The day President Obama announced his belief in same-sex marriage, I participated in a Twitter chat called #WhyGetMarried. The discussion was hosted by Chris ‘Kazi’ Rolle and featured relationship editor and family life coach, Charreah Jackson and was a jumping off point for their upcoming panel Why Get Married: The Challenges, The Benefits & Happily Ever After. The week before, I joined a discussion hosted by relationship editor and marriage blogger, Charli Penn. Whether marriage was a necessity or an option came up. While some folks were fighting for the right to be married, others were trying to convince people it was an institution they should believe in.

Then there was the email from the Obama administration that included the following statement:

I’ve always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. I was reluctant to use the term marriage because of the very powerful traditions it evokes. And I thought civil union laws that conferred legal rights upon gay and lesbian couples were a solution.

The language struck me. Is marriage about the “powerful traditions,” or is it about “legal rights?”  Where does love fit in? We all know that marriage rates are on the decline in the U.S. The rates have been on the decline in other Western countries for years, in some ways you can say that the states are just catching up to the trend. We know that divorce rates are high.

So, what is the purpose of marriage?

  • http://www.bougiestateofmind.com BourgieGeek

    Actually, I can’t see why a WOMAN would want to get married. Women always get the short end of the stick in marriage. Study after study has backed up what many women have seen for themselves – that marriage is good for men, but not so good for women. Women do much more of the work in a marriage than men, and most still have to work a 9-5 on top of everything else.

    The expectations are unrealistic and many women are simply choosing not to marry, or making sure the men they marry have the financial means to hire help. Too many men (I didn’t say “all”) expect women, especially black women, to be “Superwoman” and we try hard to please. That’s why many married black women are some of the sickest people, with all kinds of life-threatening, stress-induced ailments. The “Superwoman Syndrome” of trying to be all things to everybody, and putting ourselves and our well-being last is literally killing us. Many women – and I think the number is growing – are choosing to opt-out and stay single. They feel it’s just not worth it.

  • R

    I agree….That is why Black women need to abandon the Black community and give themselves and their future children different options and a new way of seeing and relating to the world. I dont think they can do this fully with black men(even if black men were willing, many are not). They really have nothing to lose and much to gain.

  • http://www.trainingdoulas.com Rachel

    I think cultural now, people are deciding to define the purpose of marriage to be showing commitment to someone you love and to get the benefits that come from that union. I honestly don’t think I would’ve gotten married for those reasons because like many people have said, it just doesn’t seem worth it. I happen to see marriage as more of a societal structure for taking care of and raising a family. It makes more sense that way. People married in ancient times to provide a structure that would ensure a stable structure for children to be raised in. It provided an obligation and attachment to the familial unit. Is this necessary today…I think that’s what is being debated when we talk about gay marriages. What we are discussing is not necessarily whether we think being gay is right or wrong, but whether the traditional family structure is really the best unit to base a society. I don’t know if we are going to know that answer until after we see what happens as more and more gay people get married and continue to change the societal definition and structure of marriage.
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