I came across this article recently and it got me thinking. It asked a simple question. Is marriage still worth it? It’s a provocative title. It’s also a bit misleading once you get into the content, but the question itself raises other questions that are worth contemplating.
Before anyone can answer that question, it’s important to point out context. Marriage today is very different from the marriage of the past. In fact, the whole concept of marrying someone for love is a fairly new phenomenon and there have even been periods in history where marrying for love is seen as detrimental. For most of human history, marriage relationships were business arrangements or social constructs meant to help stabilize society, roles, etc. Considering that for most of human history, people toiled in fields or factories, it makes logistical and economic sense. Society, like any living institution, adapts to fit the conditions its in.
However, conditions have changed. Situations have changed. The fundamentals of society have changed and will continue to change. And yet many people still cling to notions that the traditions of the past still function in this new and constantly changing present. I see it play out in so many romance stories. The deep, passionate, one person loving another until the end of time is almost universal. I don’t doubt there’s a place for that and always will be, but as society evolves, I think there’s room for alternatives.
What kind of alternatives though? Is it possible to create an iconic romance story with such an alternative? I ask this as someone who has written most of his stories about classic romance dynamics. Two characters fall in love, overcome obstacles, and come together. However, I did break that tradition with The Final Communion. This book actually did something different in the end. I won’t spoil it, but it didn’t stick to the formula and I found it oddly satisfying in many respects.
So now I find myself considering other stories that utilize very different forms of romance and relationships. I also think that as society evolves, more and more of those alternatives will find their way into romance and erotica. I think the next couple of decades will be very telling. The pace of change in society is accelerating. At some point, we as a people will have to change with it and that includes our concepts of romance.