Is the institution of marriage doomed?

I recently wrote this post for Lifetime Moms In Modern Day Society Is Marriage Becoming Obsolete? in response to more than a handful of domestic partnerships, relationships, live with my lover situations and couples I personally know who while they don’t have a piece of paper documenting their union, are as committed to one another as couples who do.

After Happily Ever After

So, I guess the real question is in this day and age- where marriage is no longer a financial necessity for a woman to ensure her future security– is it just an antiquated institution that us modern day couples no longer need to sanctify the love we feel with our chosen lobster with who we want to “mate for life”? In other words… is the institution of marriage doomed?

While looking for sources for this post for Lifetime Moms In Modern Day Society Is Marriage Becoming Obsolete? I came across this very interesting documentary by Kate Schermerhorn of Luna Park Productions an Emmy-winning filmmaker based in San Francisco called; After Happily Ever After which looks at whether marriage is becoming obsolete.

Through interviews with long married couples and experts, including John Gottman, Stephanie Coontz and Betsey Stephenson, and following the journey of my own rocky marriage, the film asks why we marry, whether we actually should and how some
people manage to make marriage work.

I asked Schermerhorn for her take on marriage and its obselesence and here’s what she had to say…

Married my sugar daddy: Do you believe marriage is inching towards
obsolescence?

Kate: While I don’t think marriage will ever disappear completely, particularly because it has religious significance for some, I do think it is less and less useful as an institution, especially considering its high failure rate. I think people are starting to understand this.

Personally, as a single mother of two, I do believe I am a better parent on my own than I have been with a partner and don’t think my marriage was serving my children any more than it served me.

Married my Sugar daddy: Why make a film like this?

Kate: In our culture, marriage has long been an expected and automatic stop on the roadmap of life, and I think it’s time to question this assumption, particularly given the dismal 50% failure rate of American marriages.

We really need to examine marriage, our long-held notions about it and our motivations for marrying so that those who do marry will do so more consciously, and as a result, hopefully more successfully, too. It’s also time to become more creative in our thinking about marriage and relationships and realize that marriage is just one possible choice out of many options for a way to live or a way to be in a loving relationship or even parent.

My hope is that After Happily Ever After will spark some much needed conversation and debate about an institution which is long overdue for a little review.

Married my sugar daddy: what lessons did you learn about marriage

Kate: After Happily Ever After was originally meant as a romantic endeavor for my second husband and myself – on our honeymoon we began interviewing long-married couples hoping to find the secret formula that would help our own marriage to last and thrive. It quickly became clear that there really isn’t one specific secret formula to a successful marriage. In fact, I found that there weren’t just different answers for different people, there were many opposing answers.

I started realizing that maybe we should stop being so rigid in our thinking about the way a marriage should look – why can’t a marriage look the way any two people want it to? As marriage historian Stephanie Coontz points out in the film, marriage has been evolving since its beginnings and it is only natural for it to continue to evolve and grow. This ongoing transformation seems like a totally positive thing, even if it means that fewer people actually decide to marry. As more people start to think about marriage and really evaluate its merits and imperfections, fewer people may end up finding a reason to marry. On the other hand, if we really give marriage the careful consideration it deserves without assuming it’s just a given, then those who end up married are going to have stronger unions.

A few of the many other things I observed along the way –

*Even though couples gave a million different answers to what made their marriages work, the importance of a good sex life was universal.
*Too many people view marriage as a destination, rather then a starting point. Marriage is not an endpoint, it is only a beginning.
*Some people think marriage will make them happy. Others think divorce will make them happy. Seeking your own happiness is much wiser than relying on a relationship, or termination of one, to do it for you.
*Picking the right person in the first place is crucial.
*Read John Gottman’s books – he seems to hold many of the answers to a successful relationship!
*Even the best advice can’t guarantee you a happily ever after… my own marriage didn’t last as long as the making of the film.

Married my Sugar Daddy: Do you think happily ever after exists?

Kate: Hmmm, well, of course I think a relationship can last forever and that a lifelong commitment can probably also be extremely fulfilling, yes. But ‘happily ever after’… no, not exactly. ‘Happily ever after’ implies that it will be an easy road but all solid relationships require some amount of work and have their ups and downs, which can sometimes be quite extreme. So in terms of a long-lasting relationship, it would probably be more realistic to say that I believe that ‘happily, and occasionally unhappily, ever after’ exists and can be an incredibly beautiful and fulfilling thing for some.

But maybe we need to be more realistic – roughly half of all marriages fail in the US – maybe if the end goal isn’t ‘until death do us part’ but instead it becomes a more realistic goal, for example – committing to doing the work to keep the relationship going, in sickness and in health, for as long as it brings joy, fulfillment and some sort of benefit to the people in the marriage? And agreeing that if the day comes that you or your spouse is not making the other a better person or making each other’s life better or more fulfilling, to do what is right for both people and get out of the marriage…

After Happily Ever After is out now on DVD and On Demand.
Visit http://www.afterhappilyeverafter.net to purchase DVDs, for On Demand information and to join the After Happily Ever After mailing list and receive 10 secrets to marital bliss.

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