Should marriage really mean "till death do us part"?
This insightful article by LZ Granderson does a great job reiterating why the religious right's obsession with lifelong marriages is not the key to living a healthy, productive life.
Why this myth that couples should stick in a dedicated marriage to the exclusion of all else continues to exist is a complicated topic, one that Granderson briefly covers but really deserves a detailed look into the history of marriage and the influence of Christian evangelicals on American culture. Needless to say, what started off as an arrangement based on practicality and survival morphed into a binding religious institution. These evangelicals would have us believe that marriage is the foundation of society, and that divorce for any reason is not only unpatriotic but a sinful act of infidelity.
Despite their best efforts, these last few years we've seen stunning statistics such as 40% of Americans believing that marriage is obsolete and the 2010 Census predicting that half of modern marriages will end in divorce. This is just the tip of the iceberg- with the rise in popularity of single living and cohabitation as an alternative lifestyle, the changing attitudes of the general public towards marriage is indisputable. The question is no longer “Is it happening?”, but “How should we respond?”.
I think it's time we acknowledge as a society that healthy relationships come not from ridiculous expectations of eternal love, but an honest assessment of what is productive as an individual. We should help people recognize that marriage is simply a tool- one avenue to a happy relationship- not the be all, end all pathway to enlightenment. There is nothing shameful about recognizing when a marriage has become unhealthy or abusive and taking enough personal responsibility to get out of the relationship. Yet it's only recently that the evangelical fearmongering which completely twisted the original ideals of marriage in the 50's and 60's is finally beginning to die out. I'm hoping that even the Christian right eventually acknowledges this modern view as an alternative.
What do you think about the state of marriage, and how do you think society will treat it 30 or 40 years down the line?