20 July 2014
I Do [For Now] Boy meets girl, falls in love and gets married, exemplifying the classic love story that every little girl dreams about. Some young girls even begin to plan their wedding before they receive their first kiss. What is never planned is divorce. One never hears a little girl tell her mommy, “I just can’t wait to get divorced!” Unfortunately the taboo associated with divorce has been stripped from current societal norms. There has been, and always will be, serious circumstances, such as abuse, abandonment, and adultery, necessitating divorce as an option, however without the stigma attached to divorce, a plethora of young, and even older couples, frivolously enter into the bonds of matrimony with the thought that “if this doesn’t work out divorce is always an option.” Peter Kramer wrote “Divorce and Our National Values” claiming that “Once both partners are allowed to be autonomous, the continuation of marriage becomes more truly voluntary. In this sense, an increase in divorce signals social progress” (James 487). In this context autonomy can be inferred as the continual voluntary inclusion of oneself in the institution of a marriage. In his essay Kramer equates elevated divorce rates with social progress lending credence to the narcissistic perspective of “me” not “we” thereby trivializing the institution marriage. Kramer states “autonomy was a value for men only, and largely it was pseudo-autonomy, the successful man propped up by the indentured wife and overburdened mother” (James 487). Though such a statement was, and still is, true in some cases, one cannot take the extreme and call it normal. Using Kramer’s logic one could equate every marriage in the 1950’s to “Leave It to Beaver” and every household today to “Honey Boo Boo.” When considering how Hollywood stars view marriage it is not surprising that divorce is considered social progress. According to Bio.com Zsa Zsa Gabor was married 9 times (“Zsa Zsa Gabor”) . While Sam Lansky of Rolling Stone Magazine took the readers through the shortest marriage of today’s stars, Britney Spears wedding to Jason Alexander which only lasted a very short 55 hours (Lansky). The perpetuation of the marriage participants is to instill one’s goals, values and ideals into one’s children.
With the ever growing divorce rates, couples look at long term marriages of 30, 40, or 50 plus years and always ask “what is the secret to a successful marriage?” in an attempt to break the divorce trend that has enveloped today’s society. Kelsey Borresen of The Huffington Post wrote “Tried-And-True Marriage Advice From Couples Married A Long, Long Time” where she asked 9 couples for their secret to a successful marriage. Though the answers she received differed from “When going to bed…always touch toes” to “Never hang wallpaper together” the jest of the advice is the same, these couples still love each other, even after 50 plus years. (Borresen). Samara O’Shea also of The Huffington Post wrote “How Many Marriages Actually End In Happily Ever After?” In her article she addresses the divorce rate of 40% to 50% (O’Shea). She states “that many of the remaining couples are together but aren't happy about it” (O’Shea). She then goes on to define a successful marriage as “Two people who’ve been married for 25 years or more and still take an active interest in each other. They are together purposefully rather than practically” (O’Shea).
Kramer states “Once both partners are allowed to be autonomous, the continuation of marriage becomes more truly voluntary. In this sense, an increase in divorce signals social progress,” blaming the self-help movement of the 1970’s for the skyrocket of divorce (James 487). Though Kramer is correct in his assumption that the women of the 1970’s no longer required a man to support them, the increase in divorce rates did not signal social progress, it signaled the beginning of the…