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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

‘Till divorce do us part: a generation of marriage skeptics

Sofia Waldron
Modeled by Sam Shipman and Maddie Barron

As a woman, I know that, societally, my future goals should include marriage and children. One may call me a scorned child of divorce, but even as full of love as I am, I am living the truth of that well-known statistic: “half of all marriages end in divorce.” While my parent’s unfortunate marriage has affected my approach to my romantic relationships, it hasn’t stopped me from pursuing love altogether. I could never do that.

Raj Raghunathan Ph.D. said it best: “All of us have an intense desire to be loved and nurtured.” 

Despite the timeless and comprehensive longing for love, marriage hasn’t withstood the test of time. As society evolves, so does the institution of marriage—and the expectations and responsibilities that come with it. In the 1960s, 73 percent of children lived with two parents in their first marriage. In the 1980s, 61 percent of children lived with two parents in their first marriage. Currently, 46 percent of children live in two-parent households with parents who are in their first marriage. How could this drop in two-parent households not shift the future of marriage for today’s children and tomorrow’s adults? 

Photo Sofia Waldron

The Thriving Center of Psychology reported that fears about failed relationships have a notable influence on young people’s approach to marriage. In a survey, they found that half of those polled said they were afraid of potentially getting divorced in the future. This hesitancy is not radical or random, but it has been built over time by a domino effect of hundreds of thousands of failed marriages. 

I can’t ignore that every 42 seconds, there is one divorce in America, equating to 86 divorces per hour, 2,046 divorces per day, 14,364 divorces per week, and 746,971 divorces per year. To scale these numbers and make matters worse, there are nearly three divorces in the time it takes for a couple to recite their wedding vows, which is approximately two minutes. 

Ultimately, marriage rates have dropped by 60 percent since the 1970s. I attribute this dramatic decrease to a number of factors. In recent decades, the family unit has notably shifted. We’ve gone from traditional two-parent households to a more evolved and nuanced expression of what it means to be a family. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, there was an emphasis on the conventional family structure, consisting of two parents and children. As the family unit develops, a rising approach to long-term commitments is unveiled in what is known as domestic partnerships. The purpose of domestic partnerships is to legally recognize any two-person relationship of those who live together and share an average domestic life while having similar, but not identical, rights to traditional marriage. One can participate in this partnership without the legal constraints of a marriage.

While I don’t necessarily identify with commitment issues, I certainly have marriage issues. It’s not rooted in fear of commitment, but rooted in what I’ve seen and therefore know. I’d argue that the concept of marrying someone as a young adult with the expectation of being with this person forever is not realistic. 

Photo Sofia Waldron

A 2006 poll reported that women’s ideal age to get married is 25, and men’s is 27. While this doesn’t represent everybody’s goals, it does offer valuable information when considering the nature of marriage. Say a 25-year-old woman marries a 27-year-old man: as humans and spiritual bodies, how can any two people be expected to grow at the same pace, and if not growing at the same pace, how likely is it that they love and accept each other throughout their process? This thought is reflected in Psychology Today, where yet another disheartening statistic emerges, revealing that the average marriage in the U.S. lasts eight years. 

It’s important to note that the four leading causes of divorce in the U.S. are basic incompatibility, infidelity, financial strain, and too much conflict. I was alarmed seeing basic incompatibility as the leading cause of divorce. Call me radical, but I’m a staunch believer that positive compatibility should be determined way before marriage. 

Before marriage or long-term commitment, conversations about the future must take place. A couple must discuss children, family, finances, religion, and values before even considering marriage with the person. Before my parents got married, they never even discussed whether they wanted kids or not. Surprisingly, these massive communication errors are not so rare.

On a more positive note, many argue that you should not go into marriage considering the possibility of divorce. I feel two ways about this. Firstly, I agree that you shouldn’t enter into a marriage with the mindset centered around coping with the worst-case scenario. But on the other hand, I’d encourage anybody entering a lifelong commitment like marriage to be realistic.

The landscape of marriage is undeniably shifting, influenced by societal evolution, progressing family structures, and personal experiences like mine as a child of divorce. The statistics paint a disheartening picture, and fears and hesitations surrounding marriage are at an all-time high among young adults. While hopeless romanticism and a profound commitment to love are precious, a dose of realism is equally valuable. 

Ultimately, the ever-changing essence of marriage encourages us to reevaluate our options and expectations. Whether opting for conventional marriage or exploring alternative paths, the key lies in fostering empathy, honesty, and a shared vision for the future, ensuring that love persists as a guiding force in our lives, regardless of the form it takes.

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About the Contributor
Margaux Jubin
Margaux Jubin, Staff Writer
Margaux Jubin is a sophomore journalism major from Los Angeles, California. She is currently a Staff Writer for the Berkeley Beacon. Outside The Beacon, Margaux loves live music, hanging out with friends, and spending time in nature.

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