On Faith: Is there a marriage crisis in America today?

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 9, 2010 — 61 Comments

My latest response at the Washington Post’s On Faith site is now up.

Here’s this week’s panel question:

Is marriage obsolete? A new survey out this week from the National Marriage Project shows that marriage is an institution in decline in many parts of American society. This “retreat from marriage in Middle America” will have wide-ranging social and economic consequences, say the survey’s authors. Another recent study of marriage, administered by the Pew Research Center, showed that nearly 40% of Americans believe marriage is becoming ‘obsolete.’ What is marriage? Is it a civil union or is it a religious institution? How do you define it? Is there a marriage crisis in America today?

Here’s an excerpt from my response:

It’s telling that the “solution” provided by many to the marriage problem is to roll back freedoms, and enshrine a trapped-in-amber definition of marriage that is as much an artificial construction as any now criticized by the culture warriors. Just as many “traditional marriage” proponents would blanch at the thought of returning marriage to a time of dowries, land transference, political alliances, and women-as-bargaining-chip; so too do young people today recoil at the thought of marriage being limited to the “proper” genders, a vehicle for reproduction, social stability, and maintaining an illusory status quo. A return to a time when private detectives where required to extricate oneself from an unhappy union, and domestic abuses were glossed over for the sake of social order.

I hope you’ll head over to the site and read my full response, and the other panelist responses, and share your thoughts.

Send to Kindle

Jason Pitzl-Waters

Posts

  • thehouseofvines

    If the gods intended us to be permanently joined in holy union, we'd all be born Siamese twins.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The Christian right makes a bold statement, that marriage is the foundation of Western society, which blinds too many of its critics to the fact that the *family* (howsoever defined) is the foundation of any human society, and that Western society has been evolving away from "Christiandom," and Christian definitions for everything, for about 400 years and at an accelerated pace in the last 50 years.

    • Robin Artisson

      They also fail to mention that the "nuclear family" that they are so enamored of is an invention of the 20th century- and invented by capitalist corporate barons to create a mobile workforce for their mines, railroads, and factories.

      • Robin Artisson

        I'm a marriage and family therapist by profession. Marriage isn't in trouble. People still get married for a bevy of reasons, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, ad societas collapsum.

        Getting into marriage isn't the issue; getting out is. It's easier to get in than out, and that's a problem, to say the least. But in the end, government has no role in marriage except to be the over-seer of the contract that any two citizens agree to at the time of marriage, and to enforce the terms of the contract if it gets broken or they choose to exit it.

        What religious or sacramental sanction you want to further put over your contract is your business; you can seek that out from whomever is offering it, and you can't make religious organizations offer it if they won't. That aspect of your contract is not civil nor the realm of law or government.

        The state never recognized my love for my wife. They recognized our new tax status. The marriage license doesn't mention "love". No one cares about "love" except maybe the individuals getting married. There's no form for love. No one has to be "recognized" before society for being in love or being married, except insofar as the state has to take note that a new contact exists between parties that will benefit them in certain legal ways, and restrict them in others.

        What you're all seeing is the collapse of the marriage cult- the idea that there is a special, ontologically sacred status which is different from any other relationship, for a man and a woman to enter into. It's a social milestone in life, a profound part of our social psychology. It's based on a sacramental understanding of men and women which is no longer able to sustain itself publicly in a secular world.

        • http://www.hecatedemetersdatter.blogspot.com Hecate

          Just as many “traditional marriage” proponents would blanch at the thought of returning marriage to a time of dowries, land transference, political alliances, and women-as-bargaining-chip

          Sure about that, are you?

          • Robin Artisson

            I know some who would like it.

  • Pagan Puff Pieces

    All those positive things one could say about marriage and union happen in the hearts of the married. If it's not inside them, they could get all the legal documents, clerical approval, and big expensive ceremonies (full of "tradition" that isn't really) they want and still do more harm than good for civilization, other than, perhaps, providing an illusion of order and control.

  • caraschulz

    I don't think marriage is obsolete any more than families are obsolete. How we define "marriage" and "family" may change, though, and has changed in the past. I think Americans are disillusioned by marriage because we, culturally, have placed marriage into a fairy tale.

