Here now, a hot factoid of curious news that will stupefy your parents and confound any extant grandparents and make many fundamentalists and most Mormons clutch their dogmas to their quivering breasts in mild but surefire panic.
The item goes like this: For the first time in US history, married couples are no longer the majority of domestic couplehoods in the United States, and have instead been replaced/outnumbered by... what shall we call them? The unsure? The pleasantly stoned? Freedom fighters? Those Who Still Have Somewhat Hot and Mostly Regular Sex?
No matter. For lo, the earth doth tremble and the heavens weep as we learn from the 2010 census that married households in America, once the dominant, inviolable, ironclad foundation of all that is good and righteous and often sort've vaguely unhappy and resentful after about seven years, a couple kids and not nearly enough couples therapy -- now make up a mere 48 percent of domestic partnerships, with 52 percent going to the sinful and the wimpy and the possibly more frequently naked.
What does it all mean? What to make of such strange, historic markers? Do we worry and fear in light of some of the uglier factors at play -- income inequality, education levels, economic instability, wildly conflicting beliefs about the value of home and family? Or do we allow and embrace, understanding it's all of a piece, that no social institution like marriage (or religion, or industrial empire, or gender) can possibly remain fixed for long and simply must evolve with the times, lest it collapse completely?
Or maybe you're under 22 and therefore can't relate to this news in the slightest, because, as part of Generation Facebook, you likely see marriage as a someday/maybe possibility scattered among a wide and biodynamic array of malleable options, and anyway you can't be bothered right now because you're late for your giant chest tattoo appointment at the pagan yoga emporium/organic hemp oil juice bar in the back of Whole Foods? Right. God bless you. Run along now.
For the rest of us, it's easy to get snagged on one of the polarizing views. On one hand is the typical conservative recoil, claiming the very cornerstones of what once made this country great -- early marriage, traditional family structure, factory jobs, free guns at church, xenophobia, mommy's vodka and daddy's stash of gay porn -- are crumbling to dust, America is in a liberal-induced deathspin and the "Greatest Generation" now only refers to higher Medicare payments and sepia-toned WWII Spielberg movies on HBO.
On the other is the wonky liberal/progressive view, claiming that the fabric of society is merely in flux, is being constantly re-woven, was too stuck in an impossible nuclear family pattern anyway and is now ready to be ripped up and made into a nice summer scarf good for tying your lover to the bedpost and spanking her firmly with the Polyamorist's Guide to Anal Sex and Also Quiltmaking...
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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the SF Chronicle and SFGate. Get it at Amazon and beyond. He recently asked that you please step away from the fear, a piece lamenting how
Fox News ate my nuclear dolphins, and a column wondering why you always walk in circles. http://facebook.com/markmorfordyes">Facebook, or email him. Not to mention...