When I'm asked at parties what I do for a living and I say that I edit The Huffington Post's Divorce section, invariably my inquisitor gives me a puzzled look, followed by the question, "Have you ever been divorced?" When I say no, he or she looks even more perplexed at the notion of a single thirtysomething woman choosing to spend her days in the minefield of marital dissolution.
And so, I've developed a set answer. I say that while I've never been divorced, I am a child of divorce, which gives me a point of view on the subject and a certain authority to speak about it. I say that I'm interested in social issues -- and I can't think of one that has more profoundly altered the face of our culture than divorce. I say that I'm fascinated by human relationships in general, and looking at them from every angle, and that, in the end, figuring out why some work and some don't, and observing how people reinvent themselves and move on afterward, is far more interesting to me than simply focusing on the fairytale.
All of which I believe. Or, I should say, believed. Because as I threw myself into the research for HuffPost Weddings -- from trolling through the ridiculously gorgeous wedding blogs, to interviewing everyone from the just married to the forever married, to reading books on the subject (Stephanie Coontz's instant classic Marriage, A History, Iris Krasnow's thrillingly voyeuristic The Secret Lives of Wives, Sheryl Paul's refreshingly down-to-earth The Conscious Bride -- three authors who'll be blogging for HuffPost Weddings in the coming months) -- it began to dawn on me that there was a lot more to this weddings and marriage business than I had previously imagined.
Yes, there are lots of reasons to be skeptical about marriage today. Many of us are questioning whether marriage even has relevance in our modern world. First, there are those sobering divorce rates. Then there's the rather uncomfortable fact that on the one hand, we lionize the institution of marriage in America and then lock its doors to most gay couples. Finally, there's The Fairytale Wedding with all its excess and fluff and retrograde Cinderella imagery -- what an easy target.
And yet, the social and cultural currency of the Big Day and all that it symbolizes only seems to be growing. While fewer of us are tying the knot than in the past, the majority of us will still do so, eventually. And when we do, we'll splash out, spending an average of $26,501 on our Big Day, and contributing to what has become a $72-billion-dollar-a-year industry in the U.S.
When we're not actually getting married, we're busy indulging our wedding fantasies with TV shows like Say Yes to the Dress and The Bachelorette (full disclosure here: I'm an unabashed fan of both). What's more, as we learned in a report released Monday, marriage is a shot in the arm for our GDP -- researchers found that when people get married and have kids, 7 sectors of the economy experience tenable growth.
So what's going on? I'm not sure, but one thing I do know: the topic is fascinating and juicy and hugely entertaining -- the opposite, in fact, of what I'd imagined it to be.
And so, just as we did at HuffPost Divorce (which I will continue to edit -- talk about synergy!) here at HuffPost Weddings, we're going to be looking at weddings and marriage from every imaginable angle. Check back often for an ever-changing, hi-low mix of opinion, advice, and news on everything from wedding-day minutiae (Gowns! Cakes! Port-a-potties!) to help with unconventional etiquette dilemmas (is it okay for my dog to walk me down the aisle?) to commentary on our culture's obsession with celebrity nuptials. We'll also have features about modern marriage designed to help newlyweds and long-marrieds thrive -- from the latest research on contemporary coupledom to tools for navigating the inevitable changes that affect every aspect of life as a twosome, from sex to food to finances to fitness.
It took me diving head-first into this subject to become fully aware of all of its nuances and complexities. In that sense, I suppose, it's a lot like marriage itself. I hope you'll join me on this adventure.