The Isolation of Marriage?

I read a good article in the NY Time this week called Too Close for Comfort, and got to thinking more about how society treats marriage these days.

The article begins with stats from latest census bureau surveys which show that married-couple households are now a minority. The typical reaction to this was: What is happening to our relationships? This is a bad thing! But the article goes in the other direction, asking instead “is this really such a bad trend?” ….

It has only been in the last century that Americans have put all their emotional eggs in the basket of coupled love. Because of this change, many of us have found joys in marriage our great-great-grandparents never did. But we have also neglected our other relationships, placing too many burdens on a fragile institution and making social life poorer in the process.

There are some interesting facts pulled out of the study:

  • From 1985 to 2004 Americans reported a marked decline in the number of people with whom they discussed meaningful matters
  • People reported fewer close relationships with co-workers, extended family members, neighbors and friends (only close relationship where more people said they discussed important matters in 2004 than in 1985 was marriage)
  • The number of people who depended totally on a spouse for important conversations almost doubled, to 9.4 percent from 5 percent. Not surprisingly, the number of people saying they didn’t have anyone in whom they confided nearly tripled.

What is going on with the world? Apparently marriage is the only place where people can have close relationships. What a screw for the rest of us non-married folks. When discussing this with Toby, he raised a good point in that this is due to the lack of community. We no longer are in constant contact with others so it’s no wonder we don’t have strong connections with them. Without building these connections between brothers, sisters, parents and friends people are lost without good friends and confidants.

There’s one good place where we have strong community, where we are constantly surrounded by friends and live with them day to day. It’s called College and it’s no wonder that people look back on it as the best times of their lives.

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6 thoughts on “The Isolation of Marriage?
  1. Very interesting article. As a fellow single person, I totally agree with you. Throughout the various stages of my single life, I’ve always had at least 1 person who I could confide in emotionally. It can be hard when you don’t have that person in your life. All of your emotional stuff gets bottled up inside and doesnt end up anywhere good.

  2. “There’s one good place where we have strong community, where we are constantly surrounded by friends and live with them day to day.”

    i thought you were going to say the internet.

  3. It is such an interesting article. I think it’s true too that people turn to online communities now to replace what used to exist for real. Part of that is because the structure of communities have broken down so it’s impossible to interact in the same way people used to, but in some ways I think the internet can be a substitute that is ultimately damaging. Using it allows people to feel fulfilled enough not to make big changes (i.e. living in more of a tangible community) so it sort of keeps them afloat, so to speak. It is one thing that was so great about living in a small town. I think it is possible to find a sense of community in LA, but overall I give the city a D on doing anything to get that to happen. People definitely don’t meet others when they’re sitting in traffic on the freeway and when the whole city is so un-pedestrian friendly. Ultimately though I think that as long as gas prices keep sky rocketing we’ll all be forced back into living more community-oriented lifestyles and it will be good for everyone in the long run.

  4. Well most of my colleages from college including my husband would probably say that college was spent mostly under the influence. lol.. My post called “Bowling Alone” has some of the same info that your post does, except it wasn’t about marriage. Your blog was an automatic generated post, so here I am. I am Christian and unfortunately the Secular view on marriage is unfortunately warped. Till death do us part, has no meaning. I believe we are also so disconnected because we are all so DISPOSABLE to each other. How sad, huh? Beyonce sings it best, “I could have another you in a minute.” Sad tune, but it’s what everyone is being fed. Warm reguard, The Raging Genius 🙂

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