A lot of people would characterize this as a failure of individuals or of society. Count me among them, but probably for very different reasons.
There is this fairy-tale belief that humans were made to be in long-term monogamous relationships. I’ve seen a fair share of science (and lived long enough) to convince me that simply is not the case. The idea of long-term monogamy came about with the advent of agriculture and the idea that men should pass along their belongings to only their biological offspring. In earlier hunter-gatherer societies, everything from food to children to sexual partners was shared.
It’s perhaps not popular to acknowledge that marriage isn’t the natural state of humans, but the evidence is abundant.
I’m not saying that long-term marriage doesn’t work for some people. It does.
But there are a large number of people who, even though they don’t play by the marriage rule book in practice, still like to cling to it.
If you ask me, it’s time for the disaffected to stop feeling guilty about not living up to the often unrealistic story line they’ve been given for their lives and start looking at more realistic options.
A really great place to learn about the history of human sexuality is “Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality.” It’s a fascinating book and made a big splash when it came out last year.
Oh yeah, here’s The Associated Press article that got me on this tangent:
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakotans are marrying less frequently and divorcing more often.
A year-to-year comparison shows a 4.2 percent drop in the number of marriages to 5,887 and a 9 percent increase in divorces to 2,686 in 2009.
The figures compiled by the state Health Department are the most recent available.
The marriage rate has dropped from 12.7 per 100,000 residents in 1980 to 7.8 in 2009. The divorce rate in 2009 was 3.6 per 100,000 residents.
The report shows an average duration of 10 years for marriages that ended in divorce. One couple divorced in 2009 after 53 years of marriage.