What Happens in a Post-Marriage America

We’re at an interesting crossroads here in the twenty teens (is that what we’re calling it? Let’s say yes.). Social media runs our lives, we might have a Flamin’ Hot Cheeto running our country and more and more, marriage is falling out of fashion. I watched a recent episode of CNN’s The Wonder List where host Bill Weir explored Iceland’s beautiful terrain, and their decidedly nontraditional views on marriage. Turns out those Icelanders are heavy into hot springs and elves, but marriage just isn’t their thing. People get together and have families and build homes just like the rest of us, but weddings and marriages aren’t really part of the equation anymore. And as a whole they seem like pretty happy people.

That got me thinking. As marriage rates decline here at home, what would the US look like if we followed Iceland’s lead and phased out marriage as a concept? Well, first of all, I’d have to find a new line of work. Is it too late to learn how to use Excel? Is there an age cut off for astronaut training? Does Kanye have any sort of mentorship program? Other than my career crisis, would we be better off or would civilization as we know it crumble? Let’s explore.

The year is 2020 and marriage is officially old fashioned and no one is buying the “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage” rhyme anymore. Engagement rings are no longer a thing and the blood/conflict diamond business nosedives. With all those senior financial analysts no longer blowing three months’ salary in suburban malls, diamond demand plummets and jewellers worldwide reevaluate where they purchase their gems, and start realizing buying from conflict zones isn’t such a great idea. This ethical thinking spreads to other industries who source raw materials from conflict areas. A national discussion begins. That leads to an international discussion, which leads to a global overhaul of capitalism. People begin to only buy what they need and share with others. Advertising is seen as vulgar and no one participates in it anymore. Russell Brand sits at a juice bar in North London, smugly nodding to himself with satisfaction, then makes out with the waitress.

As men and women across this great land are no longer pressured into being bridesmaids and groomsmen for people they love and will soon hate, or people they barely know yet they were recruited to balance out their lopsided wedding party, thousands of dollars in cheap gowns and ill fitting tuxedo rentals are saved. Without weddings, there are no bachelor and bachelorette parties. Suddenly, young women no longer spend their hard earned money on plastic penis paraphernalia (“P3”), and the P3business collapses. Sadly, there will be some job loss but there are greater gains. See without P3 demand, so much less non-recyclable plastic (whistles, straws, novelty necklaces, etc) ends up in landfills and in our oceans. I’m not saying the eradication of marriage will solve global warming completely, but we haven’t tried, so how can we be sure?

You’re probably shaking your head right now thinking, but what about the polar bears? Just because there is less plastic penis paraphernalia doesn’t mean the polar bears suddenly have their ice caps back. And you are correct. Except, without weddings, nobody buys ice sculptures anymore. You know where we’re going to send all those superfluous blocks of ice? Yeah, that’s right, straight to polar bears in need. So there. Again, can we solve the climate crisis by getting rid of marriage? Who can say for sure? I mean I just did, but I’m not rubbing anyone’s nose in it. Ahem, Al Gore, ahem.

During the Trumpocalypse years (that’s what Trump’s two presidential terms will be known as. You don’t want to know how he won the second one. Trust me, you don’t) there’s a serious food shortage because it turns out half baked ideas and bloviating don’t qualify you to be president. People take up backyard farming and create beautiful gardens behind electrified fences because damned if you’re going to leave the only food you’ve got unprotected. That, coupled with a huge excess of Mason jars leads to a jam craze. See, without weddings to plan, Pinterest becomes a barren wasteland where only one egg cup recipe gets posted every few months. The recipe is the only tumbleweed rolling through the Pinterest desert. Without Pinterest wedding boards full of Mason jar craft ideas, there is a serious jar surplus. What do you do with a lot of jars? Fill them with jam. Raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, huckleberry, every berry is game. People jam all day and all night and it’s all fun and games until large swaths of the country learn a very important lesson about botulism. The American population plummets. All that death actually solves the unemployment crisis, so hey you win some, you lose some.

As people adjust to post-marriage life, they realize they can have as many or as few relationships as they’d like, and no one relationship needs to last “forever.” No one believes in  ~the one~ anymore. Nobody’s mom is asking, “So when is he finally going to put a ring on it?” As time goes on, people become more relaxed and less jealous. And everyone’s blood pressure is really great. Relationships are viewed as chapters in a long book, rather than, say, prison sentences. A new generation of children is born to unmarried parents. They grow up in homes where people have chosen to be together every day on their own volition; instead of in a home filled with passive aggression because two people made a promise to god or whatever when they were 26, and now they’re 40 and very different people. This new generation of kids grows up in families that are more like communities. Over the course of their childhoods there can be several parental figures and everyone is just really cool about everything. Am I describing a commune? Yes, I am describing a commune.

So let’s take some inventory here. Post-marriage could lead to post-capitalism, post-climate change, post-Pinterest, post-overpopulation (I know this one is grim) and post-passive aggression. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Maybe Iceland is really onto something, minus the part where I have to find a new job. You know what, forget this whole thing. Keep getting married. Like tons of times. Like, after seven marriages when you’re thinking maybe that’s enough, it’s not. Go for eight. Please. Because Kanye isn’t responding to any of my tweets.


James J Sexton