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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Marriage, Millennials and their Kids: What's Up with That?

In 1958, when Ruby Tabeata’s story unfolds in Greenwich Village, most parents were married to each other. That fact ends up causing a lot of trouble for Ruby in TheBeat on Ruby’s Street, though we wouldn’t blink about it today.

While many gay couples have fought long and hard to marry, most research is showing that the new generation of heterosexual couples are not celebrating their relationships with wedding ceremonies. The 2015 U.S. Wedding Forecast from Demographic Intelligence shows a marriage rate of 6.74 per 1,000 people this year, with the number expected to fall slightly lower over each of the next two years. 

In 2008, the marriage rate in America was 7.09. A Pew Research Center report recently pointed out one-fourth of millennials are likely to avoid marriage entirely. Yet when gay friends marry, the ceremonies seem beautiful and full of promise. Why shouldn’t the same be true for heterosexual couples? Are they afraid of divorce?

I do have a lot of friends who say their parents or they themselves divorced. Matter of fact, I belong to that club too, and raised my son as a single parent for a few years until I remarried.

Now, the rate of marital decline makes me wonder if my own son will have a wedding in his future. (At the age of eight, he told me he didn’t want a wife but would definitely adopt a child. ) I look back on the unhappy years before and during my divorce and feel guilty about putting my son through them. I hope the subsequent years when his dad and I were both happily married will make him braver about finding a relationship.

And you do have to be brave to find one. When the man who is now my husband asked me to get married, I thought long and hard about it. If you've been through divorce, you know how bad it can make you feel, not just about your relationships, but about everything. 

I had known Pete for several years as a friend and knew I was happy being with him. I had other friends who kept relationships going as single moms without getting married, but I kept coming back to the dialogue I wrote for my play A Body of Water. One woman tells her friend she didn't want pictures at her wedding, so she doesn't have to compare her memory of the celebration to what actually occurred.

Her friend replies: 
"I like having something to look at because... I feel like I've accomplished something. You make a promise and you commit yourself and... that's important. Of course you take a risk but... who knows? Maybe the picture won't be as good. Maybe you'll like real life better. You might be better friends than you were at first. Because you can't always do that in the beginning. You want too much."

In the end, I decided that getting married a second time meant I believed the person I'd chosen would make my life stronger, so our friendship would grow--and that would grow our love as well.

That doesn’t mean I think we all have to be married. But if you ask if I hope my kids gets married, I would say I sure hope he finds what I did--and that it gets better with time.

Couple: Dragunsk Usf