    Looking to the past, before we get into such a rush to throw it all away as meaningless, there is some wisdom to be learned about marriage.

    We marry (in this country) primarily for love. We love the person and decide to make it official. That's OK as far as it goes, but it shouldn't be the only factor in that decision. What about shared core values? When looking for a mate are you choosing one based on if they have the capability to be a full and true partner to you? Do you respect one another and is that respect reflected in your actions? Do you love this person in a non-romantic way plus a romantic love -meaning – do you see them as FAMILY? Family that you can stick with even when they piss you off? Are they your ally in life? Do you have each others back? Can you count on them? Are they reliable?

    In the past parents arranged marriage based on property, title, wealth, connections, and other economic reasons. But they also looked for mates for their children (and for themselves) based on the questions I listed above. Parents in the past didn't love their children any less than parents do now. And parents in other cultures where arranged marriage is still the norm don't love their children any less. But they did have a firmer grasp that a spouse isn't just a romantic interest – a spouse was a new member of the *family* and great care needed to be taken when accepting a new member.

    I'm glad I didn't have an arranged marriage and I'm happy our culture encourages marriage for love. But we've gone too far. We now exclude almost every other consideration other than romantic love when deciding who to marry. We don't look at spouses as *family* anymore.

    • http://kallisti.writingkaye.com Kayleigh

      I see your point here, but in Hellenism I don't see how you COULDN'T take at least several non-romantic factors into account. If the religious point of marrying is to form an OIKOS (household) through the union of two individuals and a healthy household relies on financial stability &c., it would be ridiculous to marry without at least considering how to administrate your future life together.

      • caraschulz

        Referring to Hellenism *is* the point, in a way. Exactly. This is part of the wisdom from the past that could be brought forward to the present and would be a benefit.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Wow, Cara, this is the most conservative thing you've yet said on this board! And I happen to agree with you. My wife of fifteen years and I lived together for three years before getting married, in the process making damned sure we worked together as a family.

      • caraschulz

        Heh. See? I am an evil Conservative. ;)

      • Robin Artisson

        You wouldn't believe the enormous conservative "family values" idiocy that produces just as idiotic "research" that claims that marriages that happen after co-habitation tend to fall apart more than those which had no cohabitation before. I believe in trial cohabitation myself.

        As for Cara being the conservative here, well, she is; and she's preaching here for another sort of "good old fashioned family values". Which is fine. I'm all about good old fashioned family values myself- just a very, very old kind of family values.

        • Crystal7431

          A kind based on reality and not romanticized ideals? Those are the kind of conservative values everyone can get behind.

  • caraschulz

    Favorite part of your post: but a much larger number see that this image comes with strings attached. Instead of being tempted to limit marriage, let us extricate the government entirely from the business of marriage. Let it be a civil union for all, and let marriage be a personal matter between you and your faith. That way there is room for gay marriage, Wiccan handfastings, and yes, traditional Christian marriage between one man, and one woman. The way to fight marriage obsolesce is to make it innovative and flexible, not to cast it in irons.

    The courts in various states (including that of California) have gone to the extraordinary step of spelling out that the courts see Civil Unions For All as the exact legal step this country needs to take. But the Legislatures and the people on all sides of the gay marriage issues won't listen. They can't. They are too busy shouting at one another.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Problem with the government extrication approach is that there are numerous legal advantage that specifically go to the married. Modifying them all would be as difficult as reforming the Tax Code. (To a large extent it would *be* reforming the Tax Code.) This is why BGFLTs can't shrug and walk away from the word "marriage." It's not just resentment at exclusion or seeking to have an "agenda accepted" — it's practical in a complicated world.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Woops that should have been "BGLTs." Slip of the finger on the G key; I'm not promoting a new sexual identity beginning with "F."

