Divorce rates fall – due to fewer marriages

Looks like divorce rates are down, but not for the right reasons.
Time has an article discussing the divorce rate and the corresponding lower number of marriages.

Adults these days, products of broken homes, are chosing to cohabitate rather than get hitched. This corresponds to fewer marriages and fewer divorces per capita (not per marriage).

One interesting point made in the article was this

Stephanie Coontz, who teaches history and family studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., says divorces are dropping in the college-educated sector because many spouses “are learning how to negotiate marriages based on less rigid gender roles than in the past.”

“College-educated wives are more likely to work than less-educated wives, and a recent study found that unlike the past, a wife’s work now tends to stabilize marriage,” she said.

Contrary to Coontz comments, college-educated mothers are choosing a more traditional gender role by staying at home with their children. Enough mothers are leaving their careers that it is causing some concern in feminist circles.

The debate is being fueled by “Vanity Fair” contributing editor Leslie Bennetts, who argues women face “tremendous dangers” by giving up financial autonomy to stay home with children, in her book “The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?” (Voice, $24.95).

The latest statistics show the percentage of working mothers with infants and toddlers has declined, albeit slightly, starting in the late ’90s — something Bennetts doesn’t see as a good thing for women. Married and in her 50s, with two teenagers, Bennetts says she is sounding an alarm for Generation X and Y mothers who she believes are living a fantasy that their lives will never be disrupted by divorce, unemployment or the death of a partner. If something bad happens, she said, these once-business-oriented stay-at-home moms think they can just jump back into the work force with little effort.

“I think women have been sold a bill of goods, and the media is partly to blame,” she said. “There are innumerable stories about the stresses of the juggling act. And then the stories about opting out. That’s only half the picture. It doesn’t talk about opting back in.”

Makes me wonder what the actual cause of our divorce rate is, what can be done about it and if the institution of marriage is ultimately doomed. I remember, as a kid, watching Sci-Fi movies depicting a future with a strange communal living environment. Now I’m beginning to wonder if that might actually happen…

‘Til Death Do Us Part

So what’s the deal with weddings? Why are they so boring? We read stories and watch movies where all these romantic types come barging in at the last minute to stop the ceremony, professing never ending love. When does this happen in real life? Where are the scandals? Where are the shotguns? Why doesn’t the bride ever leave the Groom ‘at the altar’? I’ve been to literally hundreds of weddings in my life and I have seen a scandal exactly 0 times.

The closest I ever came to seeing a scandal was when one of the groomsmen locked his knees and passed out. It was tragic, and kind of funny later, but not scandalous at all. Seems like these days there’s just not any good drama in a wedding. Sure, there’s the whole crazy mother/bridezilla thing, but the bride and groom always manage to stand up there and say I Do.

Maybe that’s the real problem here. Maybe saying ‘I Do’ is just too easy. These days everybody even writes their own vows. How silly is that, of course I’m going to agree to something I wrote. It’s almost meaningless – kind of like signing a confession at the police station. I think there should be a new custom. Rather than writing your OWN vows, you should write the vows for your partner.

The groom could write vows for the bride that were something like

I give you this ring, wear it with love and joy. I choose you to be my husband: to have and to hold, from this day forward. as long as we both shall live. And hereto, I pledge you my faithfulness to always keep the house clean and never vacuum during Monday Night Football.

And the bride could provide something along the lines of

I give you this ring, wear it with love and joy. I choose you to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward for better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. I pledge to you I will never leave the toilet seat up and promise to generate at least a 10% annual increase in overall revenue for the family as long as we both shall live.

How much more interesting would this make weddings. In fact, to support this initiative, and keep things hopping until it catches on, if you have upcoming nuptials you should just slip a couple extra lines into the vows. I’m betting you could get your future spouse to agree to all kinds of crazy stuff if you spring it on her during the ceremony. Just give the preacher and extra $20 and get a perpetual right to flirt with Suzy down at the bank for the rest of your life (or at least until the annullment papers show up).