Marriage Week/How to Pick a Spouse/Happily Unmarried-1/03
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Mon Jan 6 21:11:53 EST 2003
subject: Marriage Week/How to Pick a Spouse/Happily Unmarried-1/03
from: Smart Marriages®
> Hi Diane,
> I'm confused. Your last Newlist entry indicated that Marriage Week USA is
> February 8th to 15th. Previous entries and www.UtahMarriage.org's website
> list it as February 7th to 14th. Are different groups celebrating it on
> different timeframes or is there a typo somewhere?
> Dennis Stoica
Good catch. It was a typo. I'm on flu meds.....my mistake. It's
"officially" 7th - 14th.
By the way, so many of you have asked that I again send out the list of
ideas for how to celebrate Marriage Week. You can find those on the archive
- HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT SPOUSE: IN A CLASS BY ITSELF -
Straits Times (http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
I REFER to the articles, 'Terror Hubbies' (ST, Dec 20), 'Dad was shown mercy
when he didn't deserve it' (ST, Dec 21) and 'Life's better now, but jailed
ex-hubby will be freed soon...' (ST, Dec 21). It pains me tremendously to
read about the sufferings of the women and children mentioned in these
To those who are dating and considering marriage, I wish to offer the
following excerpt taken from the book, The Book Of Jewish Values, by Rabbi
Joseph Telushkin. It is not foolproof, as the writer himself qualifies, but
it will serve as a guidepost in this confusing world we live in.
The excerpt is entitled 'The First Trait To Look For In A Spouse'. While it
is written from a Jewish point of view, it is my firm belief that everyone
can learn from it, regardless of your religious persuasion:
'The Bible describes Eliezer, Abraham's trusted servant, as history's first
matchmaker. When the Patriarch dispatches him on a mission to find a
suitable wife for his son Isaac, he gives his servant only one guideline:
the woman should come from the far-off area in which Abraham was raised.
'Eliezer sets off on his journey, taking along 10 camels. Some days later,
upon arriving at his destination, the city of Nabor, he stops at the town's
well at the time when the local women are coming out to draw water.
'Eliezer prays to God for a sign by which he can choose an appropriate
bride for Isaac: 'Let the maiden to whom I say, 'Please, lower your jar that
I may drink', and who replies, 'Drink, and I will also water your camels',
let her be the one whom You have decreed for Your servant Isaac' (Genesis
'Almost immediately, Rebecca arrives at the well, and fills her jar with
water. When Eliezer asks for a sip, she lets him drink till his thirst is
quenched, then says, 'I will also draw for your camels, until they finish
drinking'. A few minutes later, she invites Eliezer to stay at her family's
'Before the evening is over, Eliezer has arranged with Rebecca and her
family for her marriage to Isaac; she thus becomes Judaism's second
'This episode suggests several commendable traits in Rebecca. She is
healthy and strong (it takes considerable strength to carry jar after jar of
water for ten camels) as well as energetic and hospitable. But the trait
that drives all the others is kindness. Seeing a thirsty man and thirsty
animals, her immediate desire is to help relieve their plight, and to
provide them with lodging.
'Although our modern urban society hardly lends itself to the sort of test
Eliezer devised for Isaac's future wife, his awareness of kindness as the
supreme virtue in a spouse remains most relevant.
Unfortunately, many people, both then and now, focus on other traits at a
relationship's outset. But, as (theologian and writer) Dennis Prager
suggests, 'When you go out on a date, it is more important to see how your
date treats the waitress than how he (or she) treats you. Since it is
important at the relationship's beginning for your date to make a good
impression on you, he will treat you well. But how he treats the waitress
will reflect how he is going to treat you once he can take your love for
'Rebecca had no idea who Eliezer was. That is what makes her kindness to
him so striking.
'Obviously, there are many additional traits that matter in a spouse -
shared values, sexual attraction and compatibility, humour and intelligence,
among others. But kindness, this biblical text teaches us, is in a class by
itself. Its presence alone does not guarantee that a relationship will work.
Its absence, however, should guarantee that it won't.'
YUE CHIAU WAH
- HOW TO BE HAPPILY UNMARRIED
> While about 60 percent of couples who lived together in the '70s ended up
> marrying within 3 years, only one-third of couples living together married
> in the '90s, according to Smock.
> Whether that's a worrying trend is a subject for debate among sociologists
> and policy makers of varying political stripes.
> Waite said that raising kids without being married would probably make no
> difference to couples she called "political cohabitors," well-educated
> people like Solot and Miller who are against marriage for philosophical or
> political reasons. But the stability of the relationship of most American
> cohabitors is not that strong, she said, citing a recent study that found
> mothers living with a boyfriend had higher rates of depression than other
Monday, January 06, 2003
BY PEGGY O'CROWLEY Star-Ledger Staff
Given all the trouble it's taken Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller not to be
married, you'd think they'd just tie the knot and get it over with. There'd
be no need to get the health care proxy or the power of attorney, or fight
for domestic partner health insurance.
But that's just the point, claims the couple, who have been together for
nine years: Unmarried people who live together are discriminated against,
and that's what has to be changed.
That's why they founded the Alternatives to Marriage Project and wrote the
book, "Unmarried to Each Other: The Essential Guide to Living Together As An
Unmarried Couple" (Marlowe & Company, $16.95).
"What's so surprising is that our lives look as married as everyone else's
except for small legal differences. We are comfortable being partners.
Getting married because it's the easy way out is not a good enough reason,"
insisted Solot, the executive director of the Boston-based partnership.
Solot and Miller are among 5.5 million couples in the U.S. who live together
without a marriage license, a rise of 72 percent from 1990 to 2000. (About
one in 10 of those are same-sex couples.) And while the majority of
heterosexual cohabitors, as the sociologists call them, will eventually go
on to marry, a growing minority don't plan a walk down the aisle.
