Which side of the debate are you on, and do we need to sign on the dotted line? Why or why not?
By: SidneyAnne Stone
While the subject of marriage has become something of a hot topic amongst the gay and lesbian community in recent years, it has grown somewhat cold in heterosexual circles. Many feel marriage is an outdated concept and have chosen to bypass, what they believe to be, an obsolete institution.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and National Health Statistics Reports, the rate of first marriages has decreased over the last five years and the rate of cohabitation has increased. With women being highly capable of taking care of themselves financially, many women prefer to maintain financial independence.That is not to say they do not want a loving relationship in their lives but they may not feel the need to merge their assets the way they once did several decades ago. In the 1950’s and prior, women were raised to get married and have children. Part of that mentality included financial dependence on their spouses. This way of life is no longer prevalent in our society. It may be a choice for some but it is not a standard or an expectation.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, divorce rates are down to a record low since the 1970’s. Some say there are many contributing factors – one being the overall decline in marriage and another being the economy. Many people simply cannot afford to get divorced. This brings us back to the original point. Is marriage just another financial arrangement? Whether it be marriage between a man and a woman or members of the same sex, that point is irrelevant. However, the point I do think is worth examining is our motives for entering into (or not getting out of) a situation. Is it for health benefits, financial reasons or, one would hope, love? These days, the reasons seem to be a bit more practical. We have seen the impact that a failing economy has had on marriage but it will be interesting to watch what, if any, affect the impending changes to healthcare will have on the institution. The need for health benefits has been a major impetus for many nuptials to this point.
I have never felt the need to be married. When I was younger people suggested that I simply had “not met the right person”. As I got a little older, they thought it was because I “put my career first”. While all of those things are true, that is not why I have chosen not to marry. I find it comical that people feel the need to make excuses for my never marrying - I certainly do not. I never married because I simply never had the desire. I knew from a very early age that marriage was not for me. I enjoy a certain level of autonomy that I find can only be achieved through a single lifestyle. I enjoy companionship and relationships but I also enjoy retiring to our respective homes and lives. That may sound odd to some but I find it extremely fulfilling. I have a very full life which includes time for family, friends, love, career, fun, travel, and “me” time. Nothing gets slighted and I never feel resentful.
Along with the huge shift in our nation’s economy there has been an even bigger shift in our culture. The world has changed and us with it. As mentioned above, people are still finding each other and having relationships. They may just be committing to each other differently. The rate of cohabitation has increased so we are noT so cynical that we will not enter into loving relationships. We just may not feel the need to sign on the dotted line to validate them. The more people I speak to, the more I am hearing that people just do not believe in marriage anymore and do not feel that a simple piece of paper can dictate their emotions or even their behavior. If the way they feel about their partner is genuine, no government issued document will change it – for better or worse.
SidneyAnne Stone is a freelance writer, Breast Cancer survivor and activist. She is also an entrepreneur and has patented a new type of bra that will make post-mastectomy care easier for women. SidneyAnne has been published on www.theconversation.tv and Chicken Soup For The Soul. She is currently working on her first novel and documentary. Follow her on Twitter @SidneyAnneStone
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