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The state of marriage

We're not married. And that has no bearing on our ability to parent. That's the conclusion of new research that talks about the involvement of dads--specifically educated dads--as a key factor in childhood success.

I have nothing against marriage per se. It's a fine way to formalize a relationship for some, but not all. And there's the rub is that there are those in our society who try to use marriage as a cultural marker for everything from relationship achievement to how well our kids are doing. We complain about the divorce rate when instead we should be looking at what makes people with no communication skills, ability to disagree well (that's a huge skill), live in the same space, or generally tolerate each other, think they can form a lifelong bond on a whim. Whatever happened to marriage shouldn't be entered into lightly? Call me old-fashioned, but you need to figure out just how annoyed you'll be at socks on the floor BEFORE you have a wedding. Not after.

I actually take it as a sign that the institution isn't totally dying that I have two very different weddings on the calendar this summer. One is a formal, Jewish, black tie event at the Four Seasons. The other is a family wedding where we'll be heading to the farm wearing jeans and having the reception in one of the farm buildings after the ceremony in a field. I think both are awesome.

The problem with weddings and marriages is that we still want to keep track by them. I'm actually less concerned about culture in general and more concerned about the government. We've completely shifted to dads who stay home with kids, moms who work, unmarried two-parent families, unmarried single-parent families, divorced families, blended families. How can you possibly expect to file your taxes as either married or single given all that?

And I haven't even mentioned same-sex marriage. Which really...who cares? In light of me being able to drive up to a window in Vegas or get married simply for insurance purposes, you want to make a big deal out of two women or two men who want to be able to visit each other in the hospital if one is sick? If you're against gay marriage at this point it doesn't make you homophobic, it makes you out of touch with reality.

I've said it before and will again...if we want to be "pro family" in this country then we should be. I'd love a spot for strollers on the train. I'd love movies I can take my 6 month old to where we won't be kicked out if she cries. I'd love to go out to eat and not have strangers stare at us for the mess and noise.

You see where I'm going with all this. And we'll avoid the sticky subjects of abortion and monogamy. Each road you go down is a crazy spider web of complicated social norms, individual rights and responsibilities, and navigating the big world.

Frankly, my concern with my kids is teaching them how to think carefully about that big world so they can have intelligent things to say about all these issues. Of the million ways I could set a good example of being a decent, good human, being a husband scores pretty low on my list.

Not that everybody needs to feel that way. If gettin hitched matters to you, go do it. Heck, if it gets you better health insurance, go do it! Let's just stop pretending it's the bulwark it once was.

Is it dying? Maybe. Am I helping kill it? Maybe. Does it deserve to die? Maybe.

Might Kelly and I one day tie the knot? Hmm, maybe. From where I sit that's the beauty of the situation is that it is our decision and that...perhaps...gives it more meaning.

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