Hang on to your hats (and prepare to sit down with a cup of tea for a long read). This is the best piece I have ever read on marriage in our post-modern times. It is a tour de force and should be required reading for anyone concerned about the state of relationships between men and women today. For young readers, parents should read this through first and appropriately shepherd older teens through it with lots of discussion. From Part I:
Until what seems like only yesterday, young people were groomed for marriage, and the paths leading to it were culturally well set out, at least in rough outline. In polite society, at the beginning of this century, our grandfathers came a-calling and a-wooing at the homes of our grandmothers, under conditions set by the woman, operating from strength on her own turf….
In other respects as well, the young remained culturally attached to the claims of “real life.” Though times were good, fresh memory kept alive the poverty of the recent Great Depression and the deaths and dislocations of the war; necessity and the urgencies of life were not out of sight, even for fortunate youth. Opportunity was knocking, the world and adulthood were beckoning, and most of us stepped forward into married life, readily, eagerly, and, truth to tell, without much pondering. We were simply doing — some sooner, some later — what our parents had done, indeed, what all our forebears had done.
Not so today. Now the vast majority goes to college, but very few — women or men — go with the hope, or even the wish, of finding a marriage partner. Many do not expect to find there even a path to a career; they often require several years of post-graduate “time off” to figure out what they are going to do with themselves…. Never mind wooing, today’s collegians do not even make dates or other forward-looking commitments to see one another; in this, as in so many other ways, they reveal their blindness to the meaning of the passing of time. Those very few who couple off seriously and get married upon graduation as we, their parents, once did are looked upon as freaks.
You can read the entire series over on Boundless. Do set aside the time to do it. This is such an important issue, and Leon Kass has thoroughly covered his ground (note the excellent footnotes).