Starter Marriages, This is a Thing Now?

a272_s6 Matrimony, love, and weddings.  It’s something many young girls dream about.  Weddings are planned right down the the napkin rings, lovingly coordinated and of course all matched perfectly.

A quick glance at the divorce statistics (especially of first marriages) goes to show no matter how perfectly everything matches, it doesn’t always work out in the end.  With starter marriages on the rise (or, at least the term itself on the rise), there may be a severe lack of wedded bliss going on in society.  While I’m not one to talk, as my own marriage only lasted just under three years.

A starter marriage is a first marriage that lasts five years or less and ends before the couple has children.  The term, a play on the expression "starter home", appears as one of the footnotes in Douglas Coupland‘s 1991 novel Generation X.   (Source)

While my ex and I do in fact, have a child together our marriage went belly up in under three years.  So granted, I only partially qualify.  Now, the book I keep finding being mentioned in relation to the starter marriage concept is The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony, by Pamela Paul.

Paul analyzed historical trends in American matrimony, pointing out that, as of 2002, Americans were getting married only slightly older than 100 years before, but that they were living decades longer. (In fact, Americans of Generation X are getting married at a rate closer to that of their grandparents than of their Baby Boomer parents.) She also claimed that some young couples get married for reasons not strong enough to support a long relationship, and that an increasing number of them end their marriages quickly. Paul’s book caused controversy for suggesting that these divorces are a good thing, if they happen before the couple has had children. (Source)

The one part I really found shocking was the actual marriage rate.  It’s incredibly surprising to me that so many are looking to get hitched, although it really shouldn’t be.  A fair amount of my friends have been married/divorced/married. While they were quick to jump back in again and it has very little relevance the the starter marriage above, I’m just surprised by the prevalence of those same friends relationship decisions.

Yet, a first marriage can be look at as practice (while that’s not saying it should be).  While sure, the book itself was reviewed as being mediocre at best, at the same time there is no denying that wedding fever and the planning often does take precedence over the thinking that you may be spending the rest of your life (50-80 years, not that small of a figure) with this person. 

Even with the general argument that a starter marriage (at least in the term’s use) is a way to come to some sort of terms with a marriage ending quickly, especially if those people involved are younger.  It can be a huge disappointment, if not a feeling of overall failure to have your marriage end, even if it was the right decision.  While one may like to think that it’s a movement, maybe even something that is simply in vogue, it does seem to be used more for the psychological gratification of having  a purpose behind the failed marriage.

Beyond the psychological effects however?  I’m not sure.