"Cohabiting is less likely to lead to marriage than it was 20 years ago. The
relationships are either slightly more unstable and break up earlier, or
increasingly, it's (living together) becoming a viable alternative," said
Pamela J. Smock, an associate director of the Institute for Social Research
at the University of Michigan.
While about 60 percent of couples who lived together in the '70s ended up
marrying within 3 years, only one-third of couples living together married
in the '90s, according to Smock.
Whether that's a worrying trend is a subject for debate among sociologists
and policy makers of varying political stripes.
"It's not just that people aren't marrying, it's that they aren't staying
together. There's a lot more relationship turnover than in the Nordic
countries," said Linda Waite, a University of Chicago sociologist and
co-author of "The Case for Marriage," published in 2000. "I think people in
the U.S. are cohabiting more in part because they don't want to be legally
or financially obligated or sexually faithful."
For Smock, it's a choice that women are more often making themselves, a sign
of independence and a rejection of the stereotype that the man won't buy the
cow if the milk is free.
In a recent study of cohabiting couples, Smock and colleague Wendy D.
Manning of Bowling Green State University found that 25 percent of the women
had no plans to marry the men with whom they were living. "In this case,
cohabitation may be a viable alternative to marriage or living alone," they
One of the biggest reasons for the women's lack of interest in a ring was
the education and income of the man: The lower level of schooling or jobs
the men had, the less likely the women were to want to get married. The
other reason was that many of these women had already been married and did
not want to repeat the experience.
Basically, Smock said, they were not willing to become legally bound to
someone who was a poor risk as a provider or, more accurately, a financial
partner, since almost all of the women worked themselves. That problem is
one of the arguments leveled against President George W. Bush's plan to make
marriage counseling and other programs available to poor couples, she said.
Solot and Miller's experience seems to back up Smock's observations. Solot,
29, said she found that women she and Miller interviewed for their book were
more often the ones who balked at marriage.
"We found it was almost always the women who didn't want to be 'the wife,'"
with its image of a dependent, domestic drudge, Solot said.
That includes herself, she and Miller said. Not that they have anything
against marriage, they are quick to add. Some of their best friends are
"We didn't set out to become professional cohabitors," Miller joked. College
sweethearts at Brown University, they began living together after college
and began careers, she as an adoption specialist and he as an HIV/AIDS
"When we got to 24, 25, there was a clear expectation there," she said of
their parents' hopes for a wedding. "But it wasn't something we were
The activism started 5 years ago when Solot's employers turned down her
request for domestic partner health insurance for Miller. "We were so
frustrated we walked to the library to find a book on the subject, and there
wasn't one," Solot said.
The result was their book and the Alternatives to Marriage Project, an
advocacy group with about 4,500 members, its own Web site
(www.unmarried.org), and now, full-time staffers Solot and Miller.
The project, and the book, help couples negotiate the legal ins and outs of
the unmarried state, such as how to obtain health care proxy cards to
designate a domestic partner as the one to make medical decisions if the
other partner is unable to, or how to lobby an employer to provide domestic
The project provided testimony against Bush's marriage proposals, and also
advocates for more liberal laws, like France and Sweden currently have,
granting unmarried couples the same rights as married couples.
Some of those rights are recommended in a recent report on family law reform
by the American Law Institute, which conservatives have charged is
The book and Web site also tackle the thornier points of managing finances,
how to decide whether to get married or not, how to plan a commitment
celebration (why should only married couples get the food processor and
place settings?) and, one of the biggest concerns, how to deal with family
and friends who are waiting, and not silently, for the wedding.
"A lot of people are interested in how to deal with pressure from parents
and relatives. Sometimes it's easier just having a conversation, sometimes
it requires a snappy comeback," Miller said.
Sooner or later, the couple said, families get the idea that the invitations
are not going to be sent, and the questions about marriage fall off. Both
Solot and Miller said while their parents might like them to marry, they are
accepting of their relationship and welcome the two as family members.
Solot and Miller predict that more and more couples will choose to live
together without a legal contract as the century progresses. Smock agreed.
"Cohabitation continues to be more and more popular all across the age
range, from the 20s to the 80s. There are now quite a few older couples who
are deciding not to marry because of issues regarding inheritance," she
said. "If grandma is cohabiting, you're going to lose the stigma of it."
She and Manning are in the midst of a 3-year study funded by the National
Institutes of Health, tracking 20-something couples who move in together
with no expectations of eventually marrying, she said.
What about the stigma of illegitimacy? Shouldn't couples consider marriage
before the baby? Most family researchers agree that children do best with
their married, biological parents.
Again, according to Solot, that horse has left the barn with the colt:
One-third of all children are born to single mothers, and 40 percent of them
are cohabiting with a partner.
"Certainly most people want to be married when they have kids. But the most
important thing is stability," she said. Nonetheless, most cohabiting
couples who are going to have kids end up married.
Waite said that raising kids without being married would probably make no
difference to couples she called "political cohabitors," well-educated
people like Solot and Miller who are against marriage for philosophical or
political reasons. But the stability of the relationship of most American
cohabitors is not that strong, she said, citing a recent study that found
mothers living with a boyfriend had higher rates of depression than other
So...after nearly 10 years together, do Solot and Miller intend to be
parents? And remain unmarried?
"I've given up on saying to reporters, 'We're not going to talk about our
personal lives,' because I'm paid to do it," Solot laughed. "At this point
we'd probably have children without being married. We've been together for
10 years, so I think it's probably a safe bet we'll stay that way."
"I told my family now we've written this book, we can't get married," Miller
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