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Marriage – Is It Becoming Obsolete? Is Open Marriage Replacing Traditional Marriage?

As a psychology major at the University of North Texas, C. E. Clark found, and continues to find psychology endlessly fascinating.

Traditional Marriage; Is It Becoming Obsolete?

Traditional marriages make up less than 50% of all marriages in 37 states and in the U.S. overall.

Traditional marriages make up less than 50% of all marriages in 37 states and in the U.S. overall.

More and more young people are choosing never to marry.

More and more young people are choosing never to marry.

The Number of Traditional Marriages In the U.S. Has Fallen Below 50%

More and more young people, both men and women, are choosing not to marry – ever. Some of these people who plan to remain single all of their lives are having children as single parents, but many are choosing to remain childless also.

In addition to many people choosing never to marry, some people are choosing nontraditional marriages when they choose marriage at all -- open marriage, or same sex marriages, for example. No, open marriages are not new, but they are becoming more prevalent.

The U.S. 2010 Census shows that married couples make up only 48% of all households in this country; far less than in 1950 when married couples made up 78% of households. Only a fifth of today’s 48% are traditional marriages (marriage that includes 2 people, one each of the opposite sex with no agreed upon additional sex partners).

Some people believe women entering the workforce in large numbers is one of the things that has changed the way society views traditional marriage. Sabrina Tavernise writing for The New York Times writes, in the past “ . . . the institution [of marriage] defined gender roles, family life and a person’s place in society . . .” Not so anymore.

Leave It To Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet are no longer the rule. Cohabitation is more prevalent and no longer taboo. There are now many different options instead of traditional marriage.

People with college educations are more likely to marry other people with college degrees rather than marrying down. College educated people are more likely to marry later and stay married.

Women with only a high-school diploma are less inclined to marry the father of their baby. Women with college degrees are less likely to have unplanned pregnancies.

June Carbone, law professor at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, believes the state of our economy is a big part in the decision people are making to put marriage off, or never to marry at all.

In 2000 there were only 6 states where traditionally married couples made up less than 50% of their population. Today there are 37 such states. According to the 2010 Census, the biggest changes in households include a huge jump in households headed by women, and a considerable increase in households that include mostly non-family occupants.

Some Women Are Choosing to Have Children Without Marriage

Many educated women with successful careers are choosing to have children without marriage. They are readily able to support themselves and their children.

Most women who choose to have children without marriage also choose artificial insemination with sperm from a sperm bank.

So in addition to not getting married (half of marriages end in divorce here in the U.S.), they need not be bothered with child custody, visitation rights, child support, divided vacations and holidays, and all the other things that can complicate life in a single parent household with children.

Marriage Is Changing From What Has Previously Been Considered Traditional Marriage

Will open marriage become the new norm?

Will open marriage become the new norm?

There are currently no statistics to prove open marriages are any more successful than traditional marriages.

There are currently no statistics to prove open marriages are any more successful than traditional marriages.

Was happily ever after ever realistic?

Was happily ever after ever realistic?

Modern Open Marriage

Many different types of marriage were discussed in my Sociology of Sexuality class at the university six or so years ago. Some of the examples I will give were part of the material presented in the classes I took.

The university I attended, the psychology and sociology departments that presented these classes, and the professors who taught these classes, were not promoting these different types of open marriage or any form of open marriage, but merely informing us through our class studies that these marriages exist and if any class members went forward to be marriage counselors or psychologists, they would need to be aware of these different ways of looking at, and of conducting a marriage.

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My writing about these issues is not a sign of my agreement with them, but merely bringing them to the attention of my readers because these different types of marriage are increasing in number all the time. They are a part of our society and will likely become a bigger part as time goes on, so I think it is important to be aware of them.

If one is truly against being a part of an open marriage or open relationship, then one needs to realize that people they might date or become involved with may not share that opinion and may expect to be in an open relationship.

So often people seem to assume that most, if not all, of the people around them agree with them on various issues. In psychology we call that “false consensus.” So it could happen that two people would get together and start planning a married life together without realizing that only one of them has a desire or expectation of an open marriage. A good reason to discuss this issue along with the many other subjects that should be explored before a person becomes too serious in a relationship.

Becoming bonded to a person who has very different ideas about marriage than you have can be very painful, so I think being aware that some people have different ideas about what marriage means nowadays is important.