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Old 11-24-2010, 01:58 AM   #16
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however, only one type of relationship carries an explicit legal obligation, complete with legal ramifications if one party is unable to meet (or wishes to get out of) said obligations.
That is just not true in my jurisdiction.
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Old 11-24-2010, 07:57 AM   #17
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Not conveniently avoiding anything -- however, only one type of relationship carries an explicit legal obligation, complete with legal ramifications if one party is unable to meet (or wishes to get out of) said obligations.
In Australia, defacto couples have the same rights under the law as married couples. Dunno where you live
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Old 11-24-2010, 01:15 PM   #18
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In Australia, defacto couples have the same rights under the law as married couples. Dunno where you live
I understand that things are different for Australia, but the article is specifically written within an American context. In America, the definition of a common law marriage varies from state to state, and many states don't recognize them at all (though all states have to recognize common-law marriages contracted in jurisdictions that do recognize them).

What's interesting is that merely cohabitating doesn't qualify a couple to be common-law married; in order to qualify as a common-law marriage, the couple generally has to conform to some combination of the following criteria:

A) legal age (16 and up, generally);
B) public recognition of the existence of the marriage (referring to/introducing each other as husband and wife, etc);
C) intent to be married;
D) exclusivity.

So even in common-law marriage, there are various legal criteria that have to be met in order to qualify as a legally married relationship, including the intent to be married. Which lends credence to the notion that marriage is, indeed, a unique union.
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Old 11-24-2010, 02:53 PM   #19
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As pointed out earlier in the thread, it is truly fascinating that people who seem to have the least amount of resources to spread around a family seem to start a family sooner, and make it larger.

22 year old girls with daddy issues dating guys with the same type of behavior, popping out two or three kids who will probably get molested by their mum's boyfriends, and then the kids grow up damaged and keep the abuse cycle going.

My hypothetical future benevolent dictatorship would have Reproductive Licenses, just sayin'.
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Old 11-24-2010, 03:04 PM   #20
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As pointed out earlier in the thread, it is truly fascinating that people who seem to have the least amount of resources to spread around a family seem to start a family sooner, and make it larger.
Which to me makes this much more of a socio-economic issue of class disparity than a referendum on the obsoleteness (or not) of marriage.
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Old 11-24-2010, 07:18 PM   #21
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What's interesting is that merely cohabitating doesn't qualify a couple to be common-law married; in order to qualify as a common-law marriage, the couple generally has to conform to some combination of the following criteria:

A) legal age (16 and up, generally);
B) public recognition of the existence of the marriage (referring to/introducing each other as husband and wife, etc);
C) intent to be married;
D) exclusivity.
Is this generally true of U.S. jurisdictions? I am unfamiliar with state family law.

It's certainly completely untrue up north. There is no intent to marry whatsoever (frankly I find that to be constitutionally questionable). Same goes for exclusivity (another completely stupid requirement if you ask me - do we require married couples to be faithful in order to be legally married?)
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Old 11-24-2010, 07:23 PM   #22
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Is this generally true of U.S. jurisdictions? I am unfamiliar with state family law.
Generally, yeah. I was actually surprised, as I assumed (erroneously) that common law only required a couple to live together for a set amount of time. Apparently it's a bit more complicated than that.

You wacky Canadians though, with your unlocked doors and chocolate rivers... ;-)
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Old 11-24-2010, 07:28 PM   #23
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Then I think we're just talking past each other because there is a clear cultural distinction between Americans and probably most, if not all, Western European nations and Canada/Australia.

I am personally not opposed to marriage, but I am not dying to get married either. To me, I could go either way - if my partner really wanted to get married, I would likely do so because either way I don't find it an onerous thing. But if we lived together forever, that would not bother me either. I don't have strong feelings about it.

I do have a real problem with most weddings and I find it really absurd and perplexing that people are willing to spend $20, 30, 40K+ on some boring banquet hall and dry chicken. 95% of weddings are exactly the same (even if the couple thinks theirs was unique - trust me, it really wasn't to the rest of us), completely uninspiring to me and I absolutely refuse to have one like them. There are about 96,000 things I would rather do with my money.
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Old 11-24-2010, 07:42 PM   #24
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Then I think we're just talking past each other because there is a clear cultural distinction between Americans and probably most, if not all, Western European nations and Canada/Australia.
Indeed.

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I do have a real problem with most weddings and I find it really absurd and perplexing that people are willing to spend $20, 30, 40K+ on some boring banquet hall and dry chicken. 95% of weddings are exactly the same (even if the couple thinks theirs was unique - trust me, it really wasn't to the rest of us), completely uninspiring to me and I absolutely refuse to have one like them. There are about 96,000 things I would rather do with my money.
I think the meaning is what you and your invited guests bring to it. My wife and I were fortunate (and smart) to avoid a lot of the bullshit that generally accompanies weddings. We kept the invite list small, the costs low (we were poor kids) and considered ours a party for us and our closest friends, a group of people who we wanted to be there when we said our "I do"s. It's remarkable what the memories of that day hold for us; my dad prayed a powerful prayer of blessing over us, and it was certainly a meaningful day in the progress of our relationship. Ironically, ten years later we live on the opposite side of the country and don't have relationships with a lot of those people anymore, so we're doing a ten-year vows renewal next summer, that'll be a party for the people who are in our lives now. It'll be way cheaper though.
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Old 11-27-2010, 10:25 AM   #25
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The same for my husband and I. A nice chapel wedding and dinner, that was it. We were poor kids too. We are still married over 27 years.
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Old 11-27-2010, 11:46 AM   #26
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I do not think marriage is becoming obsolete, no.

For me personally, if I am in a committed, exclusive relationship then marriage just makes sense because of the "protection" that comes with it. Health insurance, life insurance, family medical leave, other benefits/cutbacks (Phil got a nice discount on his ed classes because I work for the college)....these things that we can't assign to a live-in partner, only a spouse. Nathan has already explained how it works. I don't mean that to sound shallow, for me marriage just made sense. In college I had a friend who was going to move in with me (before I was married) and then her fiancee found out he was being deployed in Afghanistan so they got married and she moved into his home instead. She's not the only woman I know that got married to their fiancee sooner because of military deployment and the protection and financial security that comes with being married to a soldier but not being engaged to one.

And I agree with Martina on the wedding thing, though I think a lot of that has to do with opportunity. Daddy not putting a price point on the wedding vs. those who pay for it themselves (along with student loans, down payment for a first home, etc). I think I spent less on my wedding than my camera and if I could do it over again I would make it even more simple (a BBQ on the beach). Plenty of people easily get married on a dime because that's the only choice there is. My biggest expensive was photography and even so I purchased the digital images and did all the post processing myself. My favorite photo is of my late grandma and I and just that photo alone is worth the entire cost of the wedding to me.
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Old 11-27-2010, 01:16 PM   #27
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I think I spent less on my wedding than my camera and if I could do it over again I would make it even more simple (a BBQ on the beach).
One of the best weddings I've been to was a BBQ in a barn at the family farm. I spent a couple of days with the bride baking cupcakes and that was my favourite memory of it.
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Old 12-09-2010, 01:11 AM   #28
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Ross Douthat (opinion), New York Times, Dec. 6
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...This week, the National Marriage Project is releasing a study charting the decline of the two-parent family among what it calls the “moderately educated middle”—the 58% of Americans with high school diplomas and often some college education, but no four-year degree.

This decline is depressing, but it isn’t surprising. We’ve known for a while that America has a marriage gap: college graduates divorce infrequently and bear few children out of wedlock, while in the rest of the country unwed parenthood and family breakdown are becoming a new normal. This gap has been one of the paradoxes of the culture war: highly educated Americans live like Ozzie and Harriet despite being cultural liberals, while middle America hews to traditional values but has trouble living up to them.

But the Marriage Project’s data suggest that this paradox is fading. It’s no longer clear that middle America does hold more conservative views on marriage and family, or that educated Americans are still more likely to be secular and socially liberal.
That division held a generation ago, but now it’s diminishing. In the 1970s, for instance, college-educated Americans overwhelmingly supported liberal divorce laws, while the rest of the country was ambivalent. Likewise, college graduates were much less likely than high school graduates to say that premarital sex was “always wrong.” Flash forward to the 2000s, though, and college graduates have grown more socially conservative on both fronts (50% now favor making divorces harder to get, up from 34% in the age of key parties), while the least educated Americans have become more permissive. There has been a similar change in religious practice. In the 1970s, college-educated Americans were slightly less likely to attend church than high school graduates. Today, piety increasingly correlates with education: college graduates are America’s most faithful churchgoers, while religious observance has dropped precipitously among the less-educated.

In part, these shifts may be a testament to the upward mobility of religious believers. America’s college-educated population probably looks more conservative and (relatively speaking) more religious because religious conservatives have become better educated. Evangelical Christians, in particular, are now one of America’s best-educated demographics, as likely to enroll their children in an SAT prep course as they are to ship them off to Bible camp. This means that a culture war that’s often seen as a clash between liberal elites and a conservative middle America looks more and more like a conflict within the educated class—pitting Wheaton and Baylor against Brown and Bard, Redeemer Presbyterian Church against the 92nd Street Y, C. S. Lewis devotees against the Philip Pullman fan club.

But as religious conservatives have climbed the educational ladder, American churches seem to be having trouble reaching the people left behind. This is bad news for both Christianity and the country. The reinforcing bonds of strong families and strong religious communities have been crucial to working-class prosperity in America. Yet today, no religious body seems equipped to play the kind of stabilizing role in the lives of the “moderately educated middle” (let alone among high school dropouts) that the early-20th-century Catholic Church played among the ethnic working class. As a result, the long-running culture war arguments about how to structure family life (Should marriage be reserved for heterosexuals? Is abstinence or “safe sex” the most responsible way to navigate the premarital landscape?) look increasingly irrelevant further down the educational ladder, where sex and child-rearing often take place in the absence of any social structures at all.
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Old 01-07-2011, 10:04 AM   #29
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NY Times

December 31, 2010
The Happy Marriage Is the ‘Me’ Marriage
By TARA PARKER-POPE

A lasting marriage does not always signal a happy marriage. Plenty of miserable couples have stayed together for children, religion or other practical reasons.

But for many couples, it’s just not enough to stay together. They want a relationship that is meaningful and satisfying. In short, they want a sustainable marriage.

“The things that make a marriage last have more to do with communication skills, mental health, social support, stress — those are the things that allow it to last or not,” says Arthur Aron, a psychology professor who directs the Interpersonal Relationships Laboratory at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. “But those things don’t necessarily make it meaningful or enjoyable or sustaining to the individual.”

The notion that the best marriages are those that bring satisfaction to the individual may seem counterintuitive. After all, isn’t marriage supposed to be about putting the relationship first?

Not anymore. For centuries, marriage was viewed as an economic and social institution, and the emotional and intellectual needs of the spouses were secondary to the survival of the marriage itself. But in modern relationships, people are looking for a partnership, and they want partners who make their lives more interesting.

Caryl Rusbult, a researcher at Vrije University in Amsterdam who died last January, called it the “Michelangelo effect,” referring to the manner in which close partners “sculpt” each other in ways that help each of them attain valued goals.

Dr. Aron and Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., a professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, have studied how individuals use a relationship to accumulate knowledge and experiences, a process called “self-expansion.” Research shows that the more self-expansion people experience from their partner, the more committed and satisfied they are in the relationship.

To measure this, Dr. Lewandowski developed a series of questions for couples: How much has being with your partner resulted in your learning new things? How much has knowing your partner made you a better person?

While the notion of self-expansion may sound inherently self-serving, it can lead to stronger, more sustainable relationships, Dr. Lewandowski says.

“If you’re seeking self-growth and obtain it from your partner, then that puts your partner in a pretty important position,” he explains. “And being able to help your partner’s self-expansion would be pretty pleasing to yourself.”

The concept explains why people are delighted when dates treat them to new experiences, like a weekend away. But self-expansion isn’t just about exotic experiences. Individuals experience personal growth through their partners in big and small ways. It happens when they introduce new friends, or casually talk about a new restaurant or a fascinating story in the news.

The effect of self-expansion is particularly pronounced when people first fall in love. In research at the University of California at Santa Cruz, 325 undergraduate students were given questionnaires five times over 10 weeks. They were asked, “Who are you today?” and given three minutes to describe themselves. They were also asked about recent experiences, including whether they had fallen in love.

After students reported falling in love, they used more varied words in their self-descriptions. The new relationships had literally broadened the way they looked at themselves.

“You go from being a stranger to including this person in the self, so you suddenly have all of these social roles and identities you didn’t have before,” explains Dr. Aron, who co-authored the research. “When people fall in love that happens rapidly, and it’s very exhilarating.”

Over time, the personal gains from lasting relationships are often subtle. Having a partner who is funny or creative adds something new to someone who isn’t. A partner who is an active community volunteer creates new social opportunities for a spouse who spends long hours at work.

Additional research suggests that spouses eventually adopt the traits of the other — and become slower to distinguish differences between them, or slower to remember which skills belong to which spouse.

In experiments by Dr. Aron, participants rated themselves and their partners on a variety of traits, like “ambitious” or “artistic.” A week later, the subjects returned to the lab and were shown the list of traits and asked to indicate which ones described them.

People responded the quickest to traits that were true of both them and their partner. When the trait described only one person, the answer came more slowly. The delay was measured in milliseconds, but nonetheless suggested that when individuals were particularly close to someone, their brains were slower to distinguish between their traits and those of their spouses.

“It’s easy to answer those questions if you’re both the same,” Dr. Lewandowski explains. “But if it’s just true of you and not of me, then I have to sort it out. It happens very quickly, but I have to ask myself, ‘Is that me or is that you?’ ”

It’s not that these couples lost themselves in the marriage; instead, they grew in it. Activities, traits and behaviors that had not been part of their identity before the relationship were now an essential part of how they experienced life.

All of this can be highly predictive for a couple’s long-term happiness. One scale designed by Dr. Aron and colleagues depicts seven pairs of circles. The first set is side by side. With each new set, the circles begin to overlap until they are nearly on top of one another. Couples choose the set of circles that best represents their relationship. In a 2009 report in the journal Psychological Science, people bored in their marriages were more likely to choose the more separate circles. Partners involved in novel and interesting experiences together were more likely to pick one of the overlapping circles and less likely to report boredom. “People have a fundamental motivation to improve the self and add to who they are as a person,” Dr. Lewandowski says. “If your partner is helping you become a better person, you become happier and more satisfied in the relationship.”
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Old 01-07-2011, 12:33 PM   #30
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Interesting, thanks for posting, Mrs S. Dr. Aron is very respected in the field.

I once had a social psych prof who claimed he could predict with very high accuracy, something like 95%, which couples would still be together in 10 years, after spending an hour with them.
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