Marrying for love is a cultural phenomenon that is only 200 years old. Within the last 40 years or so, human relationships in love and partnership have continued to go through drastic changes, with the emergence of the birth control pill, which divorced marriage forever from procreation, to the growth of the market economy, in which female workers were needed more and more to fill vacant positions in the capitalist boom. They were no longer restricted to domesticity, and household chores. The idea of the ‘traditional’ nuclear family is actually not very traditional at all. In fact, the trend of the breadwinning husband and the stay-at-home wife, marrying at a young age, and staying together in a life-long union for the purpose of producing children only lasted from the mid-40’s through the beginning of the 60’s. That’s only about a 20-year span of time when it was considered psychotic to not want to get married and stay married for the rest of your life.
So then, if this ‘normal’ model of committed human relationships only lasted two decades, then what is all the fuss about today? People are continually feeling threatened or upset about the ‘astronomical’ divorce rates, the later ages that people are getting married, to simply never getting married at all, same-sex marriages, open marriages, in-vitro fertilization, etc. What these people are missing is that marriage was never a fixed state. The meaning behind marriage, the purpose for it, how long it lasted, to how many people were a part of a single marriage has varied incredibly through the ages, and across cultures. It doesn’t stand still, it’s always in flux, and people need to realize that it’s okay. Yes, it is true that marriage is changing in a direction that we’ve never experienced before, but that’s no reason to be prejudiced against people who practice lifestyles that vary from your own. In the Netherlands, they have a culture-wide motto that they hold to: frisind, which means ‘free spirit, free mind’. To live and let live. Do what you want, and let others do the same. I want my project to illuminate that idea. To show my audience that there are a lot of ways to go about manifesting your love for someone, and they all are perfectly acceptable, and should be tolerated, if not celebrated!
In order to convey my message, I plan on developing a book, in which I write/curate all the content, and design the final artifact. I want this book to be more than just a collection of essays, interviews, and stories though. I want it to really engage the reader, and to do that, I feel it needs to also have relevant infographics of statistics and survey results, timelines of marriage history, space for user input and participation, inventive fold-outs, illustration, photography, hand lettering, and it needs a distinct brand identity, presented in a finished package or sleeve. And of course it needs to be published!
Based on a survey that I conducted on surveymonkey.com, it seems as though (generally speaking) only females are interested in this subject matter, as my respondents were vastly skewed toward the female margin. The age group was very spread out though, and I discovered that the reason some people were more open to new ideas was because they experienced other ways of life on a more personal level, and that’s how they came to accept it. For instance, one woman said that she grew up in a traditional household setting, knowing nothing about the variety of lifestyle choices out there, but once her career got her working with unusual people, she got to know them, and realized that they were the same as she was. Or other instances, where a teenage girl is very liberal despite her traditional upbringing, because she personally knows how hard it is being discriminated against because she is gay. Thus, I’m focusing my audience on suburban (as in, more sheltered) females, ranging in age from 16-50.