Tuesday, October 17, 2006

To Be Married Means to Be Outnumbered

This story in Sunday's NYT about how married couples no longer make up the majority of households in America has caused quite a fuss. Check out the front page of Yahoo! (we love the "Buck the Trend: Find Your Mate" headline--way to spin the news, people.)

In the article, William H. Frey states, “This would seem to close the book on the Ozzie and Harriet era that characterized much of the last century,” which only reinforces a tired, media-fabricated ideal of marriage that never existed in the first place. We went back and looked at some of our research for the book that didn't make it in. In fact Stephanie Coontz, (who was also cited multiple times) points out in her book The Way We Never Were several facts that burst the Beaver/Cleaver myth:

  • In the 1950’s between 25-33% of the marriages contracted eventually ended in divorce.
  • Two million legally married people lived apart from each other.
  • The proportion of Caucasian brides who were pregnant at marriage more than doubled.

  • Can we for once and for all stop comparing ourselves to some false notion of our history? Perhaps then rather than seeing today’s trends as a loosening of our country’s moral fiber we could see it for what it truly is: people making more honest choices about partners and relationships.

    Now if only women can get away from the tired, media-fabricated ideal of a wedding as the biggest day in her life...


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