The Decline of Traditional Marriage (Abort. mentioned)
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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Default The Decline of Traditional Marriage (Abort. mentioned)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/op...f=opinion&_r=0

    The columnist argues that some of the primary causes of the decline of traditional marriage are:

    1. Conservative policies that have led to higher imprisonment rates for poor men
    2. Conservative policies that have led to lower job stability and income potential for poor men (making women less likely to want to marry them)
    3. Liberal policies (or attitudes maybe?) that have led to an over all decline in morality
    4. Liberal policies on abortion (presumably because now there is less need/call for shotgun weddings?)
    5. Liberal policies on divorce (specifically, allowing no-fault divorce.)

    Strangely, no mention of gay marriage which we all know is the Black Death to traditional marriage! (I kid the Conservatives! I kid! )

    Do you agree with these? Also, assuming you do agree with them, what do you think the solution should be, or is there a solution? For example, I think about getting rid of no-fault divorce, and my thought is "So you want to keep people married to each other who don't want to be married to each other? I'm not sure that's a good a solution.")

    Any other thoughts?
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Well, of course I agree with 1 and 2, just as Ross Douthat knew I would (tricksy Conservative, always one step ahead! ) I don't even know if it's about "What woman would want to marry this guy" as it is about resources to do so, but I'm not going to argue his over all premise there.

    3. Maybe. I'm trying to think of a show that normalizes adultery, for example, or glamorizes single parenthood. I can't think of any off of the top of my head, but that doesn't mean that they don't exist. Certainly plenty of shows normalize and/or glamourize sex outside of marriage, but my thoughts on whether that is a bad thing are more nuanced than just "yes good" or "no bad." I agree with the author's premise that married people or people in long term committed relationships tend to be better off financially. That just makes sense - two adults pooling their resources have an easier time than one. On the other hand, studies show that when people get married young, they are actually MORE likely to get divorced. So if the alternative to showing young sexy people out hooking up with a bunch of people is showing young sexy people getting married to each other...I don't know if that will actually fix the divorce rate. On the other hand, I feel like a lot of these shows don't deal in a very realistic way with the real consequences of having a bunch of unmarried sex. If someone experiences an unwanted pregnancy from it, it's probably a "very special episode" and I can't think of Barney from How I Met Your Mother ever mentioning getting an STD. So certainly the pop culture treatment of sexuality is seriously flawed - I just don't know that swinging it too far the other way would fix the divorce rate.

    4. As Ross pointed out, as a liberal I am not a super fan of getting rid of abortion in order to save the marriage rate. From a practical stand point, if a relationship is not at the point where the participants want to get married anyway, adding the stress of a baby doesn't necessarily seem like it would increase relationship satisfaction or make people want to stay together. I remember reading somewhere that money and child rearing are two of the top reasons that married people fight, so adding an unplanned (and potentially unwanted, sad to say, if the mother would have otherwise sought an abortion) baby to a potentially already unstable relationship just doesn't sound like a good solution to me. Having said that, I do think that we need to encourage men to stay in their children's lives (and for women to let them!) regardless of whether they are married to the mother. Beyond that though, I don't know what kind of practical changes we make to make this happen. From a policy stand point, I'm not even sure that at this point outlawing abortion would actually mean that more people get married any more. I suspect that cultural ship has sailed, and that it would just mean more children born to unwed mothers.

