Manhattan Institute scholar Kay Hymowitz’s most recent book,Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age, presents the real two Americas: the one of married parents, who try to provide a stable environment for children, and that of unmarried parents, who all too often bring up kids in chaotic households.
The U.K. Telegraph’s Rowan Pelling writes about the decline of marriage in England:
“The institution of marriage needs a vigorous PR campaign. We are currently bombarded by reminders that one in three marriages ends in punitive divorce – just look at Anne Robinson, jettisoning poor old hubby Penrose after 27 years – while the tax system overwhelmingly favours single mothers. Our Government perversely refuses to support marriage in any meaningful way – unless you count yesterday’s cynical pledge by Alistair Darling to raise the inheritance tax threshold for married couples to £600,000. Yet the social and personal benefits of wedlock are long established. It sometimes seems as though the only people who dare advocate the advantages of spliced stability are the gay community in their successful petition for civil partnerships.
“The trouble is that many social commentators promote marriage in terms unlikely to appeal to footloose young singles: duty, compromise, social cohesion, enhanced health and wellbeing, security for children.”
Pelling has another way to sell marriage-as freedom:
[T]he minute a person’s beloved plights eternal troth, solid foundations are laid. As my husband mused the other night: ‘Marriage is the true place of greater safety.’ This very stability, paradoxically, provides a platform from which risky and exhilarating enterprises can be launched. I believe this is what John Bayley meant when he said that, over time, he and Iris Murdoch became ‘closer and closer apart.’ It’s hard to describe the strange blend of intimacy and mystery that characterises long-term unions.
“Newlyweds may think of marriage as a passionate, airless closet, where misdemeanours should be punished by exile, but old hands know it can be as accommodating and expansive as the universe. If this weren’t true, how could you offer unconditional love to your children and labrador?”