The debate over marriage in America in recent years has focused almost exclusively on same sex marriage. That’s an important and divisive issue, certainly. But, the institution of marriage has been evolving in other ways, too – rapidly. We’ve talked about some of these changes in other meetings, including a few weeks ago (future of masculinity) and in 2013 (changing gender roles). The average of first marriage is now 27 for women and 29 for men, compared to barely 20 fifty years ago. Low-income Americans are far less likely to be married than in the past, and they marry far less often than affluent couples. More kids are born out-of-wedlock (but not necessarily in unstable relationships). Some marriages retain traditional gender roles while others are more egalitarian. Etc.
Clearly, American marriage is in flux. What it will look like in the future is hard to guess. Will American marriage fade away, as it has in some parts of Europe? Will traditional marriage make a comeback? Will there be multiple legal forms of marriage? I thought this might make a good conversation..
A lot has been written on this topic, Google revealed to me in a dream. I’ll try to synthesize the major questions surrounding the future of marriage and the possible trends it might take in my opening. Then, we can start our discussion.
Note: This week’s Discussion Questions are more detailed and to the point than usual. The highlighted links – especially the first one, a 6-minute YouTube video by an expert – are particularly useful to read pre-mtg, too.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS –
- How has marriage changed in the United States in recent decades, in terms of
- Who marries, when, and why; and
- The roles and expectations within marriages (like the “blue state” and “red state” models in link #1)?
- Have marriage and family law changed, too? Have they accommodated the new reality, or has the law lagged behind social changes?
- What do you think the institution of marriage in America will look like in, say, 20-30 years, in practice if not in legal form?
- Can/should family law or other public policies change to either
- Reinforce the types of marriages that we morally prefer or are more socially desirable; or
- Accommodate and support whatever new kinds of marriages and family relationships that arise?
- The future of American marriage: 6-minute YouTube video. Must see TV.
- Red families versus blue families: Two archetypes of modern marriage have emerged in recent years. (l6-pages long, but good)
- Americans’ attitudes towards marriage. Are they your beliefs, too?
- The Great Crossover: A majority of parents now have their first child before marriage.
- Relax! Young Americans aren’t rejecting marriage, they’re just delaying it.
- How to save American marriage. Recommended.
- Frontiers of marriage:
- Conservative POV: Progressives want government to replace the benefits that traditional marriage used to provide (like child care). This is true, basically.
Next Week: For-Profit Colleges: Market Niche or Scam?