Marriage is on the decline and won’t even exist by the year 2042, ac-cording to a recent article in The Washington Post that cited different demographic studies.

The first point I want to make here is that it’s not my fault. I’m just one person, so I can’t really skew the statistics. True, marriage hasn’t worked out for me (so far). Also true is that I am of the hippie generation that disdained institution and advocated for shacking up rather than shackles.

The second point I want to make is that I don’t believe these predictions, which seem to occur every decade or so, that marriage is on the way out. Marriage will be with us as long as there are poets and wedding planners, and we know that these give us, first, our enduring hope and, second, an injection to the economy. I’m not saying that couples get married just to help business owners like my co-columnist Holly Lynch. But residual effects are still money in the bank.

 

Also, now, same-sex marriage is legal and in the money mix.

My father was a Southern Baptist preacher and officiated at a lot of weddings. Once, I came home from my summer job, in muddy work boots, my face rather grimy and sweaty, to find my father sitting with a young couple in our den.

“Good,” my father said. “We need another witness to sign the marriage certificate.” I was legally old enough, so I sat there and listened to the briefest and least romantic wedding I’ve ever attended.

After my parents and I had walked the couple out to their car with our abbreviated good wish-es, my father said to me, “I wish I could advise young people like that to just live together first. Because they’re not going to last. But I can’t give that advice. It’s not biblical.”

My smart-aleck reply was, “Sometimes it’s better to be practical.” That helped a couple of years later when I gathered the nerve to tell my parents that I was moving in with my girlfriend at the time.

The Christian Science Monitor reported last year, as if you can’t tell just by looking around, that single adults outnumber married adults.

Articles like the one in The Washington Post cite demographic facts, such as: marriage has a nearly 50 percent failure rate. (OK, in that instance, maybe I did skew the statistic.)  Half of children today in the U.S. are born outside of marriage. The Washington Post author also made the observation, “One size does not fit all.”

What all this brings to mind are the many longtime, happily married couples who are close friends of mine. Their stories are varied. In most cases, it’s the second time around for at least one spouse.

I think of a couple who go together so well you would think it was love at first sight. Yet, he had to work at persuading her to even date him. In another case, there is a glaring age difference.

I know another couple where each is an evangelical and extremely right-wing bigot who sits in the living room, tossing the remote back and forth to pass the time with trash TV, never reading or having profound conversation. In contrast, I know a bunch of couples who just pen sweet nothings to each other for no occasion at all.

Then there is the Jew and the Roman Catholic. Moreover, she is a Southern Jew, and he is a New York Italian Catholic. They participate in each other’s observances and they both love baseball.

There have been difficulties, disagreements, differences and disease in those relationships.

But the marriages have endured, which is what I hope for my daughter. I’ll share a little secret: Daddies want their daughters to be five years old forever. But they grow up and get married.

So, demographic studies be damned. Marriage is here to stay, as far as I can tell. Not because it was ordained by God or ordered by government, but because, however it came about, we want to love and to care and believe all the way down into to our marrow.

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Biz Bits

The U.S. and Cuba have agreed to resume air travel between our countries, a big step forward in thawing relations. The irony here is that you have to fly to Cuba if you want to ride in an impeccably maintained ’57 Chevy Bel Air (unless you want to pay six figures for one on eBay.)

Seriously, the question that has to be asked as Cuba becomes more enterprising is: will democracy follow capitalism? Best guess, not anytime soon.

Ga. State Rep. Tommy Benton caused a stir when he came off, in a media interview, as de-fending the Ku Klux Klan as “not a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order.” Some, but not enough, fellow Republicans tried to distance themselves from the remarks.

Georgia has come a long way since the days of Lester Maddox as governor, but comments like Benton’s could set our reputation back to the level of Alabama or South Carolina and, morals aside, that’s not good for business.

I wish the speakers at the ecumenical gathering at Rome’s First United Methodist Church back on Feb. 18, designed to address black-white relations, would have addressed this current event. Instead, the presentation was about five years old, not contemporary, and absent of local specifics.

But it was a good event overall, an overflow crowd, and it sets up another event on April 23 at Ridge Ferry Park. That’s the date a neo-Nazi organization, from Michigan of all places, will hold a “white-rights” rally in Rome in front of the Law Enforcement Center. The rally in the park is a response to that.

Finally, a memo to my college alma mater, the one over there in Athens. It was reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that you are paying $6.2 million to football coaches no longer employed by you. I will remember that the next time I get a letter from you asking me to donate generously. 

J. Bryant Steele has won awards for business reporting, feature writing and opinion columns, and is based in Rome.

*The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.

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J. Bryant Steele was first published when he was 14 and has made a living stringing words together for 40 years. But the main reason he writes is to avoid housework. He has won 50 or so writing awards. He is a graduate of the Grady School of Journalism (The University of Georgia) and of Education for Ministry (The University of the South). He also publishes poetry and fiction. He is the proud father of two magnificent adult children. He is also very opinionated.