Wedlock is more rewarding than ever—and also more upmarket. That is a problem
MARRIAGE idealises permanence, and yet it is changing more rapidly than at any time in its history. Almost everywhere it is becoming freer, more equal and more satisfying. As our special report this week explains, wedlock has become so good that it is causing trouble.
The most benign changes are taking place in poor and middle-income countries (where most people live). Child marriage, once rife, is ebbing. So is cousin marriage, with its attendant risk of genetic defects, though it is still fairly common in the Middle East and parts of Asia. Relations between husbands and wives have become more equal (though not equal enough). As women earn more and the stigma of divorce fades, more men are finding that they cannot treat their wives as servants (or, worse, punchbags), because women can credibly threaten to walk away.
In some regions change has been astoundingly quick. In India the share of women marrying by the age of 18 has dropped from 47% to 27% in a single decade. “Love marriages” remain disreputable in India, and arranged marriages the norm. But, as in many traditional societies, young people have more say. Some can veto the mates their families suggest; others choose their own, subject to a parental veto. Across the world, popular culture is raising expectations of what a good marriage is like, and dating websites are giving singletons vastly more options.
商论十二月刊文章《更完美的结合》（A more perfect union）节选。登录App即可免费阅读全文