Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Love and Marriage


A friend of SuedO Apmuza brought to my attention the fallacy of the oft-quoted statistic that states that half of all marriages end in divorce. Egged on, oddly enough, by Mrs. GR, I did a little digging and came up with the facts:
The figure is based on a simple - and flawed - calculation: the annual marriage rate per 1,000 people compared with the annual divorce rate. In 2003, for example, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 7.5 marriages per 1,000 people and 3.8 divorces, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

But researchers say that this is misleading because the people who are divorcing in any given year are not the same as those who are marrying, and that the statistic is virtually useless in understanding divorce rates. In fact, they say, studies find that the divorce rate in the United States has never reached one in every two marriages, and new research suggests that, with rates now declining, it probably never will.

. . . .

Researchers say that the small drop in the overall divorce rate is caused by a steep decline in the rate among college graduates. As a result, a "divorce divide" has opened up between those with and without college degrees, said Dr. Steven P. Martin, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maryland.

. . . .

Women without undergraduate degrees have remained at about the same rate, their risk of divorce or separation within the first 10 years of marriage hovering at around 35 percent. But for college graduates, the divorce rate in the first 10 years of marriage has plummeted to just over 16 percent of those married between 1990 and 1994 from 27 percent of those married between 1975 and 1979.

Link. I wonder if those college graduates are practictioners of the new monogamy:
“What’s new here is not that couples are being nonmonogamous,” says Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and author of Marriage: A History. “It’s that couples are negotiating the terms of their monogamy.” Of course, such negotiations can be as exhausting as cheating ever was; just ask anyone who’s tried to plan a “nontraditional” wedding. There’s something to be said for the well-worn path—it’s like a built-in referee. Sure, you might not agree with his calls, but at least he always has one.

. . . .

[T]here is absolutely nothing skeevy about Siege and Katie. They’re smart, funny, polite, hip, attractive, self-deprecating, and affectionate with one another. And that’s the most disconcerting thing of all. Call us snobs, but it’s easy to dismiss suburban swingers who show up at orgies with a Tupperware container or Bay Area hippies missing the irony gene. But when a couple like Siege and Katie decry strict monogamy? It makes you wonder, How old-fashioned, socially programmed, and ass-backward am I?

These two can certainly teach most couples a thing or two about communication: They finish each other’s sentences and tease one another gently about the few times they’ve failed to follow their own simple yet strict rules. (1) The Vampire Rule: If they’re both in the same city, they have to make it back by dawn. (2) The Three-Strikes Rule: All pinch hitters must be interested in befriending both Siege and Katie (and vice versa); however, up to three solo dates are acceptable to warm someone up. (3) The Postcards Rule: If they’re seeing someone else on their own, they must bring home photographic evidence. (4) The Woman-Only Rule: Katie is bisexual, Siege is not—thus, for pinch hitters to meet rule No. 2, they must be female. (5) The Veto Rule: for Katie’s benefit, allowing her to rule out potential home-wreckers. (6) The Safety Rule: What some couples call “body-fluid monogamy,” i.e., always use condoms when having sex with a third . . . or a fourth . . . or a fifth . . .

Link. Because if they are, what's the point in getting divorced anyway?

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Image credits: Venus and Adonis by Jacob Adriaensz Backer, c. 1650.


Anonymous Marisa said...

Keep in mind, while some people are considered married by law (having lived together X years in the same house, depending on what state you're from), they are not technically married. Their monogamy/break-ups go unrecorded.

Also, fewer people are actually marrying these days.

4:11 PM  
Blogger The Good Reverend said...

Actually I think you are only common-law married if you both live together a set number of years and present yourself to the community as a married couple, i.e. everyone thinks you are really married.

4:41 PM  

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