Pew Research Center and one of the authors of the Census Bureau report stated, “The projections really suggest that there’s more than just a delay going on here. People are more likely to be never married and stay never married as they reach middle age. That’s a significant change.”
We can continue to defend “Traditional Marriage,” which perpetuates a narrow model designed for an elite (and straight) population, and continue to set marriage up to fail, but we’d do better to be more inclusive of the myriad needs we have as an evolving culture and thus, set marriage up to succeed.
By offering creative alternatives like having a starter marriage or a parenting marriage, matrimony will appeal to a wider audience. Accepting concepts that have been considered blasphemous by some in our culture—like making it okay to marry for money, having term limits, or opening our minds to open marriage—would make marriage more practical and realistic.
Something’s clearly gotta give if marriage is going to make it.
If you’d like to join the cause or simply learn more about the “Occupy Marriage Movement,” please visit The New I Do Facebook page.
You may also want to check out the just-released book entitled, The New I Do, Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press, 2014).