Starter Marriages - 1/16/02

Smartmarriages ® cmfce at
Wed Jan 16 12:44:01 EST 2002

subject: Starter Marriages - 1/16/02

from: Smart Marriages

Diane, although this new book on "starter
marriages" describes a phenomenon that seems to be limited to upper income
white folks, your list may be interested:

> Paul's Rx for the future? Not religious
> or political panaceas like courtship classes, "covenant marriage" or tax
> preferences. Rather, young people should be taught "what marriage can and
> cannot offer" and to have "realistic expectations" long before the
> engagement party.

Surely agrees with what we've been saying, that marriage education teaches
couples what what to expect in marriage and the best practices for making it
workable - even enjoyable - for the long haul.  These Gen Xers have things
so romanticized that they think if they've found the "right person" - the
right "compatible" match - then their main work is done.  We don't need to
teach them to value marriage or to have more courtly or romantic courtships
- they've got that down.  We need to help them get smarter about - to wise
up about - marriage.  And, we can. - diane

>From Publishers Weekly:
 When Gen X journalist Paul found her marriage ending
one year after the lavish nuptials, she was depressed and bewildered. Soon,
all around her, she was seeing other 20-somethings with failed "starter
marriages" (which she defines as lasting five years or less and ending
without children). To understand what was happening, Paul interviewed some
60 couples, mostly white, college-educated friends of friends, all between
the ages of 24 and 36. While many of her generation had divorced parents,
she found, they still hold marriage in high regard; family togetherness and
children are what add up to the "good life." But idealizing the institution
of marriage and understanding what married life is actually like are
distinctly different. There's much clarity about the wedding it's a major
social event, costing an average of $75,000 in New York. But the morning
after, couples are often clueless. Examining the process of dissolution,
divorce and remarriage, Paul draws on social pundits and demographers in
addition to the accounts of her interviewees, mostly sidestepping the
details of her own sorry experience. Paul's Rx for the future? Not religious
or political panaceas like courtship classes, "covenant marriage" or tax
preferences. Rather, young people should be taught "what marriage can and
cannot offer" and to have "realistic expectations" long before the
engagement party. As a society, he says, we could celebrate delayed
marriage, rather than encouraging it early, and more people could accept
cohabitation as a method of confirming couple compatibility. Assigning this
book in every college sociology class would also be a good start. Agent,
Andrew Blauner. (On-sale Jan. 8)Forecast: Paul is good at the "we" voice
she's been there, done that. Her book is perfect for a heterosexual college
student or a parent of one. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information,

>From Library Journal Paul, who has published work in American Demographics,
the Economist, Elle, and other magazines, interviewed 60 mostly white,
middle-class, college-educated individuals about their "starter marriages,"
which began and ended while the interviewees were still in their twenties.
Here, she highlights common themes and uses excerpts from the interviews to
illustrate her points about marriage and divorce among Generation Xers. Paul
sees society's emphasis on the individual as making it more difficult for
people of this generation to make the sacrifices and compromises necessary
to sustain a lasting relationship. Though she recapitulates the views of the
"marriage movement," she considers most of its strategies reactionary and
antifeminist. She does, however, ultimately call for some sort of moral
renewal in which people are less selfish and realize the importance of
staying connected to the communities that support marriage. Though Paul
provides interesting observations about the little-studied phenomenon of
starter marriages, this is not a rigorous study that quantifies the factors
leading to short-lived unions. Recommended for public libraries. Debra
Moore, Cerritos Coll., Norwalk, CA Copyright 2001

Cahners Business Information, Inc. Book Description: The Starter Marriage
and the Future of Matrimony is a pioneering study of first marriages lasting
five years or less and ending without children, and of the changing face of
matrimony in America. According to the brilliant trend analyst and
journalist Pamela Paul, "It's easy to conclude that the starter marriage
trend bodes ill for the state of marriage. After all, we're getting married,
screwing it up, and divorcing-a practice that certainly isn't strengthening
our sense of trust, family, or commitment. But though starter marriages seem
like a grim prospect, there is also an upside. For one thing, if people are
going to divorce, better to do so after a brief marriage in which no
children suffer the consequences." But are there other consequences of
starter marriages? And what causes these marriages to fail in the first
place? In today's matrimania culture, weddings, marriage, and family are
clearly goals to which most young Americans aspire. Why are today's twenty-
and thirtysomethings-the first children-of-divorce generation-so eager to
get married, and so prone to failure? Are Americans today destined to jump
in and out of marriage? At a time when marriage at age twenty-five can mean
a sixty-year active commitment, could "serial marriages" be the wave of the
future? Drawing on more than sixty interviews with starter marriage veterans
and on exhaustive re-search, Pamela Paul explores these questions, putting
the issues into social and cultural perspective. She looks at the hopes and
motivations of couples marrying today, and examines the conflict between our
cultural conception of marriage and the society surrounding it. Most
important, this lively and engaging narrative examines what the starter
marriage trend means for the future of matrimony in this country-how and why
we'll continue to marry in the twenty-first century.

>From the Back Cover: Advance praise for The Starter Marriage and the Future
of Matrimony "Pamela Paul's smart, sensitive, and informative investigation
of drive-through marriages ripples with unsettling insights into
contemporary society. . . . An important book for Gen Xers and Boomers
alike." --Nancy F. Cott, Sterling Professor of History and American Studies,
Yale University, and author of Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the

"The child generation that grew up with divorce is becoming an adult
generation that is rediscovering commitment, as America transits from the
nineties to the Oh-Ohs. In this useful book, Pamela Paul helps us understand
how and why, on the brink of midlife, this previously hard-to-pin-down
generation is at long last getting pinned down." -William Strauss, coauthor,
Generations, 13th Gen, The Fourth Turning, and Millennials Rising

About the Author Pamela Paul is currently an editor at American Demographics
magazine, where she reports on social, political, and media trends. She is
also a frequent New York correspondent for The Economist. In addition, her
work has appeared in magazines such as Elle, Redbook, and Time Out New York.
Her own starter marriage ended in 1999.

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