This guy, Ross Douthat, definitely is: Marriage Looks Different Now – NYTimes.com.
Oh, to be as comfortably inept as Ross Douthat. To him, gay marriage — which is not yet universally recognized — is contributing in some way to the decline of traditional marriage. (“Correlations do not, of course, establish causation,” he offers as a perfunctory qualifier for a column’s worth of dribble.)
Now, anecdotal evidence does not, of course, establish a trend (there’s my perfunctory qualifier). But let’s review what I’ve seen in the past three years among the roughly 20 women I’ve met since moving to this little suburban and religiously conservative enclave in the Southeastern United States:
- January of 2010: a friend shares that she’s divorcing her emotionally abusive husband. Divorce was final within months, with shared custody of sole child.
- Summer of 2010: a friend shares that she’s fallen in love with another man, that she’s never loved her husband of well over a decade. By the next year, their divorce is final, with shared custody of two children.
- Early 2012: a friend shares that she and her husband decided to split up. He has likely been unfaithful, but that was not the precipitating factor. Divorce final by early 2013, with shared custody of sole child.
- Late summer 2012: a friend decides to leave her husband, after years of trying to make it work. Shared custody of two children.
- Late summer 2012: a friend shares that after years of trying to work it out, she and her husband will split, amicably. Their divorce is to be finalized soon, with shared custody of two children.
- Fall 2012: a friend learns of her husband’s affair. They decided to divorce, but reconcile months later.
- Spring 2013: a friend falls in love with another man outside her marriage. She and her husband try to work it out. It’s not working.
That’s seven out of twenty women I know. Women with serious marital issues, the majority of which could not be resolved. Of those 13 remaining, two have been divorced for decades and chose not to remarry.
Based on this sample, here’s what’s responsible for the decline of traditional marriage. (Or at least, here’s my educated guess, which I can assure you is infinitely more reliable than Ross Douthat’s):
First and foremost: women have earning power, and no longer need to stay in a marriage just to have food on the table.
Second and most fundamental, foundational, and monumental: Women and men–PEOPLE–have communication problems–and are more aware of them now, since it’s the 21st, and not 19th, century. Those problems affect one’s ability to commit, to manage finances, to ensure intimacy–all of it.
That is IT. There is no other reason… other than perhaps, perhaps, we marry too early in our lives, before we’ve fully matured as individuals, which you know, has been the traditional way to go. The average age at first marriage in the United States? 28.9 for men, 26.9 for women. Did you know that key areas of our brains, especially the prefrontal cortex that controls many higher order skills, are not fully mature until the third decade of life?
Anyway. You know what divorce has nothing to do with? Same-sex marriage.
As a friend aptly put: “I don’t care if you are gay or straight, I will do my best to talk you out of getting married equally.”
Marriage is hard.
Traditional marriage? Where all a woman had to do was stay home and have babies and raise them and support her manly man? Because she had far fewer choices? That stuff was easy, by comparison.
(And I mean no disrespect to your mother or grandmother, or mine. I’m being dramatic, for effect.)