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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