I'm so sad. I saw statistics from the U.S. Census the other day and the average U.S. household now no longer consists of married folks and their kids. Less than 48% of households have married people in them--at least people married to each other. Which makes me very glad that I'm looking at the tail end of my life, rather than the beginning of it. I mean, how depressing.
And no, I don't think the minute financial/tax penalty for married people versus single people had anything to do with it. I think people now just lack any incentive to make marriage work. In fact, I see this as one thread in a huge blanket of interconnected things. Like books, for example. What is hot in the book industry? Books that end with marriage? No. Erotica. Marriage is no longer THE happy ending. It's not something to strive for, to work at.
People are starting to lose the concept of marriage as the "happy ending" in favor of immediate gratification. The new happy ending is getting the big "O" with or without a partner, multiple partners, or whatever. I suspect this may be because people have not seen happy endings in their own lives. They've seen marriages (when marriages occur) break up. Their parents went from one relationship to another, blending families, breaking them apart again, and reblending until the kids learned that nothing was permanent. They learned at an early age to look only to themselves because all human relationships appear to be temporary: the man who was your father last year isn't this year, and his son, who was your brother last year, is not related to you this year and maybe doesn't even live nearby anymore.
What can your kid do to protect himself or herself? Learn not to attach too strongly to anyone. They learn that maybe the only happiness anyone can find is to scratch whatever itches them at the moment. A few years ago, Demi Moore was a perfect example of this. She was held up by a lot of women's magazines as being "so brave to follow her own star and break up with Bruce Willis" when in reality, all she was doing was having s*x with anyone who piqued her interest and to heck with what that did to her family, her kids and her husband. She didn't care about anyone or anything except that itch. I don't find that brave. I find that sad. I find it sad that people can't look beyond their immediate gratification to see what they have already. I find it sad that people aren't willing to place any value on their existing relationships and families, or to work through whatever issues they may have.
I guess I can't understand it because for me, the decision is so simple. I don't cheat on my husband because all I have to do is think about his face if he were to find out. The thought disappointing and hurting him appalls me. And through all the arguments and problems, I think about *not* having him around, and no matter how tough any one patch gets, it is always better to have him there, than to *not* have him there. So it makes me sad to think that others see no value in the concept of weathering life's storms with someone who is willing to stick with you through all the rain and gales. They just jump ship and swim to some other port.
Jobs...relationships...everything appears to be so disposable. If you have a problem, don't bother to work it out--it isn't worth the effort. Just move on to someone or something else. Everything is transitory. Ultimately, relationships are meaningless because they're disposable, too. Why really connect with someone when there might be a better someone at the next table? Or just connect temporarily, knowing you'll keep looking until you find that "better person".
However, I suspect that although I find this sad, other folks reading this will just think I'm a jerk, because, really, what's the problem? If everyone is happy and you get to have, like, maybe 2000 partners instead of a handful in your life, why shouldn't you? Stability is boring. Get over it.
How really sad.