Marriage, in the “traditional” sense, is dead. It died long before Kim Kardashian’s 76 days of “holy” matrimony to Kris Humphries and in spite of the Obamas connubial bliss shining as a beacon of marital hope from the White House.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 44% of Milennials, 43% of Gen Xers, and 35% of the Baby Boomers surveyed believe that traditional marriage is rapidly becoming obsolete. AndU.S. Census statistics are backing up these beliefs with increasing divorce and decreasing marriage rates that show matrimony is no longer the de facto destination for loving and committed couples.
This shift in values is also evident in what’s popular on television today. During the 80s, The Cosby Show was king…in the 90s it was theFresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sure, these shows weren’t anything like the reality of the average Black person’s lifestyle, but they at least took a loving approach in how marriage was depicted. The current Real Bad Girls Basketball Wives of Atlanta who Love Hip Hop genre makes it seem like infidelity, violence, and materialism should be tolerated as the norm in our relationships. They also promote the warped belief that getting a ring from your man should be the main objective of a woman’s life, and that ANY partner is better than none. As much as the networks try to pass off these caricatures of relationships as “reality”, these shows are nothing more than an out and out assault on Black love.
It’s true that less and less of us are seeing Clair and Cliff Huxtable’s marriage as a desired or even possible way of life. Couples are shacking up. Engaging in open marriages. Registering as domestic partners. Choosing not to have children or having them outside of wedlock. Married, but living in different cities. This openness allows us to take a more individualistic approach to love, affording greater forms of personal expression within our relationships. As varied as our lifestyles are today, it is unreasonable to expect everyone to fit into the traditional marriage construct.
Let me be clear: I am not against marriage. Although I’m currently single, I’m open to marrying again to the right person and relationship. I am, however, against the emotional escapism and lack of personal awareness and accountability that’s currently the flavor of love du jour on popular TV, and driving far too many of us down the aisle.