Is Marriage Outdated?

Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis Split

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis. Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman. It seems like almost every day we read about a high-profile celebrity couple divorcing.

But it’s not just celebrities who are struggling to stay together. While the divorce rate has actually dipped slightly in recent years, fewer people are getting married and couples who do get married tend to do so later.

Prenuptial agreements are more common than ever as is cohabitation. Then there are the much publicized infidelity scandals, such as the recent revelation about married CIA Director David Petraeus affair with a married woman.

The New York Times recently examined these trends in “Till Death, or 20 Years, Do Us Part.”

In the Times article, writer Matt Richtel points out that there are various reasons why marriage as an institution is faltering. People are less religious. Childbirth out of wedlock is more accepted. Plus, people are living longer than ever, which means more time to grow apart or to start anew with another partner. Technology is also making it easier to flirt or cheat.

Gay marriage has also prompted people to discuss and question the institute of marriage and whether it is still relevant.

But marriage as an institution isn’t exactly failing. In fact, statistics show that people who are more educated and marry later in life are more likely to stay married than less-educated people who marry at a younger age.

Stephanie Coontz, the research director at the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit collection of relationship researchers, told Richtel that when marriages do work, they are better than they have been in the past. “There is more equality, less domestic violence, more communication,” writes Richtel.

What do you think? Is marriage an outdated institution or is it improving over time?