Welcome to Open Mike
Open Mike is a forum for readers on a specific topic that will change every one or two months. The forum includes Your Turn, an opportunity for readers to share anecdotes and opinions related to the chosen topic. Conversely editors and writers select the most interesting entries and post them the following month In This Corner!
For our readers who don't have time to write but want to share their opinions, Open Mike also features a Three-Minute Survey - not the typical, simplistic Internet poll, but a set of five questions related to the monthly topic. When the survey is completed, we will publish Survey Says: a brief article analyzing the results.
What Craziness, Marriage?
Results from our April - June 2001 Three-Minute Survey
Judging from the results of our latest survey, proponents of traditional marriage need not worry themselves over the proximate disappearance of their beloved institution.
When we asked readers to say "aye" or "nay" to marriage, an overwhelming proportion expressed readiness to hop into the wedding dress or tux, walk down the altar, and live happily ever after. Younger women in particular are dead-set on marriage: less than 5% of women under 20 said they didn't want to get married. There were a few more "nos" among older women, but overall more than 85% of women want to marry - or would do so again given the chance.
With men the results are not as dramatic, though there would seem to be enough enthusiasm in their camp to ensure that most expectant women will indeed see their wedding rings: about 75% of men professed allegiance to the old institution. One age group, however, seems to be reticent: only 60% of those between 26 and 30 want to get married. Perhaps a passing phase?
So why do all these people want to get married?
The number one answer, by a mile, "love and companionship." Apparently, a large majority of both men and women believe that marriage provides love and companionship. Or they believe that they can't get love and companionship without marriage. Or, they're just being romantic.
When asked to name their second most important reason, the majority selected "Security to nail down the commitment." (In fact, if this had been a horse race, the winning quinella would have been "love" and "security". Of course, the odds were pretty even on these two.) In other words, they want to marry for love, yes, but by the way, in case love fails, let's make sure we get an airtight commitment. Have these people not heard about the divorce rates? Don't they know there's no sure thing?
With the exception of "children", most other potential reasons for marrying barely ranked. Children was the next most popular "second reason", especially with women. Financial benefits, peer pressure, and religion barely merited a few responses. Would these answers have been more prominent if we had asked for the reasons people actually married - as opposed to the reasons why they would like to get married?
Finally, we'd like to note a few of the short reasons mentioned by the few that don't want to get married. Comments ranged from the practical to the puerile, the clichéd to the comic, and a pretty good sum-up.
From the ladies:
- I don't need a paper to prove love.
- It's too hard to get divorced when the relationship bombs.
- Absolutely no point in doing so.
- Because I don't trust any man!
- I value freedom, don't want to be stuck in a possibly unequal relationship.
- Fear of failure.
- Developing and maintaining a healthy relationship is hard work on both sides, most people don't realize they have neither the skill or patience to dance this dance.
And the men:
- It's way too traditional and seems to doom relationships rather than make them shine.
- I just want to have fun and live my youth to its fullest.
- Life is too short to be caged.
- Don't want to have children.
- It does nothing for a relationship.
- You need hip-waders and a flotation device to survive!!!
And the sum-up:
I think that divorce has put a ceiling on the meaning of the symbolic act. If it's reversible, and everyone knows that it is, then much of the symbolism and beauty of proclaiming yourself as a romantic item for eternity is lost. It becomes more daring to say that you don't need marriage (i.e. state or religious intervention) to validate your commitment to one another than it does to have a ceremony. As well, if someone grows up knowing that they will eventually marry, then marriage becomes more a question of finding a suitable mate to fulfill the role that you have created for them, and less about having a ceremony to announce your commitment to the person you love.
More Survey Says:
Fill out this month's Three Minute Survey.