The Case against Marriage - Essay Example

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This essay describes that the society is changing and marriage is gradually giving way to cohabitation and the latter is as effective as the former in effect. Marriage has been considered as an important social institution since time immemorial…
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The Case against Marriage
Marriage has been considered as an important social institution since time immemorial. According to many people, tying the knot is the surest way to ensure social stability, bring up children and avoid sexual anarchy. Thus, changes in the nature of marriage in the form of higher divorce rates and cohabitation without marriage are often portrayed as an indication of social decay. However, Bennett and Ellison claim that due to the changed social situation, it is no more necessary to tie the nuptial knot legally to ensure its stability. In other words, getting into a legal marriage does not increase the stability of the union anymore. The authors claim, “legally tying down unions won’t make or break them” (par. 2). The authors point out that the society is changing and marriage is gradually giving way to cohabitation and the latter is as effective as the former in effect.
To begin with, the purpose of marriage has undergone a sea change. In the past, it “was how women ensured their financial security, got the fathers of their children to stick around, and gained access to a host of legal rights” (par. 2). However, the feminist movement and other developments made significant changes in the lives of women. At present, they are at least as educated as men are, and make as much money as men do. The authors claim, “We’re also breadwinners in two thirds of American families” (par. 2). In addition, women can establish their legal rights even without a legal marriage. Thus, while marriage was a necessity for women “to survive” (par. 8) in the past, it is not so at present.
Thus, the authors note that due to the changes above discussed, at present what women look for in marriage is “a best friend, a business partner, somebody to share sex, love and chores” (par. 9). In simple terms, what women expect in marriage is a “soul mate”; not security anymore.
In addition, the authors point out quoting social scientists that the institution of marriage as a long term contract is not as effective as people would love to believe. Quoting Curtis Bergstrand, the article states, “social science tells us fundamentally that this system is not working” (par. 3). Moreover, there is the finding that “20 years into marriage, 90 percent of couples have lost the passion they originally felt” (par. 9). Based on this, the authors point out that marriage was a stable institution in the past because of the dependence of women on their husbands for survival. However, as the position of women improved, they do not love to be dependent anymore. In addition, countering the claim that child-rearing becomes difficult when there is no marriage, the authors provide the example of Scandinavian nations where most children are born out of wedlock. It is pointed out that in these nations, “kids actually spend more time with their parents than American children do” (par. 10).
In total, the main argument in the article is that marriage remained as an essential social institution in the past just because of the financial dependence and lack of legal protection. Therefore, what women prefer at present is a “soul mate” which is possible in cohabitation also. To sum up, cohabitation can be as effective as a legal marriage. Read More
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