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Love, Facebook, and Marriage

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"Love, Facebook, and Marriage"

"Can Marriage Be for Life," written by social anthropologist Margaret Mead, depicts a changing world in which marriage, once a mainstay in American culture, has now been replaced by divorce. Its permeation through the United States, she writes, is making marriage many times more difficult for the younger generation attempting to incorporate the institution into their lives. Thirty years apart, Stephanie Coontz's article "The Evolution of Matrimony: The Changing Social Context of Marriage," corroborates Mead's assertions that in the next thirty years marriage and society would change dramatically, covering the history of marriage, the evolution of the family unit, and cultural specific practices from the past three thousand years up to the past half-century. Both authors acknowledge the rapid evolution of marriage, and I agree with their assertions. Marriage is no longer an institution solely based on legal, economic, religious, or reproductive means, marriage in my opinion is based entirely on the concept of love and the constant and conscious effort of the people involved.

Mead begins her article on the changing mindset of American culture that marriage's implied permanency is fading. She attributes this to a few reasons: deferred maturity, growing apart, fading religious boundaries, and the prevalence of divorce in mainstream culture. Gone are the days when couples married right out of high school, had children, and stayed together for life bound by society's expectations and religious obligations. Our culture's new model of contains college, grad school, and career, pushing back the clock of matrimony and children in some cases ten or more years as one goes through a second and sometimes third adolescence. It is the idea that our lifetime is one of growth and change, Mead claims, that cause some spouses to part ways. Unless the conscious effort by both parties is present to grow together and not grow apart, the marriage will end in divorce. Mead further completes this idea with the observations that the younger generation is not only witnessing the demise of marriage, but also realizing its need for realistic expectations and cognizant determination in order to survive. This generation, she writes, is also less likely to stay in an unhappy marriage due to religious obligations, and more anxious to have children than the previous one. Mead closes her article by emphasizing that "if we as a society can acknowledge that marriage is terminable, and in some cases be terminable, we can give every newly married pair, and every old married pair, a chance to recognize the hazards that they face, and to make genuine efforts to survive them."

Coontz broadens her view of marriage to not only include other cultures, but also chronicles the history of marriage for the past three thousand years. Marriage was once used for the primal reasons of procreation of survival, evolved to include social standing and financial gain, and has now reached a place in history where young people have the right to make their own decisions about sexuality, courtship, and marriage. Coontz also explores the plurality of marriage in different cultures in which polygamy or "co-wives" are present, comparing that with the western belief of marriage being comprised of one man and one woman. The author focuses on the change of family structure and dynamic not only to emphasize the change in interpersonal dynamics of the family, but also the sexualized nature of couples today. Women, once forced into marriages by legal, economic, and reproduction subordination, are now free to choose their partner freely and for love. Coontz closes her article succinctly: "the change in young people's independence from the dictates of parents and in women's independence from men has revolutionized marriage...and also eroding its traditional roles and forms around the globe."

I agree with both Margaret Mead and Stephanie Coontz. Marriage is changing, and rapidly so. Even in the past six years since Coontz's article was published, our society has been further molded and changed by the permeating affect of technology, social media, and the narcissistic instant gratification that has become synonymous with

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