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He was (and remains) an exceptional person, intelligent, good-looking, loyal, kind. (A friend who suffered my company a lot that summer sent me a birthday text this past July: “A decade ago you and I were reuniting, and you were crying a lot.”) I missed Allan desperately—his calm, sure voice; the sweetly fastidious way he folded his shirts. A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way—and its vast cultural consequences. It comes near to being a disgrace not to be married at all." Ten years later, I occasionally ask myself the same question.

My friends, many of whom were married or in marriage-track relationships, were bewildered. To account for my behavior, all I had were two intangible yet undeniable convictions: something was missing; I wasn’t ready to settle down. On good days, I felt secure that I’d done the right thing. Also see: The End of Men Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U. By Hanna Rosin Delayed Childbearing Though career counselors and wishful thinkers may say otherwise, women who put off trying to have children until their mid-thirties risk losing out on motherhood altogether. Today I am 39, with too many ex-boyfriends to count and, I am told, two grim-seeming options to face down: either stay single or settle for a “good enough” mate. This wasn’t hubris so much as naïveté; I’d had serious, long-term boyfriends since my freshman year of high school, and simply couldn’t envision my life any differently. The decision to end a stable relationship for abstract rather than concrete reasons (“something was missing”), I see now, is in keeping with a post-Boomer ideology that values emotional fulfillment above all else.

She decided to write a book discrediting the notion and proving that the ways in which we think about and construct the legal union between a man and a woman have always been in flux., she surveys 5,000 years of human habits, from our days as hunters and gatherers up until the present, showing our social arrangements to be more complex and varied than could ever seem possible.

She’d long known that the Leave It to Beaver–style family model popular in the 1950s and ’60s had been a flash in the pan, and like a lot of historians, she couldn’t understand how people had become so attached to an idea that had developed so late and been so short-lived.

(Even then, our concerns struck me as retro; hadn’t the women’s libbers tackled all this stuff already?

But my future was to be one of limitless possibilities, where getting married was something I’d do when I was ready, to a man who was in every way my equal, and she didn’t want me to get tied down just yet.

This unfettered future was the promise of my time and place.

IStephanie Coontz, a social historian at Evergreen State College in Washington, noticed an uptick in questions from reporters and audiences asking if the institution of marriage was falling apart.

She didn’t think it was, and was struck by how everyone believed in some mythical Golden Age of Marriage and saw mounting divorce rates as evidence of the dissolution of this halcyon past.

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