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We’re in the middle of National Marriage Week, a campaign that seeks to strengthen marriage and that ends on Valentine’s Day. Few would argue against strong marriages, but the truth is more young people are delaying or avoiding  marriage. Meanwhile, more older people are divorcing like crazy and either happily living alone or living together with a new partner. Some do marry again, but it’s mostly men (because many middle-aged women say, been there, done that). Given all that, if you could re-create marriage to make it more attractive to more people — maybe even you — what would you want it to look like? 

This is a question we ask in The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (and if you or a friend or loved one get some bling this Valentine’s Day, consider getting a copy of the book — and to make it fun, I will send a free book to one random reader (see details below).

According to Sara McLanahan of Princeton University, the principal investigator of the Fragile Families Study, if we were to design a system from scratch to ensure that a child’s basic needs would be met, it would look remarkably similar to the two-parent family.

Of course, not everyone who marries wants kids but even for those who do, having a two-parent family could take many forms — it could mean the couple doesn’t live together; it could mean the couple is ethically non-monogamous; it could mean the couple are friends, not romantic and sexual partners, and co-parenting the kids together; and any other combination you could imagine.

So, that’s what I’m asking you to imagine.

If you were responsible for building a new model of marriage, what would it look like? What would you do differently? What would you throw out altogether? What would you keep? What kind of marriage do you want?

Society is ready for it.

As Courtney E. Martin writes in Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activist:

Liberating ourselves from the traditional strictures of marriage altogether, and/or transforming those strictures to include all of us — gay, feminist, career-focused, baby crazy, monogamous, non-monogamous, skeptical, romantic, and everyone in between — is the challenge facing this generation. As we consciously opt out or creatively reimagine marriage one loving couple at a time, we’ll be able to shift societal expectations wholesale, freeing younger generations from some of the antiquated assumptions we’ve faced (that women always want to get married and men always shy away from commitment, that gender parity somehow disempowers men, that turning 30 makes an unmarried woman into an old maid).” tweet

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate love, regardless of Valentine’s Day and National Marriage Week, than thinking about how we could make marriage better fit for who we are and how we live today — even if that means there’s no such thing as marriage.

So tell me, where would you like to see romantic partnerships go from here? Instead of my usual poll, tell me in the comment section below and I will send one lucky reader, chosen by random, a free copy of The New I Do. Please answer by Feb. 19, and good luck!

Want to individualize your marriage? (Of course you do!) Then read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore or order it on Amazon.

 

 

2 Responses to “How would you re-create marriage?”

  1. Jono says:

    It would seem that there is no single definition or need that is shared by everyone. Perhaps some renewable contract with ways to amend it depending on the needs of the individuals signing on would work for some. The stigmas of being unmarried or childless should die out. Of course some laws would probably have to be rewritten where children and support need to be addressed. It is a big, complicated realm that needs to accommodate real life.

  2. Rob says:

    Sorry sweetie but the reason old women don’t remarry isn’t because they’ve “been there, done that”. It’s because we won’t marry them, preferring younger, hotter women instead. What amazes me is that many if not most of these way-past-their-prime broads think that they are still hot and can’t figure out why guys their age shun them for hotter, more sexually enthusiastic women. Welcome to cat lady land!

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