    5. I get what he is saying here, I actually do. I think it's a valid point that when you make divorce an "easy" option, perhaps people keep it in the back of their heads that if things don't work out they can always just get a divorce, and that makes it that much easier to enter into marriage more flippantly, and to also work less hard to fix problems. My husband and I actually have a rule that we agreed on early in our marriage that neither one of us will ever ever mention or bring up divorce unless we really plan on doing it (getting a divorce) because we don't even want that to be a part of the conversation. In our relationship, divorce is just not even on the table. I mean, I guess it would be if it absolutely absolutely had to be, but for all intents and purposes, it's not. And I do think that having that be an unthinkable non-option is a good thing for our marriage and for our chances of making the long haul. So to a certain extent, I agree with him. But having said all of that, I don't think that the answer is having the government step in and force people to stay married who don't want to be married. I mean, talk about big intrusive government!!! I think we need a cultural shift which maybe does relate to #3, but I'm not sure how to get there.
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    Posting Addict Spacers's Avatar
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    What's the problem with the decline of "traditional marriage"? Was that something to strive for to begin with? I'm not so sure about that, and I'm personally pretty glad to see that we are no longer pushing people into marriage because they had the bad luck of falling pregnant together. (I think a lot of women would do better by choosing the father of their children more carefully, but whether they are married or not doesn't change that either way.) We are no longer expecting people who hate one another to stay together "for the children," and that's fine because that was never good for the kids anyway. We no longer expect men to be the breadwinners and women to stay home, so who cares if a man earns less; he can marry a woman who makes more! We are no longer shaming people who live together for a while before getting married, and that's great because it's far easier to move out on someone you aren't good with before you've legally entwined your lives. I don't see any of those things to be a negative thing or a reason to mourn the supposed loss of traditional marriage. I actually think it strengthens the concept of marriage when we see the ones happening, staying together.

    As for the conservative policies leading to a higher imprisonment rate for poor men, that's more of an overall problem with our legal and justice systems than it has to do with marriage. I'll concede that it's probably easier to find & marry a nice girl when you aren't in prison, but I have a feeling that many of the men who end up behind bars from being poor are already married, or at least already in an established family group. Them going to prison tends to break up families, not prevent their occurence in the first place.
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    If you read the article, the starting premise (which I agree with) is that marriage is a strong predictor (both for the parents and then for their children as well) of income mobility. In other words, people (and their children) are more likely to stay poor if they are not married. I would add to that that you can probably get most of the same benefit from a long term committed cohabitation without the official peice of paper, but the general premise seems sound to me. When we are talking about people living and staying below the povety (which is disproportionately women and children BTW) it makes sense to me to look at all of the factors, including the social factors involved. To me, it makes sense to point out that two adults pooling their resources have an easier time than one adult. Having said that, my thought is not how do we FORCE people to get and stay married, but maybe how do we encourage them to want to get and stay married or at least in a long term committed relationship. You're absolutely right about the fact that part of it needs to be about picking their partners and their co-parents more carefully. Maybe easy access to birth control is part of it, then?
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    Strangely, no mention of gay marriage which we all know is the Black Death to traditional marriage! (I kid the Conservatives! I kid! )
    That falls under number 3

    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    3. Liberal policies (or attitudes maybe?) that have led to an over all decline in morality
    Which I believe is the root of all the rest.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    That falls under number 3Which I believe is the root of all the rest.
    Can you be more specific? I'm geniunely trying to peice out how I think the social and legal aspects interplay with the practical outcomes of less marriage and decreased financial mobility, so I would like to hear some specific thoughts on what you think is at play here other than just liberals are immoral. Like specifically, what immoral things are happening and specifically how does that relate to the decline of marriage? Like I gave the example of TV shows not showing an accurate representation of the consequences of "sleeping around" which could potentially normalize and glamourize sleeping around instead of settling down. Do you agree with that one? Do you have others in mind? Things like that. Also, do you have any practical ideas for reversing these trends? For example, do you want the government to step in and enforce laws about not showing single people hooking up on TV? If so, what are your thoughts on the way that impacts Freedom of Expression? Things like that, please. ETA: As another example, if you want to say specifically that gay marriage is contributing to the decline of marriage over all, can you please explain specifically how? Like what mechanism is causing it. "People see gay people getting married and therefore they..... which causes them to get married in lower numbers because.....and get divorced in higher numbers because......"
    Last edited by Alissa_Sal; 01-27-2014 at 03:19 PM.
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    Yeah, sorry, I didn't read it. I seem to have exceeded my number of "free reads" on that site, which boggles my mind since I don't recall reading much on the NYT this month.

