On Marriage and Its (Lack of) Trending

Today, people no longer feel the pressure to marry that their forebears felt. They can choose what makes them happier — singleness or coupledom — without fear of social opprobrium or poverty.” TIME Magazine  

First things first. Yes, I had to look up the word “opprobrium” –
Definition of OPPROBRIUM

1: something that brings disgrace
2 a : public disgrace or ill fame that follows from conduct considered grossly wrong or vicious b : contempt, reproach
Now that my Scrabble/Words with Friends research is complete for the day, I have to say that this conclusion of an article focusing on the decline or marriage rubs me the wrong way.  Not because I disagree that there are differences between singledom and coupledom, but that this dichotomy suggests those are the only two options. The modern reality is not be single or get married; there are live-in partners, serial monogamy, long-term significant others and non-homosexual life partners, to name a few. And don’t get me started on how marriage isn’t an option for most same-sex partners anyway. Are they then single for life?
I’m in the 27% of previously married who are not anxious to jump back on that bandwagon, but I don’t equate not getting married with perpetual singledom. I have a live-in boyfriend and would never introduce myself as single. I don’t know if I’ll remarry – who has a Magic 8 ball that could answer that question for anyone? I’m not yet convinced that I can evolve into the person I want to be alongside someone else.
So I say let the number of marriages decline without fretting. The labels aren’t important and fewer marriages means fewer divorces (hopefully), which is a positive in my book. It’s not the end of the world or of society. “Th[e decline of marriages] doesn’t mean that we’re pessimistic about the future of the American family; we have more faith in the family than we do in the nation’s education system or its economy. We’re just more flexible about how family gets defined.”  I’ll raise a glass of champagne to toast evolving social norms any day.
Since my head is spinning on relationships, my two cents on finding happiness in a relationship (which is not to say I’ve mastered these, merely that I am most happy as a person when I observe these, which then makes me a better partner):
  • Worry more about finding yourself than finding someone else.
  • Delve in and develop your own opinions and goals without worrying about who you’re offending or holding back.
  • Do plenty of stupid things in love – so long as you learn from them.
  • Trust your gut and follow its lead, even if it’s inconvenient or painful or has serious ramifications.
  • Keep asking questions of yourself, your friends, your love interests, your political views, your world. Life gets stale when you stop learning, and relationships need curiosity.
  • Think of the advice you’d give a friend if her relationship was yours, and then take your own advice. You are not the exception. Sorry.
  • It’s okay to not know if someone is ‘the one.’ I don’t think there is ONE – that’s pure Hallmark.
  • Even if you snag a keeper, no one person can meet all your needs. Stay connected to friends, colleagues, sage mentors, family and parents.

Enough ranting.

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