Marriage in America Burin Bianca Ramirez October 11, 2012 Marriage: Is It In Crisis? In America, it is the traditional thing to do to get married to someone in order to spend the rest of your life with. Someone to go through the ups and downs of life with, someone to be there to support you no matter what, and even in most marriages someone to have children with and to create a family. All these are perfect examples of why people get married, so why wouldn’t you want all of these things in your life? Well society as we know it today is declining in all aspects including, economics, the work force, and even health care.
It is no wonder why people have come to the realization that marriage is in crisis because of everything that is going on around us. In the articles I read, “The Marriage Crisis”, “Pimp My Bride” and “Few Good Men” there are different viewpoints and takes on my marriage is in trouble. The most important points I will be making and elaborating on in this passage about why marriage in in crisis today will be the realization people are coming to about a worthy marriage, how the media portrays marriage, and the economic and emotional state of marriage.
While explaining these points we will ask ourselves, is marriage in crisis? In the earlier 1900s people were getting married for usually one reason: Stability. Times were hard back then and the only way people could make a living was if they had a “partner” to help out with a household/farm while the other spouse went out in the work force to earn a living and put food on the table. Having someone help you out with things at home makes things easier and that’s why they formed almost a business like partnership. In the article “The Marriage Crisis”, it explains the declining of marriage and the rising of cohabitation.
This brings up my first point which is the realization people are coming to about a worthy marriage. In other words, people can now fend on their own, especially woman. Today, women have more rights and are able to participate in the work force just as much as men are. Woman are more independent now more than ever before and because of this they don’t need to force themselves in a marriage they don’t want to be in just so they are financially stable. This is why cohabitation exists. People want to know a person for a long time before they make any commitment and rush into a marriage without fully knowing the good and bad in a person.
In addition to women’s rights, marriage is declining because women also have the power of education. Women are now getting degrees, making their own money (not having to rely on a man), and gaining a sense of personal fulfillment and to some women personal fulfillment is a lot more rewarding than fulfillment from a marriage. On the topic of marriage and society now, media comes into play. Technology has emerged excessively in the last decade, and with technology comes media. Of course there are many different sources of media but we’ll just focus of television.
In the article “Pimp My Bride”, the author Judith Halberstam explains the world of marriage on reality television based program. She includes shows like The Bachelor, Average Joe, and Joe Millionaire. All these shows portray one message: how marriage is outside of normal society which includes financial responsibilities, children, families, work, and other outside conflicts that usually affect a normal relationship/marriage. Halberstam explains how these reality television shows are known as “survival of the cutest” where these shows are simply based on looks, although they try to mix in personality with it, it usually doesn’t work that way.
Shows like The Bachelor are scripted programs that only get our hopes up and make us think that marriage is perfect and nothing gets in the way of that relationship. Well that is totally wrong. What they don’t show is how marriage really is outside of that program. Usually with these shows, once the couple returns back to reality and to their normal lives, the relationship rarely lasts because conflicts that normal couples go through are suddenly hitting them and they realize that the perfect relationship they had before is not going to work in reality.
This is why it is important to realize that these are just shows and you need to be smarter than to believe that your relationship/marriage is going to be as perfect as the ones you see on television. Those shows are strictly for entertainment purposes. Stepping aside from reality television marriages, and their “perfect” relationships, there is a need to talk about the reality of marriage. Do people get married? Of course they do. Do people get divorced? Of course they do. Why?
When you marry someone it is because at that time you can see spending the rest of your life with them, but things can change and people can change and if you can’t seem to accept those changes divorce is usually the answer to get away from that and that is perfectly okay. I am a firm believer that if you are not happy in your marriage you have the right to divorce. I understand the spiritual side of marriage and how that can be a process and that there needs to be an appropriate reason for an annulment but overall people still have the right to break off a marriage that isn’t happy anymore.
Why spend the rest of your life with someone you can’t be fully happy with, that is just making yourself suffer and can affect you in many different ways. If you do get divorced, you can always remarry and hopefully find your soul mate. On the other hand, remarrying is not for everyone. In the article “Few Good Men”, we notice a focus on single low-income women and their views about marriage. In their eyes marriage is more of a risk than a reward because they feel that nothing is certain or promised in a marriage.
With all the hardships they already have to go through now, having a marriage in which the husband beats them, abuses their children, who is controlling, or is unfaithful is just not worth the risk, and they’d rather stay single and fend for themselves rather than depend on someone who is not suitable for them. Now, they are not saying that they wouldn’t marry a man; he just has to be the right one, and to be completely honest there aren’t a lot of those kinds of men left. Marriages in low-income couples are not likely to last because of affordability, respectability, trust and control.
Low-income couples sometimes do not work out because they depend of both the husbands and wife’s income. If a husband were to lose or quit his job the amount of necessities they can afford is very little. And when you add children to a household with two parents but only one income in an already low-income marriage, there is only enough supplies to go around for the children and very little left for the one providing and the one that is jobless, in this case the husband, is the one that doesn’t get anything which leads to marriages falling apart.
In communities that are low-income based you would think that people there would not take marriage seriously but that is not the case. Women in those communities think of marriage as a “sacred” thing and they take it seriously. They all want that big, huge wedding that is magical just like everyone else. So they stray away from marriage because they’d rather not have a marriage in which the partner doesn’t take it seriously enough and doesn’t meet their expectations. Trust is also a big reason why women in these communities aren’t getting married.
They simply just cannot trust men enough to marry them. They explain that at the end of the day “men will be men” and engage in an outside affair with another woman, and they will not put up with someone who is unfaithful. They also cannot trust them with handling money. It is not fair to the hard working women who are trying to pay the bills when the husband is spending their money on junk when they should be saving up and keeping that money handy for their children. And lastly, women feel that they cannot trust their husbands with their children.
In the communities that they live in things like drugs and narcotics are easy to get a hold of and the women fear that the husband could be exposing their children to drugs and sadly, even sexually abusing their children. These make up all of the characteristics as to why poor women don’t marry. Based upon the evidence provided by the authors and their articles, I do in a way think that marriage is in crisis. People have such high expectations in what they want their marriage to be like, and they should aim for something high. In everything that is going on in the world now, people are entitled to be in a happy marriage.
Now, I am not totally convinced that marriage is in crisis. For those that do get married usually do it for the right reason: to be with the one you love for the rest of your life. Those marriages, I feel, are not in crisis. They understand the true meaning of loving someone unconditionally and they want to be in a marriage. So I other words, those who marry and don’t take it seriously are the ones that have marriages in crisis, but those who value marriage as a scared union help me believe that a happy marriage is still out there and it can be something to look forward to.
In conclusion, society view marriage is in crisis because of all the changes that are going on around us and how it affects the institution of marriage. Economics and the work force take a toll on marriage today and put a strain on some aspects of marriage. People realizing the worthiness of a good marriage and the expectations they have on marriage has affected the decline of marriage and couples found cohabitation as an alternative of marriage. Media has affected the institution of marriage immensely through the works of reality television and how they portray marriage in a “fantasy world” rather than the real world.
And lastly, marriage in low-income based communities is declining because of characteristics such as affordability, respectability, trust and control. So in essence, is marriage in crisis? I believe there is not right answer simply because the marriages in which the couple does not take the union seriously does put the institution of marriage in crisis but the few marriages that are perfectly happy are the ones to look up to and strive towards later on in life.