Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Did 'jah ever wonder?

In an amusing and interesting Tom Purcell column about two heterosexual men in Canada who have announced their impending marriage (to take advantage of tax benefits), this paragraph caught my attention:

It's true that heterosexual men and women have made a mess out of traditional marriage. Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce - and that only pertains to folks who bother marrying. Many heterosexual folks prefer cohabitation, as it provides many of the goodies of marriage without the hassles.
Did you ever wonder if the number of divorces in America increased at a rate equal to the increase in American longevity? Think about it: before the modern age, people promised to be married until death did them part, and death usually stepped in fairly quickly. Women routinely died in childbirth, and both men and women died from things that either don't happen today (diptheria, smallpox, polio, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, rubella, typus, typhoid, etc.) or things that can, in young people at least, be treated with relative ease (appendicitis, pneumonia, etc.). Marriage had a way of ending abruptly within minutes of the altar and often, even under good circumstances, within a few years. So, I was wondering whether, as people lived longer and discovered that they really were anchored to someone for the long haul, if divorce became more and more socially acceptable. It would be interesting to see whether modern Americans spend as much time in any single marriage relationship as did historic Americans, the difference being that marriages that once would have ended with someone's death now end in divorce.