During the 1950's, life was easy in that everyone knew what was expected of them: in their early to mid 20's they were supposed to marry and start a family. The husband would then go to work and the wife would stay home and take care of the kids.
It was a one-size-fits-all (OSFA) model and just about everyone did their damnedest to fit into this paradigm - even if they were gay or even when they wanted other things (for example, women who wanted careers of their own would forego them in service of the marriage).
The 60's were probably the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction as a direct result of the overzealous rigidity in the previous decade.
And the 70's may always be known as the turning point for modern marriages unleashing a 50% divorce rate that has continued to this day (give or take a few percentage points).
Just as people marry for a variety of reasons (for love, to start a family, to fit in with society, for money, for companionship), people divorce for all kinds of reasons too (for lack of love, abusive relationship, one outgrew the other).
Right, wrong or indifferent, this is how it's been in this country for the past thirty years.
But something interesting has begun to happen in the most recent five to ten years. A new trend is emerging which entails people breaking out of the OSFA mold and tapering marriages more to their own personal needs/wants and away from the traditional nuptial "supposed to's."
When my husband and I married in October, 2004, we created our own vows and did not include the "love, honor and cherish till death do us part" part. Our feeling was that, as much as we hoped to be together forever, we simply couldn't promise that we'd be together until the day we died.
We knew something our parents didn't know - that we had choices. We could choose to change our vows and we could eventually choose to divorce. Rather than that being a cop-out, I view the knowledge of having options as a challenge.
If we want to stay happily married, we have to continually work on ourselves and on the relationship. I need to work on being the best wife I can be and my husband has to do the same.
While we felt that getting married was a statement of our love and commitment to each other and therefore an important step in our relationship, more and more couples are choosing not to marry, or to marry but live in non-traditional ways.
These ways include, being married but living separately, having open marriages, wherein husband and/or wife are free to go outside the marriage for additional lovers, or being spouses part time and non spouses part time as in the movie opening this week in New York and Los Angeles called, Breaking Upwards.
Is America ready for this level of choice? Is it already happening?
A Call for Stories and Movie Reviews!
Stories: If you, or someone you know, is living an alternative married lifestyle, I'd love to know about your arrangement, why you have it and how it's working.
Reviews: If you go see Breaking Upwards, please send me your review.
Please note that I would like to use the information you share in an upcoming article. I will use the story and where you are from but I will not use your name.