I often hear that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Then I hear that number is not right and actually the divorce rate is falling for marriages since the 1990s. Then something else is blamed. Then another thing is blamed. Then we stand around pointing fingers. But what if marriage has changed?
A sociologist interviewed by the Times connects the rise in divorce to women’s changing expectations, and the decline to men’s adaptation. It used to be that women needed marriage. A husband meant compliance with cultural norms, financial stability, the ability to have sex and children without social censure.
It’s not that way anymore. As effective contraception has become available, and women’s economic power has grown, the nature of marriage has changed from a partnership with distinct and defined roles to a give-and-take between equals, something, the Times’ sociologist says, we’ve now figured out.
I so resonate with the phrase “changed from a partnership with distinct and defined roles to a give-and-take between equals. I posted a meme on facebook the other day and lamented how so many well-meaning “senior saints” wonder if the kids and I will be fed if Rachel (my wife) is sick or out of town. I’ve actually had to get Rachel to tell a person that “yes, Matt does most of the cooking in our home.”
I don’t think this is a bad change from well defined roles to a give-and-take between equals. But it is a change and it is one more thing we have to negotiate between the generations and in our society in general. How many of our institutions still assume a stay at home mom? What happens when it is a stay at home dad? What happens when both partners make sacrifices to career for the sake of the family?
There is still a lot of ground to cover for us as we figure out what all this means. I’ve been wrestling lately about what this means for the church. We continue to see God up to new things in God’s creation. Marriage is just one of those things. How can we as the people of God support families as they negotiate their partnership in the midst of a world that just isn’t set up to support them? How does Grace fit into all this? Can forgiveness be the gift we bring to the table as the Church?
Lots of questions this morning. If I had the answers, Rachel and I would be on the lecture circuit. 😀