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Reading the first three of these books about marriage, you might be tempted to reflect that there’s nothing new under the sun.
Books of advice about finding love and keeping it have been around, offering formulas and nostrums to readers and believers, since the beginning of print, and so have statistics about the demise of marriage.
I even took the very college course (required for incoming freshmen) with the very professor derided by Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique and mentioned here by Elizabeth Gilbert as epitomizing the era of unreconstructed females on the cusp of risen consciousness.
(Of the class, “Marriage and the Family,” I remember only that when our group of inexperienced teenagers expressed reservations about male anatomy, Dr.
Henry Bowman reassured us that, among other things, the penis was actually a lot cleaner than the vagina, being so much more often exposed to soap.)It used to be that on a date, the boy would pay for a Pepsi and the movie; that was it.
Lori Gottlieb, in Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Marriage is a “public, formal, lifelong commitment to share your life with another person,” as Andrew J.
Good Enough, estimates the cost to today’s woman of four months of dating, counting therapy afterward when it doesn’t work out, to be $3,600: online dating service, clothes, including expensive underwear, haircut, hair color, cosmetics, bikini wax, entertaining him, and gifts. Cherlin defines it in The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today.
In the American view, marriage remains the ideal state: only 10 percent of Americans endorse the idea that the institution is outdated, compared to, say, in France, where a third of people think it is.
On the contrary, America is seeing a sort of Marriage Renaissance, the impetus for which comes in part from the gay marriage movement, which in itself reflects our reverence for weddings.
All the usual explanations for the marrying nature of Americans seem good enough: marriage is seen as a haven in a rough world, an antidote to rootless anomie unneeded by people in smaller, more comfortable societies, and it developed in response to other historical factors including patterns of life and religion in Colonial America and on the frontier.
Cherlin also says that marriage is not an innate biological impulse but a socially determined convenience for raising children.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating