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The Tar Heel
Marriage not w
Thursday, June 17, 1971
Last week the American public was
saturated with talk of flowers, wedding
cake, bridal gowns, spring weddings and
love. A tear glimmered in one's eye at the
thought of the young and happy couple
walking down the aisle, exchanging vows
and living happily ever after.
It was a fairy-book wedding come
true. The blushing bride and the nervous
bridegroom. Something old, something
new, something ; borrowed, something
blue. The tiered wedding cake, the first
dance, the long "receiving' line, and the
toss of the bridal bouquet. It was all
there . . . every little girl's dream of what
her wedding day would be like. ;
It would be wonderful if all wedding
days could go as smoothly with as much
happiness and joy. And it would be even
more wonderful if all could live happily
I am quite a skeptic about marriage
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Address letters to Editor, The Tar
Heel, in care of the Student Union.
and all the discussion about Tricia's
wedding last week and the attention it
received from the media prompted me to
research the actual status of marriage and
divorce in America today. The figures are
In '1967 there were 2,146,000
marriages in the U.S. By 1972 it is
estimated that there will be more than
2.3 million marriages a year.
The average marrying age of women in
1969 was 20 years, 7 months and men, as
tradition, married women two years
younger than themselves. The number of
men to women was approximately 94 to
The divorce rates are rising as well. In
1967 there were 660,000 divorces in the
U.S., approximately one divorce per
every four marriages. Divorce, apparently,
has become as much an institution as
marriage. It is still the most widely
accepted means of coping with marriages
beset by problems, particularly in the
According to U.N. figures for
countries with available statistics no
Western European country has a divorce
rate that even approaches that of the U.S.
In general the rate of divorce for Western
Europe is about one-half that of the U.S.
In other words, a marriage in U.S. in
the late 1960's has about a 50-50 chance
of remaining even nominally intact.
Chances are even less for the hasty and
unplanned for marriages. Figures show
that one-third of all first born children
a game of enlightenment
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However, players must actively participate in this enlightenment process through discussion and
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Hopefully through this exchange of information and opinion, players will come to realize why
some of that female 51 of the population is dissatisfied and at the same time recognize that these
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A new game from the people who gave us
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from 1964 to 1966 were conceived out of
wedlock, thus causing forced marriages
which have only slight chances for
Another variable in the success of
marriage, believe it or not, is what region
you live in. The U.S. Office of Vital
Statistics found that in 1961 the 14 states
where divorce rates were higher were
primarily in the West, with the rest all in
the South. Virtually all low rates were in
the Midwest or East.
Reports, studies, research, facts and
figures are endless. Marriage and divorce
have been the objects of scrutiny since
they were first conceived. And it is
evident that the institution of marriage is
obviously in need of modification to
meet modern needs.
It is debatable as to the survival of the
institution. Some say it is fast becoming
antiquated, yet figures prove that it is as
popular as ever. The security and stability
of marriage, whether temporary or for a
life time, appeals to the American male
and female alike.
What might we consider as alternatives
to marriage? Below are a few suggestions
outlined by Vance Packard in his book
"The Sexual Wilderness."
Serial mating: A turnover of partners.
Some sociologists that 4 or 5 marriages
might be the par for a lifetime. Others
suggest marriage contracts.
Unstructured cohabitation: Prolonged
affairs without any assumption of
permanence or responsibility.
Mutua' polygamy: Each partner in any
particular marriage might have several
mates, each chosen for a special purpose.
Single-parent marriage by intent:
Females-and occasionally, males-who
yearn for parenthood without burdens of
Specialists in parenthood: Parenthood
limited to a smaller number of families
whose principal function would be
Communal living: Several female and
male adults live together in some large
dwelling and consider themselves an
enlarged communal family.
Legalized polygamy for senior
citizens: Enables a man to have several
wives at same time. Advanced as way to
ease the problem created by the fact that
after age 60 there are increasingly more
women than men.
Variety of liaison patterns function in
society simultaneously: Men and women
would choose the most suitable pattern
for themselves, whether it be a
conventional marriage, communal living,
unstructured cohabitation or whatever.
It is not my intent to advocate one
style of living over another; each has its
own rewards and shortcomings. Marriage
as an institution has encountered many
problems. Modifications have been
developing, yet it continues to be the
most popular. But. it is not the
rose-colored, flowers and kisses.
Iive-happily-ever-after unification that the
American society has been led to believe.
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