W is for Weddings

It appears that heterosexual marriage is doing a bang-up job of imperiling heterosexual marriage.


In November 2010, Pew Research reported that about half of all adults in the U.S. are married, down from 72 percent in 1960, while four in 10 people consider marriage obsolete. The Census Bureau added that American men and women are waiting longer before the wedding.

But from the Time magazine story concerning that Pew poll: “Americans still venerate marriage enough to want to try it. About 70% of us have been married at least once, according to the 2010 Census. The Pew poll found that although 44% of Americans under 30 believe marriage is heading for extinction, only 5% of those in that age group do not want to try to seek their own wedded bliss. Sociologists note that Americans have a rate of marriage — and of remarriage — among the highest in the Western world.

The divorce rate, while down from its peak in the l970s, is higher in America than most other countries. (And what IS the real divorce rate in the US?)

So I am filled with a cross between bemusement and incredulity at the notion, suggested by some, that the prospect of legalized gay marriages, or even civil unions, poses some sort of threat to heterosexual wedlock. It appears that heterosexual marriage is doing a bang-up job of imperiling heterosexual marriage.

(Arthur links here and here regarding his home state of Illinois’ new civil union law.)

Not incidentally, I got a form letter from my annuity company quite recently, adding the following proviso to my certificate:
“Pursuant to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), same-sex marriages currently are not recognized for purposes of federal law. Therefore, the favorable income-deferral options afforded by federal tax law to an opposite-sex spouse under Internal Revenue Code sections 72(s) and 401(a)(9) are currently NOT available to a same-sex spouse.”

So even in those states allowing same-sex marriages, those couples won’t be fully equal until DOMA is repealed.

Oh, BTW, you may be wondering whose wedding this is. It’s the nuptials for the Pakistani couple I mentioned a couple months ago, which took place on Labor Day weekend. My daughter was in the wedding, but I pulled her photos solely for the purpose of posting them on December 26; I always write about Lydia on the 26th of the month.

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

35 thoughts on “W is for Weddings”

  1. I think, Roger, That in my country these numbers are the same. My eldest daughter was never married, but had a long relationship of 14 years and they have a son of 18 now. When my grandson was 8 years old, they split up. They are now good friends and both have other partners since this last year.My second daughter was married to an Aboriginal man, but divorced and now she has another partner, but again she is still a member of the Aboriginal family and visiting her ex-in-laws, who love her as their own daughter and sister.
    I had been married for 36 years when my husband died. We had hoped to be together for many years.
    Anyway I wish you and your family a very happy Christmas!

  2. I am disappointed that more people don’t realize that allowing gay-marriage won’t lead to the breakdown of society.

    On the other side, I also understand those thinking that marriage is obsolete. I hear a little bit more and more of people being together for a long time, having children, but never officially getting married. I am wondering about things myself, now heading for my second divorce. Waiting and letting things take a slower course seems to be the way most are thinking. It is something that I would recommend to many, if not all now.

  3. Your daughter is very talented with the camera, the pictures are wonderful!Such an interesting post, a great reportage, thanks a lot! 🙂
    Léia

  4. Want a wedding Come to India, gosh on any auspicious day u can see atleast 15000 wedding…a total traffic chaos…but here marriages are still not obsolete.

  5. Great post and photographs. I don’t understand why some people are threatened by same sex marriage. I really like the videos out that end with, it’s only love (or something like that).

  6. Funny we find a man writing about Weddings on W day. I expected to see a lot of women writing about it, however, I have found this interesting. I am an old married lady, been married to the same man over 52 years. July 3rd, 2011, it will be 53. We have had our ups and downs but always worked our way through them. Sometimes I think when young ones get married they want that fairy tale wedding, but after the wedding it becomes work, and they still living in the fairy tale, hoping it will never to end, and therefore, can’t work through the problems. Anywho, that is just this old ladies opinion.

  7. Interesting – my daughter and her boy friend (and all our families) went to New York from Norway in May this year for their marriage. I wonder if there is any statistics for that kind of thing?

  8. Terrific post as always, Roger! I will never understand prejudice of any kind whether it is regarding gay marriages or anything else. When I married my husband, who is black we had to go to CA because it was still illegal in Texas at that time. Your daughter’s photos are marvelous! Thanks for sharing these! Wishing you and your family a very Happy, Merry Christmas!

