Marriage is not obsolete, but many of our cultural narratives and expectations around what it is, what it should be, the roles involved, etc., are way past their sell date. A sense of entitlement or coasting might come from either partner, but apparently around 70% of divorces are initiated by women, many of whom have reported that they were sick of being controlled and dominated, being shut out of emotional connection, and not met half way when attempting to work through issues. In other words, patriarchal norms are harmful to marriage.

“I think that marriage as an institution has been a little bit slow to catch up with expectations for gender equality,” Rosenfeld said. “Wives still take their husbands’ surnames, and are sometimes pressured to do so. Husbands still expect their wives to do the bulk of the housework and the bulk of the childcare. On the other hand, I think that non-marital relationships lack the historical baggage and expectations of marriage, which makes the non-marital relationships more flexible and therefore more adaptable to modern expectations, including women’s expectations for more gender equality.”

Clear, honest, on-going communication as well as a real buy-in to an actual partnership are needed to weather the marathon of long-term commitment. James and I just celebrated 27 years of marriage and are more in love than ever because in the past few years we stopped acting out societally prescribed “husband and wife” scenarios and started co-creating a relationship that truly works for us both. Hard work indeed, but definitely worth the effort!

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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