      • caraschulz

        Oh no – you get all of those benefits. All of the benefits that now go only to those defined as 'married' would go to everyone that has a Civil Union (legal contract). That's what a Civil Union would be.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          This would require the amendment of hundreds of laws to this effect with the Feds and each state. Think of the political resistance that would evoke. It makes the Civil Union option far more complicated than the simple extention of marriage to same-sex couples.

          • caraschulz

            No. It's actually very simple. Really!

          • http://chrysalis1witchesjourney.wordpress.com/ Pax

            Cara,

            Frankly, as someone who is at once a Gay man and a Pagan and a Unitarian Universalist, I would much rather see Marriage because it is NOT simply an issue of defending my Equal Protection under the Constitution and my Right of Assembly, as some worthy folks are arguing

            It is also a matter of my of Freedom of Religion, and beyond that the Separation of Church and State.

            There are many Religions, and many Denominations and Congregations/Synagogues/Temples etc… that are perfectly comfortable celebrating a Gay marriage… not a Civil Union, the SACRAMENT of marriage.. in whatever theological language you care to use.

            How is the Government by refusing to legally recognize THOSE marriages NOT in violation of the Separation of Church and State and of the Freedom of Religion of those couple and religious groups?

            Curiously yours,
            Pax

          • Ian

            I'm obviously not Cara, but the gist of the point seems to be that the government is presently in violation of the separation of church and state by recognizing *any* marriages at all, including and especially the marriages between man and woman that it currently sanctions. Such recognition gives religious ministers a civil, governmental power that is improper to a nation whose constitution explicitly separates religious authority from civil authority.

            And, wow, I find that a really compelling argument.

          • caraschulz

            Ian -you pretty much got it right there.

            Pax – say Civil Unions for everyone become the law of the land. OK. Gay, Straight, whatever – you go to the courts and sign your contract. There ends the government's involvment. You can stop there and do nothing more -all the legalities are finished.

            If you choose – you could throw a party. Or you could have a religious ceremony. But that's your private business and the State should not be involved in that.

          • http://chrysalis1witchesjourney.wordpress.com/ Pax

            So GLBT folks and Religious folks who support and sanctify Gay Marriage should just cheerfully let their Freedom of Religion be overlooked and ignored and plow directly on to Civil Unions?

            I have no objection to Civil Unions as the only legal status for all, I would like to see that and I have said for years that that makes the most sense.

            I think, however, that unless Marriage as a legal status doesn't first include GLBT folks, that the elements of orientation and religious prejudice and Hetero Priveledge in the efforts by the Fundamentalist and Theocratic elements on the Right (1) to "defend" marriage would continue to go unanswered and unexamined in our culture.

            I think that the fact that such laws "defending' marriage violate the Equal Protection and Freedom of Religion clauses of those individuals and Religions/Religious Groups that sanctify GLBT marriage SHOULD be very seriously confronted.

            As should the fact that there are voices on the Fundamentalist Christian and Theocratic end of the spectrum of the Right in the U.S. who are calling the very ideas of Religious Freedom into question and who are seeking to rewrite our history as a nation to do so.

            (1) not that ALL on the Right are such, but that such elements are a very loud and influential segment of the Right in the U.S.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Pax, I'm not as dismissive as Robin of your freedom of religion argument but I do find a barrier in the fact that most BGLTs do NOT claim a religious basis for the demand for marriage equity.

          • Robin Artisson

            Maybe because BGLT has nothing to do with religion… anymore than "heterosexual" does…

          • Bookhousegal

            Or any less.

          • http://chrysalis1witchesjourney.wordpress.com/ Pax

            Baruch,

            In terms of the reason for their Marriage, no, but there are plenty of Queer folks who ARE happy to be married within their Religion.

            Besides it is NOT just about the Religious Freedom of the GLBT folks being married! It is about EVERYONES Religious Freedom. Why should those religions that DO sanctify GLBT Marriage allow their Religious Freedom to be ignored in this debate?

            Under Equal Protection if a Religious Group/Organization is allowed to LEGALLY solemnize the marriages that it sanctifies when it is a man and a woman; then how can the U.S. deny a Religious Group/Organization that DOES sanctify GLBT Marriage the same legal right to legally solemnize/recognize such a marriage? By NOT doing so the United States is endorsing a particular Religion/Religious view point at the expense of the legal rights of another.

            The current situation has set up a double standard where, once again, the State of California at least has certain favored religions or religious beliefs. A double standard where certain Religions have a privileged status in California. It certainly seems like a violation of the principles and ideals embodied in the U.S. Constitution, and I would like to see this double standard outright exposed and confronted.

            Peace,
            Pax

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Pax, if one's religion says taxes are evil, members of that religion still do not get off from paying theirs. It's not enough to simply declare that something is a religious position to activate the Free Exercise clause. (I wish it were; I'm a UU).

          • http://chrysalis1witchesjourney.wordpress.com/ Pax

            Baruch,

            So then what you are saying is that it is perfectly ok that laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman are acceptable, even though they impinge upon the equality under the law of some religions ability to legally endorse glbt marriages, because the opponents of glbt marriage haven't said outright that their objections are based on religious belief?

            I mean, the laws that limit the legal definition of marriage are basically saying that as long as your Relgiion defines marriage as one man and one woman THEN you can legally endorse as well as sanctify the marriage; if your religion recognizes and sanctifies glbt marriage, well then you can't legally endorse a marriage…

            If the U.S. is endorsing a particular theological view, which effectively it is, and thus limiting the legality of some religions marriages; how does that NOT go to Equal Protection?

            More importantly why shouldn't we as Pagans and U.U.'s stand up and speak out against THAT, as well as the injustice and unfairness against queer people?

            PS also U.U. as well as Pagan, here.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Pax, I am saying no such thing and I have no idea how you got that impression. I am saying that making something a religious principle does not automatically get the First Amendment behind it.

            Alas, I cannot respond to the other points in your post because (my apologies for verging on the personal here) I find your thinking too confusing to track.

            I fully support marriage equity ("gay marriage"), and I do mean marriage, not merely civil unions.

          • http://chrysalis1witchesjourney.wordpress.com/ Pax

            Well, if I may paraphrase…

            If members of a Religion sanctify GLBT marriage, it does mean that those marriages should have the same legal standing as marriages by Religions who only sanctify one-man-one-woman definitions.

            That the violation of some Religious groups basic Freedoms and Rights under U.S. law, that they are being are impinged and affected by the One-man-One-woman definitions should NOT be spoken of or argued for and that we just need to keep sitting at the back of the bus and keep quiet.

            I am sorry if you find my objection to that sort of thinking "confusing".

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Thank you for the clarification, Pax.

            If members of a religion sanctify BGLT marriages, they are free to treat them as sanctified. That much the First Amendment guarantees. But NOBODY ELSE, including the IRS or the state they live in, is required to sanctify same. That's why there has been so much politics over the matter.

          • http://chrysalis1witchesjourney.wordpress.com/ Pax

            Baruch,

            Nor should they be required to sanctify them. Which is something I have not, nor would I argue. I also understand that the IRS does not currently have to recognize GLBT marriages…

            I would argue, what I have been trying repeatedly to argue and what people seem very resistant to acknowledging here, is that by endorsing the one-man one-woman position voters in California… and our elected representatives in Washington when the DOMA came up… have effectively endorsed Some Religions/Churches with the right and ability to grant LEGAL recognition, with all the attendant benefits thereof, legally recognizing only Straight Marriage.

            In doing so, they have effectively set limits on the legal rights and abilities of those Religions and Denominations that do RELIGIOUSLY sanctify Gay Marriage. Those groups now, in California and other States, do not have the legal ability to endorse or imbue with the LEGAL recognition the marriages that they Sanctify.

            Laws that allow for GLBT marriage do not force Religions that disagree with such to marry GLBT folks; laws that limit marriage to one-man and one-woman DO force Religions that agree with GLBT marriage to NOT endorse with legal recognition the marriages GLBT folks.

            The Churches that do not sanctify GLBT marriage have the legal ability to endorse ALL their marriages; the churches that do sanctify GLBT marriages DO NOT have the ability to endorse with the force of legal recognition all of their marriages.

