Why is it harder to have a good marriage now than in past generations? In the last decade writers, intellectuals, social scientists, evolutionary biologists and the media have tried to come up with an answer. Writer/actor Ben Stein cpatures the despair of contemporary relational failure through his character "Harry" in his short story, "Men's Club":
"I have figured out something," he said. It came to me on my 45th birthday one year ago. This is what it was. All my relations with women the last 10 years have been terrible. I don't know why. It doesn't matter if the women are here or in New York or in Hawaii or anywhere. Somehow, sometime in the last 20 years, a great rip took place in the fabric that binds men and women together...
...The women feel as if the men are ripping them off. The men feel as if they're being ripped off. Nobody wants to do a G---------d thing for each other. It's like we're all little kids screaming at and for each other in a nursery, and all the adults have gone away somewhere. No one knows how to care for anyone else any longer; people don't even know how to care for themselves.It's like chaos out there."
We certainly have gotten that kind of feedback from our readers on this blog. Men and women are misconnecting like never before and punitive and antiquainted divorce and custody laws are like gasoline to a inferno. This new alienation has exacerbated since 1965 when Daniel Patrick Moynihan first alerted America of the coming destruction of the black family unit. Moynihan was harshly criticized at the time for his startling warning to a sleeping nation. But now for all ethnic groups in America marriage and parenthood have split apart. Now that the national rate of childbirth out of wedlock is approaching double the rate for blacks in 1965 that so alarmed the Johnson Administration, it is a fair question to ask why any men should get married.
David Blankenhorn, president of a New York based family issues think tank, answers that question. He believes that America is in danger of becoming a fatherless society. He believes this is a destructive trend for any country, because non-fictional single parent families are more susceptible to poverty and a whole range of problems (Fagan). A country built on crumbling marriages begins a downward spiral of increased drug abuse, crime, teen pregnancy, homelessness, infant mortality, suicide and depression (Gallagher).
Certainly in the black community, where single parent families are most prevalent, we find social pathology at it's most tragic: one third of black males in their twenties are either imprisoned, paroled or are on probation( Butterfield). But the Hispanic and white communities are well on their way to a similar fate. Charles Murray has shown that lower class whites are also now separating parenthood from marriage. These sobering facts have led leaders from both the Democratic and Republican parties to agree that fatherlessness is a huge problem facing our nation in 2012.
American is awakening to the most harmful trend of our generation. But where do we begin to seek a solution to this seemingly intractable problem? Leslie Godwin, Executive Director of Parent Support Services in Calabasas California, suggests that the key is to bring men and women back together to raise children together that will grow up with the healthy ability to sustain meaningful relationships. But how is that possible given the overwhelming evidence that the family unit is in precipitous decline?
Nationally syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman correctly poses the paradox of this crisis:
"Americans believe that people should only marry for love and only stay married as long as there is love. We also believe that most children are better off with their two parents. When those two beliefs conflict, we fall into confused or polite silence. Finally we have a chorus loudly and publicly worrying about children. We are all singing the blues about absent fathers and unwed mothers. But the next question is whether we can turn to the subject of men and women, relationships and marriage in a changing time."
That's what this blog is all about.