Redefining “marriage culture” for the 21st century | VIEWPOINT

Redefining “marriage culture” for the 21st century | VIEWPOINT


Christina: When I talk to gender scholars
and they have this vision of men and women becoming interchangeable. It’s not going to
happen. You’re not going to get rid of masculinity and femininity, it’s here to stay, and I think
it’s a fairytale. But I also feel the way sometimes people talk about marriage, that
we live in a society now where divorce is the norm and a lot of people are living together
before marriage and it’s just not clear to me that we will ever, that it’s almost a fairytale.
However, having said that, both with the gender scholars, I say, “Okay, then do some reasonable
things and make sure they’re not harmful because some of their ideas of making boys and girls
alike seem to me to be…they just go too far and it’s almost like trying to reengineer
children, it’s not going to work, but it could make them quite unhappy. I don’t think it’s
going to make people unhappy by looking for ways to strengthen marriage and tell people
to at least be honest about them, the risks that… Brad: Exactly, right. So yeah, and
I think the idea is that, marriage is not going to look in 2020 like I did in 1820,
no matter what happens. But the question is can we build a new marriage culture for the
21st century that acknowledges the lots of change, that is aware of the fact that in
most homes with married dads, dads are doing much more child care, much more housework
than was the case 50 years ago, and that’s great. So, how do we create… Christina:
Still not enough. Brad: How do we create a marriage culture… Christina: That won’t
happen either. Brad: …where that’s taken into account and where I think in particular
with working class and poor families, we’re able to see men’s contribution is not only
obviously in terms of the ability to take and bring money to the table, but also the
way in which they might be great coaches, great playmates, etc., for their kids. And
I think one reason why marriage is so fragile in working class and poor families is that
we haven’t yet developed enough of the appreciation for the distinctive role that dads play in
lives of their kids and to recognize that, “Look, just because dad may have lost his
job or is having difficulty finding a job or he’s only working 20 hours a week right
now, doesn’t mean he can’t play an important role in the life of the family both now and
10 years down the road. So I talked to an African American father, for instance, in
the Atlanta area and he had lost his job with a telephone company and his wife and daughter
left because he was no longer able to provide for them financially. But I think we need
to understand that he could provide in other ways to his daughter practically and emotionally
and to appreciate that men’s role extends beyond just their financial contributions
to the family. So that’s the thing we need to build on and work on, I think for the 21st
century marriage model.

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