Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ridiculous. Or Not? That's not the POINT.

As a marriage researcher as well as communication professor, I'm forever attempting to keep up with the latest research, as well as cultural conversations about my two favorite topics. Yes, you know them: "Happy" and "Couple!" No big news there, I know.

Some of the most intriguing articles I find are those posted by the CCF (Council on Contemporary Families) from major news outlets around the country. They highlight the research and thinking of the best couple/family/marriage scholars in the world, citing CCF-members' work, scholarship and smart (almost always) thoughts about all-things family and relationships.

Today I was reading an article published in the New York Times last week. Yep - I'm way behind in life (hence why I haven't been posting much lately; sorry loyal readers!) As I read the piece, I scratched my head and furrowed my brow (or do you furrow both brows?) Anyway, my brows were doing something as I tried to discern the key question of the piece: would making marriage a 20-year (or even shorter-year) contract result in happier partnerships?

Before I read the article I wanted to say (scream. Okay, I wanted to yell a bit): WHAT? That's SO dumb!

But as I read, I realized that while the concept might be odd and altogether outright ridiculous, the point of both researchers and everyday folks alike trying to figure out happiness in coupledom is that ... duh ... we really do want to figure it out (how to be happy and how to be a great couple). We do! And maybe some day we will. 

Until then, give this article "Till Death, or 20 Years, Do Us Part" by Matt Richtel a read
Till Death, Or 20 Years, Do Us Part by Matt Richtel and while you do ... whether you think it's a ridiculous, dumb idea or a really innovative approach to an old institution ... simply vow to stay in the conversation! 

The point of the contracts and "ridiculous" suggestions and new/old models and even good-old-fashioned controversies about couple-hood is that we do, essentially, want to collectively figure this stuff out. We do, I believe, want to figure the happy couple stuff out so we can all get it right.

I know, right? That, dear friends and strangers, is a really good idea. Period. 


cj renzi said...

Yeah! You're back! Yes, we do all want to get it right. All that time and energy had better amount to something in the end, right? My wife and I keep our focus on FUN. Paradoxically, we work toward it.

cj renzi said...

Sorry my last comment was so lame! Now I have had time to read the article. Dr. Rutter may be right. The fantasy is believing that as a couple, you can simply take on anything, and the relationship won't crack. My wife and I do not have children, we rarely see family, we have degrees and a comfortable income and are self-employed. All of which allows us to dote on each other while working very hard on ourselves. I think marriages fail when you don not have two people that can bring it. It is a fantasy to think that marriage will work when one of you or both is not interested in getting much done or in having a lot of fun together.

Jessica said...

Ha, ha! Thanks for posting this!

Tammy Renzi said...

Thank you for posting this article and for posing your own questions around this topic. While I plan on being married "until hospice" as it states in the article, CJ and I have made many transformations from the 26 and 27 year old couple that married 15 years ago. I recently had a nine year old student tell me that she and her cousins were "playing wedding" at her uncle's recent wedding - throwing the bouquet, pretending to walk down the aisle, etc. - all the fantasy that the article discusses. Because many children do not have role models for happy marriages, I think a marriage "option" such as the 20 year contract would provide all couples with an opportunity to engage in a meaningful discussion (discussions!) with their partner before running out to by the sparkly dress and veil.

methew said...

What a lovely way to keep memories! Would love for our big day in May!

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