            Therefore, the Religions are Equal, in theory, under the Constitution, but are being given Separate legal abilities and rights based upon their definition of the sacrement of Marriage.

            So the Equal Protection under the Constitution of the Religions that sanctify GLBT marriages is being impinged. So what happens to Separation of Church and State, when the State is endorsing one Religions definition of Marriage at the expense of another? Do we genuinely have Religious Freedom when the State is endorsing the theology of one Religion or Family of Religions at the expense of the legal powers of others?

            Yours,
            Pax

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            […E]ndorsing the one-man one-woman position […] effectively endorse[s] Some Religions/Churches with the right and ability to grant LEGAL recognition, with all the attendant benefits thereof, legally recognizing only Straight Marriage."

            IMHO this is the heart of what you're saying. The rest flows from it or is general discussion of the issue (about which we are in substantial agreement).

            It's not the church that grants recognition; it's the state. In the religious ceremony the words "by the power vested in me by the State of X" clearlly mark the pastor as an agent of the state.

            The homophobic churches get their way by influencing the law under which these agents act, not in the action itself.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            No, Cara, it's not simple, not in the real world of politics. As long as we are fighting over the word "marriage" it only takes the right string of court decisions to bring home the bacon. You may have noticed that legislatures and popular initiatives are fairly uniformly obstructive.

          • caraschulz

            Various State Supreme Courts, in rulings in which they have upheld bans on gay marriage, have written what I sketched as the solution – one that will pass future court challenges. It's very, very rare for courts to do this – it means they are exasperated at the legislature beyond belief.

            If the legislatures followed the courts' directions – this would be a done deal. There are two main 'suggestions' that the courts have offered –

            1. remove the word 'marriage' from all legal documents and laws and replace it with a legal/neutral term. Keep it under 'family law' but frame it as contractual law.

            2. no longer grant civil authority to clergy. Officers of the court sign off on the contract.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I'm still backing the lawsuit that David Boise and Ted Olson have brought against California's Proposition 8. I'm confident it will go all the way up to the Supreme Court. If the latter is friendly, and these lower-court decisions are that good, it will probably decree them.

          • caraschulz

            Ted Olson rocks the house and he is the very best – so I wouldn't bet against him. But the Prop 8 lawsuit isn't really about gay marriage – it's about if the proper procedure was used in California to amend their state constitution.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            It looks like neither of us is going to convince the other. I would support the goal of getting the gov't out of the marriage business if I thought it practical and, perhaps, if I were more hostile to gov't per se than I am. But I think extention of marriage to same sex couples is conceptually simpler and require less changes in wording. So I back Boise & Olson's pitch.

  • Silvramord

    Advocating for every union to be called a "Civil Union" isn't going to cut it, the RW is basically freaking out over a *word* and you've essentially capitulated to the fundie nutball squickishness. "We're not going to offend your delicate sensibilities, in fact we're going to give you everything you want!" And what of Atheists, will they be forever doomed to second class status because they only have a "Civil Union"? Because we've decided the Religious Right now owns that "Marriage" word? (TM)

    The name of the game is Marriage Equality, and the reason that's important is because words have meaning, they impart an equal place to those fighting for enfranchisement, they impart a sense of the value of equal human dignity. There should be no compromising with bigots. Period.

    • Jason Pitzl-Waters

      I'm not advocating that every union be "called" a civil union, I'm advocating that the government stop regulating the practice of marriage altogether. I want legal and fully recognized gay marriage, and the way to do that is to level the playing field for everyone. To not privilege one conception of "marriage" over another.

      • Silvramord

        Again, the RR does *not own* it, and it's ridiculous to cede that much ground to knuckle draggers. There is absolutely no need to cripple federal protections for everyone.

      • Riverbend

        Bingo. And then religious organizations could add whatever marriage vows they approve of separately from the legal/civil ones.

      • Robin Artisson

        The only way to do it is to have the government recognize contracts between individuals who choose to enter into them, and allow the individuals to seek Sacramental sanction for their union from whatever organizations will give them or agree to offer them. That's all. The government's only role is one of supervisor for the contract, and enforcer of the terms of the contract should it be broken for some reason. The sacramental side is not government at all. Forget "civil union"- it's just a marriage contract. But by itself, that has no religious overtone.

