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The Mind-Blowing Truth About Love & MarriageAs a recent or long time divorcee, every now and then you may feel like raising a glass to the cathartic phrase, “Marriage is dead.” But what if the institution of marriage really was following the path of the dodo bird, as many studies suggest? Many keyboard pundits (who are descendants of the late soap box preachers) question the future of love and marriage in our ever-evolving society, but who’s opinion do we listen to?

Lets face the facts: The divorce rate is at a constant-as-the-rising-sun 50%; more adults postpone marriage until after cohabitation; more couples are having children before (or regardless of) marriage; and, probably more importantly, the world is distraught with these facts. All these signs point to the cold, hard truth that we don’t have a clue what makes true love/marriage work.

The New Marriage Trend

Late in 2012, the Pew Research Center (“a nonpartisan source of data and analysis, [that] takes no advocacy positions”) released an analysis of marriage statistics from the 2010 U.S. Census. According to the data, marriage (counted in the number of newly weds each year) has been on a sharp decline since 2008. In 1960, 72% of American adults were married, whereas in modern day 2011, only 51% of American adults were married.

We may attribute the shocking gap between 1960 and 2011 marriage statistics to a sign of the times, but between 2008 and 2011 there is a noticeable marriage trend forming. Here is the breakdown (almost literally): In 2008, there were 4.51 million newly weds; in 2009, 4.45 million; in 2010, 4.23 million; and in 2011, 4.21 million.

Marriage as we know it is in a tailspin, and people are having mixed feelings about it.

The Peanut Gallery

When it comes to love, marriage, and other personal matters, everyone has an opinion. We have people who believe monogamy is against human nature and our very DNA. One blogger proclaims marriage to be dead, and the future of marriage to be in Stalin-like 10 year plans. Then there are plenty of people who believe marriage is such a sacred institution that divorce should not even be an option.

Christopher Ryan, noted author of “Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality,” is quoted as saying: “A nonpossessive, gregarious sexuality was the human norm until the rise of agriculture and private property just 10,000 years ago, [which is] about 5 percent of anatomically modern humans’ existence on Earth.” In his opinion, the decline in marriage is probably human nature’s way of coming full circle.

Somewhere in the middle is blogger Emma Johnson, who believes, “[a] 10-year marriage contract embraces the human drive to formally couple. It offers the legal and emotional protection that marriage affords us, but also embraces the very realities of how we live our lives today. We no longer expect anything to last forever.” Johnson probably views the high divorce rate and uncontested divorces as a welcome new norm in the face of life-long marriage traditions.

And then on the other end of the spectrum, supporters of covenant marriages (which are highly religious marriages constructed to make the marriage last forever) believe, “A successful marriage has little to do with circumstances and a lot to do with determination — taking the word divorce out of your vocabulary and replacing it with commitment.” Covenant marriage supporters believe the divorce rate is the result of people not taking marriage vows with the proper gusto and heels-dug-in attitude.

It’s All Relative

Here’s the real truth: Marriage, relationships, and love are private, personal affairs. One person’s take on how marriage is “supposed” to work is not guaranteed to be what another person’s is. Maybe this is the really real truth: Marriage, relationships, and love only work when people willingly agree to one definition of a relationship.

But of course, I could wrong, especially if our topic is as subjective as I proclaim. What does your really, really, real truth of marriage, and love look like?

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