I wrote a long time ago, in response to the fact that so many women were leaving their marriages: “In the past 25 years women have bloomed. How can we still be talking about fitting modern wives back into an ancient institution, rather than enlarging an ancient institution to make room for modern wives?” I said this on television shows, much to the horror of many hosts, who got so mad that women were leaving (and not men, as I suppose they thought was better). that they blamed me for writing about it.
Well they must be really mad now, because America isn’t even a married culture anymore. That picture of ourselves talk-show hosts and politicians and so many others insist on—the happily married American couple–is a very nice picture, but it has little to do with us in the US. No, as I’ve said a million times, we’re now a dating culture. What’s more, the Pew Research Center points out that nearly four-in-ten survey respondents in the 2010 Census said they believed that marriage is becoming obsolete.
I know we all hate change. But we’re doing some weird things with our denial of reality, like forcing our outmoded ideals and ideas on those who actually have gone with the flow. To wit: I mentioned in an earlier blog the fact that Jane Bryant Quinn had noted, in her piece in AARP Magazine, that the magazine’s readers are dating and having weddings–but not actually getting married. That’s right, old folks are taking the vows in public, but not signing the papers. They’re pretending. Why? Because they feel so pressured by their kids to put on the grandparently show. They’re afraid to depart from the sexless, it’s-over-for-us, role their kids have imposed on them. As my neighbor, I’ll call him Joe, confided recently, “I don’t know how it happened, but I have the three single most judgmental children on the planet. Self-righteous prigs, they are!”
Joe and his live-in girlfriend Amy, age 58, played along for awhile. (“For the sake of the grandkids. Like they care.”) “Finally, Amy and I couldn’t stand the righteousness of their disapproval; not to mention the stupidity of feeling like bad teenagers. So we said, Hey, you go live by your standards, we’ll live by ours.'”
Joe and Amy will remain unmarried, they say, and will continue to have sex. Really. And to live together. And, oh yes, they drink! Can you believe it? Sometimes–getaloadathis–they even drink too much! And they swear. And…..well, heaven only knows what’s happened to parents and grandparents these days. What has the world come to?