Dallas, TX –
A recent news report said more American women are living without husbands - meaning an increasing number of women opt to remain unmarried, or to live with their boyfriends. And women who do marry are doing so later in life. In 2005, 51% of women were living without a spouse. Compare that to 35% in 1950 and you can see a major tipping point in relationships is occurring.
Experts give several reasons. Women are less dependent on men for security and money because they have their own jobs. And when they need security, they get a dog or an alarm service. Women also enjoy their independence and the flexible lifestyle of single-hood.
That's not a put down of men. Re-thinking marriage is not saying men are dispensable or not needed. It IS saying marriage is not as attractive as it used to be. Getting married used to be every little girl's fantasy. They dreamed a prince charming would come and sweep them off their feet, and their lives would fall into place fairy tale-style; or at least sitcom-style like Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver or even the Huxtables on The Cosby Show.
But the secret is out. Marriage for many is not a fairy tale life. Marriage can be marred by domination, violence, infidelity, being over burdened with housework, or abandoned with childcare. As a result, a growing number of women realize getting married is not an automatic, required ritual awaiting all women. Women have choices, and they are taking them.
Marriage needs an overhaul to attract women back. Today, marriage is like a rickety model-T Ford plodding down the road, as new, sleek autos cruise by. Women want something that will carry them comfortably into the future, rather than a relic that tethers them to the past.
Don't get me wrong - marriage is a good thing. I am pro-marriage and I don't want to see it become extinct. But I'm also a realist; marriage is broken and needs fixing. How do I know? Look at the numbers- more than 50% of marriages end in divorce, and married couples became the minority in 2005.
Overhauling marriage will be tough, demanding work because sticky topics need to be addressed such as submission of women, division of house hold duties and child care. The overhaul also starts with us married people. We should give our mates the attention and affection they need. We should invest the same energy to them that we devote to our jobs. And we must believe our marital problems are not necessarily permanent problems.
Dr. Sheron Patterson is senior pastor of Highland Hills United Methodist Church in Dallas.
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