    • caraschulz

      I've known plenty of people who have a civil ceremony in a courthouse and don't feel they are doomed to second class status.

      A Civil Union is a legal term, and probably the correct one, for the legal contract that you enter. That's what it is to the State, a legally binding contract with terms and ways to dissolve the contract. Religion should be removed from this. Clergy should not preside over Civil Unions, that should be done by an officer of the court.

      If you choose to have a religious or non-religious ceremony (there are secular wedding ceremonies) that's your personal business.

      In common usage people are going to say they are "married" just like people ask, "Can you hand me a Kleenex?" instead of "Could you hand me a disposable facial tissue?" There won't be any law saying you can't call your relationship whatever you want. But it would clear up so many problems if legal terminology were used in our laws for what the binding contract is.

      It would also open the door for unions involving more than 2 people. After all…if it is a 'partnership' contract – well…you can have more than one partner in business. The legal groundwork would already be there.

      • Silvramord

        It's different because a secular union is still called a "Marriage" religion or no, right now, and not say "Beef Stroganoff". This is just more needless mealy mouthed cowering before the enemy.

    • http://pagancollegestudent.blogspot.com WarriorPrincessDanu

      I think what Jason is getting at is that there needs to be a clear distinction between legally recognized unions and religiously recognized unions, in order to prevent religious definitions from restricting people who don't follow that religion. One would not be better than the other; they would simply serve different functions. I do think using different words would make the distinction more clear. It seems to me that ultimately this issue is about upholding the Establishment clause. Using different words is not necessary, but it does make the difference between church and state more obvious.

      • Robin Artisson

        "I think what Jason is getting at is that there needs to be a clear distinction between legally recognized unions and religiously recognized unions, in order to prevent religious definitions from restricting people who don't follow that religion"

        Correct. Jason's saying what many have said for a long time- and it is this logic that will prevail in the end, as it must under our constitution.

      • Pagan Puff Pieces

        In a number of countries this is already the case and has been for years: You go to City Hall to get your legal marriage, your civil union, and only after that do you get your religious marriage.

  • Riverbend

    If I may put on my professional sociologist hat for a moment, Stephanie Coontz's work on this issue is fabulous, if anyone's interested:

    http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Coontz/e/B000AP9G

  • http://military.pagannewswirecollective.com Lori Dake

    The definition of the word marriage is indeed changing, and for some people, it's an unnecessary step, but I don't think marriage itself is obsolete. Most people I know want an idealized marriage of two people loving each other until they pass on. They want to be happily married well into their 80s, 90s and beyond, because it's a warm and fuzzy feeling to have your best friend and lover care about you unconditionally. Very few people in the world do *not* want that. So for most Americans, marriage as an idea isn't going anywhere. It's just changing with the times.

    Unfortunately, some people see the bullshit their parents went through, and they figure they're not going to tolerate any of it, so why bother looking for someone to marry? Perhaps dad was only around to buy lavish gifts and show off his latest fling. Maybe mom was an alcoholic psycho wielding an extension cord. Who knows what the reasons are. Maybe they stayed married "for the kids' sake" or because the Church wouldn't allow a divorce, even though those were two people who really needed to be away from each other. Whatever the case, most people look at their own parents as prime examples of what happens in a marriage and go from there.

    For others, perhaps many, getting married is primarily a financial/security thing. Two people definitely handle the bills better, and if they get married, they get some added benefits. This is especially the case for older couples who've already gone through a divorce. They're simply being practical.

    It's also a hot point for and against gay marriages, because married couples have a lot more legal ground to stand on: health insurance benefits, social security, being there for a dying partner, estate division, tax purposes and even spousal privilege in the courts. And of course, if gay marriages are recognized federally, a married gay couple could adopt a child in any state and both partners would have access to that child, just like a hetero couple.

