By now, a lot of you have probably seen the viral article “5 Reasons Marriage Doesn’t Work Anymore” floating around social media. It was written by 29-year-old Anthony D’Ambrosio, who has a popular column in the Ashbury Park Press. D’Ambrosio is also a divorcee, and he seems to have little hope that marriage will ever work for the younger generation.
Here is the original article: http://www.12news.com/story/news/2015/12/31/sex-columnist-5-reasons-marriage-doesnt-work-anymore/78123994/
This whole thing rubbed me wrong. It’s clear that I’m far from the only person who felt this way. There have been numerous rebuttals, some of which are also going viral. After reading a few of those, I felt like I should write my own. I’m single, and I’ve never been married, but I have experienced a few long-term relationships that were like marriages, so I do relate. Also, as a romance author, I tend to think about human relationships a lot.
Before I go any further, I should point out that I too am unsure whether marriage is realistic in this day and age, or whether it’s ever been realistic in any age. I don’t place any value on getting married myself, at least not in the legal sense. I wanted to get married when I was younger, and looking back, I think it was only social conditioning that caused me to feel that way. Therefore, while I’m not closed off to the idea of marriage, I do agree with D’Ambrosio that for most people, a lifelong marriage isn’t realistic. I just disagree on the reasons why.
D’Ambrosio’s Five Points: My Rebuttal
I’m just going to go through the article and quote, and then respond to, the parts that I found annoying.
“I’ve spent the better part of the last three years trying to understand the dating scene again. Back when I met my ex-wife in 2004, things were just so different. Social media had yet to explode. I had this desire to ask her about her day simply because I didn’t know.”
That wasn’t one of his main points, but right off the bat, it irked me. No matter how much we might vent about our day on social media, people still go home and talk to their partners. This guy acts like people just come home and sit in silence because once you’ve mentioned something on social media, that’s it. You can never talk about it again. Sorry but that’s just not reality.
When something is really bothering me, I’ll vent about it on social media, then I’ll vent about it in real life, too. People still talk. Healthy, happy couples still talk. Unhappy, unhealthy couples have never communicated properly, and that was true long before social media.
Okay, now to the main points:
- “Sex becomes almost non-existent.”
“I’m baffled by couples who neglect having sex, especially younger ones. We all desire physical connection, so how does cutting that off lead you to believe your marriage will be successful? It’s like telling someone you’ll take them out to a restaurant but they can’t order food.”
Uhhh… okay. Who are these couples who have just decided to stop having sex? I’m sure it can’t be denied that having children or being super busy can get in the way of your sex life, and chemistry and attraction can dry up between people for a number of reasons. But D’Ambrosio seems to be implying that today’s young couples have made some sort of anti-sex pact, and I’ve never heard of such a thing.
If anything, people are more sexually free today than ever. Women are more open to discussing their desires, and there’s a lot less stigma about acting out whatever your kink might be. Look at the mainstream success of Fifty Shades of Gray. We liked it, and we weren’t afraid to show it.
“It’s not just boredom that stops sex from happening. Everywhere you look, there’s pictures of men and women we know half naked — some look better than your husband or wife. So it becomes desirable. It’s in your face every single day and changes your mindset.”
Everywhere D’Ambrosio looks, he sees men and women he knows half naked? Interesting. I can’t even think of the last time I saw one of my friends half naked.
“It’s no wonder why insecurities loom so largely these days. You have to be perfect to keep someone attracted to you. Meanwhile, what your lover should really be attracted to is your heart. Maybe if you felt that connection beyond a physical level, would you realize a sexual attraction you’ve never felt before.”
I don’t think that’s true. I’ve dated a variety of men, and most of them haven’t expected physical perfection at all. If anything, it was the opposite. They thought I was beautiful in sweatpants and no makeup. Most people don’t look like movie stars in everyday life—not even movie stars. I don’t think that’s ever stopped anyone from getting it on.
I’m not saying there are never exceptions, just that out of all the issues we have in our society, I don’t see how a lack of desire for sex is one of them. When a couple stops having sex, it’s because something else is wrong. It seems D’Ambrosio is identifying a symptom, not a cause.
- “Finances cripple us.”
“Years ago, it didn’t cost upward of $200,000 for an education. It also didn’t cost $300,000-plus for a home.
The cost of living was very different than what it is now. You’d be naive to believe this stress doesn’t cause strain on marriages today.”
People also make more money today than they did decades ago. It’s all relative. If anything, wouldn’t harder financial times make people want to get—and stay—married? Things are easier if you have a partner that you trust to share finances with.
“You need to find a job to pay for student loans, a mortgage, utilities, living expenses and a baby.”
You are not required to take on loans you can’t afford, and you’re definitely not required to have a baby. If you can’t afford it, you probably shouldn’t. If you want a kid, awesome, but acknowledge that it’s your choice, and be aware that it’s expensive.
“This strain causes separation between us. It halts us from being able to live life. We’re too busy paying bills to enjoy our youth. Forget going to dinner, you have to pay the mortgage. You’ll have to skip out on an anniversary gift this year because those student loans are due at the end of the month. Vacations? Not happening.”
Once again, why did you get a mortgage you couldn’t afford?
Ugh. Officially annoyed. I should have just avoided this entire section, because the way people are about money really bugs me. Don’t do stuff if you can’t afford it. It’s that simple. You aren’t entitled to a house. You aren’t entitled to anything. And if you and your spouse are going to both agree to do stuff you can’t afford, don’t complain when things are stressful!
3) We’re more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time.
“You told your wife you made dinner reservations … through a text message.
Your husband had flowers delivered to your job … through an app on his phone.
You both searched for furnishings for your new home … on Pinterest.
There’s no physical connection attached to anything anymore.”
Here he lists out a bunch of stuff without saying why any of it is bad. Yeah, I text my friends. Yeah, I read their words instead of hearing their voices. So what? I’m also able to talk to them all day long while working. I’m also able to leave funny messages for them at night so they’ll smile and see them when they wake up in the morning. Because of texting, I’m available to communicate to the people who matter most to me—some of whom live states away.
“We’ve developed relationships with things, not each other. Ninety-five percent of the personal conversations you have on a daily basis occur through some type of technology. We’ve removed human emotion from our relationships, and we’ve replaced it colorful bubbles.”
Sorry but this is just wrong. I’ve shared very deep emotions and had wonderful conversations that brought me closer to people–all through text. Just because you don’t know how to pick up on emotion or express it using the written word doesn’t mean no one does.
“You want to know why your grandmother and grandfather just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary? Because they weren’t scrolling through Instagram worrying about what John ate for dinner. They weren’t on Facebook criticizing others. They weren’t on vacation sending Snapchats to their friends.”
Actually, that’s not even close to the reason. But you hate technology. We get it.
4) Our desire for attention outweighs our desire to be loved.
“Social media, however, has given everyone an opportunity to be famous. Attention you couldn’t dream of getting unless you were celebrity is now a selfie away. Post a picture, and thousands of strangers will like it. Wear less clothing, and guess what? More likes.
It’s more than that though. What about the life you live? I see pictures of people decked out in designer clothes, posted up in some club with fancy drinks — People that I know are dead broke. But they portray themselves as successful because, well, they can. And they get this gratification from people who like and comment on their statuses or pictures.”
So, because the people you know are pathetic and narcissistic, that means social media is ruining everyone’s relationships? Come on D’Ambrosio. The majority of people are not like this, and you have to know that.
5) Social media just invited a few thousand people into bed with you.
“We’ve invited strangers into our homes and brought them on dates with us. We’ve shown them our wardrobe, drove with them in our cars, and we even showed them our bathing suits. Might as well pack them a suitcase, too.”
He once again made a point without demonstrating why this is a bad thing. I do agree that spending too much time photographing and posting can remove you from the moment. However, snapping a quick pic or two and then taking the five seconds it takes to upload to Instagram is not a big deal. Some people become addicted to social media, sure. But people can become addicted to anything. I don’t personally know anyone who has had their relationship end because of normal use of social media.
Why Marriage Doesn’t Work for Everyone Anymore: My Personal Opinion
Notice I said “for everyone.” Marriage obviously does work for plenty of people, so implying that it never works is just silly. I do, however, think the expectation of a lifelong marriage is unrealistic for many people, and viewing it as something that will happen for all of us one day if we just believe is problematic. A lot of marriages will eventually end, and there are obvious reasons for that. D’Ambrosio, in my opinion, missed most of them.
- No Stigma for Divorce
A lot of people in past generations stayed together simply because they felt they had to, not because their lives were a blissful paradise free of social media.
2. No Stigma for Staying Single
These days, it’s possible to live a full and happy life, and even have an active sex life, without ever being romantically involved with anyone. Sure, a few people might think you’re weird, but who cares?
3. Everyone is Career Driven
Those with careers can of course get married, but when people are financially self-sufficient and passionate about what they do, their lives are full and they don’t need a partner to help them avoid boredom or provide them with money. They might still want a partner, but not needing one makes a big difference.
4. Drug and Mental Health Problems
Most people I know, myself included, have battled with addiction or mental-health issues at one point or another. It’s difficult to be in love when someone is dealing with stuff like that, and sadly, a lot of relationships end up destroyed. I’ve personally lost someone I once loved very much due to these issues.
5. A Clashing of Cultures
In the United States, we have many different cultures. Two people in the same neighborhood can be raised differently and have two opposing views on how life should be. We all have our own thoughts on everything, from God to food to what to watch on TV. You don’t have to be exactly the same as your partner, but marriage is hard enough without one of you being a militant atheist and the other being a Christian. With so many different types of people and no set values that we all share, it’s hard to find a match.
6. People are just Assholes
I wish we could be honest about this. A lot of people just suck. They’re dumb, they’re mean, they’re selfish, and they make poor choices. Maybe they’ll even hit you or sexually abuse you. A lot of us have been hurt one too many times, and we’re backing away from the idea of marriage because we don’t want to have to go through it again.
7. No Respect for Sex
Whether you think casual sex is right or wrong, you can’t deny that getting it is pretty easy if your standards are low enough. In a world of instant Tinder dates, webcam girls, and thousands upon thousands of hours of free porn, there isn’t much reason to leave the house—let alone commit to someone for life.
And maybe that’s okay. Maybe instead of spending so much time pondering why marriage isn’t working for a lot of people these days, we should take a step back and ask ourselves why we want it to. What good is it doing us to have all these people trying to get and stay married when it’s so damn hard? What’s the point?
I’m not saying there isn’t a point. Just that we should ponder it for ourselves rather than blindly accepting the idea that marriage is simply something you do. It isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Rather than feeling pressured, take some time to consider what’s driving you to want marriage in the first place. It might give you some perspective that will help you if you ever do get married.
D’Ambrosio did say one thing I agreed with:
“Marriage is sacred. It is the most beautiful sacrament and has tremendous promise for those fortunate enough to experience it. Divorced or not, I am a believer in true love and building a beautiful life with someone.”
Despite everything I said here today, I do feel that marriage is sacred. I’m really enjoying my time as a single person, but if I meet a nice man one day, and we find our groove together, I’m at peace with being a wife, too. If I ever say “yes” to a proposal, I’m going to mean it from the depths of my heart–otherwise, I won’t be afraid to say no. We now live in a world where people have options, and that’s a beautiful thing.