With every incoming generation, the views on certain issues such as religion, marriage, and parenting make a distinction from those of the previous generations. Between the current generation and their parents there is a tangible decline in the views and opinions concerning relationships and marriage. This regression in marriage can be attributed to this generation’s changing views on the importance of marriage in relation to one’s total happiness. These new views are a direct reflection of a transferal from the focus on the traditional “nuclear family”. These changes are reflected in statistical data regarding changes in the marrying age, and increased time in between the beginning and end of marriages.
In order to establish a common understanding on this particular paradigm shift one must examine the statistical data regarding this cultural trend. This will aid in one’s understanding of this topic because the figures are a reflection on society’s propensity for marriage and divorce. Paul C. Glick cites the move toward cohabitation as an alternative to marriage as a major reason for the increase in divorce rates as well as the decrease in marriage rates, “A special reason for the differences was the extent to which cohabitation had been accepted as at least a temporary alternative to marriage” (Glick). Because this generation views cohabitation outside of marriage as normal and acceptable there is a resulting decline in marriages. The current society feels no need to be married if they are already in a committed relationship and sharing a household. To emphasize, 3.5 million couples were labeled as cohabitating as of 1993 which is millions of Americans who are choosing to live together instead of marriage (Bumpass and Sweet 1989, p. 615).
As it stands now, fifty percent of marriages end in divorce; this drastic decline can be traced back to the 1980s (Masci). Scholars argue, “although traditional marriage will not disappear entirely, it will never again be the nation’s pre-eminent social arrangement” (Masci). It is no longer necessary for people to marry in order to produce a family or to be successful. To relate this to the aforementioned information on cohabitation, the previously radical views on relationships are becoming the new standards.
Even with the dismal statistics regarding marriage, there are still arguments for the traditional institution. Research seems to show that, “the amount of evidence available on the benefits of matrimony is ‘fairly overwhelming’” (Waite). Waite argues that marriage benefits one’s mental and physical health and provides for all around total happiness. I disagree with Waite’s point because as further research has shown,” when we’re talking about the benefits of marriage, we’re really only talking about good marriages” (Coontz). Waite and her claims that marriage is beneficial to all involved fail to examine that not all marriages are healthy or beneficial. She disregards marriages in which there is domestic abuse, substance abuse, or financial hardships.
Another point to consider is the topic of the nuclear family. A nuclear family is defined as a household with a mother, a father, and their biological children. Not only are there varying definitions to what is considered a neutral family but also varying opinions of what people today consider a traditional family. In this day and age we have single parent households, two parent households, same- sex households and so forth and so on. As a person who was raised in a single parent household I can attest to the fact that my definition of a traditional family differs from someone like my mother who was raised with both of her parents married and living in the same household.
In conclusion, the preceding information outlines the decline in marriage rates and the outcome that this has on society as a whole. The data reflects a movement from the days of the “nuclear family” to new standards such as cohabitation and other alternatives to marriage. This particular shift is evident of a changing tide in our society. My discussion of marriage becoming trivial in fact addresses the larger matter of how we as a generation view not only marriage but long term commitments as well. It is important to pay heed to these culture trends because they are a reflection on our society as a whole.Read More
So once again, I’m writing a post about marriage. It seems redundant but my paradigm shift paper is on this topic also so it seems fitting. As some of you may know Justin Timberlake tied the knot recently with longtime girlfriend Jessica Biel who you may remember from 7th Heaven. People Magazine has already run a spread on the wedding with pictures like the one in this post.
My post this week isn’t about the fact that the couple are married but the fact that Jessica Biel is now changing her name to Jessica Timberlake. I just wanted to take this opportunity to examine the issue of changing one’s name due to impending nuptials. Jessica Biel is an established actress, even though her days of fame may be behind her, who does have many doting fans who know her by her former name. But now she will be giving up her professional name in order to carry on the Timberlake name. Is it wrong that she as an established and successful woman will be trading in the name with which she became famous? Some would argue that in the patriarchal society we live in this practice needs to end while others argue that even if a woman doesn’t take on her husband’s name she is still saddled with the name of her father. Why don’t more people go with the middle ground and hyphenate or is that more of a hassle.
It seems to come down to personal choice. The couple looks happy and Jessica remarked that she is ecstatic to change her name. What do you all think? Is there still merit in a woman changing her last name or should we transition into keeping our names?Read More