Recently I watched The Princess Bride. It had been many years since I’d heard those unforgettable lines such as, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” and “Inconceivable.” But the line that still takes the cake for me comes from the beginning of the wedding scene when Princess Buttercup and Prince Humperdinck are standing before the priest: “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday.” This one evokes a great belly laugh, and it also reminds me how deeply the institution of marriage is embedded in my psyche.

The ceremony, the vows, the witnesses. These elements of a wedding are essential to the beginning of marriage. They signify the union of the 2 people and their commitment to protecting their everlasting bond. However, why are there so many people who aren’t interested in getting married? There are many, right? Is it because they don’t see most marriages as a happily-ever-after experience? For some it’s because they don’t want to ruin what they have, which is a long-term relationship minus the looming threat of enmity and divorce.

I don’t write this with any judgement or criticism. We all know that fairytales are meant to be magical myths for children. And rarely in films and TV do we see what happens after the wedding ceremony and reception, especially because they typically take place at the end. What I’m after here is investigating the reality of marriage and its current status in society. I also aim to explore the institute of marriage and its history.

Now with a few recent, personal, transitions behind me, I’m eager to focus on interviews again. I’ll be speaking to more couples—married and unmarried—to learn about their views on marriage as an institution. Also, I’ll probe further to find out if my perception that more and more people would rather not get married is accurate.


Photo credit: mensatic via Morguefile




Let’s Talk Stats

Did you know?

  • There were approximately 2,118,000 marriages in the U.S. in 2011
  • And in 2011 there were approximately 877,000 divorces in the U.S.
  • The median age for people who got married for the first time in 2013 in the U.S. was 29 for men and 26.6 for women
  • “In more recent years, women were increasingly likely to cohabit with a partner as a first union rather than to marry directly: 48% of women interviewed in 2006–2010 cohabited as a first union, compared with 43% in 2002 and 34% in 1995”
  • “In 2000, women with at least a bachelor’s degree had 1.5 fewer children than women with less than a high school degree. By 2010, when the age of 35-44, the gap decreased to 0.9 fewer children.”
  • College-educated women in their 30s are increasing their fertile years; however, they are still having fewer children than non-college educated women.

Sources: 2010 U.S. Census; U.S. Census Bureau; “Random Samplings”, The official blog of the U.S. Census Bureau; “American Community Survey Reports” (2009); National Health Statistics Reports (2013)

(Photo credit: Xandert via Morguefile)

Love and Marriage

This week I interviewed a couple for my marriage film project. It was my first interview for this venture and it certainly has inspired me to gather momentum for more interviews—and more of them soon. Since I’m not yet in the filming stage, preliminary interviews are going to be quite valuable for determining how I proceed with my focus and production for this project.

While I can’t share many details about my interview with the couple here, I will say that these 2 people have gone through a great deal—positive and negative—together, and they could easily serve as a model for other couples and individuals. They married in the early 1960s in the U.S. and they’ve stayed married ever since, despite their challenges. Both shared that the most popular question they are asked is, “How have you stayed married for so long?”, to which they reply, “We didn’t get divorced.” I recognize that this seems like too simple of a formula. It’s not that this couple hasn’t struggled, but there is something about their individual earnestness that appears to be the key to their lasting union.

Now it’s time for me to explore this vast topic of marriage through more interviews, and in addition to that, I’ll be delving into our society’s collective conscious through pop culture and media. I am very curious as to what I’ll discover. Here’s to more investigation!

The Good Ol’ Days

Cadillac 1950

Recently, I watched a video online regarding marriage preparation in the U.S. in the 1950s.  As you can imagine, it’s a sweet and innocent portrayl; and surprisingly it makes some useful points that are still relevant today. However, was marriage actually easier back then? Where the expectations surrounding marriage different from today?  In order to answer these questions, there are a number of factors to consider from women in the workforce to men being drafted into the military.

One of the best ways to gather this information is to speak with those who know it first-hand. I’d like to interview people who got married in the ’50s and ’60s in the U.S. and who are open to sharing their experiences.

If you know of individuals and couples who fit this description and who may be interested in being interviewed for my project, please let me know by sending a message through my contact page. Thank you!

