There's a cultural trend that I've noticed sneaking into the news, on love and relationship sites, and even among my friends of a certain "marriageable" age. It's the death knell of marriage, and I don't mean to insult tying the ol' knot or anything like that, but I have noticed an awful lot of couples, especially those in their 30s, eschewing the traditional rite of relationship passage in favor of a more modern ceremony: the domestic partnership.
Sometimes, there's no ceremony at all. Often, a couple has been living together for a few years, everyday expenses invariably become shared, life and all its ups and downs goes by, and one day, they realize that they officially qualify as DPs. Or perhaps there is a celebration before friends and loved ones that binds them spiritually and emotionally, if not quite legally.
In the latter case, some couples are getting creative and writing their own rules. For example, in the case of once confirmed bachelor Dan Eldridge, he and his DP have drawn up a legally binding contract that includes one caveat: polyamory (you know, hey, a fling here and there is perfectly acceptable). Call me an old-fashioned girl, but that wouldn't fly in the version of domestic partner paperwork in my household, but I digress. Where is all of this coming from?
One word: divorce. Currently, various divorce rates in America hover at an average of 50 percent. I'm hard pressed to think of a friend whose parents didn't endure one, or friends whose parents, um, hated each other's guts and constantly lamented the fact that they were bound to a "ball and chain." Sad, but true. And the concept of ball and chain has people who have come of age in the age of the internet, part of which has introduced us to options we never thought possible, go green at the idea that there isn't something better just around the corner. And for those of us who believe in love and monogamous partnership, well, I think we're just a tad gun shy of the "M" word, afraid that the "D" word inevitably follows, so being a DP seems just a smidge safer than going before a judge.
In the interest of randomly bringing this sermon around full circle, I'd like to refer you to the excellent Nerve book, 2033: The Future of Misbehavior. There's not only a "fun" piece by amazing writer Will Self regarding um, gay polyamorous Mormons, but also a great story by Lisa Gabriele called "Don't Let the 100% Divorce Rate Spoil Your Wedding!" about what happens to the editorial staff of the country's top bridal magazine when divorce statistics show that all marriages fail within two years. It's a funny, tongue in cheek kind of piece, but ya know what? At this point, it doesn't seem so far in the future after all.
What do you think?
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