Single Ladies and the State of the Modern Marriage

In The Atlantic, Kate Bolick examines "the strange state of affairs" of modern marriage

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It's magazine day at The Atlantic. And leading the new November issue is Kate Bolick's first-person investigation into the state of marriage, specifically how the gains of the women's rights movement, decline in men's economic standing, and changes in family structure has led to a fundamental transformation of the institution. Headlined as "What Me, Marry?" Bolick, pictured above, also has a few things to say about her own relationship status as well:

Today I am 39, with too many ex-boyfriends to count and, I am told, two grim-seeming options to face down: either stay single or settle for a “good enough” mate. At this point, certainly, falling in love and getting married may be less a matter of choice than a stroke of wild great luck. A decade ago, luck didn’t even cross my mind. I’d been in love before, and I’d be in love again. This wasn’t hubris so much as naïveté; I’d had serious, long-term boyfriends since my freshman year of high school, and simply couldn’t envision my life any differently.

Well, there was a lot I didn’t know 10 years ago. The decision to end a stable relationship for abstract rather than concrete reasons (“something was missing”), I see now, is in keeping with a post-Boomer ideology that values emotional fulfillment above all else. And the elevation of independence over coupling (“I wasn’t ready to settle down”) is a second-wave feminist idea I’d acquired from my mother, who had embraced it, in part, I suspect, to correct for her own choices.

Read it in full here.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.