The Lovings

New York LOVE art

While it’s not even close to June 12th, the day of the annual “Loving Day” celebration, I want to pay my respects to Richard and Mildred Loving. In case you don’t recall their story, Richard and Mildred decided to get married in 1958. Richard was white and Mildred was black. At the time they were living in Virginia where interracial marriage was against the law. Since they loved (I know, isn’t it a perfect coincidence?) each other, they went to Washington, D.C. to marry. They returned to Virginia and a few weeks later (as I understand it) they were arrested because their marriage violated the state’s anti-miscegenation statute prohibiting “white” people and “colored” people from marrying.  The Lovings were convicted via state law.

After nearly a nine-year period in the legal system, the Lovings’ case reached the Supreme Court; and in 1967 the Court overturned the convictions, which, in effect, abolished the Virginia law against interracial marriage. On a larger scale this decision deemed anti-miscegenation laws a breach of the Fourteenth Amendment; and in any state where the law was still enforced it essentially became invalid.

Fast forward a few years and it was my parents getting married as an interracial couple in California. California’s anti-miscegenation law had already been repealed in 1948, so my parents weren’t subject to civil discrimination.  However, they certainly experienced their fair share of prejudice from within their collective family.  This is not the time to tell their full story, but I will say that my parents were refused support from a couple of immediate relatives upon being engaged. Their decision to marry required sacrifices that affected family dynamics for years.

I am grateful to the Lovings for their courage and determination to pursue what was legitimately—although not at the time lawfully—theirs.  I am especially grateful to my parents for being trailblazers and for making sacrifices that have undoubtedly influenced my attitude on life as well as my ability to be authentic and unfettered.

Here’s to the Lovings and to all who seek sweet-truth and justice.

Photo Credit: Kevin Connors

The Wedding vs. The Marriage

I’ve attended oodles of weddings.  The occasion is typically a lovely one filled with joy, laughter, and unabashed dancing.  However, nearly every time I’ve sat in the church, community center, or outside on the lawn to witness the ceremony, the same thoughts run through my mind: Why do people spend so much money and time on such a brief event? Why is there more focus on the bride than on the groom?

In the U.S. the custom for weddings is, arguably, to spend a great deal of money on them. Unless you want to have a last-minute gathering in your backyard with a potluck and barbecue, you’ll need to spend money, and often more than desired. I cringe when I think about the exorbitant cost people—friends included—have incurred for the occasion. From a venue and catering to musical entertainment, flowers, and a dress, the numbers easily reach into the tens of thousands.  A Reuters article in 2012 reported that the average cost of a U.S. wedding was $27,021.

My thought about money doesn’t come from judgement. It comes from curiosity and from watching people (some of whom I care very much about) experience a great deal of stress related to their weddings. I’ve been behind the scenes and watched friends and their family members melt down over a number of mishaps from flowers not being the intended color to dresses not being fully fluffed. Yep. I have acquired excellent dress-fluffing skills. And even when the show moves forward and the money has been spent, a wedding event, at least in the U.S., is typically over in a flash.

Wedding Rings

When it comes to a majority of the couples that I’ve known, there is usually more emphasis and attention on the bride than the groom on the wedding day. It’s her day and all eyes are on her. Men generally rent a tuxedo while women purchase a once-in-a-lifetime dress. Women typically receive an eye-catching engagement ring while one is not usually supplied to men. Also, in many cases, it’s the woman, along with her entourage, who advises, plans, and coordinates nearly all aspects of the event.

I take issue with this approach. If marriage is a partnership and the goal is for the two people to stay married forever, then why is there more emphasis on the bride on the wedding day?  I imagine this thinking comes from the history of marriage being a transaction of sorts between two families. The groom’s family either paid a “bride price” to his bride’s family, or the bride’s family paid a “dowry” to assist with her establishing a new household. In either case, there is a clear focus on the woman being the primary factor in the transaction.

My instinct is to focus on both the bride and groom, equally. I want to shower them both with love and attention. When the woman gets more of the spotlight, I feel that this is a reflection of a value placed on women as being more involved in or attentive to the wedding event.  I recognize that this premise is not true for every couple; in some cases, both are very involved and “present”. However, I can’t help but ask: does the energy and preparation that goes into a wedding also go into a marriage? Or, is the event with its high cost and stress the apex?

This may be grim questioning, but I do want to understand how people approach this significant stage in their lives.  The wedding day is meant to be a celebration of a new union and once that union has commenced I realize that it automatically enters a new stage. But what happens afterward, after they’ve returned from their honeymoon? Does a couple receive the same attention and support?

Photo credit: earl53