Is the traditional marriage in its death throes? Do we need to rethink the institution that we once thought to be age-old and rock-solid and replace it with new definitions of what it means to be coupled in this age of high divorce rates, failing economy and seemingly rampant infidelity?
The state of matrimony as we know it was the hot-button topic on Thursday's 'The Agenda With Steve Paikin' on TV Ontario. The congenial host of the current affairs program sat down with a panel of Canadian women of diverse ages and experience to debate what marriage means today, and discuss a recent essay in The Atlantic, 'All The Single Ladies,' which has been shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook already.
Written by Kate Bolick, a 39-year old woman who eschewed marriage in her late 20s, the essay asks readers to reevaluate traditional notions of marriage. But is it a question that needs to be asked? Paikin and his guests wasted no time getting to the heart of the discussion.
"I think one of the important things to remember about marriage as an institution is it's really about children," says Danielle Crittenden, HuffPost Canada's managing blog editor and author of 'What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us.' She says children who come from two-parent families tend to perform and manage better overall in life. Where there does exist an idea of a 'Sex and the City' woman who opts to be a single parent in her 30s, Crittenden says that's not the reality for many single mothers who struggle with poverty and a lack of support. "Marriage is as important as it ever was," she says.
But the way we regard and approach marriage needs a rethinking, says another panelist. 'We should stop romanticizing [traditional marriage] -- it was not wonderful," says HuffPost blogger and author Elizabeth Abbott, also part of the panel. 'Yes, there was not a great deal of divorce, but... that's because there wasn't divorce."
Younger panelists agree on rethinking the definition of marriage. "The question is, whose tradition are we talking about?" says Tonika Morgon, an activist and blogger from Toronto. Her African diaspora heritage and experiences as a first-generation Canadian have caused her to examine established definitions of marriage.
Morgon does wish to couple long-term, however -- 'poufy shoulders (wedding dress) or not' as Paikin says -- as does another panelist, Gracen Johnson, a University of Guelph student who is a bit dismayed at the idea that marriage for her may not turn out like the "same sort of fairy tale as my parents" she says.
But should she even be thinking of marriage at the tender age of 22? What advice do Crittenden and Abbott, both married for several years, have for younger women? And what does essay author Kate Bolick think? Check out the video for a lively discussion worth watching whether you're happily married -- or happily single.