In the movie, Shall We Dance, starring Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon, there is a terrific scene where Sarandon’s character is sitting at a bar explaining to a stranger why being married is important.
She says, “We need a witness to our lives. There are billions of people on the planet…I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything – the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things – all of it, all the time, every day. You’re saying, ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.’”
For the 65 percent of Baby Boomers who are married (of which I am one), this ideal of marriage probably resonates. We do want someone to share ourselves with and to eventually grow old with. Even for those Boomers who have divorced, most seek to remarry… to find a new lover, best friends, and partner for life. But things are changing.
There is a disturbing trend happening today around marriage and commitment. One study shows that 39 percent of American’s say that marriage is becoming obsolete. Marriage has lost its appeal for the younger generations, especially the Millennials (the 18-29-year-olds). They are pro-parenthood but anti-marriage.
According to Pew Research Center, right now 61 percent of births to women 20-24 are out of wedlock while one in three births for women 25-29 are to unwed mothers. Why?
According to Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse , president of the Ruth Institute for Marriage and Family, “Women don’t think men are necessary. Therefore, they are unwilling to go to the effort required to be in a relationship with a man.”
Clearly these are women who have not experienced the beauty and magic of a relationship that works. A relationship where two people choose to share a life together and to make a commitment to work through all the ups and downs, good days and bad days.