Archives for matrimania

General

Only Legally Married People Get These Benefits and Protections

When same-sex couples won the right to marry everywhere in the U.S., with the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling, they got access to many benefits and protections they did not have before they could be officially, legally married. Single people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are still left out of all of those special privileges under the law.

I have often mentioned that there are more than 1,000 federal laws that benefit and protect only those who are legally married. The SCOTUS ruling noted that, too, and also listed some of the ways in which married people are typically privileged at the state level.

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Love & Affection

The Good News No One Ever Tells You about Single Parents and Their Children

I have been scrutinizing the research on single parents and their children for more than a decade. I've learned lots of things, but perhaps the most important one is this: all those predictions you hear about how the children of single parents are doomed are grossly exaggerated or just plain wrong.

I included a chapter on the topic in Singled Out and have continued to write blog posts and other articles after the book was published. I thought that was sufficient. But the wording of the recent Supreme Court ruling sent me over the edge. While trying to make a positive case for same-sex marriage, Justice Kennedy egregiously put down families that do not include married parents. The claims he made were not just derogatory, they were inaccurate.

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Love & Affection

Are We Happiest When We Are with Our Friends?

In an article in the prestigious journal Science, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues reported the results of a study in which 909 adults described whom they were with all day long during the previous day. For each of their social interactions, they also indicated how they were feeling. How happy were they? How much were they enjoying themselves? To what extent were they experiencing negative feelings such as anger, worry, or sadness?

The participants spent time with lots of different kinds of people – their spouse or romantic partner, relatives, friends, children, clients or customers, co-workers, and their boss.

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General

Hector’s Search for Happiness Ends with a Cliché

Fair warning: This post includes a spoiler and the spoiler (about the end of the movie) is the whole point. I'm talking about "Hector and the Search for Happiness."

I stumbled upon the movie when I was browsing Netflix for something to watch. I didn't know that before the story became a movie, it was an "international bestseller with more than two million copies sold." I had never heard of the book or the movie before. I don't know if the movie is faithful to the book. I sure hope not.

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General

Amidst All the Matrimania, the Power of Friendship Endures

We've heard a lot of flowery prose about marriage lately, both within the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide and in the ensuing commentaries. I don't think marriage is the key relationship of the 21st century, though – I believe it is friendship.

Somewhere around half of all American adults are single. Many who do marry cycle in and out of coupled life (as, for example, when they get married and then divorced). This is the big picture of our lives today: Americans now spend more years of their adult life unmarried than married – and that's been true for years.

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General

SCOTUS Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage: Wiser Views Than Those of the Justices

"We need to have a conversation." How often have we heard these words when some controversial issue is broached? The Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage legal across the nation has launched countless conversations.

Many of the conversations are celebratory. To activists, the ruling is a huge step forward on a long path to social justice. I'm all for social justice and civil rights. But the ruling lets more people into marriage while all single people are still unjustly left out of all of the benefits and protections awarded only to those who are legally married. It is a broader conceptualization than we had before the ruling, but it is still a very narrow view of the people and relationships and life pursuits that matter.

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General

Kate, Kay, and the Single Ladies, Part 2: Experiments in Living Outside of a Nuclear Family Household

[From Bella: This is Part 2 of E. Kay Trimberger's two-part guest essay. Part 1 is here.]

Kate, Kay and the Single Ladies, Part 2: Experiments in Living Outside of a Nuclear Family Household

Guest post by E. Kay Trimberger

In our late 20s, Kate and I both lived in New York City, worked hard, and had few women friends. In my early 30s, however, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, a place that had beckoned me since I was a teenager, when I’d learned about the Beats and seen San Francisco for the first time. Attracted by the proximity of urban culture and natural beauty, and by its reputation for unconventional life styles, I had always wanted to live there. The communal living experiments I found in the Bay Area in the 1970s differentiated my life from Kate’s.

Three years after completing my PhD, I gave up a tenure-track job in the City University of New York for a temporary lectureship at a state university an hour’s drive from San Francisco and then found a permanent position in another state institution the same distance away. Colleagues in the East criticized me for not searching for a more prestigious academic appointment, but I wanted to find a personal life that would anchor me. As a feminist, I now believed I could have satisfying work and a family life, but both the impact of the 1970s counterculture and my continuing fear of being swallowed by the nuclear family, led me to look for alternatives to living as a couple. I was lucky that academic jobs were still plentiful in the 1970s and housing was inexpensive. Thirty years later, Kate and other young women would not be so fortunate. I soon moved to Berkeley to join a group of academics some of whom taught at the famous university there, but more of whom commuted to teach in less prestigious colleges. Berkeley too attracted all kinds of left, feminist and counter cultural activists. I was soon ensconced in a community of leftist and feminist intellectuals, a community that I never had in New York.

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General

Kate, Kay, and the Single Ladies, Part 1: Different Experiences of Single Life Across the Generations

Guest post by E. Kay Trimberger

[Bella's intro: Many writings about single life have been inspired by Kate Bolick's Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own. In this two-part guest post, E. Kay Trimberger offers an important perspective I have not seen anywhere else – a cultural and historical analysis, told through the lens of personal experiences, of someone born more than three decades before Bolick, and even a few years before Bolick's mother. Cultural sensibilities around marriage and single life were strikingly different during Trimberger's early and middle adult years, and perhaps not in the ways you might presume. I'm so grateful to Kay for sharing her observations with us. Here is Part 1.]

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General

Elder Orphans, Part 2: What People Are Already Doing to Live Well in Later Life

In Part 1 on the topic of elder orphans, I talked through the actual risks of finding yourself, in your old age, ill and in need of help, but with no one to care for you. I used logic and data rather than hand-picking scare stories to frighten people into marrying and having kids, even if they know that life is not right for them.

For my forthcoming book, How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century, I traveled around the country asking people to show me their homes and tell me about their lives. I wanted to know if they had found their place, their space, and their people – their "lifespaces." One of the chapters, "Lifespaces for the New Old Age," is about the ways that people are living in their senior years. The subtitle of that chapter is, "Institutions Begone!" Resoundingly, my interviewees proclaimed that they did not want to end up in an institution.

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