    Sylvia

  9. Well…*sigh*…I know that I got married all starry-eyed and it totally fell apart. I think in those days you just got to an age when you (having been primed for it all your life) felt it was “time.” So whoever was in your life at that point in time became your spouse. I left the guy I really wanted to marry because he got cold feet and I just carried on and met someone else. Then when my older daughter decided to live with her boyfriend 12 or 13 years ago, I just about had a fit! As a single mother I had to talk to them about – well, everything! They eventually got married but I sometimes wonder just how happy my daughter is – now the only breadwinner with 2 children and a now disabled husband. Now my younger daughter is living with her boyfriend and I’m okay with it. How times change! And of course you know how I met up with and got engaged to the “original man” and it fell apart, too. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that women have so many more opportunities in life these days and don’t feel obligated to stay in relationships that aren’t satisfactory. They can earn their own money, travel, and have lots of friendships without the “burden” of spouse and children. The times they are a’changing!
    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, Roger!

  10. Tried it twice – didn’t like it. 🙂 Interesting statistics though. It’s amazing how many people keep trying it – even though the stats suggest it won’t work long term.

  11. Your quote made me think, people like marriage so much they try it more than once, LOL. Was it Bernard Shaw that called it the triumph of hope over experience. I’ve only tried it once, so didn’t bother the second time, and that seemed to work out well.
    Have a merry Christmas.

  12. Interesting post, Roger. I guess my take on weddings is that first and foremost, marriage is a vow. Those who want to take the vow seriously should have a religious ceremony, if they have a religion. Those who are not religious but want to take a vow should find a place or person who will legally witness this vow. I am disturbed about the breakdown in marriage, but it has gone too far in my opinion, to be retrieved. I’ve been married 51 years and we’ve had our ups and downs, but leaving was never an option. If young people go into marriage with the idea that they can always get a divorce if it doesn’t work out, the commitment to get over the rough spots isn’t there. So I guess there is only one kind of marriage in my mind and that is one taken with a vow, religious or otherwise.
    Having said that, I am well aware that there are exceptions to keeping the vow — when wife or family is in danger, or in cases of deliberate infidelity etc.

    What has really messed up the validity of marriage is when politics and legality and benefits etc. become an issue. It’s become a case of morality and legality.

    I guess I should write a treatise on this because I haven’t said all that I think is relevant to this subject!! We are such a mixed up world, it seems there is no simple answer, except to do what you think is right, but that applied to all aspects of our world brings on anarchy. (Sigh) so much more to be said. But never mind. Most people have their own view anyway.

  13. Oh, Ditto is what I want to say too, – to the post by Chrisj, especially about vows and commitment. A little bit of effort, a lot of patience and forbearance bring wonderful results to longtime marriages. We will soon have been married 66 years, – it hasn’t always been easy but we have marvelous memories and a kind and caring relationship to take us through the ancient days. And I also agree with Chrisj that the whole subject of marriage deserves a treatise, – it is so complex, and yet so simple.

  14. Yes, the wedding is the easy part of a marriage. I understand what some are saying. And believe me, I have tried to make my marriages work. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that I would have to learn how to compromise. I knew that things would be bad at times, or seem bad in our eyes. There is always a lot of work that needs to be done and rough patches to get through. This may be too much for some to handle. I think Chris made a good point, that if people go in thinking that if things don’t work out they can always get divorced, it certainly won’t help the outlook of marriage.

    When I was married the first time, the idea of a divorce was the farthest thing from my mind. I always shook my head at those that ended up divorcing so soon, or even after many years. Why couldn’t they work things out and keep things together? The problem is that you don’t know what it is like in their shoes until you are actually in them.

    For the record, I never thought leaving was an option for me. However, my first wife came out of the closet and left me for a same sex relationship. My second wife has had numerous mental health issues and drug addictions that she has not taken proper care to eliminate. (Sometimes outright refusing to get the proper help.) It’s led to her losing a job, us having to sell our home, and the continual financial problems. After ten years of trying to get her to commit herself, clean up, and make the necessary changes, I have decided that I need to save my kids and myself. Do I really want to do this? No. Am I blameless? No. But sometimes both parties aren’t working in the same direction and no matter how long you stay together will it ever change.

  15. Hi Roger,

    You touched a very sensitive issue.Today is my 32 anniversary. My husband is not romantic, and I accept he never will, so we don’t celebrate this day.

    We had ups and downs, and the biggest crisis was when we had a baby, and we waited for him to die. They told having a crisis like this either broke or strengthen our relationship. This year, we celebrated his 21st birthday in heaven.

