Is Marriage Dead?

May 5, 2011

Don’t look at me. I didn’t say it. Cameron Diaz did. And she got me thinking…

I’m interested in relationships on a couple different levels. First, I’m in one. I’ve been married for 16 years to my high school sweetheart—Gasp!—which obviously means we married too young and must be disillusioned by now. (Not!) Second, I read and write romance novels—Gag!—which obviously means I’m an undereducated, unsuccessful and undersexed mess. 😉

Every morning I comb the internet looking for the latest news about relationships. I search Google News for love, romance, relationships and marriage. I’ve been doing this for months, and I think I can count on one hand the number of times my searches have revealed honest-to-God tips for a strong, healthy marriage. The chatter against gay marriage is deafening. Where’s the focus on keeping our marriages strong?

Unless Cameron Diaz is right and marriage is dead, outdated and no longer works in our society.

Pfftt! I don’t like that notion. I like my marriage. I like to read about marriage. I like to write about marriage. I like the idea of commitment, of having someone else’s back harder and stronger than any other, of not walking away simply because you’re bored, of working to find the sweet spot again, of knowing where you belong and who you belong with—not just today, but tomorrow and all the days that come after.

Love is something that flows freely. We love our family, our friends, our religious leaders, our pets. I think people can fall in love many times over the course of a single lifetime. But marriage? That’s the Holy Grail of love. It’s the most sacred vow we’ll ever make. It’s the one that says, “We’re going to do this together to the end.”

I don’t think it’s so much that marriage stopped working for society. I think it’s we who’ve stopped working for marriage. The work starts way before we walk down an aisle. I believe it starts in childhood, with parents who model healthy interpersonal relationships and brides and grooms who invite children to attend the ceremonies. (My son is 15. He’s NEVER been to a wedding. When a see a limo parked outside a church, I feel like ushering him into a room full of strangers just so he can see and feel love.)

We got lost somewhere on our path to freedom and enlightenment. We took amazing, honorable notions like independence and the end of arranged marriages and we’re racing toward the other end of the spectrum, where anything short of no-strings-attached sex between two glaringly successful, fit people is depressing, stifling and old-fashioned.

I’ve written stories that have started out with two such people, but I have yet to write a story where they don’t end up on the path to marriage. That’s the happy ending in my opinion.

And for the record, I’m completely okay with it if you don’t agree. I don’t write to convince you. I write to explain me. 🙂

So is marriage dead—in your opinion? You tell me. And if you read romance, I’d love to know…After you’ve closed the book, do you assume even without a proposal in the last chapter that the hero and heroine go on to get married?

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One Response to “Is Marriage Dead?”

  1. taristhread Says:

    I’ve also heard that marriage is dead. I hope not, like you, I’m an incurable romantic. I’ve been married nearly 23 years, and still madly in love with my husband. Marriage is work, even the best of them, but most things that we value are work. We have a child we’re committed to our child for life, and as much as we love them…they’re work. Owning a home is work, we work to own cars….what could be more worth the work than having a partner for life?

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