    I'm not sure I agree with the premise that people, and therefore their children, are more likely to stay poor if they are not married. I would agree with that only if children are involved, or when children become involved. Single people and childless couples are generally far more wealthy, per capita, than people with children. And people generally take a hit to their finances when they have children, but that's irregardless of marriage; that's because kids are negative income -- they not only don't bring in money, they cost you money. It sounds like this guy is trying to tie income to marriage, when it's really income tied to children.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    That falls under number 3



    Which I believe is the root of all the rest.
    The problem with #3 is, whose morality are we judging it all with? Yours? Mine? Alissa's? One's own morality is for every person to decide for himself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacers View Post
    Yeah, sorry, I didn't read it. I seem to have exceeded my number of "free reads" on that site, which boggles my mind since I don't recall reading much on the NYT this month.

    I'm not sure I agree with the premise that people, and therefore their children, are more likely to stay poor if they are not married. I would agree with that only if children are involved, or when children become involved. Single people and childless couples are generally far more wealthy, per capita, than people with children. And people generally take a hit to their finances when they have children, but that's irregardless of marriage; that's because kids are negative income -- they not only don't bring in money, they cost you money. It sounds like this guy is trying to tie income to marriage, when it's really income tied to children.
    I may not have stated it exactly right. He is quoting a study done by Harvard, but the study looks at the mobility of the children more so than the parents. Please tell me you can read Slate?

    New Harvard study, “Where is the Land of Opportunity,” finds single parents are the key link to economic opportunity.

    The study, “Where is the Land of Opportunity?: The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States,” authored by Harvard economist Raj Chetty and colleagues from Harvard and Berkeley, explores the community characteristics most likely to predict mobility for lower-income children. The study specifically focuses on two outcomes: absolute mobility for lower-income children—that is, how far up the income ladder they move as adults; and relative mobility—that is, how far apart children who grew up rich and poor in the same community end up on the economic ladder as adults. When it comes to these measures of upward mobility in America, the new Harvard study asks: Which “factors are the strongest predictors of upward mobility in multiple variable regressions”?

    1) Family structure. Of all the factors most predictive of economic mobility in America, one factor clearly stands out in their study: family structure. By their reckoning, when it comes to mobility, “the strongest and most robust predictor is the fraction of children with single parents.” They find that children raised in communities with high percentages of single mothers are significantly less likely to experience absolute and relative mobility. Moreover, “[c]hildren of married parents also have higher rates of upward mobility if they live in communities with fewer single parents.” In other words, as the figure below indicates, it looks like a married village is more likely to raise the economic prospects of a poor child.

    What makes this finding particularly significant is that this is the first major study showing that rates of single parenthood at the community level are linked to children’s economic opportunities over the course of their lives. A lot of research—including new research from the Brookings Institution—has shown us that kids are more likely to climb the income ladder when they are raised by two, married parents. But this is the first study to show that lower-income kids from both single- and married-parent families are more likely to succeed if they hail from a community with lots of two-parent families.

    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    Can you be more specific? I'm geniunely trying to peice out how I think the social and legal aspects interplay with the practical outcomes of less marriage and decreased financial mobility, so I would like to hear some specific thoughts on what you think is at play here other than just liberals are immoral. Like specifically, what immoral things are happening and specifically how does that relate to the decline of marriage? Like I gave the example of TV shows not showing an accurate representation of the consequences of "sleeping around" which could potentially normalize and glamourize sleeping around instead of settling down. Do you agree with that one? Do you have others in mind? Things like that. Also, do you have any practical ideas for reversing these trends? For example, do you want the government to step in and enforce laws about not showing single people hooking up on TV? If so, what are your thoughts on the way that impacts Freedom of Expression? Things like that, please. ETA: As another example, if you want to say specifically that gay marriage is contributing to the decline of marriage over all, can you please explain specifically how? Like what mechanism is causing it. "People see gay people getting married and therefore they..... which causes them to get married in lower numbers because.....and get divorced in higher numbers because......"
    I wish I knew the answer of how to return morality to social norms. I think until people return to a belief that there is an absolute truth things will continue to decline. It's all about relativism. If there is no absolute than what is right or wrong is determined by whatever is acceptable in society at the time.

    Ethical Relativism | Absolute Etchics | Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

    As far as divorce I think it is interesting that the rate of divorce for Christians correlates not just with being a Christian, but on how dedicated they are and how much they actually attend church services. It is easy to say you are a Christian but those who actually practice their beliefs are less likely to divorce.

    Christian Divorce Statistics of various groups |
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