Will you semimarry me?

Cristen Conger

Are we stuck in semimarriages?

The Industrial Revolution incited a shift in Western mating culture toward love marriage. With earning power placed in the hands of younger adults, new opportunities to marry by romantic choice instead of familial arrangement opened up. Today, the function and health of marriage is being closely reexamined, as people wait longer to tie the knot, household gender dynamics tip toward more female breadwinners and a rising proportion of babies are born beyond the bounds of wedlock -- along with a host of other societal changes.

This marital shakeup has given rise to the "semimarriage," writes Pamela Haag in her book "Marriage Confidential". Haag thinks that romance-driven marriage is a relic of a bygone era, replaced by partnership-driven unions. From Huffington Post:

With the strong trend toward "assortative mating," as researchers call it, like marries like today. Post-romantic spouses are more equal in the office and classroom, and more alike in attitudes, experiences, roles and goals.

While the concept of semimarriage seems like a more levelheaded, logical approach to marriage, accepting the fact that passionate romance often fades over time and personal compatibility is crucial for weathering the rough spots, a semimarriage slide show over at TIME paints semi-unhappy portrait. Essentially, semimarriage seems like a bland compromise, typified by overworked female breadwinners and relational stasis. The energy that might otherwise be poured into passion is directed at the office or child-rearing or merely maintaining a happy-enough household.

But maybe Haag is right. Perhaps post-romance is the contemporary reality, and marriage should function more like a business association than a passionate bonding. Should we quit seeking out the one and simply settle for a semi-spouse?

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