Shana Lebowitz at Business Insider writes that the problem with marriage is that it is so terribly permanent:
…I was left worriedly wondering: Is it possible that a couple can start out perfectly compatible, and then become less so over time?
Here’s the answer he gave: “Even if we achieve compatibility in the marriage, there’s no guarantee that that compatibility will remain strong over time.”
It turns out the danger is worst for carousel riders looking to marry at the last minute:
That’s especially true, Finkel added, if those two years are when you’re “in your late 20s, and you’re building a career, and you’re still hanging out some with your college friends, and you have some new friends.
This caused Lebowitz to recall an article she wrote in July, where she discovered that the problem with marriage was that divorce was seen as failure:
Finkel’s unsettling observations reminded me of something Susan Pease Gadoua, co-author of “The New I Do,” told me in July: It’s helpful to know you have an “out” of your marriage. That is, if one or both people grow out of the relationship, it might be upsetting, but it won’t be shameful to leave.
As Lebowitz’ explained in her July article, the idea of lifetime marriage is unhealthy (emphasis original):
When I spoke with Pease Gadoua in June, I asked her if it was useful to keep the possibility of divorce in the back of your mind.
She told me: “When people see divorce as never an option, it can create some unhealthy dynamics.”
This lead to a breakthrough idea. What would revolutionize marriage, and make it really thrive as an institution, is easy divorce:
The implication for marriage is, if you accept that you might grow out of your relationship — or your partner might — you’re freeing yourself to be in the marriage because you want to, and not because you have to.
What is so telling about this is that easy divorce has been the law of the land for over four decades, and the church has even gotten with the program and stands by ready to rationalize divorce morally as well. Feminists have gotten everything they could possibly want from our formal institutions. And yet Lebowitz is troubled enough to write repeated articles on the topic because she understands a fundamental truth. Other women will judge her as a failure if she marries and can’t stay married. The exception here would be if she divorced, traded up, and stuck the landing. But sticking the landing is a long shot. If a woman could expect to do better than her first husband, she wouldn’t have settled for marrying the first husband in the first place. Even worse, for round two she will not only be older with a history of divorce, but she will likely be a single mother.
So the fear remains, leaving Lebowitz with no other option but to try in vain to change the reality more stubborn than the law and the church. While her readers may well like the idea of not being judged themselves, what she won’t be able to do is change the judgments her readers make about other women.