    Being married for us means a commitment. We made our vow before God and before men.

  16. My teenage daughter is sprouting “no marriage for me, ever” declarations at the moment, but I do hope she will find her Prince Charming eventually… happy birthday, Janelle!

  17. Excellent and provocative article – superb photos. I’ve never been able to explain this topic to my own satisfaction, least of all to someone else’s. 🙂

  18. I know that people are waiting longer to get married these days. I can say for sure that marriage is one of the hardest things I have ever embarked upon. I sort of thought it would be fairytale like when we got married. Boy was I in for a surprise. A lot of work…but a lot of wonderful as well.

    Merry Christmas Roger.

  19. It is absurd, isn’t it? Everyone wants to tell everyone else what they can and cannot do. Everyone should be entitled to the same legal privileges (such as they are) in a marriage.
    Really great discourse again, along with all the ‘dialogue’ contributed by others.

  20. Great choice for W. Weddings are lovely affairs – having remarried at 50 I am very pro marriage – especially the second time round!

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

  21. My poor son was once the only child in his class whose parents were NOT divorced ! He (10yrs old) felt like an outsider and suggested that we should divorce so he could spend the weekends with dad and live with mom and of course collect gifts and more gifts from both ! We didn’t listen and are still married after 41 years, lol !
    I think a couple should live together before marrying and even that is not a guarantee. Same sex marriages, why not, if they want to be man and man or wife and wife.

  22. Very interesting post and lovely pics for Wday!
    In France one out of three marriages ends in divorce. I got married at the age of 19 and divorced when I was 35. Now I’ve been living with my companion for 16 years! We live what the French call ‘union libre’!

    ***
    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas****

  23. When my parents married in the 1920s they agreed that if the marriage didn’t work they would separate – a bold decision at that time. They remained happily married for more than 60 years and my mother was bereft when my father died. They gave us a fine example and two of the three of us managed to follow it. My parents also had friends who were divorced – people who were often shunned by ‘polite’ society. I think it is helpful to commit to marriage with realistic expectations, not fairy-tale, starry-eyed hopes. Living with another person requires compromise, understanding and humour as well as love.

  24. I don’t think I’ll marry any time soon (except for saving taxes maybe). I see people rushing into marriage a lot and so often it doesn’t work out, sometimes it’s like they think marriage will repair an already crumbling relationship. Although it’s better than having a child for that reason.
    Gay marriage – absolutely. I attended one this year (my boyfriend’s brother) and I’m happy that gay people finally have the right to marry here (Hamburg had a gay mayor for ages, although he only had his “official” coming out after he stepped down)

  25. I think it is the same in France. When I was young, girls wanted to meet their future husband and get married as soon as possible. That was their main objective in life. Things have changed a lot but there is now a “return” to tradition, maybe mainly among new immigrants.

  26. The state of marriage in the US must be very healthy. If 50% of the adult population is married then as a couple, 100% of adults must be in a marriage!

    Seriously, there is a legal debate going on in the UK about same sex marriages. Civil partnerships were recognised some time ago with the same rights in law as for hetrosexual couples. But not a civil ceremony is not the same as a marriage ceremony apparently.

    The stumbling block will be the church. They can host a same sex union if they wish, but it isn’t compulsory which I suspect is where the latest lobby is heading.

  27. “So I am filled with a cross between bemusement and incredulity at the notion, suggested by some, that the prospect of legalized gay marriages, or even civil unions, poses some sort of threat to heterosexual wedlock. It appears that heterosexual marriage is doing a bang-up job of imperiling heterosexual marriage.”

    I love this paragraph. Perfectly written and perfectly true. And I am filled with bemusement also at the fact that neither of my sons is married, despite the fact that their father and I have been happily married for thirty-four years (a first marriage for both of us, what’s more). It seems that the negative experiences of their girls, both of whose parents are split, is more powerful than the love and stability they’ve seen for themselves at home. Most odd, and a little sad, too.

  28. Who I think are funny are the couples who disdainfully look down on marriage and wedding ceremonies, but then have a commitment ceremony that is as lavish as well as in the same vein as weddings.

  29. My son told me he will not get married but I said, “wait till the right girl comes along and we’ll discuss that later”! lol

  30. Yeah. From a very personal perspective, I’m going on my second. And I don’t regret the first, it’s just that it didn’t work out.

    Happy Holidays to you and yours!

    Gina

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