How Would You Change Marriage?
If you were responsible for building a new model of marriage that fits who you are and how you live, what would it look like?
We just finished National Marriage Week, a yearly campaign that seeks to strengthen marriage. Few would argue against strong marriages, but the truth is more young people are delaying or avoiding marriage. Meanwhile, more older people are divorcing like crazy and either happily living alone or living together with a new partner. Some do marry again, but it’s mostly men (because many middle-aged women say, been there, done that). Given all that, if you could re-create marriage to make it more attractive to more people — maybe even you — what would you want it to look like?
This is a question we ask in The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels.
According to Sara McLanahan of Princeton University, the principal investigator of the Fragile Families Study, if we were to design a system from scratch to ensure that a child’s basic needs would be met, it would look remarkably similar to the two-parent family.
Of course, not everyone who marries wants kids but even for those who do, having a two-parent family could take many forms — it could mean the couple doesn’t live together; it could mean the couple is ethically non-monogamous; it could mean the couple are friends, not romantic and sexual partners, and co-parenting the kids together; and any other combination you could imagine.
So, that’s what I’m asking you to imagine.
If you were responsible for building a new model of marriage, what would it look like? What would you do differently? What would you throw out altogether? What would you keep? What kind of marriage do you want?
Society is ready for it.
As Courtney E. Martin writes in Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activist:
Liberating ourselves from the traditional strictures of marriage altogether, and/or transforming those strictures to include all of us — gay, feminist, career-focused, baby crazy, monogamous, non-monogamous, skeptical, romantic, and everyone in between — is the challenge facing this generation. As we consciously opt out or creatively reimagine marriage one loving couple at a time, we’ll be able to shift societal expectations wholesale, freeing younger generations from some of the antiquated assumptions we’ve faced (that women always want to get married and men always shy away from commitment, that gender parity somehow disempowers men, that turning 30 makes an unmarried woman into an old maid).”
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate love than thinking about how we could make marriage better fit for who we are and how we live today — even if that means there’s no such thing as marriage.
So tell me, where would you like to see romantic partnerships go from here?
Want to individualize your marriage? (Of course you do!) Then read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore or order it on Amazon