Is Marriage Really Dead?

How the institution has changed and evolved

Dear Monica, I read the article in Philadelphia magazine this month about the state of marriage. You said that the traditional version of our parents’ marriage is finished. Do you really believe that and why? — V. B., University City

I feel the model of marriage our parents had in the ’60s, ’70’s and ’80s is over. Women are not staying at home sorting socks while the man brings home the bacon. Nor are they considered to be subservient entities limited to the kitchen and bedroom. Successful marriages today are based on a couple raising the children, maintaining the household and making ends meet.

In years past, many women married in their early twenties, had children right away and then stayed home with them until they graduated high school. I would guess that if you asked that generation of women how they felt about their lives many would say they enjoyed raising children, but overall were bored and unfulfilled. Their marriages may have been the same.

Today, women wait longer to get married. They are educated and career-oriented. Gone are the days of thinking that if you do not have children by age 29, you will not have them at all. More couples are choosing to build their careers as well as their unions before entering into parenthood. Not only does this make sense from an economic standpoint, but also it is beneficial for the marriage. Conversations are about work, political views, current events, and yes, the kids. Sounds a lot better than before when a man would come home after a long day and get handed a martini because there was nothing to talk about.

Most modern households are driven by two incomes, and many wives are now the primary earners. With this comes a shift in roles that husbands and wives assume. Can you picture men 20 or 30 years ago in the grocery store or in carpool lines? Equality is the name of the game. Today’s men, especially in this economy, are more than happy to have their wives bringing in an income. They are also proud to have a successful spouse by their side.

Living together is a phenomenon previous generations did not experience. Although the divorce statistics show that it does not matter if you rush into marriage, marry your high school sweetheart or live with your future spouse, it must make things a lot easier to actually know the person you are marrying. Not only are women in the workplace today, but they are also having premarital sex! Can you imagine being with your partner for the first time on your wedding night? It is a miracle that so many unions lasted from that generation!

Modern women should be seeking to balance good marriages with good jobs. Happy, productive parents breed happy, productive children. Having weekly mahjong sessions, lunches and shopping might have been considered fun as a standing operating procedure in the past, but the 1950s are over. Marriage is a partnership. Women who are not using their brains to full potential are selling themselves short.

Marriage is not over. It is evolving into something better suited to a modern world and creating a more connected and solid entity.

Monica Mandell, Ph.D
. is the Director of the Philadelphia office of Selective Search, the premiere (off-line) upscale matchmaking firm for the most eligible singles. Please send your questions to: