Wednesday, 11 April 2007

What's it gonna be?



I'm back! Long time no write, I know. I've been getting ready to go to Poland for Easter and arranging all my other upcoming trips and keeping busy at work, among other things. I've been really missing writing though, so here I am, back and ready to roll.

I've been discussing the future of marriage, monogamy, and birth rates with a few people recently and I think there are some - let's call them interesting for a lack of a better word, trends - going on in the society today. Parts of the new realities are worrying, while others perhaps calling for more tolerance in the social circles.

To start with marriage, which is becoming less and less of a popular thing in the West, the rates of divorce and number of couples staying together for all the reasons but the emotional ones show the future of matrimony in a pretty bleak light. People not only get married later, but also get divorced and re-marry more often than ever before. Increasingly more people live together, but do not see marriage as an essential part of their story. They also more and more often decide not to have children, whether married or not.


Western society is becoming more individualistic and in some sense, perhaps more decadent. Women's choice to have children later in life or not to have them at all has become more acceptable in Western societies and given more freedom to women's lives in professional and other ways. This trend is bringing much of a burden to especially Western European societies, which are now faced with a pretty serious birth rate problem. Is there anything we can really do about this though? Are the predictions about the future demographics of Europe really going do reverse the social trends in today's society and suddenly bring all the working women back home to raise babies?

What does marriage have to offer for most young people now that you really can live together and do most things relationship-wise without the need to be married? Civil unions for couples living together and issues such as gay marriage seem to cast yet new questions about how to define marriage, its purpose, and social value. I think the image of marriage will change even more in the coming years. Social acceptance for gay marriage and open relationships will increase in many circles, unless the society's pendulum somehow decides to swing back into conservatism. Maybe the new ways of living in relationships and otherwise will get a neutral light. Maybe just as women's going to work or being openly gay used to be controversial, these things too will find their way to meddle into modern lives?

Just an observation, I suppose.

8 comments:

yonchi said...

Брак хорошим делом не назовут!
– for those who don’t speak Russian, word "marriage" has 2 meanings.

Oh, Paulina, and you too???
I feel that in my country there are no other problems except demography and reinstatement of church. If I would fag to translate all debates about that - all life will pass away.
Afterwards, the population of the Earth is increasing in total. It’s a rudimentary nationalism - to increase the number of inhabitants by the people of one nation and care for its personal demography. :)

Well, I’ll shortly tell how it’s in Russia.

I consider this question in several factors:

1. Religious views (all is clear - to live without registration is oppositely to church).
The state marriage doesn’t accepting by church, as well as matrimony (I mean church wedding) by the state. :))) However "marriage" is considered as the “state registration of a civil condition (act of civil status)”. And it’s not a lot of the religious here.
Numerous attempts are taken to change a situation on it. Churchmen have so quickened, that there’s no place to disappear for atheists with education. In this context the situation is simply sickening here. «Give birth and trust!»: I would name a situation in the country today.

2. Social beliefs (read stereotypes).
It’s even more problems here. :)) It’s not easy to overcome expectations of your grandmother and neighbours that after 20-years-old you will necessarily marry, and in couple of years will have the first-born. By the way, it’s one of the reasons why so many marriages break up. People don’t suit each other and act under the pressure of tradition. Basically really nobody understands moral pleasure from a stamp in the passport (this mark is obligatory here).

The living together (“civil marriage” as we say) doesn’t admit anybody. Neither church, nor the state, parents. At the best you can pretend that: «We are going to get married, but now there’s no money… otherwise - at once!».

The emancipation has touched only some trades. Women can build railways, but rule the Administration… hardly. I wouldn’t name it a career. Very seldom. It is, certainly, but seldom. Doesn’t influence.

3. A dominant factor against is (nevertheless) economic. In the absence of other meaning of life people willingly marry and breed, as you understand. But worst of all is housing in Russia - expensively, than in the Europe…
Next. Maternity leave is undesirable. Organizations prefer to employ guys to not be nursed and not potter with "sick-lists" of the children, etc.
Maternity benefits are small.
The State has started to work under the «parent capital» program and something else... More shortly – they will save us.

4. And the positive vote for state registration - it conducts to property definition of pair, the rights of the child and guarantees in probable divorce. It’s the only one point justifying marriage for me, for example. Reasonably. Stability is important.
As far as I know in the Europe (assured of Norway) the civil marriage without registration is possible. At this point cohabitation with property guarantees has changed the concept of marriage irreparably.

5. Particularly about gay-marriages, if you said about that. ))
Such problem doesn’t exist here, as gays are do not exist. Such initiatives of the West simply surprise people. It’s a big churches power. To not allow in Russia what happens in Europe. Abnormally, etc., you can imagine.
Birth rate decreases, and this freaks got out from somewhere! This "tolerance" doesn’t threaten so doesn’t influence.

By the way - « Western society is becoming more individualistic and in some sense, perhaps more decadent » - could you explain me in what sense?

In general, finishing, it seems to me that marriage didn’t simply "varies", it has already changed, i.e. will not be like before. But "pendulum" will continue swing differently in different societies. For example, in Russia a slight return to conservatism (as if we left it) and revival in maternity hospitals are expected. Propagation is a great thing.

The more difficult for me to look at it. As you know, we live almost 6 years together, without an opportunity to marriage and with more than uptight gospels around. However, anything similar to desire to register the relation didn’t arise on us …
The only one time brain has brought me - when I looked at your wedding photos. You are gorgeous. I would look superb too … There’s no more greater sense in it for me.

«Just an observation, I suppose» as well. ))

mark said...

Yonchi, and to some extent Paulina, Your attitudes seem a little hedonistic. Marriage is an act of self-definition with a spiritual character. It's spiritual and worldly purpose is of course children not hedonism. It is voluntary, so if someone prefers sterility, don't get married. Homosexual marriage is an oxymoron.

In Russia there are more abortions than live births + (but not among Moslems) and demography is turning Russia Islamic even faster than Western Europe. Russian male life expectancy is 58 years - a major cause is alcoholism, again not a Moslem problem.

I suspect that 70 years of communism plus a mineral based economy rather than an economy founded on ingenuity and small businesses have demoralised Russia.

+ 'About 1.6 million women had an abortion last year, a fifth of them under the age of 18, and about 1.5 million gave birth, said Vladimir Kulakov, vice president of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. “Many more” abortions weren’t reported.'

Paulina said...

mark:

what i write is not a presentation of a personal attitude, but an observation. if you don't think there is at least some truth to what i described, then i think it's partly because you don't have as much contact with young people to know their, i agree, somewhat increasingly hedonistic ways of living.

gay marriage being an oxymoron - well, i guess we just come from different points of the spectrum on this issue.

'It's (marriage's) spiritual and worldly purpose is of course children not hedonism. It is voluntary, so if someone prefers sterility, don't get married.' No marriage no children then?

mark said...

'It's (marriage's) spiritual and worldly purpose is of course children not hedonism. It is voluntary, so if someone prefers sterility, don't get married.' No marriage no children then?

It doesn't follow from what I wrote, but as a matter of what makes sense, that makes sense.

yonchi said...

To mark:

Hedonism? Marriage? Nothing mixed up? )))
It’s possible to be a hedonist in a marriage... Single as an attribute of hedonism? There is no other way of “definition with a spiritual character” except marriage? Consolidated living (assume with children), with participatory property and economy and death in hand in hand, but without registration (or without wedding in church) – a hedonism already? Or just not the “spiritual and worldly purpose” any more? I am afraid we shall stick in polemic. )))
Is it a right definition? It’s a substitution of concepts, don’t you think?

“Of course children not hedonism”.
For everybody? It’s possible to look differently. Very often giving birth to children is with sense of continuation of your family, to see the speck of yourself, continuation of yourself (let me name it egoism) and, eventually, they are so cute! Whether it’s a hedonism - to birth a little man for yourself, "not having asked" him? Who surely will be different from you. He will have his own worldview and values. Just for yourself you will force another mind to step into the world, to face with set of problems and pains, then to solve for himself the main questions: what for was born, what is the meaning of life, how to reconcile that you will inevitably die, and whether it is necessary to give birth to the children, dooming them on the same problems and questions? And if you will not accept the easiest religious way…
People give birth for their own volition and pleasure, I would tell.
Such point of view, I guess, is fragrant to you, but could be not less proved.
How many sides of this question still? From which other side we can look at it? Endlessly, I think. I suspect you a standard family man and we shall not overpersuade each other.))) I would prefer to leave this theme at a level of observation. )) Moral questions are not for the fast conversation in the Internet.

About alcoholism and abortions in Russia I agree. Yes, it so. That’s sad, but not more. Perhaps I am finally demoralized. )))

Yes, the number of moslems grows in Russia. Historically were more Moslems here, than in the Europe. It’s normal. Unlike European’s "ours" are assimilated. So will be more… Ок …

Thanks for reaction ))
It’s fantastic, that someone understands my English!

Paulina said...

'if someone prefers sterility, don't get married' - the word 'sterility' to me sounds like something very much to do with having children. i agree that the best situation for having children is within a marriage, but then what about couples who get married with an understanding not to have children in the future? should there perhaps be some kind of a clause in the act of marriage abiding both parties to procreate?

mark said...

Yonchi is correct that a comments column is no good for accurately reviewing moral questions. Moreover I have the advantage of my native language but I did want to say how much I enjoyed this: "People give birth for their own volition and pleasure, I would tell.
Such point of view, I guess, is fragrant to you, but could be not less proved." English is enriched, Yonchi, by adventurous users throwing it around like free-style language wrestlers.

My accurately stated view is here - http://www.uncorrelated.com/2007/02/let_me_not_admit_impediments.html

yonchi said...

Ha! ))) Thanks.
I’m happy that entertained you. Alas, I’m deprived of opportunity to laugh on Russianspeaking foreigners. (Now they prefer to hide somewhere…)
Yeah... But it was clear to me what I have written! ))) Are you sure, that know English well?

And link:
http://www.uncorrelated.com/2007/02/let_me_not_admit
“Page not found”