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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.We’ve arrived at the top of the staircase, finally ready to start our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up—and those who remain are leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don’t want to go out with.Stephanie 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.This unfettered future was the promise of my time and place.I spent many a golden afternoon at my small New England liberal-arts college debating with friends the merits of leg-shaving and whether or not we’d take our husband’s surname.It took more than one person to make a farm or business thrive, and so a potential mate’s skills, resources, thrift, and industriousness were valued as highly as personality and attractiveness. In the American colonies, wealthy merchants entrusted business matters to their landlocked wives while off at sea, just as sailors, vulnerable to the unpredictability of seasonal employment, relied on their wives’ steady income as domestics in elite households. Not until the 18th century did labor begin to be divided along a sharp line: wage-earning for the men and unpaid maintenance of household and children for the women.

Not until the post-war gains of the 1950s, however, were a majority of American families able to actually afford living off a single breadwinner.

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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