Time online reported on a study done by Pew Research Center. People under the age of 30 believe the institution of marriage is decaying. They don’t see it as particularly beneficial or necessary.

 

Weddings

 

About 40% of those asked said it is becoming obsolete. While nearly 70% of those asked thought single motherhood was bad for children, they apparently didn’t see a contradiction here or believe cohabitating is as good as being married.

As the divorce rate climbs, that may be true. Getting married is in no way indicative of staying married. As more women become better educated, they don’t need to stay in bad marriages. They are capable of earning enough money to support themselves when things go bad.

But it is the poorer women who never get married. I’m going to assume they were considered to be poor before having children to support as well as trying to support themselves.

Our definitions of a family seem to be in flux as well. At one time, a family was married parents and their offspring. Today, married or unmarried makes little difference. Even the make up of the married couple makes little difference to whether or not the unit is called a family. What makes a difference is if there are children involved. Single parents and gay parents when grouped with their children suddenly turn into families.

While this study on marriage is interesting, it didn’t answer the question I was looking for. Does all our manipulation of the whole marriage idea matter? If any two adults can marry, does it become a less special bond? If gays are not just given the legal equality they so rightly deserve, but get to enter into a marriage rather than a civil union, does it change the way straight couples feel about signing up?

Most people under 30 still look forward to eventually marrying, and if statistics mean anything, eventually divorcing. So we aren’t going to see the institution fall by the wayside in the next twenty years.

But as our definitions of what a marriage is changes, does it make a difference to those seeking to enter into the contract? Any two adults? Can we all agree this is good? What happens to bisexuals? Do they get two spouses in order to fulfill all their needs. (This has actually already been brought to the attention of the world at large when a bisexual in California wanted to have both a husband and a wife.) Is marriage only two adults? Does polygamy under religious doctrine matter?

How long has it been that marriage has only been considered to be a union between one man and one woman? When did we sign off that whole polygamy thing? It was before 1776, and I suppose I could go and look it up, but I’m not interested enough, just curious. Do we want to go back to the idea of multiple partners?

What happens in divorce cases in these group marriages? How is property disposal/disposition going to shake out? Interesting legal questions.

But for young people, it seems marriage isn’t the Holy Grail it once was. Many are postponing entering the institution as they pursue higher education and their own careers. It seems the people who are accorded the opportunity to marry throughout the country don’t seem particularly inclined to do so.

Isn’t it a bit ironic? As more gays are given the right to marry, fewer straights are finding it at all necessary.

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