    For others, they primarily marry because they want children and feel, for whatever reason, only/ideally married couples should have them. (Having some help with 2am feedings and coming up with diaper and formula money are definitely pros!) And for others, they had the womanizing dad and psycho mom and use them as examples of what *not* to do.

    But whatever the case to get married, even if it's for the simple act of two people wanting to have their love recognized by the state, most people are going to do so. Marriage is not going anywhere, and with my state at least now legalizing civil unions for gays, it's only a matter of time, maybe soon, maybe in another generation, when every union will be a marriage – if that's what a couple wants, even if it's not until death.

  • blah

    meh imo it would be best to remove marriage or civil union altogether as institution, and treat marriage as a simple contract. let the spouses to be bicker over details, and optionally involve religion in it.

    • Robin Artisson

      Too much of society and money is tied up in people's lives to totally remove it from the public sphere.

  • http://twitter.com/TheBookVlogger @TheBookVlogger

    I'm not going say that I am against marriage and I'm not going to say that I will never get married, but as of this point in life, I see no reason to marry. Sure, I love the idea of meeting "The One" and being happily married, but experience says that things will be great for 5-10 years and then we'll realize that we're no longer the same people. People change. It's illogical to think that one person will fit perfectly throughout all of those changes. So you change, you realize that your spouse no longer makes you happy and you get divorced. By the time that's done you're broke and in debt. Perhaps someday I'll meet someone that makes that risk worth it. So far no one even comes close.

    • Crystal7431

      See Cara's comment about love and marriage above. "The One" is romanticized garbage. I love my husband, but he is not "The One". We work well together. We operate in a partnership. Our characters and values are similar. We support one another and are raising a child together. I'm sure there are quite a few people out there in the world who would've worked out, honestly. I just happened to find him with little inconvenience to myself. I knew we could get along and that we would work well together. Love was an important consideration but honestly it was secondary to the need to be able to live with that person. I have loved many people- tremendously- but knew that they were not marriage material.

      • Blarg

        "The One" only works in the Matrix and HIghlander.

  • Rombald

    I don't think there should be such a thing as civil marriage at all.

    I think religious organisations should be free to marry people in whatever combination they see fit, but that should have no legal significance.

    Legally, every adult should appoint an "agent", who has the right to visit in hospital or prison, have the right of attorney in cases of brain damage, etc. Every adult should also make a will covering inheritance. Religious bodies would be free to insist that "spouses" specify each other as agents.

    If there are children involved, they may have one guardian, or two, or perhaps even more, but the "marital status" of those guardians should be irrelevant.

  • Crystal7431

    I'm sure anyone who has children would agree it would be phenomenal if one parent could stay home to properly raise the children but in reality we can't all be doctors and lawyers. It takes an incredible income even if you're shoestringing it to raise a family. That has very little to do with parents being selfish, it's just the economic realities.

    • A.C. Fisher Aldag

      Another fine argument for polyamory. One (or several) parent(s) staying home to take care of the kids, several going to work. But one parent trying to take care of the kids, keep a nice home, AND work, doesn't cut it…. as we are seeing in modern society. Even worse is one parent staying home, one parent paying to raise their kids… and the kids of several other women whose men have abdicated, really is NOT working out for America.

  • http://www.maidtoqueen.blogspot.com Laura M. LaVoie

    I have been keeping track of stories like this one, I find them fascinating. I use to be active at Unmarried.org (The Alternatives to Marriage Project). I can only speak to my own experience, but my partner and I have been together nearly 16 years and were handfasted in 1997 but have never been formally married. It would not service a purpose in our lives, so we have chosen not to do it. For us, it wold affect our finances in a negative way. We don't have children so don't need that level of protection and we do have living wills and medical powers of attorney in place. That is enough for us. However, I think any pair or group of consenting adults who want access to a legal partnership should be able to have one. That is another reason I'm not willing to support the institution as it exisits today. I do personally believe that Marriage as we know it is antiquated and may as well be obsolete.

    I really like what Cara posted above – about how our culture tends not to view spouses as "family." I can say with absolutely certainly that my partner is my Family, but I know a lot of couples who don't have that same attitude.